Wednesday, December 14, 2011

View Larger Map I think it's time to warm up the old blogger account and go on an adventure... What do you think about this route?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Kyle signing off... for now...

I only arrived home about 24 hours ago and I already don't know what to do with myself. Life seems a little mundane and a little less exciting when you're not in new countries discovering new places, meeting new people and having new experiences. Our trip from The Bay Area to Buenos Aires and all the places in between has made an enormous impact on me and my outlook on life. For example an unconscious decision that I made today: Despite the overcast weather in Napa, I thought it would be a good idea to go for a little ride as I hadn't been on a motorcycle since April 10th the day I sold my KLR. Sure enough just as I was leaving the Napa town limits the rain started and I began to get wet; however instead of turning around to go home and get out of the rain, I kept on going I didn’t even really think about it. It was not as if I had to be somewhere or that I had a particular destination, I was just out for a cruise. I had this funny feeling as if I wanted to get rained on just so something exciting might happen. 4 months ago I would have surely turned around towards home to wait out the rain. As it happened I only got rained on for about 20 minutes before the clouds cleared and I had a beautiful afternoon ride. But the point is that my attitude has changed, I didn't think about this situation the same way I had in the past.

Maybe Clay and I experienced a lot of rain riding in Colombia and Ecuador and maybe these experiences made me more comfortable riding in the rain, so I felt it wasn't such a big deal to get wet and cold, or to risk crashing my bike on the slippery pavement. It probably is true that our experiences in Colombia and Ecuador made us better wet riders and therefore I was not hesitant. However I also know that my change in attitude is larger than just my example, my whole perception of risk has changed.

I will admit about a week before going on this adventure, I started to get a little scared, a little nervous and a little worried about the whole thing. In my mind I backed out about dozen times. After all how many people do you know who have ridden their motorcycles from America through Mexico and Central America then passed by the Darien Gap on a sail boat only to continue on through Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. And it didn’t help to have people tell us that we were crazy to do something like this. I had friends tell me not to go through the Baja because tourists were being kidnapped. I had people from work tell me that I was going to get Malaria and Yellow Fever in Central America. All over the news there have been reports of drug violence in Mexico and of course Colombia has a reputation. Along the way we even had locals telling us not to go to the next country because it was too dangerous. Most people who I told my plan to just didn’t believe me; they probably thought I was smoking dope. Of course after your best friend has committed to go along and after you’ve bragged to just about everybody that you know that you’re riding to South America you pretty much have to go through with it. I mean in reality I would have done it if I hadn’t told a sole and in the back of my mind I knew all those naysayers were completely full of hot air because most of them haven’t been out of the state. As it turned out, neither of us got kidnapped or got Malaria or Yellow Fever, we just had the best time of our lives, ate some of the most interesting foods, met some of the nicest people and saw the most beautiful scenery. So I guess the take away for me is: listen to yourself first and take some risks in life.

I think it takes guts to leave the comfort and safety of our routine lives and really risk it to experience something new, but the pay off for us was huge. I’ll be blunt, I’m damn proud of what Clay and I accomplished in the last 3 months.

PS Clay could be right… I may be dreaming up another adventure, if I am you all might read about it here.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Clay Signs Out

Like all great trip must now come to an end.  It's a bittersweet moment for me, as I'm pretty excited to get back home to some of the people and comforts that I've been missing, but at the same time I've seen so many amazing new things that it's made me yearn to continue exploring.  Three months seems like a good amount of time for me to be gone though.  I seem to have gained a little more respect for a lot of the little things we have back home that I took complete advantage of before the trip.  I'm sure this sounds biased, but I've come to a self realization that no matter how crazy things get back home with the economy or politics, the US is still the greatest country on Earth, at least in my eyes. 

Maria and I are leaving Buenos Aires tonight at 9pm on an American Airlines flight in which we will surely be cramped out of our minds for 16 hours to SFO.  I get a kick out of thinking that it took me 3 months to get down here but less than a day to get back.  Kyle and Kathryn are staying a few more days and leaving BA on Monday.  So...this looks like my final blog update on the Slingshot for now, I am really hoping that Kyle gives us a signout as well.  Thank you all so much for following along on our blog, even if you didn't sign in and tell us who you were :)  I hope that our blog was a little inspiring for some people out there to have some travel explorations of their own.  I also hope that our trip proved that while its always good to listen to warnings, your concerns shouldn't stop you from seeing some of these amazing places that the earth has to offer.  People have been so kind to us everywhere it really blows my mind.  

