The Horizons http://www.horizonsunlimited.com
I must have been only the 4th party to camp at the site where the "Horizons Unlimited" meeting will happen and that was good, so I could pick a good spot for the tent and bike and got to know some people before a couple of hundreds arrived with tents and bikes. In two days, the event would start and these two days are are a good training for the small talk, but more important I can connect already personally and get to know my gang before the invasion starts. Such great people. I am lucky to find these open and friendly people and slowly I start thinking that I am attracting it.
The very first person is Jen and it turns out that she is a professional mediator and for one hour we talk as I didnt do since a very long time.
All on this meeting are overlanders, long distance travellers, almost no rockers, no harleys, mostly BMW, some KTM, Suzies, Kawas, 2 Royal Enfield, one or two old Africa Twin, a small Honda and some others. More than 300 people with bikes rolled in and occupied the whole campsite, reserved for 3 days only for us. The regular campers knew that they had to leave and all did exept one: Dennis with his wife and a friend. Right next to my camp in a huge camper and just for a joke I told the others that I would not be surprised if in this camper is a guy who said: "I am camping here at this spot every year since 1989 and I give a damn about all the bikes, make your party, I will stay!"
A couple of days later I found out how right I was. Not exactly in the manner as I made the joke, but even with a better story involving my tent.
The two days are already making me tired. Drinks, talk, no rest, always people around me. I am not used to it anymore. The new friends are nice people and I enjoy to be in company, but since more then a year I am on the road, can and have to decide where and when to go, if I am not working with a group on the projekt. At the same time the tour starts to show signs of being a lot by myself and even the small injuries, like the partial muscle rip, the knee injury, cold kidneys, nasty fungus at a toe, etc. show me that I am needy in some sense, let alone the being alone and having no woman to feel.
I learn a new word "roadworn".
"Yes, I am ... ."
Just when I look in the mirror I see a fresh face which seems to get younger and younger like something is shining up inside.
The third day in the camp the event starts with side and powerpoint presentations and I am so tired that I have to lie down in the evening right after the presentations while everybody is up to keep the smalltalk going:
about the same themes of milage, maintainence, model year, luggage, tires, also bears on the road, knives, road conditions, repairs, visa issues and border guards, ...,
For the reader who is not in such a scene I have to explain, that you indeed can stand next to any of the bikes and just start asking questions about the above mentioned issues. Every owner is happy to give information about it all. Standard or self made panniers or softbags, the endless discussion Heidenau tires or which one, tools? how many, which? ...
Some people have the newest GS models, but dont go very far with them, other owners of them do really use them, others ride them because its a real great bike and others are less pretentious and ride just any old bike for the fun of it.
Compared to many, I find out that I am not doing so bad with my tour. My bike looks road used, I look road worn, and not many people rode in Japan, the Stans or even Europe. Right now I just did the 9000 km up and down Washington-Aaska-B.C. just as a part of my trip. With all that I dont need to compare at all.
After a couple of days evryone is a bit exhausted from the drinks in the evenings and the presentations about all thinkable themes around traveling with a motorcycle like luggage, technique, bear attacks, visa issues, traveling alone or with partners, food, how to create a blog or write a book, ... . Latest here I learn the catalogue of questions while checking each others bikes like milage, model year, tires, luggage, technique, bear attacks ... .
The gang of new friends is taking a little tour to escape the routine of the meeting: Jen the Mediator, Me, Mike the one who gets along with everyone, someone you want in your gang, Leanne rides an 800, Jay the Seargant and Ulrike, the writer with the little bike which is too tiny for the dirtroads we want to take, so she travells with me. She weighs less then my usual luggage and we make it well through the gravel and rocks together. Check her blog, she has some more nice photos of that trip and the camp.
Back to the only resiliant camper who didnt want to leave, Dennis.
Out of the angle of my eye I see him tripping over a line of my tent and he falls dramatically with waiving arms and legs upside down onto my tent.
"Are you ok?" I ask rushing there, afraid he must have broken at least one bone, but except a little shock nothing happened. Still I am quite concerned and want to make sure that there are no late sequela to be expected. All seems fine with him, but we see now that one tentpole broke.
While I am more concerned about the health of Dennis, he is concerned about my tent and a long discussion starts how he can make the demage even, which I refuse: "Its just a tentpole and not your bones, its fine, no problem." Of cause Dennis demands to fix it and wants to bring the pole downtown to a shop.
Luckily the expensive tent has spare poles and one fits. All is fine again after we repair it together.
Unsatisfied and staing that he grew up in a country where a damage has to be compensated the discussion starts again and the only way out for me is that he ows me a beer which I get in the evening, and here it comes: he is a wealthy man who helps people and wrote a book about it. He said, that the way I responded made him insisting to even the damage. As a present I got that book and found 20 Dollar in it. There was just no way to give it back thim, so I promise to Dennis that I will give it further to somene who really needs it.
On my statement that I meet special people on a dayly basis, also Dennis replies now, that it is because of me, and slowly I start to believe in it. The projects idea of the presents and the experience I make with it, but also that I take time with any people I meet and give them the present of attention as much I can, all that and the fact of riding free through the world, that seems to give me a positive aura.
Its hard, but its time to leave the camp. It was so good to have nice company, always friendly people around to chat, bike, eat, have fun … .