Day 28 Gdor Gregores to El Calafate

 

Before we begin another day, we should conclude the prior one. Gdor Gregores is a small town and didn’t have a restaurant large enough for our entire group. Remember all those folks at the car show? Well it seems the Mayor of the town organized a group to decorate a Quonset hut, roast several sheep and provide entertainment for the evening. These young dancers were just terrific. A sincere thanks to all the townsfolk of Gdor Gregores for the hospitality and friendship shown us during our very brief stay.

 

The trip today was short by comparison, only 335 kilometers and one Jogularity (my favorite thing but enough already said on that subject) Test. All went well right up to the very end where we had a problem (my fault) once again. Tomorrow will be another day.

While beautiful, nothing about the scenery caught my attention – the result, few pictures – sorry. Maybe we were talking too much.

El Calafate is a much larger town and quite pretty. It is interesting that as we have moved south, the bars on the windows of homes and businesses have disappeared, the landscape has softened and there is no trash piled on the roadsides – the people seem friendlier too. Nice wide streets with trees and sidewalks are now the norm.

 

El Calafate, which sits on Lake Cardial, is known for an active glacier located in a nearby National Park. Quite a sight when you first see the mountain …

 

It looks like it should be part of a painting, especially with the road in the foreground …

 

The glacier itself appears as a white wall and while boat trips were available, we just opted for some photos and a return to Hotel Xelena. The next time you visit Patagonia, I would highly recommend a stop here.

 

And just to prove that I am in attendance, my good friend John Brigden offered to take a picture …

 

Dinner tonight was at a local restaurant – lamb seems very popular in this area of the world and the sheep were roasting, behind a glass wall, right inside the door. Great effect!

 

The shorter days have provided more time to visit with the other participants – a very welcome change. There are a number of folks who were on Peking to Paris 2010 with us and it has been great renewing old friendships. Of course, this has also been an opportunity to meet new friends from all over the world.

Only three more days, but who is counting …

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Day 27 Los Antiquos to Gdor Gregores

 

We have moved from mountains and deserts to sunrises for the theme of the day, not a bad transition unless you have to get up each day before dawn. But as previously stated, the view is well worth the effort.

Today is a short 400 kilometer jaunt over a lot of dirt roads (of course, what else) and a Regulatory Test (one of our favorites). “Jogularity Tests” are sort of a game, loved by the Brits, but sort of a joke – ha, ha – we tricked you again. It may be their idea of fun but not my idea of a serious rally.

 

Back to the rolling countryside, pretty but I’m sure I’m boring you.

 

Then there are the snowcapped peaks in the distance – beautiful and not so boring …

 

Ah, the “Test” – of what I’m not sure, perhaps mathematical prowess for the savant in the group. The competitors gather …

 

And a look down the road – gravel of course but this stuff is really in good shape – you could go down this at 120 kilometers, no trouble – right?

 

A look back at the start …

 

There are only a few cars still competing (many have failed and others have converted to touring) and some of these only compete in selected events – interesting???

 

Oh yes, the white Cadillac (#14) is still hanging in there and has competed in every “Test” – no picture is needed.

Once the Test was completed, many stopped for a break and a coffee – as always, Martin Egli led the way …

 

Lloyd had brought some Mad River Glenn (a ski resort in the Eastern States) stickers along which said in Spanish “Ski It If You can” – unfortunately, he couldn’t locate them until now – better late than never …

 

Liza Cotter had always wanted a ride in an open Bentley and Peter Little was happy to oblige – from the look on her face when she got out of the car, her husband Terry is scheduled for a pre-war open car – hope you enjoy Bentleys in the rain Terry.

 

Finally off the gravel and dust – the DQ (dust quotient) was no higher than 7 today – we were back on the straight (and paved, with minimal dust) narrow for most of the rest of our journey.

 

When entering our host town,
Gdor Gregores, we were greeted by this wonderful statue (significance unknown) of a rider and his dog (under the horse’s feet).

 

This real horse (the first one I could get a photo of because we never slow down or stop) was untethered and didn’t want to come talk with me – I tried to tell him I was a close friend of the Llama I had visited with earlier in the trip but he was buying none of that. He looked pretty fit and his tail was nicely bobbed so I’ll assume he just didn’t like me.

 

We had been invited to a local car show by the townsfolk who went out of their way to be hospitable so we were all present …

 

This was early before the crowds arrived …

 

These people were really having fun and many of these cars were ones brought by the locals …

 

And a “racing” Renault Dauphine – what a great car …

 

Then there was something for everyone – the kids had their own bouncy playground.

