Friday, March 8, 2013

The End of The Road

Day 129 (February 21, 2013)
Ushuaia, Argentina to Parque Nacional, Tierra del Fuego
Day's Ride: approx 30 miles

The Irish pub ended up killing our plans of getting into the park early to avoid paying the entrance fee. After celebrating out impending victory a little too hard, we decided to just wake up late and pay the fee to get into the park.

After getting out of town, the remainder of the road was dirt.

We reached the park entrance gate and paid our fees.

The park was quite beautiful, but I wasn't really paying attention to the scenery nor was I about to stop and take any pictures. I was only thinking about one thing: the end.

I reached the end and finally saw the sign for the first time. I was screaming and yelling and pumping my fist in the air as I skidded to a stop in front of the sign. All of the tourists were giving me odd looks. I almost felt like crying. It wasn't underwhelming at all. It was awesome! It's wasn't exactly a hard trip for the most part, but I definetly had had my share of misadventures to get to this point. There was a small break in the tourist crowd and I snuck my bike in fast and got a picture.

Dylan had a couple of victory beers stashed in his panniers which he generously shared:

Don't drink and ride kids, it's not safe.

There were swarms of tourists at the sign; apparently a crusie ship had docked in Ushuaia the night before and the never ending flow of minibusses pulling into the parking area were disgorging the passengers at an alarming rate. Still, we were happy to just sit our bikes nearby and wait. We had ridden for over four months to get to this point; we weren't leaving until we got our pictures.

While we were waiting, I went up and took a look at the back of the sign to verify something that I had heard at the HU conference. Sure enough, Greg Fraizer's name is still carved in the back from 97'. Regardless of what you think about him, it's kind of funny to see his name still carved back there.

We were actually quite popular with the tourists, many of whom were American or Canadian and recognized our licence plates. We were soon surrounded by people asking to take our pictures and wanting to know about our trip. I think I answered the following three questions about 60 times:

1.) Q: How long have you been riding? A: About four months.
2.) Q: How many miles have you ridden? A: Over 15,000
3.) Q: Have you had any problems? A: Problems? Hahaha!

I'm pretty sure that we posed for over a hundred pictures. Right at the height of question and answer time, a female park ranger materilized out of the crowd and started badgering us to move our bikes. I didn't see any problem with where we were parked (other than the no parking sign) and ignored her, which just made her even more angry. Eventually she was yelling at us in Spanish and telling us to move now and saying stuff like "now means now!" and "move or I'll give you a ticket!" Whatever. I just smiled at her and told her that I had no idea what she was saying. Unfortunately, someone from the crowd started translating for her and we were forced to move our bikes back 100 meters to the parking area.

We sat back and waited. Eventually the tourist crowds started dying down and the park ranger walked off into the woods. We quietly pushed Dylan's bike up to the sign and snapped a few pictures before pushing it back to the parking area. We couldn't leave just yet. I had one more thing that I wanted to do, but we had to wait for the ranger to leave. Eventually the park ranger came out of the woods, got in her truck, and drove off. Finally.

I warmed up my bike and did a few practice wheelies in the parking lot while Dylan set up his camera. Some of the older tourists were giving me dirty looks, but I ignored them. Then, as soon as the sign area was free of tourists, I rode in, turned around, and did a wheelie next to the sign.

The ground was uneven next to the sign and there was a bunch of wooden stakes (you can't see them in the picture) that I was heading right for, so I had to time it just right. I managed to get a little one up which Dylan caught on film and figured that was enough. I didn't want that ranger to show up right as I was doing burnouts in the parking lot...

We took a quick walk out to the overlook at the end of the trail and got a picture overlooking the bay. Any further South and we'd be heading for Antartica.

We got back on the bikes and headed back to the Hostel to celebrate.

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