Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The End Of The Tour

Well that is it. The end of the tour has arrived.

I wondered how I would feel when it was finished and to be honest, I don’t know yet. It felt strange that yesterday I went and bought a suitcase to carry my things back home in.

It feels strange that in a little over an hour I will be collected in a car and taken to LAX airport. It seems strange that I will today be getting on an airplane instead of my bike.

I will miss leaving each morning not knowing where I will end up that night.

I won’t have to look at a map each day to look at where I might go. I will miss doing that.

I will miss seeing new things each day. I will miss exploring.

I will miss the sunshine!

I will miss being on this adventure and I will miss the kind people I have met every day.

I will miss lots of things.

I will miss the ride. I will miss some of the best roads I have ever ridden. I will miss the freedom I felt riding a motorcycle across the USA.

But, I am going back to that special place called home. To where I live.

I will be seeing my lovely wife again. I have missed her a great deal.

I will see my kids soon.

I will see my dog. She will go crazy when she sees me.

Those things are really good. Really good indeed.

I rode 21,475 miles in 27 states in 146 days.

That is an average of 147 miles per day. Take out the non-riding days and the average goes up to 177 miles a day.

I have seen many wonderful and interesting places. I have ridden over high mountains and across deserts. I have been in big cities and tiny towns. I have seen almost no cars in 78 miles of riding. I have seen 78 cars on the road in one second. I have seen extraordinary wealth and extreme poverty. I have seen old things that should be cherished and I have seen brand new things to marvel at. I have been boiling hot and I have been freezing cold. What an amazingly diverse country the US is.

I know I am very lucky to have been able to do this tour and I know many people would like to do the same, but cannot yet for a variety of reasons. Many people have read my blog and shown fantastic support and many have written encouraging words. When I started this blog I had no idea how big it would become. I was worried that my writing was not great and I wondered if people would be interested in what I had to say and in the pictures I posted. The kind words of the readers of my blog meant that I would continue posting, nearly every day if I could. Knowing that people were reading my stuff was a tremendous boost. Thank you to everyone that commented on my blog, for it is you that drove me to keep writing. You will be rewarded for your comments and I will tell you about that on Saturday.

Most of all I would like to thank Jackie for letting me fulfil my dream of riding across the USA. Without your full support I would not have been able to do this. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Finally I would like to thank America. All of it and all of its people. It is truly an amazing place with so many marvellous things to see and places to visit. As a nation you have some very special qualities and Americans are a very special people. I have been touched by your generosity, politeness and overwhelming friendship. Thank you America!

There is just one photo for today. Yesterday, I delivered my bike, the Leading Ladies, to the shipping agent in Los Angeles....



























My bike has carried me effortlessly on a tremendous journey without complaint and without any major problem. Thank you Leading Ladies, you did a great job!

There was only one make of bike I could ever have ridden across the USA on, and it had to be a Harley-Davidson.

37 comments:

Chris Luhman said...

Thanks for taking us along on the ride Gary. I enjoyed your stories and your excellent photos. It was great to meet you!

Beck said...

What a lovely story! It is us who need to thank you for everything that you have shared with us over the past few months. We will miss you! Please thank Jackie, too. Glad you enjoyed this great country that we live in so much. We hope that you will return to see us again soon. Take care! Stay safe! Keep writing! It was one heck of a ride! Good luck to you! God Bless you my friend!

Anonymous said...

Gary,
I read your blog every morning, and it made my day go just a little better. No doubt that I will revist you blog from beginning to end, you have inspired us all to get out and explore the wonderful nation of ours.
Once again an englishman has reminded us that "not all those who wander are lost." In fact through your wanderings a lot of us have found, inspiration, hope, and dreams in a difficult time. Thanks again.
I will look you up next time I am in England to visit my Grandma.
James

Motorcycle Philosophy said...

Awesome Gary! This blog and all the comments is like your permanent record that you, your kids and their kids will want to keep. Take care...

David Cloutier said...

Gary:
You certainly have a way with words and are very talented with a camera. Together, your photos and insights tell a fantastic story. One that I would say is a true work of art. I have really enjoyed following your journey. I hope your return trip home is safe. All the best.
David Cloutier

BeemerGirl said...

