So here I am. In Ushuaia. Luck and good fortune allowed me to reconnect with Bepe, my long lost friend from a year and a half ago in Alaska. But the beauty of adventure motorcycle travel is the camaraderie and friends old and new encountered on the road.
While trying to find my Venezuelan buddies whom I rode the ferry and traversed this great island of Tierra del Fuego, I spotted a bright KTM 950 Adventure parked on the main drag in Ushuaia. Soon I was talking with Mark and his lovely wife Bonnie from Idaho. They left Idaho sometime last fall and who would know – we’d meet in Ushuaia. I am sure I passed within a few miles of their home when passing through Sun Valley in September of 2005.
Soon after, I found those Venezuelans. We made a plan to finish this trip. Really finish it. That is, to ride the last 10 miles or so to the end of the road. The last bit of road you can ride on in this hemisphere. We made a date to Rendezvous and make the trek down the last ten miles or so of dirt road to the bottom of the world and into the Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego. The park boasts 63,000 hectares but only about two thousand at the south end of the park are open to the public. We figured we didn’t need a lot of hectares so Mark led the way and we made it to the end of the world to take the ubiquitous photo that adorns so many travelers, moto, hiker or cruiser, websites.
In doing my research before embarking on this journey, I finally realized perhaps a bit of sadness or disconcerting feelings about motorcycle travelers who journey so far to get to the bottom of the world. For many, the journey is about discovery and learning and adventure. For others, sadly it’s about bragging rights. A notch. Or simply the decal on the pannier. I met and have read stories of many travelers who spend a day or two in Ushuaia and then leave. But there’s more to Ushuaia than the picture at the end of the world. The beauty of the Beagle Channel, Lago Fagnano, the glaciers and more. There are the friends you haven’t met. And there are those moments of solitude and thinking that left undone go unsettled. Sure. So you got here. What prompted the journey or adventure? Satisfied? A recent comment by a friend on my site was apropos:
“…} Enjoy the moment. You are my hero!
Now it’s all “coming home” back up from there…Just don’t get into a funk because of it though […]
Enjoy the moment. And don’t get into a funk. Think about it.
For example, my host the lovable Javier of Javier’s Place (which is actually the Martin Fierro Hostel if ever gets around to putting up his sign and actually inviting travelers to stay), introduced me to Roger Wallis, the captain and owner of Australis, a ship that does exclusive expeditions to Antarctica, South Georgia and the waters at the bottom of the world. Roger was staying at Javier’s. In fact, the day I arrived and after the warming reunion with Bepe, Roger was the sole guest at Javier’s. He opened the door and welcomed me. But soon I found out why Roger was here. At just over fifty years old he was headed back to his home of Australia for open-heart surgery. For the last seven or eight years Roger had been leading these expeditions from Ushuaia — he’d been sailing all his life. Though my time with Roger was punctuated and short, I felt that he would one day provide me my journey to Antarctica and South Georgia. The journey that on this trip I was unable to make. So in life all things could happen for a reason. And if they don’t, god damn it we’ll make a reason. I sat there standing with a captain of ship that could take me to South Georgia and Antarctica – a goal of this WorldRider Journey of Adventure & Discovery. No matter how many open heart and bypass surgeries have been performed in this world of modern medicine, I understood very well when Roger expressed his apprehensiveness, if not subtle fear. I wish him luck and hope to see him next year with a group of my closest family and friends as we sail together to the bottom of the world. Yeah. We have to sail because it’s not accessible by motorcycle!
And if you ever want to take an amazing journey and don’t want to deal with the madness and impersonality of a ship of 50, 100 or 250 people, check out Roger’s site. He does journeys for less than 15 people.
Back more than a month ago when I was in Santiago under the gracious care and hospitality of my friend Cristian, he asked a small favor in return of his gracioius generosity: take two bottles of Chilean wine to the bottom of the world. It was a tall order. I’ve already got too much stuff on my bike. But how could I refuse? So for nearly 4,000 miles I’ve been carrying two bottles of wine from the winery he works for “Los Robles” in my panniers. Temptd, I’ll admit, to drink them many times along the way. But I refrained. Inasmuch as he carried a bottle (3.0L) of Chilean Carmenere to New York City, it was nothing to carry a couple bottles to Tierra del Fuego, Ushuaia and Argentina. I’ll find an opportunity to open these before leaving this grand island.
So it’s Ushuaia. And I’m hanging here a few days. Or more. No funk. Just love.