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Neil Peart's Ghost Rider overview.

Updated on June 21, 2013

Rush happens to be my favorite band, I love how progressive Rush can be from starting with hard rock/heavy metal to synthesizer rock to soft rock (Presto and Roll The Bones) to back to their progressive style. This band has been around since their first album in 1974, and the machine is still going in 2013, with their 40th anniversary coming up next year in 2014.

This book is written by Neil Peart, the drummer of Rush. The man is an avid traveller besides playing the drums for Rush or writing lyrics (he is the lyricist on most Rush songs). On tour, he often follows the tour bus by motorcycle and on his off time, likes to ride a bicycle. The Ghost Rider, the book we are about to embark on, is the second of his travel books.

However, this book is not only about travelling on his motorcycle, it's also about dealing with grief.


In the summer of 1997, Rush finished off their Test For Echo tour supporting the album with the same name. A little thereafter, tragedy struck Neil with his daughter Selena dying in a motorcycle accident on Highway 401 in Ontario while on her way to college. Neil talks about this in detail and how before he received the news, he was watching a TV documentary about the Mormon trek in 1847 and hearing in the documentary a woman who survived, "The only reason I am alive is because I could not die."

Another tragic event would come next; Neil's wife had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But to Neil, it was more of a broken heart due to the loss of their daughter. Neil would fulfill her wish to go to Barbados as she passed away there after a series of strokes.

Neil went back to Toronto to sell the house he, his wife and his daughter lived in and moved to his second home which was 'by the lake' for a couple of months thinking of what he was looking to do, and at that point, he was thinking about dying.

Instead, he ran away with his BMW R1100GS on the morning of August 20, 1998, a year and ten days of his daughter's unfortunate passing, and drove on to what he would later define as the "Journey to Somewhere."

Quebec to Alaska to America to Belize

For fourteen months, Neil travelled out of Ontario to wherever his heart desires but making a commitment to visit a port in Haines, Alaska by early September, a commitment he dared himself to make. As the travelling went on, he began to find things that he liked, which started with two rocks he saw peaking out of a lake in Quebec. And from there on, he continued to move on with a commitment on the way to visit the Arctic Circle via the sometimes rough Dempster Highway (which turns into a dirt road on the way to Tuktoyaktuk) and going back.

Although his likes would continue (this was 1998, Facebook didn't even exist), so would his anger. When he entered Alaska, he deiced to stop in a small town called Tok to enjoy a quiet night, but sadly, he found himself along with bus-tour folks with loud voices, the visitors caused him some anger with trying to get food. The troubles continued with passing the Canada-U.S. border dealing with ruthless Customs officers. And dealing with his best friend being sent to jail which began the "Letters to Brutus" as he was on his way to Mexico.

It is where in Mexico and on his way to Belize where Neil began to open up a little more to strangers, but not by his celebrity but by 'John Taylor' (his late wife's surname). Along with a family member joining him, they travel on the crazy roads Mexico has to offer and say hello to the local folks. When to Belize and just before Christmas, Neil stops at the Luba Hati for some R&R as he talks to an upset waitress by saying, "If you are not careful, I'll tell you all of my troubles."

Neil's Summer to Autumn Travels 1998

show route and directions
A markerQuebec -
Quebec, Canada
get directions

B markerTuktoyatuk -
Tuktoyaktuk, NT, Canada
get directions

C markerFairbanks -
Fairbanks, AK, USA
get directions

D markerhaines -
Haines, AK, USA
get directions

E markerwaterlon lakes -
Waterton Lakes National Park of Canada, Alberta 5, Improvement District No. 4, AB T0K 2M0, Canada
get directions

F markerlas vegas -
Las Vegas, NV, USA
get directions

G markerSanta Barbara -
Santa Barbara, CA, USA
get directions

H markersanta fe -
Santa Fe, NM, USA
get directions

I markermexico city -
Mexico City, Federal District, Mexico
get directions

J markerbelize -
Belize
get directions

The second half

Neil spends a few months back at the house on the lake and tells us his tories via letters to mostly his poor imprisoned friend Brutus. At around April, he goes back to ghost riding again flying back to Mexico to pick up his bike and headed back to California. Over there, he attempted dating and tried out Tarot. He would later go to New York City and dealt with the akward situation of one asking "Hey, are you the drummer of Rush?"

And lastly, he drives back to Canada visiting Newfoundland, next going back into the United States once again to go through the Midwest, Utah and finally the West Coast again. Neil ends his travels (as he tells us) at Telescope Peak in Death Valley, in where he tells us, "big changes were on the horizon."

Hanging with Neil Peart interview in 2006

Next to Vapor Trails!

Neil in 2000 got married for the second time to Carrie Nuttall, a photographer. This is around the time that Neil decided to continue with the music business. After 14 months of recording and trying to get his chops back, Rush released Vapor Trails. The album's tour lead Rush to play for their first and second largest crowds in Brazil, with 60,000 at Sao Paolo, Brazil. And the last show with 40,000 at MaracanĂ£ Stadium that lead to the live album and DVD Rush In Rio released in 2003.

After the show was over, Neil said to his manager Ray Danniels, "It would've been a shame if it never happened again."

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