Gary, congratulations! You have done a great job exploring and seeing everything there is to offer. You have truly inspired some of us to visit places "in our own backyard". You have allowed us a different perspective on many things that can be taken for granted so easily.

I, too, will miss your updates. But it will give me the chance to start from the beginning...where I missed out on your wonderful adventure.

There are some online publishers that will take your blog and make it into a book. Give it a thought as a way to have a tangible piece of evidence to flip through on those gray winter days.

Thank you for taking us along!

-Lori

bobskoot said...

Gary:

Have a safe journey home. And thank you to Jackie for letting you ride the dream of a lifetime. Thank you for taking us along on your ride and for writing so frequently, though it was probably worse than having a real job keeping up with daily deadlines.

I think we are all a little saddened that your trip has ended. Hopefully we can all look forward to more photos of UK landscape.

Safe travels . . .

bob
Wet Coast Scootin

George F said...

Gary, it has been a pleasure following you and I can only hope to one day do the same in your country. You have done what I always dreamed about, as you know I just did 3 weeks across the US but it wasn't enough, too much to see, too many beautiful places, too many nice people out there, yours was a dream trip and your wife is a wonderful woman to support you. You take beautiful pictures that capture the moment. Have a safe trip home and continue blogging, we will be waiting for your next adventures :-)

cpa3485 said...

If there is one thing I admire about you and your odyssey, it's simply that you had the desire to do something extraordinary and then you just friggin' went out and did it!

Nuff said!

I know so many people that would never even come close to attempting anything like what you have accomplished. They would go through the routines of life in a very "safe" fashion, never making any attempt to maybe doing something a bit risky or live life on the edge, so to speak.

I remember much of our conversations in Nebraska. You did not undertake this journey for the readers of your blog, we just tagged along for the ride. You did it for yourself, because you wanted to experience some things that you might have missed out on when you were a younger man. There is really something special in that. Not many people in the world have that kind of desire.

As a follower of your journey, I think I can express some of the feelings of many of your readers, in that we are all insanely jealous. Damn you, for having the resources and the desire to be able to accomplish, so remarkably, your goal. But, bless you for allowing us to share in your experiences. I, for one, am very thankful to have been able to follow along, and to even have been able to play a small part in your story.

Hell, I feel like I even was able to live "on the edge" a bit by traveling to Nebraska to meet you. You were very kind to fit me in for an afternoon and an evening of your journey and I appreciate it. I know also that Max was thrilled to get to "spend the night" with those famous "Leading Ladies".

Go home and spend some quality time with your loved ones. Tell them how much we followers of your quest appreciate their letting us, in a sense, "borrow" you for the last 5 months. We have thoroughly enjoyed going along for the ride with you.

All my best wishes for you and yours,

Jim

Donna aka Froggi said...

Gary, we feel so privileged to have shared your journey through words and pictures and even more for our several hour meeting. I hope you will start another blog about your next adventure..

Cheers to you and the Leading Ladies!!

motoroz said...

Thank you for starting and maintaining your blog. When I first came across it I had no idea reading it would become addicting. I am blessed with a wonderful wife who lets me ride a lot so I know that Jackie is a great asset to you. Thanks Jackie.
Gary, Thanks for the time and effort you took to keep the blog current and full of great pictures. I will be using a lot of your posts to help plan future trips.
Thanks for reminding us how blessed we are to live in a country with so much to offer.
May God bless your trip home and your future rides.
Come back and see the other 21 lower states and then you can visit Alaska and Hawaii.

FLHX_Dave said...

Gary, you just made history. Seriously...you are part of the legend that will be told decades from now...I'll make sure of it.

I get the whole mixed feelings. I get it after every trip. I'm thankful I made it but there is always the "loner" deal because no one around you can possibly understand, feel or experience what you have...even if they were with you. The best you can do is try to share it with them.

Thanks Gary for taking us along. It's a tough order to post the journey at the end of each day. What really sticks with me is you are pretty much what I thought you would be...and that is a rare pleasure. Down to earth but capable of reaching the moon...very cool.

What is really going to bum me out is I can't wake up in the morning now wondering "Where in the States is Gary right now. I wonder what he has seen today." You let alot of us live your dream. Thank Jackie for me also.

Now...gotta' get my shit together so I can write my own history.

irishgalinabq said...

