Go West Young Man, Haven’t You Been Told…

We’ve been lazy about posting again, but here is our ride from the Hoover Dam through California and up to Washington state…

(Taylor Typing) 

We left the Hoover Dam dreading another day of brutal heat, but for some reason the second day wasn’t as bad. In fact, it may end up being one of my favorite days on the trip! It was certainly still hot, 110 and above, but we endured it better. We’d had a good night’s rest, hydrated well, and stopped at every gas station to soak our towels, bandanas, and gloves. The highway was straight and empty so we pretty much cruised at 85 mph through the Nevada desert. Jess put some music in our headsets and we ate up the miles. As we moved into the high desert closing in on the border of California we had some spectacular views of the rugged mountains topped with bizarre cloud formations from the moisture on the other side. After a few hours we came to our turn, and it caused us some…incertitude about the route I had highlighted on the map. This section I had created by myself, picking a winding road through the mountains north of death valley. We were looking an absolutely dead-straight road toward the mountains with no signs of life on the horizon. The first sign we saw said “No Gas 56 Miles”…but what’s there to do? This was our road! So we kept the tunes pumping and went for it. When the road finally hit the mountains it went from pre-cooked spaghetti, to a noodle spun in the air and dropped on the mountain. We climbed turn after turn, up and up, and watched the thermometer on the bike plummet from 110 to 75 – what an improvement! We came down into valleys of California ranches, went back up into ancient pine forests and eventually crested over a hill and saw the Sierra Nevada’s, which blew us away. Neither of knew what to expect, and this segment was added to the list of amazing things we’ve seen, that we never knew about! 

The following day we made our way to a stop we’d both been looking forward to. One of my best friend’s parents live in California, and are fellow Adventure riders, so they had agreed to host us for the night. It was a great chance to swap ideas and stories, get an amazing dinner, wash our sweat soaked gear, and rest up. The Potters were super gracious hosts and we can’t wait to return the favor whenever they ride East! 

Leaving their place we aimed for the coast, with some route tweaks courtesy of Mr. Potter. If we had followed that, we may have hit the coast sooner, but one missed turn and a road with more switchbacks and crazy drivers than I’d ever seen and next thing we knew we were camping in Napa Valley! All I can say about Napa is that there are a lot of grapes, and one very tasty but pricey Mexican restaurant. 

Our original intent on this trip had been to use back roads as much as possible, and few sections have been as true to that dream as the last section before the coast. As we closed in on Highway 1 and the Pacific Ocean, the last 60 miles was unmarked, occasionally gravel, barely traveled farm roads through yellow California mountains and sections of the Redwood State Preserve. I forgot to brief Jess on our route that morning, so she spent a solid hour convinced I was lost and unwilling to admit it. To be honest while I knew where we were, I wouldn’t have placed money on it…

Once we saw redwoods we knew we were close, and sure enough we turned a corner and saw deep blue water through the trees. We both had a reality check moment, but sure enough, we had ridden our motorcycle from Geogia to the Pacific Ocean. 

We made our way up the Califronia coast and about half way the Oregon coast. We cut in to Eugene Oregon for a new back tire (the old one was getting worn) and then came north (Through Redmond OR!) to Washington. We’ve spent two nights with Jess’s college friend Janessa and her family. It’s been a great time to reconnect with them and catch up on some rest! Her husband Isaac is a youth pastor at an awesome church, and we were lucky to be here on a Sunday and got to hear a great message. 

Jess goes full Texas Bandit when it gets chilly 🙂

Janessa and (tired) Jess

A Week in Colorado

How 3 days in Colorado turned into 7…

It’s been a few days (over a week, whoops!)  since we’ve posted a blog update, because we’ve been too busy falling in love with Colorado. I’ll try to summarize as best I can, but spare me some fawning along the way.

We left Kansas on the morning of June 14th (day 11) and rolled into Colorado. We had to stop at a welcome center to plot our route, as we didn’t have a Colorado map ahead of time. We essentially picked a few hot spots, traced the scenic routes on the map, and decided to play it by ear. (Little did we know that would put us 4 days behind schedule. But what a fantastic way to spend those 4 days!

We got into Manitou Springs, a quaint/touristy mountain town right outside Colorado Springs, and decided to get a B&B room since we had a few days to settle in, and we were celebrating our anniversary on the next day. We unpacked and headed to dinner. We parked next to a Harley motorcycle, and chatted with the owners Brad and Gloria for a half an hour. They are in their 50s, and have been riding since before we were born. By the time we parted ways, we were convinced we had to adjust our route North to include Rocky Mountain National Park, which was described by Brad as “Stupid Beautiful” (spoiler, he was right).

