The Travel Bug

First Reader and I have traveled a lot of the United States, in the car, or on our motorcycles. Our first road trip was right after Christmas the first year we were together. We spent a little more than two weeks traveling around the Midwest, visiting friends, and reconnecting with my kids.

That trip set an expectation that’s been a constant in our relationship since—we need a good road trip at least two or three times a year. Sturgis provides one highway adventure a year. But what about the other highway adventures?

For almost ten years, a small group of us took our bikes on a two-week trip to a nearby National Park. Depending on the group size, we would get a block of hotel/motel rooms, stay with nearby family, or rent a camping cabin or two. We’ve managed to visit the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Badlands, and many other National Parks with our friends.

Most recently, the group has dwindled to three, sometimes four, of us. I’m good with that. Smaller groups are simpler to keep together on the highway, and less drama occurs. Because of the Visible Means of Support®, my ability to take blocks of time was hampered. (I believe that was one factor of my current “retired” status. Sorry, my emotional well-being was more important than your artificial deadline. I needed that break.)

Now that I’m retired, I can travel more.

The United States has some incredible places to see and experience. America has a rich and varied history for being such a young country (243 years is not long when you compare it to the history of Great Britain or China). My travel has been restricted to the “neighborhood” (those locations a day or two distant); we can now plan trips further afield.

The internet has provided a glimpse of what each state has to offer for an adventurous motorcycle rider. Deal’s Gap in North Carolina has the Tail of the Dragon, an 11-mile stretch of the Gap that has some 318 curves to negotiate. Iron Mountain Road along US Route 16A in South Dakota boasts three “pigtail bridges” and stretches of one-lane divided roads through some beautiful areas of the Black Hills. Virginia State Route 16 has the Back of the Dragon, with a turn count that varies from 260 to 438 twisty-turns. I’ve only ridden Iron Mountain Road—several times. I’ve gone down that road and up that road (most recently up, in the rain). I think we’re ready for something new.

We much prefer taking the US Highway system rather than the Interstate system. The US Highway system provides a more realistic glimpse of America and Americans.

I had a four-week sabbatical from my company a few years ago. First Reader and I traveled from Sturgis, SD, across Montana on I-90 (we wanted the quickest route to the west coast). Finally, we dropped down onto US 95 into Idaho and riding toward the Yakima Valley in Washington. The speeds and traffic on the interstate can be stressful; we needed a break. The scenery changed, the pace dropped to reasonable, and the towns morphed.

The novelty of two women on motorcycles traveling to the coast brought out the best in most people. Most people were curious and kind. Our four weeks on the highway gave us a ton of experiences and memories. We stayed in Port Orchard, Washington, for a few days. We caught up on laundry, visited with friends, and toured a Vietnam-era destroyer (USS Turner Joy, DD-951). I got a kick out of watching First-Class Petty Officers chip paint.

(C) 2014 JJ Shaun
USS Turner Joy

We spent a day with my cousin and her son at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens.

(C) 2014 JJ Shaun
Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden

We visited the Avenue of the Giants along US Hwy 101 in Northern California.

(C) 2014 JJ Shaun
Chandler Tree in the California redwoods

Shortly after we reached Crescent City, California, we ran out of August and had to head home. Next summer, I would like to take a trip like that again, only go east.

This winter, this page will highlight some of the journeys we’ve completed. As the weather in the northern hemisphere shifts into the dark of the year, I’ll try to shine a little light on brighter times. After the Solstice, I’ll focus on trips to come, starting with a journey east in the spring. Finally, as we travel, I’ll bring you with us to give you a taste of what this remarkable nation has to offer.

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