Solo to Tierra del Fuego...
Updated: Dec 6, 2020
The seed for riding to the tip of South America was planted in 1991, overhearing a group of guys at a BMW dealer in Fort Worth preparing for a trip from Alaska to Ushuaia. The idea bit me hard at age 31, but it seemed an impossibility with a family and a life-consuming business to run. Nevertheless, the idea remained in the back of my consciousness, a tiny speck of an ember, never quite dying out.
After getting back into riding 11 years ago, the ember was fanned by stories from motorcycle websites and travelers met, slowly flickering into a flame. The logistics of a solo trip south seemed overwhelming. Work, bills and a home all kept the dream just a fantasy. Time slipped away as I tried to make it all happen. The reality that unless something radical was done in my life, the cycle of working to pay bills would never end. As I turned 55, waiting any longer seemed far more foolish than making a radical life change. I knew too many people who'd postponed their dreams, only to die early or develop issues that would never allow it. I did not want that to be me.
It seemed the only solution was to rid myself of every bit of responsibility possible. Getting radical was what had to be done. I began selling my "sacred cows" and possessions, culminating in the sale of my home to free me of responsibility and fund the enterprise. What I found in that process, was that my sadness in selling a lifetime of accumulated possessions quickly turned to joy. Somehow, each layer I sold off or gave away lifted a weight from my shoulders. By the end of the process, I couldn't give things away fast enough. Dumpsters were my new friends. I felt newness of life replacing the unrecognized weight of all the things I'd accumulated in my life.
During that period, I’d met Kim, aka “The Iron Butterfly”, who also wanted to do something radical in life. Though I'd planned for a solo trip to South America, she wanted to experience long term motorcycle travel as well. Kim had basic skills from riding dirt bikes in childhood, but handling a large, heavy, gear-laden adventure motorcycle in difficult conditions was a different story. It seemed best to reverse my plan of going to South America and then Alaska, instead traveling North America first with its excellent roads and scenery. It would be a good training ground for her, free of language barriers and international issues, especially if she decided adventure riding wasn't for her, as getting home would be easy.
We left for the North America expedition in June 2016 with no particular agenda, other than a northward trek through as much beautiful terrain as possible. The trip rambled on until reaching the Arctic Ocean at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska before reversing south and ending in a 4 month exploration of Mexico. At the end, we'd traveled 9 months and 30,000 miles by motorcycle. It was a great adventure and can be found on the blog, The Adventures of LoneStar and The Iron Butterfly
The U.S., Canada and Mexico route in 2016-2017
A bit more detail on the Mexico route:
After that experience, my solo journey to South America begins in earnest. The direction on the map is Ushuaia, Argentina, but the true destination lies somewhere in the soul. Traveling to Patagonia by motorcycle is a bit more common now than in 1991, but for me it's the journey I've waited for and as I've learned from previous travels, it's always about the journey, not the destination. I've also found that roads are simply pathways to the people who will touch your life. We make our plans but they are often confounded, so rather than saying “I’m riding to Ushuaia!”, I’m just going to say “I’m heading south”...
The route will take me back through Mexico, then Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. From there, I plan to ship the bike by sailboat to Colombia and explore South America, ending up in the southernmost town of Ushuaia and the literal end of the road in Tierra Del Fuego National Park around February.
Here are some photos from the recent trek through the West, Canada, Alaska and Mexico and if you have time check out "The Adventures of LoneStar and The Iron Butterfly" for a great photo documentary!
The Dalton Highway, Alaska
San Juans, Colorado
Yukon Territory, Canada
San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico
Uruapan, Michoacan, Mexico
Patzcuaro, Michoacan, Mexico