Conclusion and a Map (Ryan)

So obviously Beth does a better job at writing posts than I do. I’ve finally given up on writing the last leg of the journey. I just don’t have the time. The short of it is: Texas was hot, Louisiana was just kinda cool, family and friends are awesome (southeast), and the exhaust and luggage rack broke the last day. We made it back safe with just over 9000 miles on the clock. Below is a map showing the entire trip. The red is this trip, the blue is the trial run in April when we went to NY.

Now we are safely overseas and if you have suggestions for what Dual Sport to get in Central Asia, I’m all ears. When we set up a blog here, I’ll post a link.

 

Sincerely,

Ryan

 

Map of our travels. Blue is the trial run from April and red is the main, 9000 mile trip.


Day 53-54: The Curtain Closes (Beth)

I suppose some good things really do have to come to an end.  We said goodbye to my family and started on the journey back home.  Being as my mindset switched from vacation mode to practical mode on the way back, I didn’t notice as much during the 2-day-long ride.  I will say that West Virginia is gorgeous territory and we did get a lovely shot of a commonplace view:

Gorgeous

We stayed the night in Williamson, WV and the next day finished up our ride to Michigan.  We did stop for a few minutes to see a couple unique places, but only briefly.

A building made entirely of coal in Williamson.

Shot Tower

Shot Tower

It was just after we left for the day that poor Abram started experiencing some travel pains.  Whether we had too much weight on our luggage rack or I ate too much at my sister’s, I don’t know, but our luggage rack broke.  It didn’t break as in fall off, but it was more like my back rest had all the sudden transformed into a recliner.  Oh, and the exhaust pipes started dragging on the road during any right-side banks we made.  The bike only had to make it this one last day so we kept going.  We figured Abram would just need a little TLC when we got back.

We got back to MI between 7-8pm that night and settled in with some friends.

Looking back, what a fabulous trip!  This has been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.  When else are we going to have the opportunity to tour the country?  Since being back, we’ve gotten asked a lot of questions and I’ve decided to post answers to the most popular:

How many miles did we travel?  9,000+

How many states did we go through?  22

What was your favorite experience?  Mine was riding the 24 mile causeway over that lake in LA.

What place would you recommend for a vacation?  If you like outdoorsy things, Moab, UT.  Archway National Park and Canyonlands are great tourist destinations to begin with, but you would especially love it if you got to go off roading or take a guided tour or something.  It’s a tourist town that doesn’t feel like a tourist town.  We highly recommend it.  If you’re a history buff, Mesa Verde National Park in CO.  I’m not even a history fan (Ryan is), and I found it really interesting.  It’s a nice change from a regular national park.

What was your worst experience?  Getting stuck in the wind gusts in WY.  A close second was the gargantuan heat in TX.

What was the best place you stayed?  We loved “Frontier Cabins” in Wall, SD.  Also a place called “Tug Valley Inn” in Williamson, WV.  Oh, also “Sandia Peak” in NM.

(If you’ve got another question I didn’t answer, feel free to post it and I’ll try to answer it as best I can!)

Thanks, all, for reading!  This is Beth, signing off.


Day 48-52: The one with telepathic powers (Beth)

The last 5 days in NC, we spent with Cricket (that’s my brother-in-law’s nickname), Elaine, and the kids.  We played games, chatted the nights away, gave Leah and Tess rides on the bike, ate, sang, laughed, played more games and ate some more!  Out of sheer ridiculousness, I share the following information with you.  By 7 people within 5 days, the following members of the pantry were killed in the line of duty, sacrificing themselves for our snackish pleasures: 12 blenheims (spicy gingerale), a case of Mountain Dew, 3 liters of Diet Dr. Pepper (because we’re trying to be healthy here), 2 family sized bags of Cheetos, a batch of chocolate-caramel bars, a batch of strawberry, powdered sugar, pecan crust goodness, a Tres Leches Cake topped with cool whip and strawberries, a large bag of chips and french onion dip, lemon-pepper dusted popcorn, and fritos with pimento cheese.  It was beautiful!  Although I think I’m still feeling the repercussions…

