May 14-17, 2015
2015 Horizons Unlimited Meeting
One of the highlights of an HU meeting are the presentations. People from all over the world volunteer to talk about where they’ve been, what they’ve done, what they want to do and how they do it. There are also some “how to” type talks for those who want to get more hands-on experience.
I didn’t take very good notes, so I can’t honestly remember who we saw when for the Meet presentations. Not that it really matters in the grand scheme of things, right? Thursday night I believe that the first presenter was Ron from the US, showing the group his ride from Wyoming to Alaska’s Arctic. Sjaak Luccasson then showed us some pictures and videos from his crazy rides around the world on his R1 and Fireblade.
Friday morning dawned grey and overcast. We didn’t have any plans to ride anywhere but instead wanted to explore the local area by foot. We found some like-minded riders and the five of us took off across the rolling fields and through the lush green forests. The day cleared up and got warmer – perfect conditions to sit outside and have lunch at the restaurant we stumbled upon during our walk.
Horse (and Zebra) parking
Friday night we were supposed to meet my nephew in the nearby town of Baumholder, but when the list of presenters was made, we didn’t want to miss them. It was difficult, but we finally got a hold of my nephew and agreed to meet on Saturday night. Crisis averted!
The night’s presenters included a couple of Australians and their world travels, another couple who call themselves “Dos Chinos” and their extensive travels, and finally a short film from two riders who spent some time in Sumatra. After the presentations we went to the bonfire to drink and socialize. Dan and I went back to the tent around midnight, just ahead of the rain that began to fall, and continued to fall all night.
Saturday morning dawned damp and overcast. The rain stopped around 9 am and many riders gathered for the organized “Ride Out” to explore the neighboring roads. Dan and I planned to leave for a casual ride of our own, ending in Bamuholder for dinner with my nephew.
Dan was hoping to scope out an Air Force Base, so we set our sights on Ramstein. While it is a big base, it is also off-limits. We rode our bikes through the town when I spied a castle high on the hillside. If we couldn’t see the Air Force base then we should at least see something interesting! We found and followed the signs up the circuitous route up to the top and parked the bikes. The castle is Burg Nanstein and was originally built in 1152.
I found this castle interesting because of its extensive use of the natural rock and the color of that rock. The manmade structures were integrated nicely and there were many nooks and crannies to explore.
View from the top
Ramstein Air Force Base in the distance
Heavily worn sandstone step
While we were there a small group was using the space as a background for their photo shoot. They appeared to be steampunk enthusiasts and very serious about their hobby. I admired their dedication and for once I had no hesitation to blatantly photograph people.
It was time to find our dinner location. We left Ramstein behind and followed more curvy roads for an hour. The weather was perfect for riding and it was enjoyable countryside.
We found the town and the agreed-upon restaurant and had plenty of time to kill. We wandered around and I took pictures so my sister could get an idea of where her son was living now. It was a nice town and full of English-speaking people. It was obviously an Army town, but not in a bad way. [As the evening went on, it started to feel like a US college town, with all the 20-something American soldiers hitting the town.]
Our dinner was great and it was so much fun to see my nephew. He is looking forward to buying his own motorcycle while stationed in Germany and I am looking forward to meet up with him on a ride one of these days. We spent a couple of hours catching up and learning about his new life before heading back to the campground. We wanted to get back before it got too dark, as well as catch any remaining presentations.
The ride back was fast and uneventful and we parked the bikes by the tents and immediately went to the barn where the presentations were held. We had just missed the beginning of Sjaak’s tale of how he rode his R1 across the ice of the Arctic Ocean from Barrow to Prudhoe Bay. The guy has a special idea of “adventure”, that’s for sure!
After Sjaak’s presentation there was one more: Dylan Samarawickrama – When the road ends. I didn’t know the presenter nor what his talk would be about, but it turned out to be amazing. As just a small part of his extensive global travels, Dylan crafted a raft powered by the shaft drive of his BMW 1150 GS to get him from Panama to Columbia. The production and the story were both fantastic and we did not hesitate to pick up a copy of his book before we left. As the English version isn’t due out until August, it looks like Dan and I better get working on our German skills!