Day 10
May 22nd, 2005
South Molton, England

Things were kind of quiet at breakfast this morning.  I think everyone knew we were heading back to the real world today.

Moff told us last night to be ready to ride out about 9:30am, he will be leading us back into London to the hotel.  We have a side trip planned to Stonehenge.

Tim saved the day for us at checkout, when he covered our room.  The YEO took no credit cards of any kind.  We were stuck.  Between us we had about 10 lbs in British money.  I was going to make the ride to the nearest village to a ATM when Tim settled the fees for us.  We advised Tim we would square up when we got back home.

We sadly said good bye to Tim, Dot and Nick.  Super people and a lot of fun to be around.  We strapped our gear down, and eased out the dirt lane to meet Moff at the campground.

A couple of horses trotted over to the fence to watch as we motioned down the small road.  We had one last ride to do in the UK, and it was time to get started.
​These guys came to escort us on our way out
The camp area was another sad place.  Everyone had long faces as they exchanged good byes.  Julian Pike handed me package of chocolate muffins.  " I knew you liked muffins, so here's something to remember me by."
 Moff waited patiently as we said good bye to all of our new friends.  Finally he said, " Come mates, we need to get along."  

I had just met Tony, a 1300 owner who was on the scene, and said he was riding with us.  A blue 1300 was parked close and I looked at it with lust.  I know how quiet and smooth it is, and how it makes 500 mile days so effortless.  I wanted to hijack it.

Suddenly, I saw Moff motion for me to leave, so I took off behind him.  I thought we were going for gas or something, but no, we were on the way home.  I thought Tony was coming with us?  A miscommunication for sure.

Moff led us down a few local lanes to A361.  We followed it for 30 miles to the M5.  The air was cool and cloudy, this tour has been colder than the Fall tour of 04, and I thought then I'd didn't want to be cold anymore.  What short memories we sometimes have.  I took the number 3 spot and did my best to keep the STs in sight. 

We traveled the M5 north for 2 junctions to Taunton, and it began to rain heavily.  Not again I thought.  We plowed on in the wet and went to A358.  I was dry in the Roadcrafter, but water was seeping down the back of my neck,  I was already cold and this development made it worse.  The thinsulate gloves are water resistant, not waterproof, and I was fully exposed to the elements on the VFR.

The miles clicked off slow to Stonehenge.  I started noticing mileage signs to the city.  "London 125 miles."  Just a ride to my sisters I thought, but that ride is open interstate, I can do it less than 2 hours.  Here it is not to be taken lightly.

I saw Moff on his ST up ahead, and smiled when I thought about the time he called it a "gypsy bike", because of the way he had it loaded.

The rain was still falling when we left the A358 for A303, and traffic increased as we moved closer to London.  We made good time, but were stymied by roundabouts that seemed to be popping up out of no where.

I passed a large truck on the left and was sent reeling by his road spray.

These roads reminded me of some of the Canadian byways I've traveled.  Two lanes with periodic passing lanes.  When we had one we made the best of it, and passed cars by the handful. 

At last the signs for Stonehenge came into view and we followed them down to the landmark.  I've seen pictures of Stonehenge all my life, and even visited a working replica in Washington State last year.  The formation rises out of no where in a English field. 

I'm not sure who, but someone in one of the pubs earlier told me a guy figured out Stonehenge.  We'd been looking at all wrong.  It is generally agreed it was some kind of gathering place for pagan religious rites.  All these years everyone thought it marked the summer solstice, but that's if you enter from the front and look back.  So this joker said, "now how many churches do you know you enter and look at the back?  That's what y'all are doing, you need to come in this way, and walk to the front."  When you do that it notes winter equinox.   Sometimes the most obvious is hardest to see.  Just like the way they use to have T Rex walking.  Remember they use to have him walking bolt upright, those little legs just sticking out front?  His tail just dragging the ground like Godzilla?  I mean, we just went along with it, because we figured they knew what they were talking about, but if you look just a little that position makes no sense, and  now they derived  it was physically impossible for him.  His tail is for balance, not dragging.  That is so obvious its painful.  

All those jokers that had to go back and redo the fossil remains in those museums were pissed.  " I knew this was BS when they had us stand him up in the first place.  Noway he could walk like they had him.  What'd did they think he was gonna do with those little short arms way up there?"

