It’s inevitable that wherever I park or sit still with my motorcycle eyes of passersby gaze curiously. Sometimes walking paces will slow as they scan the bike, read the decals on the panniers, other times they’ll stop and either offer idle comments or unleash a barrage of questions.
“You look like you’re ready for a trip.”
“Wow. You got quite a load there.”
“Where you going? Where you from?”
“You really riding around the world?”
“How big is that?”
“What kind of motorcycle IS that?”
And the list goes on. Truth is, I’ve got a load on my motorcycle. And while I hope I have everything I’ll need on that motorcycle, carrying such a load does bring a certain burden. So I keep improving my system of strategic packing so I can access those things needed in a pinch quickly. And when staying at motels or camping I can pull only the necessities without creating more work when repacking in the morning.
So when I have a secure base and home for more than a night, I like to take advantage of lightening my load. Roland and his family (Robin, Riley, Russel and Robert — yes the family of R’s) gave me carte blanche. So as he set off on his workday I set off to tackle a few errands while in the largest city I’d see in the next several months.
First stop was the Apple Store in Seattle’s University Village. I also arranged to meet my buddy Jonathan Speights for lunch. Turns out that this Apple store services the entire city of Seattle and as result the wait times for seeing a “genius” are the longest I’ve ever experienced. So I decided to head to Lynwood just a few miles north where I might have better luck and quicker service.
I noticed a few nights back that when I either plugged or unplugged my power cord into my G4 PowerBook that the video display with jump, get fuzzy then quickly correct itself. While not a major problem I was concerned that if the problem worsened and I was in the middle of Bolivia the service time would be extensive and I’d be without a computer for several weeks or more. So I agreed to let this Apple Store send it out to depot for a logic board replacement — all covered under Apple’s outstanding AppleCare Warranty. But I had one dilemma: service can take up to a week but usually is complete in three days — including shipping.
So I gambled. I decided to stay in Seattle for three days and hope my PowerBook would return to the store so I could pick it up on my way out of town. This would give me a little more time to spend with my friend Roland and offer me a chance to see more of Seattle.
Arriving back at Roland’s in the evening I was treated to a family barbecue. Sitting at the dinner table with Roland, his wife Robin and their three boys I shared with them plans of my trip which included a bit of a geography lesson while they shared stories of their experiences. Even though a short time, I was warmed by being welcomed into their family. I can’t help but feel like I’m a nuisance or an uninvited guest when staying with someone on the road. My dirty riding suit, piles of luggage and smelly, dirty and muddy boots, I’m a bit of an outsider. But Roland and his family made feel warm, welcomed and frankly wonderfully comfortable. We sat up late discussing everything from politics to travel and work in between glances at the television watching silly movies.
The next morning I helped the family set up a garage sale and then packed my bike and headed off. After two nights of joining the Yamamoto family I figured it was time to move on, explore the area dn let them get on with their summer without the intrusion of this WorldRider.
While visiting the large corporate main REI store I heard from Keith at Chateau St. Michelle with great news. You see I had asked Keith if I could buy a ticket to another concert at the winery: Mark Knopfler. Months prior I had hoped and planned to see Mark play at this great Northwestern Winery. But to my disappointment the concert sold out within days of tickets going on sale. And even as management at the Winery, there were no more available tickets.
A former Los Angeles Times political reporter and then editor and publisher of a small town newspaper, Keith even worked a stint for the governor. Like minds and interests we quickly became friends while hanging out at the Tears for Fears concert.
“Judy says you can have her ticket,” Keith told me over the phone referring to his wife who’d rather stay home and get things done than go to her second concert in three days. I restrained my excitement and agreed to meet him later that evening. I’d ride to his house, park the bike in his garage and we’d drive to the show.
Performing a number of cuts from his latest endeavor, Shangri-La, Knopfler was on fire last night. Under the setting sun of the cool Washington night, I gazed out to the snow capped peak of Mount Rainier, sipping a glass of Chateau St. Michelle Syrah listening to Mark jam Telegraph Road, Nazerath and his biographical song sketches of Sonny Liston and Ray Kroc.
After the show and a good cigar Keith and I took a long ride toward the Canadian Border while he played DJ with his iPod cranking out great songs by Dylan, Van Morrison, Queen and others.
The next morning I was treated to a homemade breakfast, exotic tea and a warm send off as I once again headed on the road. Thinking to myself as the Seattle skyline unfolded before me that it doesn’t really feel like I’m on my journey. With the amazing hospitality of new and old friends, the great food, wine and warm beds, the cool nights of Mount Rainier, the Sisters and campgrounds by creeks seem so far distant — and so for in the future. Yet this is the journey and each day the story unfolds the unknown and reveals itself all while testing and teasing me along the way.
Photos: (1) Roland’s family by my motorcycle: Riley, Robert, Roland, Robin and Russel; (2) the infamous sign guiding visitors to Seattle’s Pike’s Public Market along the water.