(November 12 – written by Dave)
We finished Ruta 5 today – woohoo. We’ve been on and off Ruta 5 for close to 1,000km. It’s a fast way to travel, if not overly scenic. The shoulder remained wide every day we rode it. Today was no different. The shoulder is not always clean and there are few of those pesky little pieces of wire from truck tires. Nancy rode over a nail today. She stopped, gave the nail a look, decided to pull it out and then watched all the air exit as soon as she did. We got it fixed up pretty quick and used the time to call morning tea.
We used to almost always swap in a new tube when we rode our road bikes but out here touring we have a more leisurely pace and we patch the tube instead. This saves getting a new tube out and also saves the patching chore later in the day. Upon inspection today, we noted that Nancy’s tube now has 7 patches – pretty good value for money there. Unfortunately today, the value stem broke after we got the tire pumped back up so I’m going to have to swap the tire again tonight. I could just wait for it to go flat but we want to be able to lower and raise the air in our tires on the upcoming dirt sections of the Carretera Austral.
We posted that the Osorno area was a big milk and beef farming region. Well today, we got a good visual dose of this. Nearly every field we passed was full of cows, black and white dairy cows, brown dairy cows and even some white dairy cows. Fields that didn’t have cows often had feed crops for cows. Guess I’d better have a glass of milk for brekkie tomorrow. Other than the cows we didn’t get too many photos. We passed west of Lake Llanquihue, which is surrounded by several conical volcanos. Unfortunately light clouds covered the tops of the mountains and the glare made photos hard – we had to settle for just enjoying the view.
We kept looking for one of those highway-side servos to stop at for lunch at but none came so we stopped on the side of the freeway and ate our sandwiches. About 15 kilometers before Puerto Montt we finally found a Shell and took an early afternoon tea. Because we have finished Ruta 5 and we head out on smaller roads from here this may have been our last fancy yuppy servo with espresso and medialunas – oh well, they were nice while the lasted.
Which finally brings us to Puerto Montt – the ride into town was a bit sketchy as the shoulder disappeared but it feels great to be here. Puerto Montt has been a town on our planning list for a long time. It marks the end of central Chile and the beginning of the Carretera Austral. Pulling up at the hotel we let out a woop.
We are staying tonight at the Ibis hotel right on waterfront. Hotels here are quite expensive but for some reason, the Ibis is lower priced than most of the generic local hotels. The Ibis has very little “local” culture but it’s an ok place to rest our heads. We are going to take another day off here to get the last few things on our list and to check out town. Nancy just came back from getting us an ice cream for dessert – the area near the hotel is changing rapidly from an OK place during the day to a not so comfortable to wander around in at night. She reported that the grocery store across the street where she found ice cream had a security guard on almost every row – hmmm, maybe we’ll have sleep in and give daylight a chance to wash away the “characters.”
Taking a day off here means that we’ll probably get to see Philipp and Tine again. They looped around from Argentina and are working their way back towards Santiago. We won’t get to ride with them again, but hopefully we can have a good-bye dinner.
Check back tomorrow for more impressions of Puerto Montt…