The Achievable Dream 5-part series - the definitive guide on DVD for planning your motorcycle adventure. Get Ready! covers planning, paperwork, medical and many other topics! "Inspirational and Awesome!" See the trailer here!
Gear Up! is a 2-DVD set, 6 hours! Which bike is right for me? How do I prepare the bike? What stuff do I need - riding gear, clothing, camping gear, first aid kit, tires, maps and GPS? What don't I need? How do I pack it all in? Lots of opinions from over 150 travellers! "This DVD will save you a fortune!"See the trailer here!
So you've done it - got inspired, planned your trip, packed your stuff and you're on the road! This section is about staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure. And crossing borders, war zones or oceans!
On the Road! is 5.5 hours of the tips and advice you need to cross borders, break down language barriers, overcome culture shock, ship the bike and deal with breakdowns and emergencies."Just makes me want to pack up and go!" See the trailer here!
Tire Changing!Grant demystifies the black art of Tire Changing and Repair to help you STAY on the road! "Very informative and practical." See the trailer here!
Ladies on the Loose! For the first time ever, a motorcycle travel DVD made for women, by women! These intrepid women share their tips to help you plan your own motorcycle adventure. They also answer the women-only questions, and entertain you with amazing tales from the road! Presented by Lois Pryce, veteran solo traveller through South America and Africa and author of 'Lois on the Loose', and 'Red Tape and White Knuckles.'
"It has me all fired up to go out on my own adventure!" See the trailer here!
We're not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown a hobby into a full time job and a labour of love.
When you decide to become a Member, it helps directly support the site. You get additional privileges on the HUBB, access to the Members Private Store, and more to come as we roll out new systems. Of course, you get our sincere thanks, good karma and knowing you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. :-)
Travel BooksMotorcycle and travel books to inspire and inform you!
DVDs - Watch and Learn!
Horizons Unlimited presents!
Achievable Dream The definitive guide to planning your motorcycle adventure! This insanely ambitious 2-year project has produced an informative and entertaining 5-part, 18 hour DVD series. "The ultimate round the world rider's how-to DVD!" MCN UK.
Collectors Box SetAll 5 DVDs with a custom printed slip case. "The series is 'free' because the tips and advice will save much more than you spend on buying the DVD's."
Advertisers- Horizons Unlimited is well-established as the first source of reliable, unbiased information on all aspects of motorcycle travel.
We reach a dedicated, worldwide group of real travellers, and are the only website focusing exclusively on long distance motorcycle travellers.
If you sell motorcycles or motorcycle accessories, riding gear, camping equipment and clothing, transport motorcycles, organize motorcycle tours, or have motorcycles to rent, you should be advertising with us!
Ride TalesAn easy way to post your ride reports, whether it's a weekend ride or around the world.
Please make the first words of the title WHERE the ride is.
See the announcement in the forum for details on posting.
Please do NOT just post a link to your site. For a link, see Get a Link.
PORKANDCORN: A Man & His Duck Explore South America
(earlier this morning) what better time to start a motorcycle adventure blog than on an airplane at 30,000 ft after 2 hours of sleep and strange dreams. my flight from portland, oregon (home) to santiago, chile (starting point) lands in an hour. i'm surrounded by people shaking in the darkened turbulence, with blankets over their heads.
and so it has begun... four months, eight countries, lots of pavement, gravel, sand and dirt. it's been almost a year exactly since i cooked up this idea. it's not a new concept - countless thousands have done it before me. in general, i will go where the bike takes me. i've been riding street motorcycles since i was 10 or so, but am relatively new to adventure riding and off-road riding. i've travelled the world a good amount, but never on two wheels. i have a week to kill until i pick up my bike at the valparaiso, chile container port about 2 hours west of here on the coast.
i'm not new to the continent. i lived for a year in brazil, and i will return there in a few weeks to visit some old friends on the 10-year anniversary of that stay. my portuguese is ok, but rusty. my spanish is getting better, but i'm often afraid to speak it. that will pass. without learning the language, it's very hard to ever get beyond being a tourist. i put a lot of effort into learning to speak the language, and it will pay off with time.
