- Day 1: The hills burn
- Day 2: River runs through it
- Day 3: Top of the world
- Day 4: '50s postcard
- Day 5: Into the inferno
- Day 6: Navajo sands
- Day 7: The breakthrough
- Day 8: Iron ass
- Day 9: Rediscovering home
The beginning for this trip was like most others: There was a spark of an idea–likely over a few beer late one night–and with a napkin doodle in hand the plans are set in motion. My favourite part of excursions like this is how innocently they start. Come to think of it, most big undertakings come to life the moment the idea is exhaled, "how about we…" and with that the switch is on.
Strapping on new gear outside MEC - the tent's first ride on the bike!
My usual partner in crime for these types of trips, SM, was on call to other life duties at this time. Never looking to have the 'no one to go with' to stop me I proceeded anyway, silently hoping that a willing accomplice might come along. After several impassioned sales pitches extolling the virtues of Yellowstone and primal beauty of the desert I still had no takers. I think I lost them with the parts about nightly camping, aggressive mileage, and desperate gas stops. Details.
Testing the tent in the back yard, or more correctly testing myself to put up the tent in the back yard.
Planning is one of the most fun parts of a trip like this. With a clean slate you can pull out a map and dream of lands unconquered. As you shift your body over the lines on the page your mind can wonder into dreams of what adventure waits inside those lines on a page. Like all great tales of fantasy and horror it's the details that are omitted that are the most powerful. With the anticipation of known attractions comes the reservations of unknown lands (to me) such as eastern Colorado or northern Nevada. Lines stretching out one the map with ominous descriptors such as 'desert' or 'basin'. Managing expectations becomes important to your sanity and focus turns to logistics and material preparation. Is the bike in condition? Can I carry enough water? Then passports, money, insurance and the dreams that put this all in motion temporarily slip away to the more mundane tasks at hand. They'll return once the helmet comes on and the solitude of the highway envelopes you.
With everything packed a final test ride is made. Nothing shifts or falls off. We're ready to go!
There were three certainties to work with. First, I had eight days to convert into this moto-bonanza. Work and life would be keeping a watchful eye. Second, I wanted to camp for the majority of nights. This was a curious requirement and I'm still not sure where the motivation came from but like my ice cream addiction I submitted willingly. I think it was a desire to take on the extra challenge, to 'do this thing right if to do it at all', and recapture an activity I had such fond memories of with my father from decades past. Motorcycles and camping are often romantically linked in the holy scriptures (Jupiter's Travels, One Man Caravan, Zen and the Art of MC Maintenance to name a few) as they share the same principle of submitting to the environment and embracing all that comes with it. Few people jump on a bike to cross a continent and are disgusted when a white linen dinner isn't waiting at the end of each day. Finally, I knew that this trip would include big mileage. Partly because I enjoy geographic slide shows while I ride and also because there was still much country I had not seen. I had never been to any of the western states that didn't have a coastline and in my mind an image played of a bike, a road, and a landscape flashing by in grandeur. This was the image I was chasing.