It’s hard not to make the last day of an epic trip seem anti-climactic. We wrestle with that every time we come back to home base with the Airstream. The last day is usually over roads you already know well, and there’s always that sense of being so close to home that you may as well just blast through. Sometimes in the Airstream we combat this by taking a completely unneeded detour, or spending another night less than 100 miles from home. This also has the benefit of making our arrival time early in the day so unpacking isn’t done at the end of a long drive.
On the BMWs it was the same sensation, but rather than spend an extra night in the last 100 miles we just packed up our camp without rushing (the tents and ground cloths were particularly damp because of condensation) and then made lots of stops along Rt 2 through New Hampshire and Vermont, like dropping in on Dunkin’ Donuts in downtown St Johnsbury. (No more Tim Hortons now that we are out of Canada).
I needed the breaks along the route anyway. It was a colder day than most, and I had skipped the long underwear layer on the assumption that it would warm up later, but that never happened. Eric bit the bullet and did a quick change outdoors about an hour into our ride, in a location where he’d be inconspicuous to passing traffic. I wasn’t freezing so I just threw on another top layer, but it wasn’t really enough until the afternoon.
Also, my shoulder was bothering me. It has gotten better since that accident back near Murdochville, and now I can sleep on that side again without the pain waking me up, but in riding position with my arms extended and the constant vibration of the thumper, and road bumps, it begins to hurt after a while. Eventually the pain becomes excruciating and I have to take a 10 minute break, which relieves it entirely. I’ve had a lot of time to think about a particular blog comment by one of my curmudgeonly blog advisors, suggesting that this particular problem may eventually require surgery. I’m thinking it won’t, because it has gotten steadily better. At least I hope not. I don’t want that sort of permanent souvenir of this trip.
And the trip has been amazing, almost worth a permanent twinge in the shoulder. I look back over the last 13 days of it and it’s like three trips in one, with all the stuff we saw and did along the way. I’m pretty sure I only covered the highlights here, and there are a thousand fascinating details that I’ve already forgotten.
Finally, in the afternoon of June 20, we rolled back into the Champlain Valley on a gorgeous sunny summer day, to our respective garages. We had covered 2,600 miles on those little BMW bikes—a trip almost equivalent to riding them back to Tucson! None of us thought we’d do such mileage. We really didn’t know much of anything for sure, since every day was spontaneous.
Back at base, after a nice reunion with my family, I slowly unpacked all the gear, laid out the tent and groundcloth to dry in the sun, and made an enormous pile of laundry. My motorcycle pants and jacket are flecked with asphalt, bugs, and mud. My boots are unmentionable. The helmet has a few new dings in the finish, and it’s probably time for me to put on a new, unscratched visor.
The BMW is looking good except for two broken turn signals and a very handsome scuff mark on the front fender. We’ll fix the turn signals later. Otherwise the bike has held up very well and I have a new appreciation for why Steve likes them so much. It’s not nearly as comfortable as traveling by car or by Airstream, but there are definite advantages to the experience.
We had a great “wrap party” with friends on Saturday night, showing a quickly-made video of some of our 500 photos. If you want to see more, check Flickr.com/airstreamlife for the album.
In a few days I’ll be flying to Los Angeles for another adventure, which will also be posted on this blog and pre-dated. I’m picking up a new 2015 Airstream Interstate and taking it out for a 9 day adventure up the California coast. This is a trip I’ve been anticipating for literally years, and it is finally coming together, so I’m very excited about it. Long-time blog readers note: Since I’ll be traveling solo, I’ll also be hoisting the TBM flag for the month of July.