Sad to see the journey come to an end. I enjoyed reading your take on many of the sights I have seen myself and loved your awesome pictures.

steve.collins said...

Well Gary, what can I say, I too have been following your journey looking in most days too. Thanks for sharing your fantastic trip in such great detail and posting all those wonderful pictures. It inspires one, well me anyway to get out and ride.
It will be great to see you and hear further about your travels when you get home. But be warned, it's been cold here the last few days, the mercury dropping below 32F!

Steve & Kitty

Geoff James said...

That's a poignant ending to a magnificent trip Gary. I don't know how time passed for you but for me, your trip seemed to pass in the blink of an eye. I think that's the hallmark of a wonderfully-crafted story - you have a real talent for it and I still think that it would make the basis for a fantastic travel book.

It's your blog followers who should be thanking you and as per James' comment, I really looked forward to reading it as soon as I got up in the morning.

Enjoy your family reunion, commiserations about the UK winter fast approaching and most importantly; thank you.

Eve said...

Well Gary you had me crying on this one! I had written this comment from the heart already and am pretty sure I lost it into cyberspace before it got posted so I'm going to try to remember what I said...
I sure am going to miss knowing that you were out there every day and I want to thank you for your kind words. You wrote with such passion that we really found ourselves right there in your old worn out boots...and seriously you need to get them bronzed!!!....
I look forward to keeping up with your adventures if you continue to post. And I want to thank you for your kind comments on my blog. I don't post enough about my Harley and don't have an official motorcycle blog...(which I may start because of you) but you were kind enough to go out of your way to visit mine when I took the time to post. Thank you!
I hope the weather in NYC is not too cold while you're there waiting to go home, but I guess anywhere is cold compared to most of your traveled places! What AN ADVENTURE YOU HAD!!!
I hope you and Jackie can visit the US often in the years to come. There are so many more places to see and we welcome you with open arms!!!
Now, try to remember to ride safe....and on the LEFT side of the road!!! hahahahaha!!!

Canajun said...

Gary, I have looked forward to your (nearly) daily posts with interest. You have discovered parts of America that I never knew existed, and have given me even more reasons to visit my southern neighbours. Your meetings with fellow motorcycle bloggers have strengthened the bonds among those of us who are part of this relatively small community and hopefully will encourage others to do so when on the road. And lastly, you have lit the travel adventure fire under many of us who otherwise might just sit on the sidelines and wait for the world to come to us.
So it is with sadness that I say goodby to my daily Gary "fix", but want to say a big thank you for taking us along on your journey.
Cheers.

Axel said...

Thank you for wonderful 146 days of pictures and reports. Never did I as a German learn so much of the USA by a Englishmen called France. Not sure how to start the day now. I hope to be able to meet you around London one day.
Axel

Brian Bascle said...

God bless ya Gary! It was great to have you here, even though we didn't cross paths. Just knowing you were over here somewhere getting into adventures brought a smile to me. Safe journey home. Next, you'll have to come back over and do the Deep South on a trike!

SonjaM said...

Gary,
your blog became a part of my daily routine. I thoroughly enjoyed your writing and your pictures, and I will dearly miss the updates.

The sad part: your journey across America is over, the good part is though that the wife, the kids and the dog will have you back home. Two thumbs up for Jackie who encouraged and supported you in fulfilling your dream.

Thank you Gary, for sharing your memories with us. It has been a blast.

Charlie6 said...

Gary, it was an outstanding tour and set of blog postings by you. It was great to meet you in person, perhaps someday I'll show up at your door in GB or perhaps Spain! : )

You should now think about starting the European version of your motorcycling adventures...you've got this huge base of fans, don't make us beg.

Have a safe flight home, I know your family will be as happy to see you as we are sorry to see you leave our shores.

dom


Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

Mike said...

Thank you Gary! What a great adventure that you experienced. Thank you for faithfully keeping us posted with great writing and photography. Hope you have a good and safe trip home! Thank you Jackie too!

Doug said...

Gary,

Thanks for letting us ride along. To me your blog represents motorcycle blogging at it's very best.

'Scuse me now, I think I'll go back to your first post and start reading again, I'm sure I missed something and want to make sure I've read it all.

Doug

mohit said...

