We didn’t need to depart before dawn. After the Western desert the conditions east of the Mississippi were quite pleasant, almost chilly. There was no need to rush. But there comes a time in every trip where one feels the gravitational attraction of home. By the time we reached eastern Ohio I felt that pull quite strongly, so we scooted along secondary roads into rural Pennsylvania.
Unfortunately the knocking sound I’d heard from the sidecar on left turns over the last few hundred miles was not my imagination. Barley gave me his best “Are you crazy?” look as I made a series of figure eights on a quiet road in a small town, listening carefully to the sound echoing off the brick buildings on either side. Yup, rotational noise coming from the outboard wheel. I set a course for Freedom Sidecars near Selinsgrove; Claude Stanley and his crew are the best in the business, absolute gurus in the world of hacks.
Barley treated Claude like an old friend, leaning against him and telling all who would listen about his latest adventure. I love watching that dog interact with people, the smiles that blossom around him. Their attention soon turned to my rig, which was rolled into the shop and pushed back and forth while we crawled on the floor next to it, trying to pinpoint the source of the noise. The outboard wheel came off, other parts removed, and by a process of elimination the team decided I had a bad wheel bearing. Claude also noticed that my final drive seal was leaking fluid.
I called Max BMW, the dealer in Troy, NY that had cemented my relationship with the marque and was halfway between home and where we were at the moment. Replacing the seal was not a problem, but the wheel bearing was a big unknown. If I could leave the rig with them for a while they would press out the old bearing and find a replacement to match.
Next, I called my long-suffering wife, the woman who held down the fort while my dog and I explored much of the continent. She agreed to meet us at the dealer the following day. Barley and I said our goodbyes to the crew at Freedom and rode north to Tioga where Dennis and Linda again shared their camp with us. Dog lovers are the best!
Neither of us slept very well. My thoughts were of homecoming, and I think Barley sensed that our journey was nearly over. We did manage to get underway in a leisurely manner, packing carefully and enjoying breakfast while waiting for the morning fog to burn off.
Just shy of eight o’clock we left Tioga on secondary roads, my dog and I, heading north to I-88, then following that scenic slab northeast toward Albany, NY. With home in my thoughts the suckage factor was high, and we made excellent time.
We passed through the madness of the toll booth around lunch time, then navigated urban routes to Max, where we found Tamara waiting for us. Barley was crazy happy at the sight of his Mom, told her all about the trip, then jumped into the Prius and stretched out across the back seat.
Three weeks. 8882 miles. A man and his dog…and the woman who loves them.