Leg 4 – Texas to Mexico – End Of All Roads

Leg 4 – Texas to Mexico

Leg 3 ended in mid-October, with us going our separate ways so that we could take the holidays off and be with our families. Our plan was to meet up after the new year in Houston, Texas and all ride together to Mexico and beyond.  During the hiatus, Bob and Brian rode to South Carolina to attend a BMW motorcycle riding course.  They sang the praises for days of how much fun it was and how much they learned from the course.  As you might expect, BMW had the course down to a science and they knew exactly what to teach, how to teach and in a timeline that wasn’t too fatiguing.  I was a bit sorry I didn’t go, but family obligations took me elsewhere.

My motorcycle was in Dallas at my brother’s condo in downtown. I was able to go back to Texas in December and the weather was gorgeous, so I decided to hop on and ride it to Houston at that time, and then my bike would be in position for the upcoming Leg 4 in January.  Bob and Brian rode a couple of weeks before me from South Carolina to Texas, and their bikes were being serviced and stored at a local BMW dealer in Houston.  I stored my bike at the same place to make things easier for the next month, when we would all rendezvous.

Justin had recently announced that not only was he going to join us on Leg 4, he was going to be joining us for the rest of the entire ride around the world.  Now we have an additional full-time rider to add to our band of brothers that are setting out to take on the world.  Justin was a welcome addition in many ways.  He was one of our good friends that we worked with on Guam and we had shared many beers with him.  Bob would say, “Brian and Justin both speak ‘Nerd’.  That’s why they both get along so well.”  We all got along, but I’d say that Justin and Brian spoke on a level that only the two of them could speak.  They were both very intelligent and had to know all the details and intricacies with all things, whereas Bob and I are more “turn the key and go” kind of guys.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Year’s Eve – Bob, Brian and myself went to Angeles City in the Philippines.  It was a festive place and we have a few places in the Philippines that we have gotten to know well that serve as our vacation spots, and this is one of our favorites. It was only about a 3-hour flight for us, was a good retreat and good way to bring in the new year.  Of course, we did a lot of talking about the upcoming trip and our excitement grew.  Even though we had 18,000 miles of road under our tires, we felt like our trip was really just beginning, because now all of the weird international stuff is going to start happening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mid-January – Justin was back in Dallas, where he had been storing his motorcycle, and was going to be riding down with his wife, Lara, who was riding along on her own ADV motorcycle, to meet up with us in San Antonio. She would be seeing us off at the border.

 

 

Bob, Brian and myself met up in Houston and stayed at some of our very good friends’ house, Dave and Christy Wright.  Dave and Christy live in Kingwood, and have 2 high-energy, young daughters.  While, they were busy parenting, we were busy prepping our gear and getting ready for the ride to the Mexican border. It was a very festive vibe! We stayed for 2 days and ate our share of Mexican food, since we cannot get great Mexican food on Guam.  The evenings were spent with beer and tequila flowing because a few years earlier, Dave had lost a bet that included the consequence of a Lifetime Supply of Booze.  Needless to say, I’ve collected every time I see him, which is usually only once a year.  This was our one time a year to renew our friendship and few people can make me laugh as hard as Dave and Christy.  So, while their kids were sleeping, we were enjoying ourselves and laughing well into the night.

 

The following morning, we were set to leave and there was snow on the ground.  Snow on the ground? In Houston? What?? It had melted by about mid-afternoon but there were still icy patches on the roads.  We decided to stay an extra day.  Justin had already arrived in San Antonio and the roads were fine, just really cold for their ride, but Houston had also been caught on the edge of this winter storm.  The tequila flowed and my ribs literally hurt from laughing so hard, for so long.  The evenings were so much fun and the days were still filled with getting our bikes ready, which continuously added to the anticipation of the ride that was coming.  But the following morning, we went to lunch and the roads were still littered with icy patches.  As eager as we were to get out on the road and start the trip, we weren’t going to press a marginal situation.  So, we waited an extra day and the company was so good, it wasn’t a hard decision.

 

Justin and Lara had planned to wait for us in San Antonio but decided to press on to Laredo.  We planned to ride all the way to Laredo in one day, since we were a bit behind schedule, but that’s not the way it went.  It was 40 degrees outside and pouring rain.  The roads were still a bit slick, but it was the wet and cold that we could have done without.  It is part of riding, and we have cold weather gear, but it still sucked.  We took a few breaks, but the breaks combined with our late start meant we only made it as far as San Antonio.  We probably could have made it to Laredo, but this ride is about seeing and experiencing the world, it’s not about how fast we can make a lap around the world and pound our chest.  It’s the experience we are after, nothing more.

We stayed in downtown San Antonio and walked to the River Walk area.  It was a nice stop and we cruised around and checked out the city.  The following morning it was still cold, but not as wet, which we were thankful for.  On our way out of town we had to see the Alamo, which wasn’t far from our hotel. We pulled up next to all of the tourist buses and didn’t like the view.  We thought we could do better.  There were police everywhere and no shortage of people telling us where to go and where not to go/park.  There is one street that goes right by the front of the Alamo and we pulled right up to enjoy the view for as long as we could before we were inevitably shooed off by the police.  As soon as we stopped, this lady with a large camera starting taking pictures of us.  She ran up and asked if she could take more.  We said, “Of course! Can you send us a few of them?” and she agreed.  Little did I know that this picture would be the last photo I would take with Brian on our motorcycles, and it would be the last picture of the 3 of us together.  Remember the Alamo?  I will never forget the Alamo!

Eventually the police did come over. I was surprised it took as long as it did. I think they gave us a little leeway since we were on motorcycles and pulled off to the side of the lane and didn’t block traffic.  I appreciate they have a job to do and we milked it as long as we could.

We pulled over in between San Antonio and Laredo to get some gas and take a short break.  While we were in the parking lot, a man had pulled over and was reading the stickers on our bikes.  He was sitting in his truck watching our videos and reading our site.  When we came out of the gas station, he had a lot of questions.  He was Mexican-American and enjoyed riding his Harley.  Like most riders, he appreciated seeing others on a riding adventure and he wanted to hear more.  We sat and chatted for about 45 minutes, then made our way to Laredo, where Justin and Lara were waiting to greet us.  Of course, we were late, and the day had gotten away from us, like they usually do, but Justin had been waiting patiently for a while.

After we arrived in Laredo, we all got a Mexican meal and came up with a plan.  We had a few last-minute preparations to do before going to Mexico.  I had a SENA camera/intercom on my helmet that had broken, and I wanted to replace it. It’s the second one I have had that has broken, so I needed some time to do some research and see what my options were.  Brian wanted to put tape all around his crash bars so they weren’t so shiny and didn’t get any extra attention.  All of us were going to put a temporary spray paint on our bikes to make them look more dingy, so they would be less appealing to those that might want to steal them.  We were trying to dumb down our bikes and fly under the radar.  With all of that to do, we decided to take an extra day in Laredo so that everyone could take a day for last minute preparations.

Justin junked out his bike a little too well!

The weather cleared up and we all spent most of the day in the parking lot of our hotel working on our bikes.  The music was going and there was never a shortage of conversation or laughter.  It felt like the days of high school hanging with my friends and time seemed endless, without a care in the world.  I certainly had many cares in the world yet time seemed to fly, so to get a day with a very slow pace with my friends, in those conditions, was very welcome.  The next morning was the launch of it all and the ever-building anticipation was continuously growing.  We made a plan to be in the parking lot ready to go at 5:30 AM  the next morning. I would normally laugh at that because someone would surely be late and we would drag the morning out and time would start to slip away.  So, we made a bet that whoever was last to show up, if it was after 5:30 AM, had to buy all the meals for the day, including beer in the evening.  Everyone showed up on time!

 

At 5:30 AM on January 20th, 2018 we started our bikes to ride to the Mexican border, which was only a few short miles away.  While we were in the hotel parking lot a guy came up and starting to chat us up.  He worked for Halliburton and spends a lot of time in Laredo.  He told a story of how he and some coworkers had left at 5 AM the previous morning and stopped to help a pregnant woman on the side of the road with the hood up on her car.  As soon as they pulled over and walked up to the woman, they were ambushed by guys with guns and robbed of everything they had.  He reminded us to not stop for anyone, and to be very careful.  Our pucker factor was high and now it just increased a lot, but off we went toward the border.

We cruised through the US side of the border as the customs agent smirked at us with a “what are you guys doing?” kind of look.  We then coasted up to the Mexican side of the border and were told to pull off to the side.  Three customs officers surrounded us and asked politely to see our registration and insurance information.  We had anticipated this question and we all had the info ready to go.  As soon as we showed it to them, they waived us all through and it was over.  The whole crossing took 5 minutes.  I couldn’t believe how painless it was.  It wasn’t over yet though. We still had to get a vehicle permit to allow us to drive our bikes in Mexico, and we needed to find the permit office.  As soon as we crossed the border I took a wrong turn down a one-way street.  There was conflicting information coming from all of our GPS’s and our individual info was telling us to go in different directions.  We didn’t want to lose each other and we didn’t want to look too lost because of the inherent vulnerability in Mexico.  I did a quick 180 to get on the right road and catch up with the other guys.  After a few wrong turns from all of us, we found the permit office.  It was about 6:30 AM and we were already at the permit office.  We were all very happy about that and it looked like we had a chance to really get on the road early and make our way toward Zacatecas, which was our destination of the day and was about 410 miles away.

As we parked in the parking lot of the permit office we were getting stared down by everyone. It was uncomfortable.  We made a plan that we would go in the building in pairs, so that 2 guys could watch our bikes and gear, while the other 2 got their permits.  Bob and Justin went inside first, and Brian and I stayed in the parking lot.  As soon as Bob and Justin got inside, a huge truck with an insane lift kit on it, pulled up next to us.  A Mexican guy hops out with a look of exhaustion and stands next to me and says in perfect English, “Man, this place is something! I just got pulled over by these guys that wanted to steal my furniture (he had in the back of the truck) and then take money off of me.” He went on to explain that there was a police officer there watching the whole event.  He lives in Texas and makes the drive to Nuevo Laredo on the Mexico side of the border often.  He had so many stories.  We talked for about a half-hour and we heard his many tales of dealing with the cartels and the gangs of Mexico.  He was an avid motocross rider and he, like many others, had an appreciation for what we were doing and wanted to offer some friendly advice.  He advised us to never stop for anyone, even the police, because they are all in business with the cartels to rob guys like us.  Our pucker factor rose again.

It took Bob and Justin about 2 hours to get their permits, but they had learned the process and laid it all out for us, so we could avoid some of the pitfalls that they had just been through.  Brian and I took our turn and went inside with Bob leading the way for the first few minutes so that he could explain the process.  He then returned to the parking lot to help Justin guard the bikes and gear.  Our process took about an hour.  We had one more chat with our new friend, who offered a few additional pieces of advice for our survival and his last words were, “Remember, the cartels already know you are here, how many guys you have in your crew, how many bikes you have and what kind they are.”  We waived goodbye to him, the permit office and started to make our way out of town.

There was a loop that went around the town and that’s the way we went.  We had a few stop lights to go through but we always left enough room between the cars in front of us, in case we had to juke left or right around traffic from a stop, in case we got ambushed.  Our mindset was that of being in a war zone.  We were ready to always fall under attack.  It was too early for the thugs to get out of bed, and the night shift was on their way to bed, I think apparently, because we cruised out of town with no problems.

As soon as we were about 5 miles out of town and it was apparent we were getting into a less populated area, Brian shouted in our intercoms, “END OF ALL ROADS!!!” Bob was in front, I was in the back and Brian and Justin were in the middle of the pack.  Brian, at that moment, raised his right hand and slid over to Justin for a “High 5”.  The two of them carefully converged and gave a good hard slap.  Brian said, “End of All Roads, baby! This is the first time all of us have ridden together!” We then had a conversation about this being the first time all four of us had ridden together on the End Of All Roads trip.  For different reasons, there had been different people absent or unable to ride at different times, and this was the first time that we all had been on our bikes together at the same time.  Brian recognized that and celebrated it in that moment.  I had my camera off to the side and my SENA helmet camera was still broken, so I missed that shot.  I remember thinking how special that instant was at the time, and I couldn’t believe I didn’t catch it on any camera.  I suppose some moments are just meant to be enjoyed and not to be documented.

 

 

The day was wonderful.  The weather was good and the toll roads were in great conditions with no obstacles.  We made a couple of pit stops for a snack and to give our butts a break, but we were on pace to make it to Zacatecas.  There was very little traffic on the road so we felt like we had Mexico all to ourselves.  We were beginning to talk about the things we wanted to see and do in Zacatecas, as we enjoyed the cactus fields and the beautiful landscapes.

