The Great Summer Ride Of 2011

Photo courtesy of me. I hope my own lawyers don't see this.


It’s no great secret among the Kitchen cognoscenti that I love riding motorcycles.  I’ve loved it ever since Dad helped me buy my first dirt bike as a kid – a 1977 Honda XR75.  As I recall, I paid $75 of my own hard-earned child labor money for the contents of three boxes that Dad said a customer had brought to work one day.  Thankfully, Dad’s an inveterate motorcycle mechanic, and before long those three boxes of parts turned into one working freedom machine.

Nowadays, I still ride vintage Hondas, and I’m planning on taking a trip that I’ve always wanted to do.

Ever since my friend Chad lost his wife and daughter, I’ve been thinking about the frailty of life and how we frequently don’t seize the opportunity to do the things that we really wish we could do.  When Chad and I went for a ride this last weekend, he started telling me the details of his plan for an extended motorcycle trip.  He’ll be touring this country from one end to the other.  That really lit a fire under my butt.

For many years now, I’ve wanted to get away by myself on a motorcycle.  Having a wife and two sons makes it hard to do that.  Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I don’t love my family, it’s just that in my heart of hearts, I’ve always felt like a bit of a lone wolf.  I need to have time alone, or I get restless in my soul.  My wife – a far more caring, patient, and understanding person than I will ever be – has gently prodded me to take a trip for several summers.  The time seems right.

My plan is to celebrate my birthday on June 2, and then in the pre-dawn hours of June 3 take off on a 10-day trip to the upstate region of South Carolina.  Along the way, I’ll stop and see my parents outside of Greenville, SC for a few days.  I’ve made the drive to this area many times before, so that in itself is really no big deal.  Hopping on the Interstates will have you to Mom and Dad’s door in about 800 miles and 12 hours of driving.

I have no intention of traveling in that fashion this time around.

My desire for this trip is to do almost nothing in the same way that I’ve done it before.  In prior trips, the destination has been the primary focus.  This time around, I want the primary focus to be the journey itself.  To that end, I’ve decided on a couple of rules for the trip:

  • No Interstate Highways – The entire trip must be on US highways or state/local routes.
  • No Hotels – I need to find a pup tent and sleeping bag and do it like when I was a kid on camping trips.
  • No Chain Restaurants – When I’m hungry, I’ll only eat at local privately-owned restaurants, preferably with the owner’s name on the sign.  (Addendum – If the waitress is friendly, I have to get my picture taken with her, too.)
  • Count On The Kindness Of Strangers – This one is a little more vague.  Normally, I’m someone who would rather incur hardship than ask anyone for help.  For some reason, though, I’m feeling like I should use this trip to stretch myself away from that tendency.  Part of the reason for the pup tent and sleeping bag is that when it’s time to stop riding for the day, I think I’m going to just ask someone if I can put up a tent in their yard for the night.  I don’t know what will happen or who I may come across.
  • Keep A Public Journal – What you’re reading right now is the start of that process.  Rather than keep a private journal that would benefit only myself, I’ve decided that I’ll chronicle the journey as it happens, and post it on this website.  Modern smartphone technology allows for some wonderful things.  My goal is to post at least one update a day while on the road.
  • Spend No More Than $30 Each Day – Gasoline excluded.  My philosophy is that you can enjoy life without spending wads of cash.

The first order of business is to raise the funds, which means taking on a third job for the next couple of months.  I’m not crazy about working that much, but it’s the trade-off for being able to take the trip.  The next order of business is bike parts, specifically a new front tire and a different seat.  I’ll post pictures of those as they’re added.

In the meanwhile, I’ll be looking at different routes to take.  I’m planning on making the trip to Mom and Dad’s in the first two days so that I can go to church with them on Sunday and spend a couple days riding with them on Dad’s days off.  From there, it’s anyone’s guess.

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Next chapter:  Modern Routing