Library Book Leads to “Antiques Roadshow” Moment!

About 15 years ago I bought a motorcycle jacket from a local thrift shop. I was intrigued by its padded elbows and shoulders, which sported a marvelous scuffed-and-buffed patina. I figured the jacket had seen better days, but I never gave a second thought to its age—or value. Until recently, that is, when I chanced upon a couple library books about the history of biker apparel.

In Motorcycle Jackets: Ultimate Bikers’ Fashions, I spotted a garment that looked like mine. Reading further, I learned that this “Padded Cascade” style originated with Langlitz Leathers, a small family business in Portland, Oregon. One of the oldest and most venerable biker outfitters, this company used white labels for most of its history (beginning in 1947), except for a brief period during 1950-56 when the labels were green. Continue reading “Library Book Leads to “Antiques Roadshow” Moment!”

Long Way Round and Down

Do you like learning about the world? Do you like motorcycles? Do you think that Ewan McGregor is easy on the eyes? If you have answered yes to any or all of those questions, then keep reading.

In 2004, actor Ewan McGregor, who some may know from Trainspotting, the Star Wars prequels, or Moulin Rouge!, and his good friend, actor Charley Boorman, decided to ride around the world on motorcycles. Starting in London, their journey took them through France, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Siberia, Alaska, Canada before arriving 115 days later at their final destination, New York City.

 Ewan and Charley met on the set of a film and have been friends ever since. Their obvious love and care for one another, their kind-hearted ribbing and enthusiasm for meeting new people and seeing new things make Ewan and Charley the most congenial of hosts. You will truly want to follow them anywhere.

Ewan and Charley also made their dream of riding around the world on motorbikes into much more, by becoming involved with UNICEF. They visit orphanages and rehabilitation centers at many points along the way, and you learn about the wonderful work UNICEF is doing for children and families.

Watching Long Way Round, you almost feel as though you are on the adventure with Ewan and Charley, hitting the tarmac or the remote, rocky roads with them. I used to love the show Amazing Race, when it was still about seeing different countries and learning about different cultures. This has the same adrenaline, the same fun and excitement, but you get a much richer portrait of the places visited (of course!) than on a reality show. However, you will notice that Ewan and Charley are not proper travel documentary hosts, in the sense that they don’t know the names of all of the animals or flora and fauna; in other words, it’s no David Attenborough. But the hosts’ lack of encyclopedic knowledge just makes them all the endearing.

If you enjoy Long Way Down, you will be able to follow Ewan and Charley on another amazing trip. In 2007, they rode from Scotland down through the continent of Africa, ending at Capetown. You’ll get to see Libya, which doesn’t allow American tourists, and learn about the great continent of Africa, visit the gorillas in the mist in Rwanda, see wild zebra and elephant and meet a lot of interesting people along the way. The view that you get of Africa is breathtaking. As a result, my husband and I are now daydreaming about how to go there someday.

So check out Long Way Round and Long Way Down on DVD, or check out the accompanying books Long Way Round: Chasing Shadows Across the World and Long Way Down: An Epic Journey by Motorcycle from Scotland to South Africa by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman for some fantastic world travel.