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    2274 miles in 9 days on a cafe racer

    Roadtrips are my favorite adventure. You see epic views, get time to think, and experience parts of a place rarely seen by outsiders.

    Like when we stopped in Benton, an old mining town with an intersection, a gas station, and a couple abandoned buildings. You cannot imagine the relief you feel upon finding gas in the middle of the desert when your tanks are running low, night is near, and you hadn't seen a human in hours.

    Next gas station: 82 miles πŸ˜…

    It was an epic roadtrip and I looked damn cool doing it.

    Swizec looking cool at a gas station turned Route 66 museum
    Swizec looking cool at a gas station turned Route 66 museum

    There was going to be a vlog about the adventure, but I don't feel like editing that together. It's not so interesting. Not enough drama, not enough camera work. I'm no Claudio from Long Way Up/Down/Round.

    Instead, you get a photo essay :)

    PS: you'll have an easier time with photo captions, if you read on the web

    The adventurers

    The adventuring party gets ready to take off in San Francisco
    The adventuring party gets ready to take off in San Francisco

    My mom and her boyfriend flew in from Slovenia and rented a GS 1250. I took my gently modified Street Twin.

    For those of you who don't know: Europe in summer is full of couples in their 50's touring on motorcycles. A stereotype as strong as Americans buying a big-ass RV.

    They wanted to explore USA and see places they've never been. And I wanted to have an adventure. Perfect.

    The route

    Our plan was to see a few national parks and two big cities. My mom hasn't explored much of USA and her boyfriend's never been here at all. Wanted to give them a good selection of things to see.

    Forgot to record the last day and my app (Gaia GPS) crashed a few times, but here's the route we took:

    Route recorded in Gaia GPS
    Route recorded in Gaia GPS

    We drove through 4 states – California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah – and saw:

    • Yosemite
    • Vegas
    • Zion
    • Bryce Canyon
    • Grand Canyon
    • Los Angeles
    • Carmel

    Had to skip Death Valley due to flooding. Whole park's closed.

    The route was a bit much for 9 days. We all got tired of packing and unpacking our bikes every day. Next time I'll plan for a few double days like we had back in 2013 while driving around Europe for a month.

    The pictures

    I got a lot of GoPro footage from my bike. It's all boring. πŸ˜‚

    Photos from my DSLR came out great though. Here's a few of my favorites passed gently through Lightroom to improve the colors. Remember to read the captions.

    No photos from the final day of riding from a random motel in Santa Maria to Carmel to San Francisco. We barely had time to stop and I visit that area plenty so it didn't feel special.

    Funfact: We saw an FBI raid on a neighbor's room in that Santa Maria motel. It was just like the movies.

    Day 1: San Francisco to Yosemite

    My mom being silly on first day of trip, energy flying high
    My mom being silly on first day of trip, energy flying high
    Stopping at a scenic view on the way to Yosemite. This area burned down in 2013
    Stopping at a scenic view on the way to Yosemite. This area burned down in 2013

    Day 2: Yosemite to Tonopah

    We drove up to Glacier Point in Yosemite and took a touristy pic overlooking Half Dome
    We drove up to Glacier Point in Yosemite and took a touristy pic overlooking Half Dome
    The meadows above Yosemite Valley were gorgeous. I need to come here again and hike around, didn't even know this area existed
    The meadows above Yosemite Valley were gorgeous. I need to come here again and hike around, didn't even know this area existed
    Stopping for a breather near Mono Lake because we couldn't keep ignoring the view
    Stopping for a breather near Mono Lake because we couldn't keep ignoring the view
    The scenery around Mono Lake was one of my favs. So desolate and alien. All these are volcanic craters, actually
    The scenery around Mono Lake was one of my favs. So desolate and alien. All these are volcanic craters, actually

    Day 3: Tonopah to Vegas

    Getting ready to hit the road from Clown Motel
    Getting ready to hit the road from Clown Motel
    The road to Vegas was endless miles of straight road holding steady at 80mph
    The road to Vegas was endless miles of straight road holding steady at 80mph
    No towns in the desolate desert, we had to take our breaks on the side of the road
    No towns in the desolate desert, we had to take our breaks on the side of the road

    Day 4: Vegas to Bryce Canyon

    The road to Bryce Canyon started off similarly boring and straight
    The road to Bryce Canyon started off similarly boring and straight
    But the views just outside Zion were fantastic. Once we hit the mountains it was game on
    But the views just outside Zion were fantastic. Once we hit the mountains it was game on
    And we got a nice sunset-ish pic at the top of the Zion Canyon
    And we got a nice sunset-ish pic at the top of the Zion Canyon

    Day 5: Bryce Canyon to Grand Canyon

    The sunrise in Bryce Canyon was magnificent
    The sunrise in Bryce Canyon was magnificent
    No really, I sat there for an hour just taking photos and admiring the view. Breathtaking.
    No really, I sat there for an hour just taking photos and admiring the view. Breathtaking.
    The view of Vermillion Cliffs on the way to Grand Canyon was fantastic. You could see the canyon starting in the middle of that grass down there
    The view of Vermillion Cliffs on the way to Grand Canyon was fantastic. You could see the canyon starting in the middle of that grass down there
    My mom experiencing the Grand Canyon for the first time at sunset
    My mom experiencing the Grand Canyon for the first time at sunset

    Day 6: Grand Canyon to ... a desert town

    Yeah, it's a big hole in the ground and it's worth seeing anyway. Pictures don't do Grand Canyon justice
    Yeah, it's a big hole in the ground and it's worth seeing anyway. Pictures don't do Grand Canyon justice
    Birds love Grand Canyon too. This was a turkey vulture looking for noms
    Birds love Grand Canyon too. This was a turkey vulture looking for noms

    Day 7: A desert town to Los Angeles

    We found Route 66 on our way to LA and it was much much better than the freeway
    We found Route 66 on our way to LA and it was much much better than the freeway
    The trains running alongside us were over a mile long (we counted) with more than 6 engines sometimes!
    The trains running alongside us were over a mile long (we counted) with more than 6 engines sometimes!
    Many old gas stations got converted into little Route 66 museums
    Many old gas stations got converted into little Route 66 museums

    Day 8: Los Angeles to Santa Maria

    Los Angeles itself is pretty boring but Santa Monica always looks fabulous
    Los Angeles itself is pretty boring but Santa Monica always looks fabulous
    Route 66 ends here did you know?
    Route 66 ends here did you know?
    See the difference in energy levels from day 1. My mom's a trooper, riding on the back all those hours gets pretty boring
    See the difference in energy levels from day 1. My mom's a trooper, riding on the back all those hours gets pretty boring

    The deep thoughts

    You'd think after 8 days of meditation on the high road I'd have deep insights to share. I do not.

    Your mind focuses on the present moment. There is no past, and no future. There is only you, the road, and that nagging pain in your knee because you're definitely on the wrong bike for this sort of thing.

    Then you come home and reality comes crashing back. That's when the insights happen. In that split second before you get back in the groove and you see life with a fresh perspective.

    Has that ever happened to you?

    Cheers,
    ~Swizec

    Did you enjoy this article?

    Published on September 27th, 2023 in Personal, Travel + Events

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    Who am I and who do I help? I'm Swizec Teller and I turn coders into engineers with "Raw and honest from the heart!" writing. No bullshit. Real insights into the career and skills of a modern software engineer.

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