[Original post by Michael Cardwell – Transferred from yahoogroups.com]
Starting back in May (2009), Elliot and I have traveled East through Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Transnistria (A breakaway part of Moldova & a small unrecognized ex-soviet province of half a million people), Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. With these and the countries I have visited in 2005 and 2007, I have been fortunate to travel to 38 different countries (It’s hard to believe that these only total up to 16% of the countries in the world).
People often ask me what I miss most when I travel? Easily, the answer is family and friends. But I often think of the great explorers of the world (Bartolomeu Diaz – Rounded the Cape of Good Hope, David Livingstone – Explored the Zambezi River, Marco Polo – Explored China, Vasco de Gama – Explored India, Christopher Columbus – Explored the West Indies, Ferdinand Magellan – Expedition Circled the Globe, James Cook – Crossed the Antarctic). I am in no way trying to compare myself to these great individuals. I am not looking to discover something new in the world; in my opinion, there are very few (maybe even no) places in the world left to discover on behalf of mankind. Individual discovery is all that is left.
We do live on an amazing world & in an amazing time. On his first voyage, it took Christopher Columbus five weeks to cross the ocean; now we can cross the ocean in six hours or less. Telecommunications and the Internet have made the Earth even smaller; family and friends are just a phone call or ‘click’ away from almost anywhere in the world. People can track the progress of our trip in real-time with the aid of a ‘Satellite Personal Tracker’ and I can travel the world without the concern of getting lost with a GPS (Global Positioning System) that fits in the palm of my hand.
We can explore the world and see amazing things without leaving the comfort of our own homes. But traveling (especially traveling by motorcycle) is a unique and amazing experience:
Feeling the cold wind of a spring morning on your face in the mountains of Wyoming; enjoying the smell of fresh-cut grass on Prince Edward Island; feeling the mist on your face from Niagara Falls; sitting in a natural hot spring in Ft. Nelson; waking up to snow-covered hills on the third of July in Alaska; riding through the smoke of wildfires along the Dalton Highway; enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of the Pike Place Fish Market; slicing through the curves of the ‘Tail of the Dragon’ at Deals Gap, Tennessee; getting in touch with an ‘older’ America on Route 66; hearing the screaming motorbike engines at the Centennial Isle of Man Moto TT Races; getting pelted with rain in Northern Scotland; meeting thousands of fellow riders at BMW Motorrad Days in Garmisch-Partenkirchen; standing on the ice and watching the sun never set above the Arctic Circle in Deadhorse, Alaska & Nordkapp, Norway; enjoying a hand-crafted beer at a Belgian Beer Festival; exploring a place whose history effected the entire world, Berlin & Auschwitz; seeing the effect of that history on Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and the Czech Republic; exploring the majestic mountains of Switzerland & Italy; enjoying fine wine at Lisbon’s Wine Festival; visiting the final resting place of the people who stopped a tyranny that gripped our world, Omaha Beach Cemetery; exploring countries that have emerged from the ‘Iron Curtain’ (Hungary, Romania, Moldova, and the Ukraine); discovering that a country we were once told was our biggest enemy is full of new and wonderful friends, Russia; facing our first big challenges (mechanical difficulties and severe food poisoning) in Kazakhstan; feeling like you are the only person on the planet with the seclusion of Mongolia; facing the dangers of potholes & mosquitoes in Eastern Russia; experiencing the fantastic craziness of Tokyo; adding South Korea to the trip as a “spur of the moment” decision; finally reaching the first English-speaking country we have been to in the last six months, Australia; and, ending our journey in one of the most hospitable countries I have had the opportunity to visit, New Zealand.
Many people have told me that I am “Living Everyone’s Dream,” and I would have to say, I am. I feel very fortunate that I have this opportunity to experience everything the world has to offer. But, most of all, it is the people who have made this experience memorable. Both Elliot and I have made many new friends and met many generous people.
I am very bad about remembering names but their acts of kindness and generosity I will always remember so please, bear with me:
First and foremost my parents, for putting up with my craziness and supporting me every mile of the way; Elliot Mogerman, I could not ask for a better riding partner & keeping me grounded every time I lost my cool; Terumi Shibata (& family [Noriyuki, Machiko, Masayuki, Tomoko & Takayuki]), the woman behind the adventurer and her family for their patience, understanding, generosity and support; Russ Heim, Chris Rule, Steve Bonvicin, and Rob and Colby Colasacco for their emails, support, sense of humor and friendship; Jim Hyde (RawHyde Adventures), for the `”off-road” training which proved invaluable in the parts of the world that made this trip amazing; Sylvain, the best campsite chef I have ever met for saving me from freeze-dried food; Thierry, Bob, and Jeremiah, my Dalton Highway companions, for making my first difficult riding easier and more safe; Kevin Pick for allowing me to stay in his home and riding with me through the heart of America; Allan Karl for his stories and pictures, helping me fuel the fire to see this amazing planet; Larry and Margie, my first European riding partners for the companionship and laughs; Carlo Vandesteene, for talking me into going to the Centennial TT Races on the Isle Of Man and for attempting to show me the world best cheeseburger (nice try, I will give his attempt 2nd place); Esther Wachelder & Shane, for opening their home to me a few times while I traveled across Europe and got service on my motorbike; Miquel Matas, for his phenomenal hospitality and his passion for riding; Matt, Darren, and Adam (The “Game On” Kiev Crew), for making our stay in the Ukraine so much fun; The man and his wife who let us stay in their home on our first night in Russia (I just wish I spoke Russian or they spoke English); Pavel and Dasha, for helping us find our way around St. Petersburg and being fantastic hosts and tour guides; Eugene, Stass and friends in Solnechnogorsk, for also being fantastic hosts and tour guides; Sergei and friends, once again for being fantastic hosts and tour guides, this time in Moscow; Jackie, Mark, Jana, Max, Kim, Dick and the Tengiz chevron oil team for saving us in Kazakhstan; The Mongolian Military Engineer Corps for helping us repair the damage to our luggage cases; Alexander, Sergie, Llya, and Grady for helping us finish out trip across Russia by arranging transportation for a broken 1200 GS; Cinus for his hospitality and humor in the city of Vladivostok; Doug for his company, humor and passion for riding; Dan and Rob for taking all our money at poker on the boat to Japan; Kelly for bringing her lovely smile and sense of humor across the Pacific; Rob and his Mom as-well-as Jonathan and Helen and Rick and Holly for giving us a place to stay in Melbourne and the entire gang in Melbourne for hanging out with us; and the entire Triumph Owners Motorcycle Club of Wanganui, New Zealand, for showing us their country, giving us accommodations and showing us a fantastic time in the final country we are visiting on this trip.
I know there are many more people I have forgotten to mention here but their friendship, kindness, and generosity will always be fondly remembered and I hope they will forgive me.
Our time away from home is almost over and it will be good to see family and friends that have been gone from our lives for too long. Thank you all for taking the time to read my ramblings. I hope you all stay safe and keep in touch.