Day 1, Leg 5 and Final, 2012-2013 Winter Motorcycle Adventure

May 3, 2013 — My sweetheart (SH) and I started this last leg of our amazing winter motorcycle adventure like we have most of the others – with a 5:00 a.m. wait at the Metrodome Station for the light rail train to take us to the Minneapolis St. Paul airport. We arrived in St. Louis, MO, in a light rain and about 40 degrees. So much for the forecast, which was for much better weather!

Our first stop was at Vom Fass St. Louis, in a charming shopping area of Maplewood. TomboyTam.com followers, you are among the first to learn that I’ve started a whole new adventure, in the form of franchise ownership of Vom Fass in the Twin Cities South Metro! We had a lovely visit with Luke in this store, and were sorry to miss meeting the owner. I got some great ideas from their store layout, classes and the info Luke shared.

After breakfast at Tiffany’s – really! – we headed out on I-70 West to 79 North in cold rain. We stopped in Hannibal for the night, a much shorter day in terms of mileage than we had planned. I’ll share more later, but the photos will tell much of the story.

Later!

Love, Tomboy Tam

Day 4, Leg 4, 2012-2013 Winter Motorcycle Adventure

March 31, 2013 – It’s a beautiful day in St. Louis! Clouds have given way to sun and it climbs to about 65 degrees today! We have a little time to explore before putting the bikes away for another month and returning home to Minneapolis. We sleep in until about 7:30 a.m., eat a light breakfast from the hotel’s complimentary offerings, and then hop on the bikes to go downtown. Our destination is the St. Louis Gateway Arch on the Mississippi Riverfront. I’ve seen the arch from a distance, the two times I’ve been to / through St. Louis, but I never knew that there is a tram system that take visitors up through the arch! In fact, I never knew that the arch was big enough to house a tram system inside! It was a fascinating experience. I also enjoyed the museum inside the visitor center while waiting for our turn in the tram.

We left downtown St. Louis about 1:00 p.m., riding the bikes in brilliant sunshine and basking in the temps we wish we could have enjoyed yesterday. But today we rode to Public Storage to put them away for another month. We walked about 1/2 mile back to the Comfort Inn where we caught the hotel shuttle to the airport. Lunch at the airport, and a short and uneventful flight home ended this leg of the adventure.

This was probably my favorite leg, from a road and scenery perspective. It was a little surreal today, realizing that the grand adventure my sweetheart (SH) and I dreamed up together is almost over. Some people go their whole lives without doing anything this adventurous! And here we are, already looking forward to the summer adventures and dreaming about what to create for next winter. Although we are both in the middle of career opportunities and changes, we are committed to maintaining our time together exploring and adventuring as a high priority. And time with our families and friends is also a high priority. I think we can balance it all in a way that feels right and good. Or at least have a great time trying!

Hope you had a great Easter Sunday – as traditional or untraditional as felt right for you!

Love, Tomboy Tam

Day 3, Leg 4, 2012-2013 Winter Motorcycle Adventure

March 30, 2013 – Awake at 6:00 a.m., on our bikes by 7:22 p.m. in 54 degrees and cloudy weather. Failing again to find a mom and pop breakfast joint in Mountain Home (well actually, we found one but they were closed today, to prepare all the bakery orders for Easter), we stopped at McDonald’s for a latte and WiFi.

After traveling east on Hwy 62 a few miles, we stopped at Southfork Cafe in Salem AR, for the first real breakfast of the trip. I mean the kind where I can order the special of the day (2 eggs, country ham, hash browns and toast or biscuit for $6.95 (of course, I have to waive the bread for the meal to meet my gluten-free needs), and the server calls me darlin’ and you can almost hear the country song being written as she shares tidbits about her life. Such as “Between you and me, I went to culinary school and won the top prize in a baking competition at the school, and then I won fourth place in a state competition. . . My daughter asked me to bake a cake for a memorial service for a friend who was a trucker . . .” And now she appears to be the owner/operator of  a nice breakfast/lunch/dinner joint in Salem, Arkansas. I bought two framed pieces that are on display by local artists for a total of $30. That’s the kind of mom and pop places we love to find! This one was worth the lack of them the past two mornings!

Then on to Mammoth Springs, shortly after which we entered Missouri and near where we turned onto Hwy 9, then to MO state hwy 19 for much of the day — and take note bikers — it is a dream of a highway! Forest, lakes, mountains, curves, hills  —  miles and miles and more miles of ribbony two-lane highway along beautiful scenery. It’s even better than Scenic 7 yesterday! Towns along the way included Alton, Winona (gas), Eminence (home of Eminence Ozarker 4-H Club), Round Spring, and Salem, MO, where we stopped again at McD’s for another latte and WiFi break, but mostly to thaw out my numb finger. Renaud’s syndrome is a bummer when it comes to biking in chilly weather. And OK, I have officially been at McDonald’s more in the last 30 days than I have in the past 5 years!

