Posts for December, 2009


The local Chevy dealer! (Antofagasta, Chile)

Journal entry for Tuesday 1st Dec, 2009 (day 263, miles 28961)

Bureaucracy!! (Tal Tal, Chile)

Journal entry for Wednesday 2nd Dec, 2009 (day 264, miles 123456)

Last night Nina and I were talking about bureaucracy and which of the countries we have visited display the worst bureaucracy. This conversation was prompted by a conversation Nina had with her sister about the level of effort and paper work associated with moving their family back from Germany to Australia.

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Lots of beach side camping spots (Playa Flamenco, Chile)

Journal entry for Thursday 3rd Dec, 2009 (day 265, miles 123456)

Today we were simply heading south, trying to cover some miles. More desert scenery.

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Milestones! (El Molle, Chile)

Journal entry for Friday 4th Dec, 2009 (day 266, miles 29642)

A long drive today trying to make some headway south. Today signaled the first of a few milestones, the vehicle ticked over 40,000 miles on the odometer, and we left the Atacama desert behind finally. Coming up in the next few days are 30,000 trip miles and S 30° latitude.

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Exploring the Rio Elqui Valley (E of La Serena, Chile)

Journal entry for Saturday 5th Dec, 2009 (day 267, miles 29758)

We continued up the valley this morning to the town of Vicuna. Quite a lovely place, clean and tidy with a wonderful main plaza with great old trees. We walked around for a while absorbing the atmosphere and soaking up the sun.

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We cross the 30th parallel. (Los Villos, Chile)

Journal entry for Sunday 6th Dec, 2009 (day 268, miles 29940)

A milestone again today - over the 30th parallel.

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Vina Del Mar, Valparaiso, and we logged our 30,000th trip mile today. (Parque Nacional de Campana, Chile)

Journal entry for Monday 7th Dec, 2009 (day 269, miles 30122)

Another milestone - 30,000 miles since Gig Harbor in just under 9 months

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Nowhere to stay in Santiago!! (Santiago, Chile)

Journal entry for Tuesday 8th Dec, 2009 (day 270, miles 30233)

Brakes, shock absorbers, and GPS map of Chile (Santiago, Chile)

Journal entry for Wednesday 9th Dec, 2009 (day 271, miles 30267)

Today was going to be another day of chores. First stop an organization named SALFA (the local Chevy dealer). We found one of their outlets near where we spent the night but it turned out only to be a sales office for very large Mack trucks. They sent us into the heart of the city to there light vehicle sales and service office. To cut a long story short, the Chevy people checked the brakes for us (did not need any work) but could not replace the shock absorbers as they did not have replacement parts. However they drove us to a local workshop that dealt in aftermarket parts and they were able to fit 4 new shocks. Mind you this took all day. But the tiger feels a lot better with the repairs.

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Another day on the Santiago metro (Santiago, Chile)

Journal entry for Thursday 10th Dec, 2009 (day 272, miles 30323)

This morning we discovered that we left one set of keys at the workshop that replaced the shocks. What a drag - we had to drive all the way back into central Santiago to get them.

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Resting in the sun, Nina has a cold (Islote de Gaviotes, Chile)

Journal entry for Friday 11th Dec, 2009 (day 273, miles 30399)

We did not travel far today. Nina has a cold and needs to rest in the sun. So we drove from our gas station just west of Santiago to the coast to a camp ground near Laguna Verde. We found the camp ground from a tourist brochure.

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Shopping for Nina's new jacket (Santiago, Chile)

Journal entry for Saturday 12th Dec, 2009 (day 274, miles 30522)

We drove back to Santiago from the coast to pick up a new (warmer) jacket for Nina from a local camping store. They said it would be available Saturday. To do this we had to negotiate our way through Santiago traffic in the, ritzy, Los Condes area of the city. But - when we got to the store it was closed!!!!