Bob and Brian have always jokingly given me a hard time, saying that I have 2 speeds, 90 and Stop.  I feel comfortable at 90 MPH and that’s my speed that I like to cruise at, and most of the time, the other guys do, too.  Bob barked at us to slow down a tick so we could all get back together on the road.  Brian pulled in front, probably to manage me from speeding up.  Brian was out front, I was in the second position, and Bob and Justin were about a ¼ mile behind us.  As Brian and I slowed to about 65 MPH, the gap was narrowing, and Bob and Justin were tightening up in our pack, so we were getting closer.  I looked over the top of Brian to look at the scenery and Brian said, “What is this?”. His bike jockeyed from left-to-right violently a few times and then he slid off the right side of the road.  As he approached the shoulder, his slide took him across a dirt patch and he was engulfed in a ball of dust.  I was slamming on my brakes the entire time as Brian went off the side of the road, I just barely passed him by a few feet.  Bob was shouting in the intercom in disbelief.  I did the fastest U-turn imaginable and went back about 50’ to where I found Brian laying face down.  Bob and I ran up to him at the same moment.  It was evident very quickly, that everything had just changed in an instant.  A few short seconds ago we were laughing and carrying on.  Now we were reacting to a situation that we were trying to make sense of, and the shock and disbelief was starting to scream into our souls.

We had to get Brian in a position so that we could assess him.  We got him face-up and we tried to stop his bleeding.  He wasn’t breathing, so I tried to clear his airway to make sure he wasn’t choking.  He did have a pulse, which gave us a brief sense of relief that we could still fight the battle.  We were doing everything we could and monitoring his pulse.  His pulse got weaker and weaker, until eventually it stopped.  The feeling of peril in the deepest part of our beings is simply indescribable.  I jumped on top of Brian and quickly began giving him chest compressions.  After a very short period of time, I pretty much knew I was fighting a losing battle.  I could not believe it and I couldn’t stop.  Bob was talking to him pretty loudly and Justin was also.  As I was in the heat of that moment with Brian, I heard a motorcycle roaring down the opposite side of the highway.  The rider saw what was going on and he jumped over the median of the road and came to assist.  There were also a few other cars that quickly stopped and were watching as everything unfolded.  There was one car with 4 people in it, and they had a husband and wife couple, along with 2 adult men in their late twenties.  Two other cars stopped, one had an elderly man and his grandson, and the other car was a man by himself that was driving from Zacatecas to New Braunfels, Texas.  They all watched as I gave chest compression’s to Brian and listened to us talk to Brian.

Eventually there came the moment that we realized nothing was going to happen and Brian wasn’t going to come out of this.  I had this slight realization as I was giving compressions and I pushed harder and faster. Then my tears began to come from a place that I didn’t know I had that was so deep.  I was in complete and total disbelief.  I slowly slid over to Brian’s left side, which was my right side, and as I did so, Bob let out a yelp realizing that it was over.  As I slid to the side of Brian, I laid as close as I could to him and I grabbed his hand.  I put my other hand over his heart and Bob held his other hand.  We all talked to him and tried to convince him not to leave us.  We pleaded with him not to go!  Our tears were so full and our disbelief was off the scales.  Only a few short minutes ago we were talking about the things we wanted to see and do in Zacatecas, now we are talking to our friend and trying to convince him to stay with us in this world.  Not a conversation I had ever played in my head or one that I had ever contemplated as a possibility.

As the realization was beginning to set in, that our battle to try to save our friend was lost, the woman from the car that had stopped came over between us as we all laid there on the ground together.  She came right in the middle of Bob and I and directly over Brian, she said a prayer in Spanish, made the sign of the cross and made another sign of the cross with her finger on Brian’s forehead and chin.  She then took her palm and caressed him for a minute, saying something in Spanish.  As she stood up, she asked if Brian had any children or a wife.  We explained that he did not.  There was a big language barrier, but we were able to get that out of each other.  As she slowly walked away, I stood up to thank her and she gave me a hug as she was crying.

She was trying to say something to me, but I didn’t understand, so I pulled out my phone so we could use Google’s translator.  We had a conversation via Google Translate.  She explained that they would go down the road to call for help.  There was no cell phone signal and the nearest signal could be more than an hour down the road, but they would go for help.  Her family also explained that we needed to take everything off of Brian that we wanted to keep.  They said the police and ambulance drivers would take everything off of him, so we needed to prepare for that.  I wasn’t expecting that and now we had another odd moment.  After all of this, we had to go through Brian’s belongings and salvage it from being stolen from the people that we were looking to for help.  We did exactly that, and we went through Brian’s pockets and tried to salvage all that we could.  After they left, the older guy and his grandson that had arrived on the scene early, had been gathering all of Brian’s belongings that had been slingshot out of his pannier suitcases on the side of his bike.  They gathered all of his things and put them in a cardboard box, and they gave them to us with a look of just wanting to help.  That was the only thing they could find to do and we certainly appreciated it.

As the shock grew, we looked around realizing that we were in the middle of nowhere, and our friend was gone.  We were simply reacting to each moment since the first moment that it had all begun, and now we are on the side of the road and my emotions were beginning to get the better of me.  I suddenly found myself on the highway cleaning up rocks.  I was aimlessly cleaning up the remnants of Brian’s accident and I had no idea why or how long I had been doing it until I asked myself ‘What Am I doing??’. It was the only thing I could remotely control in an out-of-control situation.  I eventually would make my way back over to where Bob and Justin were, still sitting with Brian, and I got back on the ground and we all laid there together.  There were moments of silence, moments of tears, and moments of talking to Brian.  This went on for a couple of hours and those hours are a time in my life that I will not only never forget, but a time that I felt a part of my heart die.

After about 4 hours, an ambulance showed up.  They poked at Brian for a few minutes and they said, “There is nothing we can do, he is gone,” and they left.  There we were on the side of the road again with no end in sight and we had no idea if anyone even knew that we were out there.  Were the police coming?  What’s next? What do we do? I didn’t want any of us to leave the scene and go for help by ourselves but we may have to.  Do we go in pairs? Do I go by myself? I didn’t want to leave these guys, and don’t forget we were in Mexico and there is a level of vulnerability even when you are at the peak of your game, and we were far from our peak.

There was the guy from New Braunfels that was off to the side and he stayed and observed the whole time.  I had been over to talk to him, he spoke perfect English, and he said he would stay for as long as he could.  He explained that he had a nephew that was in a similar predicament recently and he felt obliged to help us.  I would gain more and more appreciation for him as the day would wear on. The police eventually showed up, taped off the area and began to evaluate the scene.  They were local police from the nearest town of Conception Del Oro.  The Federal Police eventually showed up about an hour later.  The local police gave all the info to the Federales and they took charge of the scene.  They separated all of us and interrogated us, looking for wrong doing.  We weren’t expecting that.  I appreciate that they have a job to do, but I suppose in my grief, I hadn’t considered that as a possibility.  They wanted to go though all of our cameras and they asked if Brian had a camera, which he did.  I grabbed it and turned it on.  I went through the last few videos on his GoPro with a Federale looking over my shoulder.  I had a knot in my stomach, because I didn’t know if the last video on Brian’s camera had captured the accident, and frankly I didn’t want to see or hear it again.  Thankfully, Brian’s camera was turned off at the time of the accident.

The morgue truck showed up from Zacatecas and they wanted to put Brian on-board.  They asked us to step away while they did their job.  The police talked for a while amongst themselves, told us that the morgue truck would be going to Zacatecas and we could follow them into town.  They would arrange for a translator to meet us and fill us in on the process of whatever may be next.  As the morgue truck was about ready to leave, the driver came to us and said, “Just take a few minutes to get your things together and follow us.”  The guy from New Braunfels translated every conversation and he stayed with us for a little more than 7 hours total for the day.  As we got our things together, and stacked all of Brian’s things on our bikes, we turned around and the morgue truck was gone.  They had left us.  We instinctively ripped out on the highway in a hurry and instantly were hitting high speeds.  As soon as we reached a high speed, someone said “Why are we hauling ass after everything that just happened?” This made sense so we slowed down and hoped that we would catch up with the truck along the way.  We had 130 miles to go.  Needless to say, it was a very silent ride for 2 hours.  We were all completely numb and in shock!  I had never experienced emotions like that before in my life.  I felt like I had a heartbeat and my eyes were blinking, but I felt like I was an observer in someone else’s body.  It wasn’t mine and I wasn’t there.  Even though feeling like that, we had to ride and still manage obstacles along the way.

Do you remember the rider that I mentioned, who had jumped the median to lend assistance?  He was there for about 3-4 hours and before he left, he told us, “Do not stop for anyone no matter what!  Be very careful of obstacles on the road like cows and chickens, but no matter what, do not stop for anyone!”  Here was another warning and reminder that there are bad people around and we were still in an area where anything could happen.  We were all still in shock, but we still had to play the game and be ready for anything.  My soul hurt and my head was in a place it had never been.  I’m afraid if someone would have challenged me along the way, I more than likely would have had no self-preservation feelings, and I would have probably punished the person for the loss of Brian, and there is no telling what I might have done to them.  I was not myself, and I’m thankful in many ways that we were not challenged along the way.  We did come across one police checkpoint but they were on snooze-y time and they popped up as we approached but they were not ready for anyone to roll into their checkpoint at midnight.  When they saw it was 3 foreigners on motorcycles, they shined their lights on us but we didn’t stop.  We just kept right on rolling at a steady pace and they didn’t try to stop us.  After we rolled through, they went back to sit down.  They were not interested in us.

As we approached Zacatecas, I got a cell signal and left the intercom system with my buddies and I tried to call my wife.  I needed to hear her voice and I needed to tell her what happened.  I had a short phone call with her as we rode down the highway and it was comforting to hear her. I returned to the intercom and the three of us approached the city of Zacatecas around 1 AM.  We were going to go directly to the morgue where Brian was supposed to be, but when we got there, they said he was not there and they had no idea what we were talking about.  We didn’t know if we were in a good part of town or a bad part of town, so we decided to get off the road and off-load all of our stuff.  We had just driven by a Hampton Inn and we got a few rooms there and dropped our things.  We got down to the lobby a few minutes later to get back on the bikes and the hotel personnel looked at us in disbelief that we were gonna go for a ride at almost 2 AM.  We explained what was going on and that we needed to find the morgue that our friend was in.  The van driver said he knew where they would take him and that he would drive us there.  We were so thankful and we hopped in his van.  We went to the morgue and they said that they didn’t know what we were asking about and they had never heard of Brian.  My personal panic and worry was rapidly rising.  I had heard stories from other parts of Mexico of bad things happening to people, even after they had passed away.  For example, in Acapulco, families will not allow the authorities to take their dead, because of their bodies disappearing for reasons that I would rather not explain.  So, I had all of this running through my mind and now we had been to two morgues and Brian was nowhere to be found.  Our driver looked puzzled and he asked the people if there was another place Brian may have been taken to.  We went to yet another morgue. Brian wasn’t at that one either!  Now I was really starting to quietly freak out. I never mentioned anything to Bob or Justin, but my worry was escalating and I was now starting to think what if we aren’t able to locate him?? I don’t even know where to begin?  The driver asked again if there was any other place Brian may have been taken to and we went there.  Finally, the people at the gate had it documented that Brian had just arrived about one-hour prior, and that matched with our timing.  I had a big sigh of relief that now I could tuck all of those bad thoughts away.  The morgue would not allow us inside, because we were not family, so all that talk about getting us a translator and explaining whatever the next step in the process was going to be ended up not being the case.  At least we knew where he was and that was enough for the moment.

We went back to the hotel and it was a little after 3 AM.  It was the first time we really had a chance to sit and attempt to make sense of anything.  After a few short minutes, we decided we needed to call Brian’s family.  We had his phone and we opened it up and got the phone numbers.  We dreaded these calls.  We didn’t know what to say or how to say it.  Do we wait until a normal hour or do we call them now at 4 AM? We decided to call his Mom, his Dad and his Uncle Scott.  Brian’s Uncle Scott was the relative he was closest with and the two of them were soul brothers on a unique level.  I took the first phone call which was to Uncle Scott.  I woke him up and told him we had a problem and I needed help.  He responded with a tone of anything you need, shoot.  I had never met Scott before.  We knew of each other but we had never met or spoken before.  After I told him we had a problem, I explained there was an accident and that Brian was gone.  I felt like I was a big ball of pain and now I had to spread it around for others to share.  To listen to that pain come over him is a conversation I will never forget for the rest of my life.  After we shared many tear-filled minutes on the phone with each other, discussing the accident, Scott took a deep breath and he said, “at least he went fast and surrounded by his best buddies.  We can all only wish to go that way.” I hadn’t had a thought like that yet and he was right.  It was the first moment of slight relief that I had felt.  I knew Brian and I knew if he was sitting in front of me, that’s exactly the way he would’ve described it.

After that phone call with Scott, I was mentally spent and couldn’t take on another phone call.  I would have made more calls, but Bob and Justin quickly stepped up and offered to make the others.  They called Brian’s Mom, and his Dad, and then we called a couple of our close friends to let them know. We didn’t sleep much and had been up for well-over 24 hours.

The next day, we knew we had to get the family down to Mexico as fast as possible, to start the process of getting Brian out of the country.  In Mexico, it is required by law that all accidental deaths require an autopsy.  The autopsy process could not begin until 2 immediate family members were there to sign for it.  We also learned that he could not be cremated and had to be taken out of Mexico not-cremated.  We got the US Consulate involved and they were very helpful.  They helped us with some of the conflicting information and they verified that he could be cremated there, and so we began the process.  Brian’s mother decided to come to Mexico with her husband Chuck, once they learned that he had requested to be cremated.  She wanted to see him one more time before he was gone.  Everyone certainly understood and appreciated that, so we organized with a local funeral home to make that happen while we were waiting on family members to arrive in Mexico.

