top of page


Home ALIVE! (Almost Not!)

The flight from Glasgow to Newark was uneventful. Mike had gotten notice from the shipping company that our bikes were waiting for us at the airport shipping warehouse. We grabbed a cab and took a very short trip to the other side of the airport and got dropped off where we thought the shipping center was.


We went up to the doors and they were locked. We knocked and no one came. Fortunately, a person was driving out of the parking lot. We asked where the shipping docks were and he told us about a half mile down the same road. It was hot and we were toting some luggage, but we made the trek.

Once in the warehouse, we were greeted by Wanda, a heavy-set and happy African American gal who was amazed that we had just traveled around the world as Mike leaned in and said. "Just to see you, honey". She showed us our bikes, which were still in crates, and told us we were going to have to find a way to get them out because she didn't have tools.


We looked at each other with a bit of panic. She went on to add that most of the crates that came through there were never opened and were loaded onto other transports. Fortunately, right on cue a guy named Robert walked over from the far end of the warehouse and said he could probably rustle up an electric screwdriver we could use.


Our looks turned from panic to glee. With Robert's help, we made short work on the uncrating process. The bikes were intact and all we had to do was strap the duffels that we were carrying on the bikes and hit the road.

Our first mission was to find a gas station because most of the gas had been drained before they packed up the bikes in London. I had the odd thought that it was amazing that the fuel that was left in the tanks was purchased an ocean away from here in England.

Once we were tanked up, we headed south planning to make it as far as we could towards my brother’s house in Maryland. We hopped on the New Jersey Turnpike and headed south. We almost made it to Philly when we ran into a mother of a thunderstorm.


It was the worst rainstorm we had been in since Turkmenistan. We had to pull off the highway and park under an overpass because the rain was so heavy, we couldn't see where we were going. Normally we all liked riding in the rain, especially when it was hot because afterward, we would get a little relief through evaporative cooling, but this storm was dangerous so pulling over seemed the right thing to do. After the rain died down a bit, we decided to call it a day and grabbed hotel rooms just outside of Philly.

The next day we pulled into my brother Jim and his wife Gabi's wonderful place in the small town of Poolesville, Maryland (where Jim's the mayor!) and got the royal treatment. It was nice to be "almost" home and in warm and familiar surroundings. My nieces and nephews all came over, partially because of our arrival but mostly because Gabi always cooked a big family meal on most Fridays. Gabi's cooking is seriously the best. She grew up learning to cook from her father George who owned the locally famous French Market in Washington DC.

The next day was the saddest day of the whole trip for all of us, we had to say goodbye to Nick. He had arranged a flight back to LA from DC to go and take care of his dog Weegie. Nick had already ridden across the US on a previous trip, so it wasn't about finishing the trip. It was really about the bond that had grown between the three of us and now the journey was going to continue without one of us. It felt like someone had removed a limb painlessly but with a great feeling of loss.


The remainder of the trip would be different. We had developed a style of banter through the helmet-comm systems that were something along the lines of the Three Stooges meets the Three Amigos. The whole trip had been one long comedy trip around the world, with each of us playing off the others’ humorous comments. Mike and Nick were a great comedy team with me playing the straight man most of the time. We were about to become a comedy duo and it just didn't feel right.

We dropped him off at the airport and said simple goodbyes. There wasn't much to say except good luck with Weegie and we'll see you on the basketball court when we get home in a couple of weeks. The ride back to Jim's house was a quiet and somber affair.

When we got there, we all hopped on motorcycles and went on a family ride out to historic Harpers Ferry. When I say all, I mean most of Jim and Gabi's extended family. My nieces and nephews and several of Jim’s good friends joined us. Jim has a garage full of 30-plus motorcycles representing all styles of riding. It was fun to ride some different bikes but when we got back Mike and I agreed it was a little strange to not be on the donkeys.

The next day we loaded up the girls and Jim and his friends Spike and Big Jim packed up their bikes and we headed down the Blue Ridge Parkway towards North Carolina. We spent two days riding some of the most scenic blacktops on the East Coast.  The BRP winds through the crest line of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Appalachian range for 469 miles, connecting the Shenandoah National Park with Great Smoky Mountain Park.