i've chosen a black 2012 triumph tiger 800xc as my mode of transport. i had 2 weeks in canada this past summer to test out the bike and the gear. feel free to visit my "obsessive-compulsive south america trip preparation" thread. i knew the roads of south america would be challenging from the research - you can find anything from perfect pavement, to washed out gravel, to potholes the size of a truck. i'm 6' 4" and 225 lbs, and have a bit of a messed up neck with 4 blown cervical discs. i wanted a lighter bike to make it easier on myself, but still wanted enough power to pass authoritatively, and enough comfort to ride 15,000 - 20,000 miles in several months. after test rides at a local dealer, i was about to purchase a used 2009 bmw f800gs - then i was encouraged to test out a triumph tiger 800xc. not sure what happened that, day, but i feel in love with the tiger instantly and within a couple of weeks decided to throw down for a new one at oregon's oldest triumph dealer, cascade moto classics. (great bunch of people!)
i'll try to be as honest as i can in my reporting of the places i visit, the people i meet along the way, and the impact of this external and internal journey on myself. i'll try to capture and post photos and videos that represent the way i experience the continent. a traveler away from the comforts and complacency that is often "home" has eyes that are alive. the good and the bad alike enrich you. i saw a sticker on a motorcycle once that said "the only thing you can buy that makes you richer, is travel." i believe that to be true.
i have chosen a rubber duck as my traveling companion. we have traveled together before. i used to take him everywhere. i stopped doing this for some reason that i don't know. maybe this is what i am here in south america to find out. i feel better now that he and i are traveling, and exploring the world together again. don't laugh at the duck - he has been a valuable asset in many parts of the world. something about him bridges the gap between cultures, lowers people's guard. i think he is a symbol of innocence, of youth, and of wonder. everyone loves a rubber duck.
severely jet-lagged, but avoiding the napping and have gotten out to explore my neighborhood a bit and to get some groceries. already appreciating the download of the "maps with me" iphone app. i uploaded maps to all the south american countries i'll be visiting, and it just like having google maps at home. the difference: i'm offline and am still able to search like normal.
i rented an apartment on airbnb.com, and it is small but clean and in a great neighborhood that i selected for its nightlife scene and general accessibility - providencia. here are some shots from the 18th floor rooftop pool, which i am about to drink several beers by:
i wish i had a bunch of amazing photos to post, but i don't. yesterday, i met up with 2 of the guys who shared the cost of the freight container from los angeles, california (there are a total of 5 motos and one SUV - we all hooked up through ADVrider). these good fellows are buddies and both recently retired. also first-timers in ameríca del sur. they are headed north to catch the last few legs of the dakar rally before it finishes here in santiago. sounds tempting, especially now that i unfortunately hear our bikes won't likely clear chilean customs until january 17… hmmmm… dakar?
today, i just wandered around on foot all day. so much for a "ride report" - this is a foot report. my plan was to go to the top of the cerro san cristobal, a big hill downtown, to get some shots of the city. the front desk guy at my building said it would be very busy, and the smog would kill the view. anyway, this set off the "tourists alert" region of my hippocampus, which i believe has been medically identified recently. so, instead, here is a lovely picture of the city from google (in the winter, i assume). maybe i'll break down and get my own shot eventually, but i don't want to keep anyone waiting due to my laziness or phobias.
so instead, i met up with a fellow ADVrider, crested butte-rtw, after he informed me he was in town and graciously agreed to meet up for… you guessed it… more beers. here's his blogspot page and his website: www.wheresfletch.com. great guy and an inspiring traveler.
fletch has been riding for over a year, all the way down the americas from colorado. he likes to linger in places and rest his buns like i do, so we are going to sit down with my maps before i head to the coast so that he can lay some good road/places tips on me. we felt like long lost brothers with our baldness. too bad i shaved my beard last week before i left. i was worried about it getting all gummed up with pisco sours, the continentally favored adult beverage.
we met up in the bellavista neighborhood, which is known as the bohemian/tourist hang out. it was fine and pretty relaxed on a monday afternoon.
after fletch and i split, i walked east of providencia to check out the the gran torre santiago (great santiago tower) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of..._South_America
which is now the tallest building in latin america. it's the same building you can see from my building's pool deck. it is huge. 984 ft, 64 stories.
i went out for dinner like the locals do, at 10pm. i found a nice little courtyard full of people. and found a spot in the corner. the sushi place was good, though i don't recall the name. had a couple of labored conversations with some people in spanish to get some tips for my remaining days. going out alone is an exercise in confidence building. not a lot of 6' 4" bald dudes wandering around santiago, so it's pretty clear who's a gringo and who's not. people stare, which i am getting used to. once i get a bit more comfortable, and my spanish legs under me, i should be able to turn that into an asset.
