Monday, February 19, 2024

2/19-Billy has Survived and a Few Stats

It seems Billy has survived his journey in a suboptimal box. He is pretty durable. 

Nice thing about not needing to reuse the box, I can just cut it open. 

All put back together. Ready for the next adventure. 

Thank you suboptimal box for holding together. 

I’ve compiled a few stats:
Kilometers/miles ridden from Puerto Montt to Ushuaia: 2092.6kms/1300.3miles

Kilometers in Chile on the Carratera Austral: 1208.4
Kilometers in Argentina: 884.2

Total days in South America: 92

Days spent riding with forward progress: 41

Days off, not including Ushuaia: 36

Camping in Chile: 15 nights out of 44 days
Camping in Argentina: 8 nights out of 25 days (not counting Ushuaia)
The rest of the nights were spent indoors. 

If you’ve followed my previous tours, you may notice this tour was different. It was by far the most relaxed tour I’ve done. It’s also the only tour where I have lost fitness, and gained weight. However, I very much enjoyed getting to do this adventure with Alex and Markus. Their previous experiences in South America were invaluable. They made it very easy for me. And, we laughed…a lot!!! In the end, spending time with great friends while having amazing experiences is what it is all about!!! Thank you Alex and Markus for letting me tag along!

Saturday, February 17, 2024

2/17-Leg Three…Home At Last!

Yep, after 40 hours of travel time, I am home!

The flight from Houston was quite fun for the first 45 minutes or so. There was a lot of turbulence coming out of Houston. Then things settled down, and it was just another boring flight. Funny thing though, of all three flights, I slept more on this one than the other two combined! I think the lack of sleep finally caught up with me. I was watching Oppenheimer on my phone, but kept falling asleep. I got the gist of it though. 

Coming into Seattle, Rainier was mostly cloud covered, but Lake Washington was clear. 

Gathering the bags went smoothly as I was able to get a cart. Of course, I had to pay $8.00 again. SeaTac is the only airport out of 7 airports where I had to pay for a cart. And $8.00 is a ripoff! 

Best part of the day was Makaela pulling up!

She took me to the airport back in November, and picked me up three months later. She is also brought me food! She’s the absolute best!!!

I haven’t taken Billy out of the box yet. The box survived Ushuaia to Buenos Aries, BA to Houston with hardly a scratch (plus 20 hours in the BA airport). I get it at Oversize Baggage in Seattle, and one of the handles is ripped, the top is only partially retaped, and there are other tears. This is all because TSA opens it! When they put it through an X-ray scanner, I don’t see why they have to open the box. Or at least they could completely tape it back up! This is why there is nothing but the bike in the box (well, that and the AirTag). I hope Billy is okay, but I’m too tired to check today. 

Can’t really see the damage. Oh, the IKEA Fracta Bag came through unharmed. It’s a pretty sturdy bag! I can definitely recommend this bag for flying with bikepacking bags. 

I will probably do a wrap up post soon, but for now I’m enjoying having had a nice long shower, and wearing different clothes!!!

Stay tuned for the stats (if you are interested).

2/17-Leg Two and I Am Tired!

After the last post, I did find another spot to crash for awhile. I was under a stairway. Almost felt like my tent. I think I slept about 1 1/2 hours. There was another cyclist sleeping not far from me. Another guy got creative and made himself a cubby with a couple of carts. Yet another guy almost seemed like he had moved in. He was there before I got there, and was still there after I left to go check in. I thought that because there was access to outside, what would stop someone from periodically staying in the airport (like in that Tom Hanks movie, only easier because you could come and go).

I went out for a change of scenery (plus, it was warmer outside). 

Finally it appeared the United counter was going to open at 5:30 instead of 6:00. But first, I kid you not, they spent a good 30 minutes arranging, then rearranging the “path” to the counters. At one point, I was talking to a young guy as we were watching them do this. We thought maybe they were arranging the maze so that it didn’t actually go to the counter. They had hidden cameras, and they were going to film all of us trying to navigate the maze to nowhere, then put it on some show. At 6:05, they quit futzing around, and opened the counters. 

“No, let’s move it over here…yeah, make that a dead end.”

Where they just put Billy on the belt in Ushuaia, I had to follow the nice lady to Oversized Baggage. Once rid of the baggage, I headed to International Departures. First stop, “Migraciones” (aka Passport Control). There were three women behind me heading to Atlanta, then California. We had a nice chat while we waited in line for quite awhile. 

Once through that, the next stop was security. Funny thing, you could take water through security, but not on the plane, even if you had bought it after security. Couldn’t quite figure that one out. 

