When life gives you lemons, go ride Lemonade!

Planning goes back a long ways.

If you consider dreaming and wishing part of the planning process then we have been planning this for close to 20 years.  In 1981 we bought a 1980 GoldWing Interstate and a matching CycleMate trailer.  We put nearly 90,000 miles on that combination.  And did some wishful thinking about foreign travel by motorcycle.

Kathy and I were both early in our careers and had little money.  In 1987 we started investing in mutual funds but still had nearly 20 years left working before retirement became available.  The '90's were good to our investments, and we lost little in the bust.

We bought a new 1995 GoldWing SE and TimeOut tent trailer without dipping into the investments.  In 2000 we coordinated a month of vacation time for both of us and went to Mexico.  Part of the idea was to find out if we liked longer term travel and in a foreign country.  We found out we loved it!!!

After Mexico we made a conscious decision to go to Europe after retirement.  This is no longer a wish, it is the start of a plan.  We started collecting articles from newspapers, magazines and television, we started browsing internet forums and web pages from and about Europe, we started conversing with people from and in Europe.  We collected thousands of bits of information.  We started making lists, accessories for the bike, clothes for us, tools, camping gear, etc.  We started making decisions, when to start, where to start, what countries to visit, what events and festivals, what kind of budget.  And we are still today changing our minds, even though it is less than 3 months to departure as I write this.  Some changes were small, like changing the type of pants to wear, and others were quite large with echoes through nearly every other part of the trip, like not taking a trailer means everything we take, and buy while there, has to be tied onto the bike.  Camping gear, clothing, tools, cooking gear, books, toiletries, souvenirs.

In about 2002 I bought a wall map of Europe.  I wanted to find out how many miles a trip like this would entail.  I had it laminated and proceeded to draw a tentative route on it with dry-erase marker.  Then I took a map mileage wheel and followed the drawn route.  It totaled 7,000 miles.  That's nothing for a multi-month trip.  We did 6,000 in our Mexico trip and had left the bike parked for half of the 30 days we were gone.  Even if we doubled or tripled the mileage, it is easily doable for a trip exceeding 6 months.

A very important source for information about world travel by motorcycle are the Horizon's Unlimited Web Pages.  There is probably little about motorcycle world travel that is not in these pages, or can not be found out about in the forum.  They also hold rallies scattered around the world,. we went to the 2004 and 2005 rallies in British Columbia.  We came away with a major list of helpful points.  Grant and Susan Johnson, who own Horizon's Unlimited, toured around the world in the late 80's and now encourage others to the same.  (Maybe we should have quit our jobs and done the same???)

We decided in 2003 to start our tour on March 1st of 2006.  The year was chosen because we will both be retired and have a steady income.  The day was chosen so that we could make it to Las Fallas (March 15-19) in Valencia Spain without hurrying.  We planned to return after Oktoberfest (Sept. 16 - Oct. 1) in Munich, Germany.  But the huge motorcycle expo (known as Intermot) that has been held in Munich every two years has this year been moved from mid-Sept. in Munich to mid-Oct in Cologne, Germany.  So we'll just have to stay a little longer now.

We will be shopping for our tickets (for the bike and us) in early January 2006.  Our research has shown us that one of the cheapest routes form western North America to Europe is from Vancouver, BC to Frankfurt, Germany.  It should cost about $1500-$2000 to ship the bike.  This is far cheaper than renting an equivalent size bike in Europe (about $1500/week).  And we will have a bike we are used to and comfortable on.

After we arrive we plan on spending a couple of days in Germany taking care of paperwork and getting over jetlag and then on to Valencia.  After Valencia we plan to spend a couple of weeks in Morocco (and be in the Sahara Desert to watch the eclipse on March 29) before returning to Spain (for the Feria de Abril in Seville) and Portugal.  Then we'll follow the weather north and tour France, the low countries, Denmark, Sweden, and hopefully be in Nordkapp, Norway (as far north as one can drive on a paved road in this world) for the summer solstice where we can watch the sun go around in a circle.  We plan to return south through Helsinki (with a side tour to St. Petersburg and Moscow) and through the Baltic States, Poland and Eastern Europe.  We plan to spend August in the British Isles, returning to Germany for September to tour the Alps and Oktoberfest.

Of course, this is all subject to instant and retroactive change!!!  On to Planning Part B.