 

Rally Summary:

As of today, there have been 8 cars which have retired completely, 8 more which have switched from competition to touring and 2 which began as touring – all from the original 29 cars registered for the start. This does not count the organizational vehicles which have also met with mishaps – 1 totally inoperable and several others in various states of disrepair trying to dodge the final straw. All in all, this is a very high causality rate. Of the remaining 11 cars, a number only show up for selected (usually Regularity / Jogularity events which are conducted a lower speeds) events which leaves only a few day to day competitors. The way the classes were set up and the number of cars still competing in each class leaves the cars selecting which events to compete in as “spoilers” – they are so far behind they can’t improve their position but they can hurt the leaders in their class. This is a very interesting way to run any competitive event.

We haven’t seen results in several days but our poor performance in the “British” events has probably dropped us several places. I don’t mean to sound bitter, but I didn’t know we were attending a trick answer math quiz as opposed to an endurance rally. Such is life and we still have a long way to go.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Day 26 – Esquel to Los Antiguos

 

We are becoming experts at sunrises, not because we are fond of them, it’s just the time of day we must leave to make sure we are on time for the day’s Test(s). Not as much fun as you might think when they happen day after day and we only have 588 kilometers to drive to the next stop. While it might sound like I’m complaining, today’s sunrise made it all worthwhile.

 

Red sky at night, sailors delight – red sky in the morning, sailors take warning and while we were not sailing today, it should have been a warning that all might not go as we had planned. Of course, we didn’t know that at the time.

 

Backlit mountains are our specialty …

 

Couldn’t resist taking this picture – we had stopped to stretch our (Lloyd’s) legs which of course we never do so focusing was a much simpler problem which warranted this photo …

 

We arrived at the scene of the Regularity Test early along with some other early risers. Our friend, Hayden Burvill, thought the hood of the Caddy looked very comfortable and stretched out for a nap.

 

We had time enough on our hands so we went into the small town near the Test start. Mark Seymour had a fan club waiting to try out the Model A.

 

The kids had a real blast – what a thrill for them.

 

Bill Bolsover was caught fixing up the boot in his Bentley …

 

And Lloyd started his own fan club handing out business cards with pictures of the Caddy …

 

Martin Egli who is usually the ringleader of these little side adventures was doing his Rommel imitation as he returned from a local store having obtained supplies for breakfast. Martin had found a little restaurant hidden behind the wash hanging on the clothes line and convinced the owner to serve us if he went and got the food and drink. This is a really amazing, fun man and a true delight to spend time with to say nothing of the fact that he drives my favorite car, the Lagonda.

 

This was a very fun loving group and did we laugh …

 

The children were waiting outside for our departure and Lloyd obliged with more cards.

 

They all took turns taking pictures to show to their friends. They are like kids everywhere, they each had a cell phone.

 

Victor and James relaxing in a ditch at the start – James swore he had been in bed at 9 last night (doubtful) while Victor admitted to having visited a disco until the wee hours.

 

The Regulatory / Jogularity Test, never our strong suit, was not going especially well (it takes practice and we’ve never done this sort of thing before) but then things went from bad to worse. The car just stopped running for no apparent reason, then just started up again after half a minute. Thought we might have had a problem there … Then it stopped again after about 5 minutes, this time it could not be convinced to run. Fortunately, the mechanics caught up with us a few minutes later and they and Lloyd determined the problem was a lack of fuel getting to the carburetor. A dirty filter was discovered, cleaned out and we were back on the road again.

Not so fast, we stopped again a few minutes later and were immediately joined by the mechanics. A more thorough diagnosis revealed that the fuel line from one of the tanks was filled with debris. A quick disassembly and a blast of air and we were off again – terribly late for the Test but running well so on to tonight’s destination.

We came around the corner to discover Lago (Lake) Buenos Aires where we are staying for the night. This is truly a beautiful area of the world.

 

Our hotel is right on the lake and some folks went in swimming – they reported the water was quite nice.

 

The view from the hotel steps … There is a dock just behind the tree on the right and a number of our group had brought gear to fish – no records for count or size were set today.

 

Lloyd went to work on the car cleaning all the fuel filters and blowing out all the lines to prevent a recurrence of today’s problem. It’s not easy being your own chief mechanic.

 

I think the glass of wine on Daniel Schlatter’s Mercedes makes a great statement.

