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Punky and Lew in Quito
Date: Monday Jan 7, 2001 6:37 pm
Mark, sorry to hear about your parents' accident. Hope they recover well and quickly. Too bad the air bags didn't deploy. Sounds like grounds for a lawsuit. The latest info here is that I am in therapy to quicken the loosening and flexibility of my ankle. The therapist says I should be able to go Jan. 15. I am able to walk with one crutch and even around the house without a crutch. Glen Heggstad did his video with CBS' 48 Hours the last few days and departed for Tierra del Fuego on his new KLR this morning. They didn't need to use Critter. The program is scheduled to air a segment about Glen's adventure and kidnapping on Jan. 25. Ted Simon, of Jupiter's Travels book fame, is doing his second round the world motorcycle adventure tour and met with Ricardo, Glen, Punky and I here in Quito. Ted also departed this morning heading north through Colombia to California. From there he will fly to Australia. He has ridden from London through Africa, then flew to Rio de Janeiro and toured South America to Quito. I just received a message about a couple of thieves, a guy named Alberto and a Fin on a SuperTenere, who stole a someone's new KTM, documents and money in Tierra Del Fuego. I'll be on the lookout for these characters. Punky is ready to go and so am I, in my mind. The California Bank of America and local banks have been driving me up the wall. Every time I try to use my Bank of America California VISA card I have been refused. Even with my new card activated, today I tried to use it and was told they would only be able to give me $100. Some English speaking elderly lady, maybe the bank president's wife, came to my rescue and I finally got $600 from inside the bank, without a gun, and $100 from the ATM. My bank says it's the local bank's fault and the local bank says it's Bank of America's fault. I have paid for 3 expensive international phone calls to my bank and still have the problem. B of A and VISA suck for international transactions in a bank. Transactions inside the bank are free, maybe why they are not so cooperative, and ATM's only allow $100 per transaction and charge a fee for each one. I could go on and on about my extreme frustration over not being able to access my funds with a debit card. I'm not trying to borrow money with a credit card, only access my funds in my account. It's absolutely infuriating. I was losing my patience and sense of humor during an expensive call to my bank. I wanted the toll free phone number. The bank rep on the phone told me the toll free international phone number was only for emergencies. I said I hope she one day finds herself in a foreign country, injured and desperately in need of funds and find out if she would consider it an emergency. She replied, "Well, I'm an American and I like it here and stay here." At that point I lost it and said, "F U" and hung up. Welcome to more realities of motorcycle adventure touring. Not much time until the 15th, so I need to get busy getting Critter ready for another long ride. I also have concluded that the delay will probably cause us to be in colder weather than anticipated in Patagonia and in the southern Andes mountains. I will have to get a warmer riding suit. I left my new leathers at Phil's place in Live Oak, Florida. Ricardo thinks I can find a suit here. He said Glen bought a new First Gear textile one piece suit for $90. I will ride the tires on the bike to Santiago de Chile. There, I will put on Pirelli MT 60's and get the valves checked and a thorough service for the ride to Ushuaia. I will get rid of some weight and not carry a spare tire and will get rid of my camping gear. Ricardo will get the stuff as a gift ( about $500 worth). I may have time to see Lake Titicaca, Cuzco and Machu Pichu in Peru, La Paz, Bolivia and get to Ushuaia by March 1???
Punky & Lew leaving Quito
Date: Wednesday Jan 16, 2001 2:30 pm
My faithful Yorkie, Punky, and I started Punky & Lew's Americas Motopaseo May 3, 2001, riding a 2000 KLR 650 from Greenacres, Florida, via the back dirt road Trans America Trail across the southern central USA, to Moab, Utah. There, Punky was hit by a car, died, and was brought back to life with prompt CPR. After a month of recovery for Punky's brain injury, we headed north to Canada and Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. In Fairbanks, AK, Punky was nearly killed by an attack by a 135 lb. Alaskan Malamute. Punky recovered from 2 major surgeries and was ready to ride in a month again. We headed south through Canada, the USA, Mexico (get-off in the Sierra Madres), Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua (survived a 60-70 mph flat front tire and get-off), Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia (broken ankle in get-off) and am now in Quito, Ecuador, recovering from surgery. I finished rehabilitation therapy yesterday and my ankle is much improved. No more crutches. It is not 100%, but good enough to ride. My new friend and benefactor, Ricardo Rocco Paz, helped me prep Critter last Saturday. I removed the camping gear and ditched the spare tire to lighten the bike. Will leave it with Ricardo. I haven't camped since British Colombia, Canada. The Argentine Peso is now devalued, which will reduce the cost of previously expensive rooms, meals, etc. I intend to depart Quito Friday morning heading for Peru. Ricardo will ride with me for 4 days to the border stopping at the most interesting places along the way. Ricardo has a friend in Lima, Peru, who is supposed to ride north to meet us at the border and ride with Punky and I to Lima. We should be in Lima within a week from Friday. We will visit Cuzco, Machu Pichu (famous Inca ruins), Lake Titicaca (highest lake in the world) in Peru as well as La Paz, Bolivia (highest capital city in the world). We'll cross the Andes going east to La Paz and cross them again going west to Northern Chile and The Atacama Desert. South to Santaigo de Chile, where Critter will get a complete maintence and new dirt tires for the very long desolate dirt road in Patagonia, and on to Puerto Montt, where we will again cross the Andes going east to Bariloche, Argentina. Then, head south on Highway #40 stopping at scenic National parks (huge mountains, lakes, glaciers, etc.) to Punta Arenas, Chile and Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world. One of the main goals of Punky & Lew's Americas Motopaseo, Prudhoe Bay to Ushuaia, will have been completed. Ricardo has helped plot the route time and distance and where to stop complete with dates and mileage. Total distance from Quito, Ecuador to Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina is 6,300 miles. We should make it by March 1. Later than that could get us into very cold weather. It will be cold enough anyway and I will be using my electric heated vest for the first time. Ricardo has also provided me with some contacts along the way in South America. We will ride today for the first time since Nov. 18. We're going to take pix of us at the Equator monument, with one foot or half the bike in the Northern Hemisphere and the other in the Southern Hemisphere. I will also provide a photo opportunity for some friends here, who want pix of Punky and Lew on the bike. We've already ridden about 25,000 miles, more than the distance around the earth, and met many wonderful people, including notable world tourers Greg Frazier, (American Indian and motorcycle journalist extraordinaire), Ricardo Rocco Paz of Ecuador, Mariola Cichon of USA, Peter and Kay Forwood of Australia, Ted Simon of England, Werner Zwick of Germany, Grant Johnson of Canada, and Glen Heggstad of USA (what a Colombian kidnapping story) and seen endless fantastic geography. But, the best experience of the tour is the adventure of riding at break-neck speeds outdoing the wildest of the infamous Latin American drivers. Sure, it's risky, but it sure is a blast. Critter, my KLR 650, has operated flawlessly thoughout our tour. Senor Frog, previously designated the navigator, leading the way on the front fender was demoted to passenger status. He got us lost too many times. We still get lost???? Toby Lampson, owner/publisher of DSN, has invited me to join DSN's contributing writer staff and provide ongoing reports of slices of our lives on the road. I hope DSN's readers find our stories interesting. Stay tuned for more reports of the adventures of Punky and Lew. Toby, critique this stuff and tell me if you think this is rehashing much that some of your readers may already know. I thought it would be helpful to go back to the begining for those who haven't read of us before. Maybe, even include a short intro of Punky and Lew and why I decided, at the age of 63 with arthritis and hypertension and not having ridden in 25 years, to get off the sofa and ride a bike to South America before it is too late and have the greatest adventure of my life. Punky digs it too.
Punky & Lew - down again!
