December 1, 2001
Well, itís over, at least for the doing, but not for the memories.
Last night we had our final dinner up on Sugar Loaf. We had to take cable cars to get there. What a view. We were awarded our gold medals along with the others. I think that everyone that completed this is a winner. It was pretty tough at times. We will never forget it.
Today Herb is out exploring the rain forest and I'm hanging out with some of the other participants.
We are ready to get home. We agree that this has given us a real appreciation for some of the things that we take for granted living where we live. We have seen poverty here that we couldn't have imagined. We are lucky to be living in the USA.
We have seen wonderful and beautiful sites and met beautiful people throughout the journey.
We have a lot to be thankful for. We want to thank all the people at home that supported us in our endeavor. Particularly Linda Sutliff for getting our truck here and hopefully home; everyone at the multilingual Taylor Made Environmental for getting us needed parts on a timely basis, Goodyear Donnie Gould for being on the other end of the phone when we needed him, and Lori for being our lifeline to the real world.
Also all the local people who were helpful throughout the rally. And finally the staff of the rally and the other participants who helped us when we needed it and were fun to be with. A great group of people.
We will keep the web site open for awhile and will be adding a lot more photos over the next several weeks. Please feel free to lift any of interest to you off the site.
Again thanks to everyone and keep in touch.
Jim and Herb
November 29, 2001
Well we made it! We are tired but glad that we did it.
Today we drove about 350 miles along the coast line of Brazil. I have never seen as many beautiful beaches and little seaside villages anywhere else. Brazil is also the land of the speed bumps. Every other mile has speed bumps or several of them. It really gets annoying after awhile. But we had a good day and stopped for a nice lunch along the way.
Herb was driving today when we were stopped by the police. I was hoping that they would throw away the key, but Herb smiled at him and he let us go. Again we had no idea what we were stopped for.
I was here three years ago and stayed in a Club Med for three days. As we were driving along today I said to Herb that I thought that we were in the area where we had stayed. Sure enough within a couple of miles there it was. Not bad recall for an old guy like me.
Tomorrow morning we take the truck to the dock first thing and barring no problems we will have the rest of the day free. We have our final dinner up the cable car on Sugar Loaf where we think we will be one of about ten 4x4 teams to get a gold medal for meeting all the requirements.
We have really mixed emotions about it being over. Earlier this week we couldn't wait. Then today reality set in and in a way we are kind of sad to see the end. It was surely something that neither of us had ever expected to do and a real opportunity to expand ourselves. Herb was a great companion and I can't thank him enough for agreeing to do this with me.
Today: No flat tires, penguins, no condors, and no llamas. I guess we'll just have to come home for the partridge in a pear tree.
Jim and Herb
November 28, 2001
Well I almost ended up in jail today, but ended up getting a ticket for disobeying a woman instead. Not the first time I ever disobeyed a woman, but the 1st time I've gotten a ticket for it.
We were driving up the highway minding our own business, when as we approached a police post a young woman officer jumped out into the road blowing her whistle and waved us to the side. I couldn't make head nor tails of what she wanted, they speak Portuguese in Brazil. We have been able to get along in the Spanish speaking countries but Portuguese is a mystery. Anyhow I gave her my passport and she shook her head no and pointed across the highway to the police station. As we started across, two classics were coming up the hwy and she jumped into the road to stop them. I asked Alistair in the Ferrari if he had any idea what she wanted and he said maybe our drivers licenses. So I got my two international licenses out and took them into the station and laid them on the desk. Mary Ellen from the Shelby followed me in with some of their documentation. She started to try to explain to the police officer that there were 100 of us coming thru and how and why was she going to stop them all. I said to her that maybe she ought to call out the army. Just then 3 fourxfours came up the hwy, the wolf pack, so the officer ran out towards the road blowing her whistle. They ignored her as did several other cars. Mary Ellen said maybe we should just pick up our papers and go. That sounded good to me so I took my stuff and walked out past the officer and left. She didn't tell me to stay so I was out of there. Mary Ellen told me later that the woman actually took her revolver out and cocked it as I drove off.
We went 50 Km down the road where they had set up a road block and had the wolf pack and some of the classics pulled over. They waved me in and I gave them my passport at which point they ordered me into the station in no uncertain terms. They told me to sit down and shut up. And were not nice about it. At this point I began to think that I was really in some trouble. There were three cops, one being an inspector. The only thing I could pick up was the word criminal. At that point three of my friends came in with literature on the rally and a copy of a letter from the minister of tourism asking the police to be cooperative with us. The police finally came around and were joking about it. They called the woman officer and the people outside could hear her screaming thru the phone. After a lot of negotiation it was decided that I would have to return to the 1st station and face her. So the inspector and one of the other cops took my documents and Herb and I followed them back to the 1st station. At some point previously one of the officers asked if I had my guitar with me. I told him that I didn't, but if they let me go I'd sing. Anyhow we got back to our friendly woman police officer. She was some kind of pissed. The two guys tried to calm her down and she wasn't having any of it. At this point I thought it was possible that I was going to jail. On the drive over I explained to Herb how to get in touch with the customer that we were having dinner with tonite in case I needed a lawyer. The lady officer wouldn't even read the letter from the ministry. She just kept writing down info from my documents and talking a blue streak to the two guys. Mean while I got down on bended knee to plead with her but she still wasn't having any. She started saying something about more documents so I went out to the truck to try to find the registration. Couldn't find it Turned out she was looking for the drivers license that had been misplaced. I found them on another desk and put them down in front of her for the first time she cracked a small smile. So I tried to give her an Inca Trail lapel pin as a peace offering. She wouldn't touch it so I just laid it on the desk in front of her. The younger policeman grabbed it and put it in his pocket so I gave the other one to the Inspector. She handed me the ticket to sign which after some thought I did. All during this the inspector had been indicating to me with body language that everything was going to be o k, but he couldn't do much with her. She handed me my ticket and realized that I wasn't going to jail. I shook both the policemenís hands and took hers in my hand with a big smile and kissed it. At this point she turned bright red and started to giggle, so I said and indicated for her to wait a minute. I went out to the truck and got one of our Taylor Made baseball caps for her. As I started back to the station she ran out the back like she didn't want any thing from me. The other guys coaxed her back in and I put the hat on her head. She was pretty small so it really came down over her eyes. Just then Herb stepped in with camera and she posed for a picture with me. The younger cop tried to take the cap from her, but she slapped at him and told him something in no uncertain terms, I assume that she was saying that it was her cap. And he backed off. I tried to get them to explain what I was supposed to do with the ticket. And they waived us on our way.
When we saw our customer we had him interpret the ticket for us. It basically was for disobeying a police officer. Which in this case was a woman. He also told us to disregard it as they won't be able to trace it. I hope he's right.
The younger cop gave Herb a 4x4 magazine and pointed out a picture of a jeep that was like the one he owns. He also gave Herb a sticker for a local rally to put on the truck. We all parted friends. Anyhow you had to be there.
Herb said that if I got shot he was going to throw me in the back of the truck and ship me home by boat.
Herb and Jim
No flats today anyway
November 27, 2001
The Hero web site has me reckoning that Herb and I pulled Fred Nelan and his Avalanche 2000 Km of the 3000 Km to B. A. from his break down. Not true, we pulled Fred 2 or 3 hours tops. He did the rest himself. I don't think that I have his patience. I would have put it on a flat bed and met it there. Kudos to Fred and his crew for hanging in there.
We are truly winding down. 2 more days to go. We actually made it thru a gravel section today without a flat tire. Actually it is probably because it was mostly mud and pretty slippery. It was a fun drive though. We did the balance of the day on asphalt. and had a nice ferry ride along the way. Herb made it with no problem this time. We arrived at our hotel which was at the top of a hill about 25 miles out of town. The classics were supposed to do a hill climb to our hotel then move on to theirs in the city. The first guy up t boned a local woman driving the other way. He had been told that the road was closed to traffic going the other way so he was going along pretty. good. I think that the woman was hurt but not seriously. The staff member that was hurt a few days ago was operated on successfully and will be on his way back to the U K soon. The injury could have been avoided if they had had a roll bar in the truck. Herb and I discussed having a roll bar the first week of the rally wishing that we had one. Hero had said that one wasn't needed, so we went with their recommendation. When we arrived here we noticed that many of the others had them. They were mostly experienced ralliers. I 'm being told by many of the classic drivers that the times they were expected to maintain caused them to drive more recklessly than they would have liked.
Our hotel on the mountain was so bad that for the 1st time Herb and I decided to find another and moved into town. It was really hot and humid and some little bugs started chewing up my legs. That had happened earlier and it took over two weeks to heal so we said we're out of here. We don't start til after nine tomorrow morning. Trouble is we wake up at 5 or 6 anyway. So we have to be patient. Not easy for me. We are both pretty tired and I think ready to get home.
I asked Herb what the 1st thing he was going to do when he got home. He said that the 2nd thing was to go out and get a hot roast beef sandwich. Jan beware of the 1st thing.
Yes we have no llamas today.
Herb and Jim
November 26, 2001
Five trashed tires, fifteen flats, and another partridge in a pear tree. We were talking with someone else today about our tire record and believe that we have the flat tire record for the rally. We should have bought stock in Goodyear before we left.
Today is really a nothing day. Got the oil changed 1st thing this morning. Highlight of the day. Walked around the downtown area here and had lunch. Typical resort. One tee shirt shop after another. Am now going for a walk on the beach or sit by the pool. In spite of being cloudy it is really hot. We are ready to return home.
Nothing changes as we walk around this place. A lot of people are working on their cars so they hopefully can make the last few days. This morning all our lights started flashing on and off for several minutes after we shut it off. Our gremlin at work, I hope it stays in Brazil
Other than the electrical gremlin the truck has done pretty well.., considering what we have taken it thru.
Not a lot to report today,
Jim And Herb
November 25, 2001
I forgot to report that two of the staff were sweeping the gravel section that we did yesterday and apparently rolled their truck. One of the guys was O K, but the other was airlifted to a hospital and last nite was in serious but stable condition with a neck injury. We heard today that it appears that he will recover and be back in the U K in a week.
