The images need to be organized at some point, it's getting out of hand, and Rovaniemi and Karu MC seems to have inadvertently provided me with that opportunity, a place to rest, work and create, file, shuffle and compartmentalize, and for that I am very grateful to them. But most of all I have developed a wonderful friendship with most of the members here, and I know when it comes time for me to leave and head east, I will feel it, it will not be an easy departure. I have developed a real fondness for Finland, and Rovaniemi in particular.
Simple, the people.
I'm not the most organized person in the world, so I've been trying to change that, or at least make a better attempt at it with my photographs and the storage and filing of them on my hard drives. Ever since I mistakenly erased over 60 gigs of images from my laptops hard drive in April (including my high res images of my first and only time to shoot the Northern Lights!!), I've been trying to get this organizational thing down a little better.
When I set out on this trip nearly 4 years ago, I never thought to keep all of the pictures I took of the beginning of the trip for use at a later date, mainly because I just never imagined that it would turn into something as big as this.
At the time I didn't like Florida much, I still don't, and it had a lot of memories that I just wanted to exorcize from my life and move on to a different, and hopefully better place.
Being born and raised in Ireland with mountains and seasons, those were the 2 big things I missed tremendously in my time of living in Florida. Nearly 365 days a year of blue skies and palm trees, paradise for some but believe it or not, it looses it's appeal and sparkle after a while, just like everything else does in this life.
I had intended, or had thought about anyway, riding to Prudhoe Bay in Alaska, but when I reached the other side of 150 Mile House, BC, Canada, I just wasn't really feeling as connected and into the trip as I would have liked to have felt, so I decided that the Prudhoe Bay run wasn't for me at that time and abandoned that part of it, and my new riding partner too.
Don't knock it 'till you try it people.
So when John found out that I was going in much the same direction as he was, he say's "c'mon, we'll go together". I agreed, a little reluctantly.
But by day 3 realized just why I prefer to travel alone, so I bade him farewell and safe travels. He was a little upset at that, I think he wanted me more for his trip than anything else. But, he headed on north, I headed east to Jackman Flats Provincial Park and then down to Nakusp. One of the most spectacular and exciting rides I ever took I might add.
This is one of the posts about it.
Especially the part where I meet Erik and go for a spin on his Ducati 996. Yea, I know !!.
There's a whole lot of reasons I like to travel by myself. Being a photographer is one of them. I get into my own zone, I stop frequently, or whenever I want to, and really don't want to have to explain that to someone else, or have to wonder if I'm stopping too much and interrupting another persons schedule. Or have my trip in any way dictated by someone else's schedule or requirements. Selfish?. Yea, to a degree I suppose. I have always felt that I was too selfish to have kids, to be a father, so I never did, a very carefully thought through and conscious decision on my part. It's my life and my trip. Life has to have some degree of selfishness in order to be interesting. The battle for just the right amounts of Egoism and Egotism. It's part of human nature to be selfish. Without it, it would be a very dull and boring life.
I don't think I would have had the same experiences or met the same people had I been with another motorcyclist on this trip so far. My meeting with Margareta in Ljusdal in Sweden would probably not have happened if I was with another biker. Maybe it would, I'll never know. The fact that I was a lone traveler played a big part in how I was invited back to Margareta and Birgers farmhouse for breakfast.
When you're alone, on a motorcycle, open to the elements, you're very vulnerable.
You're also very approachable, much more approachable than in a group.
You take a risk when you're alone, but the bigger risk for me is NOT doing what I want to do in life, and realizing that fact only when it's too late, when there's no more time left to do the things I had always thought about or dreamed of.
I rode from Ljusdal to Hammerdal in Sweden last November, only a 290 km ride, not a biggie. But it was the middle of November. It was getting very cold, started snowing a little. I couldn't figure out at the time just why in the world the 2 Wheel Drive system on the outfit wasn't gripping, the outfit was slipping and sliding all over the place, absolutely no grip whatsoever. It was like I had no 2 WD. (I later found out that this was the case, the 2 WD shaft had broken at the weld, but at the time, I had no way of knowing this).
Visibility was getting poor, like riding in a glass of milk. The GPS sent me on a road that doesn't get ploughed by the snowploughs, so looking at the next 65km I had left to travel to the next town of Hammerdal seemed like a death ride, I honestly didn't think I'd make it without ending up in a ditch at some point. All of those thoughts and feelings just fused together all at the same time, and gave me a very unsettling feeling that put a nice big knot in my stomach and gave me a pucker factor of about 7 or 8.
And it was getting colder.
There were no cars out and the odd truck that passed me was hauling ass and flew by me while overtaking me. And the trucks up here run doubles, which means 2 trailers. So, no 2 WD, no tire spikes, trucks trying to run me into the ditch. I was gonna die or get run off the road. For sure. Of course that didn't happen, but at the time my mind was playing tricks with me, and I had a hard time taking any positive out of that particular situation. There was none.
If I were with another biker or two, it would have been much easier, emotionally, as there's usually strength in numbers. At least if you end up in the ditch with a broken leg, you'll get rescued by your buddy.
By the time I got to Hammerdal and found a place to camp for the night, I remember I was drained, just emotionally exhausted, feeling very low and remained that way for 2 days before I got some strength back to pack up and carry on.
But the process of going through those moments in life is a forced lesson in growth, and for me, a test. A test of myself, my resolve, my emotional stability, or lack thereof as the case may be. A test to see if I can be half the man I think I am. A personal challenge, to myself, by myself.
This year I was planning a trip across to England, Scotland and Ireland in August with John Nikas and Grace, his 1953 Austin Healy, we were going to travel as a team for RideAwayCancer and DriveAwayCancer, but Grace's engine finally took her last breath late last year, and ever since the rebuilding is not going so well from what John relays to me via our infrequent Skype conversations. There were plans for us to meet up in May at this years Mille Miglia, but as a result of Grace's breakdown, they never made it over here to Europe. Now the goal is September or October, maybe, so in the meantime I have some bike repairs, maintenance and projects to do for my upcoming trip across Russia starting somewhere around February of next year. I'd like to stay for some of this winter again here in Rovaniemi to photograph more Northern Lights. This time I'll be sure to save them and not delete them. I may travel a bit further north to Norway to shoot the Aurora Borealis there and visit some friends also.
By that time, the sun will be no more, a distant memory with less and less daylight and eventually 24 hours of night being the norm.
The Dream Board. I wonder was that me she was talking about?.
A peek into the thoughts and dreams of other mere mortals like me. It would be interesting to have them somehow come back 10 years later to write a note beside the one that they first wrote and see where they ended up and how happy they are now vs. then.
When I take a look back at my 10 yr note, which I only have a mental picture of now, am I happier and in a good place?.
You be the judge.
My outfit sure was in a good place when I went to the Karu MC Poronpurijaiset just outside of Rovaniemi a few weeks ago. It was the 30th year of this event, and my first time at it.
The mother of the Rat-bike sidecar outfits.
A H-D Shovelhead....with a Turbo. Tasty.
And then it was time to leave the club.
Friday it was off to the Poronpurijaiset, only a 40km ride from the clubhouse.
The Karu MC president suggested a quiet and out of the way camping spot with a lovely river view for me for the weekend. He said "you'll still hear the music, but not as much up here", but warned me that it will be FULL of bikes and tents by Friday night. I didn't believe him at first, but the Karu MC Poronpurijaiset is a legendary and popular event, with bikers coming from as far away as Switzerland just to gather and meet old friends. It's been going on like this for 30 years now.
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