Into The Great Big Open

Around the planet by motorcycle

My freighting company had recommended I contact Richmond Motorsports to handle the crating of the motorcycle. I’d been in touch with them a few days before, and let them know they could expect to see me on Thursday afternoon. I found their store easily, and from my very first contact was treated very well. Multi-tasking service manager Miles kindly inserted my project into their already-booked service schedule, and lacking any plan for lodging, Linnea gave me directions to the hotel options near the airport, and called me a taxi.

The next morning I arrived at Richmond Motorsports just after opening time to strip the luggage and windshield from the bike. To stretch my legs (and get out of their way with my worried chin-stroking and pacing) I walked to a nearby motorcycle shop called 5th Gear, where I met and chatted with Paul. Being a former DR owner, and having ridden around Europe, Paul had valuable recommendations for both bike and traveler. Like all of the Vancouverans I’ve met so far, he’s a super-nice guy.

Around mid-afternoon I came back to Richmond Motorsports to see:

Crated bike with Alfred and Miles

Crated bike with Alfred (left) and Miles. To get it into the crate, the mirrors had been removed, the handlebars rotated down, and the triple clamps slid down the fork tubes.

I never thought that seeing a ratty DR in a crate could bring such happiness. Getting the bike prepped and crated and to the shippers by end-of-day Friday was critical.  Shipping on time means I have a better chance of using the entirety of my Russia visa to get to and through Mongolia, and finally to Kazakhstan. Miles and Alfred at Richmond Motorsports really delivered. I called the freight company with the news, and they arranged for the crate to be picked up. In the meantime, I stuffed everything into the crate except for non-riding clothes and tankbag. In a flash the truck arrived, the crate was wrapped in plastic (at Miles’ recommendation) and forklifted onto the truck, and as it pulled away I felt the lifting weight of a dozen variables collapsing into knowns.

I continued the hot highway drone northwest into the tawny hills of Oregon, and entered Washington surprised to be surrounded by massive fields of crops. After 500 miles, searching for lodging in Ellensburg, and being weary and wary of braving the hoofed wildlife of Snoqualmie Pass, I paid much for little lodging.

Following the next morning’s free carb-fest breakfast I continued northwest through increasing humidity and elevation, crested the pass and began what seemed like an endless descent into the  flow of Seattle traffic. I peeled off at Redmond and after many wrong turns inside the city-campus of Microsoft, joined my amigo Richard for lunch. He’d failed to mention that his left hand had been surgically replaced with a Blackberry-type device.  I kid…Richard was kind enough to bump a meeting to make time to see me, buy me lunch and introduce me to a few of his motorcycling colleagues. Thank you Richard!

Idling up to the Canadian border, I expected a fairly quick process to be let in, and with a victorious rowing through the gears I’d be on my way to Vancouver. The interview with the surly man in the customs/immigration booth was very thorough, and the fact that my stated origin of New Mexico didn’t match my Arizona license plate garnered me a second interview (although the second official was more attractive, blond, and female and less surly than the first). 20 questions? I wish. By the end of the interrogation the questions turned from officialdom to personal interest to “Good luck” and I was on my way.

Note to self: I started the trip in Arizona. I started the trip in Arizona.I started the trip in Arizona.