Our August Hiatus

(First part written by Jay)

Well…well….it’s been a while since our last update because we’ve been busy visiting family all over the country.  After our last blog post, we spent 3 beautiful days on McKee’s Beach (outside Stanwood, WA) with my Uncle’s family and 2 days in Portland, OR with my other Aunt and Uncle.  On August 5th, we stowed our motorcycles safely in my Uncle’s garage (after a deep cleaning and routine maintenance) and hopped on a plane headed to Boston, MA.  Our plan was to spend the next 3 weeks with Emily’s family celebrating a handful of important events, including her sister’s wedding in Button Bay State Park south of Burlington, VT.  From there we would fly to Chicago to meet my sister’s new baby.  That’s exactly what we did. Here’s more of the story.

On July 31st, we made an important left turn.  After travelling westward from Michigan to Washington over the course of 28 days, we turned left in Burlington, WA on to I-5 South.  We had turned left before, but this particular curve meant more than others because it marked the end of our westward progress and the beginning of our journey south.  We would now be hugging the west coast of North and South America for roughly 12,000 miles.  Our first stop: McKee’s Beach.

Later that day we arrived at my Uncle’s lake house which sits on a private stretch of Puget Sound known as McKee’s Beach.  McKee’s Beach was “founded” in the mid-1950’s (or something like that) when Bill and Fran McKee decided to sell parcels of property to folks seeking a slice of Washington serenity.  My great Uncle was one of them, so parts of my family have been going there ever since.

We spent the next 2 days crabbing, eating, reading, running, skiing, and enjoying marvelous sunsets.  We also had fun looking for wildlife.  While there, we watched four Bald Eagles hunting from perches high above the beach and we waterskied next to a school of dolphins who were kind enough to show themselves to us.  All-in-all, it was absolutely beautiful.  Thanks Uncle M. and Aunt S. for a wonderful visit. 
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Wind, Hail, and Sun

Over the past week or so we have ridden through near freezing temps, over 100 degree heat, winds gusting up to 70 mph, hail, and rain.  The thing about traveling via motorcycles is we get to intimately experience all aspects of these beautiful places we travel through....and holy crap, we've seen some BEAUTIFUL parts of this country! Read on for our latest recap:

July 21- As hard as it was to say goodbye to our friends in Jackson, we were also excited to get back on the road after a four day rest.  We departed around noon, headed into Teton National Park & made our way to Yellowstone. Since we have both been through the park a few times, we enjoyed the geysers in passing.  As we approached West Yellowstone, the drizzling rain we had been riding through suddenly turned to hail.  Who would've guessed that by week 3 we would have experienced two hail storms?  We found refuge and a delicious dinner in the Taco Bus, which is exactly (and as awesome) as it old bus with a kitchen in the back and seating in the front.  We made a break for a campground down the road and found ourselves and one other guy vying for the final open site.  I wanted to fight him for it, but Jay being Captain Peace resolved to share the space.  We chatted with our newfound friend Sebastian for a bit and learned that he is a physicist from Germany who works for a research institute studying pyrotechnics. He was in the area for a conference - I guess where they talk about how to best blow stuff up? - and was taking a few days on the back end to travel.  Glad to have met him!
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Onto the Dirt

Since our last blog post, our DR's have had lots of dirt time, allowing us to experience some remote and beautiful parts of Wyoming.  Here's a quick recap of our past week on the road!

July 13th- After spending the morning enjoying the twists, hairpin turns and spirals of Route 16A to Mount Rushmore, we spent some time at the Memorial in awe of the amazing creation.  We then moved down the road to Crazy Horse Memorial where we learned about the man whose dedication to his people and land cost him his life- all because of the greed of the white man. What a horrible blemish in our history. The story of the ongoing construction of the memorial is just as incredible- spearheaded and envisioned by several Native American chiefs with construction led by one man whose family has made it their mission to complete the project utilizing only private dollars.  It's amazing to think about the history we aren't taught in school... We ended our day in Hot Springs, SD where we found a campsite along a small creek.  The campground provided free tubes to float the creek so of course we immediately took on the challenge. Unfortunately that particular endeavor was a fail as we bottomed out more than we floated, but we got some good video footage (coming soon)!
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The First 10 Days

