Category Archives: road trip

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New Directions : Argentina

I’m so glad that our most southern campsite was close to perfect, it seemed fitting somehow. Stepping out of the van in the morning, our breath was visible in the air and the frozen grass crunched under our feet. It was time to finally head north, the race was on. We had to get Oscar to his new owners in Uruguay, and pronto.

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Back in Argentina, the driving days were relentless.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADriving, driving, driving

Still, we found some pretty nice spots to pop the top.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Bridge camp – Rio Chico

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Route planning

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA gallant effort, but the wine to workout ratio is still about 100:1

The days weren’t without incident. We had our first legit flat tire in over a year. Changing the tire with our tiny jack, in the blustering wind and with trucks ripping past, was a balancing act to rival my high school gymnastics prowess.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALong days

We were ooohhing and ahhhing when we were finally reached the coast again. The startling blue colours of the ocean were a sight for sore eyes, after the monotonous landscapes along the Ruta 3.

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The Peninsula Valdés was a well timed reprieve from the boring miles. The marine animal life in this nature reserve is amazing! The magdalena penguins had just starting arriving for their mating season, so we were lucky enough to catch sight of some of the early birds.

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The elephant seals were a crackup. The big fellow in the photo below was making his move towards the little lady, but it took at least five attempts. He had been cruising past, hooting and hollering and flaunting his masculinity, but no one really seemed to care. He was left to try a more direct approach. From what I could gather though, she still wasn’t very keen. In the animal world, I guess size does matter.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Big ol’ poser

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe called these guys (Rhea) ‘moo moos’ because they look like the aussie emu. Not to be mistaken for cows.

After dinner we drove in the dark to a deserted carpark just outside of Puerto Pirámides. When we got up in the night to wee, we could hear a hollow blowing sound coming from the ocean… could it be the whales? In the morning, just as the sun was rising, we walked with our breakfast and coffee down to the viewing platform. We watched maybe 10 southern right whales with their babies cruise past, I have never seen so many whales in one place. It was a very special moment.

There was also a very noisy, and very entertaining colony of seals.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToo early!

As we were walking back to the van, Mark suddenly took a knee. He was a bit wobbly and off balance, so it was a very cute and funny moment! After I stopped laughing and realized it was actually a proposal (in Spanglish) and not a joke… I said yes. After spending everyday (and almost every hour) together for over a year, I love this guy more than I thought possible. We are so happy and excited to be moving onto the next chapter of our lives.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFiancé’s

As we gradually edged closer to the Buenos Aires city limit, the scenery changed dramatically. After a long night of driving in the dark, we awoke surrounded by the welcomed greenery of the Argentine pampas. We were a bit shocked to see so many people out and about, the Ernest Tornquist Provincial Park seems to be a popular hiking getaway for people from the big city.

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It was hard to believe that we’d be back in Australia in just over a week, and that we only had Oscar for a few more days. I was definitely aware of feeling sad, but we were mainly preoccupied with selling the van and filled with excitement about the things to come.

One Year On The Road

Today marks our one year anniversary of life on the road.

Sometimes it feels like just yesterday that we set off from Edmonton and other times it seems a word away with so many miles and experiences in between.  We’re still loving life everyday.

We had big plans of choosing a photo from each month to put into a celebratory post, but making that choice turned out to be too hard for us.

So we chose just two:

Then:Anniversary 1June 2013, near Fort St John, BC, Canada.  

And now:Anniversary 2June 2014, near Huaraz, Ancash, Peru

A Close Call : The Road to Manizales

It felt good to be out of the city and on the road again.  Waking up to a fresh and foggy morning in the hills and enjoying the view while I make coffee and eggs outside is one of the simple pleasures of van life.

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The drive across Colombia from east to west moves through some amazing mountainous countryside.  The hills are so steep that you can hardly ever see the valley bottoms, and I couldn’t tell you how many times we oohed and ahhed over the scenery as we rounded another bend.

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The roads are in good condition, but they are narrow and winding with very few places to pull off, so Bec was limited to snapping pics out of the window when something caught her eye.  Like dizzyingly steep green hills and a farmhouse perched atop a ridge,  a roadside haircut session or a fully loaded motorbike hugging the road verge.

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It was a beautiful drive, but also long and challenging.  The single lanes meant that we were often stuck behind slower traffic either struggling to climb a steep grade or slowly descending in a low gear.  After many hours of this, we had our first road mishap of the trip.

After many months of driving in Latin America I had adjusted to their driving style. The truck in front flashed his turn signal, indicating that it was a good time to pass, and I had a look before overtaking on a downhill run as we’ve done many times before. There was another car coming the other way, but a fair way off, this was nothing new either. But, he was coming a little faster than usual and I didn’t have a lot of time to get back onto my side of the road, so the back of the van clipped the truck as I swung back into my lane.

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Thankfully, no serious harm was done, just a bit of a dent and a scrape on both vehicles, and some bruised pride.  It was definitely a reminder to be more cautious and patient, and I won’t be making the same mistake again. This delayed us a few hours as we had to follow the truck driver into the next town and find an ATM to pay him for the damage (about $150), then we had to return back along the same road to find the fuel cap which had come off.

A little shaken by the days events and delayed by the mishap, we didn’t make it to Manizales that day. After a few more hours of driving, it was getting dark, cold and rainy as we turned onto a side road heading towards the Los Nevados National Park to find a spot to camp for the night.

Once again, in the light of morning, things didn’t seem so bad.  It had been a really chilly night, the best weather for a good sleep in a cozy sleeping bag.  We woke to find ourselves in a really beautiful spot and started the day with a good hot cuppa and snow on the surrounding mountain peaks.

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Posted from Manizales, Colombia