We skipped paying the money go inside the fence.  Everything we needed to see was right there.  We had the same view of those paying money, what was the point?  The batteries Tim gave me were now dead, so I had to depend on Uncle and Moff to snag the pictures.
  Stonehenge.    photo by Nigel Moffet
The site was busy with tourist busses, caravans, and cars.  For most Americans, this as far from London as they get. 

It was still raining when we made it back to the bikes.  Uncle Phil had some waterproof covers to go over my gloves.  My hands were wet, and in 7 c temps, they were COLD.  I was glad to get them.

​Uncle Phil adding the waterproof covers on my hands  
photo by Nigel Moffet

After Stonehenge we went to the M3 and a short ride later exited for food at a Food Service Court.  Very much like a interstate service center back home.  In fact, you'd never be able to tell the difference.

I got my usual McDonalds of 2 small burgers.  Uncle Phil and Moff had KFC.  Uncle said it was ok, but not like back home.  "Dang brother, yanno when it comes to fryin chicken, nobody can beat a southener."  I used my check card, and for curiosity sake checked the price when I went to my online checking account upon my return home.  The 2 burgers and a drink was almost SIX dollars, I get the same thing in my neighborhood Mickey D's for about 2.25 U.S.  

We topped off the gas tanks and got back in the flow.

The long line of cars grew thicker the nearer to London we came.  Near the city we went to A205 south circular and fought our way down the crowded streets.  Pedestrians, buses, scooters, bicycles and cars were all there to welcome us. 
Moff started "filtering" between the rows of cars.  We were moving down the center stripe and had just made it back in when a fire truck running in full emergency zoomed by us in the opposite direction in what I thought was way too fast for the conditions.  A good thing we came back over when we did.

Temp gauge on the VFR picked up several degrees as we came into London and it was welcomed.

The fan of the VFR kicked on as we creped along the city streets.  We made a left turn and then Moff made a U turn.  What the hell?  I thought we were going the wrong way, but no, we were at the hotel, and I didn't even know it.  I didn't recognize a thing.  I guess I was too busy concentrating on not getting taken out to notice.
Moff led us to the courtyard and we parked the bikes, completing a 195 mile day, and 1800+ for the entire trip.  The ride was over, we did it.  The UK tour was complete.  We dismounted the bikes and slapped each others backs and hugged.  I was feeling one of my finest moments.  I did something I'd always wanted to do.  I toured the UK. (well most of it)
​I was tired and cold, when we took this picture at the end 
of our ride.  The U.K. tour was complete, and it felt good.

After we took pictures we went inside to relax.  We ate the muffins Jules gave me.  I was saving them for a special occasion, and this certainly qualified.

We spent our last moments with the Moff (Nigel Moffet).  We spoke of many things and the unique connection we now have.  I told him more than once how grateful Uncle Phil and I were for helping us make our dream come true.   We owe so much to so many.  In the pub we discussed the possibility of Moff coming to the US next year.   I hope he does, we stand ready for anything he might need.

A long good bye followed and we watched him ride out.  We were back in London, nothing left to do now but return the bikes and get to the airport in the morning.

The ever stickler for details, Uncle Phil wanted to check the route back to the shop.  Even though it was only a few blocks, no right turns were allowed, so we were going to have to go around the block to get there.  We wanted to be sure when we left we knew what to do.

A 15 minute walk was all we needed for the rehearsal.  We stopped to talk to a home owner working her 1x1 foot yard.  It was a nice stroll.

We spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning up and packing gear.  Supper was in the hotel pub.  We lingered a long time after we finished, talking about the trip and life in general.  I'm pretty close to Uncle Phil after spending so many miles and hours together.  I know this, if you're ever in a tight spot, you can count on HIM.  A rare thing these days.  "Yanno Uncle, this tour was amazing,  I'll always remember it."  We talked about the day when we would return.  Maybe year after next. 

I was ready for home, I was missing the USA and my 1300.  I was looking forward to riding it home from Nashville.

I stayed up kind of late watching TV, and flicked it off about 11pm.  I was still jet lagged, and my sleep pattern was still scattered about, but tonight not even Uncle Phil could keep me up.  

Sleep overcame me and I rested well.