November 25, 2001
Today we took off at a tardy 6:55. We drove several miles to a place called Hollywood Dream cars. The guy had a small museum with 25 or 30 classics and some Harleys. Most of his cars were 40s and 50s Chevys, Fords and Caddys. They were in great shape and well worth the stop. We then proceeded for about 100 miles thru the rain and fog on mountain gravel roads. I think our last real challenge of the rally. The roads were actually pretty good despite the rain that they have had in the last week. The mountains and hills were beautiful and we could only wish the sun was out. They reminded us of the Smokey Mountains in the Carolinas and Tenn. We travelled thru small towns with people on their way to church and saw several men out for their Sunday morning horse back ride. As usual we had a flat tire about a mile from the end of the gravel. Oh well!
Yesterday when we were in the mountains we came across a herd of cattle being driven along the road by a couple gauchos. One of the classics was ahead of us trying to clear the way. A lot of the cattle took off down the road in front of us and wouldn't get out of the way. They stampeded ahead of us for probably about a mile before they finally ran out of steam and moved out of the way. I don't know whether all cows are stupid, but these sure seemed so. The guy in the classic was on a timed part of the rally so he lost quite a bit of time. He asked us today if we would vouch for his cattle problem.
We are at another beach resort for a two day stop over, which we don't need. Where were the extra days when we needed them? Anyhow it is quite beautiful in spite of the rain.
Has a nice pool and fitness room.
Tonite we have a cocktail party and tomorrow relax.
Sorry we can't be a little more exciting.
Again no llamas
Herb and Jim
November 24, 2001
Goodbye Herb, almost. Yesterday Herb almost didn't get on the ferry boat because our wonderful organizer didn't have his name on the list hence not a ticket. They did have a ticket for my daughter Kait, who of course is not here and hasn't been here. Our organizers are so screwed up that most nites including last night they don't have a room for Herb or it's still in Eric's name who couldn't make the trip. You can imagine if they can't get something as simple as that right the other problems that occur. The staff is hard working but they have no leadership. The head person flies between sites then shows up in an SUV with a big VIP sign on it. Obviously never took Marketing 101, where we learned that, if we already didn't know it, that the customer is the VIP. There has been a lot of discrimination in assigning the hotels as well. We seem to almost always get the short end of the stick. They are using the money we paid for hotels to support other rally members' life styles.
Any how enough bitching. We took the ferry to Uruguay yesterday. I had to take the truck on alone so Herb was fending for himself. He ended up fighting and pushing his way thru about 200 other people to get on the boat. But he made it. Had he not I probably would have waited for him. But because they were so messed up several of the vehicles didn't get on and those crews had to take another ferry that put them about 3 hrs behind the rest of the group.
Uruguay is a beautiful country of about 3 million people, with about a 98 percent literacy rate. They started free education at the college level 120 years ago. It is mainly an agricultural based economy with a lot of farm and grazing land. We drove thru rolling hills that were just wonderful. We stopped, mid day at what had been billed as a car museum. What it really was, was a guy's workshop where he restored cars and built knockoff pre-war Mercedes. There were about 25 to 30 cars in all including some old model As a Studebaker and a 57 Chevy. The local car club put on a party for us and the British ambassador made an appearance. That's two ambassadors in a row. We then went to a Conrad hotel that had a casino. Didn't make any money.
I wrote this all up yesterday but for some reason couldn't get it on the computer.
Today we took off and drove some great gravel roads for several miles thru the rolling hills then we hit blacktop for the rest of the day, made our border crossing into Brazil without a hitch. Since it is Saturday most of the people in all the little towns we passed thru turned out to cheer us on. We have some fun blasting our big air horn. It has been pretty uneventful. We are in Porto Alegre tonight, which is a good size city. Going out to explore it now.
Jim and Herb
November 22, 2001
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Not much news today. We weren't able to find any turkey.
Did a cocktail party at the British embassy that was kind or fun. Other than that nothing to report. Up early tomorrow morning to take a ferry boat to Uruguay. Two more border crossings then we are home free.
Jim and Herb
November 21, 2001
We had a straight shot up route 2 right into B. A. and our hotel. Another Sheraton. We are really being spoiled now. The recent rain has been devastating to this area. We passed thru a lot of flooded farm land. We saw pictures on TV of surrounding towns where people have died in the floods. Argentina's economy is in real trouble right now and the fear is that the rains will inhibit them raising their crops this year. Ag products are their biggest export. So this poses real problems for them.
We had dinner with a young lawyer who is a friend of the Finish exchange student that we had in Johnstown 10 or 12 years ago. Anyhow Marcelo took us to the best steak restaurant in B A. It was great. Marcelo and his young pregnant wife and young son were living in New Jersey. He was working for a law firm in NYC when Sept. 11. occurred. He saw what was happening on his way to work and fearing chemical weapons rushed home, packed his wife and young son into the car and started driving into the wind. He eventually ended up in Albany where they stayed for several days until he thought it safe to return home. Shortly after, he packed them up and returned to B. A. where he is working for a law firm. He says he is not planning to return to N. Y. for awhile. He said that he was really struck by how, in the wake of the disaster, all Americans pulled together to support one another and those in need. He felt that it wouldn't happen anywhere else in the world. He said that the USA has always been there for the rest of the world, including Argentina, and felt that it was time that the rest of the world supported the USA. Incidentally we have received a lot of concern for the events of Sept 11 from a lot of local people all during the trip. Particularly when people learn that we are from N Y. Having CNN these last two days has brought it back to the forefront for us. On another subject, we have seen more Ford falcons here over the last weeks than you can believe. Ford must have hade a factory down here somewhere producing the hell out of them. All kinds, Sedans , converts, trucks etc. they are everywhere you look. We haven't found out the back ground yet but we will.
One of our friends decided to do the explorer section off road today in spite of the rain. He had a terrible time of it at one point getting pulled out of the muck by a farmer and his horse. He eventually made it, and more power to him. We are hesitant to get in a situation where we have to use four wheel drive because our electronics are pretty screwed up and we are not sure we even have 4 wheel drive. Don't want to try it because we are afraid that if we get in it we won't be able to get back out. Our friend with the other Avalanche was able to get his transmission fixed and is back in business.
Tomorrow nite is the reception at the British embassy. We have been invited to bring our truck along with a few of the others. The idea of having ours there is to show a big American truck which is surely typical of Americans in general. At least that's the British viewpoint. To enhance our rogue image some of us are wearing cowboy boots tomorrow.
B. A. is quite a modern city and hope to have time to explore some of it tomorrow.
No llamas today.
Jim and Herb
November 20, 2001
ATTENTION: HERB WAS ABLE TO ADD A BUNCH MORE PICTURES TO THE PHOTO ALBLUM. I ASSUME THAT YOU KNOW THAT IF YOU CLICK ON A THUMB NAIL PIC IT WILL GIVE YOU AN ENLARGEMENT.
Because there has been a lot of rain recently they have cancelled the explorer sections today and tomorrow. Which means we have been driving on paved roads.
The highlight of today was a stop at the Juan Manuel Fangio museum. He was a famous race driver from Arg. He started out in the 30s and 40s basically driving what we would call stock cars over distance races in So America. He eventually became a formula I driver and is very well known world wide. His son also became a famous race driver of formula I. The museum itself was beautiful. They took a building built in 1907, kept the facade and built a whole new building behind it. It was four floors with exhibits working off a large circular stair case. Unfortunately the director was not there and I couldn't find anyone that spoke enough English to further enlighten me. I had hoped maybe to learn some things to help us with our museum.
We are in Mar del Plata tonite which is the largest seaside resort in Arg. We are in a Sheraton Hotel that has all the luxuries. I was able to spend a couple hours on the tread mill which felt pretty good.
The price of gasoline is now back up to over a dollar per liter, which translates into well over 100 dollars to fill the tank. The more rural areas of Arg enjoy prices which are about half, because the Govt does not tax it as much to encourage development.
The problem with being in a hotel like we are in now is that it kind of isolates us from the community. And since we are so worn out it's hard to get motivated to move our butts out of here. We have CCN in English for the 1st time in several weeks. Not sure whether that is a blessing or a curse. Ignorance is bliss. Anyhow we will be able to catch up some of what is going on in the world. That is if we can stay awake that long.
Again the country side we are driving thru now is much more lush. Amber waves of grain. 10s of thousands of acres planted with crops and lots of beef cattle grazing. This is the breadbasket of Arg. If not all of So. Am.
B.A. tomorrow and hopefully a turkey for Thanksgiving.
All for now
Herb and Jim
By the way it took Herb almost three hours to get the new pictures on. It is really a tedious process.
November 19, 2001
Well we are back in the towing business. We had an unscheduled tow 1st thing this morning . A Land Rover broke down about 10 miles out of town, so we towed him back to a garage. Next we did the scheduled tow of the other Avalanche. As we can tow him at about sixty miles per hour and he is able to go only about 30 miles per hour in second gear we were able to save him a few hours travel time by towing him for a few hours.
We are in Bahia Blanco tonite and in the 1st decent hotel that we have been in in several weeks.
Biahia Blanco is the center of the Pampas area for growing cattle and producing beef, so we expect to have a great steak tonite. About 100 miles before we arrived here the flora and fauna changed from being plants that survive in arid conditions to much more lush greenery. Although we hope to see no rain, it is apparent that this area is much wetter than what we have experienced for the last several weeks.
This is a big city and actually has a Mc Donalds.
We were met on the outskirts of town by the police and turned around to go back to a gas station where we joined up with several of our friends. At 1st we thought we were all going to get speeding tickets, but it turned out we were being given an escort into town, as has happened on several other occasions. Unfortunately when this occurs it usually takes three times as long to get there then if we had done it on our own.
The ride today was not very exciting just chewing up about 400 plus miles in our quest to return to Rio
Tomorrow we head for a seaside resort then to B. Airies for two days. We are supposed to have a reception at the British Embassy on Thursday nite. We will be a sorry looking lot. They are supposed to be awarding some kind of prizes, for what no one seems to know. Also I'm not sure anyone much cares.
Herb and I are trying to figure out how we can have some turkey on Thanksgiving. We haven't seen a turkey, at least the bird type, since the trip began.
Actually did not see a llama today.
