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Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Brian & Deya met in Vancouver Canada. After a few years together we were married and made choices. One was not to have children the other was not to take life for granted. The rest is yet to come.

October 30, 2010

For 100 miles she cried

It’s easy to forget that all those animals lurking around out there are people. That despite their decisions, situation or even motivations they deserve some compassion. As we have traveled near to the Mexican border we have seen an incredible amount of surveillance equipment, dudes with guns, dogs and check points. All in an effort to defend this country from the sorted peoples trying to illegally cross.

The conditions are stark, hot, dry and long, with tarantulas and scorpions all over the place. If you can imagine what it would be like trying to cross a barren region with all kinds of people, equipment and poisonous bugs looking for you then you could appreciate the challenge. But the real problem doesn’t lay in the difficulty of the environment or the motivations of the person trying to cross, it is much simpler than that.

There is a tremendous amount of disregard for the human aspect of this problem and we have heard many times, “Those Mexicans are sneaking across the border to take American jobs”, or “If we could just round them all up and send them back”. Obviously there are some problems with those statements, as with any statement made with a large brush and there are important details that need to be examined. The statements are an indication of the mindset and it is this mindset that allows us to forget reason and the simple logic of the situation, the result is people who end up in a poor state and terrible situations.

As we headed West coming sometimes less than a mile from the border I enjoyed the dry heat and the riding, running over Locus and Tarantula and some time a Scorpion. I like seeing the dudes with guns and the check points, the roads were as fantastic as the scenery and I kept thinking we would see some people crawling across the road at any moment. I wondered, if we saw people would we stop at the next check point and tell them about the cat and mouse game, have them picked up and sent back. What I didn’t realize is that Deya was in drawn out state of mourning, with tears in her eyes she saw all the same things that I did but in a different light, a compassionate light. I simply saw the problem and was considering the solutions to the numbers of bagged meat crawling across the desert, I never stopped to think about the people.

When we arrived in Tucson Deya told me about her experience, her eyes watering again, I reminded myself to listen patiently because it is my duty and to remember that she is just being emotional. As she described the scene over the last several weeks, the attitudes from people, the actual illegal aliens we have likely seen and met and told me that despite not agreeing with the decisions to make such a crossing those people are still her fellow Mexicans and she is hurt by the disregard.

I could understand this but it wasn’t until she said, ”How would you feel if you saw a bunch of Canadians struggling across the land, just to be undervalued, underappreciated and abused?” It crushed me, I imagined my fellow Canucks in a state of being in which they actually thought that taking great risk to sneak into a neighbour’s country was the only way to succeed. That they were only good enough to pick up dog shit, berries and work without contribution to the host nation as a low income peasant, isn’t that like slavery? How could a Canadian fall so far to believe that’s all their worth? I wondered if our American cousins could picture their own people grovelling like this, what would it take to put us all in this situation and why aren’t we able to have more compassion for the solution instead of the punishment?

It’s a tough situation that steadily revolves around the law of supply and demand and there are some “enclaves of intelligence”, as a good buddy once put who understands this. I don’t know how to have an impact but all this time in the helmet gives me some room to think and if I can come up with a gem, well, I hope I could do some good. Fortunately there are greater minds than mine working on this problem and we’ve met some. I’m glad that Canada does not have a less fortunate neighbour with these conditions, we are some what insulated.

Spending the night with Tarahumara Indians

After the rally was over there where a few stragglers that stuck around the park, Deya and I were among them. We were camped beside Mike and Becky who had a pretty slick set up, an RV with a toy hauler on the front to park the bikes in. What a good way to comfortably base your headquarters out of while exploring the area by bike.

It’s funny the stories people have and unfortunate that more of them don’t get shared. I know I have been trying to tell fewer stories, or one ups, and get more out of the people we share with because people are just interesting. Mike for example, has been riding a long time and with no shortage of adventurous spirit had set out with two buddies. One of the fellows was a tough troop in his 80’s and the other was a physical education (PE) teacher, about the fittest of them all. Of course, the three lads were apart of some tour in the outback of Mexico, when they decided to set off on their own little excursion for the day, the adventure got very interesting. They headed off into the mountains taking various turns, Mike knew exactly where they were, and as they got deeper and deeper into the woods of Mexico they got stuck in a bad section. Unable to pull the bikes out they abandoned them and set off on foot, still with plenty of daylight left to get assistance. Of course they found some Tarahumara natives who expertly scratched their heads and pointed off into the hills to where they needed to go. Though the Tarahumara Indians didn’t like outsiders, Mexicans or others, they were not pointing with their middle fingers so the directions must have been good? Three days later, Mike had confidently led the trio in every logical direction possible, having been shoed out of some small native villages, where the local language is older that the hills, with only a tortilla between them, they were lost.

