4 Years in.....
I parked my bike by this old fishing trawler in Apalatchicola Florida in the Gulf of Mexico.
A passerby stopped to chat with me, mentioned he had a similar model of BMW motorcycle and then asked me if I wanted him to take my picture.
At the time I didn't give much thought to the significance of it, in fact I very nearly said "nahh, that's ok thanks", as I'm not that big on having my own picture taken, and usually when a big Nikon D3s is dropped into someones hands they look incredulously at me, have no idea how to use it and nearly drop it.
But, had he not offered to take the picture and had I not said "ok" I probably would not have such an important record of this day. I remember this day as clear as if it were yesterday.
The bike is still the same bike I started out with and I'm still the same person I started out as.
However, we both look and feel a little different today. We've both weathered quite a bit, altered our looks quite a lot and have adapted ourselves to our journey and travels together. We've both come a long way from where we both started out over 3 years ago, both physically and spiritually. Yes, even my bike has grown.
She is my home after all, and she's carried me for 3 years and 125,000 km with all my heavy camera, camping and living gear with no major issues or accidents so far. Thanks Babe.
St. George Island in the Gulf of Mexico.
What started out as a "Get Out of Dodge" two or three month exploratory road trip to the Pacific North West of the US has me still on the road today and now in my 4th year and still "exploring".
I'm finding out that there's a lot of planet to explore than I initially thought. May not even have enough time in this lifetime to do it all.
Another 4th for me that I quietly celebrated on January 17th of this year was being 4 years sober, something that some of you may know about and some may not.
I don't try to hide the fact that I'm an alcoholic and on the wagon,
it's on my "View My Complete Profile" on the blog, but it's not something I make a fuss over and advertise either. Not drinking alcohol is just one of those things that I know I have to do in order to have peace of mind and a happy, healthy and emotionally well balanced life. If you can call life on the road in a sidecar "well balanced".
In all honesty I do. I feel more at peace and stable now with no official home, no job and no income than I did with a couple of houses and apt's and an income from the rents of said houses. I felt then like I had no control over my life, I was at the mercy of my alcoholism and all it's associated side effects like mood swings, sleepless nights and a general feeling of apathy. City, state and government regulations were strangling the life out of me and my business, and had me pinned down because I had a vast amount of monthly bills to pay to my local agencies. I was basically a prisoner in my own home town, an area that was dictated by where I paid the most bills.
I sometimes describe this trip as the moment I said Fuckitall, the end result of my implosion over 4 years ago when I hit my rock bottom. Starting my 4th year on the road this year I wouldn't change a thing. I feel a freedom now that I heven't felt in a long time, no matter how much money I had and how many expensive vacations I took per year. Looking back to the last time I felt like this, it was probably back when I was 16 and heading off to Europe with a backpack on my back. That was the first of my freedom trips, a time in my life where I had no worries and no fear.
Freedom from many things, freedom from a lot of social and economic shackles that held me prisoner for a long time, and most of the time I wasn't even aware of it.
And through all the towns, cities and countries I have traveled through so far, I've ended up here in Rovaniemi, Finland for the start of year 4 on the road. Fitting as a starting point really for another year on the road. In the last few weeks here in Rovaniemi a number of positive and important things have happened to me and my trip that have really kind of solidified this journey of mine and made me feel like this "Spur of the Moment" trip I embarked on wasn't just an irresponsible, knee jerk and irrational selfish pursuit. I had an idea from the very beginning that it wasn't, but at the time I couldn't identify it or find a way to convince myself that it wasn't, but I always knew that I would get bored real fast with riding from town to town and country to country and taking pictures. There was going to have be much more than that to keep me emotionally satisfied.
And now starting my fourth year on the road, the three years "Apprenticeship" that I just went through is finally starting to add up.
Initially, my stay here was only supposed to be a week or so. I had intended to ride down from Rovaniemi to Helsinki and then over to St. Petersburg in Russia by the middle to end of February. However, when I crossed the border from Norway to Finland many things changed for me. At first it was just the landscape that changed, which in turn changed my vision and outlook and general state of mind for the better. I saw the sun for the first time in months, and, I saw the type of landscape I normally only saw in postcards. Being in a picture postcard environment is kind of like a dream really, a fantasy landscape. It's sometimes hard to believe that you're actually there. And as I mentioned many times before, Winter like this is my favorite season by far.
Again, many thanks Hessu-san.
Well, Ari has the garage from Hot Rod Heaven, and the necessary skills to be able not only to assist me with some projects that I'm not that good at but also do them for me. Like wiring. I HATE wiring. Ari not only likes it, but is very good at it.
So the first wiring project that had to be tackled was the wiring harness for the 2 big WARN SDB-210's Dual Beam Driving/Spotlights mounted up front on the sidecar. I really love these big lights. I had them on my '76 Toyota FJ40, so when I shipped the bike over to Holland I stuffed them in one of the panniers because I knew I wanted to use them for the sidecar. They're a great and powerful light, they can throw a nearly 270 meter beam ahead of you and of course they're just a fantastic looking light to boot.
I wanted to give the front of the outfit an old Group B Rally Car look to it like the one Ari's brother co-owns in the pictures above, since I grew up in that era and helped my neighbor across the street in Ireland build a Group B Ford Escort, so I'm really happy how they look on it.