The Best Kind of Vacation Ever…Part One

So, what is the best kind of vacation ever? Is it…

…a cruise?

…a luxury safari?

…a camping trip?

…backpacking across Europe?

…island hopping in the Caribbean?

Nope. It’s a good old fashioned road trip on motorcycles.

Meet the cast of characters: Blanca (my stepdad’s), Grace (my mom’s), Ginger (mine), Peggy Rae (my little brother’s), and two bikes which have yet to be named (my stepbrother’s and his girlfriend’s). Lovely, lovely motorcycles!

Motorcycles in the early morning light.

These six lovely machines (and their respective riders) went on a lovely 1,500-ish mile jaunt across parts of Utah, Wyoming, and South Dakota over the course of five days. There were some very beautiful places. There were also some extremely unattractive places. There were some fantastic canyon roads. There was one particular canyon road that was crappy beyond all reason. Here’s the story of our road trip.

The ride route…more or less.

We left Salt Lake on the last Wednesday in July. We met up at 7:46 am and then spent a good four hours running around getting parts and welding things and patching things and generally scrambling to get ready for a trip we’d been planning for half a year. Our little cavalcade pulled out of Salt Lake City around noon and headed east for Wyoming…which is a pretty typical start for our family.

The first day of riding was marked by a few small rainstorms, beautiful cloudscapes, antelope on the high plains, and a truly spectacular sunset/moonrise. We also were reminded of the difference in gas tank sizes between all our bikes! My stepdad’s bike, Blanca, has the largest gas tank. As a result, he can pretty much blitz through anything at 80+ mph and not need to stop for 160 or more miles. On the other hand, my brother’s bike Peggy has a smaller gas tank, and at 80 mph, needs gas after exactly 122 miles. Guess how we found that out?

Peggy Rae (left) and Ginger (right) waiting for gas to return!

Yup. Little brother ran out of gas! Because I’m a nice sister, I stayed with him while the big gas tanks went to town and brought back fuel. But don’t worry – we entertained ourselves by throwing chunks of asphalt at a rock. For an hour. Eventually we reached our stop for the night in Riverton, Wyoming, in the Wind River Valley area.

When we left Riverton, we took back roads into northeastern Wyoming. We visited Thermopolis, home of the world’s largest hot springs, and it was in charming Thermopolis that the first inevitable part of the adventure really got underway.

My mom’s bike, Grace, refused to get going after lunch. It would start initially, run for a few seconds, and then die. So we stayed in the parking lot of the restaurant and our resident mechanics started working on the bike. Eventually they figured that when the bike got too hot (from sitting in direct sunlight, for example), something in the fuel delivery system was shutting down and cutting off fuel from the engine. After a couple of hours in the shade and some help from a mechanic in Thermopolis, Grace was running again and we hit the road!

Riding through the canyons in northeastern Wyoming was nearly a religious experience. I was riding sweep (the last bike in our formation), and around every corner my heart lifted watching my family lean into the bends as all our bikes lined up. The rumble was beautiful echoing off the canyon walls! We saw eagles, hawks, and deer as we rode through. Also rocks. Lots of rocks.

The best part about road-tripping on motorcycles is being completely exposed to the environment. Sometimes it’s not so much fun (see: rain, hail, sleet, snow, high winds, blowing dust, etc.). But other times, like riding through these mountains, it is completely hypnotic. Looking in every direction and not see the pillars of a car or windows, seeing the way sunlight looks different in different landscapes, feeling every air temperature change and experiencing the scent of farms, mountains, towns, and deserts as you pass through – it’s damn near indescribable. If you’re a rider, you already know what I mean. If you’re not a rider, for heaven’s sake go get yourself a bike and try it out! 
Part Two will be coming soon! 
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