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It is interesting to me that the landscape there looks so similar to places right here in the Sierras or Colorado. You could have told me you were in Modoc County and I wouldn't have known any better :) .
 

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It is interesting to me that the landscape there looks so similar to places right here in the Sierras or Colorado. You could have told me you were in Modoc County and I wouldn't have known any better :) .
Interesting how it does appear that way in just the pictures. I've been all over the Sierras and have turned a lot of miles in CO and in person, Norway was its own world completely. But in pics I do see the evidence of a panoramic doppelgänger.
 

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The most compelling part of all my travels has been the expansion of possibilities: we can all find our place in the world, but when you forcibly change your world you can find many new places for yourself in it. Not knowing how a story will end keeps the plot compelling. Affairs of the heart, games, films, stories, life--interest in all these are easily ruined when the outcome of the affairs is glimpsed, known, verified. Not knowing, potentials, randomness--these are the true joys of life, these are the conditions that have the potential to truly change the course of your existence forever. How will I deal with uncertainty not being the prime characteristic of my life?

I will just have to wait and see. For now, Norway at almost midnight on my last night there.

 

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At the time I felt terrible enough to make me consider exiting Norway the same way I rode in. I can't properly emphasize how physically weak I was without sounding like a candy-ass, so I'll instead say, "man oh man I could not fucking wait to get to Estonia!"



Though the entire journey is ~1200km/25 hours, a lot of that time is spent in the Baltic on a ship. So I motored on, hoping that I'd make it in time to depart on time while still being able to enjoy the scenery.





Though the rest of the world seems to enjoy sausages and hot dogs with a fervor few Americans understand, the sheer quantity of sodium nitrate they consume would seem so suggest the correlation between heart disease, cancer, obesity and tasty meat might be exaggerated here in the states.





 

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Dude!! Why the he'll didn't you pm me! I could have shown you some sights around Stockholm! I could have arranged a tour at Öhlins for one thing.

If you head back, let me know
 

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Dude!! Why the he'll didn't you pm me! I could have shown you some sights around Stockholm! I could have arranged a tour at Öhlins for one thing.

If you head back, let me know
Aw fuck! Would have loved that. With the exception of 2-3 guys working the register at gas stations, I spoke with/met exactly zero people in Sweden. Not due to the Swedish being unapproachable--I just never really had the opportunity. I'll let you know if I'm ever back in/around Stockholm, bud.

Onward:



Made it to the Ferry with a couple hours to spare. There's a long road leading to the dock. The kind of road that has a rather lackluster clarity of purpose. Rather than spend my last hours sitting in a parking lot, I opted to enjoy the last remaining hours in Sweden sitting on a spool like a mouse in a cartoon (there were actually a few that were all bunched up together, which made a nice place to lay down for a bit).



It was clear that the Ferry area was more for commerce than for weekenders getting away. 99% of all humans arrived by semi-truck. Getting a ticket required a lot of questions. The guy directing traffic had said he didn't know where bikes went because I was the first motorcyclist he'd ever seen. ???



But I got a space in line and then just waited. And waited.



And waited. And waited.



And waited. Good thing I didn't need to piss.
 

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Finally was directed on the boat. Found some tie downs and went to work:



Those tie downs were stiff as fuck. Look at that one loose piece--it held its shape like a wire. I torqued it down as hard as I could. Ferry ride was an overnight deal, so just hoped it could withstand the 8 or so hours of sea travel. Walked up the seven or so flights of stairs to my room for the night. With two beds, I just hoped I had the place to myself for the night.



Dinner was cafeteria-style. As you can see from my sunken cheeks I was in need of some grub.



I ate in silence with a couple of Russians.

Then set sail we did. I was excited, as evidenced by that nordic grin.

 

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You should see the care they use when tieing down bikes here. Foam covers for the straps, chocks and flexible (LOL) tie-down straps on both sides. Rough seas, no problem!
 

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Made it with no drama. I had no access to my bike the entire trip, so I just hoped that it was still upright when we docked. It was (booya!), but the straps had loosened up quite a bit. (Note to anyone traveling with a bike on a ship: zip tie the front brake lever to act as a parking brake.)


It was pretty fookin' cool being in E. Europe again. I felt FAR away from everything. All the abandoned cold-war buildings only emphasized the point. I was one of the first vehicles off the ferry. Being that there were several hundred Semi Trucks, I felt it wise (at the time) to not stop and take any pictures. I wanted to stay in front of the convoy. Bad idea from a ride report standpoint, great idea from a ride standpoint.



I had done absolutely zero research on Estonia. No surprise there, really. Made being there all the more exciting, as I had no idea what to expect.






As you can tell from the very first picture of this post, the road I was on was pretty straight. My M.O. is to land somewhere, type in a GPS coordinate that's far away, follow the arrow and then get lost when I see a place that's worth getting lost in, then find my way back. This section of the trip would be a little different, though. Heading south there were multiple roads that led off to the east and west. All dirt or aggregate. In the US, these are side roads/fire roads/lonely paths that I could take and feel secure knowing that they'd lead to solitude. Only these roads were actual roads. Well used roads. It may look like a great place to stop and eat some salami, take a piss or some pictures (or all three), but looks are deceiving. No sooner than I'd get off the bike, a Lada or an old truck would come blazing through, glaring indignantly at me in the same manner someone in San Francisco or Boston would glare if you just stopped in the middle of Main St.
 

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As you probably know by now, Estonia is probably the best of the Baltic States, getting the worst in Lithuania due to the heavier Russky influence. You are not going there (Mother Russia) at this time of year, I hope. Napoleon and Hitler both rued the day. Stay safe, Ladas have very poor brakes!
 

