Thursday, October 16, 2014

Remembering Bob Leong

It has been quite a while since my last blog entry. I returned from my trip at the end of July, and have been very busy with things other than writing and blogging. One of the most significant things was learning that my friend Bob had passed away.

A fellow blogger, Dar, was very kind in advising me that she had learned that Bob had passed away while on his trip with Yvonne. This was news that made many bloggers and many motorcyclists and many photographers who knew Bob very sad indeed.

I started reading Bob’s blog sometime in the latter part of 2011. I enjoyed his words about motorcycling and photography. At that time he was also writing a lot about food. So much so, that I thought he must be a chef. I was wrong about that, but he wrote about food with as much detail and technical accuracy as he did about motorcycles and photography. Since those are both hobbies of mine as well, I eagerly awaited his new posts.

He lived in Vancouver, and I live just west of Toronto, so I knew it would be a while before we met. In the meantime I truly did enjoy his blogs.

In January 2012, we almost met in Hawaii. It turned out that both of us and our wives were on the island of Maui at about the same time, and who knows we might a pass each other on the street. Then, as luck would have it it turned out that we were all on the big Island, but again we never did meet. Later that year, I made my way to Duncan British Columbia, via the US, and on my return, took the ferry to North Vancouver and went directly to Whistler and points north and east. Another opportunity to meet Bob was missed.

That autumn, Bob’s blogs occasionally turned towards the planning for his next trip which would be to come east all the way to the East Coast. I made a few comments to him about possible routes in Ontario and mentioned to him that he was more than welcome to stay at my home should he take a route that allowed that to happen.

He in turn suggested that I might meet him at a campground in Pennsylvania, along with other bloggers from Ontario and Qu├ębec and the United States who were going to meet him there. I thought it was a great idea, and was looking forward to doing so. Unfortunately that did not happen either. In March of that year I had a serious case of pneumonia, and at the time that Bob was in Pennsylvania, I had not recovered enough to make even that short trip. Bob and others continued east and readers of his blog will know that he had a very successful trip to the East Coast. Fortunately, his return trip West brought him to Mississauga, and my home.

From all accounts, Bob enjoyed his couple of days with us quite a bit. I’m not really surprised, because my wife Dianne treats guests about as well as they are ever going to betreated by anyone. Bob thought the room that we provided farm was pretty neat, liked the food just fine, and particularly enjoyed being able to have his uncle Sherman and his wife for dinner at our house. We were delighted to have all of them with us.

In the evening, after dinner, Bob and I talked about a number of items, including how much electronics to take on a trip. He told me about some neat electronic items that I had never heard of that would allow me to connect my iPad to a portable disk drive. He certainly impressed me with his technical knowledge.

In the morning Bob was off heading west. I rode with him for a couple of hours out to London Ontario and bade him farewell. Off he went on a very successful ride home.
We continued to stay in touch over the next months, particularly as I was planning a second trip to the West coast and Bob was very helpful in helping me plan the trip. I had determined to take the Lolo Pass through the Rockies down into Idaho, but then really didn’t know what to do after taking the pass. Bob certainly had some good suggestions, and I’m very grateful that I accepted them. I ended up encountering some spectacular switchbacks on Highway 129 down to Joseph Oregon, and from there headed north to Anacortes and from there over to Vancouver Island.

After a very nice visit to my friend John on the island, I took a ferry to the south of Vancouver, and followed Bob’s direction right to his house. He and Yvonne made me welcome. Bob had taken the extraordinary step of taking extra vacation days in order to make my visit to Vancouver a huge success. If you check out my blog entries regarding my stay with Bob, you will see that as a tour guide he was totally expert. He gave me a ride in the Corvette, showed me all around Richmond, and extensively drove me around North Vancouver, which is an incredibly beautiful area of the city. We went down to the sea and up to the mountain. We visited Granville Island. We had a great time. I told him he should consider retiring and take up being a tour guide. I don’t think I was the first person to make that suggestion.

On my arrival Bob introduced me to some of his Corvette club friends when we went out for dinner to celebrate my birthday and his birthday, his on the ninth and mine on the 13th. Afterwards we went to the local Night Market which was a very colorful and interesting local event.

When it was time to leave, Bob insisted on riding out of town with me. I’m very glad he did. There are new roads newly opened that Bob claimed would save me a couple of hours of time in getting out of the city. Indeed, in a very congested city, the route he took was basically effortless.

Finally, it was time for us to have a final coffee at a McDonald’s, and we both headed home. I headed east to my home, and Bob headed west to his. Regretfully, I will not be able to ride with Bob again.

Bob had been planning another trip East in 2015. He was going to swing by my place and we were going to head east together, likely picking up other bloggers along the way, heading for Newfoundland.

I’m thinking I might do that trip in Bob’s memory. More about that in coming months.

Although we did not spend all that much time together, there are some people that you meet and instantly like. Bob was one of those people. Over the past month or so, I have thought of Bob on many occasions. He was a person who was full of life, smart, knowledgeable, a real people person. He was adventurous. He told me that whatever he was out in his car or on the bike and saw a road he wanted to take that road and see where it went - and he must’ve taken most of those roads. That I think is something that I should learn to be much better at.

So, Bob, thank you so much for teaching me that, and other things about motorcycle camping, and lots of other things. I know I’m not alone in saying that I shall miss you.