Saturday, December 5, 2015

Through the canyon, accross the high desert and into the lake district of Patagonia

I left the campground canyon early in the morning and spent most of the day driving through a rough one lane dirt road.  About 1:00 in the afternoon I finally got to the end of the canyon and spent until about 5 pm driving on paved high desert road.  Flat land and scrub brush.  As I drove up out of the canyon I had my first glimpse of the snow covered Andes mountain range in the far distance.  Spent one night in Malarque, and 2 in Las Lajas.

Leaving the campground and driving up the valley

The dam appears.  There is a road on the map and GPS and I have check with folks at the campground and all say that the road is ok.
The tunnel through to the top of the dam.....  just barely big enough hight

Driving on top of the dam I soon discovered that on Sundays (it was a sunday) one of the favorite activities of the locals, when it was not raining, (it was not raining) was to drive on the same one lane dirt bumpy and cliffy road I was on, but in the opposite direction I was going.

I am using both the low gear and high speed 4x4 constantly. 

 I know what you are thinking.... so glad for Brian the road is not wet.

The picture below was taken out my window, straight down over the cliff on the road I just came up.    In case you are wondering I did stop for this picture.... you know what they say .. safety 1st or 2nd or 3rd.... depending on the fun to risk factor.  I am so glad I have 4 wheel drive, especially on the step hairpin turns.

After a 3 hour drive through a rough one lane roads through the canyon, I drive for another 3 hours on dry scrublands, and met this this is a ramdom guy and his parnter,  who had his truck in the absolute middle of nowhere, hours from anything, selling fresh make sandwhiches (see his truck in the back).  I have my lunch and dinner and lunch for the next day.

So it's late and I am tired from the one lane dirt cliff infested road driving, and I put "camping" into my GPS and I arrive at Malarque's municipal camp ground and there is Silke Meger with her tent and BMW motor bicycle.  A short while latter Dan Staley shows up on his bike and we all have drinks outside and visit.  Once it gets dark we go inside the beast and watch a little bit of "Das Boot" until we all get too sleepy.

This place is remarkable as it's the only place in Argentine that seems to have fast internet.

Glorious sunny and warm morning we all wake up.  Silke spend several hours talking on Skype to her boyfriend in Germany, and I change one of two fuel filters that my truck manual says I should replace ...  due to a "low fuel pressure" light warning.  Very disconcerting as I read this could be a serious problem and I don't want to get stuck hundreds of kilometers from nowhere with maybe one car and maybe a truck passing by each day.

We are all visiting in the sunshine.  I suggest to Dan that I give him a ride through some of the endless miles of hot, gravel, desert roads.  He say ok, which was my first indication that here is a guy who does not let his ego make his decisions.

  All the while I got the most excellent lecture on comparative religion from Dan (he was a high school history teacher in Canada... now retired)  What an excellent person.  If only everyone could have his wisdom, we certainly would not have any religious wars.  He is blessed with a wonderful wife, and tons of kids and Grandkids that he gets to be with every week.  My only wonder is how he is not fat with his Italian's wife cooking.  He has been planing this month trip for years.

Rio Grande river.  The river must be a 100 feet deep here to get all the water through it.

Hours and hours of hot dusty roads.  I try to go at least 25 to 30 miles per hour but sometime can only go 2-3 mile per hour because of the bumps.  Dan is very glad to not be biking.

We stop in the middle of the road and Dan talks to another biker (from England).   We talk about 1/2 hour.  I fill his water bottle and give him an orange.  We feel sorry for him having to bike through what just took us several hours to drive.

Finally we get closer to the mountains and the possibility of seeing something alive and green.

We make it to a little bit of heaven at the municipal camp ground in Las Lajas, but as we pull up to the campground gate we notice we will never get through as the top is only about 15 feet high... but there is another gate that does not have a "top" to it.  This is a great relief as this was our last chance at a nice spot as it was around 8:45 and starting to get dark.

Electricity, water, almost wifi, and we could walk to town and to the grocery store.  But the best thing was the perfect weather, green, and trees.  Note the book.  Yes there is poetry is SA !!

We spent two days here.  I tried to replace the 2nd fuel filter located under the truck, but the filter casement was frozen and I couldn't get it to move.... not good.

The next morning we walk into town and shop at the supermercado

Dan treats me to a great lunch !!!  Thanks Dan !!

We both walk access the bridge into town, climb the hill and look back over our campground and into the small town.

Dan buys a hot dog at the one and only food stand

I took this picture to show that in even small towns in South America, cool kids are hanging out.  They were funny, friendly, and happy.

The next morning Dan packed up his bike and I my tools and we separated.  Really enjoyed Dan's company and was sorry to say goodbye.  Hopefully we will be able to see each other again sometime.

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