Well Kate and I are finally back together and it’s time to actually do this. There is a heat wave sapping a lot of energy from us but despite that the bike has been made ready with new tires and new rear suspension. We are rounding up supplies and our equipment so we can do a more serious load-out (like a test loading) and we expect Tuesday, Aug 18 to be our launch day.
There is a mix of emotions of course, since we are switching from “planning” to “doing,” but that was the whole point. We’re already looking at the weather and thinking about changing course and running along the coast to avoid the heat, but we really wanted to see Redding and Shasta, even if it is 110°.
The great part about this trip though is it’s 100% our trip: we can change it any way we want. Our first stop was going to be Cohasset, but the friend we were going to stop in on may not be there. That would make it easier to run up the coast and seek out the cooling effect of the Pacific, then cut back inland when this heat wave breaks.
It’s up to us and I reckon we will decide each morning where we want to end up that night. The rhythm of the road will inform us and there is no need to hurry, because being on the trip is our destination. One thing is for sure, and that is when Tuesday rolls around, we’ll point the handlebars north and seek out new horizons.
The Past Few Weeks
Just to keep everyone up to speed, I’ve been out on the Veterans Charity Ride to Sturgis since July 27th. This is the same organization that I volunteer for and the same and the same one that donated our sidecar, Ol’ Dusty, for our trip. This is their sixth year doing the big charity ride to Sturgis and my fourth year with them, taking wounded and amputee veterans on a ride of a lifetime, using motorcycles to help the path to healing the scars within.
With COVID-19 happening, the trip was actually much more personal. We didn’t have many events along the way which meant the group spend more time with each other, enjoying each other’s company and the time we spent on the road.
The first several days were spent in Moab, Utah, where the veterans familiarized themselves with the Indian motorcycles and the few sidecar outfits we had for amputee veterans. We then did some off-roading on the slick rock, did some rafting and horseback riding, and had some great meals at the Red Cliffs Lodge.
Although the place was great we were looking forward to getting into Colorado and cooler temperatures. That didn’t turn out to be the case on the first day, but scattered thunderstorms eventually created a cloud cover that took the edge off the summer temps.
We stopped in Craig, Colorado before following Hwy 14 into Ft. Collins. Then we moved north to Casper, WY and had a great dinner at a local brewpub. For the Sturgis Rally, we actually stay south of Deadwood, making Sturgis proper about a 45 min ride.
The rally was still a madhouse, but considering it was the 80th anniversary things were very tame. The roads were less choked, parking was difficult but not impossible to find, and local rides to Custer State Park, Mt. Rushmore, and the Crazy Horse monument weren’t an endless parade of motorcycles crawling at 30mph.
It was special for me because some of the other returning veterans were friends of mine I hadn’t seen in a few years. Add to that the chance to meet so many new vets and it really was– yet again– a once in a lifetime experience. People from all walks of life, who served at different times in different jobs and in different branches of the Armed Services, yet immediately able to get along and understand each other. If there were more people like that in the world, well…
As for Kate, she was holding down the home front, working at her friend’s property and doing everything from feeding chickens to harvesting crops to canning pickles. She also kept busy making jewelry, which we’re hoping she can sell and trade along the way to help bring in some income.
It’s cool because she’s always dreamed of having the time to make jewelry. It’s a way to be creative in both design and methods of construction, giving each piece its own personality. Given enough time on the road, I expect she’ll get better with each piece, and eventually we’ll set up a store on our website so people can commission a custom design.
Kate and I actually met in a jewelry making class, but most of what she’s been creating lately has been self-taught. The plan is to find gems, stones, and other items along the way so that her pieces reflect the landscapes we’ll be riding through. Each piece will be custom made, and her kit doesn’t take up much space in the sidecar at all.
And We’re Off…
By the time some of you read this, we’ll be on the road. For those of you who found this right away, we’ll probably have the sidecar packed by the time you’ve read this far. It’s actually happening. COVID-19 has thrown our plans into the trash heap, but we were smart enough to have a very loose plan to start with.
We’ll still be doing a clockwise circle of the country, and we’ll still be hitting most of the places we were planning; things just start getting foggy somewhere after Yellowstone. Whether we wander the Beartooth Highway towards the Black Hills and Minnesota, amble south and explore Colorado, or head through the plains of Iowa we aren’t sure.
We may hit the Northeast by running along the Great Lakes, or we may head down through Kansas and Kentucky before heading up through West Virginia. We’ll figure it out each day, checking the spreadsheet to make sure we are still withing budget. When the money runs out, we scurry home.
A little bit bold, a little bit crazy, but 100% possible. There is a lot of America to see, and “when we find the time” is no time to start seeing it. The only time you have is now.