At this point the senior of the three was having a shut down, explaining that the colostomy bag on his hip was full and organ failure was probably forthcoming. Colostomy bag! Having known the fellow for a long time only added to the surprise but by now it didn’t matter, the river they were following to civilization was leading them no where. Toenails where starting to depart from the feet, severe fatigue and hunger where setting in from the relentless hill and trail climbing and the water from the local streams probably wasn’t helping much. The two remaining firm fellows dragged their senior into a hut despite the dismay of the local natives and it nearly became a physical conflict, with language being a total barrier. The situation was desperate, the local directions they had and Mike’s sense of direction where certainly in question, of course Mike couldn’t figure out why his buds, knowing him well, would follow him through the woods until they were nearly dead.

It didn’t matter now, the dude on the floor of some native hut, pale and full of shit, was saying his final peace and the PE instructor was stealing the socks off his feet. A decision was made to make an attempt for the PE teacher to get back to the bikes and hope for a rescue. Mike stayed to care for his friend but little could be done to alleviate the toxic shock that was probably taking its toll. After some time he went out side and wandered down the river a ways. There he saw a monster of man wearing all black, he yelled and approached, in broken English the Army rescue agent told him to come with him, Mike refused trying to explain they had a medical issue and needed to recover their friend. He ended up convincing the fellow to follow him to the native village. They got their buddy out of there and back to the bikes, a jeep was there and the search team had just retrieved the bikes. What they learned is that the team was just about to leave, after three days of searching it had been called off, fortunately the PE teacher had made his way back and found help at the bikes.

As the story goes all three guys are still friends and riders and as tragic as it all might sound the tale is told with such gusto and humour that it makes for great entertainment. The antics these mature adults would get up to cannot even get mentioned here but can be the envy of many young fellows like myself. We had a great time. Before we left one of the other stragglers, Carl, helped us out with some routing ideas and put us in contact with a friend of his, Beemer Chef ( http://theoasisofmysoul.com ). We would end up meeting the Chef at a gallery event in Bisbee, Texas later on.

The following day we headed into town to sort out some insurance, because of the difficulty at the Mexican border we had been adjusting plans and moving West out of Texas. This caused me to run out of insurance for the bike. It would cost us an extra $535.00 for the extra week of insurance but its better than the slim chance of having a problem and getting sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars. It took most of our day and so we headed out in the afternoon for Fredericksburg. We couldn’t make much time and ended up riding late which is against our S.O.P. Deya decided it would make sense to contact someone and see if they could host us for the evening. A lovely couple that were retired Engineers, had moved to the South from Washington, came and got us as we were lost in the night and they put us up, I was now surrounded by Engineers! It was my birthday and it was nice to have a comfortable place to stay that evening, thanks for that Roger and Kate!

The next day we departed and as we travelled through Texas, every time we stopped lots of people invited us to stay at their homes but we needed to keep going. Our goal was to meet the Beemer Chef in Bisbee. We had contacted him earlier and he invited us to his place in Big Bend but he wasn’t going to be there. Instead we decided to attend the gallery showing of his art in an eclectic little town in Arizona.

Our next destination was Alamogordo in New Mexico. This would be one of our longer days at about 700-800 km, which was okay because the traveling was easy like the prairies, because we would stay with another BMW associate named Richard. As we approached the city, which is located in the valley surrounded by two mountain ranges, we passed through Cloudcroft which has an altitude of roughly 9000 feet. The riding through the mountain pass was enjoyable and it was nice to finally get back onto the sides of the tires again. It was cold and getting onto dark, as we descended the mountain we could see the city ahead and could feel the temperature improving. I could also smell the rain coming and we could see ominous clouds over the city. We pulled over to check our bearings and put on rain gear. We were 13.9 miles from our destination. As we climbed back on our bikes a black SUV, coming up the hill, made a u-turn and came up beside us. A retired couple told us we shouldn’t continue, that they were returning because of a threatening Tornado with golf ball sized hail stones and 70 mph winds.

