Final Blog

January 17, 2018

As promised this is my final blog to cover off the end of my ‘adventure’.  I only realised as I sat down to start it that my last one was completed on the 26 of September and its now its the 17th January!  The forecast temperature in Adelaide tomorrow is 41’c (106’f).  I checked and at the moment in Colorado Springs its 11’c (52’f) ha.

My wife (Helen) was able to change my return flight with Delta Airlines and I flew out of Los Angeles on the 28th of September – for some reason the flight home was far better than the one over which is strange given it was nearly 2 hours longer!  I put it down to having a bigger plane and a more ‘interested’ crew.  Heading home I lost a day and landed on the 30th.

So after 14 hours in the air I land at Sydney Airport and the crowd is over the top trying to get thru immigration – it was like 10 planes had landed at once and everyone was doing the same thing.  Fortunately as soon as I got off the plane I went to the first passport eticket kiosk and waited in line behind about 15 other travelers.  With ticket in hand I made my way to the immigration gates where there was a crowd of roughly 3 – 4 hundred people waiting – I soon worked out that they were waiting to get to the eticket kiosks and I was able to go around to the front and straight thru the photo gate!

Given I only had my carry on backpack I did not have to worry about collecting any luggage so I was able to walk straight thru customs and then catch the train from the International Terminal to Domestic.   I was aware that there was an earlier flight back home but it was borderline if I had enough time to catch it – fortunately my luck held and I was able to change my domestic flight and get home some 3 hours earlier.

Helen was happy to see me again (always a bonus ha) and I spent the first couple of weeks home just doing a bit of maintenance and upkeep.  Here are a couple of photos of the house and “the shed”;

 

 

The last big event I had before heading back to work was the MotoGP in Phillip Island (Victoria).   My wife and I go every year and totally love it – I put our camper on the truck and hooked up Stan (Fred’s big brother) on the trailer and away we went.  First stop was a small town in Victoria;

 

 

Now the reason that Stan is on the trailer is due to the fact that Fred missed his boat.  I had hoped that I could tie in going over to the MotoGP with picking Fred up but it didn’t happen.  I received a frantic email from Schumachers who wanted me to provide pages 3 – 5 of the import documentation (that I had never received) so Fred was pulled out of the container and back to the depot.  I am pretty sure that Fred’s intention all along was to hang out in LA as long as he could!

I must admit it was good to be back in the truck and doing a road trip and driving on the right (as in left side) of the road again.  We stayed at my nieces home in Melbourne and then made our way down to set up camp near the track;

 

 

The one thing about Phillip Island is that you need sunscreen on whilst you catch hypothermia;

 

 

I was lucky enough to take a few good photos so here is a couple;

 

 

So we have a great weekend and make our way back home.  Shortly after I return to work and this is what was waiting for me;

 

 

So I had a laugh over my welcome back as I really did miss my Greek girls (there are 2 who basically let me think that I am in charge).  I was surprised that going back to work was not the big downer that I had thought it would be – what I found was that it was it became really hard as I settled back in.

After a couple of weeks one of the “Greek” girls phoned me to say she had just been diagnosed with breast cancer.  I knew she was at a medical appointment after a routine breast screen had identified an abnormality but when she phoned I was floored.  Over the years I have met some amazing people and she is right up there with the best – in the past I would question why bad things happen to good people but now I know that heartache does not discriminate –  all you can do is find the strength to fight what has been dealt.

The good news is that although it was the most aggressive form of cancer you can get, it was discovered right at the earliest opportunity.  Yahoooo.  She will make a full recovery!  Too say I miss her at work is a total understatement.

The days go by and we head into xmas/new year.  I decide to go and spend xmas with my family which is in Victoria (haven’t been back for a long while).  I get on to Schumachers and establish that Fred is on a boat and is due for arrival (Melbourne) on 9th December.  The only issue is that due to the time of year it will take about 2 weeks to clear Customs.  I get on to the agent in Melbourne and I am told that all things good he will clear within a week.  I subsequently get an email to say he is ready for collection!

I phone my older brother (Adrian) who runs a trucking company in Melbourne and although he is absolutely flat out he agrees to pick Fred up for me (only because Fred is a superstar).  So Adrian goes down to the depot to collect Fred and he is told that he can’t because his collection has not been endorsed on the “system”.  Adrian phones me and I then make a number of calls to various agencies – Fred eventually gets released!

Helen and I do a road trip and spend xmas eve at my mums (who is 85) place and we catch up with our son Josh – great night.  Now what is amazing is that I had my travel laptop with me and when I turned it on I received a skype call from my mates in Colorado Springs – Sonnie, Dave, Trevor and Gavin.  The chances of this happening are astronomical.  Sonia did a whole walk around the house which included a view of the snow in the front yard as well as talking to Dave and the kids.  Without doubt this made Xmas for me!

