Our Big Adventure!

Note; All timestamps have been adjusted to order the page, dates in the posts are accurate.

(Taylor Typing) May 23, 2017

My wife Jessica and I are about two weeks away from pushing off for our big adventure motorcycle ride that we’ve been planning all year, and this will be our main way to record the trip. Our big goals are to see as many new places around the US as possible, as many friends and family as we can, and to meet new people along the way! We’ll be touring on our new-to-us 2012 BMW GS Adventure. Its a large two-person motorcycle that is able to go off road if needed. We bought it in February this year, and it has all the upgrades and premium equipment we could ever want!

We’re running two concurrent blogs, this one to catch more of the travel and adventure aspect, as well as a “Epic Rides, Ride Report” on Adventure Rider for the more technical side of the trip planning, and to get insight from more experienced riders.

We’re planning for a 4-6 week trip. We have a lot of flexibility this summer, as Jess is a Teacher, and I just returned from a deployment (Army National Guard) and have some time off. We don’t have any kids yet, and this seems like the ideal time to set off for an adventure!

During our planning, we have acquired paper maps for almost every state we’re driving through (we’ll have to wing it with a couple). Using those we have lined out a rough path, which we expect to deviate from at our whim. The plan is to stick to scenic routes and avoid busy interstates as much as possible. We have loads of camping food which we are in the process of splitting up to mail ahead in sections at different points, so we can always have some snacks and quick meals available. We are bringing our camping gear and – while it may be rough at first – the plan is to camp as much as we can along the way to keep the budget low and the adventure real!

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Itinerary around the US 

(Taylor Typing) May 30, 2017

We’ve nailed down (read: rough drafted) our itinerary for our motorcycle trip around the US! We hope to finish the trip in 6 weeks, and when we worked through the plan it landed at 42 days exactly – hopefully we’re not too far off! We’ve worked blank days in on purpose to allow for anticipated delays and long travel sections. We also know there will be places we decide we want to spend more time at, and we don’t want to be rushed by a timeline – this is about adventure, not scheduling!

What good is a GPS?

(Taylor Typing) June 5, 2017

We’re currently sitting in a gulf-side diner grabbing a quick lunch before riding the Ferry over Mobile Bay. So far so good!

We started out on the highway headed towards Walton Beach FL, and that lasted about an hour before we bailed for back roads through rural Alabama. We had some doubts about the rain gear we’d bought, and God was gracious enough to help us test it the first day! (and second day…) The gear kept us totally dry, and the bike is doing great! We’ve been taking a break every hour or so, and enjoying the sights and smells along the way. We made it to Walton Beach and spent the evening with some of our best friends, who treated us to dinner and breakfast, and gave some expert map review. They were so awesome to host us in their brand new house, and we left right as the movers showed up with their household goods!
We’ve also committed to using the GPS as little as possible. How many times have you asked someone which way they came – I dunno, I just followed the GPS. So to enhance the experience we’re following maps, and figuring it out as we go. Only one hang-up so far, because apparently they skipped the sign that should have read “highway ends in 10 miles and there are no more outlets”.

When we left this morning we hit immediate pouring rain, but opted for coastal roads anyway, and were rewarded with beautiful views, slow roads through wildlife areas, and lots of crosswinds

Foods here, enjoy some pics and more to follow later!

Short ride day

First day of good weather, and we only had two hours to ride!

(Taylor Typing) June 7, 2017

We’re at apx 900 miles, and finally got some great weather! We spent the night at Jess’s Grandparents house after a hot rainy day, and had a great time visiting and hearing some hilarious stories. Who all has been run down by a buck they just shot? JM has! Also he recently thought the lady giving him a pedicure had painted his toenails pink when he dozed off, but I can’t do the story justice, you’ll have to ask him sometime. We had a hearty Texas breakfast and drove the two hours to her Dads place, with a quick stop by a river to cool off.

Also I added a bandana (with cold water) to my riding equipment list, and it is hands down my favorite item. Jess is sick of hearing about it, but I’ll convert her eventually.

Visiting more family tomorrow, then heading north, then west!

Edit

Bye Texas!

Day 6 of 42 on the road, and we finally tried out the camping gear!

(Taylor Typing) June 10, 2017

We’re breaking camp on day 6, and about to be out of Texas, which is crazy to me. It’s starting to feel like we may actually be doing this thing. We’ll spend this evening with more family, then for several days we’ll just be on the road and camping as we move west towards parts of the country neither of us have ever been to. I have this feeling that this is about to turn from a fun trip into a real adventure!

