(November 5 – written by Dave)
It was super quiet in the hotel overnight. We think the owner/manager came back but we weren’t sure. If he did, then that meant that three people stayed at the hotel overnight. We started a fire in the common area wood stove yesterday afternoon to take the chill off and to get out clothes dried out. By the time the owner came back, if he did, it was toasty warm inside. I hope he didn’t mind us burning some of his wood – no complaints this morning, anyway.
This morning we got ourselves organized and just about ready to leave by 8AM. Around that time the manager/owner appeared, along with a kitchen cook woman. We’re not sure where they came from but it answered our question of how we would lock the front door and still put the key back inside the hotel. That riddle solved, we headed over to the town viewpoint. It was too cloudy yesterday. Today there was some light fog but we could at least make out some of the view – a couple nice bridges anyway.
We were back out on Ruta 5 today. It was busier than the last couple days but still nowhere near as bad as it was at the start of the long weekend. And best of all, it was dry all day. No rain and mostly sunshine – woohoo.
Throughout the day we saw more big fields of what we think are flowering rapeseed plants. They are quite striking in the bright sunshine. Rapeseed is mainly used as an animal feed and is grown throughout the world. Rapeseed seeds have a much higher oil content than soy beans, making it better as animal feed. The only trouble with rapeseed is that there are limited uses for the plant parts that remain after the seeds are extracted. Chile doesn’t feature in the world’s top 20 rapeseed producers but there seems to be a lot growing in the area we’ve been riding through.
In keeping with the bright yellow things theme, over the last couple days we’ve come across a couple areas where they have yellow triangles on the road surface. Today we figured out what they were all about. They are painted in areas that get foggy. There are signs that explain (to car drivers) that if you can see one triangle in front of you, you shouldn’t drive more than 40 KPH and if you can see two triangles, you shouldn’t drive more than 60 KPH. If you can see more than two then the speed limit is 120 KPH.
If this triangle thing seems a little complicated to you, then you are not alone. In the spirit of full disclosure, we couldn’t figure them out at first. I saw the signs, but not the arrows and thought that the distance to the signs mattered. Nancy on the other hand, thought the count of triangles on the ground mean you had to drive the speed on the sign. Without getting overly prescriptive about our individual IQs, I’m just going to go out on a limb here and say that I bet a good number of drivers new to the area, travelling at 120 KPH can’t figure it out either. So much for clear, unambiguous directions being a key goal of road signage.
Aside from road signs and rapeseed, we were also entertained today by competing big-time rest stops. The two big boys are Shell and Copec. We like Shell because they have better food choices and nice inside seating. Today we stopped at one of each and for the record, the Copec crew had better customer service skills but the medialunas are still better at Shell. Today I tried the pulled pork sandwich at Copec as well- it was a nice addition but probably not a proper morning tea option – I mean who eats pulled pork for morning tea?
We rolled along Ruta 5 for about 85k today, then pulled off on larger surface street to reach the centre of Temuco. To our surprise, the surface street had a great bike lane for almost the entire 15k into town. Chile has probably been the best South American country for bike lanes, shoulders and safe riding conditions.
The last 2 or 3k to the hotel were not so nice as we entered the centre of Temuco and traffic picked up but we just took a full lane and ignored the honks – it’s the same everywhere sometimes. We found a great little hotel – Hotel Luanco – and found it pretty easy. It is much nicer coming into a big city if you have a hotel picked out and it works. So much of the big city stress is relieved.
Temuco is well known for its chocolate – in particular, German chocolate. There are a number of chocolate shops near our hotel. Naturally, being good curious tourists, we had to try them out. We bought too much and it would just melt in our bags tomorrow. So as not to ruin the chocolate, or risk offending the chocolatiers, we hunkered down and ate all of the chocolate tonight. Taking it for the team, I ate more than Nancy. I think I’m going to be ill – haha – that’ll teach me.
Today was our 6th day in a row of riding and we’ve covered just about 600k in that time. But tomorrow, we ride on. The forecast is for a bluebird day and we head up towards the Andes and the Chilean Lake District. Everyone says that the town of Villarrica, on Lake Villarrica, right next to the volcano Villarrica, is worth having a look at – so that’s what we are going to do. We’ll be off Ruta 5 for a few days – I am hoping that we can find alternative sources for our morning medialunas…