We continued North on 19. It started raining lightly at Cherryville, and by Steelville the rain began in earnest, so we stopped to put on our rain suits. It’s consistently 50 degrees most of the day, so the extra layers feel good. It’s chilly and the wet pavement slows us down, but we can’t complain since we’ve dodged rain 98% of the time on our travels for nearly four years! We pass Cuba, then stop at Owensville about 2:00 for lunch and to warm up. Then on to Hwy 50 East for 30 miles, Gerald, Bueafort and Union. Gerald appeared to be a very cute little down with lots of fun businesses.

We travel interstate highways as little as possible on our travels, but there are times when it is unavoidable. Today was one of those days – for time, convenience and given the cold, wet conditions, we got on I-44 for 35 miles to I-270 to the West end of St Louis, North to I-70 East, past airport to Comfort Inn. Freeway driving terrified me when I first started riding. As my skills improved and my experience developed, I was no longer terrified of freeway driving (or I wouldn’t have been able to manage the L.A. or Dallas freeways!) but they are still not fun, and given the wet conditions, my muscles were tight by the time we pulled into the Comfort Inn. My sweetheart is often thoughtful of my advanced beginner status, and left me at the front door with the bags after I slid off my bike into a puddle of weariness, while he parked both bikes.

A hot shower, rest, glass of wine and nachos later, I’m feeling recovered, but still looking forward to a massage back at home next week! It was another incredible day, with a total of 302 miles – all of it beautiful, most of it fun, and the last of it, mentally and physically challenging. I’m always learning and growing, and these trips offer so much material for that growth. I learn geography, experience different ways of living, engage with and learn from people who live very different lives than mine. I learn the thrill of accomplishment and fun when I’m able to take curves comfortably without slowing way down, and I conquer fears of heights and freeways. I’ve learned how the sun, wind and freedom make creativity flow through my brain, when I though 18 years in Corporate America had rusted my creative circuitry. So, I’ll take a little rain and a few miles of freeway and be grateful for it!

Wishing you, me and our families and friends a blessed Easter, as we marvel at the mysteries and miracles of life and death.

Love, Tomboy Tam

Day 2, Leg 4, 2012-2013 Winter Motorcycle Adventure

Good Friday, March 29 — we were on the road before 7:30 a.m., but by the time we gassed up, resorted to breakfast at McDonalds due to lack of finding local, non-chain restaurants in Broken Bow, it was about 9 a.m. before we headed east on Hwy 70 to Glenwood, Arkansas, North on 8, north on 27 to Russelville, north on Hwy 7 to Harrison, East on 62 to Mountain Home. Now the impressions and details.

The weather was overcast and at times foggy and misting, but the temps were mild – hovering upper 50s, until the sun broke through, mid-afternoon, resulting in upper 60s. The landscape is surprisingly beautiful. I’m not sure I ever thought about what Arkansas looked like. What we found was many rivers and creeks, farm and ranch land, lots of trees and logging, rolling hills and the beautiful Ozark National Forest. In all, I think today was one of my top 5 favorite motorcycle rides, and I’ve been on some beauties!

On the other end of the beauty spectrum, I saw lots of run down trailer homes, some with years of accumulated junk and rust in the yard, especially earlier in the day (west/southwest Arkansas).  The towns, counties scenic points and businesses had quaint and sometimes funny names – Dierks, Daisy, Kirby, “Y”, Caddo Gap, Mt. Ida, Booger Hollow, Ouachita, Washita, Story, Aly, Onyx, Rover, Danville, Ranger, Chickalah, Yell, Dog Patch, Dardanelle, Dover, Sand Gap, Jasper, Harrison, Bellefonte, Pyatt, Snow, Summit, Yellville, Flippin, Gassville and Mountain Home, where we will spend the night.

We had lunch outside Russellville at Colton’s Steak House, and just as we were preparing to leave, I got a phone call from a recruiter about a contract job at my former employer. It was an important call for a couple of reasons — it reminded me of all the SUPER people I had an opportunity to work on the most challenging project of my career the last few years I was there. It also reminded me how grateful I am that my position was eliminated there, following the successful completion of that challenging project, as it gave me the chance to explore and create completely new career and business possibilities that are challenging and exciting in completely different ways. I’ve always coached my team member to look for the opportunities that come out of change; and I’ve always truly believed and experienced that personally. My displacement was the biggest and most challenging career change, and I believe that change has – and will continue to – provide the greatest opportunities. Not that it has been easy to see that every moment or day, but looking back over the past year, and forward to the future, it is clearly a positive change.