All for now
Jim and Herb
November 18, 2001
That was no woman, that was a man dressed up as a woman and yes there were balloons involved. According to Herb he was selling candy. That's all I know and if I knew more I'm not sure I could tell you. What did we do on our day off? Since we had no car problems, for a change (Our last days off we were either addressing brake or tire problems or both) we decided to drive over 200 miles on mostly gravel roads. Are we sick or what? Any how we drove around most of the Valdez Peninsula which is hooked to main land by an isthmus. We stopped in several places to whale watch and view elephant seals. We decided not go on the boat and from what we have heard we saw more whales than those on the boats. The first place we stopped there were just a few seals. One big male bull was after a female. She would nip at him then not pay much attention to him looking the other way and yawning as he got his dander up. Then a younger male came around and as soon as the older one saw him he would really start blowing his trumpet causing the younger one to back off and swim away. He'd go for a short while then try to sneak back into the area until the older one would scare him off again. It was fun to watch the ritual for awhile. We moved on to another area where we were able to walk down steps to the beach. We were allowed to get within about ten meters of these guys. There were hundreds of them just sunning themselves and sleeping on the beach and rocks. Not a whole lot of action. We got what we hope are some good pics though. Here there was a guide so we were able to learn some things about the seals. The males live to 18 and the females to 25. Males can weigh up to 3 1/2 tons while the females grow to about 1 ton. The females usually bear 1 calf per year. The Valdez has about 25,000 seals and is the only colony in the world that is growing and also the only colony that is attached to a continent. The other colonies are on islands, so this one probably gets visited more because people can drive to it. Then we had a nice slow lunch of prawns and salad. It was really nice not to be under any pressure and have something other than a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch. The climb back up from the beach really showed us how out of shape we have become from riding in the truck for 6 weeks. We then moved along to another beach where we able to view hundreds more basking on the beach. Looked just like loaf of bread baking in the sun. We were not able to get as close to this group. We also stopped along the way at an inland salt lake and salt flat that is actually 40' below sea level. We are supposed to go to a cook out there tonite. But we have opted out as it is 70 miles from our hotel and we have had enough of sheep spread eagle cooking on a spit.
The Valdez is pretty big probably 250 miles around. And mostly range land. At one point we saw a father and a couple of his sons on horses and some sheep dogs driving a herd of sheep across the range. Not sure for what purpose, they had already been sheared.
Pte. Madryn where we are staying these two days has a huge aluminum smelter that is owned by Argentineans. The locals are quite proud of that fact.
The temp today was in the low 80's so as we go north it is definitely getting warmer. The sun is shining and as we get closer to the equator the days are getting shorter.
The thing that has really struck us over all is how arid a large portion of South America is. It is easy to understand why more people didn't settle here over the past centuries.
I was trying to think today what was the most moving thing I've seen on this trip so far, I don't remember if I mentioned it earlier, but one evening as we were working our way down off a high plateau at sun set we came upon a gaucho sitting on his horse with his very young baby on his lap watching the sun set. I wish I had a picture of it but I remember thinking that I shouldn't ruin his moment.
We are off 1st thing in morning headed north again. We are going to tow our friend in the other Avalanche for a few hours tomorrow hopefully to speed up the pace for him as we are going about 450 miles tomorrow. Should save him some strain on his transmission as well.
Jim and Herb
November 17, 2001
Forgot to mention that when we were in Rio Grande we came across a bar Disco called Saratoga Paradise. So we pulled up in the afternoon in front, found the owner and took a bunch of pics with him and his staff. He gave us a couple of baseball hats and a free pass for that night. We were too tired to take advantage of the pass but the hats are great. We had a communication problem because of the language. But we think he named the bar after the U S navy ship Saratoga. But he also mentioned Iceland and automobiles, so we are not completely sure where the name came from. But we had a good time kidding around.
Today was short. We took off on what we ended up calling the Chapel chase. Late in the 19th century a group from Wales settled this area in an attempt to preserve the Welsh language and customs as they thought that they were going to be absorbed by main stream England. Over the last 100 years they have become almost completely absorbed into the local culture while in Wales many schools are conducted in Welch with English as a second language. And the Welch culture is being preserved back in merry old U K. So we were told any how. As we travel for about 75 km thru the valley they settled we passed about 8 or 9 Chapels that were built by the settlers. Also visited an old mill that was still in operating order. And part of a small museum. The highlight of the day was tea at a tea shop run by a Mrs. Jones who is 3rd or 4th generation and speaks the Welch language fluently. We learned that contrary to what we had been told in the write up by HERO, that the Welch language is alive and well in Argentina. While the people are wildly proud to be Argentinean they have actually been given grants by the British gov't. to import teachers to teach Welch to the kids. In fact it has become so cool, that a lot of the kids that have no Welch heritage are learning it as well. There was an article from the Washington Post written in 1997 hanging on the wall that gave us a good background on what's going on here. The tea shop was filled with antiques that came from Wales with the settlers as well as a number of old pictures and knick knacks. It was quite fascinating.
Tomorrow is a day off, but will be filled with whale watching, seal and penguin watching. Then a cook out at night.
We were finally able to get two more tires this afternoon and hope that we now have enough to get us thru the rest of the trip. We have more brakes arriving on Monday so we should be set. I have probably jinxed us just by mentioning it.
We seem to always end up in the worst of the hotels while there are 5 hotels here being used by the group. Four of which are on the beach, we are in the one 4 blocks from the beach. The 4x4 crews have been getting the short end of the stick as it seems that Hero has a bias toward the classics. They are about to have a rebellion of the 4x4 crews.
At least if there is a tidal wave we might have more of a chance.
All for now
Jim and Herb
November 16, 2001
Linda I plead innocent on the woman. You're not the first one to ask about the picture. I'll ask Herb about it and report back.
Question of the day: Where's the poop? We visited a penguin preserve today. 1/2 million penguins. All sizes and shapes- Babies included. What we didn't see is any bird poop. Can't figure out where it all goes or for that matter where they go! But it was a lot of fun. They were very tame. In fact one came up to Herb and tried to bite the sole of his boot. Couldn't tell if it was male or female. But it looked like a mating ritual to me. They would let us walk right up next to their nests and not blink an eye. They have been protected here for a long time. So I think they know that no one will hurt them in the protected area. We did learn that penguins are dying at an alarming rate. There are 17 different kinds of penguins, all in the southern hemisphere. The prediction is that at least 1/4 of them will be wiped out over the next thirty years. The main culprit appears to be oil dumped into the sea by ships. The penguins get the oil on them and it takes away the thermal protection that they have naturally. So they go on shore hoping to find warmth and starve to death.
It was another short day today and again tomorrow. We then have a day off to go whale watching. They say we are at the height of the season for that. Actually now we are complaining about the slow pace as everyone is getting anxious to get back to Rio and home.
I forgot to mention that our stop last nite was the heart of oil country in Argentina. It was founded around the turn of the century and in 1907 oil was discovered and most of the major international oil companies moved in. There were hundreds of oil wells dotting the landscape as we rolled along yesterday.
Last nite we attended a barbecue thrown by the local car club who also has a large race track founded in the 50's. They are in the middle of trying to raise 200,000 dollars to rehab the track. So they gave us dinner for free then sold us hats and stickers that much more than compensated for the cost of the dinner. But our group pitched right in and supported their fund raising efforts for which they were very appreciative.
They have told us to be very protective of our trucks tonite as 18 cars were stolen in town last nite.
Our over nite tonite is in Trelew, a city founded by a group of Welch some time ago.
Will learn more tonite as they are having a reception for us at the local museum tonite.
If anyone figures out where the poop is, please let us know. You don't have to point out that we are already full of it. We know that.
Herb and Jim
November 15, 2001
Paulo and Ellen, come see us. We look forward to seeing you.
Well we made another 600 miles without a flat. This morning started with several 100 miles on pavement. Unfortunately our cruise control doesn't work so one of us has to stay awake while we are going along at close to 100mph. Because our speedometer doesn't work we know that we are going over 95 because the engine cuts out at 97. So we try to stay just under the cut out. We are so used to driving at these speeds now I'm not sure we'll have our license long when we return home. At these speeds we could make New York City from home in 2 hrs.
We did an explorer section of 150 miles thru their petrified forest National park then on to a section much like the Painted Desert. Along with that there were a number of recent volcanic cones. Some of the road sections went thru lava fields so we really had to take it easy because the rocks are so sharp. We saw a lot of wild life today, lightless birds with a lot of babies, a fox, more llamas and the topper today was several flocks of pink flamingos. The problem we have with getting pictures is that we either can't get close enough or they are so shy they take off before we can stop and get the cameras out. HERB GOT A FEW MORE PICS ON LAST NITE. CHECK THEM OUT. The church shown was damaged in the recent earth quake.
It took about an hour to get the few pics on last nite. It is really slow going. We promise that when we get back we will get all the pics on along with some of the 35mm pictures we have been taking as well. So I hope we won't end up boring you and killing you with pictures in the end. At least we won't have you as a captive audience and bore you to death with a slide show. Today was the first day that we saw temps above 50 F in a number of days. So our bones are a little warmer today.
When we arrived in Cmodoro Rivadavia, which is our over nite stop, we were met with a military brass band. Unfortunately they only played for those of us who were among the 1st to arrive. So most of our compatriots didn't experience the wonderful welcome.
Again it does feel good to be heading north. We haven't seen any penguins yet, but we have been promised that tomorrow will be the day. We are planning on tagging them with MARINE AIR stickers.
The town is throwing a cook out for us tonite so we are looking forward to that.
Question of the day: are just llamas really fair and impartial? We will leave you to ponder that.
Jim and Herb
November 14, 2001
Two border crossings, one ferry ride and a partridge in a pear tree. Actually it was a giant condor, but they are endangered. We took off early to make our crossings easy, which they were. We missed the ferry boat by about 30 seconds so we had to wait an hour for it to come back for us. On our way down they had already left but redocked for us. Not to be today. On the crossing we saw two porpoises that were black and white and looked like penguins. Did not know such an animal existed. They jumped along side us for a short while then took off for greener waters.
One of the things that I have neglected to mention about where we are and where we have been the last few days is the wind. A lot of trees look like the letter F from the constant blowing of high winds. As we have to stop along the road to relieve our selves once in a while it has given a whole new understanding of the old saying about "pissing into the wind". The drive today was rather uneventful. We did an interesting side trip thru what must have been a good size lake at one time. There were several ranch houses tucked up against what at one time must have been the edges of the lake, and the bottom appears now to be very fertile grazing land. Herb hasn't said a word about sheep in the last couple of days, so he must be O K.
