We had to start the story somewhere for this website and decided that that we should stick to tales of our motorcycling together and not dip too far back into the way-back machine or talk about too many other modes (like planes, trains, and automobiles). We have both traveled in all the usual ways, but these things you know how to do, so we’ll keep our chatter focused on the bikes and how we grew into the sport without going broke and having a marvelous time as we went. I give no guarantees we did not make mistakes, lapse in common sense, and think we knew what we were doing some of the time.
Having adventures by motorcycle, especially for an extended amount of time on your own bike can, at first try, appear quite daunting. When starting out it is easy to slip into online shopping overdrive in the pursuit of every aftermarket part, auxiliary do-dad and any other engineered tid-bits custom made for your model of motorcycle, and all the while feeling that the bike isn’t quite ready. If an acute indecision over the placement of the new sticker on the pannier leaves you dead in your tracks, you might know what I am talking about. We did this in the beginning only to realize that half the stuff we thought was a requirement for an overland bike adventure was rarely used or never needed. I built our first adventure bikes to withstand an Afghan IED only to realize that coming-off in sand at low speeds and tip-overs from a near standstill are the worst of it. I had to get honest with myself and admit that it was unlikely we were going to be jumping logs on a steep single track at 60 miles per hour. A lot of money and time was spent on hypothetical needs that never materialized. In reality, any stock dual-sport motorcycle in reasonable mechanical shape with your camping gear lashed on the back can lead to endless possibilities for adventure off the beaten track. Take a few overnight camping trips within a 200-mile radius of where you live and make a list of the things you wish you had brought. Use the money you saved by not buying the stainless steel, laser cut, CNC billet valve stem guards to buy gas and a night at a hotel. Build your adventure kit with care and thought, and compare yourself to no one. Let your freak flag fly.
It is entirely possible to have a “trip of a lifetime” adventure while living a predictable and normal life of career, mortgage, and student loan payments.
For years we went on long weekends and annual vacations of up to a month planned around motorcycle travel. By sharing some of our past trips, we hope to inspire you to set out on your own trip and show that you can have an adventure of your own design quite easily – there is no required way to adventure and your imagination and desire are all that is needed.
We have done a few different types of trips, which have included camping around our home state (Washington, Oregon, BC Canada), flying to a foreign country and renting bikes (Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos) or riding our motorcycles from our home in Seattle to distant lands (Artic Ocean via the Dempster Highway and Baja, Mexico).
Time and money are the obvious limiting factors but we found, after looking back at all our past trips, time was more limiting than money and DIY motorcycle travel is much cheaper than most vacation packages or a week on a cruise ship. Actually, it can be cheaper than staying at home doing the nothing things: shopping, tasty meat for the BBQ, DIY home remodels, dinner out. You get the drift, life costs money no matter what you do.
To maximize riding time for Baja, Mexico with only a little over 3 weeks vacation from work we rented a truck and hauled the bikes from Seattle to San Diego and covered in 48 hours what would have taken a week or more of hard riding to accomplish. After Baja was done we shipped the bikes home from Arizona on a semi-truck and we flew home so we could slide into work on Monday morning right as the bell rang. The bikes turned up in Seattle 3 weeks later. The extra money spent on trucks, shipping agents, and plane tickets was worth it to us because it allowed 3 full weeks to ride in Mexico. This additional money spent translated to doubling our riding time in the sweet spot and proving the theory that time is money. For the 3 weeks we had to get to the Arctic Ocean we took the Alaska ferry from Bellingham, WA to Skagway, AK because we didn’t have time to ride the way we like (no more than 200-250 miles a day) to do the full circle riding. This is what we mean when we say do it your way and have a damn fine time doing it.
Join us as we tell you a bit about our last few trips so that you can think about your own style of adventuring. And, remember there could be great stuff just out your front door and a few hundred miles away.
Our first motorcycle adventure was a trip to Vietnam in 2007. A few months before the trip Shannon got her own riding endorsement because she finally realized that bikes came in her size (a wonderful 1967 Honda Dream 305 became her first pride and joy of riding).
That trip really got the bug going and upon getting back to Seattle both Mike and Shannon wanted bikes beyond the classics that couldn’t really leave the city so Mike got himself a Kawaski KLR 650 named Klirby and Shannon got her first of few bikes, a royal Enfield and we started exploring motorcycle camping in the Pacific northwest – we are very lucky to have such a beautiful backyard. And, we started scheming the next big trip – Arctic Ocean.
The Arctic Ocean trip occurred in 2009 and at first Shannon was set on taking her Enfield but later realized that just wasn’t the best choice to make and got herself a Yamaha XT225 (aka Serow) named Nimbles – loved that bike. The trip was challenging and worth every mile, and quickly the next trip planning ensued – Baja. And, this time we would bring Ducati. He seemed to enjoy the trips around home so why not a big one to Baja, Mexico.
The Baja, Mexico trip exposed us to an evil we had never imagined – sand in all forms. It was like nothing we had experienced and actually drove Shannon to tears. At the counter point Baja was beautiful, rugged, and the people friendly and engaged.
A work opportunity for Shannon in Thailand meant a free ticket so using saved up airline miles a ticket was procured for Mike and before Shannon had to work we went to Laos for a week of riding through the mountainous north.
None of these trips were outrageously expense; they ranged from 2,500-6,500 for both of us for up to almost a month of travel. Click on the links above for more information including photos on each trip.