A life-changing trip from PEI to Texas brings a couple closer together
Photos submitted by Robert Gallant & Geraldine Arsenault
To visit good friends in Texas – a mere 4,000 kilometres from their hometown of St. Nicholas, Prince Edward Island – they would ride from the northeast corner of the continent to the far southwest. That might sound like a stretch to some, but these two Maritimers were excited for the challenge. Still, they had no idea what a life-changing trip they were about to embark on.
The trip started out smoothly, with open roads and plenty to see. This wasn’t a pre-planned trip, all mapped out. The plan was not to plan and to let the weather, light, mood and hunger determine when and where they would stop and how far they would go each day. As Robert said, “We went by the seat of our pants.” Or where the wind took them.
The problem was, the wind had ideas of its own.
As Hurricane Barry made its way inland in mid-July, the PEI couple were tested to the limits and beyond. Somewhere in Tennessee, during their fifth day on the road, the weather turned from bad to worse.
“It was lightly raining until we came over the crest of a hill and there was a great white sheet right in front of us,” Robert said. “It was like buckets of water were being poured over our heads and I couldn’t see a damned thing. The rain was pounding inside and outside of my glasses, blinding me, and so I had to pull over.”
The newly paved road with loose gravel on the shoulder coupled with his burning eyes proved problematic for Robert, a seasoned rider with decades of riding experience. The front wheel caught in the shoulder drop and the bike tipped, sending Geraldine hard to the ground. Luckily, with no serious injuries, she was able to get up to help attempt to lift the bike, no easy feat with the uneven ground. After about 40 cars passed by, a “young fella” stopped to help and get them back on the road. Robert essentially coasted to a nearby rest stop – but not before an “angry” state patrol officer pulled the couple over for “reckless driving” as Robert did his best to ease the battered bike slowly to the stop.
After a few deep breaths, adjustments and attending to Geraldine’s minor injuries (bruised hip, ankle and knee) as well as an attempt to wring out buckets of water from their clothing, the pair saddled up and carried on the rest of the way to Texas.
Surrounded by their Texan friends, Robert spilled the beans to Geraldine about the real reason they had come to Texas.
“I had it in the back of my mind that this would be the trip, but I didn’t have the ring yet,” Robert explained. “Imagine, after all that she went through on that ride, that when I proposed she said yes!”
The journey home for the soon-to-be-newlyweds was much less dramatic, with perfect weather, “fantastic” scenery and a few very long days in the saddle.
“Geraldine is one tough little cookie,” Robert said. “She would just say, ‘I had a talk with my ass and told it to suck it up!' and we would keep on riding.”
After a few stops at Harley-Davidson® dealers along the way, the couple finally made it home safe and sound, after 13 days and 8,600 kilometres.