On my way to the gate, I stopped for some food. A final couple of jamón y queso empanadas. They were good. 

I was in Boarding Group 3. I was waiting patiently for my group to be called. One of the gate crew came over and said if I gate checked my rear dry bags, I could board now. As usual, they would run out of overhead bin space. Since I didn’t really like carrying them anyway, I agreed. It was after I was on the plane that I realized my electronics were in them. No big deal for me, as I still had my big battery bank in my backpack, but you’re not supposed to check battery banks. They are supposed to be in carryon. Oh well, they had even searched the bags at the gate (but only looking for liquids). This whole no liquids on the plane thing seemed inefficient. They searched every single carryon bag before boarding. 

The flight was uneventful. I only slept in short catnaps. My pillow disappeared behind me. I was chilly sitting next to the window. Only watched one movie…Barbie. It was pretty good. 

We actually arrived quite early in Houston. Customs/Passport Control had just opened at 5:00. It was a quick breeze through that, then onto collecting the baggage. Billy came out on the carousel. Got all the bags and proceeded to Bag Drop. Had to bob and weave to get through the ropes. I did mention to the baggage guy that the battery banks were in the bag. He said it was fine. 

Final stop was to go through Security again. Now waiting at the gate for my flight to Seattle. One more to go!

Friday, February 16, 2024

1/15-16 Leg One of the Journey Home

Leg one is complete. Everything made it to Buenos Aires (of course, I knew that because I saw Billy and the blue bag get loaded on the plane).

Billy waiting to board. 

And here comes the plane! Had a moment where I was reminded of the movie “Airport” where the plane keeps coming. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. 
 I managed to be in the last row of the plane. Turns out, I was the only one in the whole row.

Nobody else in my row. 

 Yes, I did lay down across three seats, and yes, it was somewhat comfortable (not as comfy as those seats that become a bed…I’m guessing). Of course, I was right next to the toilets, so lots of people got to be envious of my ability to lay down!

Last sunset in Ushuaia. 

Goodbye Fin del Mundo!

Sunset AND Ushuaia. 

Buenos Aires

The Capitol of Argentina is quite large!

At the baggage claim in Buenos Aires, Billy came out 3rd! Yep, no oversize baggage place here! He made some pretty wide turns going along the snaking belt until he got to me. Fortunately, he didn’t knock anyone over. 

Wide load making the corners. 

I wanted to figure out where Check-In was for United, my next flight. No luck finding it, so I decided it was something to deal with in the morning (later…I mean, it was already morning, but 2:30 is a little early).

Since I have to keep my bags with me until I can recheck them, I set out to find a quiet spot for a rest. There were people laying all over, in all the chairs (of which there aren’t many), against open walls…I found an area that was strangely quite quiet. 

Just me and a bunch of carts. People would walk by periodically, even official looking people, but not nearly as much as the other parts of the airport. 

I got out my sleeping pad, and even the pump. Made a pillow out of the bag my quilt is in, took my shoes off, laid down, and draped my buff over my eyes.

 I’m not sure I slept much, but I did rest. I think I was dreaming about trains of carts going by…oh wait…trains of carts were going by. Eventually, more of the space was filled with carts. Then row by row, the cart locomotive took them all away again. 

Eventually, I had to pee, so I packed it all up, and headed back into airport central. I finally found the information booth, and there was even someone there! I asked which check-in counter would be United. The woman told me H46, but that it wouldn’t open until 6:00…PM (my flight is at 10:05pm). That means I have to lug Billy and the bag with me for, now, another 12 hours! It’s gonna be a long day! If I was wealthier, I think getting a hotel room might have been a good idea. But then again, unless I paid for two nights, I’d still have to check out probably by noon. Of course, if I was wealthier, I’d just pay for two nights. Sadly, I am not. 

So, I think I will go find another place to park it, and maybe sleep/rest some more. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

2/13-I Can Still Hear the Drums

Carnaval Del Fin Del Mundo!

I took myself for a walk this afternoon to see what was happening on the Carnaval scene. I walked down to the water. I could hear the drums long before I could see them. 

I made it to the stage where a couple were saying something I couldn’t make out. I think maybe they were talking about the various drum groups. I moved on down a bit. 

This group had some dancers in front of them. I did some video that I’ll post on FB. 

I continued down the street looking for a better vantage point. 

Waiting to perform? Or done?

That’s a good spot up there, but where I was ended up being pretty good too. 

This group was pretty enthusiastic…

Except for this little guy. I think his dad was the leader. The woman behind him was really enthusiastic. 

One thing that I could see the kids really enjoying was spraying streams of foam. 

This little kid was especially enjoying it. 