Later after we reentered Arg. we travelled thru a plain that had a lot of new small volcanic cones and fairly recent lava fields. By that I mean probably within the last several 100 years. But we saw no real recent, like today or yesterday, activity..
Our friend Fred with other Avalanche is now only able to travel in second gear, so he is limping along at 35 to 40 miles per hour, but determined to make it to Rio. Our electrical system continues to act weird. I actually think we have picked up a ghost somewhere along the way. If you had seen some of the forests we have been thru lately you may buy into that theory. Some of the woods look like something out of a Halloween movie.
Herb is presently checking one more place in town for tires we are not having a lot of luck.
The city we are staying in tonite is another Traffic light heaven. I do give the locals a lot of credit for the planning that they have done in building the cities. But I'm sure the traffic light company had a large hand in it. If our traffic lights at home were timed as badly as these we would have a rebellion on our hands. This is heart attack city for type A personalities.
I don't remember whether I mentioned hearing a rumor about an accident yesterday, but it was unfounded. The co-driver of the Ferrari had his second black out in as many weeks so I hear he is on his way back home to the U K to get checked out. Some say it is due to the driving of the 1st driver who is a very nice guy, but said to be a very aggressive driver.
Hope to be heading into warmer weather.
Jim and Herb
November 13, 2001
Just Llamas! A very telling statement by Herb this A. M. Herb was driving as I was dozing in the passenger seat. When I noticed that Herb was looking across a meadow at something, I asked him what he was looking at. He said at first he wasn't sure then said they were just llamas. Llamas have become common place for us as we see them all the time. We couldn't have made that statement a couple of months ago.
For the last several days each town or city we have stayed in has claimed to be at the end of the world. Selling stickers and t shirts proclaiming the same. But today I think we really reached the end of the world at 54 degrees 54 minutes south. We drove into a national park about 30 kms and the road ended. The only thing between us and Antarctica was a lot of cold water. So maybe we were near the end of the world.
We then went on side trip to E. Halberton where an English family was the first to put a farm on Tierra del Fuego. It is still operating. And if you fancy seeing a lot of whale bones you can visit their museum. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your view point, the museum was closed and we had to be content looking at whale skeletons on the ground outside. Really a trip.
Another interesting thing about two of the towns that we stayed in here is that they all must have had city planners some where in the recent past. There are more traffic lights per capita than anywhere I have ever been plus a lot of one-way streets. You can sit at a traffic light for hours so it seems with no one around. No one seems to violate the rules as they just sit and wait for it to change. They must have stiff penalties.
We have gone down several one way streets the wrong way. In one place the police actually put their car across the road to stop us. As they walked up with a very stern look on their faces we whipped out a map and played dumb and lost. Not very hard for us actually. We got them laughing and they let us go.
One of the other people was stopped for going thru a red light and was fined 500 dollars on the spot or threatened with jail. You can guess where that 500 dollars went. So far playing ignorant, again not hard for us, has gotten us thru without having to pay any money. Going thru a police check point of which there are many, the guys in the car ahead of us gave the police 10 dollars. Our tactic was going to be that they paid for us too. But we got thru with the no comprende defense. So far so good. I've hesitated to mention our luck as we probably will get nailed now.
It feels good to be headed north and to the end of the rally, not the world. Talk to you all soon
Herb and Jim
November 12, 2001
Ellie , sounds O. K. to me.
We bought one tire this A. M. and trashed another one today so we are barely staying ahead of the game. We also had to put another set of rear brakes on this afternoon. We are in Ushuaia and the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego. About as far south as civilization goes in South America. We had hoped to spend the day looking around but had to attend to the car first. One of our friends is headed back to Switzerland tomorrow so we are having dinner with him and a bunch of others tonite.
We are about counting down the days now and are looking forward to getting back to Rio as long as the car holds together. One of the hotels gave us a gift package the other nite. It contained a lighter. Herb suggested that maybe we should torch the car for the insurance and go home. Iím not sure whether he was kidding or not.
We heard that the other Avalanche was towed in this morning but havenít heard yet what the problem is. The trucks are taking a hell of a beating. Chevy ought to take a look at them when we return just to see what some of the problems are. I would be surprised if they did, however. Weíve heard no more from G M of South America. Great support.
We hope to see some penguins tomorrow, but who knows.
All for now
Jim and Herb
P. S. Heard about the A A Crash in NYC. Terrible.
November 11, 2001
Well I'm an old cowhand from the Rio Grande. We are in Rio Grande Tierra del Feugo Argentina. But it's not a cow town; it's a fishing village. Located almost as far south as we are going to go. Tomorrow we will be the furthest south that we get. Just about 10 degrees north of the Antarctic Circle. and only about 650 miles from Antarctica it self. Unbelievable, just two weeks ago we were at 11 degrees south almost to the equator.
Today we started again quite early and drove thru some really remote areas. Mainly flat or rolling plains on dirt roads that were really rutted up in places from wet weather. We saw a lot of wild life: a couple of grey desert foxes, a lot of rabbits, more llamas, and some flightless birds similar to an ostrich, but smaller. We had a hard time getting any pictures of them because they are so skittish. But Herb did a masterful job and we were able to get some. Hopefully one of these days we will be able to share them with you. There were a lot of cattle and sheep grazing on the range as well. Speaking of sheep, we have seen our fair share. I'm getting a little worried about Herb. The other day we passed some that had been marked with a big red H. A little while later Herb wondered whether the H stood for Herb, Hot Or horney. I think all three. Then yesterday I noticed that Herb was using some hand cream called utter cream. I'm real glad we are in separate rooms.
Have another bit of info on the Moreno glacier we visited the other day. The glacier is actually in Chili but reaches out across the lake into Argentina, where the Argentineans reap the tourist dollars. We wondered if the Chileans have demanded a cut of the profits, as there is no way for them to reach the glacier short of climbing over the mountains.
So anyhow after crossing the plains, we reached the ferry boat that took us across the Straits of Magellan. The boat was actually leaving as we approached. They brought it back into shore and got us aboard saving us about an hour in waiting time. Can't imagine that happening in the USA. The ferry ride was about half an hour again in a very remote area. I tried to imagine what Magellan must have been thinking when he passed thru here in 1520. I don't think that the area has changed much. Makes our adventure seem pretty tame.
There is a big tire store here but of course it is Sunday so it is closed. Hopefully we will have time in the morning to check it out. We desperately need a couple of tires to get us thru to the end. Our biggest expense so far has been tires and gas. Gas goes upwards of $4.00 per gallon, so when we fill our 31 gal tank every 300 miles or so it gets costly. We have to carry a fair amount of cash with us because we never know whether a station will take a credit card or not. Even when they say they will they seem to figure out a way to get the cash. We stopped early on at a large Esso or Shell that displayed a Visa sign, asked if they took Visa, was assured that they did filled the tank and then was told that it was too early and the office wasn't open yet so we had the choice of waiting for an hour or paying cash.
I'm done rambling and about to go out and enjoy some sun.
Jim and Herb
November 10, 2001
We just arrived in Puerto Natales Chili having crossed the frontier from Argentina this A M . Tomorrow we cross back into Arg. After crossing the Strait of Magellan by ferry boat. When I studied his trip in junior high school little did I know that I would someday be here.
Any how we started of this morning driving across a plateau on pretty good gravel roads and then into Chili where we took a detour to visit Torres Del Plains National Park. And had some tea and scrambled eggs at a lodge deep in the park on a lake. I never thought I would be able to say that the scenery could get more beautiful, but today was truly the best yet. We were among relatively new mountains surrounded by lakes.
It is really the wilderness. The mountains were covered with snow on the tops with a number of glaciers visible. The water in the lakes again was incredibly blue and green in color. And the wind whipped across the water at such speeds that it picked up the water from the surface and turned it into wind whipped mist. Clouds came and went around the mountain tops as Condors soared above on the thermals. So we finally saw some condors. They are big big birds. We are now believers that there really are condors in So Am. Our fed ex packages arrived so hopefully we can fix our dash board. Weíll let you know. Thanks again to all who helped get the packages to us. We are very grateful.
Herb is getting the oil changed as we speak, then we will explore this little village. It almost looks like the coast of Norway. Hopefully we will have a nice seafood dinner tonite.
We saw a grey fox this A. M. along the side of the road and he was nice enough to stop and pose for pictures for us. He was amazingly tame. We also got some pictures of Llamas who posed for us.
We noted something interesting. Before we came to each llama herd there were single llamas on the hill tops around each herd, as if they were look outs. We were getting a little paranoid almost expecting an attack of mad llamas or something. But they are fairly docile animals and we were able to escape unscathed. We are at sea level and the peaks are snow capped only a few hundred feet above the plain that they poke up from. Also it is now light until about 10 in the evening. Both speaking to the southern latitude that we are now located. Any how it is an interesting area to visit and learn about.
All for now
Herb and Jim
November 9, 2001
Deep in the heart of Patagonia. Could that be a song? The guy driving the other Avalanche is from El Paso Tex. We have passed thru several El Pasos during our trip. So he must feel right at home. Heís only had one flat so far we've lost count. We are considering jacking his truck up one night and trading wheels and tires with him. Some how I don't think we'd get away with it unless we could stay a day ahead of him
This morning we were up early 6:45 and headed out to the glacier. About 50 miles away. We walked along the front of it for about 1/2 mile watching pieces fall off into the water. It sounds almost like a gun shot when a large piece goes. It is about 4 kms wide but branches out to 6 kms when it gets down to the lake. This helps to weaken it causing it along with the higher temp to break up. There was a sign indicating that 32 people died from flying ice between 1968 and 1988. They must have either moved the viewing area back since then or given up counting. The glacier moves about 2 meters a day. The force is hard to comprehend. One of the ice ages stopped right around where we live in upstate New York so all around us at home the topography shows us what a glacier can do.
We then went on a boat ride for an hour that took us along side. The walk was actually close and more interesting. We were back in Calafate in time for a nice long lunch. And are taking it easy this afternoon before getting back to the chase tomorrow morning. There were at least 5 accidents we heard about yesterday. One of the classics tipped over completely. I think rolling several times. No one was hurt. It was an English ford sedan. We heard the windshield was broken so they are some how using the back window to replace it. Another car ended up in a big ditch. Everyone is very resourceful. It is amazing to me how they are able to get these cars and trucks back into operating condition and back on the road. The accidents are caused mainly by the fact that the roads have a lot of loose gravel. It is like driving in slush in the winter time at home. When you get up to between 50 and 60 mph. You lose contact with the road, so it becomes very hard to control the car or truck. Makes for interesting outcomes.
