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Austral Diaries II: Cold Sunshine

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I_was_expecting something different on the Austral; not from the road itself, but from my own state of mind as we close to within 1,000 miles of Ushuaia.  Every single day since the beginning of August has been leading towards where we are today, and every day hereafter continues that line bound for the end of the world in Tierra del Fuego.  I thought that by this point that we would feel swept up in the inertia of the thousands of miles behind us, as if the tantalizing closeness of our journey’s conclusion would alter our mental states and captivate our daily thoughts.

We are close to Ushuaia, yet there isn’t anything about that state of affairs that makes our oatmeal taste different in the morning, or the mountains less steep, or the harsh stones of the Austral any less sharp.  Nathan dented his rear rim yesterday after plowing through a rock garden.  Time and distance for us are not inextricably related.  We could have ridden 40,000 miles before this point and still the bicycles don’t pedal themselves or heal their wear and tear.  To make our miles here we have no choice but to go to bed early, rise early, ride hard, and try to find a kind sheep rancher with a barn before the sun sets.  It’s still a little surreal when we feel the chill and the sunshine on our backs as it traces an ever shallower path across the northern sky.  It wasn’t very long ago that we were chasing the sun in the southern sky every day that winter crept closer in Canada.  It’s a beautiful way to live these last days, and it’s fitting that it isn’t all that different from those that came before it.

There has never been a project like Bound South in any of our lives before.  A school semester requires half the time and effort of this Pan-American bicycle expedition, and every day is continuously apportioned to our goal.  For eight months we have eschewed holidays and weekends and all of the normal conventions of the lives we knew, sacrificing them to a single goal.  It hasn’t felt like a vacation or project, either; though it is temporary it has become a compelling mainstay of our lives.  We have changed since leaving home and will continue to do so when we return.  The simple, familiar work on our family farm will be no less extraordinary than these last days on bicycle.  To be sure, one is more conventional than the other; but both are good things worth doing.  We are fortunate that the road ends in Ushuaia, as Mother Nature provides us with a helpful nudge and wink saying, “That’s enough boys.”  Until then, we’ll keep bouncing along the stones of the Austral, freezing in our tent, and marveling at what great works have been done in these granite cliffs and spires that rise up so majestically in this part of the world.  Tomorrow is simply another good day worth the riding to get there.

Lago Puyuhaupi

Navigating

Nathan, straightening a few dents by the stove in this cozy restaurant.

Puppy: nemesis of Bound South, too cute for his own good.

Incredible rock formations

Autumnal colors coming down the mountainsides

Cool and frosty air found us in the shade.

Cascadas

Coyhaique

13 Comments Post a comment
  1. I admire what you guys are doing and trying to achieve. Keep biking!

    April 23, 2012
  2. The continuous beauty of Patagonia will be your challenge, impetus and solace, in these final two weeks.

    April 23, 2012
  3. As you trudge on, we are so grateful that you have shared your Pan-American bicycle expedition with us. I have logged in to read about your descriptive journeys, and awed at your magnificent photography of this world God has made.
    Our church travels to Guatemala a couple of times a year, and we know the treacherous land as well as the dangers of the area…We have been praying you through it all.
    This truly is a once in a lifetime venture. Thank you for sharing with us the challenges, beauty, and amazement of it all.
    Keep Biking!
    Will there be a book of your compiled photos and the challenges through this journey?

    April 23, 2012
  4. Awesome photos.

    Question: From earlier photos I see that you had fenders. Did you remove them by choice or did they break or something?

    April 23, 2012
    • Thanks! We removed them prior to our South American leg. Extra tire clearance and overall ease of off-bike transportation without fenders were are reasons. I think we made the right decision.

      April 30, 2012
  5. Sarah Daeuber #

    Keep riding gents! Can’t wait for you all to be back home and to hear all the extra stories!

    April 23, 2012
  6. elizabethhoward1 #

    How awesome gents! I bet the views are beautiful.

    April 23, 2012
  7. Kim D #

    loved this entry Isaiah! good luck on the rest of your journey!

    April 24, 2012
  8. Donalee Josephson #

    I look forward to all your posts and love to see your new and always breathtaking pictures! As your journey winds down, we continue to keep your health and safety in our prayers. It will be interesting to hear what God has planned for you next!

    April 24, 2012
  9. Janet Dobosh #

    What a fantastic experience you all have as brothers to enjoy–now and forever! So great to see family at its best –always cheering each other on, working towards a shared goal, rejoicing together at the high points and supporting and finding strength in each other during the low points, and best of all finding comfort and laughter at the end of each day. We love that you three brothers took on this amazing journey together and fully embraced the spirit of adventure, culture and environment the entire way! Way to go! We were happy to meet you and look forward to seeing more of your amazing photos of the rest of the journey, and the giant smiles on your faces when you soon make it to Ushuaia! Janet and Barry

    April 27, 2012
  10. Beautiful photos!

    April 27, 2012
  11. AJ #

    Great perspective on an amazing journey… that will continue even when the traveling is done

    April 28, 2012
  12. Bill Kees #

    Blessings on your finishing. Make sure to stay focused on today’s travel and take in the beauty of God’s presence.

    April 30, 2012

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