We spent the first night in Floyd, Virginia, a key stop on The Crooked Road, Virginia’s heritage bluegrass-music trail. We were lucky to get there on a Friday night because the whole town opens and is filled with old-timey bluegrass music coming out of every storefront and on every corner. We saw groups of people square-dancing with a bluegrass stage band in the general store, and outside people were mountain dancing with taps on pieces of wood plank laid down on the street.


While walking into town from our hotel, the sound of music gave me goosebumps just hearing the music even before we could see it.  The whole night had a magical feel about it and we were sad to leave the next day.

From Floyd, we headed further south on the BRP marveling at the vistas and the hollers filled with mist which aptly gave the Smoky Mountains their name. We ended the day in Asheville, North Carolina. Asheville is known for its vibrant art scene and historic architecture, and we spent the evening barhopping through the arts district full of galleries, cafés, and bars.

We left Asheville the next morning and headed towards Knoxville TN. On the way, as we were crossing over the Smoky Mountains, we saw a sign for Maggie Valley and the Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum. We all agreed we had to stop in and check it out.


We pulled in and went to the front counter to buy tickets. I told the ticket lady on our usual line that we had just ridden from China just to see them. The gal looked at us with widening eyes and stammered that we needed to meet her husband Dale Wexler, the owner of the museum. We were all well aware of who Dale was because of his reality series on The Discovery Network called "What's in The Barn''. The show was a treasure hunt format that had Dale scouring the country looking for "barn find" vintage motorcycles.

Dale's wife introduced me to the man himself. and I told him briefly about the trip and mentioned that I was also in the TV business. His eyes lit up and he whisked us away on a backstage tour of the whole museum, the whole time telling me about the history of the museum and making a pitch that we should team up and sell a show to the networks about the museum and all the historical treasures within it.


Dale was considered by most in the motorcycle community to be the foremost authority on and collector of vintage Harley Davidson motorcycles and I felt privileged to be getting his one-on-one tour of the museum. He was amazed at our journey and even offered to house our bikes and build a display based on our trip.

After our tour, we were hanging out in the entrance area to the museum when a motorcycle with two people on it rode in. Judging by the large aluminum side cases, they were on quite the adventure themselves. Tomasz and Magda were traveling around the world two up from Poland, and our paths just happened to cross at the Wheels Through Time Museum.


We were all dumbfounded and jumped right into telling each other about our respective journeys. They were on their way across America and then heading through Central and South America where they were hoping to ship the bike to Asia and continue back to Poland. They were riding a modified Yamaha 650 Enduro on a mixture of trails and pavement, mostly sticking to tarmac because they were two up.

They had started the journey with no money but big hearts and a huge social media following that donated funds to keep them going. They were young, cute, and obviously in love which added to their social media appeal. Before we departed, I told them they had a place to stay in SoCal and to look me up when they got there (which they did!)

Dale was enthralled by all of this and insisted on escorting us to the freeway entrance while riding one of his century-old Harleys. We waved goodbye at the freeway entrance and headed on to Knoxville.

Even though I had lived for six years in Knoxville it was unfortunately just a pit stop on this trip and was also where we split off from Jim and Spike, who headed north back to Poolesville. Mike and I rode on to Nashville for the night.

In Nashville, we met up with one of Mike's good friends, Ann, and headed downtown to the strip and took in some country music at the world-famous Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. The last time I had been in this bar was in the late 80s and it was still a bit of a dive bar. It was right around the corner from the Grand Ole Opry and was an infamous watering hole for all the old-time Opry greats. Its open-mic policy was also known to have launched the careers of many of those greats.


The walls back in the '80s were papered thick with waybills from the Grand Ole Opry's past and present and even today were preserved “museum-like" behind plexiglass sheets. We had a great time with Ann and a group of drunk patrons sitting in front of us half singing and slurring along to the country music. I don't recall how we got back to the hotel or paid the bar bill for that matter.

The next morning, we woke up hungover and headed towards Memphis, arriving around dinner time. We of course had to see Beale Street and while there had a wonderful BBQ dinner at the famous Blues City Café. On the way out of town the next morning, we stopped off at Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley, and tried to book a tour but we were too early in the morning, and we decided to push on to Arkansas.