People had the stuff all over them. Fortunately, I emerged un-foamed (afterall, I only have a few clothes), and headed up to San Martin before I got caught in the foam crossfire. 

I’m back in my room in the hostal, and I can still hear the drums. I would have looked to see if a panadería was selling King cakes, but my stomach has not been happy the past couple of days, so I thought it best not to add that to my system. Instead, yogurt, banana, and crackers, washed down with electrolytes, has been my Fat Tuesday sustenance. 

I arranged my transport to the airport on Thursday. It’s another Jorge (I was driven to the apartment in Puerto Montt by a Jorge). I think it’s funny that my bookend transports have both been guys named Jorge. 

Tomorrow I’ll be able to get more tape (of a stronger form) to further tape up my flimsy bike box. Might end up looking like more tape than cardboard. Oh, and there are two Italian cyclists here who have also finished. They asked me where I got my bike box. I told them how we found ours, and wished them luck. 

Monday, February 12, 2024

2/12-Who Woulda Thought…

I would know someone coming into Ushuaia on a cruise ship! Awhile ago I saw on Facebook that some friends were in Buenas Aíres. I commented saying they were at the beginning of Ruta 3 and I was at the other end! Turns out they were doing a cruise to Antártica. I asked if they were coming to Ushuaia. They were, but not until Feb 12th. Well, I am here until the 15th! I’ve been following their trip, and we made a plan to meet for lunch when they got to Ushuaia. 

Today’s the day, and we met at Tante Sara after they did a tour into the park. They did the Tren Del Fin del Mundo, and a bus tour to the end of Ruta 3. Sounds like renting the car like Alex, Markus, and I did, was a better idea. 

After lunch they wanted to get a couple of souvenirs. We took this group photo outside of the big souvenir store. 

Taunya, Jim, Penguin, and me. 

We walked a bit along San Martín, then went down toward the water. Apparently, tomorrow is a holiday, but I can’t seem to find out what the holiday is. Anyway, part of the main road is closed down, and there was loud music playing. Also, earlier this morning, I tried to go get more tape at the Imcofue store, but they are closed today and tomorrow. 

We walked to the “Ushuaia” sign, and I took their photo for them. Then we walked back to the port. They had to be back to the ship at 4:30. When we got to the port entrance, there was a long line waiting to go through Port Security. They got in line. Then a guy comes by and says the line is only for the Holland America boat (its anchored out in the bay, so they have to take the tenders from the port. Jim and Taunya are on the Regents Seven Seas. We walked up to the security entrance where we said our goodbyes. 

Long line for security, but only theHolland America boat. 

Regent Seven Seas. 

It was really great to see someone I know in Ushuaia! They said it was great to see the town with a “local” (yes, I’ve been here too long). 

Even though I wasn’t able to get more tape today, I did go ahead and pack Billy in the box. I just need to reinforce the box with some better tape. I’ll get that after this mysterious holiday. Three more days, then I’ll be headed home!

Here’s a couple of random photos…

Soon I will be saying adios Ushuaia!

Saturday, February 10, 2024

2/10-A Final Little Bike Ride and Building a Box

This morning I said goodbye to my roommate, Miranda, from Holland. She was taking the bus to Punta Arenas, then Puerto Natales to hike in Torres Del Paine. After both Miranda and I had gone to bed last night (but we weren’t asleep, just reading), we got a new roommate. He is “Feliz” from Turkey. Happy guy. He’s been traveling for two years. He doesn’t appear to be hiking, and he’s not cycling. He came on the bus from Rio Gallegos. He’s been all the places we went (in Argentina). Seems like a nice guy. 

Today's weather has been spectacular. High 60s. I decided to take advantage and go for a ride. I wanted to see if I could ride toward where the lighthouse is in the Beagle Channel. I had doubts I’d be able to get far enough. 

A naval boat watering the…water. 

Onto gravel now and looking back at Ushuaia. 

Playa Larga Reserve. 

And there’s camping! I could see numerous sites. 

Here’s an indication of how much the wind blows. Today, however, there was no wind!

People are swimming!!! Don’t they know how close we are to Antártica???

Channel marker for the Beagle Channel. Not the lighthouse. 

Selfie time. 

End of the road. I probably could have ridden a bit further, but due to the nice weather, and it being Saturday, there were lots of hikers…oh and the fact that I don’t like singletrack. I opted to turn around. 

Before I did, I took this photo of a Norwegian Cruise ship. 

I wonder if I could sell it to the cruise line?