Deya looked scared, I wanted a picture of a tornado but better sense came to me and the folks that warned us offered us to stay at their place East of Cloudcroft. Now fully enveloped in darkness the twisty mountain pass we enjoyed turned into a difficult fast paced race to avoid the storm that was approaching. Lightning was pounding down around us and the rain was already starting, there was a sense of haste in the air and with the other drivers around us with a feeling of needing to batten down the hatches. We winded our way into their home in the mountain and found shelter there; with bikes parked we enjoyed a stormy but safe evening with our hosts Judy and Scott. Again impressed at the hospitality and concern people have for us, Deya and I were grateful for meeting them that night.

The next morning we headed off in lovely weather to visit Richard, it seemed that when we got there Richard had a fully booked home so his friend Mary would host us that evening. We hung out with Richard for the day and had dinner with his family. Richard is a seasoned rider, instructor and simply an interesting guy. It would have been nice to spend more time getting to know him. Our evening with Mary was great too, what a wonderful lady, very positive and bright, a real pleasure for Deya and I.

Heading out the next day we stopped in White Sands, the place is weird and interesting. Because of the previous weather issue most of the area was closed but we managed to see some of it. They could have named it Gypsum but White Sands seemed easier. There’s a huge air force base there as well as multiple missile test ranges and a NASA research centre. The roads are pretty much straight except for a short jaunt up and down the other mountain range.

We headed West out of Alamogordo and made it to Deming where we would spend the night at the Rock Hound State Park, a primitive sight and the least visited of any of the state parks, for only eight dollars a night. It was beautiful and the night sky inspired dreams and a sense of peace. Full of stars with the backdrop of a small city in the valley we were perched on the edge of a small mountain range, the moon nearly full and so bright it was like having vehicles headlights pointed at our tent all night. I got up around midnight to the sound of coyotes howling and a short walk to the bathroom. If it wasn’t for the chilly night air I might have kept walking into the desert, it was beautiful and mesmerizing. We departed early the next day but I could have stayed a couple more days. It’s a lesson we haven’t learned yet on this trip, to stay and enjoy, to schedule out the schedule or to disregard the need to move on. Despite that we were on a mission to get to Bisbee, Arizona.

Midnight Moon Shine
Bisbee, what a place, homes are built across bridges and ravines, on the hills among winding roads with colours and murals everywhere. We arrived and saw his motorbike parked outside the gallery. The folks inside had expected us and when we got there Ara (Beemer Chef) was just showing up. He had other guests showing up as well and we got to meet a bunch of good people like Sean and Robert. Thanks to Robert for dinner! Thanks Sean for the quick refresher on the map use. Thanks Ara for letting us crash at your pad, I know we’ll see you again sometime, sorry we couldn’t attend your dinner that evening I bet we missed out!

The gallery showing was a good time with plenty of fine folks, a few not so fine but that’s only a minor distraction. For the most part we met more riders and saw the value of such an event at work. Our intention was to spend the evening with Ara and Sean (Robert had a place to camp), have breakfast then meet with Tony and a team who would arrive from Tucson to collect us and ride a route back to Tony’s place. Unfortunately Ara had some technical issues and had to leave very early in the morning and wouldn’t return until the afternoon, I hope that worked out well for him, I’m sure it did.

Despite that, we arranged our things, said goodbye to Sean and met the crew at a nearby coffee shop. When we arrived there was an awesome display of bikes and riders which included: Ricardo, Robert, Antonio & Barbara, Tony (host), Ray and Carlos. We had coffee with the team and it was immediately easy and enjoyable. What a great way to spend the morning in a cool town with a good group of riders.

When we departed Bisbee Ricardo and Carlos were going to take some dirt roads back to Tucson, I really wanted to join them but Deya and I already set a rule that we would not separate paths when we were both riding so we headed back with the rest of the group. Tony set a pace that was nearly perfect, respecting our 55 mph rule and Antonio brought up the rear, blocking aggressive traffic, like a champ. It’s not often that you can ride with a group and it’s comfortable, most riders relate to this, but this group was mature and predictable and it made group riding enjoyable. Antonio and Barbara broke off and headed home when we turned in to check out the famous city of Tombstone.