 

News from Pit Lane:

Other than our misadventure, I am sad to pass on the conclusion of Steve Hyde’s story from yesterday. Repairs to his Mercedes this morning were unsuccessful or impossible and his car is being shipped home. The good news is that he and Janet have continued along with us in a rented vehicle – they are great fun and a pleasure to be with.

All for now, hopefully more tomorrow.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Day 25 – Bariloche to Esquel

Today we got to depart in broad daylight – the story was that we would like the hotel in Bariloche much better that the one(s) in Esquel, out destination. We will see …

Back into the specular mountians where ever corner offer a new vista, even to those on motorcycles …

 

These are not hills, they are real rugged mountains, even if they are not 20,000 feet tall …

 

Even the same mountian from a different angle is spectacular.

 

This is big country and bigger mountains, all rugged and very formitable …

 

And the ones in the distance are just lovely …

 

The small towns along the way looked like something from the Alps – all very high end. We stopped for lunch with several other cars along the way (unusual at best for #14, the white Caddy to stop for anything) …

 

Sort of short day which ended in Esquel which is quite famous for its fly fishing. What do fly fisherman do at night …

 

We had one of these Regularity / Jogularity Tests today which the Brits are so fond of and we did not do well thanks to me trying to handle too much data in too short a period of time.

The way this works is that you have a number of road instructions with distances between each and a designated amount of time to traverse each distance expressed in minutes and seconds. The objective is to arrive at each location where there may or may not be someone to check your time at the prescribed moment. While this may sound simple, it is complicated by the fact that the distances may not be exact so how could the times be exact – you have to adjust when you see a timer at a location. Then the fun begins, if you are early or late at a location, you have to adjust all subsequent times to maintain the same difference in time; early by 10 seconds for the first checkpoint, you have to be early by 10 seconds for all subsequent controls. Since there were four time controls on this Test, the time differences are cumulative so if you were early for the first by 10 seconds and late by 3 seconds at the next control, you have to be early at the next control by 7 seconds and so on …

Sounds like fun – NOT. I guess our British friends have no roads to drive so they invent these little time / math problems to keep themselves busy while driving their cars. Tomorrow will be a different day.

 

From Pit Lane:

Very bad news for Steve Hyde and his wife Janet – their 280 SL (#25) seems to have blown another head gasket and may not be able to continue. But don’t count Steve out just yet, the mechanics will work on their car in the morning and Steve doesn’t give up easily – we wish him all the luck in the world – what a competitor! And poor Janet, who has not been feeling well for a couple of days, hangs right in there with him. You guys are nuts (and the very best)!!!

If Steve and Janet cannot continue, that makes 8 cars that have withdrawn and 9 that either began touring or switched along the way of the 29 cars that were to start – that leaves only 12 competing (and 3 are in our class – 1 of 5 classes).

Tomorrow is another Regularity / Jogularity Test, this one over 100 kilometers – maybe it will be easier over a longer distance, but I doubt it. We have revised our timing strategy so we’ll hope for the best. On a positive note, the car is running great.

 

The last word:

The winner of our “Barn Find” contest was Jim Hope who correctly identified the car as a 1947 Ford Custom Delux – someone in your family own one of these beauties back in the day Jim? Great call (we knew it was a Ford but didn’t know the year or model – thanks for your help). We will be happy to let you know exactly where the car is in case you want to come to South America and try to purchase it from the owner.

Chow …

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 24 – Pucon to Bariloche

 

The start of another day but this one is only 400 kilometers of driving, two scheduled Tests and a border crossing from Chile back into Argentina – almost like a day off (well, half a day anyway). Start time was set for 7:00 which meant that we would be departing before dawn which always makes things a little more difficult. Even before we get on the road we learn that the two Tests have been canceled – no explanation – just canceled. Possibilities for this good fortune include the border crossing, some problem with the route for the Test or perhaps the fact that the Course Marshall was delayed getting to the hotel last night having been involved in a minor accident. Without regard to the reason for this becoming a transit day, it certainly reduced the pressure on everyone.

At sunrise, we were able to see we had some cloud cover this morning, something we have seen very little of since the beginning to the trip. Not only were there clouds, they we low hanging and gave the mountains a very different look.

 

As the morning got brighter, the effect became ever more pronounced – just beautiful.

 

Border having been reached we settled in to see how the day would go, this now being the only event (other than car problems) that could adversely affect the day. Wow, two for two, the people processing us were fast, efficient and friendly – consequently, we were on our way in short order (for a border crossing).

 

The border crossing was in a National Park and on a dirt road (what else) – a beautiful setting to be sure.