Next morning my mum cooks bacon and eggs for all of us before we get aboard the truck and head to Melbourne.  We get to Adrian’s place and I just had to got and see how Fred was doing.  We managed to get him loaded without too much trouble by using the loading back gate of one of Adrian’s trucks;

 

 

Fred has definitely had a hard trip home as he has been sprayed with some sort of insecticide which left a yellowish residue that smelt like sewerage.  I was happy to find that all of my gear had made it and it was obvious that customs had gone thru it as it was all over the place.

We have a great xmas lunch and later head over to my nephews for xmas tea.  Another great bash and a good number of drinks were polished off which made for an early but slow start home next morning.  The road trip home the day after xmas was full on as traffic was heavy and there were a few drivers that had no idea of how to drive on country roads.

We get home and the first thing I do is get Fred off the truck;

 

 

 

Since getting Fred home I have been working around the clock to get him back to prime condition (like me he enjoyed the lay off a bit too much!);

 

 

 

I am up to pulling his starter motor off (parts now arrived) and hope to have him up and going soon.  Fred is in no rush as he loves the attention.

 

So after 21,000 klms (13,050 miles), 22 States, 198 Patches/14 coins, 4,257 photos – its time to provide a few answers to some of the most common questions;

 

What worked well?

  • Fred by a mile – he couldn’t have done more than I asked (which was a lot for a small bike)
  • Arrow pointing right on Fred’s windscreen – recommend this for everyone as a reminder to drive on the right
  • Helmet – my Nexx xd1 with a built in sun visor was absolute gold – will never buy another helmet without one
  • Garmin Zumo GPS – being able to blue tooth instructions to the senna communication system fitted to my helmet was sensational
  • Senna communications system – saved my life (enough said)
  • Redverz solo expedition motorcycle tent – yes at times it was a pain to put up but the room/security was worth it
  • The blog – fantastic way of recording the adventure
  • Calling in at local Police Departments – met outstanding people
  • Lenovo travel laptop – purchased in the USA and top quality
  • Skype – it was great to actually see and speak to those I missed
  • USA park pass – paid for itself 10 times over
  • Having no real plan – no other way of touring!

What didn’t?

  • Kogan 2 in 1 laptop/tablet – absolute crap and failed in the first week
  • Taking an older mobile phone instead of my new up to date one
  • Travel card – it worked but I question whether it would have been easier to get a card over there
  • Joining the International Police Association – no help whatsoever (harsh but in my case true)
  • Having road/dirt tires on Fred – unbelievable difference when I changed to straight road
  • Taking a full range of cooking gear – used very sparingly and question if I actually needed it
  • Uber – primarily due to having an old phone and not being able to use the AP correctly

Best Experience?

  • Without doubt meeting locals and seeing the ‘real’ America.  Totally changed my perception learnt from the media
  • Making life long friends that I would otherwise have never met
  • Every single day being an Adventure and not knowing what the hell I was doing or where I would end up
  • Having the realisation that I hadn’t thought about my work for over a week
  • Being blown away when I reached 120 followers on my blog
  • The pride in knowing I had totally challenged myself and not fallen flat on my face!

Lessons learnt?

  • Yanks love Aussies
  • Don’t talk politics – the divide between Trump supporters and haters is huge
  • USA postal service to send stuff back home is expensive
  • You can smoke in Casinos and get free drinks
  • The Rocky Mountain Range is massive
  • The temperature difference as to which side of the Rockies you are is exteme
  • Denny’s has great Wi-Fi but terrible bacon
  • Best place to get food is in the supermarkets
  • In certain states you can buy firearms in Walmart
  • In certain states you cannot buy ‘hard liquor’ on a Sunday
  • The older the RV the more likely the driver is trying to kill you
  • If I lived in the USA I would have 20 guns to be like everyone else
  • Sturgis is just plain crazy!

What would you do differently?

  • Easy – refer to my next adventure

What next?

The million dollar question.  On this trip I often felt I was a week ahead of myself in that I had wished I had been able to spend more time with the people I had just met.  Now I have their details I can be far better organised – what this means is that I am heading back.  I will revisit a few of things I did on this one and also I intend to get down south and do the East coast.  Hopefully I will get into Canada and do a bit – I will definitely be leaving my bike at my mates place and not bringing it home at the end.  Reason for this is that I expect that I will not be able to do all of Canada/Alaska and then there is South America later…..

Which Bike then?

Stan is the man for the job.  I am putting in time on him to get him up ready.  Nothing against Fred as he was the trailblazer but at the moment his media commitments are pretty heavy.

When is the next trip?

Lets just say that 2018 looks like a great year….

 

Final Wrap Up

So I have finally managed to do the last blog for this trip.  This trip would not have eventuated if not for my wonderful wife who actually made me do it and not let me come up with a lame excuse not to!  How do you repay someone that is willing to keep going to work every day while you go on a bucket list adventure?

