Tierra Del Fuego

Second Stage of the Continental Divide Journey

Introduction and Day 1

The ride from Los Angeles to Tierra del Fuego is step two of a three part ride from Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Ocean to Tierra del Fuego on the southern tip of South America. More

Day 2 - January 6

We awoke to a beautiful view out our window: More

Day 3 - January 7

Today is my birthday – although I have received no presents, last night I was allowed to select the best room. We awoke early to go on a whale watch. The whales conjugate in a bay at Guerrero Negro beginning December 15. They arrive to calve generally accompanied by their calves from the previous year. When I was last here we saw hundreds of whales with calves and they would come up to the boat so that you could touch them. They expect around 1,500 whales this year. More

Day 3 – January 7 (addendum)

It’s interesting to me that the Orcas (killer whales) that frequent the areas north of the Washington and Oregon coast don’t follow the gray whales south for easy pickings (more fat, bigger families, and the expansion of the herds). Apparently they are satisfied to knock off a few salmon appetizers chased by a seal or sea lion entrée. In our world they wouldn’t make for very good investment bankers and would be considered homebodies.


Day 4 - January 8

We left Guerrero Negro in the morning amid a pea soup fog and it was difficult to see more than 200 yards ahead. The road was wet and the fog collected on the helmet visor like rain. More

Day 5 – January 9

We had a relatively short trip today (as the crow flies) - - we went south along the coast for a short distance and then turned inland over a mountain range (approximately 1,500 feet) with a lot of twists and turns and steep hills and descents. We reached a straight boring road on a desert plane – lots of cactuses. More

Day 6 – January 10

We awoke and had a leisurely breakfast – I had gone to bed at 5:30 last night and woke at 7:45 assuming I had missed breakfast (but it was still night). Packing a leisurely 12 hour sleep, I woke up amazingly refreshed, without back pain and ready to attack the world. Here is the view out the window: More

Day 7 – January 11

The ferry arrived in Mazatlán where we gassed up the bikes. More

Day 8 - January 12

We left Zacatecas and headed towards San Miguel. It was 36 degrees with heavy fog at the time and my 5 layers of clothing was still insufficient - - 36 degrees at 80 mph – I hate to think what the windchill is. To make matters even worse, it was drizzling – the first rain we had seen. More

Day 9 – January 13

We started the day by changing out the spring on my rear shock absorber. Vincent pulled the shock out in only 15 minutes and we ended up using a moderately heavy spring replacement. We couldn’t use the entire shock assembly because it made the bike too high (I like to be able to touch me feet flatly on the ground and with the new shock assembly I would have been on tip-toes). More

Day 10 – January 14

We had a fascinating stay in San Miguel – Harriet and Derek’s hospitality was superb and we thoroughly enjoyed their friends. We wanted to stay longer, but Helge has us on a “forced march” itinerary. It was great to see Marge - - she turned out to be a godsend for the trip – not only did she bring the new spring for the shock absorber on my motorcycle, but we were able to leave an entire suitcase of extra stuff with her that we shouldn’t have brought along. With any long trip such as this it’s smart to take at least a one-week pre-trip to determine all that you will need - - I clearly had not taken enough of a shakedown trip or done enough prior planning. More

Day 11-13 – January 15, 16 & 17

We departed Taxco and headed for Oaxaca where we spent the night. The next day we went from Oaxaca on to Tehuantepec and finally to Tapachula near the border of Guatemala. There was a large variety of riding - from excellent road surfaces in the mountains with twisty-turnies and smooth banked turns to riding smooth straight highways through near desert conditions to lush agricultural supporting sugar cane. The road went from altitudes near 8,000 feet down to 3,000 feet. The take-home from these three days was that Mexico has a wide variety of ecosystems with the vast majority of rural inhabitants in the valleys. However, Mexico is predominantly an urban population with 76% of its 111 million people living in cities versus the US with 81% of its population living in urban areas. More

Day 16-17 – January 20 & 21

La Antigua, Guatemala to Santa Rosa, Honduras to Tegucigalpa, Honduras

We got an early start out of Antigua, leaving our lavish hotel behind us as we rode down nearly-deserted cobblestone streets.


Day 18-22 – January 22-26

Tegucigalpa, Honduras to Managua, Nicaragua to the Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica to Panama City, Panama

In Tegucigalpa, we left our bikes under the watchful eye of this guard brandishing a WWII MI Carbine.


Day 23-28 – January 27-February 1

Panama City, Panama to Bogota, Colombia to Pasto, Colombia

Most of this time was not devoted to riding motorcycles but rather to shipping the bikes from Panama City to Bogota. While we waited for the bikes to arrive, we took the opportunity to tour the cities.


Day 29 – February 2

Pasto, Colombia to Quito, Ecuador

We left Pasto still a little bit upset about missing Cali and exhausted from driving 360 miles and endlessly reconnoitering locations for next year’s trip. Helge is working us like draft animals – gone is the afternoon siesta.


