Mar. 26 – Rio Grande to Ushuaia

2009 April 27
by joe

We get an early start, both of us excited about completing the journey south today.  We go to a confiteria for coffee and pastry, and then do some riding around town asking about front tires, as both of ours are looking very worn.  We find several 21”  tires in town, at two different shops, but they are not the exact correct size, and we decide to ride on and see what might be available in Ushuaia. The road is well paved, but it is windy, cold, and threatening rain.  That seems to be the normal conditions down here this time of year.

We ride through the same, monotonous Patagonian desert for a couple of hours.  The temps warm up a bit (50’s), and the sky lightens up as we ride south.  The weather above us changes very fast; cloudy one minute, looking like rain;  then sunning and cold, with blue sky.  The wind never stops, though.  Suddenly, about 50 miles from Ushuaia, the landscape starts to change;  first some scrubby, broken trees, appearing in clumps on hillsides, that all look dead and broken.  Then more hills, and soon real tree;.  then mountains appear on the horizon,  green and snow-capped.  Before long, we are riding in richly forested mountains, with lakes and waterfalls and beautiful, wild and rugged scenery.  After the thousands of miles of desert we have crossed to get here, it is an incredible rush and very exciting to be treated to such spectacular scenic beauty.  We stop so often to take pictures, that it seems like we will never get through the last 30 miles!

We finally come through a mountain pass, and enter a long valley between some of the most rugged peaks yet.  At last we descend down the last mountainside and see the town of Ushuaia spread out along the shore of the Beagle Channel.  What a sight, and what a rush.  We stop at the town’s entry sign, to hug and take pictures.  We can barely believe it is real – that we have made it to the end of the world.  It is just fantastically beautiful here!

We cruise the town, and find a place that is open for lunch.  Because it is so late in the season, a lot of the shops and restaurants are closed for the winter.  We look around for a cheap hotel, and settle on a hostel that is close to the bay and downtown.  We get some poster board, and make for sale signs for the bikes, and park them out on the road with them on.  The response is almost immediate – people start stopping by the hostel and asking about the bikes right away.

We relax for much of the afternoon – drink a little whiskey and lay around reading and napping.  Later we go out and find some empanadas for dinner.  It is hard to believe that we are at last at the end – there is nowhere south of here to go.  So after 111 days on the road for me, and over 15,000 land miles of riding,  we have completed the long ride south.  It feels great!

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