The countdown begins. Not that the last two years of planning, reading,
dreaming and anticipating haven[base ']t served as a slow burning fuse leading
up to d-day. But today I[base ']m homeless. Someone strange has moved into my
house. Now this feels real.
I stood staring at the few bags and boxes sitting on my driveway. Filled
with either stuff that will be packed on my motorcycle or things
representing stragglers and fragments from closing up my life in
Southern California still needing some of my attention. A strange
feeling took over my body as I thought about my impending life over the
next couple years. Nothing I did prepared me for this. Though for the
last two years of my life I[base ']ve focused on research, planning and
preparation for my journey around the world on a motorcycle.
With no home I tried to cram the remaining possessions into my car.
Those that wouldn[base ']t fit in the car I stuffed into the trunk of my old
classic Pontiac GTO. The huge cavity of this 1971 Detroit legend would
serve as a temporary storage bin until the car would find its new home
in Huntington Beach in the garage of my auto and wine enthusiast friend
Phone is disconnected. Mail is forwarded. What am I doing?
Four days until Independence Day. No turning back. This is for real.
I don[base ']t think I[base ']m ready. Though I[base ']ve been working on this plan for more
than two years, I realize that nothing can prepare you for the dichotomy
of feelings and thoughts that run through my body. Excitement and
Anticipation and sadness and loss
I drove down the street where a new family has moved into my home. The
garage is open and packed with I don[base ']t know what. I wonder how my tenant
will fit it all into my house. As I retrieve the final items from the
trunk of my GTO.
Getting out of my house yesterday was a real fire drill. My new tenant
had to be out of his house on the 29th of June and we agreed that he
could begin moving in at noon on the 30th. Yesterday[base ']s chaos began when
Bill[base ']s (my tenant) massive Mayflower moving van rolled down the street
literally thirty seconds after another trucked picked up my storage
container from my driveway. Like a well executed just-in-time process
except that I forgot to buy a lock to secure my container. My friend
Chuck zoomed to the local hardware store and made it back just as the
driver finished securing the container to the truck platform. Sweat
dripping down my brow as I labeled a few boxes to be shipped to Northern
California where I[base ']ll regroup in a few days and make further
modifications and enhancements to my bike and packing strategy. I
cocooned my pile of boxes and bags from the stuff the movers were
bringing into my house.
Am I ready? My mind races through the long daunting list of to-dos that
put me on edge. Friends and acquaintances that catch me either on the
phone or around town grin ear to ear when they see me. [base “]You must be so
excited![per thou] Others say [base “]I don[base ']t have to tell you to enjoy life [^] you[base ']re
doing it![per thou] Some speak with envy others think I[base ']m crazy. Truth is, I
thought I[base ']d be excited. But the process of selling most of my
possessions, storing those I think I[base ']ll need on my return and then
handing my house keys over to a stranger increases my anxiety. Am I
ready? No way. That to do list hovers like a harbinger of doom just
waiting for me to forget an important detail.
Still to do:
Sell car Immunizations Malaria prescription and pills Carnet de passage
Pay final bills [^] hell, call utilities and tell them where to send final
bills (a tough thing for a homeless guy) Make calls [^] those voice mails
Return e-mails (386 and counting) Finish website Test pack motorcycle
Today this website is only a fragment of what it will be over the next
two weeks. I[base ']ve had a ton of support from sponsors, friends and family.
And soon I[base ']ll post lists and detail of all of those who have supported
and encouraged me on this journey. And to all of you [^] thank you so
much. I[base ']m excited but still much to do.
My final night in Southern California. I[base ']ll spend it with someone very
special. We[base ']ll have one final quiet evening and a long goodbye at The
Ritz-Carlton in Laguna Niguel. We order room service from the fine
dining restaurant. Swim in the pool and chill in the Jacuzzi. We gaze
over the Pacific. The white water crashes on the beach. Surfers wait for
the next set. My wait is over. I can[base ']t believe that I[base ']m leaving. It[base ']s
Independence Day. The start of my motorcycle journey around the world.
50 countries. 50,000 miles. My journey of adventure and discovery.
All my possessions are scattered everywhere in Angie[base ']s bedroom. Water
purification tablets over there. A mosquito net here. There[base ']s the
thermarest and the sleeping bag. Wait! Where[base ']s the tent? I know I
brought it. Is it still in the back of the GTO? Shit. Did I forget it?
Did it get packed into my storage container? I run up the stairs to the
other bedroom and rip through the closet. Ahhh. I had stashed a few more
boxes here. And there. There[base ']s no way all of this is going to fit on the
bike. I[base ']ve still yet to make a tool box out of 3[per thou] PVC and attach it to
the front of the bike. This will bring more wait to the front in an
effort to maintain balance to the motorcycle.
The fireworks above Legoland are glorious. I can[base ']t help but thinking
this is for me. But as I gaze over the families, lovers and children
craning their necks to see the colorful splendor and realize that no one
here knows what I[base ']m about to do. Would they care? Jaws would drop. But
as the fireworks red glare and burst in the air I hold Angie tight next
to me and I think about the hardest part of leaving.
Nope. I[base ']m behind schedule. Looks like I[base ']m leaving tomorrow or the next
Attending to final business of closing up life. And then working on
packing strategy. I acquired many items in the last two weeks that I
haven[base ']t even opened. My time for the last couple weeks was focused on
moving out of my house and selling my possessions. If my motorcycle had
feelings and could express such it would feel lonely and alienated.
Though we[base ']d be together for a long time and become quite intimate with
each other, I had hoped we[base ']d spend more time together prior to the
journey. With only 1,750 miles on the bike our relationship is still
new. We[base ']re still testing the waters and understanding the limitations.