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Just moving South (Talca, Chile)

Journal entry for Sunday 13th Dec, 2009 (day 275, miles 30697)

Today everything was closed, even the toilets at the gas station, for the presidential election. Guess this is another good excuse for a day off.

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Another milestone - 9 months on the road (Lautaro, Chile)

Journal entry for Monday 14th Dec, 2009 (day 276, miles 30948)

It's 9 months today since we left Gig Harbor, seems amazing that we have been living in this little vehicle for so long. When I look at the map I am a little surprised by the distance we have travelled and even more surprised when I contemplate the return journey - I think it will take another 9 months.

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Start of the Lakes District - wonderful! (Pucon, Chile)

Journal entry for Tuesday 15th Dec, 2009 (day 277, miles 31041)

Today we left Highway 5 (the Panam) for an excursion East into a region of lakes and volcanos. The country side is now very temperate in appearance, rivers large and small, evergreen trees, lush pastures and spring flowers.

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Exploring the back country around Pucon (Lican Ray, Chile)

Journal entry for Wednesday 16th Dec, 2009 (day 278, miles 31126)

After a slow start, partly caused by me wandering off to an internet cafe without telling Nina where I was, we headed off looking for a minor road that would (we hope) circumnavigate Volcan Villarrica and lead us to Laguna Lican Ray the next lake south. The scenery was lush pastures, fine stands of evergreens and crystal clear rivers and a few minor water falls. The road turned out to be a little rough and gave us a chance to experience the positive effect of new shock absorbers. We even got to take the Tiger on some real 4x4 road - but only a little way. We could not complete the traverse to Lican Ray as the road became impassable to a vehicle as big as the Tiger. So we retraced our steps back to Villarrica and took the opportunity to do some chores, washing clothes, and washing the Tiger.

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Termas Geometrica, and Argentine insurance (Panguipulli, Chile)

Journal entry for Thursday 17th Dec, 2009 (day 279, miles 31186)

It was a beautiful morning with the sun shining off the glassy waters of the lake, and the occasional small wavelets washing the black sand beach. This really is a lovely setting for a campground.

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Argentina - a very easy border crossing (San Martin de Los Andes, Argentina)

Journal entry for Friday 18th Dec, 2009 (day 280, miles 31268)

We left Panguipulli about 10:00am maybe a little later than expected after the usual chores, fuel, internet, groceries and a few last photos. It is a really nice little town, not particularly touristy.

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A day of lakes and crystal clear water (Lago Villarino, Argentina)

Journal entry for Saturday 19th Dec, 2009 (day 281, miles 31308)

Today was sunny, but with a blustery cool wind. We spent the morning in San Martin shopping and looking around and then headed south down highway 234, also called the Ruta de Los Siete Lagos (route of 7 lakes) towards San Carlos De Barioche. As the name promised we spent the remainder of the day driving past and viewing lakes, the rivers that feed/drain them, plus some spectacular mountains. Really a very pleasant day.

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Wonderful scenery!! (San Carlos De Bariloche, Argentina)

Journal entry for Sunday 20th Dec, 2009 (day 282, miles 31428)

We continued our tour of Argentine lakes, rivers and mountains today.

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What an indulgence!! (Llao Llao, Argentina)

Journal entry for Monday 21st Dec, 2009 (day 283, miles 31441)

We set out from the campground today to explore west along the lake shore with the intension of eventually stopping in Bariloche to look around. Oh how plans can change. We drove past a number of scenic lakes and called into the famous hotel LLao LLao just to have a look at the place. It's really grand, with a great location on a hill with commanding views of lakes and mountains. While having coffee and chocolate in one of the restaurants we asked ourselves- why not stay here for a night?. Within 10 minutes we had a room.

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An excursion South of Bariloche. (El Bolson, Argentina)

Journal entry for Tuesday 22nd Dec, 2009 (day 284, miles 31536)

We used up all of our minutes at the hotel this morning leaving right on check out time of 11:30 making the most of hot showers, a sumptuous buffet breakfast, and that last click on the internet.

