Just a few short months ago participating in this year’s BMW rally was the furthest thing from my mind. My dog, my incredible dog, was in the opening round of his fight against lymphoma. Devastated, I opted for a trial round of chemo to see if he could handle it without significant impacts on his quality of life. To my surprise and delight, he handled the drugs with the same fighting spirit with which he faced off against bear and buffalo. He quickly went into remission and returned to his normal, playful, spirited self.
I resolved to keep him safe at home, to limit his exposure to potential harm, to fuss over him so he knew how much he was loved. But he already knew that, and as time went on he began to chafe at the restrictions to his activity. As the snow melted he dug for mice with renewed fury. He bagged the enormous woodchuck that had ruined the Wife’s garden last year. If I was in the shop working on one of the bikes he would jump into the sidecar and stare at me expectantly. The message was clear. He might not have as much time left as we both hoped for, but he was determined to spend that time living.
And so we ride.
Billings, Montana is only 2300 miles away (by a fairly direct route as motorcyclists go). That’s less than half the distance we traveled on our circuitous route to the rally in Salem, Oregon. Well within range, the destination offers two bonuses. 1) It will let us follow a route we are already familiar with. I know the roads, the campgrounds and hotels, where to find good food, and have a list of trusted veterinarians just in case. 2) It will take us past two places I’ve wanted to return to someday: Badlands National Park and Beartooth Pass.
There is also the social aspect of seeing old friends and meeting new. Last month’s overnight trip to Lake Placid showed me how much Barley missed people. He really is a social butterfly, and denying him that important outlet took a toll. I won’t make that mistake again.
Our tentative route:
- Fairly high speed dash across the Midwest and Great Plains
- Turn north in western Nebraska into the southern Black Hills
- Hwy 16 west, then up to Buffalo, then on to Ten Sleep
- North, then northeast on 14 to ALT 14 in the Big Horns
- A visit to Medicine Wheel then to Cody before going up and over Beartooth Pass
17 July 2015: His bloodwork one week after finishing his course of chemo was PERFECT! After a long discussion with Dr Emily I decided to completely abandon the thought of riding all the way; recent storms have left high humidity and plenty of biting bugs in their wake. Barley will ride in air conditioned comfort as far as Nebraska, and from there we’ll ride. Besides, the ability to travel at night will get us there faster, leaving more time to ride the Black Hills, Big Horns, and Beartooth!
All packed up and ready to go!