Wednesday, August 6th:
D-Day! This was it,
the official end of our four year trip.
We had wondered for the past year what this day might be like.
Would we be happy, apprehensive, relieved, sad?
Near the entrance to the Lincoln
Tunnel we met the Welcome Home motorcycle crew that would be
escorting us back into New York. Lauren Secular, Scott
Wynn, and Paul Kahn were part of the escort
crew that gave us a send off at Kennedy International Airport more than four
years ago, and they were back again today to help bring us home. Also present were Kevin Shuker, Dan Cohen, and Doc Gonzo. There was
definitely electricity in the air as we rode to the tollbooths of the tunnel.
Scott was the official photographer since he was injured and rode
pillion. We got a
policeman to take our picture as we entered the tunnel (a bit of a no-no
post September 11th).
On the Manhattan side we were
amazed at how calm the traffic was and how few people there seemed to be
on the streets in general. We
had a leisurely ride up the West Side to Columbus Circle, the southwest
corner of Central Park. We
made a short stop in front of the famous Plaza Hotel to take a group
picture before riding down Fifth Avenue and then east on 49th
Street to finally park outside the NBC Today Show studio at Rockefeller
As this was planned ahead of time,
several family members and friends were there to greet us and welcome us
home. Wow, it was so
emotional and felt surreal. It
definitely wasn’t setting in yet.
At one point, two of the show’s hosts, Willard Scott and Katie
Couric, stopped and said hello to us on their way past to do interviews
out on “the plaza”. A
photographer that worked for the New York Newsday newspaper snapped
pictures of our every move, arriving at Rockefeller Center, seeing our
family and friends for the first time, and all the hugs to go around.
It just felt like one ongoing bizarre dream.
As much as we wished it could last like that forever we knew it
had to wind down. Slowly friends and family began to peel away, heading off to
work and taking the kids to see other attractions in the City.
Dan Cohen and Paul Kahn stayed with
us though and kept us company. They
escorted us the rest of the way home, with one key stop at the Scobee diner in Little Neck, NY for a hearty brunch.
The owner of the restaurant was so impressed with our story and
hearing that we were going to be on the Today Show (I think that’s
what clinched it!) that the whole meal was paid by him!
Now that’s a real New York welcome home!
When we arrived to Chris’
parents house in Manhasset, New York there were homemade Welcome Home
signs on the front of the house made by Chris’ niece Elyse and nephew
Scott, while balloons hung from
the deck above. Chris’ parents greeted us at the front door, very happy to
have us back at long last. Jeremy
Boren, a journalist for the New York Newsday
was there as well. He spent
several hours with us, patient to hear our story and ask questions from
every angle he could think of.
Paul and Dan kept Chris’ parents company while they all
patiently waited for us to finish the interview and finally settle down
to a relaxing home cooked dinner -- Chicken Paprika with spatzle.
The next several weeks were a
whirlwind of activity, seeing old friends, giving a few more interviews,
and day by day starting to let it sink in that we were home for good.
On that Friday, we got our few minutes of fame with an appearance
on the NBC Today Show. The
nice producer, Roberto, had us park the bikes in “the plaza”, let us
relax in the “green room” with the other guests that day (no one we
knew), had the makeup artists prep us (yes, even Chris got powdered!),
and got us “mic’d up”. Next
thing we knew, Janis Huff, the spunky and stylish weather woman, and
three cameramen were standing beside and in front of us.
It all happened so fast that we didn’t even have a chance to
get nervous about being “Live” on national TV!
And before we knew it, it was all over.
Janis told us later that she was not keen on the idea of riding a
motorcycle herself, but she was so impressed with our story that she was
going to tell her husband about us, as he was thinking of buying a BMW
As we started to pull out of
Rockefeller Center after the interview, I heard someone call out our
name. I turned and saw a
familiar face. It was our
friend Linda Root who now is Deputy Art Director for Sports
Illustrated magazine. She
hadn’t heard we were home and just happened to recognize us and the
bikes. What a coincidence.
After chatting for a while on the street, she asked us to follow
her to her office and she would introduce us to the new editor.
She said he was a keen admirer of adventurers and he would love
our story for their new “Adventure” section they provide to their
subscribers. Well, just as
she said he liked us and assigned the story to one of their staff
journalists Marc Beech. View an
excerpt of the article
The next day, Saturday, we hosted a
big welcome home barbecue for ourselves.
We learned years ago that if you want to make sure to see all
your friends in a short time, throw a big party.
It worked four years ago for our farewell party and it worked
again now. With over 60 of
our closest friends and family present, it almost felt like our wedding
all over again, minus the port-a-johns.
Journalist Marc Beech was also there, not only interviewing
friends and family but also pitching in to help put up the party tent!
I suppose the party is a good place
to end this story. It feels
strange now to have to find some way to close this last journal entry.
Normally we just end a journal entry somewhat arbitrarily one day and
the next journal picks up the story a few days later.
So, how Do we feel now that we are
home? I can say that we feel, at any given moment, all of the
feelings I mentioned at the beginning of this chapter---happy,
apprehensive, relieved, sad, and more. We are proud to have done
what we sought out to accomplish. In
the end, the trip was not at all what we thought it was going to be.
15 months turned out to be 4.3 years, and along the way we
unexpectedly managed to break a world record.
We did see some amazing sights, just as we expected. But
what we didn’t expect was to meet so many kind and generous people in
all 50 countries, which we now consider dear friends.
Of all the things we experienced along the way, the people will
always stand out as being the most significant part of our trip.
Yes, there is so much more, but I guess you’ll just have to get
out there for yourself and undertake such a trip of a lifetime to know
what we mean. If just a few
of you dare to follow your dreams and make them a reality then our efforts
to keep this journal current and honest will have been totally
worthwhile. Stay in touch with us and we promise to keep you posted on
our doings and whereabouts via the Quick Update on the Homepage.
alone cannot express our gratitude to all those who supported us along
the way. Thank you!
Un grande Abrazo!