Anyways, that's it for me.  Thanks again for reading and check out some of the pictures below from our last week in Argentina.  I think Maria is going to do some captions for me, as I am blogged and captioned out.  Stay tuned for Kyle's entry and possible some additional entries, as rumor has it that his leave of absence was extended til June and there are already hushed plans to ride his motorcycle across the states.  Maybe he will continue to bless us with his awesome blogging capabilities...but I didn't tell you that.  Bye everybody!!!  See you all soon!!!

This is the hostel we stayed at in Iguazu Falls, Hostel Inn.

Here's the group at the falls, 20 hour bus ride north of Buenos Aires, on the boarder of Brazil.

This is another section of the falls. We hit the park at the low season, so some of the falls were a bit dry.

The Clan House Hostel where we are staying in Buenos Aires.

This is a protest that has been going on for the past few days, they are protesting for Socialism.

Last night we took Tango lessons and also saw a show. We had a blast!!

Kathryn and I learning some steps....

The boys really got the hang of it!!!

The professionals.

Kyle's moves were so good they asked him to dance during the performance!!!

I just got lucky.

Here is La Caminitos in La Boca, it is a bohemian neighborhood in B.A.

No caption needed!!!

The cemetery in the Recoleta neighborhood, Evita is buried here.

It was amazing to look through the chambers at the coffins!!

Clay enjoying his last afternoon in B.A.

Kyle a little too excited over Clay's departure......

Monday, April 27, 2009

And then we ate Empanadas.....

After spending a few days by the vineyards in Mendoza, we decided to leave last Thursday evening and travel by bus to Buenos a
ires, a 13 hour trip.  The bus ride was an adventure and we´ve learned from experience to splurge on the seating
 accommodations rather than plan for the economical option. The buses are the way to travel throughout Argentina and they offer three types seating: semi-cama, cama, and first class. The price difference between the three vary slightly, however the comfort is significant. Our evening was spent reading, watching movies, and trying to sleep through cell phone conversations, blaring music, and consistent kicks in the seat from a passenger behind us.
We finally made it to Buenos Aires and wow what a city.  It´s European meets NYC Latin-style.  The central business area reminds me of time square with grand buildings and advertisment boards lining the streets.  We are staying in Palermo which is a portion of the city that is situated in the Northeast and is lined with cobblestone/tree-lined streets, and french style buildings with long wooden window panes. There are several cafes and jardin´s surrounding the neighborhood, and shopping too.  We spent the weekend walking around Palermo, and visiting the antique market in San Telmo.  We also caught up with Kyle and Clay´s Dutch friend, Martijn, and ate lots of empanadas on Sunday. See your photo´s below for a more colorful description. 
We are leaving for Iguazu Falls this evening, a 20 hour bus ride north, to check out some amazing falls that border Brazil and Argentina. Check back later in the week for a blog update.  That´s all for now! - Kathryn (guest blogger!)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Maria's Guest Appearance on the Slingshot!!!

Here I am at the Cerro Santa Lucia Park, we climbed to the top and were able to see all of Santiago! It was pretty amazing. What also was pretty amazing was in every direction you saw cranes, building high-rises, I think I counted 12... no economic slow down here.

Another shot of Santiago.

This was the hostel we stayed at in Vina del Mar. Here we are packing up to get on the bus bound for Mendoza, Argentina.

On the bus driving through Chile. Beautiful country side.

Okay... so I'm probably not the best person to write this caption but this is part of the road through the Andes that our double-decker bus climbed. I remember 2 things from this... 1. praying that the crazy bus driver turned the corners and made it up safely. 2. Clay and Kyle talking the ENTIRE time about how they wish they were still on their motorcycles because the twists and turns would have been awesome to ride!!!!

A shot from the Andes. Taking the bus through this mountain range was pretty spectacular. I have never seen anything like it.

