We kill a few dinosaurs to travel fast. The first day of summer has past. Despite the heat and long days I already feel the season closing in. Life in Anchorage has shown me that nothing lasts in these extreme climates, least of all long summer days. The desert holds little appeal to me and to Tyndall. We’re captivated by the coast, rumors of smoked salmon, lakes, rivers and trees.
The treelined streets of Mendoza are a pleasure to ride.
It’s New Year’s Day and we have the place to ourselves. Old cars are parked in front of modern houses.
After noon a handful of small shops start to open. We fill our bags with empanadas and cold drinks, taking it all to the park for a picnic.
Everyone returns to work on Monday, but still, the streets are incredibly civilized. Drivers stay in their lanes. They yield for bikes. They give us space as we work our way south past bodegas and vineyards. Snowy peaks can just be picked out through the hot hazy valley.
Trucks filled with produce pass. Irrigation ditches run every which way. I smell peaches and apples and wet earth. A Weatherford Wireline Services truck goes the other way. Tyndall gets excited. Soon, a handful of pump jacks dot the landscape. We spot a derrick a ways off. Progress comes easy today.
In Perditas we ask about the condition of Ruta 40 to Malargüe. While Tyndall talks, three Schlumberger trucks past. Conditions confirmed, we leave town. It’s not hard to leave the pavement and turn down a small dirt road.
I see a coyote and watch birds flit about. After lunch the wind kicks up, mostly aiding our southerly progress. Butterflies get tossed about. The grasses shimmer and sway. It’s wild and empty here.
At Arroyo Honda we find water and a cluster of trees to camp in. Hobbled horses mill about, along with a lone goat.
The wind is still at it in the morning. We climb out of the arroyo and descend into another. This one has water too, although it’s also silty. The next one is clear and we fill up our bottles before climbing out again.
Rio Diamante looks like the Colorado a bit. Wide, brown, frothy. I imagine the rapids that must be on it.
A couple of Swiss overlanders pass in their fancy rig, but otherwise we see no one.
Looking for a quiet place to sleep, we stop short of El Sosneado.
I catch a glimpse of an elusive big bird. I see the brown feathers bounce off, spot a long neck poking above the brush and then it’s gone. We share the remaining kilometers to El Sosneado with oil field service trucks, then turn right onto pavement for Malargüe.
Where we rode: Mendoza – Eugenio Bustos – Perditas – El Sosneado – Malargüe
Route details from Andes by Bike.