Sean, (Me), Ara

Antonio, Deya, Barbara

Three tough guys in Tombstone (Tony, Ray, Me)

That evening was very enjoyable as we drank Don Julio and chatted with Ray and Tony about a wide variety of topics over a lovely dinner. We would spend several more nights with Tony and a short trip North to visit Rich, who we met in Whitehorse. Our 3 night rule was broken at Tony’s, we have to be vigilant to appreciate his hospitality and patience for us but I think it’ll be fine; Tony is a fantastic character with an outstanding sense of humour.

October 18, 2010

Can I take my picture with you? No not you, him.

Georgia, is not what I had imagined. I’m not sure exactly what we would find but I was impressed first by the roads and riding. It attaches itself to some popular and fantastic routes, on road and off, that we’ll definitely have to go back and enjoy. We stayed with a friend we had met in northern BC in a town called Cumming. We joked about some of the names of cities as you might imagine and thought that this town could have been in Newfoundland nestled between Placenta and Dildo. Regardless, the town was very nice, attractive with plenty of good food and culture.

During our stay I had an opportunity to pick up some new tires, I wanted to get some knobbies but not yet so Jud took me to his favourite moto shop and we got some Shinko’s for the front and rear. Now I know I just started a big debate but I only really need them to cover the next 4000 miles or less, beyond that it’s gravy so it’s more of a tactical decision versus and strategic one. Jud also taught me a little trick while installing the tubes which may be obvious to some but was new to me. I have got another idea that I’m going to try to help getting my tires on the rims but I will not mention it until I try it.

After the shop we headed for the hills, we were going to ride some dirt and do a river crossing but first we stopped in at the Two Wheels Only Motorcycle Camp and Café (T.W.O.). This place is alright, and is mentioned in the BMW MOA Anonymous book. There was a good group of riders there and we met more good folks. What I didn’t realize right away was that the fellow I was talking to was a person of note. I figured it out after people kept coming up to me and asking if they could get a picture. Turns out they didn’t want a picture with me. (LOL…the arrogance eh!) too funny. But despite being well recognized by people other than myself, Dave Despain is a good guy to hang out with. Previously I rode with a cohort of Dave’s, Ralph Sheheen and met a fellow who was telling stories about his bud, a reputable journalist who works with these guys. He had ridden with the BMW team from South Carolina.
Now I don’t like to draw too many lines because too much spaghetti makes you fat but it seems to come back to the small world theory and degrees of separation. Either way, an interesting, eclectic group. Now for real fame I would have to give to our bud Jud. This guy has travelled all Canadian provinces and territories, all states in the USA and is working on Mexico; that too is note worthy.

We left our good times in Georgia better than we had arrived and headed to Birmingham, Alabama. Arriving near our destination we stopped at the Starbucks, our GPS routes us to many locations that no longer exist, and used the WiFi to do a little research. We had been given the access to the home of a fellow BMW guy but didn’t want to go too early for politeness reasons. While at the coffee shop we met a number of interesting and friendly people. Of note was a guy who was building his own American made Sport Touring Motorcycle; a young and intelligent fellow who clearly had a solid picture in his mind.

That evening we had the honour to meet our host Robert, a fine guy who was a bunch of laughs and a tremendous cook. It wasn’t the complexity of his gastronomy but the simplicity. The kind of eating that both Deya and I really enjoy, thanks again for that Robert! Our time in Alabama was good as we had a bunch of things to do and our host’s support was appreciated.

We visited a company called ACIPCO which was very interesting and got to meet with many APICS members which, for me, was a relief. I really enjoy operations and nerdy talk revolving around operational improvements and their challenges. We saw an important part of any municipality’s resources at work in this plant and got an interesting insight to the company’s culture.

Once we cleared out of the industrial area we headed for the famed “Barbers Vintage Motorcycle Museum” and Porsche race track. (http://barbermuseum.org/) The museum was fantastic though we didn’t have a lot of time to visit before they closed. During the visit of the 600+ motorcycles (1500 total in rotation) we met Mr. Barber, a real gentleman and motorcycle enthusiast. Of course Deya needed a picture of him unlike me who doesn’t like to bother people so I don’t ask. Turns out to be a good thing for us though because Deya has a way of meeting good and interesting people and that is just never a bad thing. As it turns out Mr. Barber and Deya made a deal that had Deya sending him a letter and photo at the end of our trip so he could place it in a spot of distinction amongst the other travelers in his museum.

