Over the Atlantic - April 10, 2010
I remember when it was 45 days to go, and then 30 days to go, but I don't know where the time went before it was suddenly 1 day to go. The last few weeks have been so hectic and stressful. In late February, while just doing some routine maintenance on the bike, I took the heads off to replace the gaskets and crimey... one of the head gaskets had apparently blown last summer and had destroyed one of the heads and a piston. Not a good thing. So the month was consumed with tracking down parts, overnight Fedex shipments and phone calls to the California BMW shop that was prepping a used head to match the usable head on the other side. I received the parts finally on April 1.
Bike About 10 Days Before Departure
In the meantime, I decided to look into the rear end and found another mess of chipped gears and bad alignment. It was quite the education figuring out how to make it right with shims and so on, but it got together in time as well. The bike was finally out of the laundry room (my shop) on April 4, five days before leaving for Vancouver for the flight to London.
But everything came together, although it required being up most of the night the last night packing. It's a testament to my bad organization that with three years of planning, I spend the night before leaving... packing. How does that happen?
But Friday came and although quite cold, was a beautiful clear day in Kamloops. There had been winter storm conditions on the Coquihalla, the main highway to Vancouver for the previous few days and so I decided to take the longer, but lower route through the Fraser Canyon. The plan was to have Diane and Ian drive the car and I would ride to Vancouver airport, where I'd drop the bike off at SwissPort, the guys who were going to handle the bike shipment to London. As the bike had to be there 48 hours before the flight, we would then spend the time hanging around in Vancouver until departure on Sunday.
On the Way to Vancouver
All worked pretty well and the weather was good for the most part, although in the lower part of the Canyon, north of Hope, we just skirted under the snow line. For a brief stretch, mixed snow/rain fell, and I could see tracks in the road made by the car ahead. But it wasn't too slippery and by the time we got past Hope, things started clearing up. Hope is always a mess. I swear it got it's name though “Geez, I HOPE it stops raining” or “Christ, I HOPE it stops snowing this year”. It's always ugly in Hope.
Got to the airport and met the folks at SwissPort, all very nice, every one of them. I helped them maneuver the bike into a container and get it strapped down. The battery had to be disconnected and the fuel had to be less than ¼ tank... which it was as I had not gotten fuel for 240 miles and so should have just been going onto the gallon reserve. That should give me enough to get out of Gatwick and into Croyden where I have an attic room in a guest house booked.
Great time in Vancouver with Ian and Diane. Stayed at the Sylvia Hotel on English Bay. Spent Saturday walking around Stanley Park and doing some last minute shopping for few things, but otherwise, it was a pretty lazy day. Kind of sad, but at the same time, both were so encouraging that they helped me keep the proper perspective. I'll be back, just not for a while. And besides, it's better to miss them all than to not!
The plan is for two days in London, then head north into Scotland, ferry over to Northern Ireland, then south through Ireland and ferry back to southern England. From there, I'll take the ferry over to France, and from that point I have no plans. My next due date is crossing into Turkey by May 26th when my Green Card motorcycle insurance for the EU expires.
So for the time being, I'm just strapped into my seat for the next 9 hours. Looks like I should have brought some food. Thomas Cook airlines charges for everything it seems, although they did provide a complimentary pint of water, a pillow and a blanket. I think I have 5 Euros on me so will use that as my mad money on the flight. 5 Euros won't get me far in England (as they are still on the pound) and certainly won't get me far in France.
Oops... I spoke too soon. Sorry Thomas Cook. Yes, half-decent dinner and breakfast provided.