While we waited for the family to arrive, we met a taxi driver named Roy.  Roy was a big character and he had lived in Chicago, so he spoke near-perfect English.  He was also from the area of Zacatecas so he understood how things worked.  He was a godsend.  He helped us navigate the Mexican bureaucracy and shuttled us from place to place, taking care of a long list of logistics that had to be done in order to get Brian out of Mexico.  He was absolutely instrumental in us making any kind of headway with the authorities.  For example, we had heard that it could take up to 2 weeks to get an autopsy done, and the thought of being in Mexico for 2 weeks, just to wait on the first part of the process to be completed was not one that we wanted to do.  Roy was able to negotiate, with no money exchanged, getting the autopsy done in one day.  The morgue was full of families waiting for their turn and we somehow got it done in one day.  I didn’t really ask many questions, I just said thanks and moved on to the next thing on the long list of things that needed to be done.  At this point, I didn’t care how things were getting done, I was just ready to start knocking out the list as fast as possible so we could get Brian on his way home.

Justin, Roy, Bob and Dan

It took 3 days to get most of the things done that were needed to get Brian out of Mexico and he was now at a funeral home where we could have a viewing.  Once his mother arrived the following day, on the same flight with Justin’s wife, we all went out to the funeral home to spend our last few hours with Brian.  It was a very sad time and seeing Brian for the very last time was tough.  We all said our goodbyes, one by one, and then we all joined arm-in-arm around him and said a silent goodbye together.  I couldn’t help but visualize our excited conversations about this trip, and now I was saying goodbye.  I wasn’t ready for that, nor was anyone else in that room.

That same night Brian went to be cremated.  Roy drove us back to the funeral home the following morning and we picked up Brian’s ashes.  Scott picked him up and we all walked out of the funeral home together.  I was in the back of the pack but I could hear Scott crying under his breath as he carried his favorite relative under his arm.  It made me lose it, and it was another sad moment stacked on top of a long list of sad moments.

The family made their travel arrangements home for the next day. We let them go ahead, and we stayed for a couple of days to deal with our motorcycles and try to figure what was next for us.  We work for United Airlines and United had been very helpful with many things along the way.  When the flight arrangements for Brian’s family had been confirmed, United had coordinated a water cannon salute for Brian and his family.  This is where the airport Fire Department places their water cannons on either side of the plane as they pull into the gate and they create an arc of water that the plane rolls under.  It is a tribute salute that is usually reserved for retiring pilots on their last flight, but this was a different sort of last flight.  It was an amazing first impression on arriving back in America, and the family was touched and thankful.  Water Salutes truly are a sight to behold, but it didn’t stop there. When the word got out within the pilot community, that Brian’s remains would be coming through Houston, there was a quick underground movement to have pilots line up outside of Customs to greet the family and salute Brian’s remains.  At least 100 pilots showed up on short notice, in full uniform, to pay their respects to a fallen member of their community, loved by all that knew him. It was another touching moment and an absolute testament to who Brian was.


 It didn’t stop there. United had also arranged a conference room for the family, with beverages and to have a place to rest and share stories of Brian.  I was thankful for how our company handled everything and I was grateful for the pilots that showed up to show Brian how much he was loved.  The outpouring of love is something we can all only hope to have in our final moments.

After the family was out of Mexico, we took 3 days to just try to catch our breath.  I just wanted to sit for a day and not do much.  We took a day in Zacatecas and we went to church.  Those that know me, know that’s not a place I spend my time.  But I couldn’t think of a better place to spend some time.  My soul hurt and I needed to talk to God and tell him how pissed I was, and that I felt cheated that he took my friend, and that the world is a lesser place.  In Zacatecas, there is a gorgeous cathedral that was built in the 1500’s and it is spectacular. I was happy to spend some time in there and I needed it.  My phone had been ringing off the hook for days but there was only one person I wanted to talk to and I had to go to church to do it.

On Day Two after the family left, we decided that this leg of our journey was over, but we had several discussions about where to go from there, and we decided to continue on our ride around the world, but we would continue in another month or two.  So, for now, we would need to find a place to secure our bikes and get out of Mexico.  The Hotel Emporio, where we were staying in Zacatecas, agreed to store our bikes in their underground garage until we came back.  It was very secure parking and we didn’t have to chase down parking so it was a quick decision.  That night we raised many glasses of tequila to our friend Brian and took an evening to be filled with Brian stories.  It was just us and it was another special moment.

My wife, Pascale had flown in from Guam to be with me during this time. Justin’s wife, Lara came directly to Mexico as well.  On our last day, we were all walking around town and this girl stepped in front of Pascale and wouldn’t let her pass.  There were 3 guys with this girl and they walked up to Bob, Justin, Lara and myself and they said, “you guys look like you could use a hug.”  I’ve been fortunate to go around the world and I’ve seen my share of scams, so my first instinct was to hold on to my wallet.  Pascale agreed to the hug and the lady gave her a long, big, squeezing hug.  One of the guys asked me if he could have a hug and we all agreed.  It was strange, but if I was ever in need of a hug from a stranger it was that day. We all needed a hug and we all accepted it.  After the hugs, I asked what they were doing and their response was, “There are a lot of bad things going on in the world and we just want to spread some hugs and some love, and you guys look like you sure could have used a hug.”  He was right!  We were standing directly in front of the church, so I asked them if they were affiliated with the church and they explained that they had nothing to do with the church, but they just happen to be standing in front of it when they saw us and decided to dish out a hug.  I took these pictures with them.

And it wasn’t until later that I realized that one of the guys was holding up 4 fingers, and then another guy and then all of them.  What does that mean?  I found myself looking for meaning in everything, but I found it odd, the whole progression of all of them holding up 4 fingers as if it was a signal to someone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we walked away, Pascale, who is not religious said, “I feel like those people were sent there for you guys. I really do. That was strange.” I agreed that it was strange but I kept walking and as I turned around to look at the 4 strangers, they were arm in arm looking, watching us walk away and smiling. I felt for my wallet which was still there, and I turned around again and they were still standing, staring at us and smiling. I walked a short 30 feet more and turned around, and they were gone. I looked for them the next day and never saw them again. As I write this, it is the middle of March and almost 2 months later, and I have been in Zacatecas for about a week. I have gone by that area by the church every day looking for them and have not seen them. It was very strange, to say the least.

Last day at the cathedral in Zacatecas.

So where do we go from Mexico, when we still had 3 weeks off from work and we were supposed to be on our ride? We didn’t want to go home to Guam, but where would we go? We didn’t really feel like being tourists and exploring new places like Cuba, which had been mentioned, and usually that would excite me, but now, nothing was exciting me. So where did we go? We decided to go to a place that Brian loved to go, Puerto Galera, in The Philippines. We made 2-3 trips a year there and we decided that would be a great place to go and try to escape for a few days before going back to Guam, where our friends had begun to organize a Celebration of Life for Brian. The party would be taking place shortly after we arrived back on Guam. As we got off of the ferry after arriving in Puerto Galera, a guy comes up behind us shouting “Hey Brian, Hey Brian!” and I said “We are not Brian”. He said, “Yes, but you are Brain’s friends. Where’s Brian?”. The guy was a boat captain that had taken us around before and he sure remembered Brian, like most people did, and I explained what happened. He followed us as we walked toward our hotel and he was in silence and disbelief. At times I get desensitized to people in The Philippines, because there is always someone chewing on your ear trying to sell you something or get money out of you somehow. I had to stop for a moment and remind myself that this guy knew Brian and he had just heard the news. I stopped for a few minutes and answered his questions. I took a moment of appreciation to admire how Brian affected everyone he came in contact with. He truly was a gift and he was blessed with many gifts. This boat captain was just one of many people that knew Brain and was looking forward to the next exchange with him. It was a short time later that the hotel receptionist would be asking the same questions, then the taxi drivers, and many more people. Brian was a bit of a celebrity in that little town. We realized there wouldn’t be much of an escape, but more of a reminder of how special our friend was, and we really were just going there to belly up to a bar for a few days and drown our sorrows, and that is exactly what we did.

 

 

 

We were in Puerto Galera for three days before going back to Guam. The night before we left we started to think about what waited for us on Guam. Guam is our home and it’s where our friends and co-workers are. We knew that we were going to be explaining what had happened and we were going to be shedding many more tears again, once we reconnected with the people in our lives. As much as we were looking forward to seeing all the people in our lives, we were already reliving what had happened in our own mind many times a day, and it was tragic. The thought of explaining time after time again was draining, but we also knew that there were going to be questions from our friends that needed to be answered, and we wanted to put them at ease. I don’t like gray areas and I also knew that some people would want to ask but wouldn’t. That’s the sole reason why I made this video. So, that it may answer some of the questions of what happened on that painful day.

Vlog – Mexico and what happened


We were continuously asked when we were coming back to Guam but we weren’t very specific. We had heard that many people wanted to meet us at the airport, but we really just wanted to quietly slip back into our lives on Guam. The truth of it is, we had sadness written all over our faces, and sometimes it didn’t take much of a trigger for the waterworks to start. I wanted to just get back to my wife and my life.

As we arrived on Guam, we spent one day before there was the Celebration of Life party that our friends had put together. It was an all-day affair starting at 2 PM on February 12th and going until at least 11 PM at the local Marianas Yacht Club. The weather was gorgeous and there were several hundred people that filtered in and out throughout the day. Several of Brian’s family members traveled to Guam for the celebration and they also wanted to see where Brian had lived and why he loved it so much. Thankfully, they had ideal conditions for their week on Guam to experience our lovely island. The event was catered, the beer flowed, and the stories of Brian were countless. I thought I had known most of the Brian stories but I was continuously reminded that there was so much more to Brian that I didn’t know.

After the festivities were over, it was time to help Brian’s family with his things and his estate. We referred them to a local attorney that facilitated the process. In the middle of the grief of it all, it’s odd to have to think about Brian’s things and do what must be done. It didn’t come naturally, I think, for anyone. I always felt shameful when I said I would like something of Brian’s, because I felt as if I was stealing from my friend, because those were HIS things, not mine. We all felt that way and that feeling never stopped. I suppose, eventually there was a feeling of making sure that his things went to the right place and that everything was appreciated. His family didn’t want to deal with it any more than we did, but again, it all had to be done.

We were able to spend a little bit of time with the family, but not as much as we would have liked. Everyone was being pulled in different directions and there was still the cloud of grief hanging over all of us. I for one, needed my alone moments, and I usually took them in the evenings. After a few days of sorting through Brian’s things, Brian’s family left and we tried to get back to our lives. I felt weird going to work because I usually talked to Brian every day on my drive to the airport. We would compare schedules and see when we could meet up over the coming days. This drive, there was no phone call. It was just me and my thoughts and almost instantly, the event would play through my head before I could repress it. It took several deep breaths in the parking lot to get ready to go into work. As I walked through the airport, I saw a flight attendant friend of mine and she came up to me, fighting back tears, and gave me a hug. I didn’t want to be the face of sadness and I certainly didn’t want to shed a tear at work. I was able to hold it together and we had a nice exchange. Everyone we work with operates more like a tight-knit family rather than co-workers. We have all felt the loss of Brian together and I know that everyone wanted to talk about it, so I prepared for that. I found that the more I talked about it, the better it got. It seemed to help after a while, but there were still those moments that if I was closer to someone, and they burst into tears, I might do the same. I am not normally one for tears, and I couldn’t tell you the last time a tear went down my cheek before any of this happened, but it had been many years. I just don’t cry and suddenly I’m constantly fighting back the tears because the hurt was so deep. I didn’t like it on so many levels.

After a couple of weeks of work, it was time for Bob, Justin and I to discuss what our next plan for our ride around the world would be. We had all avoided the conversation but eventually enough time went by, and we had to discuss what we wanted to do. Bob said he was reluctant to get back on the bike right away. Justin and I felt like the longer we waited, the more difficult it would be. So, we came up with a plan to go back to Zacatecas, Mexico in mid-March and pick up where we left off. About a week before leaving, Bob and I had a conversation and I realized that I might not be ready to go either. But Bob surprised me and said “Let’s get going! We need to have fun again and get out on the road”. So that’s what we did. I am now back in Zacatecas, writing this story of Leg 4 – Texas to Mexico, just before leaving on Leg 5 – Mexico to Costa Rica. I have stared at my computer countless times and couldn’t bring myself to sit and write out the story of what happened. I waited until the last minute and now it’s time to start writing Leg 5.

One last thing, Brian’s family has bestowed on us the kindest gift anyone could. They offered up some of Brian’s remains, so that we can take him around the world with us. And we intend to spread him around the 7 corners of the globe and many places in between. We are thankful to his family for that gift and it has given our trip around the planet an entirely different meaning. We already had a purpose, simply seeing the world, but now we have a whole new purpose that is far more significant!

Leg 5 – Mexico to Costa Rica – Coming soon!
Thanks for following!!

 

Leg 3 – Buffalo, NY to Texas – End of All Roads

Blog Leg 3 – Buffalo, NY – Quebec – Labrador – Newfoundland – Nova Scotia – Texas

 

Leg 2 ended with Bob, Dan and Glen hopping across the Canada/USA border and storing the bikes at Bobs uncles garage in Buffalo NY. So after finishing another month of work, it was time to pick up where we left off. Bob and Dan hopped a plane from Guam to Hong Kong and spent a day there, because Hong Kong is a place that is hard to pass through without having a little fun. Then Hong Kong to Newark, and finally arrived in Buffalo NY 25 hours later at 4PM. Glen was there waiting because he had arrived the day before. He was not feeling very well and had a terrible cold. None of us wanted to catch whatever it was that he was hacking up and he did a good job of keeping his distance from us for the first couple of days.

