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Fasten your seatbelts it's going to be a fun ride

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The harbingers of doom.

After the fun ride with the group in the desert park, on to La Rioja.

Another beautiful center plaza. 
But in general I like to avoid the cities.
Its dangerous on motorcycles.
I prefer the spots just outside of town.
Usually cleaners, safer, quieter and cheaper.
Well except for the dogs barking all night long.
But they do that in the cities too.

It's Sunday so all the shops are closed but boy do they like foofy dresses.  

Another beautiful government building.

Lovely flowers in the trees. 

Another pedestrian street. 

Cute cute cute.

Had to capture the Claro sign in this photo. 
There are 3 main cell phone carriers; Movistar, Entel and Claro.
We've wasted so much time finding Claro stores, being in Claro stores, discussing trying to get our data or calls to work on the Claro network....

This was one of the only restaurants open and we figured it would be pretty good since it looked posh and fancy. Nope. Overcooked the steak. I should have known said 30 minutes cooking time. Pasilla's are steakhouses. They always get it right. 

But it looked good before I cut into it.

Doug LOVES ice cream.
I found some sugar free ice cream too.

Pictures sometimes just don't convey the beauty so I'll try and describe it.
We took a low pass over a mountain range and this road had sweeping turns that were fun.
And around this bend we first glimpsed the valley down below. 

We were hungry. Well, I was hungry so we stopped at this roadside restaurant.
They had only 1 thing on the menu. 
Breaded meat.
With plenty of flies and mosquitoes. 
It was the kind of place that a sane person would never eat at. 
Even I wondered if the food would stay down. 
3 hours later, we were still fine. 

It's either french fries or salad. 
And when  you order a salad, it could have anything.
This was overcooked eggs, cooked carrots and raw tomatoes. 
It was gross. 
We ate it anyway. 

Milanesa. This time it was made with an egg batter. 

We were heading for Tafi Del Valle. 
Found ourselves climbing up a steep winding road. 
Many sections had residual mud on the road from the heavy rain the night before.

All the rivers were raging.
In fact, nearly every bridge had half the town on it watching the water flow.
It was a big deal.
Argentina has many many rivers.
All of those rivers have fast moving muddy water.
The kind of current a person might last 30 seconds in.

Nice action shot by Doug.

So this little nipper was cute as heck.

There are many stray dogs everywhere.
We call them either
Nippers (young pups)
Limpers (old dogs that have been hit)
Goners (the bloated ones on the side of the road)
Sad but true.
Anyway, Doug is a magnet for dogs. 

We found a cabin called La Banda walking distance to town.
The owner Ricardo took us to the barber for the boys and the laundry for our clothes. 
My room. 
Very comfortable bed. 

He got a sticker too.
So I had Special Agent Nancy stickers made.
With my horns, my website and my ADV handle. 
They have been a huge hit. 
The gas attendant''s and border crossing guys really like them.

Most of the time the Cabana's have a full kitchen. 
Made scrambled eggs and mortadella the next morning.

He even took us to the store to get groceries. 
Where I saw this squash the size of a....well it was big
with a big knife in it to cut what you wanted. 

Then drove us around to see the valley and take photos. 

The 3 musketeers. 
Boy we are really having fun.
Doug is funny as heck.
Dan is a constant source of funnies. 
Put those two together and it's like The Odd Couple.
And I just laugh and laugh.
Having the time of my life with these two.
Hand's down, best group ride ever. 

Lots of horses in Argentina. 
Wandering on the side of the road. 
Sometimes hobbled or tied. 

Guess what...the guys futsing with the freakin bikes again!

We loved it so much we decided to stay and extra night.
So the next day we took all the baggage off the bikes and we took a ride around the mountain.
On a back dirt road. 
Each town is usually marked by some large sign before entering.
This is the most grandiose we have seen thus far.

This is the lake in the center of the valley.
Based on our history of exploding volcanoes, 
we joke that something will go horribly wrong after we leave.
Turns out a bunch of French celebrities died in a helicopter crash 
in La Rioja just after we left.

So when we were going around the lake, 
Doug quipped "the lake will boil" and we just found out 
We are the harbingers of doom.

Easy fun dirt road.

