March 2nd, 2013
Today was a transit day. We had a very lazy morning in our totally remote campsite at the lake and finally got on the road about 10 am.
We knew we had some bone-rattling miles ahead of us today as we were heading north and wanted to get up close to where we were going to cross back over the Andes and into Chile. I was really glad we had logged the 150km of dirt the day before.
It is hard to express how big and empty this place is. Australia is probably the only other place that can lay claim to so much land and so few people. In the US, to do a 10 km dirt road seems long. Here, 300 kms of dirt is routine. I now find myself thinking “oh good, it’s only a short rough dirt road. It’s only 80 kms!”
Casimiro is looking a bit tired from all the rattling and jarring. Even the main highway 40 is brutal. The desvio sections have been some of the roughest we have experienced so far; at times you feel like you are on the edge of control at 30 kph. A few hinges on the cabinets are breaking and the shower is now leaking. Bummer. But he keeps plugging along. Amazingly, we have only had the one flat tire so far. Knock on wood.
We headed into Governador Gregores to get some supplies. It turned out to be a pretty substantial town with a good market. The lines were huge; it was Saturday. Susanne had seen a hardware store and we thought that was a good place to try and figure out where to get a propane tank. A dude in the store said he would lead us to where we needed to go. We headed over to a guy’s house and he wasn’t there. He then took us out of town to a warehouse like building where there was propane tanks. Yeah! We managed to get one – at 11:57 am. The guy said we were lucky; he closed at noon.
We headed to the YPF to get gas and water and hopefully some internet. No luck on the internet.
After about 50 km of the usual rattling down a dirt road we hit some new pavement. Wow. What a difference. We had that most of the way to Bajo Caracoles. This is a key place to get gas as it is a long way to anything else. If you haven’t gotten gas in Gregores, then you absolutely have to get it here. We figured we would top off before heading down the bumpy dirt road toward Chile. They didn’t have any. We are glad to have our extra tank strapped to the top of Casimiro.
We are going to cross over in the southern most point to access the northward highway in Chile. It goes by some really cool places we wanted to visit. To get it you have to navigate a……., wait for it, really really bumpy dirt road for about 150 km. Ugh. Most of it was ok. Other parts where hellish. The views were nice and it looked a lot like eastern Idaho with lots of volcanic bluffs and cliffs.
We stopped about 10 km short of the border perched on the top of hill over looking a lake and nice view of some mountains. Very nice. Three cars have gone by since we have been here. None in the last 2 hours. Very busy. It is great having the freedom to just pull over and camp when the mood strikes you. I can see why people enjoy the RV experience. Having a smaller one helps on the rough roads. I wish we had one of the tricked out 4wd Sprinter vans. That would be ideal.
Tomorrow we have a short (70 km) dirt road to transit and then we’ll do some hiking and gawking.
Ciao for now