 

As we were exiting on the Argentinian side we came upon this large stand of trees which neither of us had ever seen and once out of the immediate area, we never saw another one like them. Perhaps one of our readers can provide proper identification.

 

They must have been a member of the fir family and looked almost like a giant bush.

 

We passed through Agnostura which had the look and feel of the Western US ski towns like Aspin or Park City. Very pretty place with stores providing the complete shopping experience for those so inclined. Our local guide had told us of a shop that made the best sandwiches in all of South America but we couldn’t remember the name – maybe next trip.

 

We were now into the Lakes Region – an entire chain of large, beautiful lakes with crystal clear water – magnificent. Lake Nahue Huapil was the first in the chain – it offered on overlook complete with an explanation of the vista. We even stopped to enjoy the view for a few minutes and stretch our legs – unheard of for the Caddy to stop anywhere but that is what a transit day does for everyone.

 

There is little I can add to the pictures …

 

Spectacular …

 

We shared the overlook with this young couple taking pictures – I just loved the Bernese Mountain Dog …

 

But the Piece de Resistance had to be Hector the St. Bernard waiting with his photographer master. For a (small) fee, Hector will pose with a tourist to have their picture taken with the lake and mountains in the background – very enterprising.

 

Yes, those are whitecaps out on the water – it was quite windy …

 

I don’t think the guard rail enhances the picture – perhaps it just serves to underscore the amazing color of the sky and water.

 

Back to the road ahead … We certainly cannot complain about the landscape not changing – thought we had unfortunately returned to the desert.

 

We might have hurried more earlier in the day had we know where we were staying for the night. This is the Hotel Llao Llao just outside of Bariloche and it is magnificent! It was originally built in 1923, destroyed by a fire in the late 20’s and then rebuilt in 1933. It was long THE place to stay in Argentina and for many years families came with their staffs for the entire summer. The hotel fell on hard times, was closed and abandoned from 1984 to 1994 when Citicorp bought it and performed a complete restoration. It was subsequently sold to experienced hotel people from Buenos Aires who operate it today in grade style.

 

The view down the front lawn speaks for itself …

 

News from Pit Lane:

Chris Evens and Mark Seymour blew the head gasket on their Model A Ford (#5) but with some help from the mechanics were able to repair it one the road thanks to Fritz James and Lang Whiteman having a spare gasket for their Model A (#6) – always good to have two of everything on these events

Nicholas Prior and Lesley Stockwell (who are now touring and loving it) are having clutch problems in their Volvo (#19), need to fabricate a bushing but are still running – they are exploring toilet paper holders for a source of material from which to make a temporary bushing.

Ralf Weiss and Kurt Schneiders have a leaking fuel tank in their Austin (#2) – they have removed the tank, pop riveted a patch in place and sealed it with epoxy which has an overnight cure time – they brought it into the hotel and put it by the fireplace to accelerate the cure process but hotel management didn’t think too highly of that idea and made them take it back outside.

Patrick van Griethuysen and Louise Peters who have been touring all along in their Citroen (#30) have worn out their tires and elected to be trailered so as to not puncture what is left of their tires – good thinking – make sure everyone gets to Ushuaia.

 

Tomorrow is another “short” day with only 368 kilometers to cover and a 65 kilometer Regularity / Jogularity Test – more on that later.

A final note: I spoke to Roger Hunt, our Course Marshall, and he is back in action with (hopefull) no ill effects from yesterday’s incident – be careful Roger, it’s a dangerous world out there.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Day 23 -Termas de Chillan to Pucon

 

It began like all other days on this event – out of bed, grab a (meager) bite to eat, into the car (in the dark) and down the road …

As dawn was breaking, we can up behind this – looked very strange when you couldn’t see the tractor!

 

The landscape has changed, much less severe and more of an agricultural orientation. They seemed to be growing trees but we were going too fast for proper identification.

 

The long road ahead but at least it is now green …

 

We stopped for gas and met a new friend, this guy wanted to come with us …

 

Perhaps it was because we had some chips (crisps to our UK friends) that we drew such a large audience …

 

These appeared to be apple trees but again speed limited our research …

 

They do love long straight roads here in Chile, perhaps it is due to the fact that there was nothing between where they were and where they intended to go when the roads were being built – at least it is now green along the edges.

 

A quick adjustment of a tie rod end before the first test – I was a little suspicious that Lloyd just wanted a quick nap in his favorite spot – under the car.

 

A little color amidst the weeds discovered while waiting for the start of yet another Test …

 

The people are very happy to see the cars, they wave and don’t seem to mind the invasion by all these old and in some cases loud vehicles blasting through their towns.