We rode all day at 80 to 90 miles per hour on very hot highway tarmac and pulled into a little motel in Hope, Arkansas for the night. We unloaded the bikes and took a quick dip in the pool and then headed out to a local Mexican restaurant for dinner.


On the way to the restaurant, Mike told me through the headset that his bike was acting funny and that he thought there was a problem with the front end. We got to the restaurant, and I hopped on his bike and rode it around the block making sure to ride on a variety of surfaces to get a feel for what was going on. I got back to Mike and hopped off and told Mike that I didn't think the problem was in the front end but was in the back.


I walked around back and took a close look at the bike and immediately realized what the problem was. Large chunks of the knobby tread had sloughed off the tire leaving huge areas of bare thread exposed. If Mike had hit a rock or semi-sharp object on the freeway, the tire would have popped, and most likely led to a catastrophic accident. I then looked at my tire and saw the same thing happening. We had dodged a bullet big time! The heat from the highway had cracked the tread on our overused tires.


Mike and I ate a quiet, stunned meal in a state of shock from the realization that in the trip, this was the closest we came to potentially dying. We limped the bikes back to the hotel and started calling local motorcycle shops to see if we could rustle up some tires to continue the trip.


We found a place in the neighboring town of Texarkana TX that had tires that would fit and called a tow truck service to have our bike sent there in the morning. Unfortunately, the tires were radial and that paired with bias-ply front tires created a death wobble when over 70 mph. It would have been a three-day delay to have the proper tires delivered to the shop, so we took off on the radials and kept our speed low and our fingers crossed.

We made it to Dallas TX the next evening and had dinner and drinks with Mike's niece in the city. The next day we rode to Fort Worth and walked around the Fort Worth Stockyard, stopping at the famous Billy Bob's 81 Club. That evening we ended up at Mike's brother's house and had dinner with his brother and his wife, his sister, and two nieces. It was nice to see Mike relax with his family, and it was a welcome respite from the road.

El Paso was the next destination, with a drunken layover in Midland TX where we met up with a local radio disk jockey and her friends in the hotel bar and went barhopping for the night. We had two more nights on the road and the inevitable end of the trip was looming. We drowned our grief with multiple beers and some fun conversation, and our impromptu dates escorted us safely back to the hotel.


We arrived in Las Cruces the next day and steeled ourselves for the ride to Phoenix the following day.

We booked into the Days Inn in downtown Phoenix and because we parked right outside the front door of the hotel, Mike left his duffle bag strapped to the bike. Mike owned a bar downtown, so we hopped in an Uber and went and checked in on the staff, and had a drink or three.


We staggered back to our rooms, partially out of drunkenness but mostly from fatigue from the hot riding conditions. The next morning when we were packing our bikes, Mike noticed the duffle bag had been cut from his bike.


All of Mike's camping gear was gone. We had traveled around the world and the only thing that had been stolen was a little gas in Russia. We spend one night, the last night of the trip, in Phoenix and Mike's gear gets stolen.


Mike called the cops, because the gear was worth over a thousand bucks, and they came and took a report. The cop said that it was most likely a homeless person and that the tent was probably going to be put to good use. We chalked the theft up to supporting a good cause and saddled up and took off for LA.

The trip from Phoenix to LA was an iron butt. Along the way, Mike and I reminisced about the trip and had quite a few laughs recalling some of the shenanigans that had happened. The longest part of the day was after Mike and I split off and went our separate directions home. That was the first time in well over a hundred days that I was riding alone, and the loneliness was deafening.


I pulled up the alley behind my house and rode in through the back gate. I was sitting on my carport, safe and finally home. The feeling was overwhelming, and I broke down and cried for a good ten minutes.


Eva came out to greet me with Lilly and Lola, our two dogs. Lola, the bigger dog, didn't recognize me at first and approached warily, but Lilly our small dog knew it was me from the get-go and ran and jumped into my arms continually licking me in the face and sending out squeals of delight.


The trip was over, we had made it and I was exhausted.


The next day I awoke to the familiar sounds of my home: Lola scratching on the door to be let out, Lilly yelping to be fed. Eva asked what my plans were for the day. Nothing had changed while I was away but I had changed dramatically. The weeks and months that lay ahead would reveal how much my life had changed and how much more I needed to change.

bottom of page