Due to the strong currents the captain had to keep the ferry’s engines running. The current was indeed swift and strong and the ferry continued to try to wash itself ashore. But with excellent seamanship the captain jockeyed the ferry so that it remained at a 90° angle to the landing. Soon all the other traffic had offloaded in it was our turn to ride right onto the ferry. Luckily for us, as motorcyclists we took up little space on deck and we were the first to board with a few cars and abundance of tractor trailer rigs following behind.
It was cold and windy and as the ferry lurched left and right with each new tractor trailer rig, we decided to go inside try to warm up a bit. A very narrow passageway led to a cramped cabin area, but it was an escape from the strong winds and the spray of the cold ocean waters. We sat side-by-side in the narrow compartment stamping our feet trying to get warm. Still chilled to the bone, we overheard somebody talking in the compartment saying there was something outside to see. We had no clue what was out there, but what the heck, how many times would we be crossing the Straits of Magellan? Not knowing what awaited, we wandered outside to have a look.
By the way, if you don’t know, click on any one of the pictures in the gallery below and it will open that picture into a full size picture and then you can click your way through the remainder of the pictures in either direction in full size.
At first we saw nothing. Jeez, here we were standing in the wind and cold spray for what? But then, someone pointed at the water and I caught a glimpse of something. At first it was a darkish blur gliding through the water alongside the ferry. It looked like the reflection of a cloud on the surface of the water, but it was moving with amazing speed and zigzagging through the water.
Suddenly it breached; more like leapt from the froth of the wake of the ferry. A small black and white dolphin accompanied by two more friends. We would later find out that they were Commerson’s dolphins, and these guys were one of about 3,400 in the Straits of Magellan. They continued to follow us for about 10 minutes leaping from the water in graceful fluid arcs. They were the best ambassadors to the land of fire that we could have ever wished for.
About twenty minutes later we were nearing the coast of Tierra del Fuego; The Land of Fire. The wind, the overcast and the increasing rain couldn’t dampen our enthusiasm to reach our destination. Before we knew it, the belly of the ferry was scraping on the shore of the land that just weeks ago seemed just a distant dream. Yet we had made it and we were here. We were very, very excited.
As we rolled off the damp and slick ferry ramp, I was a bit overwhelmed. It was dank and dreary, but I was elated. We had come a long way, over thousands of miles on gravel and through high wind, and there in front of me suspended from a large sign were the words in Spanish, Bienvenido a Tierra del Fuego; “Welcome To Tierra Del Fuego”. We had made it and we only had a bit over a day’s ride to reach the very tip of the South American continent. In fact, the most southern habitable place on the planet excluding those small scientific camps in Antarctica.
After about 15 minutes on pavement, we once again returned to the gravel. The rain began to intensify and we still had a few more hours to ride before reaching our hotel for the evening. Our route took out through the small coastal town of Rio Grande. The rain, wind and cold were beginning to take their toll and we decided that we should stop somewhere to eat and warm-up.
We roamed around the town a bit and found a small local shop selling roasted chickens and 2 foot long sandwiches. The shop itself was tiny. It was nothing to talk about and full of smoke from the chicken roasting in a brick hearth inside. Still to us, it looked like a haven of gigantic proportions. It was a take out only place, but we asked the owners if we could sit down on our little foldable portable chairs and eat in their tiny little rectangle that was warm and dry. They were more than happy to let us and as we squatted in their shop, we ate hot empanadas and slowly dried among the sizzling chicken and baking dough.
After stuffing ourselves on empanadas, we were somewhat dry and feeling much warmer than when we arrived. We thanked our hosts and got back onto the bikes in the drizzle and wind. As we exited Rio Grande, we rolled past a memorial to the Malvinas War (Falklands War). A single, easily 4o year old jet fighter stood perched on a pole in a small park. It was a symbol of pride for the Argentines and a remembrance of lives lost in that war. As we passed the still bird held aloft not by the air under its wings, but by a rusting piece of steel, it was a bit of a solemn reminder for two riders that the world doesn’t always get along.
Not long after passing the memorial, we were once again back on pavement and heading over mountains that loomed ahead. The weather continued to deteriorate and the heavy clouds began to descend quickly. From these clouds, tendrils of virga appeared as fingers reaching for the earth, hoping for a handhold lest they be torn apart on the jagged mountain peaks. As we climbed on the mountain roads, it was unclear whether the clouds were descending upon us or we were climbing to them or a combination of both. But as we climbed, the visibility continued to drop and then… it began to snow.