The people at Taylor Made Environmental have shipped us some needed parts from Goodyear Donnie Gould. That hopefully will be at our hotel when we arrive tomorrow. We give them all a big thank you And Lori for passing on the info.
The town we are in right now is a little tourist town with great shops and restaurants. Almost out of the old west. The sun is shining and life is good.
Tomorrow we will be back at it.
The computer here is too slow to get any pics on but hopefully we will have more soon.
Jim and Herb
November 8, 2001
I just spent half an hour putting in an up date and somehow lost it so I will try again.
2 days ago I didn't think my entry got on but apparently it did.
The scenery has been unbelievable the last few days-Mountain lakes steams and rivers along with high plateaus with free range and snow capped peaks. One of the interesting things we have noted is that a lot of the water in the rivers, streams and lakes is aquamarine in color. They look like the Caribbean; but some are dark in color as we would expect a mountain stream to be. We think that the lighter color may be due to copper in the water. We came down off a plateau yesterday afternoon looking at two large lakes separated by a narrow strip of land but entirely different colors . It was truly amazing to see. We camped out under the stars last nite and had a great cookout. We are staying in El Calefate tonite which is a tourist town near the glacier we will go see tomorrow. We had a couple of more flat tires today and it is doubtful that we will find new tires here. WE NOW HAVE PATCHES ON OUR PATCHES. Our windshield looks like some one has been using it for target practice with a B B gun . We have crescent shaped moon in the center and a Gemini star cluster directly in front of the driver's seat along with other planets and stars in various places. It is really quite interesting .Either that or we are getting nuttier as time goes on.
We are just a few days from the tip and then we start making our dash for Rio to bring it all to a close. A number of people have dropped out due to mechanical problems or accidents and some have just gone off on their own finding the pace too trying.
We are not only a towing service, but Herb is hanging out a shingle as Herb's body shop. He is presently pulling out the front end of a 4x4 that hit a llama today going 85 mph. The llama was apparently OK as it ran off. But did some major damage to the truck. Yesterday Herb used our winch to pull the front out on A Ford Shelby that had been hit by an ambulance.
Yesterday I hit and unfortunately killed a sheep that ran in front of our truck. We luckily weren't going very fast. The sheep cut one direction then right back under the front of the truck. Couldn't do much about other than feel badly.
Tomorrow we go see the glacier will give you a report on that.
Another problem we face now is getting enough fuel as Patagonia gas stations are few and far between. As we are early risers we are usually among the first out so we haven't had a problem yet.
Jim and Herb
November 6, 2001
nother great day in the wilderness. Again the scenery is indescribable. We took off early this AM and again drove thru snow capped peaks and alpine lakes. Later in the day we came down to sea level and drove along the side of a Chilean fiord for several miles, then back up in the mountains for several miles. Unbelievable. Would like to come back here when I have more time. The streams, lakes and rivers are almost aquamarine in color. Not sure what causes that. Could it be copper in the water? We saw great rapids and some outfitters' trucks parked along the road. We assume they were helping fishermen kyackers. Though we didnít see any. We were unable to get any help with our dash problem on the truck. G. M. so far isnít showing us much support.
We will be camping out tomorrow nite so you probably wonít hear from us. We will be freezing our butts off.
All for now
Jim and Herb
November 5, 2001
"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I, I took the one less travelled by." Apologies to Robert Frost. Well that seems to be John Brown's Philosophy of Rallies. The less travelled road the better. My skiing friend Eric is known for choosing the hardest nastiest conditions to ski in, which has helped to improve my skiing tremendously. John Brown has gone the same way with driving. I'm not sure I'm a better driver for it. But I do know that I am damned tired most of the time.
Seriously, we got our tire fixed this a.m. and bought a couple of new tires so that we now have four extra tires in case of emergency. We also bought all the "Save Your Tire" in a can that we could find. We have, along with plugs, used a lot of canned tire saver.
We are having more plugs shipped to us from the states. We have also been contacted by G. M. South America and they are going to try to help solve our instrumentation problem. We have no instruments that work on our dash board. Gone are the days of putting this monster on cruise control and going to sleep.
Although we had a late start it was a relatively short day. We travelled thru the snow covered peaks and alpine lakes for most of the day, a good portion on gravel Roads. We went thru a national park for several miles that was out of this world. It actually was sleeting for awhile.
We are overnighting in a small town that is much like one of our old frontier towns. They met us with a local military band and I think everyone in town turned out. Tomorrow we head back into Chili and on Weds we camp out. It is pretty cold for that.
If I miss a day it means I wasnít able to get to a computer or my hands are frozen.
The pace has slackened a bit. We hope it stays that way, but who knows what nasties lurk in John Brown's mind.
Herb and Jim
We saw an old train today, with a steam engine, which really turned Herb on as trains are one of his passions.
November 4, 2001
We are sitting over looking an alpine lake framed by snow covered peaks, in a five star hotel no less. No Joke. It really is beautiful. We started out the day by driving along gravel roads going back up into the mountains with an active volcano to our right. At least smoke was coming out of the top. So I assume it is active. We passed by a wonderful alpine lake on the Chile side of the border. We made the border crossing with little difficulty. As again we were among the first to arrive. We then travelled over gravel roads with beautiful alpine scenes and lakes, many of them uninhabited. The scenery is hard to describe.
We experienced two flat tires today. One we were able to get fixed right away. the other will have to wait until tomorrow morning as we couldnít find a place open to do it on Sunday. As we pulled into town this afternoon, we saw several truck loads of classic cars going off. They apparently had the Argentine Mille Millia here this weekend. Unfortunately we missed it. Good planning on the part of the organizers. One of the other crews took an all paved route today and came across a farmer out in the middle of nowhere with a car museum. 65 cars 40 some of which were old Studebakers. To each his own.
Any how we arrived in time to have a relaxing afternoon. Actually hit the tread mill for a couple of hours for the first time in a month. We will have a nice dinner tonite and hit the bed early.
We supposedly have a short day tomorrow but will believe it when I see it.
Jim and Herb
November 3, 2001
Up at 4:30 and on the road, in the dark, by 5:15. We did a couple of off roads early in the fog and rain, so we didnít get to see much. We joined the Pan American Hwy after about 60 miles and continued on that for almost 500 miles. Most of it was like driving from Albany to Buffalo on the N Y State Thruway. Really exciting. We were able to stop for lunch near a wonderful water fall and had a great lunch. Then continued on to our over nite. We discovered a slow leak in one of the tires so we got that fixed before checking in. Our dash board is still out despite spending all day yesterday at the Chevy garage. I really donít have much to report today. Except that we are trying to figure out what to do about the dash problem.
The one thing that has changed dramatically is the vegetation. We are in a much more moist area. So we are travelling thru lush country side. It is nice to be out of the desert after all this time.
Check out the pictures,
Herb and Jim
November 2, 2001
Well, our day off has been spent in a Chevy Garage in Vinde Mar Chili trying to isolate an electrical problem. More later we have to go to another garage. I'm back. We have moved on to the main facility in Valpariso. It is almost 5:00 and have not found the problem yet. They have been very accommodating considering the fact that their service facilities are very busy. So we really appreciate the fact that they are fitting us in. We were able to have a nice lunch as they close between 1 and 3 then work until 7:30.
I neglected to tell you that during the last couple of days we travelled thru Argentina's wine country. Acres upon acres of grape vines. I can assure you that our group did a good job of sampling the local wines. As for my self I'm sticking to my Coke light.
Yesterday as we headed toward the border to Chili an interesting optical illusion happened to us. For about 20 miles or so we followed a river that looked like it was flowing up hill. The way the stratified rock was layered and tilted created this feeling. It felt like we were going down hill and the river was flowing up. I've seen this before but on a much smaller scale.
I hear that we are missing some exciting World Series games. As for me I gave up on baseball when the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn. We are off tomorrow again and headed for the southern parts of Chili and Argentina. All the locals tell us that it gets much more beautiful as we go south. We have seen some amazingly beautiful scenery already so it must just be a different kind of beautiful. Well we hope to get finished up here early enough to have a relaxing evening, but it doesn't look like that is going to happen. Vin de mar is a nice seaside city and Valpariso is much more industrial as it is Chili's main seaport.
It is unbelievable to us that Chili and Bolivia and Peru can be so close together geographically yet be so far apart economically.
So we start the second half and hopefully the truck and ourselves stay together and don't shake apart. This trip has given a new meaning to shake rattle and roll. Thanks to duck tape we are still here and in one piece, so to speak.
Jim and Herb
November 1, 2001
We had a short day of it, arriving in Merabello in time for lunch. We met Enrique our Cruise Air dealer in Valpariso for lunch. He brought over a couple of sets of rear brakes for us that Donnie Gould had gotten for us in Ft Lauderdale. Darcy from Marine Air picked them up and sent them to Enrique Fed Ex. Some one from Environmental did the communication in Spanish with Enrique to assure that it all worked. Thanks for all the fantastic support. Enrique had another supplier and his wife with him. They are from France. We didn't have a common language between us , my three years of high school French was of little help. But we seemed to communicate or did a good job of pretending. Anyhow we had a good time.
We were off early this AM and were among the first to hit the frontier. So our border crossing was pretty painless.
We again were pretty high up in the mountains. Our assent on the Argentine side was fairly gradual. Coming down on the Chili side was quite quick, descending thru 29 hairpin turns in just a few miles. The scenery continues to be spectacular. We are unable to do a good job in describing it. At the top we went thru the international tunnel that connects the two countries. On the Chili side there was a number of ski lifts, although not used because it is summer here now.
Tomorrow we are going to a Chevy dealer 1st thing in the morning to try to get a few problems solved. Then hopefully have a few hours to relax before being off again Saturday. We are about half way thru the trip now. So far so good.
We are at a resort on the Pacific, but it is very foggy, cloudy, and cool. Hopefully tomorrow the sun will shine.
