Leg 1, Day 1 – May 29, 2015 – Scottsdale, AZ to La Mesa, CA – 369 Miles
Leg 1, Day 2 – May 30, 2015 – La Mesa, CA to Santa Barbara, CA – 281 Miles
Leg 1, Day 3 – May 31, 2015 – Santa Barbara, CA to Monterrey, CA – 231 Miles
Leg 1, Day 4 – June 1, 2015 – Monterrey, CA to Miranda, CA – 372 Miles
Leg 1, Day 5 – June 2, 2015 – Miranda, CA to Crater Lake, OR – 328 Miles
Leg 1, Day 6 – June 3, 2015 – Crater Lake, OR to Cannon Beach, OR – 315 Miles
Leg 1, Day 7 – June 4, 2015 – Cannon Beach, OR to Blaine, WA to Seattle, WA – 422 Miles
Leg 1, Day 8 – June 5, 2015 – Seattle, WA to Spokane, WA – 295 Miles
Leg 2, Day 1 – July 26, 2015 – Spokane, WA to Glacier National Park, WA – 283 Miles
I arrived at my storage unit in Spokane, Washington, was lucky the bike started, then after almost dumping the poor bike on its side due to catching a saddlebag on the door track of the storage unit, I got my gear in order and rode up to Glacier National Park. This was one of the shortest rides of the leg, under 300 miles. Great, easy first day. I planned it this way on purpose, in case I had battery trouble or a delayed flight.
Leg 2, Day 2 – July 27, 2015 – Glacier National Park, Montana to Miles City, Montana – 599 Miles
So far this remains the longest day of the trip. I put in 599 miles on the dot (I know – I hear you right now…). I found myself with an ear-to-ear smile in the middle of Montana…then realized how dangerous it was to be in the middle of nowhere by myself with no way to fix my bike if I got into trouble. Sure, there were fellow motorcyclists everywhere (they outnumbered cars, no kidding, five to one), but it’s not smart to rely 100% on the help of strangers – I decided to get down to Billings and take main roads the rest of the way in to Miles City. By the way, the Best Western there is the ultimate motel (dressed up for a motel), and they have free soup at night. Random, I know, but still soup.
Leg 2, Day 3 – July 28, 2015 – Miles City, Montana to Bowman, North Dakota, through Spearfish Canyon, SD, to Rapid City, SD – 358 Miles
A great day on the road for so many reasons. One, because I got a chance to retrace some of Robert Pirsig’s steps. Pirsig’s book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, is a) what planted the seed for this trip about two decades ago, b) considered one of the best works of philosophy in recent times, and c) just damn amazing. I’m taking the opportunity to re-read the book for a 7th or 8th time in audio format as I ride on this trip. Next, it was a great journey because this stretch of road is just breathtaking – the entire trip. If you get a chance to ride this route, do it, and you’ll see what I mean. I ended the day in Spearfish canyon, with a stop in Deadwood for a shot of whiskey at Hickock’s casino, and then was witness to an absolute hail storm at the Indian dealership in Sturgis during an oil change. I was pretty lucky on that one. I finally got to the Alex Johnson hotel in Rapid City just as the hail really started to come down. Never go to that hotel, ever. I’ll explain why in detail in a later post.
Leg 2, Day 4 – July 29, 2015 – Rapid City, South Dakota to Manley, Minnesota, to Brandon, South Dakota – 411 Miles
This was just a long-ass haul across the plains. I made the obligatory stop at “Wall Drug” in South Dakota. Not my favorite place but I guess you have to. When I got far enough east, I tapped Minnesota for all of .25 miles, turned around, and stayed at the Quality Inn in Brandon, SD. Not a bad little place – especially because it was next to a gas station with decent food and wine. There’s a bar there too, but I had to go to bed.