So Deya runs over to a small group that Mr. Barber was touring around, not wondering why the man himself is doing the tour when he’s got enough staff to do that himself. She interrupts and asked if she could get a photo with Mr. Barber and a gentleman in the group takes the camera for the photo. What Deya didn’t realize and made me laugh is that Alton Brown (feasting on Asphalt, Iron Chef, Good Eats, Food Network Stuff) was behind the lens. I didn’t tell her because again I don’t like to bother people but maybe that was a mistake. I later realized this because Alton might have been able to give us some great culinary tips with our tactical budget that would have significantly improved our food intake. Damn I’m dumb some times because the thing I love next to motorcycling is food. Either way these are two more fellows of note that have been good for motorcyclists everywhere. Two degrees of separation here is that Deya worked with Iron Chef Rob Finnie for a short period, who likely knows Mr. Brown, just thought that was odd.

Before we left we headed over to the shop of the guy we met at Starbucks, Brian Case of Motus Motorcycle, and checked out his set up. Him and partner Lee Conn are producing a motorcycle of worth, it has a great look and a nice feel.  Track testing starts soon and I wish these guys the most success. They have no BS background and some serious support from companies like Pratt & Miller. Stay sharp boys you have a great thing going! Everyone should keep an eye out for this bike when it comes out by Motus, it’s distinctive. (http://www.motusmotorcycles.com/)

Alabama was sweet but it was still time to leave and the next days turned out to be fantastic riding. We made good time without to much fatigue and spent the night in Mississippi at Bench Mark Works, a cool spot with a very impressive vintage BMW collection. (http://www.benchmarkworks.com/). Passing through Louisiana quickly so I can’t really comment and entering Texas the third week into October was interesting. Texas I feel is interesting, I’m not sure why but it definitely has a different feel about it. I like Texas, I can’t comment on the culture here, the landscape so far is not tremendous but I like the feel. The weather is good now and my feet are finally warm after many cold nights.

One thing I’m coming to grips with is the Health Care controversy here. It’s complicated, it’s cultural, it’s political, religious and not my problem! I hear that it’s not broke, that it doesn’t need to be fixed. I reply that neither does the Canadian system, just continuous improvement yet that’s not the propaganda they get. As a Canadian I’m grateful for my country’s universal care and will continue to pay my taxes so that I can complain about it for years to come. As an observer in the USA, I only wish this innovative young country would stop knocking heads and start developing a great solution to a common health care problem that other nations could model from. Come on guys, the opportunity to impress is right now! That’s my two cents worth.

While in Texas we stayed at the BMW rally at Smithville. We showed up late but still won three awards and a door prize that we could actually use on our trip. It was a good time and I’m glad we made it here, though we were tired. The people were very warm and we made some good contacts and got advice on our route. We enjoyed dinner and breakfast and spent some time relaxing the following day. I also took a test on the BMW SMARTtrainer and got an “A” for my superb riding skills, and a couple of grey hairs too. Our agenda for the day was to plan our attack West and how to exit the USA. We still had several days to go and few details were looming like: motorcycle insurance, health care coverage, border document, new tires and maybe even a 40k tune up.

October 11, 2010

Maine and the Mighty USA

We started our USA portion of the journey South in Maine and what a great place to start. BMW MOA helped us out immediately and we got to meet and stay with some fantastic and interesting people. I’d like to say thanks to the folks there for their hospitality, time, good food and the outstanding array of micro brewed beers.

Micro brewed beers represent a particular type of refinement which seems to preclude the excess or abuse that is seen by the bulk brands of beer. It also tends to represent a broader view or sophistication among its connoisseurs. What you might find in Maine at any of the fine restaurants is that the menu doesn’t even have the bulk name brand beers, they’re just not offered! Good stuff Maine!

We enjoyed our days there thoroughly but I should have gone to that Yoga class with Doug and worked out some of the tight spots I have developed over the past months. I accomplished my first Chain and Sprocket change without error and in good time, that was satisfying. The shop that did Deya’s valve tune up was excellent to deal with and well recommended. I would even recommend them for any East coast Canadian’s needing BMW work to head down to Portland drop off the bike and hang out. Find the Yosaku Japanese restaurant, I’ve eaten in a lot of good Japanese joints and this should not disappoint.