All for now
Jim and Herb
P. s.Thank you to those that we hear from in the guest book.
October 31, 2001
And the cow jumped over the moon. More about that later. Sorry we didn't report yesterday. We spent yesterday morning having the back brakes done again for the second time and didn't leave until 12:30. We didn't get to our hotel until nearly 10:00. And we were beat. We started the drive yesterday thru some of the best views we've seen yet. Some of it looked the badlands in So. Dak. Some looked like the Painted Desert. And every thing in between. It really was indescribable. We then headed off over a high plateau of range land and actually saw working gauchos with lariats and the whole deal. Just like the old west. After several miles across this we headed down a road thru what must be the longest gorge any where. It seemed like we were on the winding roads for ever. We then made a run down a main road for awhile, only to turn off and head back up into the mountains again. We went up a road that was probably the scariest yet. Very narrow with drops of 1000s of feet some times on both sides. There also was some on coming traffic to contend with. We were trying to beat the coming darkness as well. We got out of the tough stuff before dark but still had a drive of almost 2 hrs on gravel roads in the dark. We could see some range fires as we came down out of the hills.
For some reason the cattle like the roads at nite. We think maybe the roads hold more of the heat. Anyhow Herb was doing a great job driving while we both were on the look out for the cows, horses, mules, goats, sheep etc. I was working the air horn. Any how we didn't hit any but came close to sending a cow over the moon, but I suspect that if we had hit one the cow would have won. We were able to see a beautiful sunset with the sun's rays reflecting off the golden hills. After it got dark. I noticed the Southern Cross, which is a constellation that can only be seen in the southern hemisphere. So we stopped the truck and Herb got his first look at it. It is just above the horizon in the evening sky. Herb had another first on his way down here he crossed the equator for the first time. Any how it was a late night and we were glad to hit the sack last nite. Actually we're ready to hit the sack about anytime.
Today we started with a famous hill climb up a very winding paved road for about 20 miles. The traffic was stopped so that we didn't have to contend with oncoming for this. We then headed off across the range land again onto the never ending plains for the balance of the day It was rather quick and kind of boring for about 500 miles. We pulled into town about 3:00 to make a short day of it. We actually saw some wild life in the last couple of days. We saw a couple of desert foxes and some rabbits. I would have expected we'd have seen some snakes, but nary a one so far. We head back into Chili tomorrow and actually a day off on Fri. Time to get some more work done on the truck. Hopefully some extra brake pads that have been mailed to us will unite with us there as well.
We are going to take it easy tonite and have a nice meal for a change. Actually Herb has Montezuma's revenge. So maybe I'll have a nice meal. Montezuma got me for 4 or 5 days last week. No fun. All for now
Jim and Herb
October 29, 2001
Today we were at the top of the world again. We were well above 15000 ft.
We started the day at 4:45 and left about 5:30 to make a dash to the border control for Chili. To hopefully get thru early. We were about the sixth car to arrive at about 6:15. The earlier crews woke the officer up. And he was really angry. Apparently he had been told that we would be arriving between 9:00 and 11:00. So he slammed the door and went back to bed. The police arrived and told us the control wouldnít open until 8:30 or 9:00. So we all stood around in the morning cold until he got around to taking care of us. He was still pretty upset and let us know it. We finally were on our way about 9:00.
Anyhow on our drive to the control across the high desert, we had a great view of the morning star as it began to get light. I donít remember which planet it is, but it was surely bright this morning. We donít see it nearly as clearly at home. Probably the clean air at this altitude has something to do with it. It stayed bright even as the sun rose.
After border control we headed out across the desert to climb into the Andes. We went past several snow capped peaks and took an off road by some saline lakes. As we travelled thru this high wonderland we went past huge salt flats. As flat as a card table top. The different colors were spectacular. After we went thru The Argentina border control we started down the other side toward Salta where we are spending the nite. About 115 miles out we came across one of our fellow crews in a Ferrari that was broken, so we towed them the whole 115 miles into Salta. This of course extended our day by a couple of hours. But so what. Coming down out of the mountains we again saw some great scenery. The roads even if gravel are 1000 times better than in Peru and Bolivia, so that we are able to make decent time on them and actually enjoy the views more as we are not so intent on driving. Most of the roads are two lanes so less worry about getting forced off the road and down a mountain side.
We have a very loud air horn installed on the truck with a foot switch on the passenger side. It is the navigator's job to blow the horn as we approach blind curves. It has given us a sense of security. We do blast the hell out of it.
Any way we will be in Argentina for two more days then head back into Chili. We will try to get some pics on when we have a day layover in Chili. Tomorrow is another early and long day. All for now
Jim and Herb
October 28, 2001
Today we travelled about 450 miles south to Calama Chili . We started out inland and after about 100 miles or so we cut out to the sea where we actually had time to stop for lunch at a pub over looking the ocean. Had what we think was fresh tuna, rice and a salad. We then continued south for another 100 miles then cut inland again went up to over 10,000 feet; and ended the day by visiting the largest open pit copper mine in the world. They fill huge dump trucks at the bottom and drive them to the top to process the ore. They work 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The trucks cost about 2.5 Million a piece and last about 10 years. They have 3300 Horsepower engines.
Again we are astounded by the west coast of this part of So. America. It is basically all desert. Extremely dry. The main industry seems to be mining. We passed several areas that are set up to load the ore ships. The cities we passed thru are quite modern with a lot of new housing. The difference between here and Peru is nite and day. We were told by the customs agent when we entered Chili yesterday that there was no corruption in Chili and donít try to bribe a policeman or you could go to jail. The people here seem to be much more upbeat as well. We really donít have a lot to report today.
Tomorrow is another long day thru the mountains back into Argentina where we will stay in a town called Salta. We are all concerned about our fuel supply tomorrow as it is a long way between gas stations. We have actually filled our water containers with gas. Our front upper lights have come lose. Thank god for duck tape. We are becoming a rolling billboard for duck tape. Someone even tried to steal our Inca Trail Rally sign off the passenger door of the truck so we have duck taped the remainder to the door. These roads have been a challenge for all the cars and trucks. So far ours is holding up with minor glitches. It will be a wonder to behold if it is still all together by the end of the rally.
All for now.
Jim and Herb
October 27, 2001
For a change today we started off with 130 miles on mountain roads. The change today was that the landscape looked like the surface of Mars rather than the moon. Actually today was surprisingly unlike the other days. The topography was completely different. We saw some buttes and mesas. Some of the roads had suffered the effects of the recent earthquake and just recently been made passable. We again were quite high up with 1000s of feet of drop along one side of the road. In one place we were barely able to squeeze by a large backhoe working on clearing the road . I think Herb covered his eyes as we made our way around him on the outside edge of the road with several 1000 feet of drop at our side. I have to say I was sweating a little myself. Several times we dropped into lush valleys with lots of terraces for growing produce. One of the big differences between Peru and Bolivia is that the Peruvians use a lot of irrigation and the Bolivians little or nothing. It is unbelievable how dry this area of the world is. I had no idea. We rejoined the Pan American Hwy for 150 or so miles that took us to the border crossing (which was surprisingly easy). We were out getting some water for tomorrow when we ran into another crew whose car had a dead battery. so we followed them by taxi to their truck and got them going so they could limp into the hotel. We heard that a couple from New Zealand was in an accident today and are out of the rally after totaling their Holden, the Australian version of a Chevy. We heard that the wife broke her ankle but nothing more serious. Lucky as they hit a truck head on.
Tomorrow we do a 500 mile run south mainly on paved roads so it should be an easy day. Every time we say that, something happens to make it into a long day.
The difference between Chili and Peru is nite and day; it is obvious that Chili is much more affluent than Peru. We ate dinner in a small restaurant and chatted with owner's son who is entering Howard U in Washington DC next year. Enough for now
Jim and Herb
October 26, 2001
Today we went on a Peruvian version of a snipe hunt. We were up at 4:30 and on the road at 5:00. We drove over several mountains and back up to 15500 feet on terrible roads, 150 miles out and 150 miles back. To see the condors rise on the morning thermals .
There were no condors today, but we did see a bird about the size of a sparrow strutting his stuff. We busted a front shock absorber on the truck, but since we have extras with us it was relatively easy to replace it when we returned. It was a long day for naught. We did get to see the volcanoes that surround Arequipa, however, and they are worth looking at.
Tomorrow we are off on another trek thru the mountains and will make a border crossing into Chili (border crossings are a real lot of fun). We will be staying in a city that is said to be the most arid in the world, the name escapes me. But they say the beer and the wine flows. For me coke light. They actually market coke light (diet coke) as an evening beverage of choice. I haven't figured out why yet. But they sell a lot of it. Thru out our trip we have been reminded constantly of home by the Coke and Pepsi signs. They are everywhere. Including the small mountain villages.
Many of the people have become pretty fed up with route and are making their own way between our nite destinations. The roads that the organizers have chosen are just tearing up the cars. Herb and I are still finding it a challenge to stick with the original route. But we are getting tired.
Herb is still working on getting some more pics on.
All for now.
Jim and Herb
P. S. If you haven't clicked on HERO on our home page give it a try. They are doing daily updates on their web site as well.
We hit the road about 7:00 this morning. And traveled down the west coast of Peru about 450 miles. It is mostly desert and dunes and rock and mountains with very little water other than the sea. We drove along paved roads most of the day, but there were parts that the road had given way and slid to the sea. We were at sea level some of the time at also several hundred feet above with sheer drops to the sea. A lot of trucks and buses as well so it kept us on our toes. There were areas of coastal plain and some valleys that were irrigated and full of growing. One valley we passed thru was loaded with olive trees and is either the olive capital of Peru or all of South America. Take your pick. We also saw some fishermen and divers along the way. Most of the areas we passed thru were really desolate and uninhabitable. I can't imagine here. There seems to be a dark cloud over the whole area.
We passed thru Nasca today. That is the area that has the huge drawings laid out on the ground that can be seen from the air. Some of our troop took airplane rides to view them from the air. I had a bad feeing about it so we didn't do it and were content to look at aerial photos. Some say that the drawings were made by Aliens, but the locals say that it was their fore bearers trying to copy the animals that they saw in the stars. Who knows, but they are certainly impressive.
