Searching for an End

The day we left San Francisco we didn’t know there was a Ushuaia. We didn’t know about Route 3, Tierra del Fuego, or what lay at the end of the PanAmerican Highway. We only knew that one day we would get there.

Crossing the Strait of Magellan

Because the reactions to our goal were so contrary, we eventually stopped telling people our plans at all. By December 2010 when asked about our future, the response was reduced to one word, either moving or traveling. Mentioning Latin America, driving, or the PanAmeircan Highway put us on the receiving end of long-winded speeches filled with doubt and concern. The people that believed in us could be counted on our own four hands.

As it turns out there are a few “ends” of the road. And we reached them all.

View Tierra del Fuego in a larger map

Tierra del Fuego itself was a breath of fresh air. The days are long, the wilderness camping abundant, and the rivers crisscrossing the island are home to the world’s largest trout.

We camped our way to the first end, Ushuaia, constantly stopping to capture the scenery. At the campground overlooking town, we toasted our celebratory champagne over a campfire. Our Brazilian neighbors came over to warm up by the fire and eventually asked how we managed to get here. We never were able to convince them we had driven.

A fitting brew for the last leg, Bohemian Pilsener

Black-tie optional at this campground

Entering the southernmost town in the world

Gather 'round ya'll

Moving on to the second end we paid the ever-increasing fee to enter Tierra del Fuego National Park, the terminus of Route 3. We snapped the official end of the road photos after waiting in line behind a gaggle of European motorcyclists. We went on to send postcards from the southernmost post office and had our passports stamped to commemorate the geographical achievement.

A long ways from home

Getting inked at the fin del mundo

Not entirely content with these slightly manufactured conclusions, we studied the map which revealed a single-lane jetting southeast from Ushuaia; quite possibly the furthest end one could reach.

The dirt road featured nothing but ancient estancias and untamed wilderness. We wound up and down while the clouds unleashed a seemingly permanent onslaught of mist and rain.  The ocean whipped furious whitecaps on our right, the mountains stood on silent guard to the left.

Nearing the 3rd and final end

2.8 kilometers, had to take a moment

57 miles later the road stopped. Dead end. Only a small naval shelter and the grey ocean were there to greet us. On Sunday, January 22nd after 18,300 miles, one year, two weeks, and four days we put the truck in park. That evening we raised a roaring campfire along the southernmost shore and talked about life for a while.

What next?

A memorable camp

One big adventure. Done. We assumed at this moment we would discover an end. Getting it out of our system, we would fall back in line, dreaming of three-day weekends and perfectly coordinated Italian leather furniture sets. Yet here we are at the cusp, anticipating further frontiers.

Normal won’t be a place we return to. Pulling away with the end of the road in our rear-view we can’t help tossing preposterous ideas around jovially. For we have recently discovered there is nothing in this world we cannot accomplish together.

Picturing a different kind of future


23 thoughts on “Searching for an End

  1. WOW! Congratulations guys. Great trip. We are so happy we got a chance to meet you, even if it was only for a night. 
    Suerte – Sprinter Life

    • We followed your trip from start to finish, not to mention your adventures in farming! Hard to believe we haven’t had a meet-up yet, we’ll look for you on the West Coast soon.

  2. Nice guys, what an amazing adventure. Congratulations; still no word on what’s next? Any options you care for public opinion on?

    • Sorry for the suspense, answers are forthcoming. But one thing is for sure, right now it’s time to re-fill the coffers in the US of A.

  3. Congratulations! I have yet to formally announce my own trip, a bike trip, with my goal being to visit every country in North and South America excluding the island trips, which at this point I’m planing on doing in about a year and a half.

    • That’s awesome! We’ve met many bikers along the way and think they truly know how to wander. Looking forward to following your trip!

  4. Love the post… that is exactly how we felt when we finished our backpacking RTW and, the reason why we’ll be doing our down drive down the Pan American in less than 2 short years. Once you’ve realized the freedom and joy of living life large it’s nearly impossible to conceptualize going back to what you knew before.
    I wish you luck with wherever your next dreams take you but know, no matter what you end up doing, that this trip has changed your life forever!
    Rhonda (and Jim:) )

    • As always, your words are inspiring and uplifting. Thank you for sticking with us. We can’t wait to see how your PanAm adventures play out!

  5. Even though we’ve never met I feel that I’ve been with you in spirit through your remarkable adventure. Thank you! God bless and many more happy trails.
    Mike McCormick

  6. holy crap, your post gave me goosebumps!  Congrats guys.  You two are an amazing team and I look forward to reading all of the crazy adventures to come :)

    -lauren (home on the highway)

  7. My husband just found your blog and it’s CRAZY; we also have a truck called ‘the beast” (ours is more known as the ‘sexy beast’ though), we just got back from a month camping in baja (with our two kids, the truck and a tent) and are now looking for a top for our truck to drive to… CHILE. Oh, and we are in the SF Bay Area. I blog at With a Little Moxie, not so much travel stuff though. We’re looking forward to back-reading your tale. 

    • What is it about the Bay Area that makes people want to take a reeeally long drive? You won’t be alone doing the PanAm with kids, tons of families on the road! We’re kicking ourselves for not saving this route for our future offspring, maybe round two is in order.

  8. The Knights Here: 
    You don’t know us but we’ve been following the blog and ate at Arts last week in your honor.  

    We’ve gotta know, what’s happening to the truck?  I put in my best sales pitch to Mrs. Knight to fly down there and take it off your hands but didn’t get past, “What if we….”  

    Chris and Emily

    • We fought the temptation to ask for a detailed description of your order at Arts…best breakfast in the sunset, worst coffee! The truck will be adventuring on some continent, with some other team, details are forthcoming. Thanks for tagging along with us!

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