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Showing posts from May, 2011

Day 46: First Destination, Arrival!

In which Pete enjoys a relatively relaxed final day through snow, rain, cold, and intermittent mechanical problems to arrive at his first ultimate destination, the southernmost city in the world – 9,000+ km after leaving Lima, Peru. Day 46 Begin: Tolhuin (butchered this yesterday, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina @ 9:30AM End: Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina @ 3:00PM Distance: approx. 125km (~78mi) in ~6.5 hours (~19KMH / ~12MPH average) Knowing I faced the possibility of severe mechanical issues as I pushed the last 100km to Ushuaia, I woke early this morning to maximize the amount of time on the road. It was strange once again to awaken in a pitch black room, packing all of my gear and brewing coffee in the bathroom on my stove while light slowly began to seep into the world. Going outside to begin loading Red, I was greeted with a shock – the snow and ice was melting! Yes, it was raining mildly, and yes the air temperature was just barely above freezing, but something got warmer

Days 43-45: Tierra del Fuego At Last

In which Pete finds repairs to be a hassle and decides to forgo them, crosses the Straight of Magellan, and begins a frozen ride into the Land of Fire – which quickly turns to the Land of Ice. Day 43 Begin: Ruta 40, El Calafate, Argentina @ 10:30AM End: Rio Gallegos, Argentina @ 5:00PM Distance: approx. 339km (~211mi) in ~7.5 hours (~45KMH / ~28MPH average) Today felt strange. Still recovering from the strange emotions I’ve been dealing with since making it through a week of intensity, leaving El Calafate to head towards Rio Gallegos stirred little excitement in me. The road itself failed to please as well, simply being a road. A strange experience after so much time on horrible Ruta 40 – even the wind cooperated, being at my back the entire time, and the temperature stayed in the upper 40’s. In a nutshell, I crossed 300km of desert almost completely checked out. I did not even stop for a single photo.

Days 40-42: The World Fades

I feel broken. It’s as if some of the color has seeped out of the world, the sharpness faded. As if I’m behind my eyes, watching myself, performing on auto-pilot. Finding any sort of emotion is difficult, especially motivation. After the last week, it’s like everything is done. I am full.

5 Things that Suck about Traveling Solo

I find it telling that it seems a majority of the interesting travel blogs I run across are written by solo travelers, most often women. I think there’s a reason why we write more than people who travel with friends or in groups and that it’s pretty self evident: it’s an outlet for our loneliness. In the last year and a half, the vast majority of my time has been spent away from home, alone. As I write this, it’s been over a month since I’ve conversed with anyone in my native language, and I can remember every single conversation in English for the month before that. The truth is, I don’t think I could have done this without the internet – without a blog to share my thoughts, without Facebook to see what my friends are up to, without the occasional e-mail to provide a façade of normalcy… without these things I’d likely have driven myself insane with my internal dialogue. Now, I grant, there’s a reason I travel alone and I do love it, but lately it seems all I run across in the blogosp

Days 39-40: Sunlit Warmth

In which Pete survives a brutal sandstorm and finds making headway in 30+MPH winds with 9hp to be somewhat difficult, but eventually arrives in El Calafate for a day off. Day 39 Begin: Ruta 40, north of Gobernador Gregores Argentina @ 10:00AM End: Ruta 40, south of Tres Lagos, Argentina @ 6:00PM Distance: approx. 256km (~160mi) in ~8 hours (~32KMH / ~20MPH average) Last night was by far the worst night of the trip so far. It started out so well, nearly windless and well above freezing; inside my sleeping bag it was not only comfortable but actually warm for the first time in days. Outside the strong winds of the past few days had shifted to what could be generously termed only a strong breeze, so weak that I almost did not stake down my tent – a close call I won’t be making again. Around midnight, I finally dozed off, lulled to sleep by the warmth and soft breeze thumping against my tent. A bottle of ice was tucked inside my sleeping bag but outside my liner, slowly warming up and p

Days 37-38: There’s Snow in Them Thar Hills

In which Pete encounters fluffy white stuff and crunchy clear stuff then struggles through both before weeping like a baby at his own survival, amidst throwing his chain multiple times and finding frozen water difficult to drink. Day 37 Begin: Ruta 40, north of Perito Moreno Argentina @ 10:15AM End: Ruta 40, south of Perito Moreno Argentina @ 6:00PM Distance: approx. 229km (~143mi) in ~7.75 hours (~29KMH / ~18MPH average) This morning dawned surprisingly warm and cozy, the sun shining gloriously across the cold desert. Once again I skipped my morning coffee due to the hassle of the wind and decided to pack rapidly and get on the road immediately. I use the term “road” loosely – Ruta 40 was at this point a harsh gravel and rock road, and it stayed that way for many kilometers. I could not make any effective headway at first because the road was entirely too rough and I had some major concerns about my front suspension and steering, but eventually I got used to the strange sway dynam

Days 34-36: This is Patagonia

In which Pete finds amazing beauty amongst wet cold misery, finds 40kmh winds to be somewhat detrimental, flattens two tires and throws a chain, and unknowingly sleeps under an evil omen. Day 34 Begin: San Martin de Los Andes @ 11:30AM End: Unknown Location, Ruta 40, Argentina @ 9:00PM Distance: approx. 363km (~227mi) in ~9.5 hours (~38KMH / ~23MPH average) Leaving San Martin this morning was tough – not because I wanted to hang out in my posh cabin some more and wander this adorable little town, but because it was raining. Nothing makes a motorcycle ride as miserable as rain, especially when it’s cold. The physics of it is easy to understand; you get wet, you get colder. We all know this. Rain, especially in the mountains, usually comes with a cold front and a drop in temperature. We all know this too. Riding a moto mostly exposed to the elements, you are driving at a speed that increases all of these things… with a little bit of thought, we all can come to this conclusion and know

Patagonia Beckons

Today I begin what may become one of the most difficult tests of long term mental and physical endurance and strength I have ever undertaken: for most of its remaining 2500km through Patagonia, Ruta 40 is considered one of the most desolate highways in the world. Over half of the remaining road is gravel, sand, and dirt. The number of towns listed on a map once I pass Perito Moreno can be counted on one hand, and there are many stretches of hundreds of miles without provisions, fuel, or places to stay.