Mirrored Ride Reports on ADV/HUBB & Blogger/Blogspot (Tutorial)
i've been struggling with the tedium of posting mirrored reports from ADV/HUBB over to Blogger/Blogspot - which i decided after some research was the easiest place to do a stand-alone blog. as many of you know, ADV to HUBB is easy - just copy and paste the "code" from the edit/compose page and plop it in the other edit/compose page. but this was not working from ADV/HUBB to Blogger/Blogspot. the html code was scrambling, the photo/video links were breaking, and i was a general pain in the ass.
(incidentally, i use Flickr to host my photos, and YouTube to host my videos. it's been working great. Flickr does charge $25.00/year to host any photo count over 200, so be aware you are locking yourself into that.)
i was talking about this annoyance with fletch, crested butte-rtw (ADV), and he figured out a solution by accident in the last year of his blogging. he is now my hero, because he has saved me and possibly many more who read this, the pain of re-doing every ADV/HUBB entry on Blogger/Blogspot. thank you fletch.
so it's actually really simple. too simple:
1. after you publish your entry on ADV or HUBB, just select and (copy) the text and photos from the actual public view page:
2. then, in your Blogger/Blogspot edit/compose page, just freaking paste it in there.
3. if you use the Asylum 2.0 page layout (the black one) like i do on ADV, it will make the text white and the background black when you paste into Blogger/Blogspot. to correct this, simply select the entire post in Blogger/Blogspot and use the text and background menu drop-downs to change the background to white, and the text to black.
Great stuff you are sharing tips with everyone as you go. I downloaded the map application on my iphone, I´d like to try that on a trip, it looks very helpful especially if you can use it off line. Thans for that. Have a great time.
the beautiful thing about the adventure motorcycling community, is that wherever you go, you have family. i invited one of my container-mates, "bear," to stay with me in santiago. i knew he has rushed together this trip. he had a weekend to prepare everything, whereas i had a year. turns out that we are the same age more or less, and that he is the engineer responsible for the focus mechanism of the camera on the james web space telescope. if you are a astronomy nerd like i am, then you will know that this is a big deal. i cried during the hubble imax movie, because the beauty of what was accomplished with that device overwhelmed me. the james webb is the next generation scope after the hubble, with many many times the resolution. it launches somewhere around 2018, i believe.
so in addition to having the coolest job ever, bear happens also he's a great guy and we've been having an amazing time exploring chile together. of course there have been the expected pitchers of cristal beer to have conversations about the effects of traveling on the soul and mind. there is so much to absorb, so many new things to see everyday, that time effectively slows down. i've not even been here for a week and it easily feels like twice that.
visually, it's overwhelming. he and i have both noticed that when we shut our eyes for naps, in the blackness, there are images, almost like hallucinations, in black and white - images of people and places we've seen, people we've met. very intense and hard to describe. mentally, we are both pushed to our limits. we could admittedly use more sleep, but just processing everyday things is challenging.
we only had a couple of days to explore santiago together. near plaza de armas, in santiago, we when to a famous 100 year old bar called la piojera - which translates to the "louse pit". it was a real stick to the floor kind of place, with some real characters. felt like the bar in that scene in the movie airplane, where the girl scouts are in a fist fight, and the old man gets stabbed on the dance floor. they serve a drink there called a terremoto (earthquake), that is a base of grappa wine with ice cream and fernet. it was disgusting, and very powerful. i can see why they need the sign that you see behind the bar.
friday morning, we took the santiago metro to the outskirts of town, to the pajaritos bus station to catch a ride to valparaiso. we have a meeting with our group's customs agent on monday, but we wanted to spend the weekend at the beach anyway.