The riding in Maine is very nice as well and a lot like the Maritimes but of course we had to leave. As it seems to go we end up in rain when we leave a place and there was a large front moving in North and East of our position. The hope was that we could hammer through it in a westerly direction. The riding was pleasant but it was getting cold and as we entered the Catskill Mountains we would get hammered by hard rain.

En route to the Catskill Mountains we stopped for a snack in Massachusetts, a fellow named David and his grandson CJ gave us a horse and cart tour around the cornfields. It was a nice ride and they were a good pair of troublemakers. Dave is hoping to do a long off road trek with his horses and cart with the grandson when he retires, I hope they do it. When we returned to our bikes there was crowd of people around the bikes. As we approached I asked what everyone was standing around for and they replied, “We’re waiting for Charlie and Ewan to show up”, I laughed and said sorry to disappoint you but we’re not Charlie and Ewan, we are merely Brian and Deya. And so they commented on how the boxes where the same but since I haven’t seen the movie yet I couldn’t comment other than to say they are common. It was a pleasant distraction but we had some miles to make up and weather still to deal with.

Of course we are nearly water tight with heated grips and many layers so when we passed a lone bicyclist swearing and grinding up a very tall grade, soaking wet and nearly blinded by the bitterness of the pounding rain, I felt better about myself. Half way up the hill we stopped under a shelter to take a quick break, eventually being met by the trooper peddling up the hill. Rosey was British lass with a good attitude and character. She had covered a similar trip on her pedal bike as we had and was heading to South America as well. I hope she does well and I bet we’ll bump into her again, I hope we actually do, she will have some interesting stories for sure.

We camped on the outskirts of the Catskill Mountains that night in our degrading tent. We are up to three broken and modified tent posts with about six significant and duct taped tears. Despite this we camped fairly comfortably. The only real trouble I’m having is hip and hip-flexor pain, the other parts I’m used to. The cold seems to get me every morning around 2-4 am but I’m okay with that, it’s a nice reminder. An interesting development is the numbness and tingling in my left hand that’s plagued me for a long time while riding is now completely gone. I’m feeling healthier and more relaxed than I have in a long time. I still get uptight once in a while but usually only when it’s time for a snack or sleep, but that is not new.

On our route Southwest we planned to ride the Skyline Drive onto the Blue Ridge Parkway. At the head of the route BMW MOA landed us with some more fantastic folks, food and conversation in Front Royal, Virginia. Cornpone is the new treat for me here, like cornbread but sweeter, and I loved it. We had some great conversations and insight about politics and cultural perspectives. I love to talk about political views in relation to cultural perspectives as most Canadians do but it can be a touchy subject and needs a lot of caution not to disturb the Zen of a host’s home. Mostly though, I like to try to understand the general perspective while appreciating the individual’s thoughts. Definably I’m starting to see a significant difference in the mindset and culture of the American people versus the Canadian people and it is certainly vast. I have to admit though I’m appreciating what the people of this capable country go through and their challenges going forward.

On our way through Virginia we stopped for gas and had an engaging conversation with a fellow who loved to talk. He was very interesting to me and I could have parlayed all day with him about world politics and points of view. Caution is of course important and the general rule is no talk of sex, religion or politics, to avoid any unpleasant debates. This however was less sophisticated and when the statement came out about the Second World War and, “If it wasn’t for the might and prosperity of the USA, Canada and most of the European countries would not even exist” I just about lost it. Deya said my face went red when I started to calmly recap history as it happened and explained the political scene at the time that the United States came into it’s own, the reason for the Statue of Liberty and it’s particular importance to the existence of the USA as viable and liberated country in a time when support from a super power, like France, would make or break a place. Deya dragged me away as we were patting each other on the back, though I was enjoying the duel as was he, but his quote is unfortunately burnt into my mind.

The Skyline Drive cost 10 bucks PER motorcycle! Now I can’t say that it wasn’t nice place but certainly the route that parallels is almost as good and a little faster. Certainly it does not, in my mind, compete with the Blue Ridge Parkway which has National Forests, free camping, great roads and scenes and is free! We did however meet a great lad, Retired Special Agent of the FBI, who was also on a BMW and enjoying the Parkway. We leapfrogged past each other over a few days along the road; hopefully we’ll get to visit him in his neck of the woods on our way back. It’s funny because we meet a lot of people but not too many, and many of the people we meet seem somehow connected, I cant elaborate fully because I haven’t got a fix on it yet but there is something to it I think.