Days 29-33: The Calm Before

There’s not much to say about the last few days, so I won’t go into terrible detail. On Friday the 13th, I borrowed a spare wheel from Pirincho Motos in San Martin de Los Andes and made my way back up the road towards Red – a trip that turned out to be slightly more complicated than expected. From San Martin, I took the local collectivo to Junin de Los Andes where I found out that the “corte” (cut, or road block) south of Zapala on Ruta 40 that I just missed on my way south was still in effect. As a result, no transportation was heading north on Ruta 40, but was instead taking an alternate route.

30 Days of Data Visualization

In a past life, I had a bit of a reputation for data visualization – in fact, one of my biggest pet peeves was watching someone make a decision based on their perception of information, rather than using real data. It’s shocking how often this is done, and it’s especially horrible considering any basic study of human psychology shows that we trick ourselves constantly when it comes to processing information. Soap box aside, I have been trying to gather certain pieces of data about my travels over time. In some situations I have massively dropped the ball: I stopped gathering gas price and consumption data when I started using a spare gas can, something I really regret. In others, I’ve relied on technology that has failed at times: my detailed GPS datalogger locked up and was unusable for three days until the battery died. In spite of this, I have gathered some interesting data that I thought I’d share, as well as my analysis of said data where appropriate. Some of this has been gathere

Days 25-28: Harsh Ruta 40

In which Pete leaves the easy button roads, travels south into deep cold, and abandons his moto on the side of the road after a vicious wheel failure. Day 25 Begin: Mendoza, Argentina @ 12:15PM End: Unknown Location, Ruta 40, Argentina @ 7:00PM Distance: approx. 275km (~171mi) in ~7 hours (~39KMH / ~24MPH average) Leaving Mendoza was easier than I expected, even though I really didn’t get a chance to see much of the town or honestly do anything other than some shopping and some good eating. It was just that time to be on the move again. That didn’t prevent me from a very leisurely morning, with final updates and preparations delaying me until noon. From here I would be following Ruta 40 for some 3500km south and I was looking forward to the challenge – it’s supposed to get pretty awesome.

Days 22-24:

In which Pete makes his way into the land of steak and wine, ascends the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere, sleeps with the Incas, and encounters something uniquely American. Day 22 Begin: Unknown Location, Chilean Desert @ 8:00AM End: Unknown Location, Argentina, Mendoza River Valley @ 6:00PM Distance: approx. 392km (~245mi) in ~9 hours (~43KMH / ~26MPH average, 1hr border) Waking up in an overlook is always a strange experience, especially when you pulled in while it was pitch black. What would I be greeted with when I exited the tent? An amazing cliff overlooking a lush valley full of windmills and beauty? Alas, no – it was simply a dip in the desert with more desert, little to inspire. As I popped back onto Ruta 5, it was decision time – go all the way into Santiago to explore, or head towards the mountains and Argentina. It wasn’t exactly the toughest decision of my trip, since I hate big cities and was getting tired of the high cost of Chile, so heading to Argentina w

Days 19-21: Mutually Assured Destruction

In which Pete’s front wheel nearly destroys itself, leading to hundreds of miles of careful searching for a replacement in the deserts of Chile and underscoring the high cost of decadent travel in Chile. Day 19 Begin: Taltal, Chile @ 9:00AM End: Copiapo, Chile @ 5:00PM Distance: approx. 337km (~210mi) in ~8 hours (~42KMH / ~26MPH average) A “completo” (hot dog with tomato, avocado, and an italian roll) may not be the healthiest breakfast in the world, but it certainly jump starts the taste buds – especially when accompanied by the first somewhat decent coffee I’ve had in months. Surprisingly, the random house-turned-hostel I spent the night at had a very fast internet connection, so I was also freshly stocked up on something new to pass the time: podcasts from Radiolab . On the surface, these two things may seem unrelated, and yet they would begin a nearly catastrophic series of events that almost culminated in the mutually assured destruction of both myself and my moto.

Days 16-18: Chillin’ in Chile

In which Pete successfully leaves Peru and enters Chile, finds himself lost without a map and picks a random road south, sleeps in the desert, runs out of gas on the coast, rescues himself by pushing his moto for an hour, then sleeps on a beach… still lost. Eventually a map is found. Day 16 Begin: Tacna, Peru @ 10:30AM End: Unknown Location, Chilean Desert @ 6:00PM Distance: approx. 243km (~158mi) in ~6 hours (~40KMH / ~25MPH average, 1hr for customs) Average Gas Mileage: N/A (calculations fried) Stopped by Police : Only at the border… I have to admit by this point I was looking forward to getting out of Peru and into someplace new. I do really enjoy Peru, but it has a justified reputation of frustration for travelers with the constant police checkpoints everywhere. Plus I was at sea level now and Red was like an entirely new bike, the pickup in 3rd and 4th gear was amazing!