Tomorrow we are up at 4:00 to drive up to 15500 ft to try to view the condors rising on the morning thermals. Will let you know our success. I am receiving some e-mails from you, but just havenít had the time to answer them all. Herb's still working on pictures, in fact he said this morning he had a dream about how to do it right. So maybe we'll get there. In fact the last couple of nights we both have been having weird dreams. To Jlane: good to hear from you and say hello to all my friends at the Lauderdale boat show. We are in Arequipa tonite which is a very nice city and good size. We received another great welcome in the town square. This city was near the center of the recent earthquake and we will be presenting the mayor with a check for over$14000 raised from the members of the group for the earthquake relief fund. We will be here for two nights returning after a 300 mile jaunt to view the condors tomorrow nite.
All for now
Jim and Herb
Thanks for the notes in the guest book
October 24, 2001
What a relief. No Mountains, but biiiiiig sand dunes. We took off from Lima about 7:45 and hit the Pan American Hwy for about 170 miles, and then we went on an off road for about 80 miles along the coast thru huge sand dunes. There was a road of sorts to follow so it was hard to get lost. In places it looked like the surface of the moon. We stopped at a small fishing village where we hoped to have a lunch of fresh fish, but one look at the sanitary conditions cancelled that notion. So we had our small sausage sandwiches that we had made at breakfast. Most days our lunches consist of some thing that we are able to grab from the breakfast buffet provided by the hotels. Some are better than others.
It is good to be in the fresh air again. Lima's air is just the worst. Last nite the local car club hosted a dinner for us and put on a nice show with a lot of dancing etc. They have really gone out of their way to support us. I want to thank KiKe, a local young man who helped us find the Chevy garage and stayed with us to the end. I hope he checks out the site. We didn't make it to down town Lima, but those that did said that it was very well secured with a lot of cops and water cannons etc. I guess this can be a pretty scary place if you don't know your way around. We had a short day today which can only mean that it can't get better.
I want to reiterate that we are unable to respond to those of you who have signed on to our guest book, because of some glitch with computer, but we really appreciate the notes from you so keep them coming. Well I'm going to try to get a swim in this afternoon, so all for now.
Herb tried again to get some pics on, but was unsuccessful. Will try again.
Best to all,
Jim and Herb
October 23, 2001
Well, here we are in the Chevy garage in Lima having new back brakes put on, oil in the transfer case, new fuel filter and a general tightening up of everything that we shook loose during the last several days of rough roads. Yesterday we came down from almost 16,000 ft. to sea level in about 75 miles. We hope that it is the last mountain that we see for awhile. One of the women said that the next few days driving the Pan-American hwy were really boring. We said Great. All along the tops and near the top of the mountain we were on ore mines. We were told last nite by a local man that over 50% 0f Peru's exports are in the form of minerals and that 65% of those come down the mountain on the railroad that runs adjacent to the road we drove. We heard some about the political situation as well. One fellow told me that the former president Fujimori who is now in Japan did a great job in getting Peru on track to enter the 21st Century, but he turned out to be a gangster. He said that he thought history would reflect him as a great man.
As we came down the mountain, the closer to Lima we got the more polluted the air became. It is the worst I can ever remember seeing or not being able to see thru anywhere that I have been. I don't think they have heard of any pollution controls. You can't believe what spews out of the tail pipes of the vehicles here.
Anyhow the hotel and the local car club threw us a nice party last nite, including two sets of fireworks and some local dancers. A number of us joined in the dancing, thanking our lucky stars that we weren't still at 12,000 feet. If so I think we would have ended up in the hospital. The local car club is displaying about 30 of their cars for us, from WWII Willys jeep to a 1956 Ford, a T-bird among others. For some reason I keep getting thrown off the line I think I can save this.
All for now
Jim and Herb
October 22, 2001
I just wrote a long commentary on today and got kicked off the phone line so I lost the whole thing. I'm too tired to do another now so will try to catch you up tomorrow.
Jim and Herb
October 21, 2001
More Mountains. I never thought I would say no more mountains, but I think we have seen enough for awhile. We took off this morning for what we thought would be a short day, but it was still over 10 hrs of driving. We went up a mountain that is said to be the highest drive thru pass in the world at over 16,000 feet. My apologies to Tibet and Nepal. It truly felt like being at the top of the world. There were no trees and little vegetation of any kind. We passed a big mine at about 14,000 ft. on the way up. They mine lead, copper and something else that I can't remember. On the way down we helped one of our fellow crews get out of a ditch with the winch. A policeman was directing them to turn around and put them in a ditch they were teetering on the edge and could have flipped over onto their top if we hadn't come along when we did. We had another great welcome from the local people in the town we are staying in tonite. Tomorrow we head to Lima and a day off. We will go over what is said to be the highest paved pass in the world at 15,855 ft. So far our truck is running very well considering the altitude and the fact that most of the time we are able to get only 80 octane gas. Knock on wood. Everywhere we go our truck is one of the biggest draws. People seem to love it. It has been a rough and long couple of days, but we will never forget the beauty that we have seen. The people and the mountain vistas. Herb wants me to relate the following: You have probably seen pictures of the local women sporting bowler hats. It seemed odd to us so we asked what the story behind it was. Some time in the 1800's a guy imported from Italy a bunch of bowler hats with the intention of selling them to the men of the area. Well, they were a complete flop with the men, so he decided to try to sell them to the women. It was a big success and became high fashion. A local industry sprang up to produce the hats and there are still over 100 and some years later the fashion of the local women. Every woman aspires to have one imported from Italy. Our source didnít know whether any one is importing them or not or even if they are manufactured in Italy anymore. That's the story behind the story for today.
Signing off Herb and Jim
October 20, 2001
Short tonite. We drove over 14 hrs today to go 400 miles. Up and down we were as high as 14,000 ft and as low as 7,000 ft. I felt like we went over 100 mountains although it was probably more like ten. The temp went as high as 1010 F and as low as 48 F. Whenever we changed elevation the temp changed. We went 2 1/2 hrs or 2 1/2 mountains without brakes almost. We had to keep shifting down to control our speed. We finally found a garage where we could get under the truck and bled the brakes and they were O K after that. The Mountains are incredibly beautiful. All for now going to bed.
Jim and Herb
October 19, 2001
Good news. We finally have some pics on the web site. For some reason we are still having a problem getting the earlier pics on. Also it takes a lot of time to get the pics on so we have not labelled them. Make some guesses.
Today was another day off getting ready for what they say is a 15 hour day thru the mts. We spent the morning at a garage doing maintenance on the truck. And the afternoon walking around the town and doing a little shopping. Then I took a nap while Herb worked at getting the pics on. About 1/2 of the cars and trucks have opted to head for Lima tomorrow on an easier route, but we have opted to stick with the original plan.
Tonite we went to a Peruvian restaurant to try the local cuisine. Herb had a steak and noodles and I had spaghetti.
So we are up at 4:15 tomorrow morning so that hopefully we are off the mountain roads before dark. Check out the Hero web site. I understand my pic is on it getting a nice welcome to Cusco.
The people here couldn't be nicer and more friendly. It has been a nice rest stop. We will be out in the hinter lands for the next two days so it may be a couple of days before you hear from us.
Best to all,
Jim and Herb
P S Check the first entry under photo album for the pics. Even though it has the wrong date that's where they are
October 18, 2001
Up at 4:45 A M to take a 10 min bus ride to catch the train to Machu Picchu, an almost 4 hour ride. It takes 1/2 hr just to get over the hill out of Cusco. Several switch backs. Herb observed that if you want to know how the poorest in a community live ride thru on a train. It was pretty bleak. Anyhow after we got out of town it was all down hill from there. Literally, Cusco is at 12,000 ft. and fairly arid. M P is at 9000 ft. and in the beginnings of the rain forest. When we arrived we then took a bus for 25 minutes up the mountain side. On a road not unlike some of the better gravel roads we've been driving on. One thing is for sure, it is truly a mystical place. It is situated on a saddle between two mountains. No one knows why or when it was abandoned. But it was and was subsequently over grown by vegetation. Not unlike Ankor Watt in Cambodia. M. P. was rediscovered by an American Scientist from Yale On July 24, 1911. He was allowed over the next several years to clear away the growth. And take a lot of artifacts and old bones back to the U. S. They allowed him to do this because he promised to fund a museum in Peru and return the artifacts. According to our guide, the Peruvians are still waiting.
The city was broken into two major parts the agri part and the urban part. Supposedly the city was not self sufficient and extra food had to be brought in. What is interesting is that because there are no written historical records. So no one really knows when the city was started, when it was abandoned or why it was built in the first place.
I'm sure you all remember from junior high world history as I did (Ha Ha) that the Incas reigned during the 15th century, conquering many tribes along the west coast of So Am. At one time it was estimated that they ruled over 15 million people. They were fantastic engineers, using irrigation and many building techniques that we might use today. Please note they had no written language or complicated mathematics. We saw rock walls using rocks weighing up to 20 tons or more. The rocks are all odd shaped but fitted together with no mortar so tight that I don't believe you could get a knife into the cracks. Theories abound as to the whys and the hows. We could hear the guide ahead of us giving entirely different explanations than our guide. So who knows. We had a 4 hr trip back but don't at all regret the travel time to get to this wonderful place. The Incan culture peaked for about one hundred years until the Spanish showed up in search of gold. Smallpox and other European sicknesses wiped out much of the Inca population and some of the conquered tribes joined with the Spanish to help destroy the Incas and their culture.
As an aside I learned that our guide grew up in a mountain village about 150 miles south of here and still spends 6 months a year helping his family in the fields. He said that up until 20 years ago peasants weren't allowed to leave the villages to continue their education. Then the government began sending the best and the brightest to schools of higher learning. Today about 30% leave the villages and it is up to parents rather than the government. He also said that there is no doubt that the American girl we've read about in the papers and is in jail down here for terrorism was surely involved with the terrorists.
I wish I had the time and the stamina to tell you more. To say the least this has been a real learning experience as well as a contest of endurance.
We just learned that some of the teams are rebelling against the organizers, saying that the course is just too tough on the cars and the people. We have a 15 hr day thru the mountains this weekend and some are afraid to drive the mountain roads in the dark. We'll see what happens. I will say that the organizers could have done a much better job. If someone wanted to write a book on how not to run a rally this would be the model. I've heard this from a number of experienced teams.
All for now.