The Blue Ridge Parkway as mentioned was good, I would recommend it as a worthwhile ride or drive or cycle and there seems to be a lot of that. One of the beautiful parts along the Parkway is the National Forests. Four hundred feet of the roadway you can camp for free and we did. One night we camped out near a trail head in lieu of something more secluded. I had toured a couple miles down the side of the mountain to see if I could find something a little more appropriate but just found steep banks and sketchy roads. It gets dark about 7:30 pm and by 10:30 pm it’s just black out. So when a truck came from the sketchy road in the complete darkness we stirred to take a look out of our tent. Deya was hoping they would not stop.

Of course in the night when you are tenting you never really know the intentions of others and you are vulnerable. So when the truck stopped and someone got out with a flashlight we really didn’t know what to think. The dark figure lumbered about in the darkness searching around the front of our area, obviously seeing the motorcycles parked in the trees. The lone figure approached the tent, maybe ten paces away, slouched slightly, his flashlight shining on us, a clicking sound and some shuffling in the dirt, so I unzipped the tent and asked if I could help him with something. From the darkness we heard the most surprising thing, the sweetness of a seventy-seven year old woman’s voice asking if we would mind if she camped near us because she was lost.

I could barely say yes before Deya was outside asking questions and offering solutions, obviously relieved at not being at the mercy of some midnight killer. It was funny but surprising as she asked if I could back her vehicle into position. We helped her with a few small details of the set up and then planned coffee in the morning. Trudy and Rascal (her little dog) had been travelling around for a long time in her camper and ended up lost on the back roads. She’s amazing example of a determined lady who never got to travel much while her husband lived and when he passed on she took up the challenge, with Rascal, to head out and see the world. At the tender age of seventy-seven she packs and unpacks her gear, climbs ladders, unhooks clips on the top of the camper, cranks the roof up and generally does a lot of physical work. She’s not tall so everything is a stretch, mentioning how much she’s shortened over the years. We both hoped she would write a BLOG to inspire folks younger than her to quit making excuses.

The next day we shared our breakfast and had coffee at her place, it was a lovely visit and she wanted to hook up with us at another campground that evening, Deya would give her a haircut. It was out of our way but we decided it would be fun as we really enjoyed her company. It was a good drive and we had a late start so as we showed up in the dark we couldn’t find her there. We had hoped that since we stayed on the Parkway and moved slowly she might have got there first. No such luck, but as we searched the campground a family of RV’ers helped us look for her, took us in, fed us some great food and campfire. I was hoping Trudy had found a safe place to stop and both Deya and I were feeling really worried about not seeing her there. We planned to go to the ranger station in the morning and have them ask the other campsites in the district if they could locate her.

By about 10:30 pm in the darkness Trudy arrived, modus operandi as it seems, and from the fire side Deya was off running. She ran the length of the road banging on the camper as Trudy drove along. I jumped on my bike to give chase but Deya had her stopped by the time I got there. Trudy followed me around and I parked her truck again in a nearby spot and helped a bit to set up. Mostly she would not let you help her, she says she needs to keep doing it herself or she will become lame like the younger kids stuck in their homes. Funny, stubborn and admirable. When we opened up the back of her truck everything was asunder like a sailboat in bad storm. I asked what happened and she said she had an adventure getting there. She drove off the road at dusk and into a ditch, as she was 4x4ing out when a Sheriff showed up and sent her in the wrong direction. So she showed up late after heading off to North Carolina (bad Sheriff’s directions) and got turned around coming back, the road of course was twisty and dark.

The next morning the folks that took us in made a fabulous breakfast of biscuits and gravy, tenderloins and pork chops, coffee and all the fixins. I ate too much, thank goodness, and we went on our way with best wishes. It was windy all night but the comfort and companionship of the people there made it a very enjoyable experience. Our goal now was to get to Jud and Sharon’s place in Georgia. We had met Jud in Hyder Alaska two years earlier and have been in contact since, he’s a special kind of guy and we like the goals and direction of both Jud and Sharon.