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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Exploring Atacama, Stuck in San Pedro, & Planning My Return 'Home'...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Stuck in San Pedro you ask?  Well, I plan to take Paso Jama east up and over the Andes into Argentina, but it has been closed for the past few days due to snow, wind, extreme cold, and limited visibility.  So yeah, I'm stuck...  The pass is gonna be absolutely freezing, so quite honestly I'm in no rush to bundle up and make the trek.  There really aren't any other options.  Paso Sico is closed at present as well, and it is a more difficult (dirt) route.  So, I wait.  Today I checked with the police and several truckers at aduana and they tell me that it may be open tomorrow.  I'm going to check again tomorrow, and will target Saturday for departure.  

I have cold weather gear, but not 'extreme' cold weather gear.  Today I bought a thick balaclava and some gloves to help (two pairs rubber surgeon gloves, one pair thin wool gloves - both of which will go under my riding gloves).  I'll wear thermal underwear, Under Armour pants, jeans, and my Klim riding pants.  On top I'll wear two long sleeve shirts, a fleece, and my Klim riding jacket.  That leaves only my toes and neck, which I'll try to keep warm with two pairs of SmartWool socks, and a Freeze-Out neck gaiter respectively.  I'll probably look like the Michelin man with all that $hit on, but hopefully I'll stay (relatively) warm.  I've grown to absolutely detest riding in freezing weather.  I guess I should have planned seasons/routes a bit better eh?  :/

So while I'm stuck I guess I'll put together a short post.  Yesterday I explored Valle de la Luna, Laguna Cejar, and Laguna Tebinquinche.  Valle de la Luna is absolutely stunning, and provides some great riding.  I had the entire park to myself and didn't see anyone else the entire time I was there.  The weather was great (70F and sunny), and the day was perfect.  Per usual, the rangers asked me kindly to stay on the marked roads, but I ended up venturing all through the park and making it my personal moto playground of sorts.  Can't help it!  At one point I was riding along and noticed the path/road below me was shimmering.  I stopped and realized that under a layer of dirt I was riding on a path almost entirely made of quartz crystal.  It looked like something out of The Wizard of Oz.  I ended up snapping off a crystal and putting it in my breast pocket for good juju.  Again sorry, couldn't help it...  

After exploring Valle de la Luna I blasted on dirt roads SE to Laguna Tebinquinche, which was a bit of a let down.  The lake is supposed to provide beautiful mirror views, but since it's the dry season, the water levels were really low.  I whipped the bike around and blasted back to Laguna Cejar, which was really neat.  First off, the lake, vegetation, and sky clashed colors to create a beautiful, almost unreal scene.  Also, the lake has an incredibly high salt content, so I had read you can float on the surface of the water.  Again, nobody around so I tore off all my clothing and jumped in without thinking.  Yowza!  Freezing, severe shrinkage inducing cold!  I floated for a few minutes and climbed out.  The combination of the salty water, dry air, and wind meant I didn't need a towel.  I was bone dry within seconds.  Anyway, it was quite the experience.  I don't consider myself a nudist, but walking around out there with my tackle flailing in the wind felt quite liberating.  Maybe I'll shed my clothing and go 'renegade' more often.  :)

I'd met a few people around town yesterday so we all went out for dinner and drinks last night.  That meant that I slept in a bit and had a lazy day today.  I ran a few errands, and took care of some business.  I also booked my flight 'home' using miles on United (still have a quite a few left from the biz travel days).  When I clicked submit I couldn't believe I had an actual date in sight for my return.  I'm shipping the bike to LA, and will land to meet it on August 6th.  From there I'll ride the PCH, and will check off one or two nat'l parks headed east towards Denver.  That means this journey will come to an end somewhere around August 16th, and everyone will be invited to the party!   

I can't believe it...  I have mixed emotions about the whole thing coming to a close.  I've grown and seen a LOT.  I've visited a ton of amazing places.  I've dodged death on numerous occasions.  I've met a countless number of amazing people.  I found love.  I misbehaved more times and in more ways than I can count.  I witnessed two volcano eruptions, was almost swept away by two bloated raging rivers, and crashed my bike on multiple occasions.  I showered, slept, and lived in conditions I never thought I would.  I shocked myself on suicide shower heaters hundreds of times.  I will have ridden my motorcycle close to 25k miles in the end.  I laughed, I cried, and found myself smiling a LOT.  Most importantly, I feel like I discovered myself, and really 'lived' life.  It has been an amazing ride.  Don't get me wrong, I'm gonna live for the moment and enjoy every remaining second of this adventure.  Staring at that date on the computer screen was just a wake up call that this chapter is nearing an end.  I'm not sad about it.  I'm more confident than I've ever been and am looking forward to seeing what the next chapter will uncover.  I spent an hour or so earlier today revisiting pictures from early on in the trip.  I'm really happy and proud that I accomplished this.

Oh, and I also watched the US fold to Germany today at a bar filled with Germans.  But, we still advance to the next round, so that's good.  Watching the Cup down here in South America, in places filled with travelers from around the world, has been a really cool experience.  Every single game is interesting, regardless of teams, because people from all over fill the bars, paint their faces, drink heavily, cheer loudly, and celebrate together.  Regardless of the outcome, this will be a World Cup that I'll remember forever.  I'm typically not a footie fan (moto racing is my sport of choice in case you haven't noticed), but I've really gotten into it as of late.  

Finally, through a friend of a friend I've linked up with a famous tattoo studio/artist in Buenos Aires.  One night in Oaxaca I was out drinking with new friends.  In the pisser, and through blurred vision, I saw a funny drawing on the wall.  It stuck with me throughout the trip, and I think it is a good representation of this journey.  Dodging death in Latin America, drinking too much booze, with absolute beauty mixed in between.  Anyway, the guy is drawing up a better sketch as we speak, and I think I'll celebrate my bday on July 19th getting it inked somewhere on my body.  After that, a big party in BA for the night.  The big 3 - 6!  

I think that's enough for now.  Cross your fingers that Jama Pass is open tomorrow and that the sun is shining on me Saturday.  If so, I'll post an update from Jujuy or Salta in Argentina, which marks my 14th and final country.  

Ciao for now amigos...  Hasta pronto, 

~ D

1 comment:

  1. Be safe, have fun. Learn to Tango while in Argentina and enjoy a big steak with a glass of top shelf Malbec. Cheers - Bruce