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This could have been a fantastic movie, and epic motorcycle adventure :)
Kinda like Long Way Round was.

Any intention on embarking on such a mission?
 

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Dennis.... Paging Dennis to the white courtesy phone. Happy New Year, hoping to hear you are good, it has been a while.
 

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Happy New Year and Happy Holidays, everyone. ('sup, Scott!)

My apologies. All is well--just been lagging on updates. Can't believe 6 weeks has passed since my last post. So let me try and make up for it:



A little perspective: When I first set out across the US, I wanted adventure. And fuckin' eh did I get it. And then I became addicted. Nomadic life hit me hard. Staying in motion is not easy. But I found resting harder, so I kept moving. Yeah, there are moments of dread, of exhaustion, of monotony, of sacrifice, hunger and illness, days when it's all stick and no carrot. But even so, the feeling of being in control of my destiny has been a tremendous motivator.

Immediately upon entering Latvia, I saw an abandoned building of some sort. It had been drizzling a bit and the sandy earth surrounding this place looked hard on top, but tenuous underneath. A man shoveling ground a hundred or so yards away eyed me. I eye'd him back, while glancing at the burnt out structure. As curiosity turned to suspicion, he stood up, chest out, and both hands rested limp over the top of his shovel. I could have just taken out my camera and he would have gone back to burying bones or whatever he was doing. But I went for it instead. As soon as I cleared the grassy area bordering the road, I hit the soil. And yeah, it was far more tenuous underneath. The front end weaved and slithered, building up sandy snake-like wedges on both sides of my tires. And instead of focusing on what I was doing, some of my concentration was flashing back to the guy watching me. CAN'T DROP IT NOW! The motor bogged, and, knowing exactly what would happen if I stopped on top of this softy sand dune, feathered the clutch and rolled the throttle as carefully as I could. More concentration was lost on more inappropriate internal dialog: where did all this sand come from? And why is there so much of it? I never noticed sand while in motion feels an awful lot like thick water.

While all of this invasive and involuntary dialogue is going on, I'm just trying to keep my speed and the bike up. More voices joined the conversation. Who built this building with no parking lot or road leading to it? Maybe that's why it was abandoned--no one with a car or bike ever gets out alive! I kid you not, half way there I even began wondering if any locals ever came and laid out on 'the beach' in the summer. I do everything I can to keep it up because I know if I drop it, and pick it back up, I'll never get it to the other side from a standstill. That shovel carrying Soviet dude will probably come help--and probably bring his sickle and hammer-carrying friends over with him, but I'll have to pay for it with a copious amount of dishonor. You guys will understand why I traverse the terrain I do on my bike....but to anyone else (ok, and to a few of you), I'm just an idiot.

I did end up making it. I even got lucky and found parked on a spot that wasn't liquidish. But the kickstand sank every time I put it down. There was a piece of wood nearby....and visually it looked within reach. I leaned way over to get it and, not calculating how high my center of gravity was with my backpack on, almost did a faceplant. Now those voices are silent...with all that chatter you think someone could have warned me.

Stand firmly planted, I got my pictures.





I hung around for a bit. I wish I had a salami sandwich or a bag of beef jerky. Or maybe even a cigarette. Yeah, that would have showed the guy (who was still watching me) how cool I was. Eventually he gave up watching (I'm sure he spun some yarn at supper time with his wife about what he'd seen earlier). But I knew I'd still have to start the bike up and get OUT again. And look at all that shit that was in my way (I wasn't going to go out the same way I came in, which was from the left).

Instead of going straight out, I figured I'd hug the promiscuous vegetation growing on the border of the sand pit. Unfortunately, all of the pieces missing from the building were also there....just hoped nails were a valuable commodity around here and every last single one was removed from all that driftwood. (It was. I made it.)
 

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Uploaded a couple of videos of the riding in Estonia. Think about this: you're in Germany and, on the Autobahn have to worry more about going fast than slow. Then you hit Denmark. And then Sweden. And then Norway. And then you're on a ferry. It just gets slower and slower. The fines are ridiculous. And the drivers....well, lets just say the speeds are slow enough so that no one really pays attention to anything, making those three countries (esp. Norway) the most dangerous, imho.

And then you land in Estonia. As with every new country I'm in, I just ride the way traffic does. And this is a beautiful thing. Saw a guy approaching on a bike behind me (I was basically doing the speed of the big rigs). He passes, I follow and learn how you ride when you're in Est/Latvia/Lithuania. We're not talking crazy stupid speeds. Nor are we playing Russian roulette. Nothing senseless, suicidal or invigorating. But after Scandinavia, fuck it felt good to just flow and not have to trod along at 28 mph. And look at the drivers. Every car pulls to the right, including the oncoming ones.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=min6YcshO2c&feature=youtu.be

Of course, with EU expansion, there was a lot of construction, too. Not quite as fun.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibcSkHi2XfE&feature=youtu.be
 

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Lots of this:

and lots of this:


Europe, in general, has much, much better drivers than the US. With the exception of Norway, Sweden and, to a less extent, Denmark. Laws are so tight and people drive in such an organized, unaggressive and slow manner that boredom becomes its own distraction. Even I found myself wanting to slumber there. By comparison, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania all had excellent drivers, but they're also a little crazy and daring. You know everyone is paying attention, because identification of a motorcycle is instantaneous, as you can see from the video above. You come up behind and they move over for you. And before you even cross a center line to pass cars in the opposite direction slide over, too. Like Paris or Rome, it's inconsiderate NOT to make a pass. Everyone was cool and courteous and competent.
 
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