March 13th, 2013
Today was the second-biggest transit day of the trip. We needed to log about 900 kms so we could get close to Buenos Aires and drop the van off tomorrow. For whatever reason, I just didn’t sleep very well, and at 4:00 am, the thought of logging 9 hours of driving was not sounding very good. Based on my previous experience in La Pampa with the bad roads and a huge number of trucks, it was all geared up to be a very very very long and grueling day.
I did manage to fall back to sleep and we got up around 7:40 am. We packed up, ate some breakfast, and headed out of town. We stopped at a gas station to fuel up and they were out of diesel. Ugh.
We drove down to General Roca, where the turn was, and found a YPF station. We managed to even get some Euro Diesel. Casimiro seemed to be running well.
Susanne was a bit reticent of taking a lesser road, but I stood firm and told her it would have less trucks to pass. She relented. It turned out to be a good road with very few cars, so I was able to push Casimiro along with the aid of a tail wind.
The plan was to drive about 6 hours to Santa Rosa, in La Pampa province, and have a Linner and then put another 2 to 3 hours in and make it about 3 to 4 hours outside of BA.
We made it to Santa Rosa by about 2 pm, which was cooking. We were running low on pesos and the fuel is much more expensive outside of Patagonia, so we needed to find both a lunch spot and an ATM. We drove by a brand new casino that looked like a good option to solve all needs. Food and Cash. What casino wouldn’t provide an ATM, much less feed their patrons to keep them from leaving. Nope. Negatory on both fronts. No ATM machine. And the restaurant was “under renovation.” Sheesh.
The dude at the casino said there was an ATM across the “street,” which consisted of two weird feeder roads and a highway that required a bit maneuvering to get across and back to the ATM. Susanne went in to get some coin and came back empty-handed. No cash in the machine. Crap. The day had been going so well. Maybe I should pull the French press out and make some coffee and burn myself as well.
We headed downtown and spotted another ATM. I spotted a parking spot and we grabbed it. There were also a couple restaurants and an ice cream shop. The ATM cooperated and spit out some dough. We walked across the street and had some lunch. My chicken wasn’t bad, but Susanne’s gnocchi with pesto was terrible. We drowned our sorrows with an ice cream next door and headed back to Casimiro.
We headed out of town toward Pehuajo, which was just a town that happened to be at about the right spot for the day’s drive to end. I knew nothing about it, but hoped we could either find a nice place to camp or a hotel.
The traffic really started to pick up and the number of farm trucks was increasing, but overall the drive wasn’t bad. In the last hour, Casimiro was sounding a bit distressed.
We got to Pehuajo about 6:30 pm and I decided I was ready to call it. It had been a long day of fast and full-concentration driving. Somewhat easier than I expected, but still really tiring. We pulled into the Esso station and gassed up and assessed our options. Susanne asked the dude if there was a campground in town and he said no, but there was another one in the town 100 km up the road.
We drove in to town to scope the hotel choices, which amounted to two. It was a dump and we didn’t even get to the hotels when we decided camping in the trash-strewn dirt lot next to the ESSO station was a better option.
We found a place to park and two very friendly dogs came up to say hi. They were very cute and friendly and were hoping we had some salami. It was a tad depressing to have our last night of camping here, but there aren’t a lot of good choices in this part of Argentina and we knew it was just a waypoint.
We opened one of the bottles of wine we had bought for our friends when we were on the successful, albeit foolhardy, trip to winery. That made me relax a bit.
Susanne officially conceded the rummy game.
Everyone is excited about the stupid pope. Yawn.
Ciao for now!