WOW!!!  Our first 10 days on this adventure have been nothing short of incredible.  We left our house on the morning of July 3rd after waiting through a minor rain delay that kept us in our garage as the storm passed.  No worries though, it gave us one last opportunity to enjoy time (and coffee) with Taryn.  Thanks again for the coffee and bagels T!  Now here we sit in Keystone, South Dakota on Emily's 30th birthday.  Today we'll visit Mt. Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Memorial, and Wind Cave National Park before concluding our evening in Hot Springs, South Dakota.  Life is good.


Here's a quick recap of our first 10 days on the road.


July 3rd: We left Ann Arbor down Dexter-Ann Arbor Road.  From there we headed north to Pinckney and Owosso, along beautiful secondary roads.  After picking up route 127 and I-75 north, we crossed the Mackinac Bridge around 7:00pm and spent the night at Castle Rock Campground in St. Ignace.  We met some new friends (Mark and Betty - who were touring on their Harley; thanks again for the saw you two!) and enjoyed our first night on the road.

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Yes, I will fall

We finally got our bikes! Two Suzuki DR650s, which we picked up from Chip and Casey at Nicholson's in Ann Arbor.   Mine has been out of the garage exactly 3 times and yesterday I dropped it....on a busy front of a restaurant with a crowd of al fresco diners...and right as a cop was passing by.  It was embarrassing.  Here's my story:  


I was riding home from work when the bike stalled as I was approaching an intersection.  I coasted onto the sidewalk to get out of the traffic and quickly learned that while stopped on an incline, trying to support the bike on my downhill foot is NOT a good idea.  In what felt like slow motion, the bike tipped and I was dumped into the street.  Shaken and embarrassed, I heaved the bike up (with the help of a very kind bystander) and attempted to collect myself…but all I could focus on was the swarm of negative thoughts flooding my mind:


“You can’t even ride the bike around town without falling, how are you possibly going to make it all the way to South America?”


“Women aren’t supposed to ride bikes like yours”


“All these people think you are foolish, reckless, and shouldn’t be riding motorcycles”


“I knew you’d fail at this”


All my doubts were staring me in the addition to a horde of curious and concerned onlookers. I badly wanted to escape the situation and go climb under a rock somewhere to loathe in my self-pity. I attempted to start the bike and…nothing. Enter a whole new string of destructive self-judgments:


“You don’t even know enough about bikes to figure out what’s wrong- you are NOT ready to go on this trip”


“It’s because you’re a woman…”


And once again….“I knew you’d fail at this”


As someone who prides herself on being a strong, independent woman this dealt a huge blow to my ego. I took a deep breath and called Jay, who luckily works only a few blocks from the scene of the incident. Being the remarkable, supportive husband that he is, he arrived on his bike a few minutes later. As I saw him riding toward me, I secretly wished he would have showed up on foot so he could ride my bike home for me. I clearly had no business doing so myself.


Jay, anticipating my fears and doubts and seeing beyond the distorted thoughts that had taken over my head was not about to give me an out. After shifting the gear lever back into place, my bike fired right up. “You’re going to get back on the bike, and we’re going to ride home together” he calmly and matter-of-factly stated. Trepidation running through my veins, I hoisted my leg over the seat and squared the bike. Glancing back at Jay, he shared a confident head nod and a look that somehow instilled in me enough poise to turn my wrist and take off…slowly.  


While I still feel a bit apprehensive, my confidence gradually builds as the miles on the odometer tick upward.  The reality is that we are going to fall- both literally and figuratively- on this trip…and in life. That’s what makes us the beautifully imperfect and vulnerable humans that we are. While the fall itself can be embarrassing and sometimes painful, the hard part is getting back on the horse (or motorcycle) and continuing down the road. Knowing that I am not on this journey alone and have others to lean on for support and encouragement quiets the skeptical voices in my head and gives me the confidence to ride on.


Yes, I will fall and yes, I will get back up!





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