Category Archives: Daily Updates

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:


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.


That’s right.

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.

Day 32-36: Alabama Partaaay! (Beth)

Instead of going day by day, I’ll just give you an overall picture of the visit.

We rolled into Alabama in the afternoon to stay with some good friends (Drew and Jessie), and from the moment Drew got home from work, he and Ryan immediately went outside to shoot Drew’s potato gun… for an hour!  Nothing like two rednecks celebrating their Southern pride by shooting taters into a field via homemade arsenal.   As I recall, Ryan’s friend Dave drove in from Florida a day or two after we arrived and the three of them got it in their heads to shoot a glow stick out of the potato gun, leaving a trail of neon green alien-like residue hanging in the air.  Very Roswell.  Not really taking part in the shooting, Jesse and I did get to enjoy watching 3 grown men running around the yard, as giddy as I’ve ever seen them.

Having fun.

Drew, Dave and Ryan are all good college friends, and to sweeten the pot, all Rednecks.  (FYI- when Ryan and I use this term in our blogs, we say it with pride.  Let’s face it, should civilization/governments collapse, you want the friend by your side to be a Redneck.  They are hardworking, will give you the shirt off their back, comfortable in the outdoors, resourceful, can blow anything up, can hunt for/eat anything, and can generally fix any vehicle while telling a fantastic story.) During our visit we all went fishing, Dave rolled out some alligator skins for us to see, we watched videos of some guys shooting wild hogs from a helicopter, and ate lots of good food (thanks Jessie!).  Between the 3 of them all getting on each other’s case and reviving old stories, my abs ACHED from laughing so hard!  All in all, a fabulous time!

Dave’s trophies.

The guys.

Drew and Jesse have possibly one of the cutest kids I’ve seen in my life! (He’s 11 months)  He was workin the crowd like a pro, throwing his body haphazardly onto the nearest unsuspecting victim, getting addicted to his first taste of pineapple icing, hugging random cashiers at Aldi, and the whole time, winning my heart over!

Too adorable

Speaking of addictions, Jessie introduced me to a fabulous version of Scrabble for non-Scrabble lovers: Bananagrams.   This game is a more independent, fast-paced version of Scrabble.  Bear with me for about 2.5 minutes, and you too can experience the freedom and enjoyment of this 5-10 minute game.

Get yourself 1-2 other players.  Dump your scrabble letters on the table, turning them face down.  Each player picks 21 tiles.  Everyone overturn your tiles at the same time and then you must immediately make as many REAL words (*couCRICKETgh* 😉 ) as you can, linking them together in front of you like you would see words attached in a Scrabble game.  If you can make all the tiles in front of you fit into various connected words, you call “PEEL” and everyone, including you, must draw another tile from the unused pile in the middle.  If you cannot fit all your tiles in a word, you can call “DUMP” and throw an unwanted letter back into the middle pile and exchange it for 3 new tiles.  If you call “DUMP,” only you exchange tiles, no one else.  As you draw more tiles either by way of “PEEL” or “DUMP,” you’re always trying to make new words.  You can rearrange your board as many times as you want during the game.  The game ends when there are less tiles in the middle than there are players and someone uses up all their tiles.  Make sure to check that the winner’s words are all spelled correctly.  If they’re not, the game is still afoot!

We had such a fantastic time in Alabama.  Hated for it to end!


PS- For a while now I’ve been trying to figure out how to explain something to those of you reading.  We’ll say in our blogs that we traveled such and such a distance and a lot of people have mentioned to me that they could never ride on a bike for so long a time.  To which I respond, “Oh, you build up a tolerance for a certain amount of riding a day.  It’s not as bad as you think.”  Well, some days are easier to enjoy and some days are more of a will power issue depending on the terrain and mile count.  Thankfully, Drew and Jessie’s son, Aaron, has inspired me to share with you a visual representation of my reaction to Ryan each day when he tells me how many miles we’re going to be riding.

0-150 miles

Sweet! It’s like we’re running an errand!

150-300 miles

Cool! That’ll be a nice ride.

3.  300 – 400 miles

Okay.. I’ll do it, but I’m skeptical…

400-500 miles

Oy vey.

500+ miles

This is how much motivation I have to start this ride.

Day 31: New Orleans (Beth)

Today we rode from Thibodaux, LA to Meridian, MS.  It actually wasn’t all that far, but it took a long time because we wanted to ride through parts of New Orleans.

New Orleans hit me with an atmosphere I never could have concocted on my own!  Wow.  We rode through French Quarter downtown and all I can say is, this city has got some major Cajun panache.  The architecture was gorgeous, the streets narrow and bursting at the seams with color, the buildings tall, the balconies frequent, seafood and jazz clubs everywhere.   I would have loved to catch some live jazz in town, but sadly, our schedule didn’t allow for the luxury.  Plus, we were so caught up in trying to navigate the roads, our minds didn’t dwell on much else besides making it out of the city alive!  I honestly didn’t think any place in the US could have worse roads than Michigan, but I stand corrected.  Although, after going in the same circle about 3 times, I managed to get a good look at some of the “graveyard towns” on the way through.  Talk about impressive!

We finally outsmarted the roads and got back on track and the next thing we experienced is officially my favorite part of our road trip by far (as far as natural beauty is concerned).

After lunch, we jumped on the bike to stay ahead of a nearby storm and made our way towards Lake Pontchartrain.  Ryan shouted back to me that we were about to cross a causeway that way 24 miles long, so I better prepare myself.  “Alright,” I thought, “just a half hour and we can get back to seeing some cool parts of the city.” No, riding on this causeway WAS the coolest part of the city.

A few miles after riding on the causeway, the sky scrapers behind us disappeared and any civilization ahead of us was nowhere to be seen.  All that stretched out before us was ever narrowing concrete that gradually evaporated into a surrounding world of water.  Unlike a beach view of an ocean where your senses understand that the water keeps going for miles and miles, the lake extended beyond the curvature of the earth and seemed to halt drastically at a defined line.  Two gargantuan cumulus clouds filled the sky and dropped partially below the horizon’s edge.  The color of the water and clouds melted into each other so expertly that for minutes at a time, I couldn’t tell where one stopped and the other began.  It felt like an unnatural universe located above the earth and we were traveling along a massive water highway that transported you from one world to another.  My eyes couldn’t consume enough of it!  Absolutely surreal.  No picture could do it justice, but I tried to snap one with Ryan’s phone anyway…

Crossing the lake-

After crossing the causeway, we continued on and finally hit the Mississippi State Line.  Arriving in Meridian, we found our hotel, grabbed some dinner, did laundry again and did some more blogging.