Crossing the Andes… Again.

We managed to drive around for a few hundred miles without any major disasters with the rebuilt engine, so we decided it was time to make a run for the border.

A few notes on the engine break-in:

Compression after 50 miles: 85, 120, 110, 110 psi

Compression after 150 miles: 95, 110, 110, 105 psi

Compression after 250 miles: 105, 110, 110, 105 psi

#1 magically came up to something not terrible, while #2 dropped noticeably. I’ll assume it’s officially ‘broken-in.’ We’ll do all this fun again when we eventually replace the piston/cylinders with a new set.

My past problem of #1 and #3 always running rich, that I had observed since Mexico went away. At first, I assumed it had to do with the re-worked heads. Maybe it was the valves. However, after 250 miles, it has now returned. I searched for vacuum leaks over the past year, and have done it again, but still have no clue. The #1 and #3 plugs are getting blacker and blacker, but #2 and #4 are fine.

Anyway, we’re on the road and climbing the Andes once again. It feels good to have our independence and freedom back. We were starting to get in a rut in Mendoza and feeling a little stuck. Once we got on the road for good, our moods definitely improved.

We stopped at the little cross-roads town of Uspallata for the night. This was the location for the filming of 7 Years in Tibet. We’ll have to assume that it looks like Tibet. Apparently, they shipped bison (yaks?) here from Montana just for the film – but we didn’t see any.  All I know  is that they sell actual Duff beer.

Climbing up the Andes was a non-event. This particular route is an easy gradual ascent that follows a river all the way up. This has got to be the least-challenging pass we’ve driven in quite some time. It peaked at only around 3000 meters.

Once we got up to the snow, of course we had to hit the slopes. They’ve got a short season here, and it was clear from the conditions at Los Penitentes that it isn’t going to last much longer. It looked so bad that we moved on to a little bunny hill down the road where Bode and Angela could get warmed up and take some turns. Their first in over two years.

11 thoughts on “Crossing the Andes… Again.

  • September 20, 2011 at 10:18 AM


    It’s time to let Bode give you another hair cut.

  • September 20, 2011 at 7:52 PM

    Any interest in selling your van when you’re done? My husband and I are heading down to Argentina within the next six months… with our two year old in tow. We’re not up for the drive from the states in our own VW van, but are looking into other car options for our six month trip and figured we might as well write. Just found your site and loving every minute of it. Many thanks for all the good info!

  • September 20, 2011 at 10:12 PM

    Yay for Duff beer! Did you see Duff Man or Bumblebee Man too?

  • September 21, 2011 at 6:43 AM

    Jen – sorry, but the bus is part of the family. Besides, we don’t really have any plans of being ‘done’ 😉 We occasionally meet other traveling folks with vehicles to sell, so we can put you in touch if you are interested. And, you could always go to Mendoza and buy a Ford Falcon – a very cool ride.

  • September 21, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    angela – i think it’s time you teach bode how to use a straight edge razor.

  • September 21, 2011 at 12:57 PM

    Hey Bro. really liking the beard. you should wear it home. It would totaly freak out dad.

  • September 21, 2011 at 9:01 PM

    We need to get that shot of Bode on his bike into a biking magazine. He is too cool.

  • September 21, 2011 at 10:44 PM

    Understood. Can’t quite imagine parting with a beloved family member such as that.

    Looks like we’ll be arriving in BA in early March and would be entirely grateful if you were to keep us in mind re: folks looking to pass on their van/car/falcon. We are totally flexible as to where in Argentina this road trip will begin, but are thinking the south tip if the timing makes sense weather-wise. Thanks, enjoy and, with all due respect to your Dad, we 100% agree with Big Bro re: the hair.

  • September 22, 2011 at 8:27 AM

    Jason, you definitely fit the “mountain man” description. Have to say, though, you could use a bit of a trim job on the beard and hair!

  • September 29, 2011 at 8:07 AM

    Just a little note about your engine running rich….. Ours was running extremely rich after our engine was rebuilt, so much so that it was cheaper to take the engine apart again rather than spend the money on the oil for the remainder of our journey. It turns out you need to replace the piston rings every time you open up the cylinders……

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