t) Epilogue

From the End of the World to an Old Home
March 10 to April 4, 2014

What to do when you have reached the end of the world after nearly two years of bicycle travel?  Nothing seems quite enough, or fitting.  But surprisingly, it hasn't felt nearly as strange as we thought it would.  There is so little in life that gives such a full sense of completion and accomplishment as reaching the end of the earth on your bicycle.  So, I suppose, there is a great sense of satisfaction that fills us.  At the same time, life for our family and friends has moved forward in familiar ways, and as we enter back into these lives, it almost feels as if no time has passed at all.  The surrealism of it leads me to think quite often "did that big old bike trip just happen...or was it just a dream?".... But, of course, it did happen.

Here are some photos from our last days at the bottom, and a few from our return to the top. 


Days in Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego National Park

We found ourselves in Ushuaia a full two weeks before our flight that would take us back home.  So, we needed to find a little something do it.  We found a great place to stay through warmshowers.org.  Alba owns a B&B and offers cyclists three nights free... It was comfortable, quiet, and warm.  So we spent a few days doing very little other than acquainting ourselves with Ushuaia and doing a lot of napping and reading.  It was good.  

When out three days was up, we decided to head to the nearby Tierra del Fuego National Park, to do some hiking and enjoy the beauty.  Unfortunately, the weather was pretty miserable. Rain and wet snow, and a lot of wind... So camping, while always possible, would not be the most fun.  Because it was the end of the season, and the weather was pretty terrible, we had the park nearly to ourselves. Luckily there was a hut of sorts at one of the campgrounds, and for not too much money we could sleep indoors with heat from a wood stove.   As it was pouring rain when we arrived at the campground, we opted for this indoor option.  The next day the rain was not so heavy and we hiked along a beautiful lake to...the Chilean border, and then back again.  Later that day, we biked to the true end of the road.  It turns out that Ushuaia is not actually the end, the road carries on 24 km into the national park, and ends at Lapataia Bay.  So, we made it to the real end.  There was a sign there saying that the Alaska was 17,848 km away.... Somehow we managed to tack on an extra 10,000 km...oops!   

We spent one more night at the comfy hut, and we would have stayed more, but the next morning a school teacher came in and we learned that thirty 9-10 year-olds would be sharing the rather small space with us that night.  It would be particularly cramped as there were only fourteen beds!   Needless to say, we decided to pack up and move on.   There were a number of free campgrounds in the park, so we headed to one of them.  It was still pretty cold, which meant we needed to bundle up in just about all the clothing we owned, but we managed to stay just warm enough.  We spent the next two days doing more hikes and soaking in the beauty around us.

We headed back to the city of Ushuaia, and to Alba's house.  She had very kindly agreed to give us a room at a discounted rate.  When we got there, she asked us if we would help with some work the next day, and we happily agreed.  We have been helped by so many people on this long journey, it is always nice to be able to help others.  The next day we drove up to a property that Alba owned and spent a few hours clearing branches and building a makeshift fence out of them to mark the property line.  On the way back to the city Alba asked what we liked to cook.  When we told her that we ate pasta with vegetables pretty much every night, she pressed further asking us what we liked to cook for a really good meal.   Before we knew it, she was making plans for us to cook her a three-course meal the next day!   With a little trepidation we prepared a soup, casserole, and brownies for Alba and us, and luckily it was a hit.  Alba said that she normally eats alone, so she was thrilled to be able to share a meal.  We were leaving early the next morning, so we wanted to settle our bill that evening... but when Glenn went down to pay, Alba wouldn't accept any money.  It was such a nice was to finish our journey to the end of the world.

To Punta Arenas...by Bus

With our trip officially over, we loaded our bikes onto a bus for the first time for the 600 km journey to Punta Arenas, Chile, where our flight would leave from.   We had decided quite a while back to book a flight from Punta Arenas back to Canada, because it was significantly cheaper than flying from Ushuaia.  We knew, however, that we would need to figure out a way to get there.  We had spent some time looking into boats, and it would have been possible, but very expensive.   Biking was of course also an option, but we would have been mainly back-tracking, against the prevailing wind...which means it could have taken up to two weeks.  So, the bus it was. 

There is nothing like a long bus ride to make you appreciate travel by bike.  From a driver who was grumpy about us putting the bikes on the bus, to waves of nausea at each twist and turn, to a six hour wait at the ferry because the wind was too strong for it to run, to arriving in Punta Arenas at midnight... we discovered that bus travel is not for sissies.  It certainly left us feeling exhausted, but not the healthy and satisfied variety of exhausted that seven hours of pedaling gives you... more the pasty, grumpy, gross kind.

When we arrived there were a few women advertising rooms to rent, and after pedaling around a little we took one of these rooms... for a rather outrageous $50.  Luckily we had previously contacted a couchsurfing host, and we were able to move over to his house the next day.  We ended up having three full days in Punta Arenas before our flight, and to be quite honest we did not do a whole lot.  The winds had become really strong, so going out for a bike ride was not too appealing and even walking around was a little harrowing.  But we did get some bicycle boxes... which was an adventure in itself as we tried to carry them back to our couchsurfing hosts house!   Before we knew it, it was 5:00 am, on March 23 and we were checking in for our flights back home.  As a sort of final gift of the journey, we weren't even charged to bring our incredibly awkward and heavy bicycles on to the flights... and 24-odd hours later, they actually arrived at the Toronto airport with us!

Return to the North

I'd write about the flights home, but I think that everyone is well aware that air travel is uncomfortable and tedious at the best of times...so no need to drive home this point.   We arrived dazed and confused to bloody cold Ontario air...thinking "what is wrong with this country!", but we didn't have much right to complain, our friends and family had just made it through the entire brutal winter with a record number of days below -20 degrees Celsius.  Luckily my dad was there to pick us up, so we didn't have to hop on our bikes!  

So now... back in Ontario, Canada.   We have been floating around for the last couple of weeks, seeing family and friends and having a wonderful welcome home party at our friend's Nathan and Sheetal's place in Toronto.  

Perhaps the most exciting news is that we are now an aunt and uncle !  My sister Meghan gave birth to her son Malcolm on April 2, 2014!

There is quite a lot of uncertainty in the weeks and months ahead, about what we will be doing and where we will be living.  But, we are trying to follow our instincts and more than anything else we will try to live in a way that honors our hopes and dreams. 

(we'll let you know how it goes...)