It has been a while – nearly 14 months, actually – since the not-so-great end of our last trip. Jan had developed a pretty bad case of labyrinthitis and was unable to stand upright, let alone ride a motorcycle. I had to organise putting the bike into storage (and finding someone to ride it there) in Cedar City, Utah, as well as organising the long (three days) train journey to send Jan back to friends in Ohio as he was unable to fly for three weeks. Meanwhile, my own flight was from Los Angeles to London, so I finished the trip alone in Utah for about 4 days.
The ensuing months continued with other stresses; Jan’s father’s leukaemia returned; combined with developing dementia, he rapidly went downhill and passed away on St Patrick’s Day, March 17th, this year.
I have to admit, my enthusiasm for another motorcycle trip had waned somewhat. I partly felt whacked out by events last year and I had a certain amount of dread – looking back to being in California and our two attempts to ride the Tioga Pass to Yosemite were warning signs that Jan was becoming ill. We had had to turn around twice because he felt dizzy and ill.
The whole episode made me realise just how far from home we were and how helpless you could be when illness struck. I kept thinking what it would have been like if it had happened on one of the many remote roads we ride. Added to that, the heat in June/July had been horrendously hot. My riding gear had degraded from the hot desert sun and so I had borrowed my daughter’s set which was black and heavy and suited to a British winter, not the deserts of western USA. Most days, I struggled to get out of the pants such was the amount of sweat soaking the lining and I felt dehydrated all the time. My helmet had finally given up the ghost on my last trip; the lifting visor got stuck in the up position repeatedly. So I had borrowed a helmet too; that was a tad tight and gave me headaches after wearing it for whole days. I wasn’t sure how many more motorcycle tours I wanted to do and if the expense of new riding gear and helmet could be justified.
My preferences were changing too. I wanted to see more of Europe. The North American continent is huge and the terrain very varied but we had now ridden over 72,000 miles in the USA and Canada and, to some extent, seen it all before.
As a bit of change, Jan and I went to Paris in November and I had a holiday alone in Venice in February. It was nice to see somewhere different.
Jan, however, really missed riding the bike. We decided to book a trip one month ago! Jan wanted to be there for 6 weeks, I was able to go for three weeks only as I had already promised to take care of my daughters pets whilst she and the family are on holiday in Cyprus.
It made sense for Jan to go on ahead; the bike needed to be serviced and checked over and he could get his ride-hunger out of his system and be ready to take a more leisurely pace when I arrive. This time, I would like to take things more slowly for the sake of the photography; not always, but quite often, we stop the bike, I jump off, take a few quick shots and jump back on again.
And so, it was a rushed booking but we got it sorted – that was slightly complicated as Jan was in the Canaries and I live in London. Thank goodness for Skype.
All travel arrangements had to be carefully fitted together to work beginning with Jan flying to Manchester as I would be here, then his flight from Manchester to Las Vegas – closest airport to where the bike was in storage. I had to bring all his paperwork for the bike as well as all the other items for the USA kept at my place with me to Manchester. He arrived here last week and had two days with me at Caroline’s home before flying. I will return to London on Tuesday, offload one lot of baggage to replace with another lot before returning to Manchester for my flight to Las Vegas on the 13th September. I had to fly from Manchester rather than London because Jan and I would be returning on the same flight on the 3rd October. It would have cost nearly double to book outward and return flights from two different places.
I swallowed the bullet and bought a new motorcycle suit and a helmet.
So, one week ago, I waved Jan off from Manchester Piccadilly station for his flight to LV.
That’s all for now; this is just a catch-up post and an easing back into how to add posts. I’ll be back very soon with arrival in Las Vagas; did the bike start up as we had not done much other than disconnect the battery terminals? To be continued.
Next post; Hello Guzzi Baby.