Road trips aren’t just about all the destinations, but the journey. It’s the adventures, the possibilities, the change from our daily routine that beckons us, and it’s even more true when taking a solo road trip on a motorcycle. Space is limited. Nature is in your face. Fatigue sets in sooner and the risk of injury is much greater. I had an amazing time on my ride across this beautiful nation. I had a lot of time to think, and this what I learned in 31 days, 19 states and 7,000 miles, alone on my motorcycle.
I’m No Princess
There once was a time in my life when I had to have my coffee a certain way, I couldn’t sleep without a fan and a feather pillow. I wore those comfort requirements like a badge of honor. I don’t know why we do that. Maybe to show how civilized we are. Maybe it’s for attention or to demonstrate that we have evolved into a lifestyle that can require such things. In any case, those days are long for me. I slept on a two-inch air mattress with a tiny pillow. Most days I didn’t get coffee, or if I did it was from a convenience store. I averaged about 350 miles a day. I camped in 40 degree temperatures. I rode through torrential rain, 30 mile an hour sustained winds and 106 degree heat. I’m no princess anymore. I’ve gained a lot of self-confidence and feel like I’m strong enough to handle just about anything, even ending up 3,000 miles away from home without any money, ID, or credit cards.
It’s amazing how a road trip can make you appreciate the simple things that we generally take for granted. I found myself grateful for a hot shower, a cup of coffee, dry clothes and a quiet place to sleep. The sounds of the birds chirping in the morning, children laughing while they play, or a babbling stream, were like music to my ears. We have so much to be grateful for, but we are often too distracted to even notice.
I learned to be especially grateful for some basic road essentials that I highly recommend for anyone on a long motorcycle trip. A good pair of sunglasses is imperative. It not only protected my eyes from the intensity of the early summer sun but also from dust and things getting blown into my eyes. I also used eye drops and lip balm like an addict uses drugs. Having my face constantly exposed to the elements wasn’t something I was used to and those simple things helped enormously. Ear phones and a good navigation app were also essential. Google Maps talks over the sound of your music while giving you verbal instructions on when to turn, and it warns you of upcoming traffic jams. Music helped me pass the time and stay alert. It was these little things that made a huge difference.
The Value of Friendship
I had the pleasure of visiting many friends on this trip that I hadn’t seen in a long time. A glass of wine and shared laughter and it was like no time had gone by at all. I’m truly blessed to have so many good people in my life. When I lost my purse somewhere around the Kentucky border, it was a friend that saved my ass by shipping out overnight his personal debit card, cash and a credit card for me to use, because my banks wouldn’t send them to an address that wasn’t on file. If it weren’t for friends and family, I may still be homeless somewhere in Kentucky.
The Bond of Family
I also spent time with a lot of extended family on my trip. It was wonderful to visit my brother and his family in Tennessee. I’m embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t ever visited his home or met his grandchildren before. Spending time with all of them brought tears of joy to my eyes, and it was his wife that wired funds to me on the night of my lost purse crisis. Without her I would have had to sleep in the Walmart parking lot and eat trail mix for dinner (again). I also visited my aunt and two uncles, along with several cousins. It was so good to see them all and it reminded me of blessed days gone by, those childhood memories that I had long forgotten.
My father died while I was on the trip. It’s ironic that I was with my brother at the time. Dad had suffered from congenital heart failure and advanced diabetes for years, so it wasn’t a surprise. We had an estranged relationship for most of my adult life, but his death still saddened me greatly. It was my father that gave me my sense of adventure. He took us on many crazy trips as young kids. We went across the U.S in a Chevy van one summer, and up the inland passage of Alaska in a 24-foot boat when my sister was just an infant. I wasn’t able to attend his funeral. I had already said my goodbyes. But as I rode through the beautiful states of Missouri and Montana at the same time as his service, I realized how grateful I am that he taught me how to get out of my comfort zone and experience life up close and personal.
America is Beautiful
The United States is still one of the most beautiful and versatile countries I have ever seen. The stunning landscape, from the red rocks of Sedona to the majestic Cascade Mountains, still blows my mind! As I rode through Amish country, I was reminded of the importance of our diversity and how it strengthens us as a nation. I saw massive farms and old museums that reminded me of our incredible heritage. Our past is an important part of our future. We should cherish it like we cherish the present. It was so great to take it all in from the seat of my 883 Harley Davidson Sportster. It was a trip of a lifetime and one I will never forget!