Stopped for lunch. 
This boy would not leave his poor puppy alone. 
Friends for life. 

OK OK, enough photos of Tafi Del Valle but gosh was it just serene.

So when we finally left town and stopped to take photos of these funny goats. 
They are all laying on top of this house roof. 

This is about where I found that I lost one of my Teva shoes.

Really loved those shoes. 
They don't make them anymore. 
Oh well.

We stopped in Cafayate where the oldest building in Argentina is.
We never did find it. 
Heck we didn't even bother to look for it.
But we did find a wonderful meat platter. 

Then rode through this beautiful red rock valley that reminded me of Sedona.

Famous roadside monolith. 

It seems easy but it's always tricky pulling off the pavement,
on to the dirt/gravel and parking at just the right angle in order
to be able to put the side stand down and not tip the bike over. 
Plus stressing about a car coming around too fast and not stopping or seeing you.
Let's just say, these photos are special. 

Found a hotel in Jujuy.
They usually include breakfast.
And it's almost always a pastryfest. 
So I ate my leftover omelette from the day before. 

View from my room. 
6th floor.
Our bikes in the basement.
We called it the dungeon. 
Scary place. 
Dark. Rank. Wet. 
Scary. (no photo)

The electrical wires have weird growths on them.
They are shaped like small tennis or golf balls.
Finally got close enough to one to see what the heck it was.
This one was the size of a beach ball. 

I have a pretty decent zoom lens so I took some street shots. 
This guy was selling coffee or something....

These two kids were chit catting by all the motos. 

Man in a wheelchair in front of the church, 
just watching people go to work. 

This is a famous building according to the man I struck up a conversation with.
It where the political leaders met to form a coalition to repel the Spanish invasion. 

This nice lady helped me get a ticket from Buenos Aires to Santiago.
When I changed my flights (a third time) I could not get a return flight from BA.
I thought of taking a bus but I've watched how too many of them drive....
so I found out that a one way cost $900 and a RT $400.
Welcome to an imploding economy.

We finally left and I just couldn't resisting taking this photo.
Lot's of asses on the side of the road too!
Hardy har har har. 

Cool city of the dead perched up on the hill.
Not seen this kind of configuration before. 

Took a bit of a round trip to see a cool town. 
Found this hotel that had a restaurant. 
We were the only people there but it was pretty good. 

You can't really tell but it's big river rocks for the road.
They are mortared but it doesn't matter.
Still feels like my Tiger is a bucking bronco.
Hate that stuff.

Used the zoom lens to get this photo.
I wasn't going to walk up these stairs in the heat.
And sun.
At 9000 feet. 
Yep. Felt like we were at sea level.
Except when we tried to exert ourselves. 
Fortunately the boys had altitude pills which helped.

The next epic part of our ride involved the Paso De Jama.
(I left it in Spanish so you too can feel the fun of trying to decipher websites in a foreign language)
It seemed just plain wrong to come to South America and not ride a 15,000 foot pass.
So I won the arm wrestling match with the boys and off we went. 
We decided to do it in two days.
Good thing too, Dan had "issues" with his bike and we did a lot of it at 40 mph. 
So we stayed in a one horse town but it had a decent hotel. 

One bed for me.
One bed for all my gear. 
I should weight it. 
Seems heavier every day and I'm still losing weight.

Here is the GPS shot for 15,000+ feet. 

Yet again, it's hard to convey the beauty in photos.
Arid, dry and barren yet beautiful everywhere you look.
A humbling and slightly spooky experience. 
Riding through Death Valley is as close as I've come.

Finally made it over the pass and got a camping spot and a cabin for the boys. 

Was out of my gear and in my bikini in less than 5 minutes.

Late night soccer match. Right in front of my tent. 

There is Doug with his companion. As usual.

Woke up the next morning. Had a good breakfast.
Went all over town trying to find the hiding gas station.
And off we went back over the pass.

Stopped at the salt flats.

Walking on it felt like snow crunching beneath your boots. 

I licked it. Yep, salt.

And the best part....There is a reserve habitat for flamingos!

Funny looking....and cute.

I leave you with this final photo.

Like I said, harbingers of doom:

Valparaiso on fire. 
Villarica volcano erupted.
La Rioja helicopter crash.