Freddie Piscina - Around the World with a Harley
... I spent a while in this site looking around & there sure are a lot of adventurers out there. I've been back since March of '98.
Since then I've been relegated to just telling stories of my travels to anybody & anybody who will listen. Sometimes I just enjoy watching their faces young & old just left w/ mouth agape in wonder. The lights above their heads all say the same thing - how could this be possible? If I hear a key phrase in someone's conversation or see an international news broadcast or travel show of some place that I have been it's fun to tell them how it really is there and watch all their preconceived notions be adjusted severely.
...many people opened their doors, homes, hearts, & generosity to me. Without that last one not a one of us could have made the trip. I in return am doing the same thing for other travellers; so far French, Danish & very soon Australian travellers will be staying in my home.
The last ones are none other than Peter & Kay Forwood the Aussies from Townsville who are doing their world trip. I met Kay in Townsville & had drinks & shared tales; they are very cool & can't wait to show them around NYC.
The RTW trip was done from 4/20/96 to 4/13/98. I rode a 1987 FLHTP, Electra Glide Harley Davidson W/ a trailer in tow only until Calif. I did 18 countries not counting the ones I didn't ride the bike in. I rode it through 4 continents counting the USA. The countries I rode in are as follows Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Cyprus, Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, Monaco, Spain, Gibraltar & Portugal.
Some of the top highlights for me were to meet Mother Theresa in Calcutta in her residence also to meet & stay up in Dharmasala w/ the Dalai Lama for 9 days, then getting to see the Pope in Rome, and to spend Christmas eve in manger square in Bethlehem. Now don't get the idea I was on some religious pilgrimage here but when situations like those come up you just can't pass them by. There were many many more exciting adventures & sites as you certainly already know.
For me there must be only 2 kinds of people who embark on a trip around the world on 2 wheels those who know they're going & plan it out and those who find out the plan as they go. The 2nd one is my mode.
The only thing I knew about my intentions was that I had about 5 grand, a good running Electra glide Harley Davidson, I built a trailer to pull behind the bike made out of an old workman's tool gang box. I filled it with everything I thought I would need to survive a trip to California. I brought anything from a fishing pole & tackle to a metal detector even an electric impact gun. The image I have of myself when I left on the 1st day & the sight I must been when I returned is like a big shiny grand long distance moving van reduced down to a homeless person with a small push cart.
When I left the total combined weight of the bike the trailer & myself was a whopping 1,450 lbs. When I returned it was 890lbs. Upon return I was certainly much more aware of how critical the weight factor is. Ahh Here I am a tough, smart asset, NYC kid with all the street smarts in the world; from A to Z I was into it all. Hey I was raised on the saying (if you can make there you can make it anywhere.) I soon found out that the world had other ideas for me.
I left a nice little bachelor pad on the beach (Rockaway Beach NYC) which was appropriately named disgraceland on April 22 1996. The winter of 96 had been brutal for NYC every week there was another snowstorm, I probably would have left 2 months before but I couldn't get out. When I left there wasn't anybody there to say good luck or be careful see ya soon, nothing; I left behind nothing that was near or dear. When I pulled out of the alleyway the key was in the door the lights had been shut off & so forth. I went 1 block turned to look back & get a glimpse & damn near got clipped by a car.
The only thing in my mind was to go see the rest of the country. West seemed like a good Idea but I had no set plans, just go. I headed for the N.J. turnpike & in the course of an hour I had already changed direction. Little did I know that's exactly the mindset I or I think anybody needs to do this trip. Hey if you don't have a destination then you don't need a route and if you don't need a route then definitely can't get lost, maybe misdirected but you can never be lost. I think that concept is lost on a lot of people whose' lives are scheduled & dictated by the norms. The 1st nights stop was Cape May N.J. A mere 80 miles from home. I had a brand new tent that I didn't have a clue of how to set up; I had a single burner Coleman stove & a non-stick pan. The 1st night's dinner would be none other than the now despised spaghetti O's, but which later became a staple meal along w/ the PBJ's.
