It has been almost a year since my Vstrom and I have been together. I wonder if Odysseus has missed me. He isn't saying. I guess he wants to be silent and miffed for a little while, but I think he secretly likes being on the road again as much as I do.
Just last week my wife, Patrice, and I had been in Holland for a wonderful visit with our daughter, Jessica, and our son-in-law, Renaud. We left their apartment in Enschede early on Wednesday to catch the 6:00 a.m. train to Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport (yawn). Patrice took an early flight back to our home in Illinois, and I took an afternoon flight to Frankfurt, and then a van ride to Stefan Knopp's house in Heidelberg. I keep my motorcycle there in the winter months when I am not riding. I slept at Stefan's house overnight, and sorted out how to pack my motorcycle. I have too much gear, but I store a great deal of it with Stefan before I go off to ride for the summer.
Packing done, I headed off on a short ride up into the forests of north-central Germany to my very first destination of the summer: a Horizons Unlimited Travelers Meeting.
In case you don't know, Horizons Unlimited is a sort of motorcycle club made up of people who love riding around the world. I was one of the "presenters" at the meeting. I was scheduled to talk about my ride to Alaska three years ago. Can you see my name. It is the first one on the list for Thursday.
I arrived with plenty of time to set up my camp, drink a beer, and go eat a meal at the local restaurant.
There were 200 people at the meeting, and almost that number of tents and motorcycles (some people came as couples). Here I am speaking in the barn that served as the "auditorium." Can you spot me? I'm the tall guy up there by the screen. I wish this picture showed the slide I had on the screen..
There were many other people with tales to share. They had some good tips on how to manage difficult border crossings (crying and bribes both seem to work), how to repair your bike on the road (duct tape and WD 40 can only be relied upon for the most minor of situations) and many other things.
There were people there from most of the European countries, and from many of the Asian countries, and from as far away as Australia. There were even a few Americans. All of the presentations were done in English, by the way. I am always amazed at how well so many of the people of the world can handle English. A lot of them speak it better than some Americans I've met.
Speaking of English, here is Emy from England. She was one of the several people who went riding through the German countryside on Saturday. She is a brand new motorcycle rider, and she is leaving after this meeting to ride her new motorcycle to Turkey. Very impressive lady, this Emy. I am sure she will have fun.
It was a beautiful day to ride, and a gorgeous place to ride in. This is a group picture of some of us, but what I really want you to see is the wooded hills behind us. They are beautiful.
I loved riding behind this old sidecar motorcycle. It looked to me like it was going to turn over each time it went around a tight curve. It never did though.
By the time our group got back to the campground the meetings had been shifted out into the sun. Now they were next to the circus tent that served as our "headquarters".
It was a fun rally. I loved listening to all the speakers tell about their adventures. Some of the things they did would make a book.
But all good things must come to an end. Today, Sunday, it was time to say our goodbyes and to head off to our various travels. I left about 10 am this morning and rode through terrific traffic jams on the autobahns across northwest Germany. Seventy miles per hour all the way! Whew! And now I am at Jessica's apartment finishing up on this, my first blog of the summer.
Tomorrow, Jessica and I are going to go to some local stores for a little last minute shopping, and then the following day, Tuesday, I am heading off toward Denmark. Jessica will be coming up to meet me in Oslo next Monday and she and I will ride in Norway for two weeks. I am looking forward to that.