 

When we arrived in Buffalo, Bob’s Uncle picked us up at the airport and took us around town. It was a nice sunny afternoon and we walked around downtown.

 

After seeing some sights, we ended up at an old warehouse that has been converted into a monstrosity of a bar and roller derby rink. We watched some of the roller derby teams practice and it was more fun than I thought it could be.

 

We were both eager to get on the bikes and head towards Canada and eastbound. The following day we met up with Brian in Montreal. Brian had shoulder surgery a month before Leg 1 and he was dying watching us ride on the dream trip we had been planning for a long time. So, needless to say, he was very eager to meet up and hit the road. Brian’s bike was in Burlington, Vermont and he got some solo riding in before meeting us in Montreal.

When we arrived in Montreal it was evening rush hour traffic and it instantly reminded me of why I prefer a countryside, where the road is mine and the view to be enjoyed. As much as I enjoy the amenities of big cities, I was instantly craving our ride to the remote areas of the Trans Labrador Highway. Although we were only in Montreal for a day, it was good for all of us to be together again and there is always a heavy sense of anticipation in the air at the beginning of each leg of the trip. Montreal would be a good launch to whatever may unfold over the next month of riding.

We got an AirBnB condo on a hopping street loaded with bars and restaurants and spent the night bar hopping and taking in the local flavors of Montreal. It was a fun night a fun city.

 

The following morning we set out for Quebec City, which originally was not on our route but many people recommended it as a must see spot. That was good advice because I found Quebec City to be one of my favorite cities in Canada.

 

 

We left Quebec City in the morning and headed 260 miles for Baie-Comeau.

 

 

 

This would be one of our last options for services so we got our bikes serviced with a fresh oil change and new tires in anticipation of the more than 700+ miles of gravel roads that we were about to ride. The weather was beginning to turn to rain and it was mid September and getting chilly. When we got to Baie-Comeau, it was raining pretty hard and was forecast to be the same for the following day. We decided to take a day and go through all of our stuff and ditch a bunch of the extra crap that we thought we would need at the beginning of the trip, but 15,000 miles into it, realized I might not need 25 glow sticks and a bunch of other knickknack stuff that we just didn’t need. Now would be a good time to go through everything and sort out the extra weight and streamline our game.

 

 

As advertised, it rained most of the day but we were able to get all of our gear sorted out. The following morning we were all awake and in the parking lot at 6am, which is very unusual for this crew. We normally get out the door no earlier than 10am. This was a welcome surprise to all of us and we were all eager to hit the twists and turns of the road northbound towards Labrador City.

We had to make our mandatory morning stop at Tim Horton’s for breakfast. I don’t know what they put in their food, but it must be crack or meth, because we all got addicted to Tim Horton’s, as well as every other Canadian. The lines for the drive thru at Horton’s in every city across Canada is impressive. They do a good job and I look forward to many things about coming back to Canada, but Tim Horton’s is one thing I will really look forward to.

While we were eating at Tim Horton’s, a guy next to us sitting in motorcycle gear leaned over and told us about the road we were about to ride. He said there were 125 curves in the first 30 kilometers on the way to Manic 5. Manic 5 is a large hydroelectric plant that provides power to eastern Canada and as far south as New York City.

 

 

The road was nicely paved up to Manic 5 which was 135 miles, but after that, it was all gravel and dirt. The excitement built! The guy telling us about the ride was from the area and said he had ridden the road countless times and seemed to really know every aspect of the road. We found later, that he really knew what he was talking about. The road was newly paved and it was twisty after twisty! We were in the morning sun and the day really could not have been any better. There were several supply trucks on the road but it was still a near perfect day.

 

 

We made it to Manic 5 and it was enormous! A massive wall of concrete that has more concrete than the Hoover Dam. We wanted to get a tour but we were a little late in the season and there were no tours being offered. So after a short drone shot, we continued down the road which immediately turned to gravel.

 

 

 

 

The thought process in this area is very similar to the Alcan Highway in regard to, you never pass up a gas station or supplies. There just aren’t many offerings for supplies and gas, so you take it when you can get it, whether you need it or not.

There was one gas station just before Manic 5 and Glen quickly pulled in as he always does. It was such a small station that we missed it. It was covered by some trees with a small sign, but we did notice it just as we were just passing it. We discussed turning around but decided that we would be ok, since we had just filled up and there was another station in Relais-Gabriel, which was about 70 miles. We pulled over about an hour into our ride to take a break and do a drone shot. We all pulled out of our spot on the side of the road and Glen pulled out behind us. The road was dusty and filled with trucks that were going fast. It was their road and they went out of their way to let us know that. The road was full of new gravel and newly grated which put a lot of piles of gravel in spots on the road. We had to be pretty aware of the road because if we hit some of the high gravel spots, it could change our day.

We came over a hill and saw a massive lake, and at the bottom of the hill there was a service station that looked like an oasis of activity. There was no missing it and we could see it for a few miles as we came down the hill. We pulled in and got some gas and were about to eat some lunch when we realized that Glen did not pull in. He is usually just a couple of minutes behind us and we had been there for about 15 minutes. Bob and Brian wanted to eat, so I told them to go inside the restaurant and I would backtrack to look for Glen. The place we pulled over earlier, which was the last place we saw him was about 40 miles back.

 

 

I started at a normal pace but he never came down the road. The farther I got, the more worried I got. I ended up going a steady 80 MPH looking to run into Glen, but he never came. I eventually ended up at the place on the side of the road that we had earlier pulled over. There was no explanation! There was nowhere to pull over on the side of the road. There were no other roads to pull off onto. There was only one road and one option. The only other possibility was that he went off the road. The side of the road was a very unforgiving almost tundra looking gobble you up kind of stuff. If he went off the road right in front of me, it would be hard to see him, due to the thick brush and trees. As I started to realize this was a possibility, my heart started to race and my mind started to think about all possibilities. I wont share all of them but I’ll say that I feared the worst. Glen has good days and bad days. Most days are good days, but occasionally he misses a step due to some of his meds that he is on, being 68 years old, and trying to keep up with us can tire anyone.

After a short stop at our previous stopping point, I continued the wrong direction, thinking maybe he went the wrong way after our stop, and I just didn’t see him make the wrong turn. After going about 20 miles I turned around and headed back towards Labrador City and Relais-Gabriel. I was only back in the right direction for about 10 miles before I saw Bob and Brian coming down the road. They said they couldn’t eat while I was out searching for Glen. The 3 of us slowly combed the ditches and looked for Glen. We eventually wound up back at the gas station at Relais-Gabriel and again, there was no Glen. It was now about 4PM and only had about 2 hours of daylight left. We walked in the restaurant and asked if anyone had seen him but no luck. The truckers put it out on the CB radio with a description of the truck and Glen, and we waited for responses. Trucker after trucker all the way to Labrador City, which is 170 miles away, checked in with no sight of Glen. Now we really assumed the worst! There was only one road so someone must have seen him if he was on the road. The police would take more than an hour to reach the area because they were coming from near Manic 5. Our options looked terrible and they weren’t looking to get better.

We were planning on camping not far from where we were and we realized that all of our camping gear was in Glens truck. As we were discussing our fears about Glen and now our situation was becoming problematic, the waitress said there was a couple of dorm rooms above the restaurant. We told her we would like to reserve a few beds because it was obvious we weren’t going anywhere that evening.

 

 

All the while, I continually was calling Glens phone. He never answered. We decided we would call the police and as we were coming to an agreement about calling the police, I could see on the app that we use to call each other, VIBER, that his phone was online. Finally a sliver of hope!!! I called and called his phone and he eventually picked up the phone, with an aggravated attitude saying, “where the hell are you guys!?” I was instantly relieved, but now I was getting pissed. “Where am I?? Where are you???” There was a collective sigh of relief from the wait staff and the customers, because our situation had drawn a crowd. Everyone was relieved and happy that Glen, a guy nobody knew except for us, was safe! It was a unique moment that I will never forget.

Glen said that he was approaching Labrador City a 170 miles away. I was just happy he was alive and well. Now we had no clothes, camping gear, or toiletries but we had a bed upstairs. We ordered a case of beer and we celebrated Glens new life, or new to us! We invited everyone from the dinner down to the lake and we built a fire. We howled at the moon until 5 am. It was a great night filled with entertaining locals and loads of laughs. We never would have had that experience with the locals into the wee hours of the morning without Glen passing that gas station, which I still don’t know how he missed it. He said he was very into his book on tape and he must have just cruised right by the gas station and restaurant. If you could see this place, you would see how large it is and hard to miss, but he is safe and that’s all I cared about.

 

 

 

 

The following day, we agreed to meet Glen in Labrador City at the Two Seasons Hotel. The ride was good and we went through the abandoned town of Gagnon. It was kind of eerie and cool at the same time. We also hit a latitude land marker along the way.

 

 

 

There was an easily identifiable big truck on the side of the road and that’s where we made our entry into Labrador City area.

We met up with Glen at the Two Seasons Hotel and it was so good to see him. After the previous day and all of the terrible thoughts I had, it was refreshing to see his smile. We caught up for a while and made our plan to begin the Trans Labrador Highway across Labrador. We are all looking forward to the long dirt/gravel road and the uncertainty of how it may unfold. We had heard so many stories about the ride and were anxious with anticipation to get on the road.

As we left town, we were surprised that so much of the road was paved. Outside magazine had called the Trans Labrador Highway, “the most lonely road in the world.” That’s a pretty bold statement and I had to see what that was about. I didn’t expect “the most lonely road in the world” to be paved. We soon learned that the pavement would run out and the ride would be on.

 

Be careful what you wish for. The weather started to deteriorate and the road did too. The road was actually a pretty nice grated gravel road, but it was raining and the potholes were filling up.

 

It wasn’t the rain or potholes that were increasing our workload, it was the wind. The wind had increased to more than 60 MPH and high gusts. It was difficult to just stay on the road and we were all sliding all over. We had intended to camp the entire way on the Trans Labrador, but with no options that we saw, and worsening weather, we stayed at a small motel in Port Hope Simpson.

Churchill River Bridge

 

While we were in Port Hope Simpson, we met 3 other riders that were coming from the other direction. They recommended that we go to the most easterly point on mainland Canada, which is a small fishing village of Saint Lewis. We found out later that its not quiet the most eastern point on mainland Canada, but its close.

 

On our way to Blanc Sablon, we took the Iceberg highway off of our route to go see Saint Lewis. We made a video log of our ride there which is on our website. It was another nice ride and Saint Lewis was a quaint fishing village with character.

 

The people there don’t get many outsiders so we got a few odd looks as we rumbled through town. They were nice and our stay was only about an hour, before we turned to Blanc Sablon.

 

 

 

 

The winds were so strong the previous day, the ferry from Blanc Sablon to Saint Barbe, Newfoundland was cancelled. We purchased our tickets a day early so we knew that we had a seat but if we didn’t check in an hour early for our 7 am ferry, our tickets would be sold. The booking agent made that point very clear. So we had to be on the dock with our tickets, checked in, by 6 am. That is going to be an early start for this crew, but we cannot be late.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We made the ferry at 6am and as we were loading, we parked next to a truck hauling a long trailer that had an old pickup truck on it, along with a bunch of other equipment. The truck was driven by a young guy named Jonathan. Jonathan worked for his father’s refrigeration company and they primarily do big projects such as ice rinks and off shore rig pilings. It was interesting to talk to him and his coworker and we chatted for the next couple of hours.

 

 

 

 

As we were leaving the ferry, Jonathan said if we come to St Johns he would love to show us around. We knew we were headed that way, so we told him we would see him there. Little did I know that our trip had just changed right in that moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First, we had to ride along the coast of the island of Newfoundland and it was a spectacular ride. We were told by countless Canadians that Newfoundland should not be missed. That the locals were very different than any other part of Canada and oh how right they were! If you were to pick up almost any community in Newfoundland, and place it in Ireland, the people would fit right in, with their accents and all.

 

As we made our way down the west coast of Newfoundland, we were instantly hooked. It was more of a feeling of being in Ireland or Scotland, more so than North America. The lay of the land was similar to Europe and so was the demeanor of the locals. We enjoyed every mile down the coast and then we hit Gros Morne National Park. It was very scenic and we pulled over for lunch and to take in the views. While we were there, we met a guy named Rick as we were flying our drone around, and he asked us to make him a video of the things we had shot and of his cabins. Here is that video:

 

 

We were heading across Newfoundland towards St Johns and Bob had been having an occasional problem with his throttle and sometimes his throttle would stop working entirely. It had progressively gotten worse and eventually it just stopped. It was an electric throttle and its not like we could just replace the throttle cable. It was a hard fail and we ended up on the side of the road about 200+ miles from St Johns.

 

BMW has a warranty program that will pick you up anywhere in North America if you are on a paved road. Bob called BMW and they sent a tow truck, which was there in about 2 hours to haul Bobs bike to the only BMW shop in Newfoundland which was in St John’s. We did manage to entertain ourselves with glow in the dark Frisbee while we waited for the tow truck.

