Trip Start Aug 09, 2008
47Trip End Oct 08, 2008
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I'm going to start this blog with a couple of stories.
Story #1 - How did I get to deciding to take off for 2 months on a motorcycle expedition!
Last spring I was chatting with Nick (my son who goes to the Royal Military College) when he mentioned that he might have 3 weeks off from training at the end of August and he was trying to decide what he would like to do during that time. Somehow during the conversation the idea of bicycling through Europe came up. Then the idea expanded to cycling the Camino de Santiago in Spain...The Road to Santiago, as is described (walking not cycling) in The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coehlo. Having read The Alchemist and being inspired by Paulo Coehlo's life story, I felt that doing this pilgrimage route might be something to do. Father and son cycling in Spain might have been a good idea for a book. Nick was all for the idea until a few weeks later when he found out that he wasn't going to get the time off.
Skip forward a couple of months and Nick finds out he will have the time off. We start chatting about the idea again. Then I figure if I'm in Europe for 3 weeks I might as well expand my time there and see more of it once Nick heads back to classes. Then Nick decides he'll head to Florida for those 3 weeks and get his skydiving certification and then meet up with his mom and Alexis who will be down there for a couple of weeks. Nick figured some RnR, laying by the pool at a resort, might be time well spent before another year of classes. By the way (proud dad comment), Nick finished his Basic Officer Training this summer and came in third in his class. Way to go Nick! And so, at this time, Nick is jumping out of perfectly good airplanes and having a great time in Florida. Alexis and Louise leave tomorrow for 2 weeks in Orlando.
OK. So Nick isn't going to come to Europe bicycling. That doesn't mean I can't still go. In the mean time I've volunteered to help out with the Air Cadet program in Calgary...again. The program gets into the swing of things in September. I can miss the first month without being MIA for dereliction of duties. So that's the reason I'm leaving in August and coming back in early October. I feel I can miss one month's meetings and duties, but not the second.
Story #2 - Why and how to tour Europe on a motorcycle!
Having just returned from Vancouver Island after my 8 month Journey around North America (OK. It wasn't quite North America, just Canada and the USA) I go shopping with Alexis for a motorcycle helmet. If she's going to ride on my motorcycle she needs a helmet. Katrine was also thinking of getting her motorcycle license. Coincidently they both have the same size head. So we're at the motorcycle shop paying for the helmet when the salesclerk asks if I would like anything else. Jokingly I answer, "A new bike!" So Alexis and I head upstairs to look at motorcycles. I see this beautiful 2005 BMW R1200GS bike, and it's yellow (bonus).
Skip back to the end of story #1. Then the idea comes to me that maybe the reason I got my motorcycle license last year was to see Europe that way. It would definitely be better than by train, bus, car or hitch-hiking (OK. I wouldn't be doing it that way). I do some research and find out that they recommend certain motorcycles (ie. BMW R1200 GS's) that are better suited for driving the narrow, windy roads of Europe. I check into renting a motorcycle for 2 months and even buying one there. Those options won't work so I have to find this certain BMW model motorcycle in Calgary. Hey! Isn't that the model motorcycle I saw at the motorcycle store? Is that a coincidence, or what?
I'm back in the motorcycle store a couple weeks later and talk to a salesclerk about the yellow bike. He tells me it's sold (there's no sold tag on the bike). I start looking online for another bike. I find a 2004 model. I go take a look at it. Same price as the 2005 model I had seen but this one is an Adventure model (has this HUGE gas tank) that also had certain accessories for long range touring, but more total kilometres. This bike also had the panniers and top box included in this price. I would have had to buy them separately for the yellow bike. I tell the shop owner that I'll think about it.
I'm back in the original motorcycle store one day and the yellow bike is still there, un-sold. Huh? Thought I was told it was sold. I still don't have any cash to buy a motorcycle even though I leave in 2 weeks for my West Coast Tour with Alexis. Plane ticket was purchased a few weeks back. I'm waiting for the Universe to provide some funds. Finally I make arrangements to borrow some cash to buy a motorcycle. Arrangements to have it shipped need to be finalized. I decide to buy the newer, with less kilometres, YELLOW, motorcycle. I leave in a week for Winnipeg, the start of my West Coast Tour.
I get to the motorcycle store and no yellow 2005 R1200GS. They have 2 GS's in stock. Their test bike, which is being loaned the Calgary Police for the Stampede Parade the next day (and they won't sell it) and another which has been set up for the vertically challenged (OK. Short people). They have 3 new bikes coming in next week at $7,000 more than the used bikes. Decision time. I decide to get the 2004 R1150 GS Adventure (black). I go see the shop owner who tells me that he just puts on display customers bikes to sell. He'll have to contact the owner to see if he'll accept my offer. He tells me that one guy came in last weekend wanting to buy the bike but put in a low-ball offer that was rejected. My offer is $500 below the asking price. My offer is accepted. YEAH! I have a motorcycle to tour Europe. Now to make arrangements to have it shipped. (Now that's a 3rd story)
I get my motorcycle home and it's awesome. I go for a ride into Kananaskis country. Cool!
Throughout all my stops at the original motorcycle store I had seen some BMW riding gear, jacket, pants and boots. It was time to go back and purchase it. If I'm going to ride for 2 months straight might as well be dressed right...and look good at the same time. Guess what? The yellow 2005 R1200 GS motorcycle was back on the sales floor. HUH! What's with the disappearing motorcycle? All I can say is that somebody or something or as I call it, What? Is! was making sure I got the right motorcycle. And the motorcycle I did get is the better bike, for the price I paid, for all the travelling I am planning. Thanks What? Is!
So that's how I ended up planning and getting ready for a 2 month motorcycle expedition through Europe. But wait, I'm not done.
The plan at that time (as per the end of story #1) was to fly to Frankfurt and do a "sampler" tour of Europe. That is, hit the major cities (Frankfurt, Amsterdam, London, Paris, do the Camino de Santiago on bicycle, Madrid, Monte Carlo, northern Italy, then back to Frankfurt. I had also decided to join a bike tour when doing the Camino. This tour was mid-September. Then I realized if I did that bicycle tour that I would be quite rushed to get back to Frankfurt. I decide to skip the bicycle tour.
The plan gets modified again, that is, after I've booked my flight in and out of Frankfurt. You'll have to read the rest of this blog to find out exactly where I decided to go.
As of today, I AM SCREWED!
Why, do you ask? I am completely broke. No cash! No credit! I'm leaving on a jet plane in 3 days and I don't even have any cash available for taxi fare to get to the cargo area of the airport to get my motorcycle. I do have a room booked for the first 2 nights in Frankfurt but no money for food. All my credit cards are maxed out. My bank accounts are maxed out to their overdraft limits. I basically borrowed the money from Katrine to be able to get home from the West Coast Tour.
So I have all this faith in the Universe, in God, in What? Is! , to provide when the time is right. Well, the time was right a few weeks ago. The sources of funds that were meant to come in have been delayed for whatever reasons. Yes, I am expecting the cash to come in. I did expect it to be in a few weeks ago. But things keep on happening that's delaying my RECEIVING it.
Why is it that when you've made yourself the guinea pig that is documenting the road that you must take to make your dreams come true, of fulfilling your souls destiny, that the worse possible situations must occur? I wasn't expecting things to be easy. I just wasn't expecting things to get this bad. Actually things aren't that bad. I have faith. I haven't the faintest idea where the funds will come in the next three days, but somehow it will show up. I can't foresee the sources of funds that were meant to come in a few weeks back coming in the next few days. But then, my expectations have been shattered way too many times.
Think It! Feel It! Live It!
Love to all!