March 4th, 2013
He’s Got a Few Screws Loose
It’s clear that he’s got a few screws loose. After days of driving down very rough roads, he seems to be cracking up a bit. Every day, something seems to fail. First it was the door hinge on one of the cabinets. Then the curtain rod. Inevitably after a long day of washboards there are two or three screws lying about that we can’t seem to figure out where they have come from. We dutifully pick them up and put them in a drawer. The shower now appears to leak as well. I think all this jarring and jostling about are really taking their toll.
It has taken a toll on the driver as well. He might lose a few screws as well, although it might be hard to tell the difference since he had a few missing already. And just to let you all know, the frostbite on my ear has healed completely. Note to self, don’t go running outside when it’s minus 4.
Today we got up to a really nice view of Lake General Carrera. I don’t know who general Carrera was, but odds are that if he has a lake named after him, he probably was not a very nice person. So goes Argentinian politics.
We headed north to Rio Tranquilo where there are some really cool marble formations that you can catch a boat out to tour. We stopped at the first sign that was advertising the tours and headed down the hill. It was a REALLY steep and rough road that made Susanne very nervous. We got down to the place and they had a nice little campground and some boats. There was some dude glaring at me when I parked. Whatever.
The guy who ran the place was super nice and friendly. After about 5 minutes, the boat guy, who looked like Jerry Garcia, took Susanne and I out for a ride in a boat. It was pretty cool karsted limestone and the water color was very nice. The boat ride lasted about 45 minutes.
We got back to the camper and the dude who was glaring at me came up and started talking to Susanne. He was curious about the van and how much it had cost to rent it. We told him; he said it was too expensive. We said we didn’t think so. No wonder he gave me a glare; he’s French. Hope he enjoys his tent when it is raining Milford Sound sheets of water.
We headed into town and bought a few provisions at the very meager market. The veggies looked grim, but we did get some nice tomatoes and a cucumber. Our plastic bag situation had become critical and this store had some, so we packed up each vegetable in its own bag. The check out lady tried to combine them and we said no.
The usual pile of hitchhikers was at the edge of town. I feel bad not picking them up as I have received many a ride in my day, but we just weren’t in the mood and didn’t know exactly where we were going to stop for the night.
The choice of potential camp locations was uninspiring so we kept driving. Initially the road was pretty good, but then it got bad again. Both Casimiro and the driver lost a few more screws. We checked out a few potential sites, but decided against them. We got to Cerro Castillo and it was uninteresting so we pressed on. The good news is that we hit a paved section of road. Hallelujah.
We drove up into a national reserve looking for a spot. Nothing. We got to the top of a summit and there was nice-looking campground which we pulled into. Whew. Driver was happy.
It was a gorgeous day and I was tired of being cooped up, so I decided to go for a run. There was a trailhead at the campground, so I started up that. It was very steep. It eventually looped back to the campground and I still wanted to run some more, so I headed down the highway. The few cars that passed me waved furiously. Both the Chileans and Argentinians have been super duper nice hosts to us.
One of the best thing about Patagonia is that you can drink the water in the streams. I got to do something I haven’t done since I was a small kid. I crossed over a stream and headed down to get a drink. I stuck my face in the water and took some big gulps. Man, that really brought back some memories.
If I was to do it again, I would probably cut out some of the Carretera Austral. After banging around on Ruta 40 and then crossing to Chile, it has been a bit grinding. Great scenery, though.
More pavement tomorrow, and hopefully a couple of hikes.