Bob was upset. He figured that if he spent the kind of money he spent on new bike, which didn’t come lightly, he shouldn’t already be having these kinds of problems. Thankfully we had Glen following us around and Bob jumped in the truck with Glen to carry on toward St John’s via Gander.

 

 

 

Before coming to Newfoundland, we all new that there was one thing that we really wanted to see and that was the town of Gander. On September 11, 2001 there were many obvious events that unfolded that day. The FAA shut down the skies and all planes had to land. Well, what about the planes over the Atlantic ocean that are en route to the USA? They can’t just land, so as they approached the first bit of land coming from Europe, that land was Newfoundland. There are only 2 options and that is St Johns or Gander. St Johns is a sizable city with hotels and accommodations, but limited parking spots for airplanes. Gander is home to the air traffic control facility that manages all of the Atlantic crossing air traffic. Gander also is a small town of only about 12,000 people and not many hotels/motels. They certainly do not have the accommodations or infrastructure for every airliner coming across the Atlantic ocean that needs a place to land. So what do they do? They put out the need to accommodate loads of people on the radio, and all of the people of Newfoundland answered the call! People came from far and wide and offered up their homes as a place for people to stay. They came to the airport and picked people up. The passengers would line up and just get in cars of strangers and go sometimes as far as 200+ miles away to someone’s home they did not know or knew nothing about. While this may sound weird, the people of Newfoundland know no strangers. They are truly a special bunch of people and have become some of my favorite people on the planet. There is now a very successful Broadway play in New York about these events. I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s on my list.

 

With all of the curiosity of Gander from September 11th, and considering that all of us had talked to Gander on the radio countless times for work, we were all looking forward to seeing what Gander was like. So that morning during our breakfast at Tim Hortons we called the ATC facility and told them that we worked in the aviation industry and would like to tour the facility if possible. After many phone calls up their chain of command, we were told to bring our company IDs and be there at 10am.

 

 

 

 

As we approached the gate, it was like a fortress. There were multiple gates and they took security seriously. In the interest of security I am going to skip the details of getting into the facility but you should know it wasn’t’ fast and they don’t take security lightly.

 

 

As we approached the door, a guy was waiting for us. As it turns out, he was the supervisor on duty on September 11th and I recognized him from some of the TV shows that I had seen about how the skies were shut down on that day. He had been working at the facility for more than 40 years and he was always smiling and laughing with everyone he came in contact with. I instantly felt like we lucked out with our guide and that is exactly how the day turned out.

 

We were passed off from one group of controllers to another, to learn the different ways that they do their job. It was fascinating to see and hear them as they did their work. They all seem to be a tight group of people that have a very serious job to do and do it with ease. I personally found it most interesting of how they create the routes over the Atlantic and manage them systematically along the way.

After a few hours at the Air Traffic Control facility, we made our way to St Johns. Jonathan was there waiting for us and proved to be an incredible host. He was ready to show us his town and the first place we had to go see was Cape Spear, which is the most eastern point in North America.

 

 

Bob’s girlfriend, Nami, joined us from Japan and arrived in St John’s to join us with the tour of Jonathan’s town.

Cape Spear was a neat place. It was cool to look out at the water and think that the next bit of land is Ireland. There was a couple of cool lighthouses. This was the location of the very first international telegraph. The telegraph is still there in the lighthouse and it gives the sense of how far technology has come in a relatively short period of time. To send a signal from Cape Spear that was received in Ireland was a huge accomplishment for its time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the stops was Quidi Vidi. It was a great little village with a brewery where we spent a little time.

It was a good day of touring a history filled town that I easily could have spent more time in. We were still waiting to hear the results back on Bobs bike so we took an extra day and explored St Johns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eventually we had to keep making some progress and decided to go to Halifax where Bob and Nami would fly down to meet us. We had hoped to hear news of Bob’s bike sometime while we were still in the St John’s area, and Bob could hopefully still join us. We said a long goodbye to Jonathan and thanked him for letting us stay at his house and being our tour guide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brian, Glen and I rode to the other side of Newfoundland to Port Aux Basques, which was almost 200 miles. Jonathan said that his company had a chalet a couple of hours from Port Aux Basques and we could stay there. He made it sound like it was a dump and as we found out, it was not a dump.

It was a nice house on a golf course with room for Brian, Glen and I. We visited with some of the workers that use the house as their home away from home and we left the following afternoon to head to Port Aux Basques to catch a 6 hours ferry to Nova Scotia. The ferry left at midnight and we would get into North Sydney at 6am. This was perfect because we would have an early start with a little bit of time to spare.

 

 

 

Along the way, there was one town that we could not pass up, and that was the town of Dildo. I don’t know, the town just kind of had a funny ring to it and we figured we had to see what a town named Dildo looked like and if they embraced their unique name.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As it turns out, the town is named after a guy named Dildo. It was a little less juicy than our teenage minds had laughed about the whole ride there. Nonetheless worth a stop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As if the town of Dildo wasn’t enough, when we got off the ferry in North Sydney, we saw a restaurant with a unique name. I was falling in love with the sense of humor that is spread out all across Canada.

 

We had wanted to do another well known ride, The Cabot Trail. This trail would take us to the northern tip of Nova Scotia to Meat Cove. It was a picturesque campground and they were closing in a couple of days, so we were a few of the last campers for the season.

   

 

As we made our south from Meat Cove toward Halifax to meet up with Bob and Nami, there was a place Glen HAD to stop at…

 

 

 

 

 

We all met up in Halifax at an Air BnB that Bob had reserved and it was a short walk to downtown. We spent the first night just catching up at a restaurant over the past couple of days and filling Bob in on what he had missed. It was still weird not having him on the ride with us. I could tell he was putting his best face on, but he was bummed to be missing any part of the trip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The following morning we rode down to Peggy’s Cove, which is the site of a tragic Swiss Air flight #111 crash, which was flying from New York to Geneva. The doomed flight had an electrical fire that the crew could not contain and they hit the water near Peggy’s Cove. There is a monument there that we wanted to go see. So Bob hopped in his new ride and tried to figure out how to park it.
We hopped on our bikes and headed to Peggy’s Cove. There was a cool lighthouse there and it was gorgeous day, so we took a few pics.

 

 

 

 

 

I have so many comments for both of these pics, but I’ll let you decide.

 

 

On our way, we saw a sign that deserved a stop….

 

 

 

 

 

We stayed a couple of hours and enjoyed a rare 70+ degree day in October in Nova Scotia. The owner of this place was a very nice guy that loaded us up with shirts and stickers that we are gonna take around the world. Some places leave a mark in a very short period of time, and this is one of those places. Shaw’s Landing is the place to check out if you happen to find yourself in Nova Scotia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we killed a couple of days waiting for news on Bob’s bike, the news came. It was not good news. The “throttle brain” of his computer system that drives the throttle, has failed and there are no units anywhere in North America. The part would have to be shipped directly from Germany and it would take 2 weeks to get there. Bob was very upset and this completely changed his trip. He was also upset with the lack of communication from BMW. They didn’t seem to be very good about relaying information and Bob was constantly on the phone being jockeyed from one person to the next. It was a very frustrating process and I think we all lost a little respect for BMW along the way through the process. We understood that things break and that sometimes stuff happens, but it was the lack of communication, coupled to Bobs trip is very disrupted and he is going to be missing a significant section of our trip around the world. Brian and I decided to continue on since there was no hope of getting Bobs bike back on the road. Bob and Nami stayed in St Johns for a couple of days and would eventually just fly home to Guam. It felt weird leaving Bob and Nami behind and the disappointment was written all over Bobs face which added to disappointment that everyone felt. In the end, it took 6 WEEKS to get Bobs bike fixed and again, no communication. Bob had to do all of the leg work. BMW said they would ship his bike anywhere in Canada, which didn’t help Bob since we were headed to Texas via the east coast of the USA. So now Bob is stuck trying to figure out how to get a bike from Canada to Texas, in November, and we planned our route based off trying to avoid winter time. Bob may have to fight winter and get his bike to Texas from Canada. He is still trying to figure out a route based off of the weather. He should be leaving around November 20th. But for now we said our goodbyes…

 

 

 

 

 

The following day Brian, Glen and I headed from Halifax Nova Scotia toward the USA. Earlier on the trip, on the ferry from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia, we had met another motorcycle rider named Jay. We planned to meet Jay a short distance outside of Halifax and he was going to ride with us for 2 days into Maine. We randomly pulled over at a gas station to call him, because we had not coordinated very well, and he happen to be sitting at the same gas station getting ready to call us. It was uncanny how we happen to run into him on a stretch of road about 100 miles long that we had talked about meeting up.

Jay was a retired cop from Cape Breton Nova Scotia and he was freshly divorced. He was setting out for a long adventure on his motorcycle and we enjoyed our short time with him.

 

We camped for our last time of the trip in the Bay of Fundy and our last time of camping in Canada. Since we were pretty late in the season, our description is the same, that we were the last people to stay there for the season. The campground was closing the next day.

The Bay of Fundy has the largest tidal range of the world, with a range of up to 53 feet. It is incredible!! We had a campsite just across from the water and it was a starlit night with a raging fire. I couldn’t think of a better topper for the end of our trip in Canada. The following morning we walked down to the water to see the extreme change in the tidal change. There was a lot more beach than the previous evening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We rode out of Canada and into USA via a small crossing in Maine. As we got to the border we were surprised that there was no sign for Canada or the USA. After looking around for a while we found a tiny sign that Brian is pointing at here.

 

 

 

 

 

Then we were back in the USA.

A short ride into Maine and Jay peeled off and headed westbound. It was good to have another rider and always nice to encounter other motorcycle travelers and get some stories and insights.

 

Our next destination was Portland Maine. We were going to see Brian’s mom. Brian had only seen his mom a couple of times in recent years and our route took us very near her house. As usual, we were running late and getting behind schedule. We were getting worried about making it to Texas by the time we needed to be there. Therefore, we weren’t going to have as much time as we would like to visit with Brian’s mom or any of the other stops from her until the end of the trip in Texas. We were in hustle mode. We knew that if we were going to see some of the sights in Canada, we were going to have to hurry through America, and since we have all seen a lot of the east coast and done the ride across the south before, we were going to sacrifice this part of the trip, in order to spend more time in Canada. The part that stinks, is now we only have a limited time to see Brian’s mom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we pulled into her lake home, she was anxiously waiting on the porch. I was just an observer and I could feel her anticipation. It was very sweet! As we pulled in and took our gear off, she and her husband Chuck greeted us and had a spread of food and beer inside waiting for us. The house was immaculately cleaned and looked like a realtor had put it on display. It was a warm and lovely house with a lakefront view!

It wasn’t until I’m writing this that I realize that I took a lot of video of this time with Brian’s mom, but not many pics. Videos coming soon on our YouTube channel.

 

 

 

 

It was a short visit of only a couple of hours, eating some of the best lobster roll sandwiches I’ve ever had and enjoying a few local Maine beers. Everyone enjoyed the stop and off we went just after dark trying to make our way toward Boston.

 

 

 

Just prior to Boston, Brian decided to go to a BMW riding program that he had been reading about. He is still pretty new to riding and not a lot of off road experience, so he is gonna go take some lessons from the pros for a few days with Bob. He is going to go ride The Tail of the Dragon in North Carolina and Tennessee and then go to South Carolina to BMW riding school. Therefore, we said our goodbyes shortly before Boston. We plan to take the holidays off of riding and all meet up in Texas before riding southbound to the southern tip of South America and Antarctica. Brian and Bob are going to be able to come back to the states in December but I cannot, so I have to get my bike all the way to Texas in the next week.

There was someone I was looking very forward to seeing in Boston. My friend Heather was a dear friend from childhood. We were best of friends all through high school, college, and well after. Somehow, time had taken over and we had lost touch. I never thought that would happen to us, because we talked daily for years. She was someone who’s friendship I held dear, and I was disappointed with myself for letting time get the best of us.

Heather is married to a great guy named Jon and they have 3 kids. They live about an hour outside of Boston. We arrived and Glen and I were eager to offload our road funk and get cleaned up to head into the city. We went into Boston and Jon gave us a full lap tour around downtown Boston. Glen had never been there before so it was a good intro to the city for Glen. I lived in Boston for 3 years and it was good for me to be reminded of all the things I loved and miss about Boston. It is one of Americas oldest and unique cities.

We ended our tour in the North End neighborhood of Boston. It is loaded with fantastic Italian restaurants and sprinkled with historic spots like Paul Reveres home. We only had one night in Boston, so it was good to cram so much into a short time. Boston is a small enough big town that you can see a lot in a short period of time.

 

This ride is about many things to each of us, and I’ve found that reconnecting with people that I haven’t seen in a long time, has become an important part of this trip. There are few things in life better than old friends, and visiting this old friend warmed my soul. It was a good reunion!

 

 

It was a fantastic short visit and Glen and I were off the next day in the pouring rain headed south. We were nearing the end of our time with Glen. We were going to ride together for the next couple of hours and then he was going to head home toward Iowa and I was going to make my way south to Texas as fast as possible. We pulled over on the side of the toll road at a McDonalds and sat for a while. I tried to express my gratitude for having him come along but I felt like it just wasn’t coming out right. We are all on this trip for selfish reasons and I think Glen has his own selfish reasons and didn’t need a thank you from me. He was thankful to be along on the trip.

