There are some situations in life that can be called as serendipity. We can define it as butterfly affect with other words. Well, this affect could be in a negative or a positive way. Before starting to this riding report, I'd like to mention about a positive butterfly affect that changed our way in the USA after becoming a strong wind.
It was the worst winter of the last 60 years in Ohio, and we were on the way during the days that connects 2010 to 1011. Our southernmost trip in the USA that began from Dayton, Ohio to Keywest, Florida was the first long trip that we make after we stepped into the USA. Although it was a different experience for us, this trip didn't satisfy us that much when compared to the others. We were sure of that there should be more beautiful places to visit on this route, but we weren’t sure about how to find them. We bought a book named “1000 places to see before you die” that is mainly written for the USA before making the southernmost trip. But after this trip, we were %100 sure that the answer is not in that book or the books like that. We need someone or a guide that understands us and shows us the way to travel in the USA on a motorcycle. On the other hand, it was almost impossible to find such a person especially among the Americans that keeps the relationships with people at some distance. In this kind of a situation, we started to think that we have to search deeper for travel points to build good routes, despite we don’t like to prepare for traveling.
We were planning to go to Alaska for our next trip. Although there were many alternative routes to ride to Alaska, we were afraid to miss good points on the way. We had a limited time to travel in the USA, and the giant distances to go from one place to another were making it a lot more limited. As master’s students in the Operations Research field, maybe the first problem that we have to optimize was to travel as many points as possible in this limited time…
At that time, as I was surfing on the Internet for Alaska route, I came up with a website about a motorcycle group which consisted of BMW riders in Cincinnati which was only 40 miles away from Dayton. We’ve already mentioned in our previous report that there were not so many BMW riders around Dayton. So, it was an attractive thing for me because of the possibility to share some common points with them. There was a website, but there were no other information about the members, where the meetings were held and etc. I didn’t know where to start or how to contact with them, but I sent an email to the first email address I saw. After one day, I got a reply inviting us to a meeting that would be held after a month. I wasn’t so excited, because I didn’t know what to get from this group.
Finally the meeting day came, but we got another invitation for a barbeque at the same evening, and we were about to go to that. But, suddenly something changed our direction to Cincinnati to go to the BMW meeting.
It was one of the member’s house where meeting would happen. When we arrived there, there were no other motorcycles or people around. We knocked the door with the thoughts of “we were in the wrong place”. A kind lady, in her 60s, opened the door. Then, I was pretty sure that we were in the wrong place, but she invited us in when she saw us in our riding gear. She said that the rest of the group had come before and gone for a ride. So, we started to wait curiously for them.
After about an hour, the rest of the group were in when they came from the ride. I could say that the center of the meeting had become us when they learned that we were from Turkey, and that was our first day with the group. Almost every group member came and talked to us. But among all, one person that we talked to was a little bit different from the rest. Yes, that was the time that our paths had crossed with Merrill, and had laid the fundamentals of our friendship.
Before continuing to the story, let me introduce Merrill to you. He was 65 years old in 2011 and married a lovely wife, Diane. He likes travelling a lot, that I can name him as a 100% traveller. He has travelled 72 countries so far, and been to every states in the USA at least 5 times. Other than these, he had 2 big motorcycle trips from top to bottom of the north+south America continents. The north one was to Alaska which lasted about 1 month, and the south one was to Ushuaia, Argentine the southernmost point of south America which lasted about 6 months. And to summarize him with two words, we can say that he is just a “walking encyclopedia”.
One of south America trip was published in a journal, and the pictures above belongs to it…
There are a lot more to say about Merrill, but it would make this report longer and dominate the story. Maybe you’ve already started to say “enough”, but I must say that I couldn’t start writing this story without citing Merrill and his wife Diane. The reason is so simple; there wouldn’t be any story if we haven’t met with them.