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Old 11-01-09, 02:42 PM   #1
Niles H.
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Strongly Memorable Encounters on Tour?

Sometimes an encounter will make an especially strong or striking impression in some way -- are there any like this that you've had that come to mind?
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Old 11-01-09, 02:50 PM   #2
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OMG. Where to start. I can pretty much remember every single person I had a 1 on 1 conversation with. Everybody has their own little piece of information or quark that you remember the rest of your life. Some of the best information I have obtained came from some of the less savory looking people I came across.

I learned the difference between 18 types of trees and quite a few flowers and the helpful knowledge that West Virginia is larger than Texas for total acreage due to the mountains all from some guy who just happened to be camping at a few sites away off the Potomac. I will forever remember some of the things 'Bob' taught me about reading people on the road and learning what you can from who you can.

A tour can only promise a life changing experience. Everytime.
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Old 11-01-09, 04:10 PM   #3
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and the helpful knowledge that West Virginia is larger than Texas for total acreage due to the mountains
Helpful for what?

Living in Texas, that is interesting, assuming it is true.
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Old 11-01-09, 04:22 PM   #4
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There have, of course, been many. The last was in Nothing, Arizona. I had stopped for lunch. It was hot and I was short of water. (Nothing that day was exactly what it's name implies.) Ron and Shirley pulled up in a 4 door pickup. We got to visiting, and before long I was invited to ride into the desert with them to see 70+ year old folk artist George Brucha and his creations. After half an hour bouncing along a barely visible sand road, we came to George's home. A shack/trailer combo, filled with all sorts of art. And all around his desolate home were more of George's whimsical creations, including a hillside covered by a 'spider web' made from colored baling twine. Alas, the artist was in Phoenix at a gallery showing his art. But I'll never forget the thoughtful hospitality, and water, Ron and Shirley shared, or the sights I saw way out there in the desert.

Ain't the travelin' life great!
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Old 11-01-09, 04:51 PM   #5
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Great memories come from tour.. The most profound. Passing The WW II American battle fields in Normandy.. Big Sur for beauty. Sharing a camp fire with a group of British cyclists at Big Sur State Park. Our Normandy tour encountering the Tour De France on the Loire. Being invited into a French home for picnic just because they encountered American cycle tourists and wanted to hear our story.
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Old 11-01-09, 05:50 PM   #6
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In Blackfoot, Idaho (day 12 on our Transam tour) my friends and I entered a McDonalds for a delicious and nutritious lunch.

On our way in we caught the attention of an elderly couple who asked the usual questions (where are you going? how far did you ride? etc, etc.) When we turned the questioning to them, it turns out that the gentleman was a "retired master clown" who'd spent 25 years with Ringling Brothers and who's picture had graced the cover of the Journal of the American Medical Association (I guess under the heading of "laughter is the best medicine???? who Knows??)

Anyway, Frosty Little was a delightful guy and one of the great memories of our trip.
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Old 11-01-09, 06:10 PM   #7
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As others mention, there are many. I also tend to think of conversations with people I wouldn't normally encounter in my non-touring life, e.g.
a. The woman in Tatarstan, Russia who invited us into her home and started sharing scrapbooks and photos. She was originally from Uzbekistan and had migrated with others in her family and could related earlier travels all through the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe. All this started from a simple request to photograph he carrying two pails of water from the well.
b. The man and kids in wilds of Siberia who brought us into his house, shared vegetables from the garden and relayed what life was like.
c. The guy in the Savannah Amtrak station, where we passed a few hours waiting for a train. We were from pretty different walks of life, but shared simple humanity in common.
d. The guy at the youth hostel on Nantucket who felt so moved by my friends account of crashing her bike into a parked car - that he donated his bike for her to continue the trip - despite multiple "are you sure" requests.
e. The folks in Thailand who gave a ride when my hub broke; and then brought me to a "fixer" who worked in vain. Also the guys in the fruit truck in New Zealand driving to Napier to pick up fruit and saw me walking along the road with broken down bike.
f. Conversations with many "Grey Nomads" driving Australia who gave me their perspectives on things Australian including relations with aboriginals, the monarchy, etc.
g. The folks at the lodge on the Alaska Highway who opened earlier for a touring cyclist, but also made me wonder a little about their mental health (enough so that I figured out how to get out of the room by dropping panniers out the window if necessary)
h. The dozen people and one infant who watched me change a tire in South India, when I thought I had stopped in middle of nowhere.
i. The guy at the Ukraine bus stopped who offered us a spot on his floor after a surprisingly long day.
j. The girls at the phone store in western China who found it incredibly funny to see this tall western man try to buy a SIM card for mobile phone - but were helpful nevertheless.

There are lots more, but these types of interactions are particular things I think of as memorable occasions...
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Old 11-01-09, 09:30 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Niles H. View Post
Sometimes an encounter will make an especially strong or striking impression in some way -- are there any like this that you've had that come to mind?
How about you describe an encounter that you've had.
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Old 11-02-09, 01:17 AM   #9
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How about you describe an encounter that you've had.
Trust me...he's done that before

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Old 11-03-09, 06:48 PM   #10
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Two memorable encounters come to mind right away. Years ago, in Idaho, I stopped for lunch at a nice spot by a creek. A middle-aged couple pulled up in a truck and offered me food, company, and pot. They were very friendly, said they had a daughter my age, and we spent most of the afternoon talking and eating.

As the sun got lower in the sky, the man took a final drag on his bong, and said, "We're gonna build a fire, get naked, and do what comes natural." I took that as my cue to leave, but as I started packing up my gear his wife said, "You know, you're welcome to join us if you want. We'd love to have you."

I wasn't sure in what way they meant to "have" me and I didn't stick around to find out. There was a steep road to get back up onto the highway. As I pedaled around a switchback I could see the man again, butt naked. He waved at me and shouted, "Sure you don't want to change your mind?"

The second encounter was with the people of Aquilonia in southern Italy. I made a wrong turn and spent most of the day going up and down steep hills in cold, wet, rainy weather. The pro loca people in Aquilonia (pro loca is kind of like a chamber of commerce to promote tourism and local food and crafts) told me I was welcome to camp in the main square, but before I could even take off my panniers they had a better idea.

They called the mayor and got permission to unlock an abandoned school and turn on the water heater. I got a shower and a bed that night, and a young man who had lived in New York and wanted to practice his English took me out bar-hopping.

I spent three days there being treated like a celebrity, constantly offered food and drink and tales of the local history. I spent a morning hiking in the hills with a WWII veteran who had fought in Montecasino. Whenever I talked about leaving someone would come up with a reason for me to stay, offer some interesting new activity, and how could I say no?

In order to finish my tour, I had to sneak out early in the morning when nobody was around. Great people!
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