We said our goodbyes, followed each other about 20 more miles until our roads went different directions. It was pretty sad watching him fade over the hill. As I rolled down the road, I looked in my mirror and nobody was there. I was suddenly all by myself. As much of a social hound as I am, I’m also a bit of a loner and I really enjoy being alone. Now the road is all mine and there is only one person to answer to! The weather was clearing up and my music got a lot louder!

I was eager to get out of the northeast corridor and out of the hustle and bustle of the east coast. The leaves were starting to change and I really wished I had more time to take in some mountain rides but I had a deadline of getting to Texas.

 

 

When I got to Virginia, I pulled off the highway to get some gas. I heard a hiss of my engine as I tried to accelerate and nothing happened. I pulled over and my chain had slipped off the sprocket. I started to unload my gear and get my tools out to put it back on, but before I did I sat in the shade for a minute. As I was sitting there, I thought “I wonder if there is a BMW dealer nearby, because I need several things done to my bike.” It turns out there was a BMW dealer only 3 miles away and they said they would come pick me up for free if I got my oil changed with them. Heck ya! That meant I don’t have to change my chain and they can do it. They were there within 10 minutes and off to the shop we went.

 

 

As I spent some time in the shop, they found that my bike needed some attention on a number of things to the tune of about $3000. As I scratched my head trying to figure out what I was going to do and what I could fix myself and what I wanted them to fix, I asked what they would give me for a trade in if I were to trade my bike in on another used bike of the same year 2014 with less miles. They gave me a fair trade in value and it was about the same out of pocket to get into a similar bike with less miles. I was having a hard time thinking that I was even considering trading in my bike. I was attached to it! We had just covered the entire west coast from San Diego to Alaska, around Alaska, across Canada and into some tough terrain in Labrador Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and now down the east coast! I loved this bike and it never let me down. I had tricked it out with all of the accessories that now I was used to. What do I do? The sales guy, a sharp guy named Joe Dudak from Frontline Eurosports talked me into a brand new 2017 BMW F800GSA. For only a little more than I was going to pay for a 2014 model and with my trade in, I could roll out with a brand new bike and a warranty. To my surprise, that’s exactly what I did. The next morning we signed the paperwork and I was on the road again on a new set of wheels. It felt weird having to figure a few things out again.

I had 1100 miles to go to Dallas and I knew I had to get my bike serviced at the 600 mile mark. I’m a believer that the first service is one of the most important in the life of the bike. I mapped out that there was a BMW dealer in Memphis that is right at 600 miles. I got right in and they serviced the bike in Memphis and I was on my way within 2 hours.

 

 

The ride through Tennessee and Arkansas were gorgeous. It was killing me to be on a tight timeline and not be able to really stop and check out some of the areas that I’m riding through. Although, when I got into Texas and first laid eyes on the Dallas skyline, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment, as my North American warm up lap of 18,000 miles were coming to an end.

I was planning on going to visit my daughter at the end of this leg but because I got so far behind schedule, she came to Dallas for my arrival and we spent a couple of days there with my brother and his wife. It was a good way to finish a long leg and certainly a long couple of days to get to Dallas.

 

One of the most scary parts of this trip was leaving my bike with my brother, who has not been on a bike for 30 years. Of course, I’m joking and I know its in good hands and I hope he has a chance to stretch his legs on the chariot that is going to carry me around the globe to 80 more countries!

We have learned a lot on these 18,000 miles. Aside from some of the maintenance and all things associated with the bike, we have learned a ton about the media aspect of the trip. We’ve found there is a process that needs to be streamlined for the Blog, videos on YouTube, pics for the website and trying to journal as much of the trip as possible. It’s way more work on the media front than any of us thought it might be. To be honest, there are times that it takes away from the riding experience, so if at times, we are not putting out stuff as fast you may think we should, it’s because we are riding and we do all of our media in groups. None the less, we will keep up with it and we are getting better at it. I thank you for reading and following along. Please feel free to drop us a comment on our website www.EndOfAllRoads.com and let us know what you think!

Now we go home to Guam until mid January and head to Mexico and beyond!

Thanks Again for following!

 

Leg 2 – Anchorage, AK to Buffalo, NY – End of All Roads

By Dan Bartlett

At the end of Leg 1 from Seattle to Anchorage, we all split up and went a couple of different directions. We are riding for a month and then going back to work for a month, so Brian and Bob went home to Guam from Anchorage. Glen and I went to Kenai Alaska and stayed with some of Glens friends. His friends Bill and Norma lived in a nice log home on 5 acres overlooking the mountains. It was a very peaceful and relaxing spot, which was very welcome after just riding several thousand miles and being on the go day after day. I made two short Vlogs while we were there, and keep in mind, this was at the beginning of the trip and at this point we are still trying to figure out what we are doing with media stuff, so its short with room for improvement.

Vlog 1

 

After taking in some down time we had to go to the end of the road in the USA road system, which is Homer Alaska. Glen and I set out on a beautiful sunny day and went to Anchor Point, which is the most eastern point in the USA road system and just a short way from Homer. We parked at the end of the road, which is the largest natural spit in the world. It’s a long stretch of road in the middle of the water that took us to a tourist spot full of restaurants and shops. We found a neat bar named the Salty Dog, which looked like it, had been there since the discovery of saltwater. A tiny little bar with dollar bills hanging from the ceiling and a mix of locals and tourists. Glen was right at home in hippie way. We left after a few beers and headed back up the coast for a last ride to park the bike for a month. We had dinner with Norma and Bill to say thanks for everything and then Glen and I went our separate ways. Glen went to Arizona and I went back to Guam.

A month later we met back up in Kenai and Norma picked Glen and I up at the airport. We were both excited to be back in the ride mode again and back in Alaska. Alaska has an ambiance about it that is contagious. It makes you want to explore and see what’s around every corner, hill, mountaintop and beyond. Its a raw explorers playground and we were excited to get back on the road to do our share of exploring.

When we showed up at Norma and Bills house, they had covered my bike to keep it clean and serviced Glens truck. Bill had also rewired the trailer and made it like new again. These are the kind of hosts you can only wish for! We were so thankful for their kindness. We took them to dinner that night and hit the road the following morning. Norma and Bill wished us a heart felt goodbye and they are 2 people that we wont forget from this journey.

 

Bob arrived in Anchorage the same day we arrived in Kenai and he had some regrouping to do. He needed to buy some gear and a new computer. We have learned that updating a blog and editing video along the way is very time consuming and we needed to be on our computers more than we thought we would be. We feel like we have a responsibility to our family and friends, and those that may be interested in following our trip, so we are doing our best trying to keep up to date with updating our story. Therefore, Bob bought a new computer and was figuring out his new gear while Glen and I were making our way to Anchorage.

Glen and I set out at 8 am with the intention of riding directly to Anchorage. That’s not the way it went. It was a gray day filled with drizzle, and we felt like we had to swing by Seward Alaska since we were driving near the turn off for it. I have heard it was a neat town and the ride to get there was supposed to be nice. So, we made a turn off the main road toward Seward and I’m glad we did. The ride was great! The road was nice and shear cliffs on both sides of the road made for nice scenery.

When we arrived in Seward it was raining and the visibility was poor. It cut out some of the excitement because we couldn’t see very much of the town. We found a local pub had a beer and grabbed some lunch. Bob was waiting for us in Anchorage and he had to check out of his hotel, so he was waiting in the lobby for us and we were gonna be 4 hours late. I don’t like being late and especially that late, so we tried to hurry but we were so late, it didn’t really matter. In our hustle, I didn’t fill up with gas and I ran out of gas about half way between Seward and Anchorage. I was frustrated and upset with myself because I usually don’t make those kind of mistakes, but Glen was right behind me with the truck which had a gas can in it. As if I wasn’t frustrated enough, I have learned to despise the new “spill proof” spouts on new gas cans. I spilled so much gas and I ended up ripping the nozzle off the spout and just free poured gas. Manufacturers of gas cans, if you are reading this, please know that I think you really really suck!

We arrived at Bob’s hotel and he was patiently waiting in the lobby of his hotel in downtown Anchorage. He had plenty of things to figure out with his new computer while he waited for us. As we caught up, he mentioned that his sister and her family were about 2 hours north in the town of Talkeetna. We had planned on going eastbound 5000 miles to Halifax but we couldn’t be so close to family and not go see them. This changed our route right at the start of our trip. So northbound we road to Talkeetna, which is a really neat Alaskan town. It has some neat shops, and restaurants that feel like a time warp back in time and we were happy to make the ride there. There are also a lot of airplanes flying around and since we are all aviation buffs, it wasn’t hard to convince us to check out the town.

We met up at a small restaurant in Talkeetna with Bobs family. His sister and nieces were just beaming with excitement to see Bob. Bobs trip around the world on a motorcycle has gotten a lot of attention within his ranks and they were happy to be able to see him while he was on his adventure. I was also happy to meet his family that I had so much about for the last few years. It was great several hours of good food, several beers, lot of laughs and stories of Uncle Bob. Glen and I were pretty quiet and just watched the Lynch family catch up and reminisce. After a couple of hours we found an Air BnB outside of town that was a small chalet and a perfect place to park for a night. We made a Video Log here:
Talkeetna Video Log

 

 

The following day we met with Bob’s family for lunch and said our goodbyes. We figured since we were north of Anchorage, we might as well keep going to north and check out Denali national park and Fairbanks. It was a great road but it was littered with RVs. We were in a conga line of RV after RV and as beautiful as the scenery was, I was a bit turned off by all of the RVs. I like to get off the beaten path and sitting on an interstate with a bunch of RVs is not my ideal vacation. That being said, I was in Alaska with a good buddy, on the road and life was good! We ended up just nicking the edge of Denali national park and heading toward Fairbanks. We figured we were already short on time if we wanted to make it to Halifax and maybe we should press on to Fairbanks. The road to Fairbanks took us by the 49th State Brewery, which we could not pass up. A quick pit stop turned in to half a day sitting around a fire pit with some people from Boston and drinking micro beers all day. It was great and if this ride has taught me anything, its that there are good people everywhere and sometimes in unexpected places. We sat with this group from Boston and we laughed together like we had known each other for years. It was a moment not to be rushed and the day was just right, so we stayed longer than expected.

 

Finally made it to Fairbanks and got settled in an Air BnB, which was a house we had all to ourselves. Glen kept mentioning that we had to go check out “the most northern rock n roll club in north america” and he had been there years ago and it we wont forget it. So, we hopped in an Uber and went to Howling Dog Saloon. It was a rustic bar inside with a cool stage with loads of memorabilia from many years, and there were volleyball courts in the back. We walked in and there was about 10 people there and it was a ghost town inside. Glen was a bit disappointed but it wasn’t anything that Jack Daniels couldn’t help him out with. We sat and listened to the locals bitch about immigration and the country is going to hell talk for about 2 beers before we made our way back to town to bar hop there for a bit. Along the way, we stopped at the Alaskan pipeline which runs alongside the road. During our bar talks we decided to get some stickers made at a print shop the following day, which would again put us behind schedule but it had to be done. The following morning we found a print shop that could have the stickers done at 4 pm. We didn’t want to leave that late in the day but the sun is always shining so why did we care? We picked up our new stickers and hit the road trying to make it to Tok, Alaska…which we did.

 

 

 

 

 

Arriving at about 9PM to Stoves Campground we set up our camp and made our way to the community fire pit. There was a Canadian family of 5, a couple which was a young guy from Germany and an American girl, and Bob and I. We built a raging fire, shared a little whiskey after the kids went to bed and we all got to know each other well in to the night.

The family of 5 were from Canada and were a delightful couple that were good story tellers and I loved that they were out travelling with their kids and showing them the world. We learned that the girl with the German guy is a coworker of ours and we have several mutual friends. The world truly is a small place and we didn’t expect to meet anyone with common ties at a campground in Tok Alaska. I’ve grown very fond of these campsites because of all of the elements; the fire, stars and people that we have met at these places, are memories I’ll carry for a long time. For example, there was a Swiss couple that were driving their Land Rover around the world. 

This wasn’t the average Land Rover.

Alec was married before and all he ever wanted was a Land Rover. He had been a fan of Rovers since he was a child but his wife didn’t want a Land Rover and didn’t want to travel. They eventually divorced and his first order of business, was to buy a Land Rover. He bought his dream Land Rover from the movie set of Lara Croft Tomb Raider and then he spent the next 3 years retrofitting it into a Mad Max ready for the world machine. It was incredible! The time spent and the engineering of this vehicle was incredible. He put bullet plate all the way around it, hydraulic lifts on his extended bedroom, multiple batteries for the extensive electronics running his systems and it was a self sufficient world bound craft. We spent a couple of hours talking and learning about their truck and their trip. We are going to meet up with them again in Mexico.

 

The following morning we went made it to the Alaska/Yukon border where we met this guy. 
This is “The Road Runner” and he is 85 years old and says he is gonna be running around the world in his RV until he dies. With a contagious laugh, he is another big character we met along the way.

 

 

As we made our way down the road, I had two things on my mind. I really was looking forward to Dawson Creek which was the beginning/end of the Alaskan Highway, and I was looking forward to getting to Edmonton. Tok to Edmonton is a little more than 1600 miles and we had to be there in 4 days to pick up my wife Pascale. She was coming in from Guam and I didn’t want to be late. I don’t like riding with a tight timeline, but sometimes there are plans that have to be met, and I was looking forward to having her on the trip for a week.