valparaiso, and it's sister cities to the north (vina del mar, playa renaca, playa concón) are were santiaguinos go during these high summer months to relax and party. i also here that lots of argentinians come here, because it's cheaper than the beaches of brazil. we stayed the first night at an over-priced shit-hole in vina del mar, but are moving today to downtown valparaiso, which is where you want to be. "valpo" as it is called, is a UNESCO world heritage site. looking forward to getting some photos and posted a report.
my new plan is to joint bear for the last two stages of the DAKAR rally, that are working their way down toward valpo, before they turn inland to finish in santiago on january 20. getting pretty excited about that. i should be reunited with my bike on tuesday or wednesday and actually be able to start riding.
well, the apartment i found in vina del mar was a piece of shit. it looked great in the photos online. this seems to be how things go here. it was however a place to land in a new city. and that was it's most important function that no amount of structural neglect or misleading photography could take away.
bear and i were eager to check out the vibrant character of valparaiso itself (10 minute taxi ride to the south from vina del mar), so we found a hostel on hostelworld.com, and found a place. the neighborhood, cerro carcél (carcél hill) is a bit rough - lot's of stray dogs, not very clean streets. but the hostel - hostel verde limon - is very clean and there's a relaxed vibe and the travelers staying here from all over the world have been very friendly. the building is a crazy maze - like they combined 3 old buildings to make one. this tall gringo is doing a lot of ducking and stooping.
"valpo", as valparaiso is known, it a pretty interesting place. probably not for the faint of heart at times. it's disorderly, lots of odd streets curving around endlessly up the hills. the graffiti is amazing - it's everywhere and it's beautiful and surreal.
bear and i met some chileans in santiago, and we met up with them out here on the coast. together we explored another hill next to ours, cerro concepcion. this hill is nicer, with restaurants, quaint little B&Bs, and a few more tourists. had a dinner there on a place overlooking the bay that was quite tasty.
we also ended up hitching a ride from valpo, back through vina del mar, and finally arriving at playa renaca. there was a lot of traffic, like any beach community in the heart of summer. but the drive was nice to put the whole region in perspective. playa renaca was a bit more of a young, party-your-ass-off kind of vibe. my arms were completely fried from the intense sun here, so i was in no mood for partying. more in the mood for sleeping and aloe vera.
bear and i were speaking spanish with our guides from santiago the entire weekend, and both our brains are very tired with processing language. the spanish is coming along. i still try to start off any conversation with "desculpe, you estoy apprendiendo espanol - por favor, puede hablar lentamente." (sorry, i am learning spanish - please, can you speak slowly.) it works, as people tend to slow down, enunciate, and leave out all the slang or sayings that my brain can't yet understand.
today, monday, we spent the entire day at the customs office. the process was less than efficient, however, chile itself seems to work. much is lost in translation. the customs office is right at the port, and we saw the actual boat (pictured) with our container being unloaded. we compared the boat's number to the one on our bill of lading, the document used to show what we are shipping and prove that it is ours. the entire process of export/import was obscure to me when i started this process. now it is semi-opaque.
we are told that on wednesday, we will be assigned a meeting time with a chilean customs agent, who will go with us to our container, have the shipping company unlock it as we all watch, and do an inspection of our bikes on the spot and hopefully release them to us.
valparaiso, chile and the reunion with my triumph tiger 800xc
i learned this dicho (saying) today: "ayer, lo passe chancho," which means "yesterday, i had a piggy day." this is a saying specific to chile, in spanish. chileans also say to their boyfriends/girlfriends, "hola chanchito," meaning "hello piggy." having a piggy day means that you are with your friends or doing fun stuff, and making memories. i have been having a piggy week and a half.
valparaiso after 3 days of inhabitance is growing on me and feels familiar. i'm already thinking and dreaming in spanish. we've moved from the hostal verde limon to the hostal caracol. hostal caracol was close by, and have a gated back yard where we can put our bikes (which we collected today! - more about that soon.)
wednesday, we took a walking tour with a guy named francisco, a porteño (person from valparaiso - a port person) who gives walking tours of valpo for tips. it was a 3 hour tour rich with history, politics, graffiti, humor and this is also where i learned about piggy days.
