• bethjoycehale

Letting Go

I went on a road trip with four other women, vastly different in many ways with the singular exception of loving motorcycles. From the sound and the speed to the absolute power and freedom, I think we can all agree that nothing else compares to riding a motorcycle. 


We rode at least 4,500 miles in ten days. We slept in at least 5 states. We spent time in at least 5 National Parks. We put our toes in at least 5 large bodies of water. We consumed at least 40 oyster shooters.


As a type A personality and a lifelong planner, I would title my trip experience; “letting go”. Anyone who has met me knows that I function within a narrow path of spontaneity. Agreeing to take the wandering road with a number of gypsy women made me anxious, to say the least. Throwing caution to the wind I hopped on my big bike and rode away from home, away from my planner, and away from my responsibilities. That was my first taste of freedom. 


Riding up through Devil’s Tower was an experience, what an unbelievable geological anomaly that stood in contrast to the landscape around it. We stayed one night camping under the monument, and moved onward and upward from Wyoming to Montana, where we took a small but bumpy ‘short cut’- 40 miles of dirt road. It was challenging terrain as we all ride cruisers, but the views were beautiful, and we discovered a waterfall close to the end of our dirt biking tour. We were able to stay in the luxury of a family member’s home, complete with a homecooked meal and real beds.



We then headed north to Glacier National Park, where we stayed an unexpected three days; we fixed a throttle cable on the side of the road, drank what I am fairly confident was Brazilian gasoline that was disguised as rum. We required an additional day, recovering at the beach, reveling in the beauty of this natural landscape someone a long time ago had the foresight to protect. We were given the opportunity to ride the Going To The Sun Road, which honestly, is aptly named. By this time we are on the fourth day of our trip, and I’m starting to feel relaxed and am finally beginning to understand the benefits of riding on a whim, of stopping to smell the flowers, and most importantly, to trust that we will find a place to pop our tents and enjoy a campfire. Donning my Hawaiian shirt, I took in all the park had to offer, we ate beef jerky next to a glacier melt lake, laughed, swam, and had some serious insights on just how similar our differences seemed to be.


Next we headed west and rode route 20 for over 350 miles. I believe this was the longest, most curvy route from our point A to point B, and it was also some of the most beautiful road I have ever traveled.



We arrived in Anacortes after a night of camping, expecting to hop on a ferry to Port Townsend - there was some concern (by me) that we wouldn’t all fit on the sold out ferry as we didn’t have tickets. We stood in a Walgreens parking lot and sorted new details; As luck would have it, a better plan unfolded in front of me.



With no help from my planner at home, we found a place to stay on the tiny and very friendly Lopez Island, and there happened to be space on the ferry heading there! We saddled up, and rode onto a boat. On that little island we had our first 12 oyster shooters, and stuffed ourselves full of fresh sea food sitting next to the marina as the sun set. In the morning we find our way back to the ferry and head to the next destination; Newport, Oregon.



This was the moment I had been waiting for, a couple hundred miles of Route 101. I had been planning this for as long as I have had my motorcycle license, imagining the curves of the road juxtaposed next to the open ocean. As we headed south, the blue sky started to turn, becoming grey, and to my horror, it began to rain. We only made it as far as a small coastal town in Washington called Long Beach. Here, we consumed another 25 oyster shooters and more fresh sea food. This time we were able to take a moonlight walk on the beach, feeling the cool sand on our feet as we bonded over our shared aspirations, experiences and wishes.



Watching each woman have big reactions to these small happenings was one of my favorite parts of this trip. Whether it was berries on the side of the road, a hot cup of coffee in the morning, jumping in a river fully dressed (boots and all!), or a quiet moment of sitting and watching the waves lap the shore, I was so fortunate to be part of this group. 

As we saddled up on our bikes ready to continue our ride down route 101, we saw rain in our future. We were able to peek at some views of the ocean from above.



 We made it all the way to Tillamook, Oregon, where we stopped at the cheese factory, took a masked and self-guided tour and had ice cream. We geared up for our next chunk of road. It rained and it rained and it rained. We pulled over a couple times to lift our visors and check in. Fully anticipating grumpy or fearful faces, I was presented with smiles, giggles, and shrieks of ‘Did you see that!?’.



We made it to Newport, Oregon, still smiling albeit soaking wet. We unloaded our bikes and threw our items in the dryer at a family member’s home. Dry and warm in a fresh change of clothes, we sat down for (you guessed it) oysters and fresh crab. I’m pretty sure this was as close to perfection as life gets. Sitting around a table with women you love and care about, sharing good food, I forgot my planner, I let go and was able to be fully present in the moment. 

We were able to spend a day in Newport, seeing the town, going to the fish market, repacking, and relaxing. We spent the sun set on the beach, feeling small next to the expanse of water, but not small with each other



As we headed home through Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, and finally Colorado, I appreciated my good fortune, the twists and turns of the open road, the laughs and smiles, tears and heartfelt conversations that I will hold close to my heart for a lifetime. This is why we ride motorcycles, to feel part of something. To feel empowered. To feel sisterhood.


Cheers from this newly minted gypsy,

Beth

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