I have been totally humbled by the positive comments I have received from each and every one of you that followed my blog.  This includes everyone here at home and those in the USA.  I have met some outstanding people whose generosity has been overwhelming.  I am stoked that other people found enjoyment in my ramblings.  By all means if you want to catch up with me next time round drop me a line (it will be good to hear from you) at;

noel.m.mclean@gmail.com

I feel doing the trip has changed me as a person in that I no longer sweat the bullshit that doesn’t matter.  Having said that I am far from perfect but when I feel I am going back down the path of over stressing about stupid things I only have to stop and think about riding Fred through some of the most amazing country ever!  Somehow it then all makes sense.

Again thanks to everyone and;

“To travel is to live.”
Hans Christian Andersen

 

Now the work begins on STAN

 

 

 

21 comments

  1. Comment by Phil

    Phil Reply January 17, 2018 at 9:21 pm

    Waited a long time to get the final instalment. Well worth the wait. I look forward to the next trip and the opportunity to have such an enjoyable read.
    Don’t forget to turn it into a novel.

    • Comment by Noel

      Noel Reply January 18, 2018 at 8:12 am

      Yeah maybe I can do it while at work….

  2. Comment by Lyle Warner

    Lyle Warner Reply January 18, 2018 at 12:38 am

    What an amazing journey. So glad we got to visit with you in Montana.

    • Comment by Noel

      Noel Reply January 18, 2018 at 8:13 am

      Montana was amazing. Hope to get back up there.

  3. Comment by carl allmann

    carl allmann Reply January 18, 2018 at 2:23 am

    Bien fait! Well done brother! Suzy and I are pleased to know you are safe at home with loved ones. Now you may fake your way through the last stint of work (remember…it’s an acting job!) and then rush back to Sin City with Freddie! I pray your next tour brings you here in time to dispatch the next psycho shooter as we Benelli him into a fine pink mist. Ahhh. It’s hard to avoid loving good ole usa! Thank you for lending your genuine and abundant Aussie charm. We’ve needed an injection ever since Dundee released. Cheers mate! Warm greetings to your family and mates.

    • Comment by Noel

      Noel Reply January 18, 2018 at 8:14 am

      You and Suzy are nuts and that why I love you both! Definitely be catching up with you guys again (by that time you will be on the red carpet again!).

  4. Comment by Bill Nagle

    Bill Nagle Reply January 18, 2018 at 2:49 am

    It was great meeting you. The Blog was amazing. Hope you make a return trip soon.

    • Comment by Noel

      Noel Reply January 18, 2018 at 8:14 am

      For sure Bill – see you soon.

  5. Comment by Greg Bickel

    Greg Bickel Reply January 18, 2018 at 3:28 am

    What a great final post, Mate. And so glad to be just a small part of your adventure. You’re always welcome here in Northern California

    • Comment by Noel

      Noel Reply January 18, 2018 at 8:15 am

      Thanks Greg – I laugh every time I think about riding around California.

  6. Comment by Chris Cowper

    Chris Cowper Reply January 18, 2018 at 9:06 am

    Nice !!!

    • Comment by Noel

      Noel Reply January 18, 2018 at 7:11 pm

      You taught me that its all about the next one!

  7. Comment by Lee Shepherd

    Lee Shepherd Reply January 18, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    Hey Mate – Awesome trip and as you know in our conversations upon your return – I loved absolutely every moment you experienced. Im looking forward to your next trip Noel. You are living the dream – Hoping to catch up. Stay in touch mate.

    • Comment by Noel

      Noel Reply January 18, 2018 at 7:09 pm

      Will do mate.

    • Comment by Noel

      Noel Reply January 18, 2018 at 7:10 pm

      Ha – yes it worked and its actually true!

  8. Comment by Fozzie

    Fozzie Reply January 18, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    Outstanding Noel. Can’t wait for your next adventure…. I really enjoyed following you. Take care mate and from NZ Police can you please send our love to your “Greek” friend and wish her a speedy recovery.

    • Comment by Noel

      Noel Reply January 18, 2018 at 7:11 pm

      Thanks mate – I am making sure she is getting everything she needs.

  9. Comment by Helen A

    Helen A Reply January 18, 2018 at 9:18 pm

    Yiasou Noel – Hip hip hooray your final blog! It’s been well worth the wait – absolutely loved it! Can’t wait for your next adventure. Yep yep yep you really are a special person Noel and we (your two Greek Girls) know whose the Boss! Thanks for the special mention above, see you at work tomorrow Greek Coffee will be ready for you!!

  10. Comment by Noel

    Noel Reply January 19, 2018 at 6:21 am

    Good work

  11. Comment by Mike Keller

    Mike Keller Reply February 21, 2018 at 4:06 pm

    As always, a most enjoyable read with a few LOL’s thrown in. Should you be in the Monterey area we would love to host you and show you a few of the hidden spots. It has been a pleasure.

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