Day 30-34 – February 3-7

Quito, Ecuador to Cuenca, Ecuador to Cuenca, Ecuador, to Macara Ecuador to Chiclayo, Peru to Huarmey, Peru

We took the day off in Quito on the 3rd – I caught up on work, and the others went for a tour of Quito. They visited a park which celebrates the equator; you’d assume it is located on the equator – but it’s not – and everyone with a GPS knows it is not. It’s largely a tourist trap. At the park along with them were 18,000 Latin American Herbal Lite sales distributors from Latin America. In Bogota alone, one distributor told us, there are over 4,500 distributors. Herbal Lite, as you may know, is a dietary supplement that is supposed to make you feel better – and we were told that even the poor Ecuadorians were gobbling it up. They use a very effective pyramid marketing approach in which if you are a successful salesman you can graduate to a distributor and receive commissions from all of your salesmen. The raw material cost is practically nothing – sales commission is by far the largest cost component.


Day 35-37 – February 8-10

Huarmey, Peru to Pisco, Peru to Nazca Peru to Abancay, Peru

We drove from Huarmey to Pisco continuing through the desert on the PanAmerican Highway. This is a beautiful road surrounded by huge skylines and dunes – but not particularly interesting. The road is straight with few curves and we were able to cover a lot of ground at high speeds.


Day 38-39 – February 11-12

In my previous blog, I inquired as to the physics behind the moisture from the Pacific dumping on the eastern side of the Andes rather than the western thus forming the large South American Pacific coast desert. I received the following from Jim Schaefer in my office: More

Day 40-44 – February 13-17

Cuzco, Peru to Puno, Peru to La Paz, Bolivia to Uyuni, Bolivia to Potosi, Bolivia

Helge once again forced us up early, and we headed out of Cuzco in time to beat the Saturday morning market traffic.


Day 45-51 - February 18-24

Day 45 – February 18

Potosi, Bolivia to Tupiza, Bolivia
We spent the morning in Potosi at a museum whose name translates to “The House of Money.” It was a mint used by the early Spaniards to coin silver before sending it back to Spain (after extracting it from the poor Incas). The museum’s collection—which was loaded with Christian paintings, among many other things—was a schizophrenic catch-all of artifacts donated by locals hoping to fill the big, empty building. We were given a tour by a guide who spoke with a thick accent and, as is not uncommon here, freely displayed her anti-American attitude. The rolling mill that rolled the thick 2.5” billets of silver down to 1/8” was the most interesting part of the museum. Here is the gear reduction system for the mill – the gears are made out of wood:



Dan's wife, Marge, received a phone call from a relative in Hong Kong @ 4:00 a.m. this morning with news of the earthquake that centered about 200 miles south of Santiago, Chile this morning. More


Marge spoke briefly with Dan this evening via satellite phone and also spoke with Helge's wife, Karen, to provide the following update. More

Day 52-56 – February 25-28

Santiago, Chile to Los Angeles, Chile to Osorno, Chile

February 25-26
We arrived in Santiago on Wednesday, February 24 and had planned to stay for one day but ended up staying for two. Our choice of one extra day allowed us to experience the 7th largest earthquake in recorded history, which struck in the very early hours of Saturday, the 27th. Prior to the earthquake adventure, we had some time to experience Santiago:


Day 57-60 – March 1-4

Osorno, Chile to San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina to Los Alerces National Park, Argentina to Puyugapi, Chile

March 1
We got a late start out of Osorno and headed to Moto Aventura, the tour operator Helge had arranged to have our tires changed. We started the trip with knobby tires for Baja Mexico, changed to road tires, and now we will switch back to knobbies.


Day 61-64 – March 5-8

Puyugapi, Chile to Perito Moreno, Argentina to El Chalten, Argentina to El Calafate, Argentina

March 5
We pulled out of Puyugapi early in the morning and caught a view of the clouds partially obscuring the mountains:


Day 65-67 – March 9-11

El Calafate, Argentina to Torres del Paine, Chile

We left our nice hotel in El Calafate on Lake Argentino in the early morning. I had my warm gloves in the panniers and didn’t close them securely enough. While riding around town, my gloves blew out – so now I’m riding with no warm gloves. The sky is beautiful, but the warning “red skies in the morning, sailors take warning” comes to mind. I believe some of the red sky may actually have been caused by a fire we saw in the hills last night—it is still burning this morning.


Day 68-69 – March 12-13

Torres del Paine, Chile to Cerro Sombrero, Chile to Ushuaia, Argentina

Correction to previous blog 3-11-10:
Helge and Roger were blown off their bikes by the wind and Vincent nearly fell off laughing at the spectacle. Relative to the judging of the Palomo award, of course transparency is the rule in all of South America – and for those of you who have requested the proceedings of the Palomo award deliberations, all you need to do is enter the code used to get on this blog followed by the last three digits of your grandfather’s social security number and submit it to www.argentine.chile/palomoaward/deliberations.com.


Day 70-72 – March 14-16

Ushuaia, Argentina

We spent three days hanging around Ushuaia taking side trips and preparing to ship our bikes back to the US—a lengthy process that involves assembling the customs papers for exportation and getting the packing materials.