If the title didn’t already clue you in, I’m starting to lose track of the days. It’s hard to remember what day of the week it is, let alone how many days we’ve been on the trail. Every day is becoming the same – wake up, breakfast, pack up, ride, gas & lunch, ride, gas, ride, motel, unpack, shower, dinner, sprawl out on bed, lights out. Rinse and repeat. And don’t get me wrong here – I’m absolutely loving it! I keep some inspiring quotes on my desktop wallpaper, and one in particular by Steve Jobs has really stuck out:
I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
These past few days are some of the only days I can remember where the answer has been an overwhelming “YES”, everyday. It feels good to be on the trail.
The videos are not posted here yet, but will be added in the next few days. We’re currently deep into Colorado and haven’t had ample wifi to upload large video files. Check back soon!
To put it bluntly: Arkansas sucked. Rain, everyday. Not just rain, intense, heavy thunderstorms that just wouldn’t stop. We end up skipping some parts of the trail, some spots were fun – but for the most part it was all pretty miserable. Just about every morning we woke up to a huge red mass of thunderstorms on the radar. Let’s not talk about Arkansas. Only thing I’ll say is this: Arkansas, I’ll be back to conquer you.
Oklahoma Day One
We started our first full day in Oklahoma in – you guessed it – a thunderstorm. It was our fourth day in a row of thunderstorms, and we didn’t feel like waiting around for this one to lighten up. We left our motel in the middle of it and ended up having a blast. The storms let up about an hour in, and I turned on the video camera. It was a muddy mess, and I almost wiped in some dark stuff, check it out:
The storms weren’t finished though, as we could see lightning and dark clouds in the distance. We rode straight into the downpour and I kept the camera rolling (in a waterproof housing, of course!). We lucked out and hit some pavement, and started really booking it. I’m talking 60+ mph in a heavy lightning storm, on a dirt bike…it was exhilarating!
We eventually came to the end of the pavement, and to our surprise we saw what looked like motorcycle taillights up ahead of us. As we got close to the first rider, I noticed something about his license plates – they were from the UK! Awesome. He noticed us and stopped as we pulled up beside him. Dad says “feels like England out here!”. Nice one, Dad. The rider says (spoken in your best British accent) “Actually, I’d say it’s a bit worse than England right now.” Just as we started to banter, we heard a honk and realized there was an 18-wheeler trying to pass us. This is bad timing, because we were no longer on pavement and this semi-truck was leaving HUGE tracks in the mud. A little further down the road we met up with the other riders – turns out one of the guys was originally from Reading, PA (near my hometown). Small world, I’ll tell ya what. Enough talk, see for yourself:
We ended up passing them and eventually got out of the rain. While taking our rain gear off, they caught back up and we agreed to do lunch in the small town of New Kirk, Oklahoma. They beat us there, and after we got gas, we had no idea where they went for lunch. We were riding around town when a truck pulled up next to us. “Y’all lookin’ for three other guys on motorcycles?”. Why yes, we are. “They’re down Main street at the Stagecoach BBQ”. Awesome, people are so nice around here! They really saved the day, we were headed the wrong direction and would have probably missed lunch with the other guys. Two of them turned out to be a bunch of veteran adventure riders, and all were on BMW F 800 GS’s. Harold and Aaron were from Tampa Bay, FL, while Paul was from England. Paul and Aaron have quite the history – they did a 6 month trip from Alaska to Argentina, and London to Beijing. Wowzers.
Dad and I are a Bunch of Newbies
There were two things we learned that day from the other riders that made us realize how new we are to this adventure riding stuff:
1) You ride in any weather. This was the first day we rode through the worst of the storm, where previous days we had stopped riding to let it calm down. After braving the storm, we realized it’s not that bad – it’s actually really fun.
2) There is a sticker law. When we ordered the TAT maps, there were two official “Trans-America Trail” stickers included. Dad and I slapped them on the front of our bikes, not thinking much of it. Turns out that is a no-no in the world of adventure riding, where you’ve gotta earn that sticker on your bike – no stickers allowed until you’ve completed the journey.
Back to the Trail – Well, Sort of…
We finished up our pulled pork sandwiches and parted ways with the other riders. They headed for gas, and Dad and I headed back to the trail – or so we thought. I don’t know if somebody thought it would be funny to press the “detour” button on our GPS’s – or if they were just acting up – but it routed us about 30 miles in the wrong direction before we realized what was up. We had to backtrack for 45 mins and ended up losing precious time. Fortunately, the roads in Oklamahoma are all long and straight so we could make up some lost time. We were zipping along at a pretty good pace and ended up catching up with the riders from lunch. We bantered a bit and decided to finish out the day together. Here are some highlights from the remainder of our ride:
Oklahoma Day Two
Our second full day in OK was much different – instead of long and straight dusty roads, we faced some nice gentle twists through a wide open landscape. Here are some highlights:
We ended up at the “Ranger Inn” in the small town of Alva, OK. There are some popular sand dunes nearby so the crowd was mostly four-wheelers and ATVs. The people staying there were all tailgating, as almost everyone had a grill or something similar in the back of their trucks. Good times.
Oklahoma into New Mexico
We left the Ranger Inn bright and early in preparation for one of the longest rides yet, leaving OK, going through the top of New Mexico, and ending in Trinidad, CO. Let me just say this: the ride through New Mexico was easily the greatest, most beautiful ride I’ve ever been on. Simply spectacular. We were only there for a few hours before hitting Colorado, so it was definitely a short but sweet ride. I’ll end this post with a few video highlights:
[videos coming soon]
If you’ve read this far, thanks for joining us! You can follow me on Twitter for live updates along the trail. Expect another post with video and Colorado updates in the next few days!