Cricket and Ryan spoke computer language for a large portion of the visit. In response, Elaine and I sat nearby playing Bananagrams until we could no longer remember if some of the words we were using were even English.  During some down time, Tess made a really impressive fort out of cardboard that included a Franklin stove (complete with hinge door, oven racks and vent), cabinetry, a radio, and possibly some furniture.  Amber and Leah had to work part of the time (silly work ethic), but thankfully we did get to see them a good amount of the time.  Canasta became the game of the week.  Partners were switched up, but the most common pairs were Ryan-Leah and Me-Elaine.  While Ryan and Leah were busy picking on each other big brother-kid sister style, Elaine and I used our sisterly, telepathic powers to swoop in and steal the win! Mwahahahaha!  Someone looking in from the outside might have thought we planned some suicidal moves, but no!  I assure you, there was deliberate, genius strategy behind every one! :)

Another awesome part of our visit was when we had some friends over to the house.  One of our friends, Kim, brought his octave mandolin to the house and an extra violin for me.  Kim, myself, and a few other friends used to get together and play all the time, so it was fantastic to be able to play with him again.  As a musician, there are certain people you just click with or have played with a long time and you can predict each other fairly well.  It’s rare I think, or maybe just rare for me, but it’s awesome when it happens.  We got a musical night going, singing different songs and playing little improvisations.  It was a special treat for me!

Here are some pics of the week:

Ryan and Cricket

Musical fun.

My sister, Elaine. I love this picture.

Amber, Tess, Leah, my nieces.

Chad and Brittany with their daughter, Haven – friends.

Uncle Ryan giving rides.

Leah

That’s right.


Day 47: Corn Hole County Champ (Beth)

We spent  today visiting with my Dad and step-mom, Linda and my sister, Ann, who drove over to hang out.  It was such a nice visit!  We caught up on the current goings-on, reminisced about old times, ate some apple pie my Dad made from scratch and played corn hole.  Oh!  And I should mention, Dad and Linda took a cross country road trip as well several years before we did.  We were looking through their pictures and comparing places we’d all been.  They made it further west than we did: California, Oregon, etc.

Ryan and I each played corn hole with my Dad and both of us failed miserably. I blame it on the heat… and lack of talent.  It was fun though!

Here’s a few pictures from the visit:

My Dad and his favorite coffee mug. He has this thing about running his fingers along the curvature of the handle while he talks. I love that I can remember that from my childhood and he still does it:) Sorry the picture’s dark.

Nice form.

My form didn’t work out for me in this one…

This is my step-mom, Linda. Fun fact: Linda corrected us on how many years we’ve been married, because WE got it wrong during our conversation! IT WAS HILARIOUS. She did it really sweetly too, which made it even funnier!

My sister, Ann. She’s No. 6. I’m No. 7.

Dad, Linda, Ann, Beth, Ryan

In the evening, we headed out from Dad and Linda’s.  Ryan had to run back to Burlington and I met my friend Christy very briefly for dinner.  She and her husband are good friends of ours.

Christy and Madaline

Dad and Linda live pretty close to Raleigh so I jumped over to see my former violin teacher before heading back to Burlington for the night.  She taught me for… 8 years?  My memory’s questionable, but it’s close to that.  I hadn’t seen her since our wedding (which was FOUR years ago, not SIX.  In case you’re wondering;)), so it was great to see her again and catch up! She had an extra violin around that she let me use and we got to play some duets again.  Some of my favorite memories are moments like this, playing beautiful music with someone you’re comfortable playing with.

My teacher.

Once I got back to Burlington, I hung out for a little bit and then exhaustion  set in. I decided I should get myself united with a pillow… and that was that.


Day 46: Pinball Travelers (Beth)

Get ready.  This post won’t be terribly long, but it’ll be a faster pace.

To start off, we left SC at 8am and drove up to see my sister in Burlington, NC.  We arrived at 1pm-ish, hung out for a couple hours, I threw in a load of laundry, and then Ryan and I got spiffed up to go to our friends’ wedding in Chapel Hill, NC.  We left around 5pm.  I took my sister’s car; Ryan took the bike.   He left a few minutes before I did.  I get in the car, punch the address into my phone’s GPS, and realize like a genius, I’d forgotten to charge my phone…and I don’t have a car charger.  Good one, Beth.  Alright.  I’ve at least had the foresight to also bring our actual GPS.  Problem No. 2.  Our GPS is moody and didn’t pick up satellites for 20 minutes.  So, I’m balancing my dying phone on my knee, listening to GPS lady and trying to hold my hard core GPS up with one hand (because that’ll help the signal, of course), WHILE DRIVING IN HEELS.  I know.  Not my best moment.  However!  The GPS managed to pal up with a satellite just before my phone died, and no pedestrians were hurt in the making of this momory.  VICTORY! I even got to Chapel Hill with some breather time for the 7pm wedding.  Whoo!

