Monday, December 19, 2011

The Ashes

The Netherlands? No, Chile is this beautiful.

Mt. Fuji, Japan? No, just another volcano in Chile, they've got loads.

The flowers and volcanos are nice, but I've done them one better!
We spent two days riding south through Chile, on their amazing Interstate-quality superhighway Panamerica One - THE highway. It was great, no traffic, great weather, no speed limit and amazing mega-gas stations every 60 miles or so.
Chileans are enthusiastic about wieners. See upper center.
There was only one problem with Chile - everything but wine was extremely expensive. Instead of trading the bike for a hovel and finally going pro as winos, which would have been the sensible thing to do, we forked out $8 a gallon for gas and $30 for a gas station lunch. These prices are in US DOLLARS. I know you can see the photo above, but, trust me, the wieners were not THAT good. He's faking it. So, call it "when in Rome", or "we had no choice", or "it saved us days over driving on bad roads", or whatever, but two days later we left Chile at least $4 million lighter. We were bound for San Martin de los Andes, one of Argentina's northern Patagonia mountain resort towns. For reference, resort town restaurants in Argentina are cheaper than gas stations in Chile. But we're not there yet.

As we got close to the border we turned onto a fantastic two lane road. Ten miles from the border they ran out of asphalt, but luckily they still had big, uneven river rocks and sand. Almost every time I changed a tire I thought "why am I buying these outrageously expensive off-road tires, we are done with off road" but, every time, we found ourselves on a road where they were indispensable. Buy Continental TKC 80s, no matter what. Anyway, we rode the ten miles and arrived at a Chile/Argentina border that made the last remote one look like Times Square.
These furry trees welcome you back to Argentina, where you can afford TWO hot dogs!

This is the parking lot for the border. Really.
The only other people at the border were a shifty couple in a Porsche stuffed with un-delcared bananas, perhaps? I'd like to think so. I was afraid to take their picture, sorry.

We were counting on Argentina to be cool and pave the road right at the border, if only to thumb their noses at Chile, but no. On the Argentina side it was a National Park, so they can't pave it? That's the law there, don't ask me. Argentina did provide smaller river rocks and shallower sand, so we appreciated that.
Here's the name of the river this bridge might collapse into, just so you know.
It was paved again soon enough, but everything started to turn grey. We had heard about a volcano in the area erupting and spewing ash for hundreds of miles, and this seemed to be the aftermath. It wasn't to bad in San Martin, but anywhere outside of town the ash coated everything.
No ash in this photo, EXCEPT the ash in Jill's eye as she takes it - look in the mirror, lower left!

The next day the wind had shifted, and the lake looked like this. 0% of this is fog; all ash.
It is quite late right now, so I will finish this post soon. Please talk amongst yourselves. Thanks!


  1. Great photos, as always. I wish we'd had more of a chance to explore Chile, both the scenery and their palace-like roadside service areas.

  2. Don't leave us hanging!