We stopped at Laird Hot Springs and built a camp. The following morning we jumped in to the sulfur hot spring and it was the refreshing cleaning that I needed. We put Glen on the back of my bike for a few short miles to ride down the spring. That was kinda funny having him ride on the back. Just watching him get on and off was entertaining! 

We made a few stops along the way and then finally made it to Dawson Creek to enjoy the end of the Alaskan Highway!

 

We were still in hustle mode trying to make it to Edmonton on time to pick up Pascale but there were a few stops we had to make along the way. There were countless Canola fields in the plains of Alberta and we had to pull over and take some pics. There’s something about Canola fields that can turn up the cheese factor. I think it’s a running through a yellow field kind of feeling.

After we made our stop in the canola fields, we were ready to plow through some miles but about 10 miles down the road, we saw the Big Beaver and had to pull over again. I was crying with laughter from the jokes that were being told, but I’m gonna keep it PG rated for our blog…

and if the big beaver wasn’t enough, then we got a haircut at the Sheared Beaver. 

That night we made it to Edmonton and picked up Pascale. We were all pretty tired from going a little further than usual on a daily basis for 5 days. We figured that we would continue east bound but once again, we were urged to check out Banff and Lake Louise before leaving the area. Westbound we went and adding more time in the wrong direction to an already long trip of 5000+ miles. We weren’t really on a severe timeline though and if we need to change it, we will change it. We made our first campsite along the Snarl River, which was one of the most scenic and beautiful areas we had seen so far.

The ride between Snarl River, Banff, and Lake Louise is one of the nicest rides I’ve been on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We made our way across Saskatchewan and into Manitoba. It was the plains so the rides were long and flat.

We dropped Pascale off in Winnipeg after a week of riding and it was sad to see her go. We also realized that with all of our added stops, we were not going to make it to Halifax.

 

We came up with a new plan of riding through Toronto and hopping across the border to Buffalo NY and we could store our bikes with Bobs uncle who lived in Buffalo. This still made for about a 5000 mile total trip for us from Homer Alaska to Fairbanks, and on to Buffalo. That was more than enough for a month of riding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On to Ontario.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We rode into Ontario and made it to Toronto.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have some friends that live in Toronto and we stayed with them. I had no idea that we would be treated to a fantastic condo on the water overlooking the skyline of Toronto. I’m not too familiar with Toronto but I have to assume it was one of the nicest views of the city.

I had not seen my friend Siobhan in many years and there are few things in life better than old friends. It was a genuine pleasure to see her and her family, even if it was only for one night.
After a short stay in Toronto, we headed across the USA/Canada border and stopped at Niagara Falls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a short stop of only a couple of hours but the power of the falls are amazing. Its one place I look forward to going back to and taking the boat ride up close to the falls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After our time at Niagara Falls, we made it to Buffalo and it poured rain for the ride. It was kind of a weird note to finish our trip on. It was fine and we are used to rain but it was very heavy rain and it added to the relief of getting somewhere to relax for a bit. We went to Bobs uncles shop and stored our bikes. They were waiting for us and had a case of beer waiting for us. They wanted to hear the stories of our trip and Bob was eager to catch up with his uncle. It was a nice finish and the rain, beer, good company and constant laughs made for a great finish to Leg 2 of our trip around the planet. New Zealand felt like a million miles away, as we sat and laughed in Buffalo New York. In 3 years we hope to be telling Buffalo stories in Auckland! Now, its time to go back to Guam and work for a month, and then pick up where we left off. Until then, thanks for following!

 

 

Leg 1 – Around the world to 82 countries – END OF ALL ROADS

This leg is told by Dan Bartlett.

We are 3 guys who work in the travel industry with some pretty good travel benefits, and we use every bit of those benefits.  That might sound glamorous but if we weren’t flexible and willing to roll with the punches, it would be miserable.  We travel on the standby list for every flight we try to get on, but with proper planning we can usually make it, but not always.  We have made the world our backyard and have tried to explore as much of it as possible on motorcycles.  We have become addicted to accessing remote parts of the planet and all of the experiences that follow.  It was on one of those trips to Laos that our trip around the world was born!

Our life is on the island of Guam.  Guam is an island in the pacific with a slow island pace.  The comment most heard on Guam is “Guam is what Hawaii was 50 years ago.” I would say I agree with that.  I came to Guam with an 18 month commitment to my employer, and that was 8 years ago.  I found very quickly that I enjoyed the climate, people and lifestyle.  I also found a group of like minded friends: Bob Lynch and Brian Johnson.  We traveled often throughout Asia and the remote islands of the pacific.  We were very active with Scuba Diving, Kite Surfing, all water sports and brewing beer.  Our life was kind of a vacation.  We weren’t exactly tucking money away but I’d say we were living each day as if it was going to be over soon, but not recklessly.

We became addicted to motorcycle travelling and getting in remote areas of the Philippines and southeast Asia.

 

We were not only travelling for our job, but in our free time we were constantly exploring.  Our Guam life was also full of people that were doing similar things and it became addictive to not only live our own adventures but to hear and learn through other’s experiences and often times travel down a road that one of our friends had suggested.  Our peer group was a fun group of people and it’s like the saying goes, “Birds of a Feather Flock Together!”

As I mentioned in the beginning, our plan for riding around the world was born in Laos.  The entire story is on the OUR STORY section of our web site so I won’t be redundant and tell the story again.  Just know that it was from a day on a trip full of pain and perseverance that we believed we could make a lap around the world if we could survive that day.

Our work schedule would allow for a riding schedule of ride for one month, and then go back to work for a month.  We came up with a route that would be manageable with leaving our bikes and equipment in places for a month at a time.  This was tricky and is still an ongoing process.  I figure we are going to figure a lot of that out as we go, but nonetheless, our route is planned to include 82 countries.  The plan was to meet in Seattle, buy our bikes and ride up to Alaska for our first leg but I ended up buying a motorcycle in San Diego while visiting my family over Christmas. It was a right place, right time kind of story and I just couldn’t let the deal pass me by.  I always wanted to ride the Pacific Coast Highway too and this just gave me an excuse to do it.

 

March 15, 2017

After spending a couple of days sorting through gear and packing my bike, I hit the road from San Diego to Seattle.  The ride up the coast was fantastic! I have to apologize because I found myself in such a zone of happiness that I didn’t care to take many pictures at all and I wasn’t even thinking about the GoPro on my head or my handlebars.  I had been planning this trip for almost 2 years and when the moment finally arrived, I had an inner smile that would have stretched miles.

In February I had a preventative surgery in preparation for this ride, and my incision was bothering me and swelling more and more by the day.  I visited my sister in San Luis Obispo, California and I barely could get off my bike.  It was so good to see her but I was so uncomfortable that I had to lie on the floor stretched out when we were initially catching up.  I told her it was because I was sore from being on the bike for a while but that wasn’t entirely true.  I was in pain, but I wasn’t going to let it infringe on my long awaited trip, so I stuck my head in the sand and acted like everything was OK.  It wasn’t. The swelling was getting abnormally large and I knew I had a problem.  I stopped at a gas station and after filling up I went over to the side and lay in the grass.  After lying there

for about a half hour, it took everything I had to swing my leg over the bike and get back in my nest of a seat and carry on.

I was headed to San Francisco after my visit with my sister.  I had a friend named Maly there that I was looking forward to seeing again.  I met Maly when Bob and I were in Laos after one of our most challenging days of riding.  Her story is on our PEOPLE page of our website and I encourage you to go read her story because its an interesting story of a small girl and her family forced to leave their homeland and landing in America to have a successful life.  She is an example of why America is a beacon of hope for so many people around the globe.

Maly and I had kept in touch and she said that her friend Ann owned a boutique hotel on the water in Half Moon Bay which is in the San Francisco area.  I was looking forward to meeting Ann who sounded like she had a neat life story also, and spending time with Maly and getting to know her in a somewhat normal environment, unlike in Laos when I was beat up physically and emotionally.  Obviously my deteriorating health was not going to make it a normal meeting.

As I arrived, Maly was there to greet me with her contagious smile and soft demeanor.  Ann was a firecracker of high energy and always smiling and laughing as she carried on in her brisk walk.  Ann told me not to park in the parking lot and offered up a spot in her 3 car garage.  I was very appreciative of a good parking spot.  Ann got me situated in a water front room with a nice balcony overlooking the ocean.  It was great view and the salt was in the California air like only California can do.  It was perfect!

We sat down to a nice dinner that Maly had prepared and a couple glasses of wine.  They wanted to hear about my trip and I wanted to hear more about both of their unusual stories of how they got to America.  I was captivated that both of them had persevered and done so well for themselves.  I like hard workers and  success stories, especially when the obstacles are endless.  I’ve always gravitated towards those people that have overcome adversity when the deck is stacked against them.  Maly and Ann were two people that I could have talked to for days.  Maly and I had planned a short motorcycle ride the following morning down the coast to see a couple of the local tourist attractions.  I was eager to get to my room, so I could lie flat, because my swelling had continued and was reaching a tipping point.

The next day Maly and I rode down the coast for a short bit and had lunch at an old restaurant that was built in the late 1800’s, and not much had changed.  It was a neat place full of character.  It was good to see Maly and learn about her life.  I’m 46 now and I have learned that we all have our own battles to fight, some big, some small.  One of the beauties of the human condition is being able to share a short time with someone and feel their joys and pains.  We can do that through TV shows or books, but its best when it’s via time spent with someone and hearing the blow by blow accounts of things in their life.  My travels have gotten me addicted to many things, and one of them is connecting with people in a short period of time.  If I can do that with someone, chances are I will never forget and I will be a friend for life.

At the end of the day, I was struggling to get around and the swelling had reached a point that I had to call my doctor in San Diego.  He said he was booked up for the next 15 days, but if I could get from San Francisco to San Diego by the next day that he could see me at 7am and that was the only opportunity to get in for a while.  I asked Ann if it was ok for me to leave my motorcycle there in her garage for a month in case I didn’t come back for a while, which she agreed.  Maly drove me to the airport, we said our goodbyes, and I as on a flight headed to San Diego.  That is not how I thought my day would end.

My dad picked me up at the airport and I was in the doctor’s office at 7am.  My doctor said I needed to get in for surgery right away!  It didn’t sound good and I got a sense of urgency from him that I wasn’t expecting.  I had just eaten a small breakfast so I had to wait 8 hours so that my food didn’t interfere with the anesthesia.  Eight hours later I was in surgery. I was relieved the pain was gone but now I had the pain of another incision and I had to go through another 4 weeks of recovery.  It was good to spend time at my parents house but not the ideal conditions.

Four weeks later I hopped a plane to San Francisco and Ann picked me up at the airport.  Even though I had just met her the month before, it was very good to see her and her bright smile.  She took me to her Oceanfront Hotel in Half Moon Bay and lifted the garage where my precious motorcycle was waiting for me.  It was like being reunited with an old friend.  Maly wasn’t there because she lives in Fresno and she couldn’t get away from work.  I spent the evening with Ann, her husband who is a doctor from Germany, and his friend that was visiting from Switzerland.

It was a nice visit in Half Moon Bay at the Oceanfront Hotel and my trip had started out with some good people.  Now that my health issue was put to rest the road was calling my name and I was reinvigorated with the excitement of a new adventure all over again!

The following day I pointed my bike towards Seattle.  I stopped just north of San Francisco to see an old friend, Brian Tessitore, who I had not seen in 15 years.  We ran around together in the same group of friends when we both lived in LA.  Brian showed up with his newborn son and the three of us had lunch and tried to get caught up on 15 years of life, in 2 hours.  It was great to see him and another reminder that few things in life are better than old friends.

After leaving Brian I realized that I had no one else to see until I got to Seattle.  The pacific coast was all mine for a few days with just me and my motorcycle.  My inner grin showed up again and it was so good to be so simply happy!  I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge on a sunny day, looking over at Alcatraz and all of San Francisco.  The view was spectacular!  I had my music on in my helmet and I remember thinking not many things could make me more happy than I was at that moment.  I even turned my GoPro cameras on to document my elation.  I would find out later that my cameras were set too high and none of the footage would be usable.  With all new gear, camera and gadgets, there was a learning curve.  I am most sorry that my camera missed the ride through the Redwood Forest.

I figured out my camera angles and got all my electronics situated for the ride the next day.  When I started to ride toward the Oregon border, it started raining and didn’t let up for a couple of days.  By this time, Bob, Brian and my uncle Glen were waiting for me in Seattle.  I ended up jumping over to I-5 and going fast to Seattle from middle Oregon.  It rained the entire way and I figured it was a good way to test my gear and see how waterproof my suit was, which turned out to be 100% waterproof.

In Seattle, I would meet up with Bob, Brian, my uncle Glen and Justin Schuchat.  Justin is a coworker of ours, lives in Seattle and was going to ride with us to Anchorage.  Once we got to Anchorage he was going to put his bike on a boat and sail back.  Glen is my uncle and one of my favorite relatives.  He is a Vietnam vet, retired nurse and he certainly marches to the beat of his own drummer.  Glen lost his 22 year old son a year before this trip due to a tragedy.  It was very sudden and hit our entire family hard, especially Glen. I’ve had a couple of internet trolls say “you aren’t really riding around the world if you have a support car.” My uncle Glen is going to do the North America lap with us and then peel off to head for home once we come to the Mexican border…but he is welcome to come on as much as he’d like to.  This trip has many reasons of existence for each of us, and for Glen, I’m just so glad to see him smiling and enjoying life again.  The road has a therapeutic quality that only the road can do.

