(January 9, written by Dave)
It seems a little weird to keep blogging now that we’re done riding but we’ve decided to call the trip “complete” at exactly 600 days, when we get back to the good old USA on Saturday. So, you get a few more posts before the final, final end. We fly from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires to Houston to Portland. Counting Houston and Portland, we’ll have to get through several TSA checkpoints – given the US government shutdown, who knows if we’ll actually make it by Saturday.
We spent a good deal of the last two days packing bikes, culling gear and getting organized for a flight. It is kind of amazing how items that were precious only two days ago are now already in the bin. The best example is probably our spare tires. They’ve been a safety net for so long. Two of the four tires wrapped and strapped to my bike were actually old and ready to be discarded. I just couldn’t bring myself to get rid of them until we reached the end. I know, not the best approach if you are trying to have a lighter bike but there you go. Anyway, they are binned now – along with most of Nancy’s extra paper towel stash and way too many extra plastic bags. We should just make that weight limits for our flights.
I only have one pair of non-riding pants with me on the trip. They are so thin that you can see completely through them if you hold them up to the light. I was planning on wearing them all the way back to Portland because, well, the guys flying in shorts almost never get admitted to the airport lounges. Luckily, Ushuaia has a good number of outdoor shops so I’ve found a new pair and the old ones are ready for the bin. Pending a call from the Smithsonian, they’ll be gone by Friday.
Out AirB&B landlord came by last night, right at “peek chaos”. I was embarrassed to let her in as there was only a narrow path from the front door to the kitchen. I’m thinking about having her back over this arvo just so that she can see that we’ve cleaned things up and rest easier about us not leaving an EPA super fund site.
It hasn’t been all work and no play however. We wanted try the famous Southern Ocean king crab that Ushuaia is known for. So for lunch one day we headed out to the iconic El Viejo Marino (The Old Sailor) restaurant. They are renowned for their one full crab, two person meal and we almost chose that but it looked like a lot of work. There’s something about letting the pros clean the crab for you that holds high attraction. So instead of a full crab we ordered one each crab parmesan and crab with lobster/shrimp. Both dishes had “extra” flavours but you could still really taste the crab – fresh and flavourful. And rich, wow, we could hardly move after lunch.
We’ve also enjoyed a bit of a look around Ushuaia. Though being outside here is not for the faint of heart. The high today couldn’t have been much more than 11-12C – 50F. Hard to imagine that it is summer here. As we’ve come to expect from almost every Argentina town or city, there is a Malvinas monument. We nearly froze to death but got some photos – teamwork makes the dream work.
Ushuaia is the main stepping off point in South America for cruise ships heading to Antarctica. This is cruise season so the harbour is busy, full of small but fancy looking ships. Most cruise itineraries go something like this: 2 days sailing the Southern Ocean to reach the ice, 2-3 days looking around, followed by 2 days sailing back to Ushuaia. Most of the cruises cost about the same amount, something like $10,000 USD. Generally, Nancy’s low fondness for boats rules us off cruise ships Throw in 4 days of sailing the Southern Ocean and Nancy commented “if they paid me $10,000 USD, I still won’t go.” That’s my wife – haha!
Since we’ve gotten everything packed and I have new pants, tomorrow we’ve decided to head out to Tierra del Fuego National Park. We don’t know much about the park but I’m sure that will change by tomorrow night. The mountains surrounding Ushuaia are quite scenic, so the park must be even more so. We tried to get on a penguin tour but the only one open required 4 hours of sailing on Beagle Sound. I’m sure that Nancy could have managed it, she was less sure. So to the park we go. Check back tomorrow for a last update from Ushuaia and more about the national park.