Last night was our first night camping, and it went well! We stayed at a KOA campground, surrounded by RVs. Turns out even among outdoor/adventure travelers we’re a little crazy. The site has a pool which was great after a long ride day, plus nice showers etc. After dinner we watched a movie on the laptop and crashed!

Now we’ve got to pack the bike up and head north on scenic highway 71 to Rogers AR!

Thankful for family

Family and adventure go hand in hand!

(Jess Typing) June 12, 2017

The first leg of our trip has pretty much been centered around seeing my family, and I’m loving it! It has been so good for my heart so see everyone. Even though each stop is never long enough, we feel that each individual stop has been quality time well spent.

A few things we did with the fam:

We grabbed some amazing Texas BBQ (my absolute favorite meal), saw Wonder Woman (highly recommend) and had some Bluebell ice cream :). In Arkansas/Missouri, we visited with my best friend Becca, my brothers and their wives, and played with the cutest nephews ever! Daniel loves the ” ‘cycle ” and wearing our helmets! Alistair is so smart and animated, and loved meeting his Uncle Taylor for the first time 🙂 They are both growing so fast!

We have been so blessed with great families and they all were so gracious to give us a place to sleep and some food to eat each night. We are so thankful!

In these pictures you’ll see that my sister Des got to go for a spin on the bike, pics of some amazing breakfasts, got me a Texas scarf, our stop at a peach stand for a snack in Arkansas, marked our home city on the map at the Skyline Cafe in Mena, AR and just had a blast! 

Dad and fam.

Mom, sister Destiny and her bf Hunter!

My scarf goes on my neck 😉 

BFF 🙂

If I never see Kansas again it will be too soon

Clear skies, straight roads, and crosswinds.

(Taylor Typing) June 13, 2017

When that one chick told that dog that they weren’t in Kansas anymore, she must have been so thrilled, and I don’t blame her.

We’ve wrapped up day two of riding in Kansas, and it has been just the worst…

We left Springfield MO and enjoyed some small farm roads and Shire-like landscape through rural Missouri and into Kansas as we made our way towards the main highway we’d take across the Great Plains

(Side story if you want to know what motorcycle travel is like) We were looking for one County Road 80, which would show up on the odometer at/about 20 miles from our last turn. At exactly 20 miles a small road appeared marked “BB”.

I yelled over the crosswinds into my mic; “I think this must be it”

Jess replied over wind static; “Yeah, Bee Bee!”So I turned, since she had the GPS up on her phone.

Then she says “What the heck are you doing??”

“road BB!”

“No! I said, it says BB! We need 80, eight zero!”

Turning a 1200cc motorcycle with 2 people, 3 loaded boxes plus camping gear around on a tiny county road is super easy to do, so I didn’t mind the confusion. 5 mins and one long, accidental horn blast later we were back at the last intersection where we finally saw a tiny sign next to BB that read: C.R. 80 – the right freaking road. Jess almost fell off the bike laughing as we turned back around again.

Once we made it to the highway, the mood swung. It was a one lane each way, state route. We are trying to avoid major interstates to enjoy the drive more, and boy did that backfire. The Kansas wind was blowing out of the South at 20-30 mph all day, both days, without ceasing. Heading due west, we had to endure constant crosswinds from our left. It was made worse by the steady stream of cattle trucks heading East. Semi trucks have a strong turbulence anyway, but passing a few feet from them at 75 mph, downwind – I cannot overstate the discomfort.

We struggled our way into Wichita, and the next day unanimously agreed to bail for the interstate. At least that way we would be going the same way as the trucks we were nearest to.

Day two was better, technically. Passing trucks was not as brutal, but there was more traffic in general. And the wind continued. We were assured by a local farmer that it’s not usually like this, but that doesn’t help us much! We spent the day leaning left to balance in the wind.

Jess has thoroughly impressed me through all this. She sits higher on the bike than me, and got to endure the full force of the crosswinds all day, both days. I can duck behind the windshield for some respite if I need to, while she is exposed the whole way. But she has a way about her when she’s set on something, and it’s so awesome to see her push through a brutal few days and stay so positive about what’s ahead of us still. We set out on this trip asking God to teach us more about himself and each other, and today I learned my wife will not relent once she’s committed herself to something *, and when it’s really hard she’ll set her mind on the good things, the things that inspired us to ride a motorcycle around the whole dang country in the first place!

*I didn’t learn it for the first time, but I got to see it again, up close 🙂

To be fair to Kansas, there were some neat things too. Here’s a comprehensive list of neat things we saw in Kansas: a Coyote, a million giant windmills, pretty creeks, and a pre-fab home jammed under an overpass with the roof scraped off. Kansas, if I never see you again it will be too soon.

PS my phone’s pano mode couldn’t figure the windmill out 🙂