Kathryn and I (or should I say Mathryn) having lunch in the middle of the Andes, before crossing into Argentina. 

The double-decker bus we took from Chile to Argentina, an 8 hour ride.

Here is Kathryn and I in Mendoza, as the four of us ventured to the bus station to buy our tickets to Buenos Aires. It was quite the feat being on bikes around such crazy drivers, who don't stay in their lanes!

Clay, Kathryn, Kyle and I at the Plaza Independencia in Mendoza. This park is in the center of the city and we are actually standing on top on a modern art museum located in the park. A funny side note: The dog you see in the back ground has been following us around this city. It seems like where ever we go the dog (Kathryn named it Buddy) just shows up. We have been here 3 days and have seen it every where!

A fountain in the biggest park in Mendoza. It was amazing to ride around here, there was a man-made lake where we saw crewers rowing. Plus everyone was outside running or walking, so there was a real feel of local culture.

Here we are at dinner last night, it was a small wine bar where we had some tapas. Kyle loved this place... I think it reminded him of San Fran a bit. Also, this is the nicest the boys have dressed in the past 2 1/2 months! Pretty sharp!

So this shot of Fernet is for all of Kathryn's and Kyle's friends back in San Francisco. They said you all are obsessed with this stuff and there is TONS of it down here.

Mendoza is know for it's wine, so today we rented bikes and went on a wine tour. It was pretty fun, I think Kathryn and Kyle had a bit more fun because Clay ended up getting 2 flats, so we ended our day a bit earlier. 

Clay in the barrel room at the Wine Museum. 

Here we are on a tour of the Carinae Winery, it was started by a French couple in 2003. They produced their first bottle of Malbec in 2004.

This is an old school grape press dating back to 1910.

Thats all for now folks! Kyle and Kathryn are currently out at some bars and Clay and I are at the hostel. The two of us haven't been feeling well today... I think we picked up some bug. Tomorrow we are off on an 17 hour bus ride to Buenos Aires, which we are all pretty excited about! Until next time!! - Maria

Sunday, April 19, 2009

TACA, Fedex, and the arrival of Mathryn (Maria and Kathryn)

I think we are definitely over due for a blog update. We have probably been a little too lazy lately in all respects and updating our blog is not an exception. The route of our laziness I think comes from the fact that we have not been on the road much lately. After spending 2 weeks at The Point Hostel in Lima we are pretty chilled out. We had a lot of fun in Lima, but I think what will stay with me are the people that we met there. I hope we are able to stay in touch with them. In fact we plan to meet Martjin in Buenos Aires, he knows of some good places to stay there.

On the 14th of April after the bikes were all sold and the riding gear was shipped home to California our backpacking adventure began. Quickly let me say that Fedex kicks DHLs ass. The package arrived at Clay’s parents place on the 16th!!! Fully intact. Just awesome service. Clay and I arrived at the international airport in Lima by taxi with backpacks in toe. The airport in Lima worked out great! The place was clean and well organized which I was totally was not expecting. But the airline we took from Lima to Santiago, Taca, was outstanding! It was one of the best flights I think I have ever had. While booking the ticket I was a little pissed that I was paying $400 USD for a 3 hour plane flight but it ended up being worth it. The plane was brand new and very clean. Each seat had a complementary blanket and pillow. A meal and movie were also included on the flight, even though the movie was some sucky romantic comedy I thought it was cool that they didn’t charge for the headphones like on the Virgin Atlantic flights to Las Vegas. The other thing that’s dumb about Virgin Atlantic is the purple mood lighting in the cabin, anyways I digress.

So we got into Santiago at like 3am on the 15th and didn’t really have a plan on where we were going to sleep for the rest of the night. Which resulted in us getting the run around from this cab driver who kept taking us to hotels that were already full or way out of our price range. Anyways after about an hour of farting around and about 50 USD later we got to La Casa Roja were we stayed for the last several nights. We had a couple good nights in Santiago, several people we talked to before said there wasn’t much to see in Santiago and that it had a sort of commercial feeling to it, which I think is somewhat true but we had a great time there and there are some nice things to see in Santiago such as the city square, and the catherdral as well as this cool park that is set up on an enomous rock that looks over the city. Clay will post pictures of all this stuff soon.   –Kyle

