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Storm: A Motorcycle Journey of Love, Endurance, and Transformation (Travelers' Tales Footsteps)
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Storm: A Motorcycle Journey of Love, Endurance, and Transformation (Travelers' Tales Footsteps) [Kindle Edition]

Allen Noren
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews Review

It's clear reading Allen Noren's haunting travel memoir, Storm: A Motorcycle Journey Around the Baltic Sea, that some trips just weren't meant to be. Yet take a really good writer, expose him to adverse conditions, toss in tragically bad weather, and what do you get? In this case, a beautifully written, stirring story that gets better and better as the journey worsens. A diehard traveler, Noren had been exploring the far corners of the world for years when he and his girlfriend, Suzanne, pinned a map of the world to their bedroom wall and plotted out an adventurous, three-month route around the Baltic Sea. They considered traveling by kayak, by car, and eventually settled on the idea of riding a motorcycle. (Or rather, Noren settled on the idea and managed to convince his girlfriend that the bike would be the way to go.) Sadly, while Noren is completely exhilarated by the challenges presented by their used BMW, and indeed, feels totally one with the machine, Suzanne--surprise--hates it from the get-go. Screaming down the Autobahn in the driving rain at 85 mph, stumbling upon a motorcycle rally full of crazed, alcohol-induced biker revelers, and camping out nightly after long days on the road doesn't hold the same appeal for her that it does for him. The tale works on many levels, but at its best Storm is a poignant account of two people whose dreams have begun to diverge. It is also an exploration of the reasons we travel--and how those reasons can change, subtly at first, and then more dramatically, as we do. And finally, it is a descriptive travelogue, full of wonderful passages that bring the landscape of Sweden and Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland to life. In short, this is a compelling book about a tumultuous and complicated journey. Storm is required reading for anyone even thinking about taking that round-the-world trip. --Kimberly Brown

From the Inside Flap

Begun as a grand adventure, Storm tells the story of a trip that quickly became a tumultuous test of endurance. When the Baltic States of the former Soviet Union opened up, Allen and his girlfriend were drawn to the prospect of traveling together once again. Setting out on a BMW motorcycle, the two seasoned travelers rode through Germany, Denmark, and Sweden to the Arctic Circle, then on to Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. Though they'd been together for seven years, and thought they knew what to expect from an extended road trip, they couldn't foresee the unrelenting natural elements, shifts in once-shared dreams, or fissures in their relationship that lay ahead. Often darkly humorous, Storm reveals a couple's love and the fragility of human connections as it recounts the journey that became a test of both rider's physical and emotional endurance.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

"It's raining," I said to Suzanne, my face framed by my hands as I looked through the window of the train. The sky was almost dark as we moved north towards Bremen, Germany. The bright lights inside the train reflected off the glass, projecting ghostly images of the passengers around us. "Suzanne," I said again. "It's raining."

"Hmm?" she asked, and I watched her reflection in the window as she lowered the book she was reading. She made a mark with a pencil so she wouldn't lose her place and turned her face towards the back of my head. "What did you say?"

"It's raining."

"Let's see," she said, and leaned across me. As she moved, the air around my face filled with the perfumy oils of her scalp, and I leaned towards the crown of her head to breathe them in. A middle-aged woman across the aisle lowered her newspaper and stared at us.

"A spring shower," Suzanne said. "Everything is being washed down and freshened up just for us." She sat up, kissed me, and went back to her book.

Her breath left a cloud on the glass, and I watched the dark world beyond reemerge as the shadow of moisture evaporated. The air around the glass was cool against my forehead and nose. It smelled of rain and metal. Silver rounds of water had pooled on the earth and shone like moons.

As the train entered Bremen, Suzanne and I gathered our things and moved sideways down the narrow aisle towards the door as our helmets, bags, and tent scraped and caught against the seats. We stopped next to the door and watched the city's lights streak past like tracer fire.

"I'd like to stay in a hotel tonight," Suzanne said. The driver applied the brakes and she leaned into me. "I'd like it to be a nice one."

"We should save it for later on, when we really need it," I said, thinking of all that was before us. "We should save our money for the Arctic Circle, Russia, or some place in Estonia or Poland."

"Oh, come on," she said and nuzzled my chin with her nose. "Let's celebrate the beginning of this trip."

The train braked harder and I grabbed hold of a handrail to keep us from falling. Outside, the lights of Bremen slid like illuminated drops of rain across the glass.

"Why not?" I thought. "What better way to begin a motorcycle trip around the Baltic Sea."

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