there was a golden age in valparaiso that was set off by the san francisco gold rush, strangely enough. the demand of wheat from chile to fuel the california gold rush built a world class city. it's rise to opulence was fast, with certain areas of downtown claiming status as some of the wealthiest areas on the continent at the time. the downfall was similarly to the point, brought about by the construction of the panama canal, causing activity at the valpo port to dry up and leading to a generalized depression that has lasted until today. valpo is now the most poverty stricken city in chile, but i don't seem to mind.
so, today was a BIG DAY. after a year of planning this trip, months of spending too much money on motorcycle stuff, and a month of waiting for my bike to sail to valpo, today i was reunited with my bike. the gringo parade met up at a really amazing seafood restaurant, los porteños II, very close to the aduanas (customs) building downtown. all of us where there, including "coach" who dragged my bike from salem, oregon to put my bike on the container for me in los angeles, california.
after lunch (i had the paella, which had about 5 pounds of chicken, pork, seafood, and curried rice), we all went to the SAMM container handling facility to crack open our officially sealed container. (the seal was an aluminum band on the lock that could have been broken by a cat or a ferret. but it was in tact and hence we knew our bikes were un-tampered-with.
jorge, our chilean customs 'fixer' was amazing and calmly worked through the mountain of paperwork. eventually, after we cracked the container, pulled all our bikes (and an SUV) out of the container, the customs agent came and looked over the bikes. there really was not search, but he checked the VIN numbers and we had a few laughs about my rubber duck. the customs agent has a BMW 1200GS, so you could say he was sympathetic to our cause. chancho!!
finally, after some more stamps and papers, we rode the F out of there and bear and i went up to our new hostel on a steeper hill than before. (valpo is very much like san francisco, without the hippies.) we rode up a back alley and into a gated backyard of the hostel. i pull my panniers off to make the bike lighter, as we had to hop a descent sized curb and the turning radius to get in the gate was crapola. managed to get both bikes in without a spill.
i admired how well i packed the bike, but she's definately porky. i'll be sending back some stuff in the mail when i get to brazil. now, after going down the hill to get dinner (always a 3000 calorie burning endeavor), i'm again staying up way to late for your benefit, processing photos, uploading to flickr, updating 3 blogs.
playa renaca, chile to paso de jama, chile-argentina border
it's time to begin the ride indeed. i'm in playa renaca, where bear and i decided to come for a change from valpo. staying right in the center of the little downtown at piero's hotel. althought expensive, 114.00 USD night, it is the only thing we could find and frankly, the best deal we could find. this town is packed with chilean and argentinian summer tourists. the hotel has a pool, and i spent about an hour baking the other white parts of my body to match the charred sections. the sun down here will cook a northwestern boy to a crisp in an hour. i feel like i'm evenly baked now.
the bike is porky, over-loaded with too much stuff. i knew this heading out, but it's each adv riders responsibility to pack too much shit, and then give it away to less fortunate people on the road. so that is what i will do. i'm carrying a spare front and rear tire until mendoza, argentina, which i will leave at a motorcycle shop. the rest of the fat, i will cut over the next week and either ditch, or mail home from buenos aires. i should be in b.a. in about 4 days.
bear, i haven't told you my decision yet, but it's time to start my solo journey as i saw it in my head starting out. it's hard, because i made a good friend, and i don't want to part ways. we've had a ton of fun exploring together, and the bond that we've made is a lifetime bond.... wuppp... he just walked into the room and the gig is up. i told him. ok. he understands. ok. done deal. well shit...
so that is the way of the road. we'll ride together again - not sure when, but eventually.
tomorrow, i will make for the hotel portillo, just to the west of the switchbacks that make up the chilean side of the paso de jama. the hotel was recommended by the guy at the hostal caracol. the pass cuts just south of aconcagua, the highest peak in the andes, and the americas, at 22,837 ft. (gulp). that is a high *%#&*!'ing mountain. i will ride up some very intense switchbacks on the chilean side that i hear put the fear of jebus in you.
i'm looking forward to some time alone to process what the hell it is that i am doing and have done. i envisioned this, but it seems rather surreal that it's actually happening. for now, i can't post any images now because i need to sort out the route for tomorrow, reserve the hotel, figure out where i'm dumping my spare tires in mendoza, etc. later.
