End of the World
The ferry spit us out onto the other side of the Strait of Magellan, where we drove along the flatland watching the golden grass sway, all while trying to keep the truck under control from the powerful gusts of wind. Driving along, I spotted something in the ocean. I hopped out to watch a pod of dolphins jumping up and out of the water. It was like they were greeting us at the southern tip!
A rainbow shot up and over the ocean, beaming over us as we putted along the dirt road.
We saw our first sign for Ushuaia and couldn’t believe our eyes. We knew how close we were but it hadn’t seemed real until we saw the official road sign.
We contemplated camping oceanside for the night but with the wind ripping through us, we decided to push on. We didn’t want to have another dinner-less night so we crossed the border back into Argentina and camped at the infamous ‘Camping Hain’. Here, travelers are encouraged to make a sign and hang it on the wall of the common area. We decided to partake. We hung our sign amongst the great overlanding forefathers that came before us. 😉
That night, as we ate our homemade spaghetti dinner by a wood stove drinking our delicious wine, it really started to set in. You know when you were a little kid and you would get butterflies in your stomach the night before Christmas or your birthday? That’s how we felt. We knew the next day we would be on our final drive to Ushuaia; the destination we have been telling so many people we were driving to for the past four years. It didn’t seem real.
With rain pattering on the roof of the truck, we slipped into a peaceful sleep, ready for our biggest adventure of the trip the next day.
After coffee the next morning, I did what I do everyday. I climbed into the front of the truck and plugged the GPS coordinates in. But this time, it felt different. It displayed that we had 64 miles to our destination. The end of the road. The end of the world. The end of our grand journey.
We drove along Ruta 3 and watched the landscape dramatically change from flat pampas to glacier carved mountains. The leaves were starting to change color and the foliage emitted orange and red hues.
I watched the GPS like a hawk. 43 miles left. My heart started racing. I didn’t want it to end. I wasn’t ready.
Without a word, Nate put on our favorite songs. As they blared over the speakers, my body was overtaken with emotions. I had tears in my eyes. 36 miles. Only 36 miles until one of the biggest moments of our trip. I glanced at Nate, who looked as if he was having the same mixed emotions.
29 miles. The mountains had a fresh snow blanketing them. We stopped to take a picture of the crisp lake, which sat so elegantly in between the high mountains. We looked at each other, smiled and continued on.
17 miles. Holy crap. My heart was pounding. We were so close! I grabbed the camera to capture the intense moment. Smiles stretched across our faces, we continued on.
Only 9 miles left. This was it. This is what we had been waiting for, striving for, working so hard for. Over the past four years, this was our ultimate goal.
And then, just like that, it happened. We reared the corner and were greeted with a familiar sight. The towers on either side of the road that let you know you made it to the southern most city in the entire world. We… were… elated.
After 555 days, 28,241 miles, 14 countries, 98 degrees of latitude, 1754 gallons of diesel fuel and countless hellos & goodbyes we had reached the end of the world!
After the mandatory pictures were taken, we climbed back into our trusty steed. But where is our welcome party? Wasn’t there supposed to be a parade congratulating us upon our arrival?
It was a peculiar feeling. Everything we have worked so hard for the past few years was, in a moment, done. We have experienced love, hate, happiness and sadness. We grew from novice road trippers to experienced road warriors. We had reached the final destination!!
We spent the next few days walking around the world’s southernmost city. With the Beagle Channel as a backdrop, we ventured around town visiting the old prison, the waterfront and enjoying a few of their local brews. We couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed at how touristy and Americanized the city was. All this time, we had pictured a smaller, more remote city. It didn’t bother us, however, because we were able to skirt the outside of the city and enjoy the beauty around it. Ushuaia is completely surrounded by tall, snow covered mountains, offering a view unlike any we had ever experienced. Because it was fall time, the leaves were changing color displaying a bright orange/brown across the bottom of the mountains with the snow working it’s way downwards.
After a few days of exploring, we decided it was time to take the final leap and drive to Tierra del Fuego National Park, the true end of the road. Ruta 3 plummets itself into the park and completely ends at a few stakes in the ground, with a sign declaring the official end of the road. With beautifully bright blue skies, we made our way through the park. We drove Truck as far as she could, turned her around and took a picture to show the world how proud we all were for making it as far as we could possibly go. This was the true point where we would drive in a direction we haven’t driven in a very long time… North.
After hiking around, we decided a celebration was in order. We drove to a nice spot near a river, grabbed our cheap bottle of champagne we bought the day before and made a toast. A toast to a journey we, never in a million years, could have expected; A journey that took us to the ends of the earth; A journey that forced us to learn more about each other, other cultures, new languages, different foods, and new people; A journey where we experienced many frustrations, a lot of happiness, some sadness and a whole lot of love; A journey we would’t trade for anything in the world; A journey completed.
As we sat, riverside, in one of the most beautiful parks we had ever been to, we glanced at each other, smiles strewn across our faces. We did it!!!!!