No this isn[base ']t my first BMW F650GS. In 2003 I bought my first dual-sport
motorcycle specifically for my journey around the world. That bike and I
spent thousands of miles getting comfortable with each other. Journeys
to Wyoming, Utah, Arizona and Mexico were test runs for the big trip.
But a slight mishap last summer and a realization that I[base ']d be better off
with a Dakar model (beefier suspension and larger (21[per thou] vs. 19[per thou] front
wheel.) Plus the new 2005 BMW dual sport thumpers came with a dual
sparkplug engine. The fuel-injected powerplant would run smoother and
run better on lower octane fuel.
I picked up the bike from BMW of Santa Cruz County in mid-April. One
long but quick jaunt to the Phoenix area was my only true test ride with
the new bike. In one day I road over 800 miles to Al Jesse[base ']s place where
he installed the best panniers in the business.
Soon as my website takes life I[base ']ll provide a detail list with
explanation of all of the modifications to my motorcycle. You[base ']ll get a
chance to see what preparations I made to outfit the bike for a
This website/blog will come alive over the next couple weeks as I work
with Jessica to make this happen. Just another to-do.
As dusk settles into Southern California I realize that today will not
be departure day.
I carry the panniers to the bike. Then the dry bags. Then the tank
panniers. And the tank bag. I stuff items of questionable purpose or
utility into the top box. Loose ends get stashed in the tank bag. Other
items are jammed into the pockets of my riding jacket. I gotta get out
of town. I[base ']ve pushed my luck. Ready or not. All I can hope for is time
in Northern California to regroup and tweak the bike and the packing.
Riding a motorcycle is the ultimate freedom. It truly the captures the
spirit of travel and being on the road. As I pass push on through the
traffic of Los Angeles the smell of rubber on pavement, spewing diesel
and drivers holding cigarettes out there window turns to sweet sage,
onion, garlic and finally as I make it to Los Banos on the 5 freeway
toward San Jose the stench of thousands of bovine. As the sunset over
the coastal range a large flashing highway signs warns me of strong and
gusting winds on route 152 which will take me to Highway 101 to Mountain
View. My plan is to stay with my friends Ken and Robin and get an early
start the next morning. My GPS tells me only 50 minutes until I arrive
in Mountain View. But a long line of cars stacked up on the winding and
twisting Pacheco Pass forces me to halt. It[base ']s 9pm. After a few minutes
of waiting I cruise to the head of the nearly half-mile line of cars and
trucks. As ten or more fireman and policeman scurry across the pavement
it looks like a war zone. I can[base ']t recognize the car. A fireman with his
yellow coat flashing and reflecting in my fairing he brings two body
bags to the alien looking vehicle. I turn my head away and motorcycle
off. Not what I wanted to see. I felt for the families who are still
wondering why loved ones are late coming home.
The police officer tells me two people died because of a drunk driver
and advises me to take an alternate route to Mountain View. I arrive at
I decide that with such a late arrival last night that I really want to
spend time with Ken and Robin before heading north. Ken and I do a bunch
of errands and he helps me figure a better packing strategy. I felt that
the bike was a little [base “]back heavy[per thou] on the trip up. I need to shift more
weight to the front of the bike. We weigh everything I[base ']m carrying. It[base ']s
200 lbs even. And at 155 lbs that means passenger and gear are 355 lbs.
I thought I[base ']d carry about 150 lbs of gear. Looks like I[base ']m a bit
overweight! To be sure, there are many items that were thrown into bags
on the bike that would be trimmed by the time I arrived in Garberville
where my good friend Johnny A is waiting for me with a few DHL packages
I shipped ahead.
I[base ']ve arrived in Garberville. Johnny A lives down a dirt road and as I
navigate the rocks and ruts in his steep driveway I feel the front tire
go a bit squirrelly. I flash back to the desert training I did with
Jimmy Lewis out near Las Vegas. Riding in the sand always tenses me up
as the front wheel moves and jumps as if it has a mind of its own. Key
to handling the motorcycle in these situations is to simply maintain
speed and loosen up on the handlebars. As I descend down John[base ']s driveway
I tighten up and imagine dumping the bike on the first dirt of the trip.
Then I remind myself that less than 10% of the roads in Bolivia are
paved. Get used to it Allan.
But for me, it[base ']s the weight of the bike that has my confidence waning a
bit as I safely pull into Johnny A[base ']s place. I realize I have to trip the
50lbs and tweak packing even more.
Today I go with Johnny A and his girlfriend Kendra to pick up Sienna,
Kendra[base ']s 9-year old daughter who will return home after two-weeks at
Camp Winnarainbow. These two-weeks were the first time Sienna and her
mom have been separated for such a time since birth. Camp Winnarainbow
is a joint venture of Wavy Gravy and Patch Adams (the Dr. played by
Robin Williams in the Hollywood film of the same name). This camp is
designed to teach children to experience and participate in the
performing arts. Walking into the camp I see a dozen or so teepees,
children on unicycles, stilts, walking troubadours with guitars and
faces painted as clowns. Older kids greet us with [base “]Welcome To The
Future[per thou]. We watch an amazing show where the talented youngsters juggle,
sing, dance, perform poetry, act and perform music. If I had a kid, I
would definitely send them here. Very cool.
My motorcycle is safely tucked away and unpacked in Johnny A[base ']s garage. A
box of Touratech parts awaits my attention and will have to wait until
Monday to be installed.
All is well in Northern California. Now I can truly regroup and work on
the next phase of my adventure. In a few days I[base ']ll head through Oregon,
Washington, Vancouver Island and then on to Alaska.