playa renaca, chile to villa alemana, chile (dakar search)
i lied. i was all set and ready to go this morning, heading to mendoza, argentina and got held up trying to reprogram my bikes computer to metric/kilometers instead of english/miles. i went back into the room for a pit stop, and bear had found out that there was a Dakar spectator zone right on my route to mendoza between the cities of villa alemana and limache. previously, i thought i'd have to trek way north to catch it, so now i'm back on the dakar path.
we spent the day scoping out the areas that it is traveling through. there are supposed to be 10,000 spectators spread over the course for the day. the dakar "mass" basically rolls in and out of small towns, draining them of resources: water, gas, food, lodging. so we are prepped with food, water, spare fuel and posting to the adv motorcycle forums to find the coordinates of the spectator zones. the racers are supposed to be blasting through early in the morning tomorrow around 7 or 8am.
we basically made a big hundred mile loop and wound up in vina del mar at a new hostel, hungry for internet connections to figure out where to go and what to do. earlier today, we were at a hiper lider (south american name for super walmart) looking for internet, and while i was in checking on that, some guy came up to bear and told him that he and 30 other bikers would meet us back there tomorrow morning to lead us out to the spectator zone. that works too!
today was frustrating for us both, driving in a big circle, ending up back at the beach where we've already been. but it yielded that rider connection, so if they show up, we are set. i'm still posting to forums for the actual coordinates as a backup.
i'll probably watch the races until noon, then take off for the portilla hotel that i was supposed to arrive at tonight. one day burned to see the dakar rally: worth it.
2013 dakar rally - limache, chile to portillo, chile
so after realizing the dakar route was running right across my path to mendoza, argentina, i stuck around another day to hunt down a good spot to watch the racers come through. yesterday, we drove from playa reneca, through concón, into limache, and around into villa alemana. after finding no good spots to stay, we drove the final 8 miles back into the back side of vina del mar. we found a sketchy hostel downtown that had ancient mattresses, mosquitos, and shitty internet. as a traveler, i'm fine with terrible lodging, but bad wi-fi is inexcusable.
we rolled into limache, no motorcycles anywhere. how can an event that draws 10,000 spectators not produce at least one or two bikes on the road?
anyway, at a gas station we got directions to the zones dos espectadores (spectators zone). there is hardly any signage in the town. finally, we got to a place where there were some dakar vehicle in front of a dirt road. it looked official, so we just blasted through without talking to anyone. (that's how you do things in south america if you don't want to spend all day talking in terrible spanish to people that barely understand you.)
we passed a couple of cows on the road, which over the in-helmet intercom system that i brought along, we named "DAKOWS" out of respect for the event. 2 more DAKOWS, and we ran into a big ranch gate that looked super official with signs that said VIP DAKAR ESPECIAL. well, my spanish is bad, but this gringo knows when he's onto something good.
i pulled off the helmet, and we chatted up the guard. franco, the guard, said that this area was for VIP, race techs, and TV crews. i explained to him that we had just risen the length of the americas to get to this event (una mentira - a lie), and he agreed we were worthy to enter.
after a few kilometers more of dirt road, we came into a clearing roped off with yellow tape. we followed a tape path down to the end of the big clearing toward the VIP tent, realizing after a few confused looks that we were riding on the ACTUAL DAKAR 2013 COURSE!!
since we were already pushing our luck a bit by lying our way into VIP, we agreed we should get the hell off the course. bear pulled up under a big shade tree, right next to the Red Bull camp, and we claimed our own CAMP GRINGO, DAKAR 2013.
i pulled out the camping goods, made some coffee and tea, and we've just been hanging out taking photos with all the VIPs who keep coming over and asking if we are in the race. "claro que si!" (of course we are!). no, actually, we've been finally telling the truth. so it's about 11:15am now, and we are just waiting for the racers to start blasting by the course.
bear and i split out of the dakar VIP area around 3pm, both eager to get off to our next destinations. once we got out of the VIP section, we ran into all the normal spectators. since we came from the direction of the race, everyone assumed we were racing. so we were waving, stopping for photos, kissing babies. we didn't want to disappoint them. they'd been waiting all day for a glimpse of the action. it continued out on the freeway moving SE to santiago (bear) and los andes (me). in our final miles together, bear and i were getting standing ovations and cheers from people parked along the freeway waiting for dakar riders and drivers to come by. quite a send off.
