We overnighted in Perito Moreno in a drab little hotel room with bars over the one tiny window. It was dark and dingy, but it was warm and dry so we had no complaints. Striking out fairly early in the morning, we were soon out of the town limits and back on the gravel of Routa 40. The sun was brightly shining in a bright blue sky with some puffy white clouds. The road surface was fairly firm with some loose gravel strewn about, but overall it was easy going. The wind was up once again with a steady 30+ MPH wind blowing from a single direction. The upside was that the constant dust that had been our companion earlier was now destined to blow directly to the side out of whomever followed. It was a nice break from eating dust. However, necks soon became tired and sore from holding a crab against the wind. So it was a tradeoff of sorts, dust for neck ache. Hmm… which was better?
By the way, if you don’t know, click on any one of the pictures in the gallery below and it will open that picture into a full size picture and then you can click your way through the remainder of the pictures in either direction in full size.
The gravel seemed endless. While the scenery was beautiful, there were long stretches of straight, unrestricted view plains that ran until they were blocked by surrounding mountains. Sight planes disappeared in a “V” in front of us as the seemingly endless gravel road continued unabated and without a twist or turn. Every once in a while, we would reach the mountains that had previously been long in the foreground but were now immediately in front of us. This gave us the opportunity to lean the bikes a bike and twist the throttles. Kim especially took the opportunity to wick it up a bit, her confidence growing after riding in the wind for a couple of days.
Sooner than we knew it, we had made it through that mountain’s passes and were back on the plains gravel with fields of grasses surrounding us, wind blowing and miles of straight gravel road in front of us. So straight in fact that as we made our way toward Tres Lagos (Three Lakes) we came upon a sign that directed us towards three different towns, 16, 246, and 345 kilometers away. The thing was, they were arrowed all straight ahead. Guess that road was really going to be straight for a while eh?
Covering such distances with only your thoughts and the wide open spaces gives you time to think. Think about the beauty that surrounds you, about how lucky you are to have this wonderful circumstance that you are able to travel the world and see things like this unhindered and unfettered by day to day tribulations. It really makes you humble. Over the comms, I told Kim how I was feeling and we decided to take a few minutes to stop and just soak it all in.
There we were, somewhere in the middle of Argentina with nothing around us for miles and miles but open fields surrounded by mountains, blue skies and fluffy white clouds. Frankly, it was a wonderful few moments in time. It was like we were on our own little planet and we were so thankful to be there. But it was quite strange, we didn’t feel like we needed to keep it for ourselves, we felt like we needed to share it with everyone, hence the couple of pictures you see in the gallery here. You’ll know which ones I’m talking about when you see them.
After about twenty minutes of awe, gawking and picture taking, we got back on the bikes for the final leg of our ride to the Estancia La Angostura, a working ranch (estancia). We hit several zones of construction which made the going a bit slow in places but was not difficult. But it did bring to mind that Routa 4o is changing and that the gravel will soon turn to pavement. So if you would like to ride Routa 40 in its gravel state, do it soon, because change is coming (for the better of the people of Argentina).
Another two hours on the rippio and we found a small sign announcing our arrival but the estancia was nowhere to be seen. All that was nearby was a gravel and sand two track leading off Routa 40. Since there were no other signs and Routa 40 continued on straight ahead for miles, we followed the little gravel two track for about two miles and there it sat, the Estancia La Angostura. Surrounded by cypress like trees and wrapped in bushy like vegetation it was a haven from the continuous winds. Once inside the surrounding trees and bushes, the wind was almost non-existent.
The estancia itself did indeed look like a ranch house. A long plain white washed building with no-nonsense windows, you could see it was made for work and not for style. Still, it had a natural beauty as it blended into its surroundings and seemed to be perfectly in place with all that surrounded it.
Inside it was even better. The tools and necessities of ranch life adorned the walls and tables. An old coffee grinder here, a saddle there, a set of bolo balls hung from the walls as well as a well worn and abused revolver. Each was capable of telling a story of its life on the plains of Argentina and the work that it had done in making the Estancia La Angostura successful.
We walked around a bit and were shown to our room. It was a modest bunk room with little adornment. However, the people had done their best to make it cheery and leave their marks. Although the walls were bare, without even sheet rock to cover the walls studs, the insulation’s batting had been decorated with multiple handprints. The handprints were in different colors and were all over the wall. It made for a very nice personal touch and gave you the feeling that folks who had done hard work lived in the room and you were now their honored guests. It was quite comforting.
Before we knew it, it was time for dinner. Once again it was to be an asado of lamb and sausage. We walked to the dining hall where in the corner, an entire lamb was skewered and slowly cooking. We sat waiting for dinner to cook chatting with friends and drinking some wine when the owners came in with their pet dog and their other pet; a lamb! It was a strange feeling seeing your lamb dinner cooking on a skewer and then the owners come in with their pet lamb! But this one was special, it had been abandoned by its mother and had become their house pet. It would never see the skewer!
We had a marvelous dinner and soon were off to bed for the next days ride to El Chalten the climbers paradise, where well take you in Part 7.
Ride 2 Adventure – Shrink the Planet One Ride At A Time