Date: Monday Jan 21, 2001 10:18 pm
Punky and I again went down hard in a curve riding from Riobamba to Cuenca, Ecuador on Saturday, Jan. 19. My amigo, Ricardo, was riding ahead of us and he struggled to make it around a surprise hairpin curve. We didn't make it and went off into a v-shaped cement culvert and up into a grassy area. Ricardo says he saw me hanging onto the handlebars with my legs flying high in the air. I landed on the pavement on my back and must have had the wind knocked out of me and was briefly rendered unconscious. Ricardo says Punky was laying on my chest, still tethered to my neck, shaken and crying, but was and is OK. I have what I think is a pinched nerve in my lower neck, which causes a numbness in part of my left arm. Other injuries are minor dings. Critter suffered the most with a bent front wheel, 2 broken spokes, damage to the fairing and mounting frame, bent and broken headlight guard, broken instrument pod and headlight turnoff switch, broken front turn signal lenses, bent SU rack, and a few other minor things. Critter and I rode in a truck to the nearest small town and Ricardo found a bicycle shop. Amazingly, they, with Ricardo's direction and help, got Critter rideable in about 3 hours, during which time I laid down and rested my injured body. We then rode through high Andes mountains and thick fog to Cuenca, where we had to wait until Monday to put Critter in the hands of a Kawasaki motorcycle shop. The repair bills were ridiculously low. We're ready to ride to Peru, with one stop on the way, in the morning. Ricardo will be returning to Quito tomorrow. It is a sad farewell to this good Samaritan to all international motorcycle adventure tourers, who has become like the brother I never had during these last 2 months. I think I'll slow down and try to complete this tour without further mishaps due my own negligence and folly. I am not a racer, just an adventure tourer. It is too easy to get lulled into a sense of overconfidence and false security. These Latin American roads are not marked with dangerous curve signs like we are used to in the USA. A normal fun curve, which can be taken at 40-60mph, may be followed by an extremely dangerous hairpin curve, without any significant warning. I found myself going into a 10mph bad curve at about 40-50mph. No amount of last second downshifting and braking could adequately slow us down. These Andes mountains are far more spectacular than any I have seen elsewhere and we've got a lot more of them to go through. Punky drew a flock of news media at the Quito airport just before we left. Ricardo and Werner Zwick were amazed at the throng of people eagerly seeking information, a video or a photo or just to view Punky on a motorcycle with his goggles. To me it was just another common incident. Punky and Lew are on the road again.
Punky & Lew in Lima
Date: Monday Jan 30, 2002 11:56 am
International motorcycle adventure touring is not limited to the blur of scenery zipping by, crashing, burning up the engine and waiting for parts to be shipped from the USA. I now have two new stickers on the bike. One says, "CRASHING SUCKS." The other, "NO PAIN, NO GAIN." In my travels riding from Mexico to Peru, I have thought Latin drivers to be the craziest I have ever seen. While waiting for my broken ankle to heal after surgery in Quito, I got some insight as to the mentality of Latin drivers. I thought riding in a car with fellow motorcyclist, Ricardo Rocco Paz, was an adventure. He drives his older Puegot car like a weapon, banging and forcing his way past other vehicles, even with his 11 year old son screaming in fear in the back seat. Now, I'm waiting for parts in Lima to replace the burned piston and rings. This, apparently, due to leaning the carburetor jet and air/fuel mix calibration too much. It worked great in the mountains, but not in the lower elevation when we came out of the Andes mountains to the northern desert of Peru. Ricardo put me in contact with another motorcyclist, who would help me in Lima. He owns a motorcycle repair shop. Last Sunday Luis took us to the beach. Riding in Luis's late model car is even more interesting. The speeds at which he travels, both in and out of the city, are astounding. He weaves in and out of traffic blowing his horn, sometimes going off the road and passing police cars. This man is a great friend, who won't let me pay for anything, when we go out. But, he is nuts behind the wheel of a car. Perhaps, more nuts than I am riding my bike? Luis has an interesting life story. He was a Peruvian Marine trained by U.S. and Israeli advisors for special operations. He rose to 1st Lieutenant, fighting against rebels in the jungle. After 15 years he wanted out. His commander didn't want to lose him and refused to help get him separated from the service. Luis went AWOL for three days and came back, telling them he wanted out. He was punished with a 3 months sentence, then separated. He, after 13 years, now is a successful business manager of a roofing company, as well as owner of a motorcycle repair shop. He is an avid rider and owns a CBR-400 and a XR-600. Just another day in the lives of Punky and Lew on the road again.
Punky & Lew departing Lima
Date: Thursday Feb 7, 2002 12:26 pm
I picked up my repaired bike with a new piston, rings and wristpin, from Luis's shop last night. The main 150 DynoJet has been reinstalled and the needle clip put back to the middle position. By the way, the offending main jet that was removed is a 130. I instructed the mechanic, Juan Carlos, to use 10-40 Castrol automotive oil after flushing the oil with metal particles out. It runs great and I don't see any leaks. I will run it no more than 5k rpm for 500 miles, drain the oil, run it another 1,000 miles and drain it again. Then, I will use Mobil 1 sythetic 15-50 thereafter. Just to make it perfectly clear to anyone who may have misunderstood, the engine meltdown was due to my own ignorance concerning the critical importance of not running an engine with the carburetor fuel/air mix too lean. This was not the fault of the KLR 650. The meltdown has cost me a total of $700, including parts, shipping, import duty, trucking the bike 900 km and the mechanic's bill of $100, as well as a 2 week delay. I expect Critter will continue to serve me well, if I don't mess it up. We will depart Lima tomorrow morning, Friday, Feb. 7, riding more carefully through mountain curves (a new sticker reads, CRASHING SUCKS), heading for Cuzco via the good paved southern route through Ariquepa, I think? We will visit Machu Pichu, The Sacred Valley and Lake Titicaca, before riding to La Paz, Bolivia. Then, we will ride south and westward back across the Andes into The Atacama Desert of Chile. Then, south to Santiago and Puerto Montt, where we will take a coastal ferry boat to Punta Arenas and ride to Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego. I still think we can get it done by March 1. This afternoon, the hostal owner's friendly daughter, Achi, is taking us for a tour of Lima. She has been very nice and helpful. Shit happens, but we always manage to meet these kinds of people, like Luis Diaz Sotomayor, whose friendship and kindness has made recoveries a lot easier. Hasta luego, amigos y amigas.
Punky & Lew in Cusco, Peru
Date: Friday Feb 15, 2002 10:26 am
I have just experienced the first attempt at theft from Critter. The bike was parked inside the hostal we are staying at. Three employees caught a young man trying to make off with the tank bag and the tank panniers. He had cut the connecting straps, bungee cords and the bungee net. The thief was pounced on by all three of the employees and beaten into unconsciousness, before they called the police. I had to go make a report to the police today and be delayed a day of travel. I think the cut straps and bungee net can be repaired. The hostal manager is helping to get the repairs accomplished. I have an extra bungee net, thanks to Ricardo in Quito. The police say the thief is poor, unable to pay restitution and will be imprisoned for a minimum of four years. A high price to pay. I saw the beaten thief in the police station and told him I hoped he will enjoy his upcoming vacation. We will visit The Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu Saturday and Sunday and leave for Puno, Lake Titicaca and Bolivia Monday.
Punky & Lew back to Lima/Critter gains weight
Date: Thu Feb 28, 2002 1:25 pm
Punky and Lew have experienced the trials and tribulations of long distance international motorcycle adventure touring. Now comes the good part of high adventure at its best. I have delayed writing this shocking news until I was more sure of what is happening to Punky & Lew in Lima, Peru. Achi, a senorita in Lima, has knocked my socks off. I am head over heals in love with Achi and she with me. If all goes well with us during the next 9 months, we will get married and we will become Punky & Lew & Achi Too finishing the tour of South America together. We will wait until next season to continue south, when the weather will be better in Patagonia and Tierra Del Fuego. Achi is 32, university educated, never married, no kids, pretty, body well formed, skin like velvet, sensual beyond belief and my dream come true. I keep waiting for the too good to be true thing to expose itself. It isn't happening yet. You can read the stirring details about how this extraordinarily powerful and unlikely union quickly developed into a full blown no holds barred passionate affair in an upcoming issue of Dual Sport News. Read about how Lew, who hadn't had romance in his life for 7 years, took the bull by the horns and went for it all. Read about how Achi, though reserved and fearful, responded with equal abandon. The story is of two lonely people responding to and reaching out to be with each other, despite the fact that common sense and all friends and relatives indicated it was too wild, dangerous and downright crazy. Ask Toby when he'll print it. Our tour is delayed, but I'm having a hell of a time.