Large wet heavy flakes drifted towards the pavement and impaled themselves on us as we rode onward. Our visors quickly began to frost up with ice forming around the edges. Still the snow was not yet accumulating on the pavement and we were quite thankful for that. We thought it best to ride on and hoped that we would soon be descending into warmer temperatures so that the white wet flakes would soon return to their 100 percent liquid form. With increasing anticipation, we rode onward knowing that we would shortly start our descent from the mountain. We’ll tell you about the ride down the mountain in the next chapter.
Ride 2 Adventure – Shrink the Planet One Ride At A Time
I’ve gotten to thinking lately about how lucky I’ve been to have discovered two wheeled transportation. Even more so, having discovered two wheels powered by an engine.
I can still remember my first pedal bike very clearly. Those early experiences, spent on two wheels molded a desire for adventure and adventuring. That machine, powered by the force of muscle and the breath of a young boy, was in reality powered by the imagination of a young mind, imagining and longing for adventure.
As I rode that 20″ framed machine, a pair of young legs thrust its rider toward unseen and previously imagined horizons. Two wheels became the means to cover great distances at great speed. I can still remember the rush of the air by my face and the wind tousling my then full head of hair. Just the thought of being able to cover what appeared to be vast distances at what was then great speed, gave growth to a longing sense of adventure to new places and adventures yet untaken.
As the years passed, older and not necessarily much wiser, motorized two wheel transportation came within my reach. Motorized two wheel transportation, to a budding adventurer, young or old represents a waiting magic carpet. Often attractive in looks, slim, sleek and comfortable, freshly cleaned tassels (farkles) glittering, it awaits those who would simply climb aboard and enjoy the ride to the next adventure.
For those that do take that magical leap, the world and a world of experiences await. The only barrier, the willingness to take off on the journey and an open mind with which to experience the world. Should the rider climb on, grab the tassels, and consent to set the journey in motion, the experiences of the world await. Both good and bad.
Whether those experiences are good or bad will be decided by the magic carpet rider. Only that person, the one who has the intimate experiences, can pass judgement on them. For those who truly savor an adventure, the good and the bad are what make up the adventure. These experiences combine to provide a soup for the soul. A tablespoon of fun, a cup of local hospitality and perhaps a dash of mechanical difficulty all combine to flavor the pot with a rich and hearty flavor. Such adventurers know that a soup made of only a single fine ingredient will never match the taste of one made with many different standard ingredients.
So that brings me back to the title of this little article. On any adventure, is it worth it to risk good and bad experiences, with the bad potentially outweighing the good? At the end of the journey, will the adventurer be any better or worse for having taken the adventure? Let’s examine this a bit and see what we can come up with.
Let me give you a real world scenario. My father had frontal lobe dementia, a disease sort of like Alzheimer’s, that first robbed him of his memory, and ultimately his life. A brilliant scientist, as the dementia took hold, his memory was severely reduced and he was a mere shell of the experiences he encountered and the education he obtained. So was it worth it for him to work hard, get two undergraduate and two post-graduate degrees, have a family, raise children, and risk all the hardships that raising a family can bring. The simple answer, of course it was! My father lived a full life and enjoyed his family and his interactions with others despite some of the hardships that came with it.
With the passing of my father, did his experiences die? No, they were had, felt and responded to by him and others. These experiences molded him into the person he would later become. Without them, he and indeed the world itself, would be different. Both he and the people he met had changed, no matter how slightly, by their interactions.
So the same might be said of that would be adventurer thinking about jumping on that two wheeled motorized magic carpet. Is it worth it to take that magical leap onto two wheels and commence your journey of new life experiences to new places and new people? There could be difficult times during the journey… For those that wish to experience the world and those in it, the answer is a clear; yes!
Although we all will eventually die, the experiences we have had, together with the interactions with those we have met, will live on in those people and their children. So by riding the magic carpet, we will have made the world and ourselves, a little richer and better at each waypoint of the journey.
So jump on your magic carpet and take off on that journey!
Ride2Adventure – Shrink The Planet One Ride At A Time