At nineteen years of age, it was the trip of my lifetime.
One of my very first travel adventures was in the early ’70s when I went across the country as a passenger on a motorcycle.
My parents were probably terrified for me, but my boyfriend was a good driver, gasoline was $0.29 a gallon, I had $400 in cash, and a plastic coat. What could go wrong?
Leaving from the Midwestern state of Ohio, we headed west on a route that my guy charted out – across the plains, over the Rockies, towards the California coast and up through Canada and along the Alaskan pipeline (before it was completed) and into the Aleutian Islands. We were meeting up with friends for the summer to help them build a log cabin, and this motorcycle trek was a bonus ride to get there.
A few bumps in the road
Since the Alaskan pipeline at that time was only an unsurfaced road with medium sized boulders and sharp rock, the teeth in our heads chattered up and down and our motorcycle tires got torn to shreds. We hadn’t counted on that! It wasn’t like we could order the parts we needed from the internet or at a corner motorcycle shop for this 650 Triumph.
We rode on those abused and sorry tires for miles until we arrived at our friend’s location where we had to go into town to find a telephone. In the woods where he was living, it was pretty rustic; no one had a phone and this was long before cell phones became commonplace.
We bathed in the freezing creek once a week, picked wild blueberries for the pancakes we made in the mornings, and even ground our own grain to make bread.
Well, I ground the grain, the boys built the cabin.
Freedom from the confines of a clock
At this upper latitude, the skies would often be overcast. Since it was summer the sun didn’t set till late in the evenings, so it created this dreamlike state where it was almost always diffused daylight. We never knew what time it was, and being immersed in nature the time of day seemed irrelevant. Who wore a watch in these circumstances? We ate when we were hungry, slept when we were tired.
Life was simple.
Waiting for the tires
We had placed our order for new tires through a long distance call made in town the first days of our arrival and gave a post office box number as an address.
And then we waited.
And waited some more.
We were still preoccupied with building the log cabin, but after several weeks, we called again to verify that our order had been placed. We emphasized that the summer was nearing its end, and since we were on a motorcycle, we had to get our vehicle fixed. If snow came, we’d be locked in for the whole winter.
Our money would have run out, and probably our welcome too. No, we had to get back on the road.
It was stressful at the time, but eventually, our equipment arrived and we bandaged our bike and took off to complete our journey. This time we drove through the Canadian Rockies, then back down into the States and visited National Parks. Sometimes we camped at rest stops, other times we utilized campgrounds and there were a very few occasions when we stopped at a hotel and luxuriated in a hot shower and a firm bed.
Have you ever taken a long motorcycle trip?
We were lucky to have a fairing and really good helmets made by Bell with a face guard. Life was pretty uncomplicated; When it was hot, we were hot. When it was cold, we were cold. When it rained, we were wet.
There was no stereo system and no cushy seats with the passenger looking over the shoulder of the driver. We were alone with our thoughts for hours a day watching the scenery blaze past.
It seemed like it took forever to drive through Kansas. And the Rockies (both Canadian and U.S.) were beyond stunning. The subtlety of the Painted Desert is memorable to this day, and various canyons, including the Grand Canyon, were mind-blowing.
I couldn’t help but think of those who crossed our nation in covered wagons, bringing children, cattle and all of their belongings, transiting mountain ranges and vast plains searching for a better life “somewhere west.”
History came alive for me.
Arriving home that autumn, it felt like my life had changed forever with all the scenery I saw, the people I met, and the experiences I now owned.
Instantly, I began saving up for the next trip – wherever that might be.
My parents were relieved that I returned all in one piece, even though I hadn’t considered any other option!
It wasn’t long before I moved to California at the age of 21.
Forward to the present
To this day, I still travel the world; From the Caribbean Islands to Australia, from Mexico to Europe, from South America to Vietnam, Thailand and Laos. I enjoy the wide array of humanity, culture and personalities of people, and the natural beauty of this earth is breathtaking. There is nothing quite like travel; it stretches the perspective and builds self-reliance.
I love the quote by Mark Twain: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness…”
And while I realize that some people have no love of travel or wandering the earth, for myself, I’m hooked on adventure.
About the Author
Akaisha Kaderli along with her husband are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their award winning website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website bookstore or on Amazon.com.