(November 20 – written by Dave)
There was only a little rain overnight last night. We’d hoped it would stay this way for the morning and set the alarm a little earlier than normal. Somehow we managed to be ready to ride at 7:30 this morning and great news, it was dry. We even had 15 seconds of sun on one of the nearby mountains. Blink and you missed it. We started riding wearing rain coats but they came off pretty quick as it was quite warm. It was cloudy, but rain free bliss for most of the day. I say most of the day because at 5K to La Junta, we ran out of luck and heavens opened. We made a quick stop to put our rain gear but still got pretty wet. 5K, missed by that much… And for the record, it has bucketed rain since we arrived – there would have been no “waiting the rain out a bus shelter” today.
Rides on days like today are funny. You want to stop and get photos, have a look around and enjoy the ride. But it is hard to get over that feeling you are playing with house money, riding on borrowed time perhaps. You are fully aware that at any minute, your loan could be called and the skies could open. So you ride, make quick stops and get straight back into it. If you are the chief photographer of LWOP and the main cause of time delays on a normal day, days like today make you extra nervous.
Today’s ride was more or less downhill, along the Rio Palena. It was not much more than a big creek at the start of the day, but a rather large and ominous looking river by the time we reached La Junta. The rivers and watersheds are not long here but the area gets up to 4,000mm (160 inches) of rain per year and a lot of water comes off steep mountain sides. For all the rain they’ve had this year, there were still exposed river sandbars visible today. More rain, bring it on!
And speaking of rain, the forecast for today was for 35mm. Which sounds like a lot but it’s a mere sprinkle compared to the 60mm forecast for tomorrow. The southern end of Chile gets some serious rain. We are not riding tomorrow. People call us crazy, but they don’t call us insane (too often).
If we’d made zero stops today, we would have probably made it here dry. But then you wouldn’t get to enjoy the photos that we managed to capture of our rain free morning. And for the record, Nancy had her phone out as well to take pictures, so there’ll be no commentary today from the senior editor about the junior editor being the sole cause for our delays.
As noted, we arrived in La Junta wet. And it was raining pretty hard. Last night we picked out a nice little hostel called Casa Museo and they had a room open – so wandering La Junta in the rain was limited (lucky me). When we arrived at the hostel, power was out in the whole town. Fortunately, the hostel hot water heater is gas and it has a battery back-up for ignition so we were able to get out of our wet clothes and get a hot shower. The lounge room of the hostel had a nice warm fire going in its wood stove. After showers, we’ve pretty much stayed glued to the wood stove.
The hostel has a great house dog, an American Akita named is Taiki. Taiki is only 3 years old and still very much a puppy. There is no risk that he will bite, if anything, he’ll lick you to death. When Taiki takes a nap, everyone in the hostel gets to also relax a little. Right now he is sleeping and I am able to work on the blog without him nudging my arm for attention, or food!
We are staying put here tomorrow. We have time in the schedule and don’t need to float the last 50k down to where the Rio Palena reaches the sea. Depending on which weather service you read, tomorrow morning it will either rain really hard or possibly snow, then rain very hard. Neither sounds particularly inviting for a bicycle ride. So, we’ll have one more day trying to sync up with Taiki’s nap schedule and stoking the fire. It’s a hard life…