Jim and Herb
October 17, 2001
We left Puna at 6 A M, making a run of about 200 miles on asphalt. We then headed up into the mountains again with drops of several 1000 ft. along the side. Herb did the driving on the mountain road today and did a great job.
This road is basically one lane but trucks and buses use them as well to service the remote mountain villages. We had to be constantly on alert for oncoming traffic and we met our share of it. The same Rover sedan that we pulled 21 miles several days ago went into the ditch. So we pulled it out. Had he gone off the other side of the road it would have been good-bye Charley. One of the other drivers observed that if this kept up we'd own the Rover by the end of the rally and we said "who'd want it". As we came down, the Ancient Inca ruins became visible. They are truly amazing. Although the current residents farm the sides of the mountains they can't touch the engineering of the Incas. We have another early A M tomorrow as we're up At 4:45 to get the train to Machu Pichu. So we are signing off for now. We still hope to have some Pictures for you soon.
Jim and Herb
P. S. I hope you all realize that I'm usually pretty tired when I do these entries, please excuse the skipped or added letters and the misspellings. I just don't have the time to edit them.
October 16, 2001
Another day at 13,000 plus ft. We got a late start from La Paz and drove thru a high plateau of basically farm land until we reached Lake Titicaca. We drove along this beautiful lake for several miles until we came to a ferry crossing where they took us across one car per ferry but had several ferries so it didnít take too long. The lake is so huge that we couldnít see over the horizon looking up the length of the lake in both directions. We then continued on to the border crossing where Herb and I missed the Bolivian Customs and were processing thru Peru customs before we found out that we had to go back and start over. It took nearly three hours to get thru. What a mess. Anyhow the lake is considered a resort area, but only a small part is developed. It reminded me of the huge lakes in New Zealand with no one there. Remember this huge lake is above 13000 ft sea level. We then continued on to Puna where we were supposed to stay at a top resort hotel, only to find that it was double booked, so they farmed us out to smaller hotels. Ours is fine, but Iím afraid that some had to travel quite a distance to theirs. Iím sure some found the accommodations not good. On to Cusco and Macho Pichu tomorrow. All in all an easy day today compared to some of the others. Still trying to sort out the picture problems.
Jim And Herb
October 16, 2001
1st time in several days that weíve had access to a computer. Ours is not working right. Iíll try to recap the last several days.
We left Eguacu for Corrientes Argentina which other than an easy drive was uneventful. The next morning we took off for Jujuy. Several hundred miles across the interior. WE WERE ACTUALLY ON CRUISE CONTROL AT 95 MPH FOR THE BETTER PART OF 3 HRS. The truck has a cut out at 97 mph so that was as fast as we could go. We almost hit a pig crossing the road but we were lucky. By the end of the day we were able to see the Andes. Beautiful. Jujuy is a nice little town with great people in fact the people have been wonderful the whole trip. The next day we entered Bolivia. A beautiful place. But the driving was pure hell for 250 miles. A gravel road with real sharp stones. We had two flat tires. So we did almost 100 miles bare. We felt pretty good when we arrived in Potasi. There were several accidents the worst being one of our classics hitting a local blazer and injuring two locals; one broken arm and a broken leg. We were 1st on the scene. We tried to contact our people on the satellite phone and were unable to get thru. Finally one of our doctors got to the scene and the injured were transported by some of our people to the hospital. We were able to get 1 of our tires repaired and went on to Sucreīthe next day where the whole town turned out for us. In fact that is pretty much how it has been in Bolivia. We were able to find a couple of suitable tires. And we were on our way today. We did over 200 miles thru the mountains today thru beautiful scenery and many villages. The people actually till the fields on the sides of the mountains. Remember we are at 13000 ft of elevation. Think the Rocky Mountains with tilled fields on the slopes. Incredible. For you skiers we saw bowls that would make the back bowls of Vail look like ant hills. Llamas are all over the place, all tagged for ownership but on the free range. Also a lot of sheep and goats and pigs. The views today were unbelievable and although we took pics we know that they will not do justice to the beauty of it all. As there is little pollution here the skies are unimaginably blue and the clouds white white. As we neared La Paz, the highest capital city in the world, the snow capped peaks came into view, again indescribable. La Paz lies in a bowl surrounded by mountains. It is a fairly modern city with a Mc Donald's and a Domino's pizza. Tomorrow we head to Lake Titicaca and a ferry crossing and then a frontier crossing into Peru. We heard that people behind us today got caught up in a political rally in one of the Villages and actually four trucks had to crash thru a barrier sustaining some damage from thrown rocks. There is so much more to relate but it is hard to remember through my tiredness at this late hour.
We will do our best to update you. But we have computer problems. Herb thinks he may have solved the picture problem. So some pics may appear some day soon, probably without subtitles because of the tediousness of the task. All for now,
Jim and Herb
October 11, 2001
We arrived in Argentina this morning after spending about an hour getting thru customs and border control. Drove about 375 miles mainly thru flat plains and swamp lands. It looked a lot like driving thru alligator alley in Fla. Tomorrow we drive about six hundred miles and reach the Andes. Much of the drive is a straight shot across the interior until we reach the foot hills and start climbing. We will be getting an early start.
I forgot to mention the wild life in the park yesterday. There are jaguars, pumas, deer, and iguanas among other things. The butterflies are beautiful; many colors shapes and sizes. We were told that poachers killed 35 jags in the park last year. The pelts are worth about 30,000 dollars apiece. Herb is going to work on getting some pics on tonite.
Talk to you soon.
Jim and Herb
October 10, 2001
Another day another 300 miles. We started early and arrived at Ecuasu Falls about 2 P. M. Words cannot describe the beauty. 1st we went on a boat ride, inflatables with 2 very powerful Mercury out boards. They used to use Suzukis but found the Mercs to be much better. The water is higher right now than any time in recent memory because of a lot of rain. The amount of water flowing over the falls is almost 8 times normal so it is very spectacular. Right now there are dead animals and all kind of run off coming down the river from the large farms up river. They actually pulled a dead man out yesterday. He'd been missing for 16 days.
I can't begin to describe the scale of this. It is almost as high as Niagara but several times as wide. In some places it is two tiered. After the boat ride which was pretty rough because of the height of the water, we hiked up along the edge looking down on it.
We expect to get up early to have another look before we take off tomorrow morning. All in all a great day.
Jim and Herb
October 9, 2001
Still having trouble getting on the web. Am using hotel's computer. Today was a long day. We started at about 7 A M and arrived at our hotel at 9 P M. We stopped to help a Bentley that was having starter problems. Herb was able to get him started, and although we didn't see him tonite we heard he made it O. K. Next we did a gravel section and came upon a British Rover, Not a Land Rover, but a Sedan that had slid off the road into a tree and punctured the radiator. So we stopped to help him. We ended up towing him thru very rough terrain for over 20 miles. We broke two tow ropes and our winch cable in the process. As much of it was down hill he had to use his brakes a lot as well. By the time we got him down to town his brakes and at least one wheel bearing was gone. He had to have the car trucked to Sao Paulo for repair and we haven't heard how he made out. We also heard one Camel trophy Land Rover turned over, but no one was hurt and the truck is O. K. to continue. The driver backed it up on an embankment and rolled it going very slowly.
Anyhow by the time we were done with the tow job it was one o'clock and we still had 500 miles to drive. Most was on Brazilian versions of a freeway, and lots of traffic. We saw beautiful scenery and birds, and flowers. When we arrived at the hotel there were a lot of local people out to see our cars and trucks. Our truck always seems to draw a lot of interest. We had some kids sitting in it and took some pictures. It is after mid nite and we are up at 5:45 tomorrow, so I'm signing off
Jim and Herb
P. S. We made a couple of navigation errors today that cost us close to an hour. Hopefully we'll get better in time.
October 8, 2001
We are still unable to get pictures on the web site. Hope to have this solved soon. Link to the Hero web site from ours to see some pictures and commentary on the trip.
We have gone thru very varied topography during the last two days. It seems at times that we are in other places than here: Ireland, Rockies, Adirondacks, Hawaii, the plains. Really wild and different. We did a 20 mile four wheel drive adventure today thru the mud, as it rained all day. We really slid around going up hill most of the time. One of the rally trucks got stuck and is still there tonite. They are going to get a tractor to pull it out in the morning. We have a 500 mile jaunt tomorrow starting with a short 4 wheel drive section in the morning. Meeting the local people has been fun. Herb is really a goodwill Ambassador. We will continue to work on the picture and e-mail problem and hopefully solve them soon. Keep checking in with us. We appreciate it.
Jim and Herb
P. S. Herb is a great driver
October 7, 2001
We have figured out how to log on here. The dialing string was way out of wack. Hope to have some new pictures for you tonite or tomorrow.
Jim and Herb
October 6, 2001
Right now we are unable to get on line with my computer for some reason. Iīm at a local cyber cafeīsending this. The 1st day was great and we are showing our cars in a local village today. Hopefully we will be back on line soon.
Jim and Herb
October 5, 2001
WELL WE ARE ALL SET TO TAKE OFF FIRST THING TOMORROW MORNING. WE WERE ABLE TO FIND NEW FIRE EXTINGUISHERS ALONG WITH OTHER ODDS AND ENDS THAT WE THINK WE MIGHT NEED. NO PICS TONITE,MAYBE TOMORROW NITE. WE HAD A NICE BANQUET TONITE TO KICK THE THING OFF. LOTS OF INTERESTING PEOPLE. WE ARE UNABLE TO ANSWER YOU ENTRIES IN THE GUEST BOOK AS WE ARE NOT ABLE TO SEND E-MAILS THRU THE TAYLORMADE SERVER. WE HOPE TO HAVE THIS CLEARED UP SOON. THE WEATHER HAS BEEN BEAUTIFUL, BUT THEY SAY IT WILL BECOME MUCH WARMER. By that time we should be in the mountains. GIVE US A GOOD THOUGHT AS WE BEGIN.
WE APPRECIATE THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE SENDING US MESSAGES IN THE GUEST BOOK
October 4, 2001
We have arrived in Rio and got our truck out of customs this afternoon. The only thing that was stolen was our fire extinguisher. Some people lost a lot of things including tools, clothing etc. Herb took the pictures in the photo album and spent the last hour figuring out how to get them on the web site. We leave Sat. morning on the first leg. There are a lot of interesting people and vehicles. Talk to you later.