The single digit countdown is on!! For over a year, I have been talking of a dream to ride my motorcycle across the country to see Puget Sound, and it is finally here! I will leave bright and early on June 21st for an adventure, feeling much like a vision quest as I am going to be tested along the way and have many miles to think.
What is left to do? Not sure, really, just little things. I have gone on two week tours before, but never a month. How much more planning is needed to leave my retail business for that long? I will have my computer with me, so if needed, I can do some work on line. I think that I just have a huge dose of faith that everything is going to be all right while I am gone. My perfectly capable 19 year old daughter, Annie will run the store, and my husband Mo, will help behind the scenes. Without their willingness to do this, my trip would not be happening.
Sleep this past week... I wake at about 2 or 3AM, and my first thought might be about how many pairs of jeans or tee shirts to bring, or worry about running out of gas in a remote area.... I had dreams like this before I got married. Those weird dreams about strange food being served, or when the entire guest list shows up wearing wedding dresses. Although, 21 years later, that thought would have made for a very memorable and enjoyably hilarious wedding! This must mean that I am pretty nearly all set to go. This week will be collecting phone numbers from connections I am to make along the way, and fine tune some of my choices for motels when I stop each night.
So far, I have over 9200 miles in the itinerary. "Where am I riding?" is an often asked question. Followed by, "both ways?" I smile... "yes, both ways and lots of sights along the way."
To make it easy, I'll split it into 4 legs, one for each week.
Leg 1, the most social part of the tour:
Across beautiful rt.6 in Pennsylvania, some of the prettiest highways I have ridden are in PA. I will have a friend with me for the first 7 days, parting in SD and he will ride to visit family. The first rendezvous is just over the Ohio state line for dinner with an old friend. The next day, a restaurant in Angola, Indiana is the meet spot for two people that have been on my list for a few years. Having been active on motorcycle forums for 5 years now, I have a 'bucket list' of people that I want to meet. The four of us will then head north into central Michigan, to land at another biker friend's house for the night. I hear there might be more people there for a little party that evening at Tommy's. Friends and laughter, what more could you want?
The next morning, as many bikes that want to, will follow me to ride along the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline. The Traverse City area is a gorgeous section of the country, if you are ever given the chance to see it. Then over the Mackinaw Bridge toward Milwaukee.
A quick visit in Milwaukee to 'The Mothership' (the Harley Davidson Museum) before heading to Grant's birthplace in historic Galena, Illinois is looking like a relaxing fun day. Galena sits on the Great River Road, a scenic byway that I did not know existed until a few weeks ago. We will a ride a short leg of it here before I part company and blast across I90 South Dakota to begin Leg 2....
After Sioux Falls, I will be solo for the most part. This section is the bulk of the wild and twisty mountain passes that the western states are famous for. Needles Highway in the Black Hills to see Mt. Rushmore will be my first taste of them. From here, my road will lead me into Wyoming to Chief Joseph Highway and Bear Tooth Pass. The first time I saw these roads on the satellite view GoogleMaps, I instantly got the "OMG butterflies" in my belly... some twisty sections like none that I have ridden before! I fussed over the thought of these roads for days, with my experienced riding friends saying that I will be fine, to stop worrying!
After riding Beartooth Pass northwest into Red Lodge Montana, I will rest a bit, and then point the bike right back at it, to get to the northern part of Yellowstone on this leg of the ride. The southern part will come later. From there, it is due north to Glacier National Park , Montana.
After riding The Road to the Sun, it's west across northern Washington on Route 20, a highly recommended route to ride. There is a chance that friends will come up to meet me on this road....company will be nice if it happens. :)
Leg 3 begins the reason for making this trip... it's all about the ocean.
Anyone that knows me, knows how I feel about it. There is something that resonates in me when I sit by the water. I am thrilled to be riding through our nation's most beautiful mountain roads, but the thought of sitting by the Pacific Coast sends a calm through me as I feel like I am on a Vision Quest to reach it. The tour around the Olympic Peninsula will begin with a few hours in Port Townsend, I am told I must stop there and take in the little shops.
Somewhere along the Pacific Coast, there will be a much needed day of rest. I have daydreams about finding a little hotel where I can hear the ocean at night. Then there will be the challenge to pull myself away from the water and point my bike eastward toward Hot Springs SD for a Meet and Greet. The road will lead me to Jackson WY through the Grand Teton National Park , then north to ride the loop through Yellowstone National Park. Sometimes I feel as though my fly by tour is not going to give me time to pay homage to these places, but I would rather do this than skip any one thing.
Bikers love Meet and Greets. I will hang out in Hot Springs SD, just south of Sturgis, for a couple of days with riders from all over. They will be doing day rides of the area, but I have already warned them that I plan on being lazy and floating in the pool. :)
Leg 4 begins with a hard to Des Moines Iowa, my longest day of the trip, well over 600 miles. The goal is to make a connection on the Great River Road again, this time to ride south. It is a long awaited meet with a friend for the first time, and we will ride for a few miles and share stories in person that have til now, always been written. At this point, I will be on the eastern side of the Mississippi and feel the pull of home. After saying goodbye to Ranger, I am reaching to connect with some friends to ride back home with. Those last miles home are always emotionally exhausting, so to be invited to ride homeward with this small group is a blessing. They are willing to slow down take on a road weary Bee for a couple of days and deliver me home and I am grateful. It will be a sweet way to end this beautiful tour!
My next entry will be from the road...
Thank you for reading and coming along for the ride!
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