Leg 2, Day 5 – July 30, 2015 – Brandon, South Dakota to Dubuque, Iowa – 444 Miles
South to Sioux City, Iowa to cross the bridge and “tap” Nebraska to the West, then straight East across absolutely boring and gorgeous farmlands. The really neat part about the farmland in this stretch is all of the crop dusting planes – I got some great footage of some super-low-flying planes as they did their dusting. Otherwise this part was dumb and slow. You can see that I bumped South to visit relatives in Cedar Rapids, then back North to Dubuque, where I stayed at the most amazing hotel of the trip so far – the Hotel Julien. That hotel was featured on the “Prince Farming” season of the Bachelor – and was amazing. I’ll write a separate post on how amazing it is, but for now, if you get a chance, stay there. Just picture the horrifying Alex Johnson hotel in Rapid City, then picture the exact opposite, and you have the Hotel Julien.
Leg 2, Day 6 – July 31, 2015 – Dubuque, IA to Fremont, OH – 493 Miles
Headed from Dubuque, Iowa, down South to avoid the Chicago traffic, nabbing Illinois, Indiana, a quick bump up to Sturgis, MI to tag MI, and on to Ohio.
Leg 2, Day 7 – August 1, 2015 – Fremont, Ohio to Chester, West Virginia to Syracuse, New York – 553 Miles
Started out in Fremont, Ohio, headed East and then South to grab West Virginia at the northernmost point, and then retraced my steps, back up through terrible traffic in Buffalo, then East to Syracuse, NY. I’d have loved to grab Niagara Falls but the cars in Buffalo were trying to squish me REALLY hard, so I skipped it. Sometimes you just need to rely on intuition and mine was telling me to get the hell out of Buffalo.
Leg 2, Day 8 – August 2, 2015 – Syracuse, NY to Portland, ME – 420 Miles
Syracuse, NY, East through Albany – stopped at a rest stop and fate happened again – met a couple who told me that if I was going to Vermont, to take Highway 9 East. BRILLIANT ride – was so happy that I ran into them – rode East through Vermont and New Hampshire, then on to Portland, Maine. The drivers headed North on a Saturday night in Maine are all partying, and it was a blast to see how many waved at me and hung halfway out the window. Portland was beautiful – just beautiful – stopped at this perfect little bar at the waterfront where everyone was dressed like the fancy people in Georgetown. A crowd of people took pictures next to the Indian as I had some appetizers and a couple of drinks overhead on the deck. Two different guys offered me cash for gas when they heard about my adventure. Great town! Stayed at a Marriott next to the mall there – of all places, it was the only one with a room open. Surprisingly, this was one of the best hotels I went to on this trip, for many reasons (I’ll do a separate post just on that Marriott). They get it. Also, the trip says 394 miles but I got lost a few times headed into Portland, so it was more like 420.
Leg 2, Day 9 – August 3, 2015 – Portland ME to Madawaska ME to Bangor ME – 546 Miles
This was a pivotal day on the trip. This was the day where I needed to get all of the way from Portland, to the very NE tip of Maine, then back to Bangor. BIG day, and it was not easy. The weather was perfect, though, so that was great! The miles were slow because much of this route is on route 11 North, where speed limits often dip to 35. Regardless, it was beautiful, I tagged the 3rd corner, and saw the beautiful park they’ve created to commemorate the four corners journey. I’ll post pictures from there. All in all, a great day.
Leg 2, Day 10 – August 4, 2015 – Bangor, ME to Dayville, CT – 305 Miles
Okay I won’t lie, this is where the trip got to a very dark place for me. The trip from Bangor down through Massachusetts to Connecticut was HOT, LONG, HIGH-TRAFFIC, and just plain dangerous and tiring. It was pretty much unbearable. Nevertheless, I managed to grab two states, before I broke down, could barely eat dinner in Putnam, Mass, and found the closest hotel where I just crashed at 6:30 PM, showerless.