One of those opportunities has been this Winter Adventure! Although today was a long one on the road – about 320 miles – the route was so beautiful, with such great biking roads, that it really didn’t feel very tiring. It was challenging for me, without being frightening, like some of the higher mountain highways we’ve traveled on past trips.  The elevation was probably about 2,000 ft at the highest point, but it seemed higher. Many great sweepers, some button hooks and many stretches didn’t have much traffic, so in other words – AWESOME riding! The stretches of pavement that were wet slowed me down quite a bit, but had to appreciate the upside that we never actually got rained on!

We checked in to the EconoLodge about 5:30 p.m. and after a short snooze and shower, we walked to the Mexican restaurant next door for a nice meal and great conversation. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to ensure that this is really my life. I’m so grateful for all the experiences, people and opportunities I am blessed with! Hope you are enjoying sharing them with me!

Love, Tomboy Tam

Day 1, Leg 4, 2012-2013 Winter Motorcycle Adventure

March 28, 2013 — It’s a beautiful day for a motorcycle ride! The Super Shuttle that my sweetheart (SH) had pre-scheduled picked us up at DFW and dropped us off at a Public Storage in Dallas. Our bikes started right up, which we no longer take for granted after our Phoenix to El Paso leg started with a dead battery. We headed to High Five Cycle to get the front tire on SH’s bike replaced. He had researched the cycle shop and ordered the tire ahead of time, so that was a pretty quick service stop. We walked about a half mile to Cheddar’s for lunch while the tire was replaced. This exception to the “no chains” rule qualified because 1) I’ve never been to one before, 2) time and convenience – near enough to walk to and 3) the food was good! I bought a couple t-shirts there, one that commemorates Leslie Porterfield, who holds the world record for woman with the fastest speed on a motorcycle at 253 mph! Two of her motorcycles on which she achieved speed records were on display at the shop.

We were on State Hwy 75 North by about 1:15 p.m. and survived the freeway traffic and construction until exiting onto Hwy 121 North. The countryside is quite different from the stretch between El Paso and Dallas, and includes a combination of flat farm land and rolling hills, and more trees than I expected. The towns included Honey Grove, Paris, Detroit and little Chicago, perhaps indicating a lot of transplants from those areas? At Bonham we turned onto Hwy 82. We stopped for a break at a gas station in Paris, and based on that 20 minutes and our observations while driving through, it doesn’t come anywhere near living up to its namesake!

At Clarksville, we went north on Hwy 37 to the Red River and the Oklahoma border. The river is extremely low, and looks like red desert sand dunes on both sides of the actual water. Near Idabel, OK a second rest stop resulted in a conversation with a trucker who currently hauls products from an area paper mill. He used to haul potatoes from the Red River Valley of ND, so is familiar with our home territory. We also talked bikes – he has a Harley.

It was cloudy most of the day, but we soaked up the consistent 70 degree temps with appreciation. It has been a late, cold spring at home, where we finally hit 40 degrees this week for the first time in more than 100 days! I am LOVING the communication systems we bought at the start of this adventure. So much more fun to be able to share our thoughts and interesting points along the way!

Broken Bow, OK, is our day’s destination, about 180 miles from our start. Not a whole lot going on in Broken Bow, but the hotel is clean and I’m excited to be visiting Oklahoma for the first time. We took an unintentionally long walk along the highway looking for a steak house that we got a recommendation for, but couldn’t find it. So we walked back and went to the Choctaw Cassino across the street from our hotel where I had a chef salad and SH had a burger at the cassino cafe.

I’m also looking forward to what promises to be beautiful scenery and interesting riding roads Friday.

Good night from Broken Bow, Oklahoma!

Love, Tomboy Tam

2012-2013 Motorcycle Adventure – The Big Picture

Today begins Leg 4 of our 2012-2013 Winter Motorcycle Adventure. And what an adventure it has been! My sweetheart (SH) and i came up with the idea of a segmented winter road trip as a unique way to see the country, an opportunity to extend our biking throughout the year and a really special way of experiencing quintessential Americana together – great memory-making material!

SH has done all the itinerary planning, checking in with me for feedback on routes, shipping, storage units, etc. It is such a treat for me to just pack my bag and show up! My job is trip photographer, blogger and finding things to do and places to eat along the way. And of course, being an adventurous, enjoyable travel companion!

