Tag Archives: camper life

Mountain Biking Stories

WHAT MOUNTAIN BIKE?

Prepping for a year out of the country, Sarah and I considered what is most dear to us, recreationally. Sarah readily embraces her stand-up paddleboard (SUP), an inflatable model that can support two adults and a mid-sized dog. Dear to me is a bicycle, of any sort, but most especially one suited for off-road terrain. A bicycle also serves as redundant transportation, in a way, if we were unwilling (or unable) to move our vehicles. Top of the list, then, were added one paddleboard and three mountain bikes.

But which bike? The knee-jerk reaction is “My favorite one!” Then, however comes the realization that your favorite steed will be subjected to the elements for close to a year, draw the eye of those looking to remove you of your bicycle, and quite possibly be damaged while it is on the vehicle (either due to a collision or bikes clacking against each other on or off-road) not to mention being subjected to the dirt and grime from driving nearly 12,000 miles. My faithful Ibis mojo 3, my absolute favorite bike to ride, was quickly dismissed, as the bike is just too nice to abuse and too attractive for theives.

After further weighing these considerations, the obvious next choice was my old Ibis tranny. The frame had been damaged in a crash (what better bike to take than one that had been previously damaged?) and I had a slew of mid-level parts for it, plus a wonderfully wide wheelset that gleefully soaks up washboard. As the immense pressure of preparing two vehicles for a year out of the country came bearing down upon us, however, the feasibility of completing another relatively complex repair and rebuild side project quickly fell to the bottom of the list. Not to mention that the lively orange paint would attract a lot of attention.

Amongst the turbulence of our imminent departure, my eye settled on my covid-era mountain bike: made by Giant, this bike was conceived to go fast, world-cup fast, by riders a lot younger than me. And as mentioned, it was my covid-era mountain bike. A bike purchased when frame repair was backlogged for months and such a crushing demand existed for new bicycles that you had to take what you could find. It was in those times that I found this Giant.

And while stupid expensive and not made for idly touring another country, this mostly black frame and components (with splashes of dark blue) and  super-subtle labels does not draw any attention. The proof of this being that, after two months driving around Argentina, I have yet to receive a single question about it. Perfect.

How we are filtering water while camping through Argentina

We are a two pop-top camper, 4 person, 1 dog family traveling through South America. Before we received our campers and had less control over our water in Colombia and Buenos Aires Provincia. We all had the runs at least once. We were told to just expect this while traveling. But, since getting the campers and having more control over our water, no one has been sick. Here is what we are doing.

We are currently in Argentina where people are confident that the water is safe to drink. It may be true that drinking from the tap won’t make you sick here but we found that water we pump to store in a tank probably needs to be filtered first: as evidenced by the wriggling water insects we shook from our pre-filter the other day from an established campground.

The kids filling the pre-filter bucket during fill at Lago GuttiƩrez, Argentina (no insects).

The insects from the hose was in a camp where the camp host told us the water was good to drink: potable. We filtered it anyway and so glad we did. I’m glad we don’t have bugs in the tank and here’s hoping whatever the bugs are eating was filtered out as well. Here is our system:

Pumping from buckets brought from lake to the filter, hose running to our 25 gallon tank in the Northstar

We have two tanks for water to use for drinking, cooking, and washing. Both of our vehicles hold 25 gallons each. We are able to fill them straight from a lake or a spigot or a hose run through our water pump and filter. When a source spigot is not compatible with our pump nozzle, we continuously fill a bucket and pump from the bucket through the filter into our tank. We also use the bucket method if the fresh water lake shore won’t allow us to get our trucks close enough to pump directly from the lake.

Close up of the Guzzle H2O in action as kids fill the pre-filter bucket

Water sources: we are able to draw from any water source we decide can be filtered like fresh water lake or river, camp supplied water or municipal source. No matter the source, we run the water through our Guzzle H2O carbon filtration filter. We saw a campervan filling it’s tank directly from a YPF water hose (large gas station chain) at San Martin de Los Andes. No doubt, this is possible but, with 2 rigs and our general impatience with manuvering in congested parking lots, we haven’t done this. So, obviously some of the water is safe, some of the time. But not all of the water is safe all of the time. We just are not going to chance it

In some of the established mom and pop campgrounds, the water source is right next to the bathrooms because that’s where the plumbing is. In those places, we don’t fill. The insect water was from plumbing next to a wood heated shower house in our camp at Lake Piagum. We just filled from Lago GuttiĆ©rez yesterday outside San Carlos de Bariloche, no insects.

How long to fill? It takes us about 1 hour to fill both of our tanks through the filter. 1.5 hours if the filters are filling with insects… We usually time our fills for a travel day after using both tanks down to near empty in camp. This has averaged every 5-7 days.

Problem solving: air in the pump, slow high pressure pumping, carbon filter full, electricity supply to charge pump battery to get complete fills for 50 gallons. We learned that air in the filter can be solved by turning the pump upsidedown, on its side and upright several times while pumping, just like our old backpack filter. We removed and replaced our first carbon filter when the pump started running super slow and seemingly under high pressure. The 2nd carbon filter ran much better but, we are not convinced the old filter is full so we are carrying it with us to dry and try again. The battery charge on the Guzzle H2O lasts us about 30 gallons of pumping so, we charge it for the rest of the fill off our solar charged battery to get our full 50 gallons.

Road tripping Siete Lagos, Argentina

The Borduin family is traveling through Siete Lagos area, Argentina on route 40, the most famous route in Argentina. We are staying on the Argentina side down route 40, going north to south from Junin de Los Andes and San Martin de Los Andes, heading to San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina. Mike, Vivian Niles and I are traveling in two vehicles with pop-up in pickups. We will be traveling for a year 8/2022 to 8/2023.

This is close to our 5th month of travel. But it is only the first month of travel in the pickups in South America. We have done all of our camper travel in Argentina thus far after shipping vehicles to Buenos Aires (we recommend shipping to Montevideo).

The Siete Lagos area is glacially formed lakes surrounded by mountains which have evidence of volcanic activity. The volcanoes created the mountains first and then the glacier shaped the valleys and cut through and deposited rocks throughout the valleys. It’s simply gorgeous to take this drive. There are many ways to do this as evidenced by the people traveling.

There are people staying in hotels, cabanas, hostels, established and wild camping. There are people traveling by motorcycle, camper van private vehicle, rented vehicles, taxis, hiking, biking, bus. Last night we stayed in a parking lot close to one of the ports that ferries people around the lakes. The parking area had six camper vans overnight; we were the only pop up pick up setups. I spoke with one family from Argentina. They planned to cross the border to Chile this morning early and this is why they camped close to the ferry.

The government infrastructure for tourism is developed in this area with new public restrooms popping up, trail systems, online information and advertisements of road construction and improvements by the Neuquen Provincia government.

We are in a pattern of nightly stops and traveling days as we make our way South, utimatly to Ushuaia, Argentina. While writing this post, we are stopped to cook an egg breakfast. On these days we try to overnight for free in parking areas or wild campspots and use the money we save for a restaurant stop.

After Ushuaia, we will come up the Atlantic Coast towards Puerto Madryn with the goal of seeing Orcas on their feeding grounds there. Currently, our Northern route is undecided because there is political unrest in Peru and Venezula. We are researching a way around that situation that can land us in Cartegena, Colombia preferably around June. Or, we will need to ship our vehicles from Santiago, Chile or Montevideo, Uruguay to Panama if Peru and/or Venezuela continue to be too dangerous for land travel.