We hung around Manitou Springs for the next few days. We Hiked the Garden of the Gods, Rode Pikes Peak (amazing!) and had a blast at my old friend Zach’s wedding on the 16th. On June 17th (day 14) we made our way to a campsite just outside of Denver.

Leaving there we made the scenic drive north to the Rocky Mountain National Park. That entire day all I could say was “This is the best motorcycling I have ever done!”. One thrilling turn after the next, incredible views, and a million other bikes to wave at – they are everywhere out here, and we fit right in.

Rocky Mt National Park was – as advertised – stupid beautiful. It’s more-or-less a straight drive through, up and over the pass (camping is only allowed in the designated sites – sad face) Curve after curve took us up and high into the mountain tundra, and where we had been baking in the 90+ degree heat less than 2 hours before, we all of a sudden stopping to dig out thermal gear and firing up the BMW’s grip heaters. The views can’t be described so I won’t try, but I’m pretty sure Jess muted her headset after the 97th time I said “wooow”.  Jess saw a moose (she claims) through the trees in an open field, right when I couldn’t safely stop to look. But at the top we both freaked out when we saw the first Elk. A small female trotting along the road. The next turn we took floored us – at 12,000 surrounded by snow drifts we saw a massive herd of Elk hanging out 100 yards or so from the road. We endured the cold long enough to get some pictures, stare and freak out the way only a couple of southerners can when they see wild Elk for the first time. THEN we camped in the park while more Elk wandered through the campsite munching on grass. It was other-worldly for both of us, and something I am so glad we got to share together.

We knew we had spent a couple of our spare days by adding this extra park to the trip, but we both agreed it was well worth it. We set out the next morning with the intent to cover as many miles as possible and start working our way towards the next big destination, the Grand Canyon. That was going great until 1) we got missed a turn and drove 30 mins the wrong way, 2) the right way was a dirt road, 3) Half way through that very long and gorgeous dirt road I saw a camp ground right on the river that had a white-water rafting operation adjacent to it and I absolutely had to stop. We had already picked our campsite for the night and decided to stay when we found out we were too late in the day to go rafting. We opted to stay anyway, and Jess pointed out to me that we had only covered a whopping 60 miles of our route. Yeesh.

The next morning we were REALLY determined to make up some miles and set out at a record 25 mins late. “Late” is a relative term, but we never make it on the road at the time we mean to, we’re slow morning people anyway and breaking camp/packing the bike is a series of chores. This was the closest we had made it to leaving at our goal time.

We had an amazing and scenic route marked out through the Rockies on our map but realized we had to get moving, so we decided to hop on the interstate and chug away the miles, abandoning our wandering route. That’s when we met Chris.

I pulled into a parking lot to stretch and get some water at the intersection we had marked to bail from our route. From this point, we would bee-line to interstate for some boring (but efficient) miles out of the state.

A middle-aged guy with a light German accent pulled up to chat (everybody wants to chat with us, that’s a whole blog post itself). We learned that he has 6 bikes, rides constantly, and has been on every road in the west. Before I knew what was going on we had 3 of our state maps out, I was taking diligent notes, crossing out or highlighting routes, and suddenly, we had our next 4 days of riding laid out to the hour. Where to get gas, where to camp, which roads would take our breath away, or be boring but necessary. He compared the new route with the “cheat route” we were about to turn onto, and declared “about an hour longer – an hour well spent”. He knew what he was doing. The roads he added for us are ones I will remember the rest of my life, and certainly come back to.

Each day in Colorado I’ve told Jess “This is THE BEST motorcycling I have ever done”, and each day it has been true. The mountain passes are all so different, challenging and rewarding. We’ve seen things we didn’t even know existed (Red Mountain has gold mines…and its red), met a ton of great people, and we have hardly even touched what Colorado and the Rockies have to offer. It almost feels irreverent to ride into some of the places we’ve been this week, look around, and leave again. The famous John Muir quote is going to resonate with us in a different way after this trip; “The mountains are calling, and I must go”.

Tomorrow we move further west, to the Grand Canyon!

Jess on our Anniversary:

20170615_162346

Timber Creek Campground, Rocky Mountain National Park:20170618_170712

Wild Elk in Timber Creek National  Park:20170618_201130

The biggest dandelions Jess has ever seen, Crawford State Park (recommended by Chris the German) 20170620_191853

Crawford S.P.20170620_195449

Red Mountain Pass, AKA The Million Dollar Highway DCIM100GOPROGOPR0789.

Thankful for family

Family and adventure go hand in hand!

(Jess Typing)

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 🙂

What good is a GPS?

(Taylor Typing) 

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! 

Itinerary around the US 

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! 

Our Big Adventure!

(Taylor Typing)

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!