Hi Gary,
1st of all I would Thank You for providing a wonderful pleasure each time I read your blog.
Everyday 1st thing I did for last few weeks was reading your blog.
I cam across your blog by mistake long time ago and from that day I started to read it from your very 1st post.
I am glad that you completed your tour successfully but equally sad that it has been completed. Sorry for being selfish but seriously reading, viewing the pictures became a habit evryday. You have made us explore lot about USA through your blog.
Thanks again. Have a safe flight.

Mohit

Willy D said...

Thanks for the visit. Long plane rides stink. I still say you should jump on the ship with your bike. Five weeks on the open ocean after that bike ride?

Lady Ridesalot said...

I'm very sorry your trip is over. I'll miss reading your daily adventures in our beautiful country... but that's just me being selfish. I'm sure Jackie is ecstatic to get you back home with her, and I hope your ribs don't crack after the bear hug I'm sure you'll receive.

I enjoyed "the ride" and wish with every thing in my heart that I may do that very same thing... one day I will. The only thing I missed about your adventure, was the fact that you didn't get to make it down south. For your NEXT trip, keep Alabama in mind. We have cool things to see and great roads to ride. I would be happy to escort you to some of my favorites.

Take care my friend, and be sure to let us know when you publish that coffee table book. You sure have the material to present a great one!

Thanks Jackie... he's coming home!

iansolley said...

Many people use the phrase "Trip of a Lifetime" and we all know that its not - but this one of yours really has been and its had its place on my top sites to read everyday of the tour - it seems ages since we last met and I am really looking forwards to seeing you again for a good catch up. My sincere congratulations and appreciation for all you have achieved - well done mate.

IAN

Arkansas Patti said...

I came to the table late but have enjoyed the feast. Thank goodness for archives which I plan to visit so I can take the whole trip.
Thank you for opening my eyes to the rather amazing country I live in. You have made me really want to explore it all.You really need to do a book.
Enjoy your "ride" home and being reunited with your family.
Big time thank you from Arkansas.

B.B. said...

This brought tears to my eyes. I'm so happy for you that you got to do this, and happy that I was able to meet you. I hope that by the time you read this you are safe at home and enjoying the reunion with your family! Cheers Mate! :)

Circle Blue said...

Gary,
I can only echo what others have said. I'm grateful to have tagged along from the beginning. Yes, it doesn't seem it could have passed so quickly. Indeed I will miss looking each day for your post.

And, I'm glad you are going home. Going home is often when the real treasures of the journey reveal themselves.

Safe journey home and again thanks,
~Keith

Salinas Doug said...

I feel so grateful to have met the man and the legend. To realize you're even better in person than your writings was unreal. Like everyone, I will miss starting the mornings with reading your blog. Thank you Gary and your Leadings Ladies (and thank you Jackie) for the last five months of inspirational writings, pictures and videos.

mq01 said...

im dancing in my seat for you gary. this has been a trip of a lifetime. memories and stories that will last forever. and the joy of going home to all that you love and left waiting... wow. i'll miss your daily posts, the enjoyment and surprises that come from days spent on new roads. but im thankful to you more than anything, for you have shown us all that world is a fabulous place full of fabulous people, and best enjoyed on two wheels. safe travels!

Rex J. Covington said...

Thank you Gary for sharing your adventure, inspirational writing, and photos. I will miss reading your daily blog.

You have inspired me to do a European trip.

Thanks for letting me tag along and have a safe trip home.

Rex

RichardM said...

I'm kind of sorry to see the trip end. I really enjoyed reading your posts and seeing the photos and videos. Thank you for sharing your trip. Now to start planning for phase II...

Richard

bluekat said...

Thanks for taking us on the journey! It's been awesome!! I hate to see it come to an end, but it must be good to see home and family once again.

WyzWmn© said...

Thank you for sharing your "trip of a lifetime"
don't stop writing just cos you are going home..

Peace

Gary France said...

I am now back in the UK and I have spent the last few days recovering from the shock of the cold weather and getting over the time zone difference. It is wonderful to be back at home again, to see Jackie and to see all many familiar things once more.

I would like to thank all of you for your kind comments on this my post about the end of the tour. It has been a wonderful adventure and I am very pleased that so many people seemed to enjoy sharing it with me by reading my blog.

Best wishes to you all.