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A tight squeeze into our hotel!! (Bariloche, Argentina)

Journal entry for Wednesday 23rd Dec, 2009 (day 285, miles 31620)

Today we drove back to Bariloche. The weather turned wet and miserable for the first time we can remember. As a result we checked into the Hotel Tirol a day earlier than originally planned. They had space in the back for us to park but the entrance way was really tight. We had to fold the mirrors in on the sides and I would guess there were only a couple of inches spare on top. The manager was very nice about it and tried to help us with directions.

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A no travel day (Bariloche, Argentina)

Journal entry for Thursday 24th Dec, 2009 (day 286, miles 31620)

We spent the day looking around the town of Bariloche and communicating with family. One of the things the town/region is known for is chocolate and there are many stores around the town selling it. Of course we were not able to find simple plain chocolate. The weather was much improved today, sunny but windy and still cool. Santa Claus was out traveling around on a red fire truck. He seemed very athletic, jumping on and off the truck, for an old guy. Made me more than a little envious.

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Merry Christmas to you all!! (Bariloche, Argentina)

Journal entry for Friday 25th Dec, 2009 (day 285, miles 31620)

Tiger body damage (Entre Lago, Chile)

Journal entry for Saturday 26th Dec, 2009 (day 288, miles 31753)

We got off to a bad start today. On the exit from our hotel parking place we had to go through a narrow gate. The gate posts were about 3 inches wider than the Tiger. But the driveway was not level so part way through the gate the Tiger tilted and bumped into the left hand post causing some damage to the house body and damaging the plastic panel where we put in fuel.

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The Island of Chiloe. (Ancud, Chile)

Journal entry for Sunday 27th Dec, 2009 (day 289, miles 31944)

We joined up with the Panam Highway at Orsono late this morning and followed it south with a small side trip to explore the town of Fruitilla, then around a peninsula (jutting from the west into Lago LLanquihue), and back to the Panam. The drive was pleasant through nice green country side. The weather was cold, grey and wet - not really encouraging for getting out and seeing things.

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Quaint German type churches. (Castro, Chile)

Journal entry for Monday 28th Dec, 2009 (day 290, miles 32061)

The weather had improved over night so we could explore the camping ground before leaving without getting wet. It was in a wonderful position right on a headland with fine views of the ocean. Like many camp grounds we have seen in Chile it was once an impressive facility and a substantial investment but over the last probably 10 years there has been little maintenance and now it looks run down.

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The end of the Panamericana - Ruta 5 (Quellon, Chile)

Journal entry for Tuesday 29th Dec, 2009 (day 292, miles 32222)

The end of today brought us to the town of Quellon and a big milestone; the end of the Panamerican Highway. It runs 29,000 miles (though different versions of the route are different lengths see - Pan American Highway) from Prudhoe Bay or Fairbanks Alaska to Quellon. Chile and is called Ruta-5 along much of its length. Now we can't claim to have driven the entire Panamerican as often we have travelled by lesser side roads, but we have certainly travelled the distance.

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North bound, for a little while. (Ensenada, Chile)

Journal entry for Wednesday 30th Dec, 2009 (day 292, miles 32425)

Today we are heading north to the towns of Puerto Varas, and Ensenada to meet up with the Canadians (Sam and Bernie) that we met in Colombia and Iquique Chile.

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Exploring Puerto Varas, champagne and steak for dinner (Ensenada, Chile)

Journal entry for Thursday 31st Dec, 2009 (day 293, miles 32425)

Today the four of us (Nina and I, plus our friends Bernie and Sam) drove into Puerto Varas about 50 kms from the campground to do a bit of sightseeing. The town has a number of old German style buildings that the guide book recommended; they were pretty run down and needing some maintenance. Another example of Chilean tourism infrastructure in need of repair. We took the opportunity to have lunch at a Mexican restaurant.

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