2020 was a year full of so much uncertainty for so many people. I felt like my life did a complete 180. For the 3 years prior, I had been dedicated to my job—and suddenly I found myself at home, furloughed, with no clue what to do next. As I sat at home, scrolling through Netflix, I started to realize that this was not how I wanted to spend my time. My previous job involved a lot of travel and the longest amount of time I had spent at home in recent years was probably 6 consecutive days. With a wide open schedule and a beautiful 2020 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S sitting in my garage, I decided to plan the ultimate motorcycle bucket-list road trip.
Over the last few years, my dad and I had committed to doing an annual motorcycle trip together. For the sake of logistics, I typically fly back to my home state of Georgia and borrow one of his motorcycles. The first year, we rode through the Smoky Mountains and spent the weekend watching motocross racing at Muddy Creek Raceway in Tennessee. My dad got me into dirt bikes at a young age, so spending a weekend riding twisty mountain roads and watching racing was the perfect combo for us.
The following year, we rode the Blue Ridge Parkway and through Shenandoah National Park. For this trip, I decided I wanted to get my own bike to Georgia and do some riding with my dad. I briefly considered trailering it, but then I thought, why would I do that when I have all this time on my hands?
Crossing the Mississippi River
I planned a detailed route out of Southern California that headed toward Williams, Arizona, so I could check out the Grand Canyon for the first time. It’s a place I have read so much about and always dreamed of visiting, so I knew I had to include it on this trip. From the Grand Canyon, I made my way through Texas, stopping at the Big Texan Motel in Amarillo to see the Texas-shaped pool. I made a stop at Cadillac Ranch and spent a few nights in Dallas before continuing on to the home of Sun Records—Memphis, Tennessee. I have always been fascinated by Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley so it was cool to check out all the iconic spots and learn more about the history behind so many influential musicians.
Now that I had crossed the Mississippi River, I was ready to make my way south to Atlanta to see my dad. We linked up and planned a day of riding the Tail of the Dragon and the Cherohala Skyway. It was so much fun getting to rip through the 318 turns with my old man. He hasn’t slowed down one bit over the years.
After spending some time in my hometown in North Georgia, I continued south into Florida, just to check that state off my list. I cruised A1A and couldn’t help but smile thinking about how just 2 months before, I had been riding up the Pacific Coast Highway in California to the Avenue of the Giants and how fortunate I was to be having the coast-to-coast experience.
From Florida, I made my way back up through Georgia and the Carolinas, to Morgantown, West Virginia, to visit old roommates I had spent two summers living with. After catching up with my friends, I decided I wanted to book it back to the West Coast and plan out part two of this journey. While riding through the Midwest, I stumbled across a super cool Evel Knievel Museum in Kansas, so of course I had to stop and check it out.
Once back in California, I linked up with a friend and we made a list of all of the national parks that we had always wanted to visit and never had the time for. Well—this was our time. We rode through Arches, Zion, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and finally, Glacier National Park. I have never been so in awe of Mother Nature in my entire life. I feel that riding a motorcycle through a national park is one of the best ways to experience it.
This trip also included Beartooth Highway through Montana and Lolo Pass along the Lochsa River. I loved riding and camping through the Northwestern states. I eventually made my way through Oregon where I hopped on the Pacific Coast Highway and headed back to Southern California. This 16,000-mile trip through 26 states is one I will never be able to recreate or top. The ability to travel with an open schedule is life-changing. As much as I love having every detail planned, the carefree feeling I felt over these 2 months is something that settled my soul in ways I never thought were possible.