Vintage Cape Horn 2013
An epic 6,000 kilometre adventure drive from Buenos Aires to Cape Horn through Argentina and Chile.
Day 20 - Rio Grande to Ushuaia
Ushuaia... Where the fox hat? ...ask Melinda. 'It's the end of the world as we know it.... and I feel fine'. REM - 1987
We all feel fine in fact because tonight we're sitting down to a glittering dinner drinking fine wine in a fine hotel on the shores of the Beagle Channel in Ushuaia, the most southerly city in the world.
We are in Argentina but out of the picture window we can see Chile as we tuck into sweetbreads, veal and chocolate tart. These two countries, their food, wine, landscape and hospitality have done us proud over the last month and I'm sure that more than one of our number would have raised a toast to the other side.
It's been quite a day though and this morning we started as we finished last night, on the track. The ever playful track day boys were trying to save a tenth here and gain a tenth there but it was Nigel Gambier and Hugo Upton who took the flag. Not the chequered flag - obviously - rather the Argentinian flag on a lap of the circuit. Ever the diligent diplomats they 'scorched' around flying the Bandera Oficial de Ceremonia from the Lagonda which had been transformed into a four wheeled, open topped goodwill embassy.
As fantastic as this was though the most abiding memory of the day though will most likely be the weather. Full blizzard conditions accompanied us most of the way with near freezing temperatures. Tierra de Fuego was not living up to its fiery name.
The passage along the muddy gravel tracks of the middle section was slow for some, there was a fair bit of slipping and sliding, Nellie Bishop in the Vauxhall without a roof had mastered the art of screen washing and wiping whilst on the move whereas Jan Woien and Jan Hansen in the Alvis with a roof could do their window cleaning only while at a complete standstill. Visibility and traction were both in short supply.
Further along the road and down the recently cleared Monte Olivia we saw both Robert and Jane Abrey peering out of their respective sides of the Bentley all the while trying desperately trying to hang onto the tail lights of Betty, the Rakers' Ford Model A who had a working trip meter and working windscreen wipers.
Snowploughs had been out and the road was passable but narrow tyres and drum brakes made for cautious progress.
Our destination was Ushuaia, the capital of Tierra del Fuego, on the southern coast of Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego and sits below the Martial Mountains to the north of it and to the south is bordered by the Beagle Channel.
The town also has a motto which we quite like "Ushuaia, fin del mundo, principio de todo" or "Ushuaia, end of the world, beginning of everything"
So, to the prize giving and speeches where the silverware was handed out for best performance in this category or that category.
Chuck and Pam Lyford and Paul and Sandra Merryweather took the overall honours but many more crews will see their mantelpiece a little more crowded next week as the trophies were handed out to recognise the many heroic efforts and some great competition.
The evening was rounded off nicely with the unofficial awards ceremony presented for any number of random acts of madness over the course of the Rally. The committee chaired by Melinda Raker and counting, amongst others Barbara Philips and Nellie Bishop had deliberated long and hard. Their judgements, careful and considered, for the likes of 'best in rally bodywork modification' the 'silliest hat' and 'cleanest interior' were very well received and reminded us all that there's a lighter side to the serious business of Endurance Rallying.
It's a sad fact that tomorrow morning many of us leave for home (weather permitting) but as well as a bag load of dirty laundry and some souvenirs we'll all be taking away great memories and lots of goodwill.
Until next time.