February 18th, 2013
Thus far the wind has not come up in our conversation despite Patagonia being famous for its winds. This is not to say it has not been there, but it hadn’t made it up to the top of the list of topics yet.
Yesterday we packed up after a nice stay in Cabo Dos Bahias and headed south to Bosque Petrificado Jaramillo which is a petrified forest from the Jurassic. We made a stop over in Comodoro Rivadavia, which was a nice little town by the ocean. Evidently it is the oil and gas center for Argentina. We had lunch, stocked up on supplies, recharged some batteries and then headed south.
Most of the road is straight as an arrow and flat. However, when you reach the coast you drop down these pretty high cliffs to the ocean. You really get the sense that you are at the edge of the continent. Driving across one of the many endless flat stretches I commented that “not much has happened here since Gondwanaland broke up” which made Susanne laugh. Seemed like a perfectly obvious comment to me. Geologists just never get much respect.
Along the road from Comodoro Rivadavia to Fitz Roy the wind was howling. Driving a high profile vehicle in a raging crosswind is always exciting, especially when passing trucks.
The wind always blows out here in Patagonia. It is constant and blows from West to East. It blows so hard, it simply flattens out the Atlantic ocean into a perfectly calm pond. This coastline is the point at which big swells in Africa start. It is very important when choosing a camping spot to both (a) find one that is somewhat blocked from the wind and (b) orient the van such that when you open the doors they don’t get ripped off the hinges.
We turned off the main road and headed out toward the National Park with the petrified logs. It was about 50 km on a pretty rough gravel road. It was starting to get late and we wanted to settle down and watch the sunset. There is nothing out here. Nothing for miles and miles, except for one really crappy-looking pay campground.
The signs indicated that the park hours were 9 to 7. We ignored that and drove past it and into the park. What were the odds they actually patrolled this desolate stretch of nowhere that got about 1000 visitors a year. We were hoping to find a side road but there were none, so we just found a flat spot just off the side of the road and set up camp.
We had a nice snack for dinner and just chilled. We were relaxed. Then the Park Rangers came and kicked us out. Bummer. We had to drive back about 10 km to the edge of the park where we found a side road and set up camp. The sunset driving back was out of this world.
It was blowing pretty hard. The straps holding down our extra gas tank where vibrating loudly, so I got out and tried to put some tape around them to fix it. The wind nearly blew my shirt off. The fix didn’t work, so Susanne went out and tried the same thing. Same shirt experience. Good thing we are in the middle of nowhere, but her fix worked.
Most ironic sign of the day “Velocidad Controlada por Radar” (radar controlled). It sat out in the middle of nothing. Plus, as far as we can tell, nobody enforces the speed limits here……..however the park rangers are very thorough.
Tomorrow we head over to see the trees and then down to Parque Nacional Monte Leon where there are more penguins and sea lions.