Leg 2, Day 11 – August 5, 2015 – Dayville, CT to Bethany Beach, DE – 466 Miles
This day started off VERY scary. I woke up at at 3:50 AM and had the bike uncovered at 4:00 AM. I was so proud of myself, until I got about 1 minute into the journey and saw the lightning and heard the thunder. I rode right into a terrible storm that was coming through the Northeast, with no way of seeing it because it was pitch black outside. The rain pelted me, life sucked and was scary, but once I started to slow down and take looks at my weather apps, I was able to get less scared about the future of the morning. The toughest part was that I wasn’t on any highways, and so there were no overpasses. Once I reached major highways I felt much safer, because I could stop (and did stop sometimes) under overpasses during really heavy rain. Once the sun came up, the weather began to clear, and the rest of the day was insanely productive and fantastic. I made it all the way to Bethany Beach, Delaware, 466 miles away, and then spent lots of time on the beach, and eating crab using a hammer. I even got a chance to play some guitar on the beach. Great day, all in all.
Leg 2, Day 12 – August 6, 2015 – Bethany Beach, DE to the Outer Banks, to Williamston, NC – 328 Miles
This day I slept a bit too late and didn’t get on the road until about 8:00. I wasn’t “feeling it” at any point during the day, and it ended up being a long, tedious ride. The one high point was stopping in Kittyhawk for a couple of beers – I’d always wanted to see that area. I have to say though, it was much more touristy and much less peaceful than I’d imagined – I was glad to get out of there. I then was surprised by the miles and miles of wetlands leading West out of the Outer Banks. I mean, you ride for HOURS and still don’t clear the wetlands – it’s pretty “backcountry” feeling. I eventually had to stop at a Holiday Inn Express to take some calls, so that was the end of a pretty crappy day.
Leg 2, Day 13 – August 7, 2015 – Williamston, NC to Port Orange, FL – 666 Miles
This was a MONSTER day and the best I’ve felt riding this entire trip. I was even in good spirits while I faced a pretty nasty thunderstorm coming out of Hilton Head, forcing me to take shelter in the tiny space that stays dry next to the outer wall of a Wal Mart. Big miles today – 666, the longest of the trip – realizing the further I rode, the easer Friday would become.
Leg 2, Day 14 – August 8, 2015 – Port Orange, FL to Miami, FL – 256 Miles
This started off as a very fun day, realizing I had only a short distance to get to Miami. I woke up early and got it mostly out of the way, though I did have two major stops before my final destination. First, I needed to hit Target to grab some somewhat-presentable clothes to wear at the hotel at night (I was headed to a hotel where I’d actually go to a restaurant for dinner, and I was starting to look very, very unclean). I also needed to stop at a UPS store to ship home a lot of things I a) wouldn’t ever need again on the bike trip, and b) didn’t want to carry for the next few days on planes as I travel to various other locations. Once that was all behind me, I showed up at a car storage location in Miami that would become the bike’s home for the coming weeks. All-in-all, a great ride. One thing sucked – the traffic between Palm Beach and Miami is pretty intense. It’s not “stop and go” (or it wasn’t when I was there), it’s blazing-fast, high-speed, teeth-grinding, scary-as-heck, still-gets-you-there-on-time, go-go-go, craziness. That’s not fun for a motorcyclist, especially when there are so many people around pretending to be Vin Diesel.
Leg 3, Day 1 – October 9, 2015 – Miami to Key Largo, 60 Miles
Leg 3, Day 2 – October 10, 2015 – Key Largo to Key West to Estero, FL – 391 Miles
Leg 3, Day 3 – October 11, 2015 – Estero, FL to Crestview, FL – 559 Miles
Leg 3, Day 4 – October 12, 2015 – Crestview, FL to Clarksdale, MS, 487 Miles
Leg 3, Day 5 – October 13, 2015 – Clarksdale, MS to Sikeston, MO – 299 Miles
Leg 3, Day 6 – October 14, 2015 – Sikeston, MO to Oklahoma City, OK – 541 Miles
Leg 3, Day 7 – October 15, 2015 – Oklahoma City, OK to Farmington, NM – 732 Miles
Leg 3, Day 8 – October 16, 2015 – Farmington, NM to Las Vegas, NV – 525 Miles
Leg 3, Day 9 – October 18, 2015 – Las Vegas, NV to Phoenix, AZ – 294 Miles