A potentially cold bus-stop night was averted with a wave from afar and Flavia's charm. Over coffee and bread, Flavia mentioned wanting to hug a lamb... and Pepa magically appeared from the back yard for dreams fulfilled...
We gobbled up the miles to Punta Arenas without much relief from the pavement and wind until a bit of color welcomed us in.
With iPhones repaired and the bulk of the gang back together, we crossed over to Tierra del Fuego and enjoyed a ripping tail wind across the pampa making life easy for us and the drying at hand.
"Retirement" home perfectly sized for a fatbike.
Our "hotel" for the day as we waited for the winds to the penguins to drop.
Inside, Damian resorted to full body explanations to clarify the graphics of the "Cyclone" surprisingly not obvious to Marco and I. Esoteric Frenchies versus German and American...
David, Flavia, and I mounted "Operation Penguin" as winds abated. With zoom lens in hand, we skirted the pay zone and backtracked along the beach and crawled through the dunes to resounding success.
At the last minute, this little guy decided to come out and play on the beach and reward our efforts.
The day just kept giving as the Patagonian sky did its thing on our return.
With another round of passport stamps, Flavia and I hung a quick left after San Sebastian onto the ripio, replacing a momentary stretch of Ruta 3 white line fever with crunchy sounds of goodness in all directions.
Just plain good for your soul.
January is a good time to be in Argentina as it was shearing time at Estancia Maria Behety, home to the largest shearing shed in the world. In about two minutes, a years worth of wool drops to the shearing floor.
Back out on the Pampas, it was survival of the fittest
and survival of the not so fittest.
After loading up on empanadas, "this's and that's" at the Panaderia in Tolhuin, Flavia and I nosed down Ruta 3 for a few miles until the smell of Cass Gilbert's tracks ushered us to the right onto old Ruta 3. Over fences and through a few streams, we eased into a field of dandelions blanketing the old road bed grinning like kids.
After jumping a few fences, Virginia came out to warn us of the river crossing up ahead. "I think i know what you're talking about" turned into "you should talk to Flavia..." as I couldn't quite close the loop between muy profundo and ruta tres...
Nothing to worry about, just don't think about the dead cow underfoot...
A well placed sign marked the way into a Lago Escondido reunion with Marco and the Frenchies
as we took advantage of free lakefront accommodations and French ghosts roaming around the abandoned hostel.
After a morning grinder up to Paso Garibaldi, Flavia and I said goodbye to the others and nosed back out toward the Beagle Canal in search of a faint bit of ripio and trail leading to Ushuaia.
Expecting to duck behind the lee-side of a shack and enjoy the normal bread, cheese, and tomato lunch, Puerto Almanza offered up a fancy seafood feast accompanied by
Don't worry about it. Yo no hablo...
A quiet afternoon of jeep track wound us out along the edge of the Beagle Canal to abandoned Puerto Remolino.
Fading light against the port's only permanent resident.
Without a doubt, one of the best stretches of riding since leaving Bariloche.
Flavia airing out her soul the following morning.
Who doesn't love a fatbike.
A GPS squiggle that changed from solid to dashed marked the beginning of the push.
With a mile or so of Calafate thorn shredding, Flavia revealed the prefect combination of souls - a young soul of eternal optimism on the outside with the perseverance of an old soul on the inside.
One of those days, but worthy of every fence jump, river crossing, and hill grunt.
And, just like that the woods parted by the lighthouse and left a easy coast down to the Fin del Mundo sign.
Ushuaia has been in my sights for a while but also marks a kind of tough turning point. For most southbounders, Ushuaia is the end of their journey with returns to the normal not long behind. For me, it's a type of kick turn with the next leg of the journey stretching north out of Puerto Montt. Sadly though, Ushuaia means the end of traveling together as an off again on again group. There's a bond built on the road that is very special and I feel grateful to have experienced it with these guys for as long.
It was with heavy heart that I boarder the bus back up to Puerto Natales to begin the next leg of the journey. A special thanks to "faith girl" for filling the journey with so many great memories and faithfully following the squiggly line with me.
And who can forget about the T-man who ducked in just in time before most of us disbanded to leave us with another of his epic quotes - "I'm tired of so strong wind..."