In my last dispatch I mentioned engine troubles in St. Louis. Today I resolve the cliffhanger and more...
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My last update left you hanging: Did I need a new engine? Would I get a new bike? Would I make it on time to Montana for a week of appearances?

Turns out I had a bad bearing in my engine, so I decided to replace all the bearings while the engine was dis-assembled. Since the parts were in Germany at BMW, I had to rent a car to get to Montana.

I figured if you're gonna drive a car instead of a motorcycle, why not make it a Mustang?

I took this shot of my rented Mustang in Medicine Lodge, Wyoming.
More photos of this archeological site on Flickr.
All told I spent a week in St. Louis waiting for the final verdict on my motorcycle. While I was there, I spent an afternoon at the Neo-Byzantine Cathedral Basilica

The cathedral's mosaics are jaw-droppingly beautiful, cover 83,000 square feet, and are made with over 7,000 different colors of glass tile called tesserae.

If you visit the basilica, be sure to visit the museum that tells its story and describes the making of these mosaics, some of which were installed by Tiffany Studios.
Here I am with the India to NC to MO waiter
I had the craziest experience at an Indian restaurant around the corner after I left the basilica. My waiter greeted me with "Welcome back," but I corrected him, saying, "No, this is my first time here." I have an every-girl look, so I didn't give it another thought.

Later, he asked me where I was visiting from and when I told him Charlotte, NC, he excitedly asked, "Have you ever eaten at Bombay Grill in Pineville?" (Pineville is a Charlotte suburb).

"Why yes, I have," I replied.Turns out he had waited on me there about three years ago. Cue the Disney music, It's a small world after all.

He told me that after he took some time to visit his family in India he had to find a new job, and that's what brought him to St. Louis. I thought that was the end of the conversation, but he REALLY wanted to talk about Charlotte and Pineville. It struck me that he might be lonely, and since kindness is both free and priceless, I was patient with his questions and comments and asked him to get a picture with me (above).

This interlude made me appreciate the bravery and resilience of those who leave their families to forge a new life in a different country. I'm often asked if I feel lonely when I travel, but as a native, it's easy for me to pick up a conversation in a diner or at a scenic overlook; our society doesn't give foreign workers the same ease and grace. Maybe you'll think about that next time you see a visitor and take a moment to brighten their day. I'll repeat: kindness is both free and priceless.
Next week I'll tell you about my stay at the "Fountain of Youth" campground in Thermopolis, WY. There, I met a couple of musicians making their way across the country in a conversion van. Until next time, throttle up!
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