 

It did get a little hairy when the Mercedes tried to pass the Model A on this curve – everyone seems to be in such a hurry (except the Model A of course)…

 

These are all new houses which must be government subsidized as we see developments like this being built everywhere.

 

As we neared our destination, this snow-capped volcano appeared on the horizon – beautiful and the clouds covering the peak added to the illusion.

 

Sorry this is so short but so is my time, therefore, only a few updates follow.

News from Pit Lane

The Camero (# 24) has retired and is being shipped home. What began the day as a bad clutch master cylinder took a turn for the worst and wound up as a scized engine. Apparently an oil line was not properly reconnected and the engine “bled to death”. We will miss both Reg and Tony who are headed home – they are great fun and very nice people.

A final note

Our Clerk of the Course, Roger Hunt, had what we hope was a minor accident when he T-boned a bus on his way to the hotel after the last Test. We are awaiting news of his condition and his return. – hang in there Roger, we send our condolences.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Day 22 – Santiago to Termas de Chillan

 

Today began like all other days, 600 plus kilometers to the destination, two Tests and whatever else we might encounter along the way. We tried leaving early to make sure we were on time for the first Test but apparently not early enough. Since it was still 1 ½ hours before first light when we departed, we experienced some unanticipated challenges. First, there were the people walking to work or the bus stop in the dark wearing dark clothing and walking in the same direction as traffic. I guess that was a pretty equal arrangement – we couldn’t see them walking and they couldn’t see us coming. Daylight came around 7:30, just in time for all the children to be on their way to school. They were joined by adults on their way to work – all of the apparently trusting that cars would not hit them. On a more positive note, they would all wave and seemed happy to see these weird old cars trying to make their way through the crowds.

Waiting for the bus …

 

Our next problem was road construction. Apparently, they just stop traffic in one direction for about 10 minutes at a time without regard to whether there is traffic queued. This makes for what seems like interminable waits when you are in a hurry.

 

 

Large numbers of children, all nicely dressed, on their way to school – good to see …

 

The Tests:

The first Test was a Regularity / Jogularity Test of the type they do in Europe and the UK. The point of these exercises is to arrive at a certain spot at exactly the right moment based on a calculated average speed – the problem is, you don’t know where the timing spot is located. Confused? Yep, me too. This Test involved an uphill climb with 16 hairpin switchback turns and Lloyd did an excellent job negotiating the route – it was a wild and fun ride from my seat. There was no time for pictures but his time was excellent.

The second Test had to be canceled as it was discovered the route went through a small village with a school right on the road. Better safe than sorry. Of course, it was on gavel and this was what it looked like as we just drove the road – that is dust in the air (as it is everywhere) that distorts the picture.

 

Lloyd thought we were perhaps experiencing an overheating problem with the engine so we stopped to check things out (“we” stopped and Lloyd checked). He finally came to the conclusion that the temperature gauge was lying and all was well – good news.

 

The afternoon was spent in more pleasant and softer surroundings – farm land with real corn growing this late in their summer.

 

Our destination tonight is located in what must be a spa and skiing resort area. The mountains have vegetation- a nice change from the raw rock we have become accustomed to.

 

Oh, there was plenty of rock also but then, people have to ski down something in winter.

 

All sorts of little restaurants and social gathering places (bars) on the way in – just like what you would expect from any modern ski area anywhere in the world.

 

Just for the record, the name of our hotel should any of you want to visit …

 

The pools and mountainside right out the back of the hotel – very nice…

 

Apres ski anyone? What a beautiful fireplace and sitting area. Sorry we are here for only one night.

 

News from Pit Lane:

Steve Hyde (# 25) and his Mercedes are back in operation – he passed us waiting for a construction site to open in the oncoming lane and went right to the front of the line – very creative Steve (he didn’t want to be late) – Steve was last seen this evening re-torqueing his new cylinder head – good idea;

Mark Buchannan (#22) in his ’67 Mustang is still experiencing multiple problems which range from front wheel bearings to clutch adjustment to rear end fluid levels but he continues to soldier on – hang in there Mark!

The Outlook:

Tomorrow is another long day – 550 kilometers and two Tests, fortunately both are short.

Our Yellowbrick is recharged and back in operation if anyone is following us on the Results page at www.hhclassicrallies.com.

Not bragging and really don’t want to bring on bad luck but we are still tied for 1st place overall (just in case you were wondering).

Got to get some sleep …

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments