Friday, 17 February 2017

The Dirt Church

I'm back in Canada after a few surprisingly wonderful days in Baltimore, at the Timonium Motorcycle Show. I say 'surprisingly', as Baltimore is often associated with trouble and in all honesty, last year was cold and all I saw was the inside of the hotel and the show ground. The city is certainly no stranger to crime, and is perhaps best known to outsiders for being the home of the 12 o'clock Boys. A notorious urban dirt-bike gang, converging from all parts of the inner city, they invade the streets and clash with police, who are forbidden to chase the bikes for fear of endangering the public. These guys may be crazy, they may be reckless, but boy have they got skill. The gang is named this after the position in which they point their front wheel, whilst taking life threatening dashes through the city on their dirt bikes. Back wheel on the ground, and the other straight up to the sky! What those boys could do on a dirt track, given the right place, time and opportunities. It fascinates and saddens me.

I was in the city for five nights, and actually found the regular sound of the sirens whizzing by as I
drifted off, quite soothing after a while. Perhaps it was their regularity. Perhaps it was the whisky! I was lucky enough to have a local 'fixer' as he called himself, to show me around and take me anywhere I wanted to go 'Do you want the 'real' Baltimore, or do you want the 'nice' bars?' he asked as soon as he met me at the airport. 'I am happy to take you wherever you like'.  'Give me the rough stuff' I said, keen to find something beneath the crusty exterior. 'The Dirt Church it is then', he said with a smile and perhaps a small glimmer of 'yehaaaa' in his eyes!

My 'fixer' (A.K.A Colin), with his full sleeve tattoos and quick wit, soon became a friend. Someone I felt at home with from the very moment we began sharing our views on life. No subject was off limits as we sat at the alter of the Dirt Church and drank, what seems to be the Baltimore tradition, of cheap beer and Tequila!

Baltimore, is indeed full of interesting and talented people. The artwork, music and innovative ideas that come to life here in every rough and ready corner is refreshing. The people themselves are works of art - colourful, varied and full of life. Love them or hate them - it's all about perspective, and they make no apologies for that.

I was made to feel at home very quickly. After just a few short days, I find I am forever, happily connected and drawn to its streets, and its people.

Colin, Maggie, Justin, Tom? You Rock! - See you soon! xxx

The show itself was an ocean of black leather and gang patches (no colours. Not allowed). This said, it was most certainly a family affair, with a friendly vibe. A passel of Harley's filled the surrounding carpark, whilst the bikini clad girls draped themselves on the blingy show bikes inside.

The adventure zone, where I was to present, was unpredictably large considering the overall demographics of the show. Here I was joined by the lovely Lois Pryce, Austin Vince, Simon and Lisa Thomas and a few other presenters from around the world. It was great to catch up and share our passion for travel with these east coast bikers, who welcomed us into the fold with ease (and in some cases, great big bear hugs!).

I'm now back in sleepy Summerland, and it's almost time to move out of my little hibernation home overlooking the beautiful Okanagan Lake. In a few days I will say goodbye to Netflix, flatscreen TV's, temperature control, soft pillows, a washing machine and a front door key. I will leave behind the oven, the fridge freezer and the cute little cat named Snowball. My housesitting days are numbered!

This time has been a wonderful opportunity to relax and regroup over the winter months. I am so grateful to Murray for trusting me with his home while he travels in warmer climates. I'm sure he will forgive me the broken fridge magnet from the drunk drone flying incident, or the fact that I killed one of his Cacti (I'll swear it was suicide)! The big plants and the cat survived! That's a success as I see it!

This time though has also served to remind me that I love being out there. I love moving forward and sharing my life with so many people and places. The TV's and the fitted carpets are only truly appreciated after a good old fashioned bit of roughing it! It's time to go out there and get dirty again! It's time to reduce my knicker washing back to once every 3 days. It's time to get rid of the extra pair of shoes and skinny jeans I snuck into my life, and it is mostly definitely time to get drunk again, with a random stranger I just met on the side of the road!

I have missed you road!

Next week I will move on - but not very far just yet. Actually I will just be down the road a few miles, borrowing space from new and wonderful friends, for a few more days while I prepare for my next adventure. This time, though it will be as part of a team, and on 4 wheels!

In two weeks time, I will be joining the co-founder of Rally4Life, rally driver, and good friend, Mark Jennings-Bates, in a big yellow truck nicknamed 'Bumble Beast' on a 3 week camping expedition along the (soon to close) ice roads, to the northern most inhabited point of Canada - Tuktoyactuk.

More on this soon.


  1. HI Steph, Love the photo of the dirt only trip to Baltimore was a 2 hour layover at BWI, so enjoyed hearing about your experience or it.
    Spring is on the way, 15c in southern ontario tomorrow!

  2. Nice Steph!
    If y'all get out to S/W Lake Ontario we have garage, bed, beers, food and about 20 mid 70's 2 stroke AMF Harleys for you to try out, along with bigger HD's.

    1. That sounds like an offer I can't refuse Den! :)

  3. Sounds like you enjoyed Baltimore 😃
    Good blog.