Rio Gallegos (Drive day 236: Feb 20th, 2004)

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If the puma don’t get the sheep this town is where they end up and become mutton. It’s the first less-than-lovely place we’ve found so far in Argentina, which probably explains why we can find primo camp spots with no other visitors in sight. We have to hunt down the keeper of the keys to tour the town’s railway museum – Rio Gallegos boasts the southernmost railroad track in the world. I want to be a town booster, but in truth it creeps me out.

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I’m not alone. This was the place Magellan wanted his fleet to winter and when a couple of captains tried to sneak back to Spain – one of them got caught and stabbed to death. Then, just to discourage other attempts at mutiny, his body was drawn and quartered in front of the crew.

Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom of the landing page on my teresabrucebooks.com website or here or here. Planning a road trip? Buy the audiobook here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa. Like travel anthologies? I’m in a brand new one called Alone Together: Tales of Sisterhood and Solitude in Latin America which you can get here.

Supercharged scarecrows (Drive Day 235: Feb 19th, 2004)

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Ranches are called estancias this far south, and to protect their sheep from wild puma predators Argentineans do not hesitate to make an example out of intruders. It’s a brutal juxtaposition with the natural beauty of the landscape and a reminder of just how tough these remote landowners have to be to coax a living from this barren landscape.

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It wasn’t always such a solitary place. Caves preserved near the private Estancia la Maria show hundreds of different stone age handprints from original peoples. The purpose of the paintings are long forgotten but it isn’t a stretch to imagine a similar warning to outsiders: keep away, we are many and you do not belong.

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Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom of the landing page on my teresabrucebooks.com website or here or here. Planning a road trip? Buy the audiobook here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa. Like travel anthologies? I’m in a brand new one called Alone Together: Tales of Sisterhood and Solitude in Latin America which you can get here.

The power of wind (Drive Day 234: Feb 18th, 2004)

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Trees aren’t supposed to bend at the waist. But the fact that they do lies behind the first injury of our journey. We take a break from the road to work on some repairs and I hand Gary a hammer to pound a nail. The wind decides to weaponize it and Gary’s hand quickly swells to the size of a bear’s claw. He can’t drive so I have to maneuver the rig back into the same 60 mph+ winds to backtrack to the nearest town. I haven’t driven in six months and I can tell my nervous, clunky shifting is as painful to Gary as his hand. In Fitz Roy we find a hospital to get some Xrays. The staff apologizes over and over for making us wait two hours. The wind caused a five-car pileup on the highway and a surge in the ER. Gary ends up with a diagnosis of a severe sprain, an injection of pain killers and anti-inflammatories and a sling he’s supposed to wear for the next two weeks. The staff has no idea why we’re asking if they accept credit cards: medical care is free in Argentina, even for random Americans blown by with the wind.

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Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom of the landing page on my teresabrucebooks.com website or here or here. Planning a road trip? Buy the audiobook here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa. Like travel anthologies? I’m in a brand new one called Alone Together: Tales of Sisterhood and Solitude in Latin America which you can get here.

Overlanders (Drive Day 233: Feb 17th, 2004)

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It is in this stretch of between-ness that we discover overland tours. When you encounter foreign travelers here it is because they are en route to someplace more dramatic: the Peninsula Valdez or Tierra del Fuego.

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Adventurous types hitch rides in converted military vehicles and beefed up, outback-style busses that barrel over viciously gravel roads in the dead of night. And it isn’t only young people.

 

0217c.jpgAt Peninsula Valdez we meet a retired Nebraskan and her German husband who are driving their Armageddon-ready, converted Mercedes WWII communications vehicle through every country on every continent. Our 1968 Avion seems delicate and fragile by comparison, especially when we know that this drive is coming to an end. We will have to sell our little house-on-wheels to fund our return trip.

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Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom of the landing page on my teresabrucebooks.com website or here or here. Planning a road trip? Buy the audiobook here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa. Like travel anthologies? I’m in a brand new one called Alone Together: Tales of Sisterhood and Solitude in Latin America which you can get here.

Bariloche to El Bolson and beyond (Drive Day 232: Feb 16th, 2004)

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The landscape opens up the farther south, toward Patagonia. Trees and mountain lakes give way to vast expanses of wind and wonder.

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It is sparse, yes, but strangely beautiful too. On the long stretches of driving that the guidebooks shudder to mention for the monotony, we find freedom unparalleled. If I could fill my life with paintings of the way the land arches to meet the convergence of clouds in an Argentinean steppe, I would never need windows.

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Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom of the landing page on my teresabrucebooks.com website or here or here. Planning a road trip? Buy the audiobook here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa. Like travel anthologies? I’m in a brand new one called Alone Together: Tales of Sisterhood and Solitude in Latin America which you can get here.

Nahual Haupi National Park (Drive Day 231: Feb 15th, 2004)

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On our steel horse we ride – away from the spot that has held us captive longer than any along this road trip. As if to reassure us that we’ve made the right decision, the sun breaks through a rainy sky. There’s more, it seems to say. And we are ready.

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Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom of the landing page on my teresabrucebooks.com website or here or here. Planning a road trip? Buy the audiobook here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa. Like travel anthologies? I’m in a brand new one called Alone Together: Tales of Sisterhood and Solitude in Latin America which you can get here.

My Valentine to Argentina (Drive Day 230: Feb 14th, 2004)

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It is fitting that our last day in Junin is Valentine’s because we are equally, unabashedly smitten. We have camped without any fear of imposing because the welcome is so natural. We haven’t locked the doors since getting here and we toss our towels on branches while we swim in the crystal-clear waters without worry. There is literally no hotel in the world that could be more romantic than our bunk in the cozy Avion. Argentina is both reward and renewal in the way that only travel offers.

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Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom of the landing page on my teresabrucebooks.com website or here or here. Planning a road trip? Buy the audiobook here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa. Like travel anthologies? I’m in a brand new one called Alone Together: Tales of Sisterhood and Solitude in Latin America which you can get here.