In the parking lot of the Krispy Kreme doughnuts shop in Spokane, Washington, Lisa and I stood next to my bike, putting on our riding gear. A woman who had parked her big, black SUV nearby walked over and asked: “Is this a mother-daughter adventure?”I responded back with pride that it was, explaining that we had ridden across the country from our home in New Hampshire, and we were on day 10 of a 35-day summer vacation that would take the two of us more than 9,000 miles on my BMW K75.
“Wow,’’ the woman said. “It’s so great that you are doing this.” I couldn’t help but agree.
We exchanged other pleasantries, and she drove away. I enjoy traveling by motorcycle for just this reason: Perfect strangers, perhaps drawn by the aura of adventure, will walk right up to us and ask us what we’re up to.
Looking back, I’m amazed that it was almost a year ago that I set up my “out of office” reply, confirmed the cat sitter and put a hold on the paper before beginning our big adventure. I packed up my 20-year-old BMW K75, and my 12-year-old daughter and I hit the road for five weeks. I set out wanting to show my daughter the country that I’d seen in my previous cross-country excursions. We traveled through 25 states in 35 days covering some 9,000 miles.
Prior to our departure, Lisa had never spent more than four hours on the back of the bike. I had already made a solo cross-country trip three years earlier, and I regularly spent long days in the saddle. The original idea for this trip centered on my desire to bring Lisa to Glacier National Park in Montana. I was awestruck during my visit, and I knew I had to share it with her.
When we reached the beautiful scenery and wonderful roads around the park, Lisa rewarded me during our ascent of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, shouting over the wind noise: “You’re right Mom. You’ve just got to see this to believe it!” A couple of days later, the cold, wet ride down the coast of Oregon forgotten, we arrived at the Pacific Ocean and stopped to walk the beach, collect some sand, and bask in our accomplishment. I had planned this trip for months, mapping each waypoint carefully. I thought each destination would give meaning to our travels. In the end, we didn’t make it to some of those spots, instead making choices based on the weather, or our moods. But at the end of the day, we always had a huge sense of accomplishment. I may have done all the driving but we accomplished the trip together.
Looking back, the importance of our trip was not in its stops, or its sights, or its way points. Maybe the woman at Krispy Kreme had it right; this was a mother-daughter adventure. The names of the parks, the list of states, the endless miles of pavement will fade from our memories, but Lisa will always remember that her mom took her on this adventure.
In the end, as with most rides, the meaning of our trip came not from where we went. It came because we went.
Cinnamon Roll Cinnamon rolls were a recurring breakfast theme for Lisa, starting with the best and biggest at The Foothills of Warner, a favorite breakfast haunt in Warner, New Hampshire.
How Many More Lisa checks the Garmin as we head out of Canada and out of the rain. I usually had our destination town plugged in so she could see how far we had to go.
Drying Out A hot parking lot in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, provides a good place to dry out. It was a wet morning leaving Sudbury, Ontario. We were overly optimistic and set out without all the rain gear. Of course we got caught in it. So by the time we put the rain gear on, we were already wet. Lisa got the worst of it as she was wearing mesh pants over cotton pants. We rolled into Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and the sun was shining. We stopped for a while at this rest area. The pavement was so hot that everything, including the socks, had a chance to dry out.
Tripod One of the few pics showing us both on the bike, not much room back there. What a trooper Lisa was to spend 10 hours a day behind me.
Nashua We stopped in Nashua, Montana, to mail a postcard to friends in Nashua, New Hampshire. roadside Lisa takes a stroll under the big sky of Montana. This is one of my favorite trip photos. Want to teach your kids geography? Travel with them!
Lake McDonald We used the tripod about three times—well worth it to capture moments like this. Here we are on a dock in front of Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park, Montana.
Hungry Horse How I spent my summer vacation. My bike, my kid and the great outdoors.
Glacier National Park This park was the impetus for the whole trip. I was very excited to bring Lisa here. It’s just what I said I’d do when I arrived here in 2004.
Pacific Although our arrival to the Pacific was only the halfway point in our trip, in many ways it felt like the culmination. I was so proud to have arrived at the Pacific with my daughter.
Cali Coast We found a small dirt road to follow along the California coast and were rewarded with beautiful views. tired “I’m tired Mom.” Was it the heat, the boredom, or the sugar crash that caused Lisa to take a power nap at the rest stop? Redwoods This photo is a great summary of our trip. The bike is forefront, and Lisa and I are dwarfed by the Redwood. We are very far from home!
Crater Lake Crater Lake was the best unplanned waypoint. Exceptionally beautiful water plus snow banks lingered by the road side. shadow dancer Lisa cracked herself up with this three-finger wave picture. I loved seeing her waving her hands in the wind back there. I knew she was having a good time entertaining herself.
Yellowstone We had a whirlwind stay at Yellowstone on the 4th of July. We enjoyed a couple of spins around the park. It was one of many stops where we could have used another week.
GAIL I look happy as the mist sprays my face, but the humidity was causing my riding pants to become plastered to my legs, and I could hardly throw my leg over the bike after this stop!
Downtown Spearfish At the Black Hill’s BMW Rally, we scored 1st place for long-distance two-up, rolling in with over 5,000 miles.
Magazine At a gas break in Pennsylvania, Lisa finds a place to sit and read a Teen magazine. She’s a great riding partner, very independent.
Gail & K75 Yup, this is what a woman motorcyclist looks like. The End Back near home at Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. It’s day 35, and we have gone from sea to shining sea and back!
By Gail Hatch – to AMA – American Motorcyclist Association