Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A legend (and friend) is gone

I've learned just moments ago that Eric Haws, a legendary motorcycle traveler and our very dear friend, passed away on May 4, 2013 due to cancer.

Eric held a Guinness Book of World Records certificate for being the first person to cross Russia on a motorcycle - his wife Gail was with him. He and Gail had motorcycles in different parts of the world so they could ride somewhere, anywhere, whenever they wanted, without having to ship their motorcycle from the USA. My husband met Eric and Gail in Greece in 2006. Stefan was on his first motorcycle tour of Eastern Europe. They stopped at the same restaurant he did, and invited him to spend the day with him touring one of Greece's historic churches. When Stefan came back to our home in Germany, he said he'd met a really nice, funky American couple on a motorcycle that were living the life we wanted to live, and that he had a standing invitation to visit them - that they had been quite insistent on that point.
In 2009, we moved to the Portland area, and I was so happy to learn Eric and Gail lived not far from us, and I'd get to meet them at last.

We loved the Burning Moto Man rallies, as well as going to Westfir a few times just to hang out in Eric and Gail's unbelievably beautiful "estate". We were honored when he asked us to present at a rally, and were looking forward to doing so again at some point.

Our Host, Eric

Eric was oh-so-fond of his German Polizei jacket. Eric was very fond of most things, actually. That's what made him such a delight.

Eric was so supportive when I started riding my own bike - I appreciated that support so much, because being around so many experienced world motorcycle travelers can really be intimidating. When I got severely criticized by a family member for making travel a priority in my life instead of whatever else it was I was supposed to be making a priority, I thought of Eric and Gail, of the many adventures they've had, the beautiful places they've seen, the incredible people they've met, the lovely life they have, and thought, I think my priorities are just fine.

Burning Moto Man 2011 - 429

I also loved sending world motorcycle travelers their way. I'd give a person the address and say, "You just show up. Tell him we sent you." And they would end up staying with them for two or three days and write me and say, "These people are unbelievable!"

Yes, absolutely.


What have we lost? We've lost a legend. We've lost a friend. We've lost an inspiration.

When Eric was diagnosed with cancer and in Portland for treatment, we were closing on our first home and in the middle of moving. He was back home before we had a chance to visit, so we made plans to visit in April, then in May, then in July. I'll always feel guilty - even shame - for not making visiting Eric a priority, to let him know just how much we loved him. I hope he knew.

Do a search on Eric and Gail Haws, no quotes, on Google to see them mentioned again and again in blogs by various adventure motorcycle travelers.


  1. Hi Autumn: Lovely post about my Dad. Thank you so much! Please contact me by email at lisahaws@msn.com Thank you.

  2. Thank you, Lisa, for writing - I've written you directly. I'm so so sorry for your loss.