Here is a recap of our trip so far and a sneak peek at what’s ahead. We started this Winter adventure at the end October 2012, when we shipped our two Honda ST 1300s to Los Angeles via Federal Motorcycle, a division of Allied Van Lines. They strap the bikes on to a pallet and fork-lift them right onto the truck van! After attending Uncles Walter’s 103rd birthday party, we hit the road and biked to Tempe, AZ, over three days. One of many highlights was stopping in Lake Havasu City to have dinner with my cousin Dave, who i had not seen since we were kids. We stored the bikes in a 10×10 storage unit, walked back to our hotel and the next morning rode the hotel shuttle to the airport to return home to Minnesota.

In January 2013, we flew to LA to visit Walter for a day, then flew to Phoenix to spend the night at the same hotel. Early the next morning, we walked to storage unit to pick up bikes. We had a slight delay due to a dead battery on SH’s bike, but soon enough were on our way to breakfast with friends who were snowbirding in AZ for the first time this year. We made our way to El Paso, TX, were we enjoyed local sightseeing, including the amazing White Sands National Monument, then stored the bikes and flew home.

In February, we combined a visit with Walter in LA with a James Malinchak Mastermind meeting, before flying from LA to El Paso to pick up the bikes and head for Dallas. Highlights of that trip included exploring the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico and an overnight visit with a friend in Prosper, TX. And then once again stored the bikes and flew home.

I’m on a Sun Country flight to Dallas, as I write this entry. We’ll travel from Dallas to St. Louis on this leg of the journey. The first weekend in May will mark the completion of this amazing adventure. It has already more than met my expectations – SH and I have met wonderful, colorful and gracious people. We’ve experienced small-town America, travelled historic byways, stood in awe of natural wonders, and braved the freeway systems of LA and Dallas. And to think I had never ridden – let alone driven – a motorcycle as recently as four years ago!

You might be surprised at how affordable this adventure has been. We’ve probably spent less than the average 2 week winter vacation. The single most costly expense was shipping our bikes to LA, which was about $1,100. We belong to the membership programs of several hotels and airlines. We are accumulating or using reward points on every trip. The multi-city hops on one airline or multiple one ways on several airlines usually result in total airfare for each leg of less than $350 each. We eat at the local mom and pop diners which are usually very affordable. We get to chat with the most interesting people at those friendly joints. We occasionally splurge on a fine dining experience, asking the locals for recommendations. Our usual rule is no chains, but we make exceptions now and then for the sake of convenience or time. After many motorcycle trips over the past 3 1/2 years, I think I’ve finally learned what and how to pack. More on gear and packing in a future blog! I’m now in the Super Shuttle, enroute to the storage unit, so signing off for now. Until later . . . Love, Tomboy Tam

Day 4, Leg 3, 2012-2013 Winter Motorcycle Adventure

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Another beautiful, sunny, brisk Texas morning found us out for a walk in Tonja’s neighborhood before returning to a delicious breakfast of steel-cut oatmeal, brown rice farina, and yummy toppings, including blueberries and walnuts. After lingering over the kitchen island as long as we dared, we loaded up the bikes, said our good byes and headed south to Dallas to store our bikes until the next leg of our Winter Adventure.

The Super Shuttle that my trip-planner extraordinaire and sweetheart (SH) had arranged showed up on time at 11:15 a.m. to take us to DFW for our flights home. SH made his flight arrangements before I did, as I was waiting to see how I could arrange my travel around work commitments, so we ended up on different airlines. I kissed him adieu at his ticket counter, and then took the airport shuttle to Terminal A where I settlediPhoto Library in to wait for my American Airlines flight back to MSP.

This chapter of our adventure draws to a close with nearly 800 miles over three days of travels on our bikes. If I count the flight miles from Minneapolis to L.A. and then to El Paso, we experienced well over 2,500 miles on this trip. Chilly temps, warm sunshine, traveling through parts of this beautiful country I’ve never seen before. Conversations with fascinating people, a glimpse into lives that are so much alike, yet so different from mine. I am truly grateful for a travel companion who I can spend 24 hours with for 7 straight days and still appreciate each other. I am blessed to have these opportunities, and am proud that we have found ways to explore economically in a way that allows real engagement with real people, not just passing through observing. I feel like I experience life more intensely in a few days in our travels than I have in some entire years of my life.

How do you experience life with intensity? I’d love to hear your ideas and experiences for doing so.

Love, Tomboy Tam