Now for the good part!  We got to celebrate our friends’ (Hadeel and Mahmoud) wedding with them!  Mahmoud looked sharp in his tux and Hadeel was needless to say, GORGEOUS.  Some other mutual friends of ours came down from Michigan for the wedding too, so that was really cool to see some Michiganders down in the South.  They had their 6 month old son in a gray, pin-stripped suit for the occasion that would make any woman turn to mush.  It was so cute!  We ended up eating with a really cool couple that had just gotten back from a vacation to Paris, so we were all swapping odd traveling stories, having a great time.  Hadeel danced with Mahmoud and her Dad and then the dance floor opened up.  It stayed pretty crowded with people until we had to leave.

The Newlyweds!

Our friends from MI with the bride and groom.

Paris travelers. We really enjoyed talking with them.

Unfortunately, we had to say our goodbyes earlier than we wanted to because we had to drive an hour away to stay at my Dad’s for the night.  What a beautiful wedding though!

We got in at my Dad’s around 11ish, visited for a while and called it quits around midnight.  It had been a long day, but a good one!


Day 38-45: South Carolina Visit (Beth)

John and Amy had to take off early for work, so we said our goodbyes and then loaded up the bike to head to South Carolina to see Ryan’s family.

Of all the states we’ve traveled through, the Carolinas are in the running for the most beautiful!  I know what you’re thinking, “Beth, you’re biased!  You grew up in North Carolina.”  True, but I’ll explain my reasoning anyway.  First of all, there are many kinds of beautiful, just like there are many fantastic flavors of food.  Lasagna and triple chocolate cake are BOTH delicious, but for us, lasagna is a comfort food we could eat every week.  I thoroughly enjoy death by chocolate cakes, but I cannot eat them regularly.  The Carolinas are comfort food for me.  Carolina mountains roll in and out of each other like lazy waves in the ocean that are made of bushy green trees full of life and alluring colors.  Western mountains look jagged and defined in comparison.  Grand and austere, they strike my palette as decadent.  This is why the Carolinas get my bonus points for beauty.

As we were pulling into Ryan’s hometown, we stopped by the side of the road to take a picture of two old hangers that were locked up, but filled with classic cars that you could see through the front glass.  As we’re paused to snap a shot, a gentlemen on a riding mower shouts to us from the other side of the street, “You want to take a look at those cars?”  To which we reply, “YES.”  Turns out he takes care of the grounds and can go in and out of the hangers as he pleases, so he let us in to see the cars.  There was an old 1929 Chevy in there I would’ve gladly used as a daily driver!  Such character!

Hangers with classic cars.

My car.

After that really cool detour we arrived at Ryan’s parents’ house.  From that point on until when we left, it’s hard to remember what happened which day.  Suffice it to say, we spent a lot of time hanging out with Ryan’s grandparents that live nearby, caught up with a bunch of friends, tried some new recipes, got schooled in canasta, took some motorcycle rides with Ryan’s parents, saw a movie, and just tried to relax in general.  Hanging out with Ryan’s grandparents was really cool because they were filling us in on some family history and even took out an album filled with pictures going back to the late 1800s.  Fascinating.  Ryan has a great great uncle who invented several items you would recognize: the self cleaning oven, electric coffee percolator, removable electric burners for the stove, etc.  We stayed in SC for about a week before taking off for NC. It was a really great time with everyone!

Looking at albums. That’s Ryan’s Oma in purple.

Ryan’s Mom.

Ryan and his Grandmom.

Mike and Wendy, college friends.

Amanda, friend.

John, friend.

Me and Ryan’s Dad. Not sure what we’re supposed to be doing here, but if it’s “looking cool,” I think we failed… :)

Ryan’s Opa.

Mike and Janet, friends.

 

 


Day 37: Georgia (Beth)

Ryan and I whipped over to Georgia real quick for a one night visit with my brother and sister-inlaw.  It was so nice to see them!  John and Amy made us a tasty, tasty meal and we got to catch up for a while.  Then, with the help of some peach cobbler, we busted out some canasta at played until bedtime.  That’s how my family seems to roll: good company, good food, good games!

What a good picture.


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