bear and i stopped for water about 7km from my turn east to los andes and the paso dos liberadores - my entrance into argentina. i got a little emotional. it was odd. here i had just made a good friend, sharing some pretty intense days at the start of our journey, and now we were already parting.
bear is headed to santiago to take care of some business before heading to patagonia. (get that tail light fixed boy!). i'll miss him. if patagonia sucks (it won't), we can meet up in 3-4 weeks in mendoza and continue north together. he's a good man...
later that afternoon, i started to climb elevation toward the paso dos liberadores and the andean peak of aconcagua, the highest point in the andes and the second highest point in the world after the himalayas. i got to the bottom of the switchback and hit the line-up i was expecting.
they are doing construction on the paso, so eastbound from chile can only pass from 8pm to 7am. so i rolled up to the front of a 3 mile line (good to be on a motorcycle), and stuck in with a pack of about 8 bikes, which turned out to be brazilians on the way back home from dakar.
so after spending all day speaking spanish, i switched over to portuguese for the 1.5 hour wait. i was told that even brazlians, after spending time in spanish speaking countries, end up speaking "portunol" - a mix of the two. now i don't feel so bad. my portuguese is still better.
the switchbacks were intense, and we took them at dusk after they release the 300 car line-up. i was at the head of the pack after i passed a big tour bus. it was intense. the altitude comes quick. soon, as i passed into the mountain shadow, dusk turned to night. i don't like riding at night, but it was an empty road with no oncoming traffic. just eventually switchbacks lit by the moon. (i didn't take the photo, as i couldn't stop, but this is what they look like during the day.)
eventually, the GPS directed me onto a dirt road toward the hotel portillo. it was completely vacant.
hmmmm... the next town in across the chilean/argentinian border, through customs and about 3 hours of non-sense. i stopped to see if i could anyone. it was unlocked and i wandered in. i found my way down into the kitchen. there were 3 staff members there, although i don't know why. by this time ted had shown up and i was convincing one of them in spanish to let us camp out in the hotel, if only on the floor. finally, he agree and after a nice meal of ham and cheese sandwich and a bottle of local red wine, we camped out in some grand living room. i felt like in the night, the two little twin girls from hitchcock's the shining would throttle me in my sleep. i sleep on the couch cushions, with my motorcycle jacket as a blanket and my motorcyle pants as a pillow. i could not have been happier.
the next morning, we had to get up at 5:45am to get on the road and up over the pass before they closed down the east-bound lanes at 7am. we ran into the portillo's st. bernard guard dog in the early morning as we were leaving. he was sniffing around in the living room during the night. the light was coming up quickly on the hotel, even though we woke in total darkness. the hotel, and the lake are intense, especially when there are not people around to ruin it all.
eventually, i wound up in the emigration/customs complex for entry into chile. there was a pretty serious line that took about 1.5 hours to pass through. then it was about a half hour inside before we were release with the appropriate stamps and documents into... ARGENTINA!!
arriving in mendoza, food and wine were on minds, but finding lodging was a priority. all the hostels were booked due to the heavy summer hiking traffic heading up to aconcagua mountain. some dutch hikers that i ran into gave me a tip on a double bed room about 10 blocks from where we were looking, so we b-lined for it. no fuss when rooms are tight. we arrived, got settled, and headed out to a nice dinner of argentinian steak (very good), wine (very good) and papas fritas.
Take 40% off Road Heroes Part 1 until October 31 only!
Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers Peter and Kay Forwood (193 countries two-up on a Harley); Dr. Greg Frazier (5 times RTW); Tiffany Coates (RTW solo female); and Rene Cormier (University of Gravel Roads).
"Inspiring and hilarious!"
"I loved watching this DVD!"
"Lots of amazing stories and even more amazing photographs, it's great fun and very inspirational."
Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'HEROES' on your order when you checkout.
What others say about HU...
"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA
"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada
"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia
"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders
10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!
Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!
Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.
You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or
to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and
knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.