Sunday, February 24, 2013

Adios Montanas, Ola Lima...

0815 to be exact....that is the hour at which two giant condors flew over me, so close that I could see them checking me out to see if I was dead or not....What an experience to have these giant (10' wingspan) birds swoop on the air currents and literally check one out!   As planned, I was able to leave the hostal by 7:30 AM, and with Mr. Garmin's help, I was on my way northwest, towards Colca Canyon and the condors....













While the road was a combination of ripio,hardpack dirt, and just plain mud...Blondy and I were in good spirits, and she was handling the ruta without any problems....until I began hitting rougher ruta with more water...


After considerable diagnosis, I determined that my sidestand switch had taken a hit, as I could start the bike, but when I engaged a gear, she would die...I was close to 40 kilometers into the day, and I was a bit worried, as I did not know what was in front of me in terms of road quality, and I knew that the village which I had left contained very little in terms of moto repair, and Lima was a good 1000 kilometers away, with the only BMW dealer that I was aware of...

Fortunately for me, I have three very smart children. (There is a reason for this obligueness).  One is a master wordsmith, another builds amazingly confusing plumbing fixtures for a living, and the third flies helicopters.  Now, in the past I have attributed their qualities and intelligence to their mothers, and I have generally figured that my contribution started and ended at the blond/red hair gene.   (Still following?)  

During the first year that I had purchased Blondy, my son the helicopter pilot, and I were on a ride through the Dead Zone of British Columbia, with four or five other riders in our group.  Being a complete noob to adventrure riding, I took Blondy through the middle of a large mudhole about 25 kilometers from the nearest slab, garage, and tow truck.  My eldest boy, after helping me pick up the bike and wiping some of the mud off both me and Blondy, determined that the reason that she would not start was because I had somehow killed the circuit involving the side stand switch, which is very vulnerable to rocks, mud, and water on this bike.  While I stood around looking sheepish and dumb, my Son diagnosed the issue and fiddled around with the switch and got the bike going again. Two years later, I am at the top of a mounain chain in Peru, and wishing that I had paid closure attention to my kids...espescially when they are trying to teach me something....Sigh....






I fiddled around down there, and it seemed that the bolt holding the switch in place was somehow loose, and I applied a  8mm wrench to the nut and it seemed to tightened a bit.  Usually when I find myself in a jam, in trouble, or facing heavy duty consequences, I utter a silent promise to my Higher Power that I will be better if I get through this jam.  While I didn't exactly make any false promises, I was sure hoping that the turn of the wrench would do the trick, because I had not any other ideas about the wiring and circuitry of Blondy... The bike gods were looking after me that morning, and Blondy fired up and stayed in gear, too.  I was on my way again, giving silent thanks to my son the pilot for helping me through this one: real or not, I thought that all of us manage crisis in different ways, and hold on to what is important and necessary in  order to survive and move on....



I arrived at the Cruz del Condors, and was greeted by this magnificent bird soaring above the visitors.  For some reason, the local municipalidad had paved the viewing area....sigh...



The Condors swooped down on the people viewing them, and it was clear that they had done this before.....
















 You can just see the rio at the bottom of the canyon.  This canyon was determined to be deeper than the Grand Canyon in the USA.  A group of Polish and Peruvian river runners determined that the canyon was deeper only within the last decade....














There are people living and working way down there...


I had decided to move on, as the touristas were coming and loading up the vistas.  About two kilometers further down the road, I managed to get this shot of a mature male and he checked out Blondy for edibility....

I am pretty happy with the results of my rinky dink little point and shoot camera, and while certainly not of National Geographic standards, the pics of these birds soaring are great memories and well worth the decision to travel into the more remote parts of southern Peru, and have to deal with ripio...

Speaking of which, it was time to continue on the road west towards the coast.  I realized that the side-stand switch fix was temporary, but I had reached the point of no-return, so I had to deal with the next 125 kilometers of ripio, and hope that my quick fix would hold..








This is the local ass patrol. They are wondering what kind of ass is out in the middle of nowhere riding a moto???








I had to re-do my quick fix a couple more times, and I learned that Blondy would bump start if I only stopped at the top of big, long hills....



I knew I was getting closer to civilization as the mountains were becoming less sharp, and the air temperature was increasing.  The road was dustier, drier, and the mud was replaced with what I thought was a combination of cement dust and talculm powder....

 Hey tourista: "Are you lost, or just stupid?"








Well, as they say, what goes up, must come down, and eventually I found some pavement, and eventually the compass started pointed north, which was the way I thought I should be heading after a very long day.....


I eventually found the Pan American Sur, which was the main highway north.  By this time, I knew that the switch was toast, and that I could not afford to ride anywhere but straight to Lima, which was about 800 kilometers north of where I had hit the coast.  


Got Sand???


I found a motel with a good hill leading back to the hiway, and crashed for the night.  I knew that  Blondy needed to see the BMW mechanic in Lima, and I had to decide to push it there in the next day, or wait until the shop opened again on Monday..

I could only stop on hills where I could bump start Blondy...and fortunately I still had some spare fuel, so I was able to make some kilometers...

These boats looked, to me, like very large purse seiners...


These guys were surf fishing...




 This guy is a younger, smaller cousin to the Condors, and generally I don't pay much attention to vultures....

Heading north, with the ocean on my left.  I think I am going the right way now....









 For the second time, I broke my own rule about riding into the darkness.  I had had a very long day, with about a two hour wrenching session at the side of the road.  I finally had to get out the stainless steel wire and my trusty leatherman in order to wire up the switch and get it to work sporadically.  Because I was on the Pan American, I was confident that if my jury-rigging failed, I would end up hiring a truck to haul Blondy the next 500 km to Lima.   I did not like riding at night, but I was caught between towns with any sort of habitacion, and it was fairly cool on the highway, and I knew that I needed fuel, water, and food...




During one of my refueling stops, I  discovered that I had seriously damaged my fuel canister which I had hanging from my crash bars.  Needless to say, the last few liters of fuel helped me motor to BMW Motorrad in Lima.  I arrived about 10:00 am Saturday morning.  This time around, the shop has a fellow who speaks passable English, and I was able to demonstrate the issues with Blondy.  In addition to the broken side-stand switch, my headlights were burnt out, and I have one blown fork seal.  Both the font and rear brakes need new pads, and I am not sure if the sprockets will make it to Mexico. I have blown through 5000 or more kilometers since Buenos Aires and my last real oil change, so that is in the works as well. I explained the surging business that I had a week or so ago, and hopefully the mechanic will be able to look at the fuel filter.  So, I have found a room at another Flying Dog hostal across from the one which Uli and I stayed in Lima, and I anticipate that I will be here for a few days.  In the process of "fixing" the side-stand switch, I broke my last pair of cheater glasses, and in the process of fixing them with cazy glue, I have managed to completely obscure one lens.  This may be the time to be shopping for new glasses too...


Goodbye MSR can: you have done your job....