I rode the gravel back to the pavement. It was dust bomb after dust bomb. Fortunately, I had my dust bomb protector. 
Once I got back to the pavement, I decided I didn’t want to go back the same way (no choice on the gravel part). I continued up the hill (this is the road we had come down on our way into Ushuaia). It’s so much easier without all the gear. I actually enjoyed it. I got up to the roundabout where Ruta 3 continues out of Ushuaia, and back into town. Obviously, I headed back into town. This was a part of Ruta 3 that we didn’t ride. I was going along, when I noticed there was a bike path on the other side of the road. I made a quick turn over to the bike path. 

How nice is this?

Ruta 3 stays above Ushuaia, while Perito Moreno (the road we came into Ushuaia on) follows the water. 

With perfect timing, the bike path ended at a roundabout where I needed to go left to get back to the hostel. 

It wasn’t a very long ride, but it was quite enjoyable. 

After I got back and took a shower, I fixed some lunch. Then it was time for the real work of today…building Billy’s box for flying home. Even though I’m not leaving until the 15th, I wanted to get the box built while it was sunny. Rain is forecast for tomorrow (100%). There’s not room indoors to build the box. I had drawn out a plan, so I got to work. The box needed to be taller, wider, and longer. The biggest change was in the length and width. It was very close to being tall enough. 

It took me three hours and three complete rolls of duct tape (it would be nice if they made the rolls a little more than 9 meters). I still have the majority of one roll, but I think I’m going to need to get another roll for taping the box closed, and generally reinforcing. I had plenty of cardboard, and didn’t even use one of the boxes. 

Once I got a pretty good semblance of a box, I took Billy’s pedals off and rolled him in to see how much I would need to lengthen the box. That end will need the most reinforcing once Billy’s inside and taped up. 

I’ve gotten it as far as I can for now. I did some rearranging in the room, and bright the box inside. 

I’ll probably pack Billy the next nice day (Tuesday or Wednesday). Everything is already off (bags, fenders, pedals, and the kickstand) that can be taken off now. Putting him in the box will be much faster than building the box!

It was a lot of work, but I’m glad I’ve got it done!

Thursday, February 8, 2024

2/8-Goodbyes and New Digs

The day has come to say goodbye to my dear friends and traveling companions, Alex and Markus. Not gonna lie, I’m very sad. I think it would be easier if I was leaving too (I’d still be sad, but I would be busy). While Alex and Markus enjoy a week of warm weather in Buenas Aires, I will spend another week here in Ushuaia. As I mentioned before, it was far cheaper for me to spend an extra week here than to fly this week, even with paying for the hostel ($200 for the week).

Last night we went to a very nice restaurant for our last dinner together. It was called Kaupé. I had the Chicken Bengali. It was delicious. Unfortunately, I completely forgot to take any photos. Before dinner, I was able to drop off the stack of cardboard at the hostel. We still had some time to kill before the restaurant opened. 

In front of one of the big souvenir shops. 

With everything packed, they just had to wait for the van and taxi to arrive this morning. 

Sure won’t be hard to spot these bags!

The van and taxi arrived, and everything was loaded up. 

Violeta is out the door!

The van carried the bikes and the bags. 

With hugs (and a few tears) all around, we said our goodbyes and safe travels. It’s been an amazing time with Alex and Markus here in South America. We’ve had some incredible experiences together, and I’m so so glad I got to adventure with them. Their previous travels in South America made it easy for me. I don’t think our roles changed much from the beginning. Alex remained the “Booking Queen”, Markus the “Master Route Planner”, and me providing annoying entertainment. 

One final selfie together. We took one at the beginning in Puerto Montt. Our hair is longer! 

Goodbye my friends! I WILL see you again!!!

Funny thing…just as I got back into the apartment, the power went out. It came back on after a bit, but the WiFi didn’t. Once I got everything packed onto Billy, and the dishes done, it was about 10:45. With nothing else to do, I decided to head to town. 

Billy loaded up for the last time. 

I couldn’t check in until 1:00, so I decided to have some lunch first. On the way into town, I stopped at the Ushuaia sign. Billy wanted his picture taken in front of the sign. 

Here ya go, Billy!

I went to Tante Sara for lunch. Then I rolled over to the hostel. I’m in a 4-bed room with, currently, two others. The one guy, Taku from Japan, leaves tonight at midnight. Fortunately I have a bottom bunk. 

Billy is locked up outside. 

If the weather is as good as forecasted on Saturday, I think I’ll go for a ride. I want to see if I can ride far enough to see the lighthouse out in the Beagle Channel. I’m not sure if the road goes far enough. I already took the rear rack off, and the Pronghorn harness and one feed bag. I might leave the frame bag on until after I’m done riding. 

Now I suppose I should go to the grocery store and get something for dinner…maybe something to go with my cous cous.