Friday, June 17, 2011

The Journey Begins

The instant my eyes popped open this morning I knew there was something wrong. I struggle to find the button on my watch to illuminate the dial, only to discover that it was 5:58 AM. Somehow, I had forgotten to properly set my alarm in the hurry of getting work done late the night before and then packing for the motorcycle trip so as to be ready to leave at 7:30 AM.

But before I could leave on the annual ride there was the matter of the 6 AM conference call! Fortunately, attendance did not require business attire, as the best I could do under the circumstances was a T-shirt and boxer shorts. Scrambling to find the number to dial in to the call, I found I was the last one online, but thankfully only kept others waiting a couple of minutes. Next problem; I did not have the written material in front of me that we were discussing on the call. No problem, I thought, I had the computer up and running and knew it was available there. But for some reason, the Word program would not cooperate, requiring me to remember all of the issues. Fortunately, the meeting went just fine and some resolution was achieved.

By 7:45 AM we were on the road. It was the beginning of the 4th annual Knights of the Open Road ride. Named by some friends we met in Thunder Bay, Ontario, halfway through our trip from British Columbia to Newfoundland in 2008. It stuck. While the Knights had lost Hugh, who left us in 2009 to go on one last great ride, the original nucleus remains the same: Jim, George and me. Others have been welcomed, such as Ben and Steve, in recent years, and Ralph this year. George, unfortunately, found himself unable to go along this year. He will be greatly missed. So there are 5 of us: Jim, Ben, Steve, Ralph and me.

The day started cool and cloudy, although thankfully not threatening rain, but nothing could dampen the enthusiasm for the ride ahead. We are grown men, yet as excited as kids going on their first vacation to Disneyland. We have become good friends who have ridden many miles side-by-side, sharing adversity and adventure, always wondering what is around the next corner. The miles have wound a magic spell around our shared experiences. It is a comfortable camaraderie.

Despite mandatory coffee stops, with the consequential... other… stops, and a short lunch stop with me catching a 10 minute nap on the restaurant lawn, we made it to our first overnight destination, Salem Oregon before 5 PM. 550 km the first day.

But today seemed to dish up its share of mechanical misadventures. My right hearing aid seemed to have developed a mind of its own, often telling me in odd squeaks and crackles that it has decided to join the Canada postal workers on rotating strikes, intermittently refusing to deliver sounds around me to my ear. In addition, my Blackberry decided to go into hibernation, leaving my only network connection cryptically labeled "SOS", hardly an encouraging epithet. Only after half an hour on the phone with my service provider did the message disappear, replaced by those lovely ascending green bars confirming I was not out of touch.

The one frustrating part of the ride today, a repeat of other trips through Seattle and Portland, was a traffic jam that we encountered on I-205. After experiencing the stop-and-go traffic for 30 or 40 minutes, we sighted a rear end accident on the other side of the freeway. While it appeared to be blocking traffic going the other way, the only reason we were stuck in bumper-to-bumper gridlock was because everyone wanted to take a look. Surely a glance would have been enough rather than everyone slowing down to stare, thereby causing a chain reaction of miles and miles of idling vehicles. Why do people do that?

Apart from a little windburn, it proved to be a sunny day and a great ride with no physical difficulties. My Parkinson's disease did not even result in the normal cramping of my right side, which was a welcome exception. Far better to have had a few minor mechanical mishaps than physically painful ones.
Jim, Bob and Ralph
So the adventure has begun again. You are welcome to ride along.


  1. enjoy and be safe .....
    am so jealous of you guys!
    I am looking forward to "virtually" riding along with you again.
    right hand cranked/rubber side down.....
    the open road is calling, cheers, andrew

  2. Have a fun time Bob!

  3. How long will you be gone? I can track with you til June 29 then we head to Alaska and I leave email, etc. at home! Have a great trip...sounds like great fun...except for the motorcycle part!

  4. I hope you have a wonderful trip Bob. Great photo of the team. I am looking forward to reading your postings - always interesting, funny and insightful. Lots of love, Kari