| The double doors opened, out rolled the motorcycle purchased on EBay, into the hotel parking lot. Sparkling in the bright morning sun, the bike had two side panniers and a third one mounted behind the passenger seat. A BMW touring bike with low miles, in great condition agreed the American buyers and the London seller. A test ride through Chelsea verified brakes and tires were perfect.
Fully loaded, the bike departed south, to Dover, to catch the ferry to Calais. Once in France, the misty rain broke into a thunderous downpour. Outside the town of Boulogne, a double rainbow deserved a stop and awe. Two jackals in a corn field were photographed at sundown. The walled city of Boulogne with its cobblestone streets and stone buildings carried echoing voices like waves at a beach.
The morning sun was overtaken by clouds as the motorcycle sped into Normandy. The beach at Arromanches-les-Bains housed a war museum with preserved wreckage and tanks guarding their post. The bike headed onward, to Omaha Beach. In the rain, a handful of sand was bagged for a Navy veteran who lost too much. The sound of the engine disturbed the serenity of the cemetery. Signs discouraged speaking. Memorials informed. People paid respect.
Meandering through country roads, the mood and the weather brightened. Cruising into the charming town of Bath, freshly baked bread insisted indulgence of croissants and coffee. Flower baskets adorned windows, a stream rambled through town, bridged by stone arches. A roadside picnic table offered a delicious nap.
The toll roads were gorgeous strips of asphalt. Afternoon rain made the road slick. A blinking red sign of a cheap motel beckoned. At 2 am clear skies and twinkling stars provided the magical backdrop for the main event of the expedition. The drive to Paris was divine. Circling the Arc De Triomphe three times, traversing all twelve lanes of the round-a-bout, detouring when a lone taxi was spotted. The ornamental Eiffel Tower lights went off at dawn. Revving through the tunnel bridge under the Seine, searching for the destination in Rive Gauche, and fearful of splitting traffic, the BMW earned a much needed rest.
Versailles was a short outing along tree lined streets of a college town. The gilded golden palace gates garishly glared. Majestic gardens defied time. Vive la France!
Back in Paris, a motorcade blocked traffic. The Pope addressed a crowd from the Notre Dame. Leaves were falling from trees; seasons had changed. CNN announced Bear Stearns failed.
The panniers were stuffed with souvenirs. The bike sped from Paris heading north. A Russian truck spewing fumes idled annoyingly in an adjacent loading lane. Embarking onto the ferry, the bike was tethered to a post to keep it upright during the choppy voyage.
Last off in Dover, the bike made a u-turn for a run-down hotel. Chained to a light post and triple locked for safety, the motorcycle weathered the night.
Fueled up and wiped down, the bike embarked on the final day of the journey. The English countryside was speckled with fall foliage. Hedges lined the narrow roads. The air smelled of musky soil, a rich and earthy scent. Tired and fulfilled, the trustworthy motorcycle rolled in, then silenced. A renovated barn housed historic vehicles and sports cars. The dependable companion had earned the privilege. Its panniers were emptied. A blanket of darkness descended as the double doors closed.