I sat there at the picnic table & thought long & deeply about what was the point; where was I going & was this just a phase. What was I running from: the violence of the city, the loneliness of the empty relationships, the bar hopping alcohol circuit? How long would I do this? Where would I go? What happens when the money runs out? The whole gambit of the out of my element dangers.
I sat & watched the sun go down not even remotely thinking about what a good friend that big ball in the sky would become to me. I watched 2 Osprey eagles set up there nest for the young. I never ever realised in just this 1st few hours & miles of travel how everything thing that was important would change completely & forever.
Any way I think I left off w/ the trials & tribulations of the first day out. After that 1st day of travel the next 7 months were spent bouncing around the states like a pinball, 35 in all. I headed down to the Florida Keys just because they were there & it was warm. I turned the front wheel west & headed across the southern states. I was always leery & watchful of that north south grievance but I never saw it. I never felt it. This to me was the beginning of what I later had come to understand as don't believe the hype. What I had heard of different places or people were the twisted & retwisted stories of other people's fears & the distorted rumours of others. I started to come into different places & take them on their merits on what I actually see. The rumours of Texas folks not caring for Ny'ers was B/S. Each place certainly had their own vibe but people are people everywhere.
Of course life in the big city always kept my guard up for the signs of trouble, that I would never loose. I can see trouble a mile away I can read it & smell it. At home I usually went toward it but out here my time & my money were better off used for forward motion not reverse. After 5 months on the road I would still have a problem shaking off the NY pace, it's amazing to me that my internal awareness clock was still set to NY. Just pack as many things to be done or seen into an hour or a day or week as possible.
Out in Sturgis SD I got my 1st job on the road. Not that I needed the money just that I needed to stop the forward motion & I wanted to stop & smell the roses. I started work through a temp labour agency working w/ the biggest outfit in Sturgis that bike week, Camel roadhouse a subsidiary of RJ Reynolds the cigarette mfg. What a blast of a week w/ loads of partying, women, food & more women & then some work. If this was going to be the life than so be it, travel, work when I want & travel some more. Along the way though I started using youth hostels more & more, I was no stranger to using them but just not as much. In the hostels of course were many many foreigners from everywhere. Making friends & acquaintances was very easy for me & there were lots of offers of 'If you're ever down my way look me up'.
Unbeknownst to me it was the start of the invisible road map. My horizons started to expand & my curiosity was sure getting the best of me. Some where in the middle the grey matter must have processed all the info I was getting. I don't know when or where the idea of Australia came up probably somewhere between Sturgis & California. I had seen all the sites & adventures I was interested in for as long as I felt like seeing them the desert the mountains the rivers & all that was made around them. When I headed down the west coast from Washington St. & south on Pacific Coast Highway # 1 towards San Fran I really was caught up by now into making the big jump, Australia.
This is the point were everyone else turns around or settles down. Most go to the coasts east or west & that's it. I was thinking bigger. I weighed out all the options the pros & cons & the pros won & I now am committed. Now it was just a matter of how I was going to do it. Fly the bike over, very expensive, ship it over, too time consuming, ride it over too wet. So I spent 2 weeks sorting out details, what I would take w/ me. Obviously the trailer had to go & what would I do w/ all that gear? I was chasing down leads making calls getting quotes & beating down the pavement for anything.
The thought of a carnet du passage & what that was at this point is becoming a problem. Now I am beginning to realise why all the others turn around & go home. Just about this time I am kicking back on Fisherman's Wharf SF taking it all in when I see this three mast sailing ship. I thought it was a damn pirate ship. I got to talking to some of the mates & they said occasionally they take on people to work as crew. They call these workers ringbolters.
Ringbolts work for their fare to different places. I just about had the job until they found out about the bike. Well it was either sell the bike & go to Mexico or keep looking for a ride. One of the mates told me to go check the fueler of the fishing boats that he usually knows everything about anything that is going on on the docks. Sure enough the guy had a line on a boat that was bought by a rich guy from Hawaii & he needed mates to bring the boat back to Hawaii. I go & meet the guy & sure enough after a little negotiation I was aboard along w/ my bike but no trailer. The terms were I work, drive & repair the boat & I get food & passage to the big island of Hawaii. So now I am on my way.