Kyle did a great job of updating you on our travels, and I was just teasing him that he should become a “Business Critic” Writer for Business Week Magazine (with a great Editor of course), somewhat similar to a Food Critic.  Although you are now well informed as to Fedex’s and TACA’s outstanding business tactics, he left out the biggest part of the last 4 days:  Maria and Kathryn showed up!!!  Kyle and I got up the earliest we have the entire trip and met them at the Santiago airport Friday morning.  We had a great time on Friday exploring the City and then later we visited the Bella Vista neighborhood for drinks and dancing.   It’s been nice to have a little estrogen in the air to mix it up a little over the past few days.  So I’m gonna wrap this up but we’re now in Vina del Mar on the Chilean coast and tomorrow we leave on an 8 hour bus ride to Mendoza, Argentina.  We’ll post some pictures soon, but not from Maria’s camera, which got stolen from right under our noses today while we were at the beach.  Luckily she only had a few pictures on it and it was on the fritz anyways.  Til next time….    -Clay

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bikes are Sold, Backpacks are Bought...a Transitional Period in the Slingshot South

From Bikers to Backpackers....That´s my theme for tonight´s blogpost. It´s been a little while since we´ve posted anything here so I hope you haven´t lost total interest. We´ve been hanging out here in Lima both having a ton of fun and getting all the logistics out of the way with the bikes and gear. So we sold both of the bikes, sent all the rest of the gear home, bought some backpacks, and are ready for our flight down to Santiago, Chile to meet Maria and Kathryn tomorrow night. From there we´ll bus into Mendoza, Argentina´s wine country, and eventually over to Buenos Aires which we´re really looking forward to. I think Kyle might add some thoughts here so Ill stick to the captions below so Ill leave the rest to him....Clay.

Here´s Rafa, short for Rafael. Now that we´ve been at "The Point" Hostel in Lima for 8 days we´re kinda becoming regulars. Rafa here is one our new buddies. Rafa is Ecuadorian, and in addition to touring all of South America in his diesel Mercedes G-Wagon, he found time get his degree at a French Culinary school here in Lima. Rafa´s the man for sure. Not only is he a party animal, he makes the best Stuffed Chicken Marsala I´ve ever seen, because you know I´ve seen a lot of Chicken Marsala dishes in my day. Actually this was the first time I´ve had it but it was damn good.

We went to a big Futbol match between Lima´s team, El Universitario, and the Paraguayan National team. The people are so passionate about soccer here it´s crazy. Luckily the "U" won that night and we made it out safely, I wouldn´t want to see what happens when they lose...

Here´s the guy that bought Kyle´s bike, pretty happy camper.

Ok here´s the guy that actually bought the bike, he was really happy. They don´t have many proper sized bikes down here, mostly just little China Bikes. Doesn´t Kyle look like he wants to cry??? Can´t blame him, it was hard to see the bikes go but it definitely turned out to be the best thing for us. I almost sent mine in a flaming ball off the cliff until Janet M. reprimanded me ;) Just kidding were right!!!

They threw an "80´s/Hippie/put on whatever stupid clothes you have and come spend money at our bar" party at our hostel. It was a lot of fun. In the middle is our rather tall new friend Martijn from the Netherlands. Martin is another one of our great new international friends we´ve made while traveling, prety cool guy.

Kyle´s birthday was last Sunday. The people at the hostel got him a cake, pretty cool. The workers at the hostel spelt his name wrong but judging how they can barely even pronounce our "funny American names" I´m impressed they even came close.

Man that´s hideous huh??? That stupid sirt was so tight I couldn´t breathe.

We went to a couple musems in Central Lima today. This one had all these crazy torture chambers where they used to tortured prisoners in all sorts of creative ways. Fun stuff

Town Sqare in Central Lima, the equivalent of our White House where the Peruvian President lives is directly behind the square.

This museum was an old Catholic Monastery that doubled as a burial groud underneath the Church. There are thousands of skulls and bones still there that have been excavated after being buried for all those years. Pretty creepy...

That´s all for now. Maybe we´ll have some guest posters on the blog soon as 2 turns to 4 in couple days for the Sling Shot South....