Punky & Lew still in Peru
Date: Wednesday May 15, 2002
Achi and I plan to get married on Friday, July 5. We also have planned a wedding reception for that evening at the bar/restaurant, where the spark occurred that lit my fire and started this whole crazy love affair, in the Hostal El Prado owned by Achi's father. I hope you, Ricardo, can be here as best man and Luis is invited. We plan to ride to La Paz, Bolivia July 16 for 2 weeks and return to Lima. We are gathering the required documents and getting medical exams, blood tests etc., then will submit them and the application to marry in a civil ceremony. We are also preparing to apply for Achi's U.S. immigration visa at the U.S. Embassy here in Lima. Limeсas seem to be a very popular choice to marry. Yesterday, at the post office, I thought it a strange coincidence that I met 2 other American men who are marrying Limeсas as well. Then, at the U.S. Embassy, I met 4 more. I can't wait to see Achi all dolled up for the wedding. She is going to look fantastic. I will have to rent a tux and buy dress shoes. Mark, I had the first opportunity to give back some hospitality to other touring riders. Chris and Stuart, American DR650 riders, visited with us for about 4 days. We took a ride together south of Lima and met another motorcyclist, who turned out to be the Peru's Minister of Economics and Finance. He gave me his card and said to call him if I had any problem in Peru. I did and he fixed it. My temporary import permit, from customs, for the bike expired and I wasn't ready to exit the country, which is the usual requirement. We still plan to continue touring the rest of South America in October. I got Achi a new helmet and summer gloves. She is still going to need a riding suit, winter gloves, rain gear and boots. Having trouble finding some of the stuff here. I may have to order it through the Internet. The wedding and riding gear expenses are getting hard to handle, but I'll do it somehow. Critter is ready for Mobil 1 oil now after the break-in period. The 145 carb mainjet I had put in at Arequipa, Peru, worked fine at both high and low altitude. We'll see how well it works at even higher altitude going to La Paz. We are all very happy and well in Lima. Hope the same for you guys.
Punky & Lew & Achi's wedding in Lima
Date: Tues June 11, 2002 5:50 pm
There are an amazing number of riders coming and going through South America. I would like to extend an invitation to all who can and would like to join the celebration of my marriage to Achi Rodriguez, Friday, July 12, 2002. The reception will be at the enchanting Chami Restaurant, Fr. Castilla 1/2 block from the waterfront malecon, Chorrillos, Lima, Peru, at 9pm. My new biker friend, Pedro-Pablo Kyczyski, Peru's Minister of Economics and Finance, the second most powerful man in Peru, is coming. Sorry, I can't include you all for the filet mignon dinner, due to the unknown number of attendees, but you are welcome to join the celebration and drink to your hearts content. Hop a plane, take a train, ride quickly, but be here if you can.
Punky & Lew & Achi 2
Date: June 22, 2002 4:31 pm
Hi Windflower: Please update me on what's happening with you, Roma and your tour plans. Achi and I are getting married July 12. Ricardo Rocco Paz is riding from Quito on his new Honda Africa Twin to be my best man. We will then ride to Coroico, Bolivia for 2 weeks honeymoon and return with new 90 day permits for me and Critter. How was that road from La Paz to Coroico and the Yungas. Lonely Planet says it was the worst road in the Americas. They also said the road was being upgraded a few years ago. Plan to continue our tour, with Achi as passenger, in late October. Critter now has extra seat padding, sheepskin and a padded back rest on the front of the tailbox, which has been moved back to allow room for Achi. I am dumping the weight of a bunch of old stuff and adding Achi and her stuff. We both know KLR's weren't meant for this kind of use, but we're going to give it our best shot. Hope to be in Ushuaia for Christmas, try to tango with Achi (my originally planned partner can't be there), then Rio for Carnaval a year later than originally planned. We will then ride north through all the countries to Caracas, Venezuela, maybe catch a plane to Cuba, fly from Cuba to Cancun, Mexico, ride to Belize and return through eastern Mexico to the U.S. I will then have completed 100% of my originally planned tour. I have to make sure that going to Cuba isn't going to screw up Achi's initial entry, with an alien spouse conditional visa, into the U.S. That might happen if the Cubans stamp her Peruvian passport. I know they won't stamp mine. All is very well here in Lima. My relationship with Achi continues to strengthen and is as steamy as ever. WOW, what a woman! It's too bad I had to wait 64 years to find one like her. I'll love her as much as I can for as long as I can. Then, I'll fade into oblivion with a smile on my face. My ankle is much improved. Hope all is well with you, Kris and the family and that Roma is repaired and ready to carry you the rest of the way around the world. Later, amiga.
Punky & Lew & Achi 2
Date: Mon. July 1, 2002 2:03 pm
Hi Robyn and Mark: Robyn, No problem with the $40 withdrawal July 10. For any who don't know, Punky (my Yorkie dog) and I are adventure touring all 24 countries of the Americas, Florida to Prudhoe Bay to Tierra Del Fuego and back on a KLR650. We got sidetracked in Lima, Peru. While waiting for parts and engine repair caused by my own ignorance, I met Achi Rodriguez. She was friendly and pretty. Her warm goodbye, as we left Lima heading south to Ushuaia, stirred something deep inside me. Riding the Pan American Highway south, Achi was heavy on my mind. I called her from Nasca, Peru. She flew to Cusco, stayed with me for 2 days, knocked my socks off with a sensuality and passion I had never known before. I fell hopelessly in love. I postponed continuing the tour and returned to Lima to pursue Achi in earnest. I was hooked and was determined to hook her. Punky, El Gancho (the hook), of course helped immeasureably. Twenty four years of irresponsible single living is coming to an end. Everthing is on track for our marriage July 12. We've completed all the required paperwork, with official stamps, signatures and copies to two civil offices, one where I live and one where Achi lives. We have the license to marry and appointment to be married by a judge in a civil ceremony. My friend, Ricardo, is riding from Quito to be best man/witness. Went for tuxedo fitting, bought a formal pleated shirt, fancy tie w/matching handkerchief, belt, socks, shiny patent leather shoes and a white T-shirt. Will borrow cufflinks. Bought plain gold wedding bands. The party/reception will be at a beautiful restaurant that specializes in weddings and banquets. Forty five guests are invited through engraved invitations. The party includes filet mignon dinner, wedding cake, champagne, wine, scotch, rum, vodka and DJ music. I requested one song, Pretty Woman, by Roy Orbison. The rest will be popular and lively Latin music. My new rider friend in Lima, Luis Diaz, will attend, video and photograph the events with a Sony digital HandyCam. I sure wish I had one of those gizmos to photograph and video the remainder of our tour. I want a pic of Critter, Senor Frog, Punky and Achi and I in wedding clothes (maybe with Achi lifting her dress to show her pretty leg and garter). Peru's Minister of Economics and Finance will attend as well. He rides a Harley and helped me fix a problem with the customs office. I also invited, through Horizonsunlimited.com, any international adventure touring riders who may be in Lima at the time for drinks. One Norwegian, Erling Steen, has replied and is on his way from Quito, Ecuador. I have met quite a few Americans marrying Peruvian women (Peruanas). Seems that Peruanas are Peru's best export. Opportunities to work and earn a decent living here suck. Marrying an American is a ticket to a better life for many Latinas. I really don't feel that Achi is insincere in her love for me or that I am just being used. I'm glad I'm an American, an interesting adventure traveler and, at age 64, have something left to interest a woman. I'm perfectly happy and glad to give Achi a dream of a lifetime opportunity. She will be a welcome passenger with which to share the rest of our South American adventure tour. Critter is prepared to carry her, extra padded seat, backrest and all. I'm thinking of the possibility of Achi starting a dog breeding business in the U.S. Punky says he is ready for stud service. He has had one such experience in his life. Not sure if we will live in the rural Atlanta, Georgia area (Achi has relatives there) or South Florida. I think Georgia is a bit cold in winter for me. Even north and central Florida are too cold in winter. Achi has a degree in farm animal husbandry and wants to work. My friend, Ricardo Rocco, wrote an article complete with pix about Punky & Lew's Americas Motorpaseo for an Equadoran motorsports magazine. Only 11 days to zero hour. Then, about 6 days later, our 2 week honeymoon ride to Lake Titicaca and La Paz, Bolivia, proceeding on what Lonely Planet says is the most dangerous road in the Americas, to magical Coroico, Bolivia. Meanwhile, more paperwork, rubber stamps, copies, translated documents and investigations by the U.S. Immigration and Embassy for Achi's alien spouse visa to emigrate to the U.S. at a cost of another $550. I also am acquiring protective riding gear for Achi. The expenses, admittedly my own folly, are putting me under. Any donations will be gladly accepted. We'll continue the tour of the Americas in October. This adventure ain't over yet. Robyn, thanks for the congrats. Your continued support and friendship are important to me. Hug the puppies for me.
Punky & Lew & Achi 2 married in Lima
Date: Mon. July 17, 2002 2:42 pm
The knot is tied. We had a great party. Achi was a stunningly beautiful bride. Ricardo Rocco Paz, around the world for peace rider, of Quito, came to be my witness. Erling Steen, of Norway, was passing through on his Honda XLR 650 and joined in the celebration. A CD with digital pix will be sent to MotorMark to put on our website. Punky and I are very happy to include Achi in our tour plans and welcome her as a wonderful new mate. Critter (the KLR650) is ready, Senor Frog (ex-navigator) and all of us are looking forward to our honeymoon ride. We were going to Bolivia, but the route through the Andes to Bolivia is having the coldest weather and the most snow in 10 years. Many animals and people are dying. So, we will ride a sea level route to Chile instead. I must exit Peru to get new tourist and temporary bike import permits. We will return in 2 weeks. In late October we will continue the tour to Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego and the rest of South America. I hope life is at least half as good for y'all. No way it could be this good.
Punky & Lew & Achi 2 married in Lima
Date: Tues. July 30, 2002 4:48 pm
Hi Mark: Haven't, but will check the subframe bolts. Just got back from a 10 day honeymoon ride to Bolivia. Saw a lot of desert, cold Pacific surf and twisties in the Andes mountains. We stayed 2 days in Puno, took a boat ride on Lake Titicaca to a floating island and bought a couple of mementos from the indigenous inhabitants. Spent 2 days in Arequipa and took pix of Misti Volcano and the beautiful surrounding snow covered mountains. Achi did well. She had a few well deserved gripes. Her ass got tired and so did mine. I had a cold with a snotty nose and sore throat during the entire trip. We were forced to stay in a couple of cold crappy places without water, let alone hot showers and filthy bathrooms devoid of light, paper or water. They did bring some in a bucket. Had a little hassle exiting Peru at the border, but finally the Aduana chief let us through. Critter performed perfectly, but now needs new tires again. The route over the Andes was cold, but we had a favorable break in the really cold weather. Punky quietly accepted the discomfort and continued to follow his master. I slowed down and was much more careful riding with Achi as passenger. A Volkswagen passing a slow truck came across into my lane, at the top of grade in a curve, forcing me to make a last second maneuver to avoid hitting the son-of-a-xxxxx. Ticked me off. Scared the shit out of Achi. The last half day was a little wet. All is well and we are very happy to be home and resting comfortably with some good memories of our first adventure together. Thanks to all who sent congrats.
Punky & Lew & Achi 2 "Wedding Pics"
Date: Tues. Aug. 6, 2002 5:45 pm
These are the 3 best pix from our wedding party. One is of Achi and Lew. One is of Achi and her girlfriends. One is of Pedro-Pablo Kuczynski (Peru's Minister of finance and Economics), his wife Nancy, Erling Steen (Rider from Norway), Achi and Lew and Ricardo Rocco Paz (best man and rider from Quito, Ecuador). Punky, Achi and I are very happy following our return from a 10 day honeymoon loop ride around southern Peru to Lake Titicaca, Bolivia and back to Lima. It was Achi's first adventure with Punky and I. She did well. All was not fun, but that is adventure touring in developing countries. Sometimes we had to do without water, hot water shower and decent bathroom facilities at hostals after a long days ride. Barking dogs, honking geese, crowing roosters and music from the next door brothel made it difficult to sleep in one hostal. Some interesting places were Nasca (famous Nasca lines), Moquegua (many old buildings downed by last year's earthquake), Puno (boat ride to floating island on Lake Titicaca) and Arequipa (great weather and vistas of snow covered mountains and Misti Volcano). The KLR, although not designed for 2-up long distance touring, is modified to maximize comfort and handle the additional weight.
Punky & Lew & Achi 2 "Wedding Pics"
Date: Tues. Aug. 8, 2002 9:22 pm
I am proud to share some pix of my beautiful wife Achi. Please find attached a few of my favorite photos from our wedding party and honeymoon ride to the Bolivian border. My number one favorite pic of Achi is of her with sunglasses holding Punky at the Plaza de Armas in Arequipa during Peru's Independence Day celebration. One pic shows us on the bike from the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca with Bolivia on the far shore. My favorite pic of me, Senor Frog and Punky on the bike is at a gas station in front of a REPSOL sign. Achi is seated behind me looking like she just swallowed a mouse. Also pictured are Harley rider and Peruvian Minister of Economics and Finance Pedro-Pablo Kuczynski of Lima, American adventure touring DR-650 riders Chris Friedman and his buddy Stuart. One pic is of Achi dancing with Pedro-Pablo at the wedding party. One pic shows Punky and I in Arequipa with Misti Volcano in the background. Another group wedding party pic is of Achi's parents, some friends and relatives and the Kuczynskis. Punky is still the star of our traveling show. All is well and life is very good. We are waiting for Achi's U.S. visa. When she gets it we will ride south to Ushuaia and then northward through all the countries in South America we have not yet visited to Caracas, Venezuela.
Punky & Lew & Achi 2
Date: Wed. Sept. 11, 2002 10:16 pm
Hi Mark: I am forwarding a message with an attached photo of a Lima moto cop friend for the website. I ordered a cortech armored all seasons riding jacket and cool summer pants w/armor for Achi from Brosh in Israel. Having it sent to a friend, Chris Friedman, in Louisville, KY. He will bring it and a spare set of cintered brake pads down Oct. 9, when he returns to continue his tour southward, maybe with us. That way I avoid paying customs tax. Also ordered boots for her to be made locally. She has a helmet, rain suit and gloves. With new tires will be ready to go Oct. 15. Will move out of the apartment the end of Sept. and stay 2 weeks at the Hostal El Prado, where Achi works. All is well.
Punky & Lew & Achi too, in Lima, Peru.
Date: Mon Sept 23, 2002 5:16 pm
We have just made it over the biggest hurdle. The U.S. Consulate in Lima has approved Achi's visa to emigrate to the U.S. as an alien spouse. It required a ton of documents, time and expense. Actual time since the application/petition was submitted was 6 weeks, far better than many horror stories we heard from others. The key was following all the instructions, asking questions when not sure and getting it right the first time. The visa is valid for Achi to enter the U.S. within 6 months. Plan to enter at Miami by air from Caracas, Venezuela. That will be April 14, 2003. Picked up Achi's snazzy new custom made leather boots like the moto-cops wear in Lima, only a little nicer. Waiting for her Cortech Power Cool jacket and cool summer riding pants ordered from Brosh in Israel. Chris Friedman will fly the suit down from Louisville, Kentucky saving 30% customs duty. Still planning to depart southward to Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego Oct. 15. Anxious to ride. Achi will write Spanish language reports in addition to my English reports about the rest of our tour through South America for our website: www.angelfire.com/mo/motormark/Punky_n_Lew.html . All is well and Punky is ready too. This adventure ain't over yet, not by a long shot. Plan to tour North America upon our return, showing Achi the wonders of The Up-Over. Assuming that is the opposite of The Down-Under, the Equator, that is.
Punky, Lew, & Achi 2, Americas Motopaseo continues!
Date: Tues Oct. 15, 2002 1:49 pm
Our adventure is beginning anew with my new wife Achi. We are a trio now. Achi has the flu and laryngitis, so we are postponing our departure southward, to Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina, a day or 2 or 3 waiting for her to get better. Our going-away party, Sat. night, was a smashing success and everyone had a great time. It was a celebration, but sadness was in the air as well. Tears were shed, including mine. Achi is riding off with a loco gringo on a motorcycle into who knows what. Adventure, danger, oppressive heat, freezing cold, torrential rain and sore asses for sure. People and places never to be forgotten and AMERICA, certain to be a mindboggling experience, the dream of a lifetime realized for Achi. Achi, her family and friends know not whether they will ever see each other again. Achi even has to leave her dog Kuki. So, it is with a mixture of joy and sadness that we are leaving Peru, the magical land of Inca ruins, towering Andes mountains, seemingly endless deserts adjoining Pacific beaches and the jungles on the east side of the mountains. I won't miss the crazy drivers in Lima, but know there will be countless others throughout the rest of our tour all over Latin America. It is a Latino thing, driving to gain a millimeter on the others, however they can. One has to develop 360 degree vision and become just as aggressive as they are. "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." All the documents and preparations are in order. Critter, my KLR650, is ready as are we all. Punky, my Yorkie dog, is well and will continue to ride proudly on the tankbag drawing stares, second looks of amazement, endless questions and break the ice making friends everywhere. Chris Friedman, of New Mexico, left this morning on his Suzuki DR650, heading to Bolivia to see his friend Stuart, who is riding from Brazil to meet him. We are looking forward to encountering Chris, Aussies Peter and Kay Forwood on their Harley and Ricardo Rocco Paz on his newly acquired KLR650 somewhere south of here, as well as making new friends with others, particularly motorcyclists, along the way. Peter and Kay have ridden 172,000 miles to 123 countries. Makes our tour seem kinda puny. We will be sending more photos and making reports to our website: www.angelfire.com/mo/motormark/Punky_n_Lew.html in English and Spanish, including Achi's slant on things. We expect to be back in Florida in April 2003. Thanks to "Motormark" Wilson for his tireless efforts to maintain the website and for being our best supporter. The addition of Achi to our tour is an unexpected additional expense. If anyone wishes to contribute to our cause, please contact Motormark at firstname.lastname@example.org . See ya soon in Stone mountain, Georgia, amigo. Best regards to all y'all.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2 trip report Lima, Peru - Iquique, Chile
Date: Sat Oct. 19, 2002
We finally made it out of Lima one day late. Our friend, Chris Friedman, a DR650 rider from New Mexico, left Lima, heading south, one day ahead of us. We caught him in Nasca, Peru, our first night's stop. We all are riding with colds. Chris joined us riding from Nasca to Camana, Peru, our next stop, and then to Tacna, Peru, near the Chilean border. Chris showed us the place, where he took a spill in curve. Fortunately, he wasn't hurt bad. Only scraped a bit. The bike and his clothing were damaged worse. He flew back to Lima last week and brought down new handlebars, shock and few other things, as well as Achi's new riding suit. Chris is handy with a wrench and does most of his own work on the bike. He is 23 years old and has 4 continents and 50,000 miles to his credit, so far. It was fun riding the twisties with Chris, although, a little faster than I should have with Achi on board. We hope to encounter Chris again, further south in Chile or Argentina. We are riding about 300 miles/day as planned. I can describe much of the terrain we viewed as a lunar moonscape, except the Pacific ocean was sometimes on our right. Achi is handling the ride as well as anybody and a real pleasure to have with me. She has taken on the responsibility of communicating in Spanish whenever necessary. It does help. We didn't have the hot water shower promised at a hostal in Tacna. She told the receptionist, "We won't pay full price" and paid less. We also had to put up with the noise of whores doing their thing. When we exited Peru, the agriculture officials wouldn't give me the required document to use for Punky on the Chilean side. They said we would have to go back to Tacna to get a health certificate and wouldn't be able to enter Chile with their document. I said, "Bullshit, I'm not going back to Tacna, I'll take my chances with the Chilean officials." They turned out to be friendly and helpful, wrote an official letter for Punky and all is well. Achi manages to sleep, while riding as passenger behind me. Between Camana and Tacna, in high winds, Punky got blown off the tankbag and was dangling from his leash wrapped around my neck. I did as I had many times before and lifted him back up to his perch. Tacna was nice and so is Iquique. Don't hear any more blaring horns, like in Lima. Critter, my KLR650, is now using oil at the rate of about a quart/750 miles. Don't know where it is going. Not leaking, not smoking and running great. The piston and rings have about 5,000 miles since installed in lima. The problem showed up right after the repair. I'm puzzled. Tomorrow, we ride to Antofogasta. More Atacama desert. At least it's not summer hot. Actually, sometimes a little cool. We all, including Punky, got our hot showers tonight. Took a stroll to the Plaza de Armas town center and got something to eat and used the Internet. In Tacna, I refused to pay for using the Internet. Their service was so slow and blew me off so many times, I lost it. Punky, sparkling clean, wowed the locals and continues to be the center of attention. Damn, I'm a lucky guy -- albeit with a sore ass. Best regards to all our friends. Where are Australian Harley riders, Peter and Kay Forwood? We hope to encounter them as well. With luck, we'll see Ricardo Rocco too.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2
Date: Oct 22, 2002
We liked Iquique, a nice coastal town. The cool ride to Antofagasta was on a good paved Pacific coastal road, through more lunar moonscape. I wasn't favorably impressed with coastal Antofagasta. Mostly old and poorly maintained. Good paved road from Antofagasta to Copiapo. It was warm earlier in the day, but chilly late in the afternoon. More Atacama desert lunar moonscape that changed colors, like a painted desert, from time to time. At times, the Pacific on the right and the Andes to the left, but mostly moonscape desert. Sand and rocks in between. Achi had her first ever emergency piss-stop in the middle of nowhere, squatting at the edge of the desolate road. She did what she had to do, but she said she isn't used to that. She's learning that all isn't peaches and cream adventure touring on a motorcycle. She continues to take it well. Punky nearly went off again, when in high winds a big truck blew by in the opposite direction and sent Punky to the edge of his perch. My left elbow and knee saved him from dangling again. Met a touring bicyclist in the middle of the Atacama. He is Swiss and riding to Ushuaia. Water is his fuel. Stopped for lunch at a mid-desert gas stop. I call it The Atacama Sports Club. The had pool and ping pong tables in the middle of nowhere. We also saw the Chilean idea of golf courses on the coast. No grass. We decided to stay an extra day and rest in Copiapo. It was a long days ride getting here. We arrived wrung out just as the sun dipped behind hills and into the Pacific. We got revived with a nice hot shower, went out to see the town and get something to eat. To Achi's surprise, Chilenos are very friendly, even to a Peruana. She thought that, because the countries had been at war at one time, they hated each other. The Chilenos seem to be a little bit more civilized (they drive better), with a stronger economy than Peru. Critter is functioning well. Still using oil though. Looking into the possiblity of taking the ferry from Puerto Monnt to Puerto Natale. Probably won't be able to afford it, but it is a beautiful trip.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2 in Viсa Del Mar, Chile
Date: Fri Oct. 25, 2002
We are in Viсa Del Mar, Chile's premier seaside resort city. The Atacam is behind us. Things got slowly greener as we rode south out of the desert. This area is fertile green with vegetation, has many farms and vineyards growing grapes for the local wineries. We visited Chile's main port, Valparaiso, and the Capitol, Santiago de Chile. Santiago is a big, busy, modern and beautiful city. Achi got her first ride on subway. Chile is obviously quite a bit ahead of Peru economically and about the general order of things. I thought Santiago would be full of crazy drivers, like most big cities, but not so. Unlike Lima, we seldom hear horns blowing and people really drive like reasonable human beings. The cost of food is downright cheap. Lodging is quite reasonable. Ninety three octane unleaded gas is about $2.37/gallon. Achi is enjoying the experience of being outside Peru for the first time. It is really fun watching her and listening to her reactions to things she has never seen before. Of course, it is fun as well to be the proud owner of a cute little Yorkie that everyone oohs and aahs overs. Punky is still the little dog that could and now is proving he still can. Despite sore asses and tired bodies, we're having a hell of time. The terrain whizzes by and I love it. Stay tuned for more reports. Very glad to hear the news that the D.C. Snipers were caught.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2 Trip Report from Puerto Montt, Chile
Date: Wed Oct. 30, 2002
We are in Puerto Montt, Chile, a lovely European-like seaside city at the end of the Pan Am highway route #5, for 2 days. After leaving Viсa del Mar, we rode through Santiago de Chile and then south through beautiful rich agricutural areas to Talca. The following cool and sunshiny day, we had a good ride through more green pine tree studded areas to Osorno, hoping to meet Australian round the world Harley riders Peter and Kay Forwood. Somehow, we managed to miss them. Que lastima! Last saw them in Fairbanks, Alaska in July 2001-. Tomorrow, we will ride back to Osorno and over the cold high Andes to Bariloche, Argentina, a storybook beautiful place on the edge of the Argentine side of the Andes mountains. Then, we will take the easy, though cold and windy, paved route south and east to the Atlantic coast and then south again on route #3 through Patagonia to Tierra del Fuego. The load Critter is carrying precludes the possibility of safely riding long distance dirt roads. The 1,400 km dirt road south of Bariloche in very high and cold winds doesn't appeal to me and definately not to Achi. No sense in making it hard on me and the bike and scaring the shit out of Achi and maybe myself. We are having a great time, except for one hiccup, which I will leave unexplained for now. Everthing is fine now. No one promised either one of us a perfectly wonderful time all the time. Looking forward to visiting Argentina and eating their famously good meats. The cost of things is supposed to make it a lot easier for one with dollars now. We have become disenchanted with eating meat dishes here in Chile. Too often we pay a high price for a very poor quality meat. Hard to cut with a knife and harder to chew. We decided to stick with chicken or seafood. We had a great salmon dinner tonight. Last night we enjoyed a bottle of wine mixed with fruit juice, like sangria, a platter of mixed shellfish with crackers in bed and cable TV. Life is good. Stay tuned for further reports. By the way, I recently made a comment that my best supporter has always been Motormark. That's not exactly accurate. Motormark has been very supportive, but I have a freind in Boynton Beach, Florida, who helped me get this whole thing on the road and realize my dream tour. Will send Motormark 2 or more rolls of used film from Bariloche. Later, amigos and amigas.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2 report from Bariloche, Patagonia, Argentina
Date: Sun Nov.3, 2002
We had a cold and wet ride from Puerto Montt to Osorno, Chile and then over the Andes to Bariloche. Achi's gloves were not waterproof and she felt sick. Got her a new rainsuit and gloves and she is now taking medication. She is not used to irregular meals on the road. Bariloche is a beautiful lakeshore tourist city on the edge of the Andes. Prices are very good with my dollars converted to Pesos. Steaks, pastries and other foods are fantastic and cheap as are clothes and everything else. We're staying in a nice hosteria with private bath for $10/night. Stayed 2 days and waited for the rain to pass. We were going to head south this morning, but checked the oil, lubed the chain and looked things over. Discovered the rear wheel is broken. A very dangerous thing that could have caused us serious problems crossing the Andes. A miracle that the tire is still holding air. I remember hitting a bad hole in the pavement in Chile about 10 days ago. Met groups from two motorcycle clubs, Wind Riders and Moto Club de Bariloche, here in town. Nicolas, a member of the Moto Club de Bariloche, owns an older KLR650. He is arranging for a mechanic to come to my hosteria at 9am tomorrow, look at the bike and get it fixed. So, we are here for at least 2 more days. The longer we wait the warmer it gets in Patagonia, although November, a seasonal transition period, is terrible for high winds. Bariloche is a nice place to be stuck a while, but cold. A Chilean had told me that, for a tourist, Argentina is not cheap, it is a gift. He was right. The financial and economic difficulties have caused a Peso devaluation much in my favor, but the Argentines suffer low wages and high prices. Got a message from Norwegian Honda 650 rider, Erling Steen, saying that his bike also suffered piston and ring damage, despite his continually adjusting the carburetor for altitude changes. We have a temporary reprieve from getting windblown in Patagonia. Punky has a new sweater and gets even more attention. He got wet and cold crossing the Andes too. His bag proved not to be waterproof either. He now is better protected in a plastic bag inside his bag. Achi loves and protects him. All is under control and nearly well.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2 ready to leave Bariloche
Date: Mon. Nov. 4, 2002
The mechanic, Jesus, showed up half an hour early (something strange to me in Latin America) with his van and hauled the bike to his shop. Jesus gave me top priority, let the rest of his work wait and removed the broken rear wheel, took it to a gomeria (tire repair shop) to dismount the tire and then took the wheel to a welder. I had Jesus also install new wheel bearings (rear ones were shot), brake pads and spark plug (electrode burned badly), remove the swing arm and lube it and adjust the loose chain. Jesus worked all day on the bike, did an excellent job and charged me $130 Pesos. The exchange rate is 3 1/2 to one dollar. The gomeria charged $3 Pesos for dismount and remounting the tire. The bearings cost $65 Pesos and the welder $60 Pesos. I'll let y'all do the math. I shudder to think what it would have cost me in the U.S. We are ready to go in the morning. Wouldn't bother me if we had to stay longer. This is a very nice place and the food, prices and people are fantastic. I hope my friends in Quito, Ecuador are OK. A volcano has gone off and made a mess of the city. Had another fantastic steak ($9.50 Pesos) for lunch, yummy ice cream and chocolates this evening. I started to lose weight traveling again, but Bariloche is making me fat again. We need to get moving in order to ensure our arrival in Caracas by April 1. One never knows what emergency delays might be lurking around the corner. I've already had that experience too many times. Patagonia here we come. Actually, we are already in Patagonia. The weather has been very nice, clear and sunny the last 2 days. It is supposed to get windy tomorrow. From my past experience, that could signal a another change in the weather, maybe for the worse. Not looking forward to riding in cold rain again, but we will do what we have to do. Anybody reading Achi's Spanish reports on our website is urged to give her some feedback. She would enjoy it very much. Hope we don't get blown off the road. I figured out how to ride paved roads and not miss El Calafate, Torres del Paines National Park, the glaciers and lakes in southern Patagonia. Only 2,442 km to Ushuaia.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2 report from Trevelin, Pategonia, Argentina
Date: Fri. Nov. 8, 2002
We are reporting from Trevelin, Pategonia, Argentina, a beautiful valley snuggled between snowcapped Andean mountains south of Bariloche. Had a good ride through the mountains in warm weather. We were, however, overdressed in warm clothes and cooking hot whenever we stopped. I was expecting it to be cold and rain at anytime. We stopped in Esquel looking for a room to spend the night. A friendly motorcyclist, Pablo Arroyo, with his girlfriend, riding a Yamaha 550 Maxim, stopped us and offered info about a better and less expensive little town, where he lives, 25km further down route 258. His advice and friendship have been invaluable. We have stayed 4 nights in a marvelous new log cabin fully turnkey furnished w/kitchen, Jacuzzi tub in the bathroom, utensils, etc. for $11/night. Pablo guided us to this cabin, and for 4 days all over the surrounding area on back dirt roads to incredible rivers, lakes, mountains, a dam, national parks, restaurants, etc., etc., etc. He also hosted us to a barbecue at his home and is responsible for setting up a local TV interview. I can't say enough good things about this nice biker. Achi is finding out that not all bikers are bad news. Am sending 3 rolls of film and video tapes of the TV report and ones that Pablo made of our local rides to Motormark. Don't know if he can put the videos on the website. People on the street are recognizing us from radio reports. Punky is a dead giveaway, even when walking. Wow, this is fantastic, cheap and mindbogglingly beautiful! More steaks, deserts and a bigger gut for me. We'll be heading east across Pategonia to Sarmiento tomorrow, then on to Comodoro Rivadavia on the Atlantic coast, before heading south on route 3 to Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego. We'll say hi for y'all to the penguins and whales. Whenever I see llamas, I say to them, "Oye llama, llamame." Translation: Hey llama (which also means call) call me. It will be the first time Punky and I have seen the Atlantic since Florida and the first time ever for Achi. She constantly sees and experiences things for the first time. It is a real kick to watch and listen to her responses. We are hungry and are going to eat again. All is well.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2 report from Caleta Olivia, Patagonia, Argentina
Date: Wed. Nov. 13, 2002
We rode from Trevelin to Esquel and then southeastward across Patagonia to Sarmiento. On that route, coming out of the Andes, we saw Condors, Pink Flamingos, Guanaco and an Armadillo. Achi lost her gloves in Chile. I lost my balaclava in Patagonia. Critter threw the drive chain off the rear sprocket on the way to Sarmiento. I put it back on and continued to Sarmiento for the night. We were tired when we arrived in Sarmiento and I didn't pay close enough attention to the fact that there was no gate to secure the parking area. During the night a thief took the soft tank bag and panniers off and removed everything from inside. He took Achi's new rain jacket and a flashlight and left the rest on the ground. Next day we rode past many oil wells and Comodoro Rivadavia to Caleta Olivia on the Atlantic coast to spend the night. It was cool and a little windy, but not too bad. We've experienced worse winds. Sometimes the winds around here blow over 100km/h. The terrain in this area is desert scrub. In Caleta Olivia I had a shop mechanic change the oil, clean the filters and install a new drive chain. We rode south the next day. Critter was lacking power, hard to start and not idling properly. I thought maybe the mechanic sprayed too much oil on the air filter. We stopped to rest 78km down the road at a gas station that had no gas in a tiny little dot on the map, Fitz Roy. Critter's engine was dripping oil again from the air box drain tube, like it did in northern Peru, when it burned a piston and rings. Once Critter's engine was turned off, it wouldn't start again. I called the mechanic back in Caleta Olivia explaining we needed help. The mechanic, Diego Balboa, sent his father with a pickup truck to get us and the bike. We waited about 4 hours, but help finally arrived. Diego has been occupied with his pregnant wife ready to have a baby anytime. Baby girl arrived today. Diego immediately found the cooling system dry of coolant. I had been watching the temp gauge and it never went over half way on its scale. Diego checked the spark plug and found it to be in good condition and dry with a little black carbon. The plug was newly installed in Bariloche. Next, Diego checked the compression and found it to be very low (30lbs. instead of the normal 150). Diego tore into the engine today and found the rings broken and the piston and cylinder sleeve scored. He is ordering the necessary parts and getting the cylinder sleeve bored for a larger piston kit, installing new valve guide seals, timing and balancer chains and getting the radiator repaired. The valve clearances remain within spec. Diego will have new sprockets for the drive chain and a rear tire ready for me when we come back northward. This is sorely stretching my budget for the rest of this month. Other than that, all is well. At least, the longer we wait, the warmer it gets to the south. Summer begins here in December. Ushuaia is so close, but so far. Later, amigos.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2, Sorry the bike is having trouble
Date: Thurs. Nov. 14, 2002
We are trying our best to persevere and overcome the negatives involved in a tour like ours. The positives are what drive us. They are many and wonderful. Today, the wind velocity is estimated at 80kph gusting to 100 (close to hurricane force) and is doing its best or worst to blow anything not anchored down off the planet. At times, when walking, the force is so great it stops us in our tracks prohibiting forward movement. Don't think we should try to ride when the wind is blowing like this. Diego, the mechanic, is ordering parts today and expects them to be delivered from Buenos Aires by Monday or Tuesday. I decided not to install new primary and secondary chains in the engine for now. Diego says they are OK. The cost is estimated to be $313 in total, which I think I can handle. In the U.S. such a repair would be astronomically high. Diego's labor is only $75. In the U.S. a mechanic's labor is $50-60/hr. The people here are very nice. The climate is cool, windy and sometimes a little wet. In my opinion, to put it bluntly, this part of Patagonia sucks. The economy and finances are in shambles and the government/politics are a mess. Fortunately, for us, with dollars the exchange rate is very favorable at 3.5 Pesos:1 Dollar. For some odd reason, there are 3 separate currencies, Pesos, Lecops and Patagones, in circulation and all are equal and accepted. Patiently waiting for the repairs to be completed. We should soon have a healthy Critter thumping under us to complete our tour. I have a good woman and a cute Yorkie to bolster my spirits. Life ain't so bad.
KLR breakdowns, Punky, Lew & Achi 2 in Patagonia
Date: Tues. Nov. 26, 2002
I just received a message from George M. trashing the KLR as a viable machine to tour RTW. He says KLR's are frequently suffering massive engine failure, when attempting to do so. I agree with George that I am asking more than is reasonable to expect from my KLR carrying a passenger and a lot of luggage/gear. My KLR's first engine failure was my fault. I changed the carburetor main jet to a smaller one so it would run better in the high Andes mountains, where the air is lacking oxygen. When we came back down to sea level, the engine got too much air and not enough gas, overheated the combustion chamber and burned the piston and rings. I should have changed the main jet back to a bigger one. This time, the major engine failure was due to a dry radiator and maybe poor work repairing the engine in Lima. The bike had been consuming oil since then. The oil had just been changed and filters cleaned, but I didn't check the coolant level. I would like to know of what use is the temp gauge, because it never went over half way? Both these incidents were probably caused by my lack of knowledge and good maintenance. I should also say that I abused the hell out of Critter, twisting the throttle mercilessly. It became part of the thrill of riding to push my luck a little too far. I paid the price and would do it again, except now I have a valuable passenger to think of. Punky was never injured when we went down, just scared a bit. He's a tough little bugger. The parts we have been waiting for finally arrived, just in time to keep me from tearing out what little hair I have left. I am patient, but was running out. The cylinder is being bored and the radiator problem is being attended to today. Tomorrow, they will start putting the engine back together again. Now, all of a sudden, I have a piece of my jawbone protruding through the gum and require oral surgery. We have seen enough of Caleta Olivia. Hopefully, we will be on our way within 5 days. George, thanks for your interest, encouragement and advice, but I think you were a little too harsh on my Critter and KLR's in general. One RTW BMW R100GS rider, also carrying his wife as passenger, recently told me he had 4 breakdowns during the past year. We still have a long way to go. If the rest of our adventure is no worse than the past, I'll be satisfied that the KLR is a viable RTW machine and very cost effective. If one stays on the main paved roads, almost any machine can ride around the world. Even so, they will not make it without breakdowns of one kind or another. Mark, I sent the film about a week ago. Later, amigos and amigas.
Greetings from Punky, Lew & Achi 2
Date: Wed. Nov. 27, 2002
Critter is supposed to be ready in the morning. We will test ride the bike 78km to Comodoro Rivadavia and back to Caleta Olivia, before heading south to Ushuaia the following day. Ushuaia, known as the end of the world, shouldn't be more than 5 days riding. No turkey with the trimmings here, but I'm thankful to have Critter back, to be relatively healthy and have a great family. Happy thanksgiving to y'all.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2 Trip report from Rio Gallegos, Argentina
I had a bad cold that delayed our departure from Caleta Olivia for one day. Achi had it, gave it to me and got well. The ride from Caleta Olivia to Puerto San Julian was not bad. Had good weather, a lonely lightly travelled and paved road and only one negative incident. Critter's exhaust pipe was eating the right edge of the rear tire. Moved the pipe out further and it is fine. The pipe is not original equipment and the tire is a little wider than original. Critter is running fine and not consuming oil. Puerto San Julian was less desirable than Caleta Olivia, except we had an excellent meal in a seaside seafood restaurant. I finally had some decent shrimp. I had been asking Achi in Peru, where is the bigger shrimp? The restaurants served tiny salad shrimps for a dinner plate. Achi was astonished, once again, to find that bigger shrimp are scrumptious. I told her to wait until she gets a taste of lobster. No lobster here. The ride to Rio Gallegos was cold, a little windy and wet the last 1 1/2 hours. Our rain gear did reasonably well protecting us. I've mentioned that Achi catnaps while riding as passenger. Would you believe even in the rain and wind of Patagonia? Punky wouldn't keep his head in his bag and got it wet. More desolate road and scrub desert like terrain with occasional ponds of water and pink flamingos. Rio Gallegos is a fairly big town, nice and clean. Rooms are costing us around $25-35 Pesos/night ($8-11 U.S.). Soccer fans were going bonkers driving all over town waving red flags and honking there horns reveling in there teams victory. Soccer always dominates the news. The economic and political problems come second. Crime and unrest in the streets third. Going to eat Spanish paella and have a bottle of wine now. Ushuaia is 2 days away. We have to cross back into Chile, cross the Straits of Magellan and re-enter Argentina to get to Tierra Del Fuego and Ushuaia. The rain has stopped and the wind blew most of the clouds away. Hope it is clear and not too windy tomorrow. First thing in the morning I will change the oil and clean the filter after about 600 miles since the new piston and rings were installed. Thanks to those who sent greetings and good thoughts to us. Looking forward to reaching the south end of the world and achieving a major goal of this tour. I think a bottle of champagne would be nice to celebrate. Motormark has posted 107 new photos on our website. A special thanks to my friend, Robyn, in Boynton Beach, Florida, who helped me get the bike and gave Punky to me for a Christmas gift 8 years ago. Phil Roddenberry, who helped prepare Critter and me for the tour. Thanks to all those who helped and encouraged me. Punky deserves something very special for enduring all the hard times. Good to hear from Stuart "Fireball" Heaslet. He thinks I should write a book. Unfortunately, I am not inclined to record all the details it takes to do so. Caracas is still a long ways northward. This adventure isn't over yet.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2 in Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego
We made it to the end of the world. A long day and a hell of a ride in high winds and on a dirt/gravel road from Rio Gallegos to the Straight of Magellan. Took the ferry boat across to Tierra Del Fuego free of charge. Continued on to Rio Grande part way on dirt/gravel and part way on paved road in high winds. Achi managed to catnap going 50mph in winds on the dirt. Amazing! My hands, arms, shoulders and neck got a real workout controlling the bike riding at strange angles on a straight road. Gusts of wind would jerk us around when going around curves and through wind shadows of hills. Our speed varied from 30-60mph. At times the wind was on our tail and I noticed the engine temp increased higher than normal. I believe it was because the apparent wind velocity was near zero. The tail wind was about equal to our forward velocity. This morning we had a short 3 hour ride part way on a good paved road and part way on a dirt/gravel road in good weather. Ushuaia is a nice place situated along The Beagle Channel and snuggled in between the southern end of the Andes mountains. It is cold and sometimes windy and sometimes a bit wet. The scenery is something like Alaska, green and forested land and snowcapped mountains, rivers and lakes. The days are long and the nights are short, like Alaska. Antarctica is only 600 miles across the Ocean. We plan to stay in Ushuaia for about 4 days. The good news is we made it to Ushuaia, the bad news is we have to ride back the way we came. We will take a side trip to Calafate and Perito Moreno Glacier going northward. We will visit Tierra Del Fuego National Park, The Martial Glacier, see penguins and cruise the Beagle Channel (Darwin's route). Achi is continually amazed by more new things to her. It is a blast watching and listening to her reactions. She gets a little cranky after a tough day, but all I have to do is feed her and she brightens up. Punky survived the rough conditions and was worn to a frazzle like me. We had to exit Argentina, enter Chile, exit Chile and re-enter Argentina to get here. The border officials said Punky was the first dog they ever saw going to Tierra Del Fuego on a motorcycle. The Geezer, Critter, Senor Frog and the tough little dog that could have gone to both ends of the world. A gutsy Peruana has made it to one end. She has jokingly, I think, talked about taking a bus back to Comodoro Rivadavia and waiting for me. Later, amigos and amigas.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2 still in Ushuaia
When we arrived in Ushuaia, we rode by the Beagle Channel and spotted a woman swimming in the frigid water wearing a bathing suit, not a wet suit. I'm not sure if she was just arriving from Punta Arenas or what. I didn't know a human being could survive more than a few minutes in water temps like this. We met Moto Pablo at his bike shop. Met another friendly fellow on the waterfront, who is a biker and a dog lover as well. He invited us to his place for ceviche. We took a catamaran ride on the Beagle Channel today. Achi saw her first penguins and a whale. She was very excited to take her first boat ride. I'm sure we made it through the Beagle a lot quicker than Darwin did. Have an appointment with a reporter at the local Diario Del Fin Del Mundo newspaper tomorrow. Punky was happy to get some good canned food for a change. We are continuing to celebrate eating great food and I'm imbibing a bit. Achi is taking some medication that doesn't mix well with alcohol. Tomorrow we will ride to the Tierra Del Fuego National Park. Getting lots of congratulatory messages. Thanks to you all.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2 still in Ushuaia
I am forwarding the message below of congrats from Billy Brooks. It is very touching and symbolic of many such messages. Thanks to Billy and all the others. We rode to the end of the dirt road in the beautiful Tierra Del Fuego National Park yesterday and had an interview with the local newspaper. The reporter took pix and will print our story Monday. We are getting ready to depart Ushuaia for Rio Grande tomorrow. We'll exit Argentina, enter Chile, exit Chile and enter Argentina again. We'll ride to El Calafate, the Perito Moreno Glacier and then northward on ruta #3 to Buenos Aires via Patagonia. Met a Japanese guy riding a bicycle from Anchorage, AK in 15 months. He is now going to Africa. Heard all kinds of stories from Moto Pablo about people coming to Ushuaia in various ways. A Chinaman with a rickshaw, a Mexican with 2 burros, one of which died (I figure the Mexican ate it), a rider on a Lambretta motorscooter from Alaska, a couple of guys kayaking here from Alaska. But, Punky is the first dog to come on a motorcycle from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska or anywhere for that matter. What a dog! We are all still fatigued and sore from the ride here. Ate parrilla (barbecued) lamb, steak, chicken and chorizo for dinner. The night before, I ate crab. They have huge crabs here. Feel like I don't need to eat for another week. Later, amigos and amigas. >>>>>>>
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