Once again we've broken down in the middle of nowhere, this time it was out in the scorching Kalahari desert after a nasty fall into the sand... But let me start at the beginning, and it was a good beginning: the Drakensberg, meaning Dragon Mountains in Afrikaans.
Back in South Africa, these jagged peaks definitely earned their name. Like towering stone monoliths ruling over the landscape from their lofty thrones, they say that it was the scenery of South Africa that inspired J. R. R. Tolkein to create Middle Earth in his fantasy books The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. And I certainly agree that there seemed to be magic there, like I could just picture a dragon hiding behind the crags, protecting his hoard of gold and treasure.
I haven't written a post in a while, but that's because we're back home in Chicago for a break before heading off to Africa, and life here has been pretty normal.
The regular American grind used to be our daily reality: waking up to the sound of the alarm, getting the coffee machine brewing before our eyes were properly opened, running from an air-conditioned building to an air-conditioned car, then coming home to turn on Wheel of Fortune or some other brain mush show until falling asleep. It's not a terrible existence, in fact, there's something very comforting and lovely about it. It's predictable, controlled, and best of all, here in Chicago, our friends and family are always close by, and weekends are spent visiting one another with good food and laughter.
By: Tim Notier
With over two years on the road are now in the books (and soon to be in physical books). From Chicago to Ushuaia, and back up to Iguazu Falls, the questions are now: what worked and what did not?
We've made it to the end of the world: the most southern point that you can get to by road on the planet, which is quite an accomplishment, but it has not been without its obstacles. We've had one bike problem after the next, so much so that we are now stuck in Punta Arenas, Chile until we can get the proper parts flown in to this section of the world.
More than a month ago in northern Chile, the engine started overheating on crisp and cold days. So we took it in to the KTM workshop in Santiago where they fixed the water pump, changed out the coolant, and we figured our bike issues were behind us.
With the bike not starting from our ride through Bolivia's salt flats, we were in a bit of a predicament. Our dear and wonderful friends who'd stayed by our sides throughout it all, Brendon and Kira Hak, were on the verge of overextending their visa in Bolivia, and needed to go. Unlike us, their bike was fully functional, and their plan was to take a difficult, but gorgeous route south and out of Bolivia: the Lagunas Route.
But as Tim and I found ourselves immobile in the town of Uyuni, we knew that if we didn't get our bike running before they had to leave, we would not want to do such a challenging road by ourselves with a questionable motorcycle. Our plans and dreams of riding the Lagunas Route were now falling apart.
So the pressure was on for Tim to fix the bike, and he needed to do it by 11:00 AM the next day, which was checkout time for the Haks and the latest possible moment before they had to leave.
Yes, it looks awesome: the mirror effect of the largest salt flats in the world during the wet season. But don't let the surreal image of us riding through the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia fool you, because it has rendered our motorcycle immobile.
The amazing photographers who took this shot are our friends Kira and Brendon Hak, the fellow KTM-riding duo called the Adventure Haks. We met up with them for Christmas in Sucre, Bolivia, and then headed south together a few days before this epic failure-of-a-ride.
As many of you know, we were on the road to Peru two weeks ago when our monoshock broke and we were forced to haul the bike back to Cuenca, Ecuador, to get it fixed. What we didn't realize at the time was that the particular stretch of road between Cuenca, Ecuador and Jaén, Peru is cursed.
The worst has happened. Well, getting into an accident and injuring ourselves or rendering the bike permanently useless would be the worst. So then I guess I should say the second to worst has happened: our rear shock has broken and now we are stuck in Ecuador without a motorcycle until it can be fixed.
But let me start at the beginning.
After our brief venture into the Amazon, we took a route through southern Ecuador to get to Peru, a route that would pass through some recommended towns. And the first of which was Baños.
By Tim Notier
Marisa and I have had a lovely time traveling through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico. In our short time on the road we have experienced near tornado-like conditions, rain and hail while riding down a mountain road that had more wet clay to it than gravel, and fire ants and roly-polies continuously getting into our helmets which meant Marisa freaking out... the stuff adventures are made of.
We worked as a team in all of the above scenarios, except for the roly-polies in Marisa's helmet, that was her battle. But on only the third day did we hit our first “oh-no" moment.
We were in Meade, Kansas on a Sunday afternoon for a lunch stop, and I was doing my standard walk around of the bike to be sure nothing was blatantly wrong. But something was blatantly wrong.
“We have a problem,” I told Marisa. She jumped off the phone and came running over.
By Tim Notier
Hit me. Our grand adventure is about to begin. In preparation, I gave us five weeks to get the final arrangements in order. We needed to accomplish a small list before we could hit the open road.
Then the flood gates of problems opened
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