I arrived in Seattle and Bob had booked an AirBnB for all of us.  The first night we decided to launch the trip right and go to a U2 concert.  I could not think of a better beginning for all of us being together, the excitement of the trip and launching day 1 with a U2 show!

 

After two hectic days in Seattle trying to get out of town with last minute supplies, we were finally on the road at 5pm just in time to catch rush hour traffic! We made it about 20 miles out of town before someone had to pull over and I was just happy to have a little momentum because I was tired of herding cats.  A quick Walmart stop turned into a 2 hour gun shopping trip and a Mexican restaurant.  We were then confronted with the question of do we try to make it across the border tonight, which closes at midnight? Or, do we grab a motel and cross the border in the morning? We opted to try to make it to the border that night.

When we got to the border it was 10pm.  Glen went first and declared his guns which made him get secondary screening.  We had a bunch of beer, guns, ammo, bear mace and who knows what else Glen has packed in his truck but its loaded to the ceiling with all of our things.  As the four of us approached the border guard one by one we were escorted over to secondary screening and invited inside the building for a barrage of questions.  When I asked what the problem was, they said “we are not used to seeing motorcycle groups come up to Canada this early in the season and it’s late at night, which causes suspicion.”  We spent the next 2 hours having our things rifled through and explaining every place that I had ever lived since I was 18 years old which was 28 years ago.  They had the record of every place I had ever lived in my life and quizzed me on all of it.  I guess I expect there to be tough border crossings, but I sure didn’t expect Canada to be a tough crossing.  We were all fully annoyed at the way it was handled but after a couple of hours, we were on our way. I don’t know what they put in the water at border crossing guard school but they all sure seem to be a bunch of unhappy dicks! That goes for all countries.

We stayed the first night in Abbotsford just across the border and we got an early start the next morning to make our way toward Alaska.  We opted to not take the Alcan Highway and took the more rural route on highway 16 to the Stewart Highway.   Once we got west of Prince George it was beginning to feel like we were on our own.  We passed about half a dozen cops while we were doing 90+MPH and they turned their lights on, shook their finger at us, and kept going.  I fell in love with Canada just because of that! Justin ran out of gas just before we could make a gas station because gas stations were getting scarce.

 

We made our first camp on the side of a road, or kind of in the middle of the road, just west of Prince George.

 

I think we were all just so happy to be away from the world we knew, camping underneath the stars, and enjoying a big fire.  The happiness levels kept changing to different heights.

 

As we made a turn northbound, we didn’t see another car for more than 200 miles and we were definitely all on our own.  Everyone says, “don’t pass up a gas station without getting gas” and they were right.  There are not many services and not many people, which was just fine with us.

 

We approached the Dease Lake area of British Columbia and we needed gas and a place to stay.  There was a sign for service up ahead so we planned to stop.  As we made our stop at the gas station which had a small campground, there was nobody around.  We honked our horns, driving around looking for signs of life and after about 20 minutes a big guy in his late 30’s came out with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other.  He said, “we are closed!” and turned around abruptly.  I said, “we just need a place to stay for the night.  Can we camp here?” He slowly turned around, walked straight back to my bike, gave a sigh, and said “how many do you have? You guys don’t even know what you are walking into right now.  You guys just walked into the biggest family drama.  There is so much BS going on right now you don’t even know! I tell ya what, there are several log cabins down on the lake and they haven’t been serviced but just take all of those and there is a bunch of firewood down there too. Just take as much as you need.  Breakfast will be ready in the morning when you guys are ready. Just give me $100, sound good?” I was surprised and agreed quickly before he changed his mind because obviously we got there right in the middle of a family dispute.  We paid our $100 Canadian and grabbed 4 cabins.

We had the campground and lake to ourselves.  It felt about as far as you could get away from it all.  It was fantastic! It was a good place to try out our new guns.  We had a 44 Henry rifle, small 22, and a 12 gauge shotgun that had never been fired.  We went to the water and shot for a while and it was a blast! Bob had never shot a gun before.  I didn’t know that and Glen enjoyed taking him under his tutelage and showing him the way of a marksman.

 

 

We continued north up the Stewart Highway to the border of British Columbia and Yukon Territory.

 

 

I really enjoyed all things of Canada.  The lay of the land was gorgeous and the people had an innocence to them which I enjoyed.  At almost every stop, they had some funny witty signs.

As we left the Stewart Highway, we merged for a day on to the Alcan Highway.  This is where the masses traveled and is a place I wanted to see later but not really right now, because I enjoy off the beaten path way of travel.  We went through Whitehorse, which is a sizeable town and we made our way to the entrance of the Dempster Highway.  The Dempster is well known throughout motorcycle communities and can be hit or miss with the road conditions.  We were there early before the season really had started, in mid May so it really had an unpredictable quality.  We had heard stories of the road not being groomed and being so full of pot holes that it might not be passable from the ice melt.   That may be true but that was not our experience.

 

The camping was good and we had another campsite all to ourselves.  We were warned countless times that going up to Alaska and riding the Dempster Highway is a bad idea that early in the season.  We risked it, and so far it had paid off.  We had all of the campsites to ourselves, unlimited wood and good weather.

We didn’t plan to ride the entire Dempster Highway up to Inuvik.  We just wanted to go up to Eagle Plains and get above the Arctic Circle.  When we were planning the trip we learned that we had two options for going above the Arctic Circle: The Dempster Highway on the Canadian side of the border or we could ride up the Dalton Highway which begins just north of Fairbanks, Alaska and goes up to Prudhoe Bay.  We had heard that the Dalton Highway was very busy with trucks running supplies up to the pipeline and communities.  We had the Dempster Highway all to ourselves and I can count on one hand how many other cars we saw the entire time of our 500+ miles on the Dempster.

We had been packing up camp every time we camped. But the day we were going up to the Arctic Circle a debate was had if we pack up or just leave our things because we are coming back at the end of the day.  It was about 200 miles from our campsite to the Arctic Circle and 200 miles back and it was a gravel road. I thought we should pack up and just take our stuff with us in case anything happened.  Brian was riding in the truck with Glen because he had torn rotator cuff surgery, and he thought we should just leave everything.  That sounded pretty good to everyone because we were getting tired of setting up and breaking down everyday.  It might be kind of nice to not set up and break down for a day.  I was voted down and we left our gear at Tombstone campground.  What could happen on such a beautiful day?

We rode up to Eagle Plains and the weather was gorgeous, as well as the scenery.  We couldn’t have asked for a better day.  We rode up to the Arctic Circle and had it all to ourselves again.

We stopped for a while and drank a beer.  Brian and Bob took their clothes off and took some pics for the novelty of being at the Arctic Circle and drinking an almost naked beer.  Brian can’t raise his arm because of his broken shoulder.

On the way home we stopped at the Eagle Plains Lodge and had lunch.  We refilled our water jugs with Glacier water which may have been the best water I’ve ever had.  I rationed that water for a while after leaving there.

As we began our 200 mile trip back to our camp on a beautiful day, the sky started to change and it changed fast.  The blue sky changed to black and then started to sleet and then snow.  It was now snowing and we were 130 miles from our camp.  The road was quickly covered and we couldn’t tell where the road was or the ditch on either side of the road.  Our masks were fogging, our teeth were chattering in our intercoms, my left boot was somehow letting water in and I had about an inch of water sloshing around in my boot and the temperature was now 30 degrees Fahrenheit.  We went from enjoying the ride, to suddenly just aiming for the middle of the road, forgetting about potholes or any pitfalls of the road! We just wanted to stay on the road and aimed for the middle.  We slowed to about 25MPH and it took us about 7-8 hours to finish the last 130 miles with a few stops along the way.  It was not fun.

 

As we finally got back to our campsite we were all pretty frozen.  Glen popped out of the truck and started a fire immediately.  It was so good to have him in that moment because there was no way my fingers were gonna make a fire. Bob went to warm up in his tent, never to be seen again for the day.  We were all exhausted.

 

As we licked our battle wounds the following morning we left for a short ride to Dawson.  There are two towns in this area named Dawson.  There is Dawson Creek and there is Dawson City.  They are very different from each other.  Dawson City is like a time warp and is a mining town that is very much still in the 1800s.  It is full of character and we could have spent several days in this cool town.

 

We were there on a Saturday night which is the one night the local bar has a good crowd and band.  We spent a few hours at the casino with a burlesque show and then went to The Pit.

 

Glen was in heaven.  There was a good vibe at the casino and we made some new friends that showed us the town.  Glen is not shy and makes friends everywhere he goes.  He also loves to dance.  As soon as we got into The Pit, Glen was on the dance floor.  A group of girls approached him and asked if he was Ralph Lauren.  That made his day and he danced the night away with a smile on his face.

Sadly, we left Dawson and went toward Alaska on The Top of the World Highway, which was a mostly paved road perched on top of the mountains with amazing views.  We were told we needed to stop in a small mining camp named Chicken, Alaska.  There wasn’t much to the town of Chicken but a few shops and a bar.  We made our way to the bar for lunch and stayed for most of the afternoon.  The town was originally going to be called Ptarmigan, but out of fear with misspelling the name they played it safe and called it Chicken.  The people of Chicken asked where we were going and we told them Fairbanks.  They convinced us to skip Fairbanks on this leg and go toward Valdez.  They said it was a great ride and a neat town.  This was great advice.  Our route had once again changed on a whim based on the word of strangers.

The ride to Valdez was scenic but then it started to rain which turned to snow.  It happens fast in Alaska and with not much warning. We were suddenly ready for a warm bed and warm shower again.

As soon as we got to town we found a Mexican restaurant.  The owner was a former police officer in Mexico and Federally.  When he heard about our trip he insisted on sitting with a map and telling us where was safe in Mexico and where was not.  Again, my faith in humanity was renewed with the kindness of strangers.  That’s one of the biggest reasons I would like to do this trip is because I’d like to highlight that there are more good people of the world, rather than the bad ones which seems to be all we hear about.  No question that the bad people are out there and we can’t be naïve to that fact but that doesn’t mean that we as a whole should cower in our homes and not live life to the fullest.  It means that you live to the max and deal with the bad when it happens.

All of us are mariners and enjoy all things boats.  Valdez is a good place to walk the docks and check out boats.  While we did this we ended up hopping on a boat and going to check out some glaciers.  It was cool sitting on the bridge with the captain and watching him negotiate his way through icebergs.  A fun day and it was nice to finally have a day where we weren’t on the move so much.

 

We had a great time in Valdez and it was another town that I wish we had more time to spend.  We were on the home stretch now and almost to Anchorage.  Our work schedule is such that we have to work for a month and then we can go ride for a month, giving us a month ON/OFF of riding. Therefore, we were coming to the end of our month long tour and we had Anchorage in our sights.  We left in the morning and made a few pit stops along the way…

 

and then we made it to Anchorage and went directly to a brewery to celebrate with a beer.

 

We arrived in Anchorage and got an AirBnB.  We rented a house and stayed for a couple of days.  It was a good time to secure the bikes and explore Anchorage.  We rode up to Talkeetna, which is about a 2 hour ride north of town, so that we could do a glacier tour.  We went to McKinley Scenic Flights and hopped on a Beaver and cruised around the national park to land on a glacier.  It was a great day with fantastic visibility, which the pilot said was kind of rare for that time of year.

 

 

After giving the bikes a good scrub down we took them to The Motorcycle Shop.  We have encountered several motorcycle shops along the way but I really can’t say enough about how helpful this crew was.  They serviced our bikes, gave us a tour of their facility, stored some of our bikes for a month, shipped Brian’s bike to Vermont so he could meet up on the next leg after his shoulder is healed, and then they took us out for beers at a local brew pub.  When we showed up a month later, these guys had put a new set of tires on our bikes.  They were so helpful and accommodating! Big thanks to Chris and his staff at The Motorcycle Shop!!

Bob, Brian and Justin left and Glen and I went down to Homer for a few days.

Glen had a couple of friends that lived in Kenai and invited us down to stay with them for a few days.  Norma and Bill had a great log home with a large garage that they graciously offered to store my bike and Glens truck while we were gone for a month.  In the meantime, Glen and I checked out the Kenai peninsula and rode to Homer.

After a couple days of exploring the Kenai area, Glen and I got on a plane and headed for home.   I went to Guam and Glen went to Iowa.  It was a great month and our dream trip was finally underway.  We are now realizing our month ON/OFF schedule and now we get a break, sort of if you call going to work a break. But, we are going back to our lives to remind the people in our life that we are still alive and well.  It’s a good pace of maintaining the trip and keeping somewhat of a normal life too.

There were countless laughs, wonderful scenery and a few scares along the way. Those are the reasons we ride.  I read years ago “the definition of adventure is when the outcome is uncertain.”  I would say the outcome is uncertain where we are headed and we will forge on to have our adventure and hopefully to show the good things and people of the world.

Leg 2 – is Alaska to Buffalo NY coming up July 15 – August 15, 2017

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