The Detour that Sparked a Mission

Updated: May 6

1.22.20

By: Kayla Koeune


As I look toward the sun setting behind the red canyons of Zion National Park, a feeling of calm comes over me. I have found the Good Life. A breath of fresh air free from the stresses of conventional life. This is my future, I can feel it in my bones.

(Teton National Park - Photo by KaylaInfernoArt)


A few years ago Charlie and I were barreling down the freeway with a few friends through Wyoming and over the mountains to Salt Lake for a Moto event. The wind was calm and the sun was on our side, but let's be real riding the freeway for almost an entire day can get rather dull. The last few miles really changed the pace of this day and welcomed us into the open arms of the Tetons. We were headed to Jackson Hole for the night to meet up with others who would join our 4 pack to continue west. I had never been to this area of the country and I was in Awe. The Tetons are like no mountains I had ever seen before. Sharp, rigid, and reaching to the sky like sheets of grey ice. I felt I was in the presence of true magic.


When we got to the hotel I looked at Charlie and asked

“How close are we to Yellowstone”

“Not Far.. Why?” Charlie Replied. So I sold my case. “Wellllll, we are not that far from yellowstone, and I have never been there, and I have always wanted to go. It seems a shame to miss it when we are a stones through away. I mean we could take a long day ride up there and then meet up with everyone later in the day.” He made a valid response about how that sounded amazing but didn’t want to be a jerk to people who asked us to journey with them. Meh he was probably right. We ultimately decided to take the night to think about it and pick our path at dawn. Dressed in our best we headed to dinner and live music with this group of rowdy ladies and watched them tie one on. Side note Charlie and I no longer drink so the scene isn’t really our cup of tea as it used to be. When the flashing started we said our Irish goodbye.... the longest Irish good bye in history. We woke the next morning, turned the bikes north, and left after texting our road partners that we were headed to Yellowstone for the day and would catch up later. I don’t think we have ever seen those women again to this day.... We are such dirtbags!


Let me explain ourselves. As we starting riding I had no idea that we would hit Teton National Park on the way. Let me tell you there is no reason to rush down that epic road. Around every turn we wanted to stop, get off the bikes, and take it in. That incessant stopping, compiled with the fact that Yellowstone isn’t as close as we thought plus the traffic, we soon realized that we would not be able to make it back south unless we bailed on Yellowstone and turned around stat. After a little more debating we decided if there was camping available we would continue north. By the time we got to the entrance there was one campground with vacancies so we let fate decide our future. We pulled into Lewis Lake Campground and secured our spot.. which is not easy to do in the middle of summer, so we saw it as a sign! We unpacked, hopped back on the bikes, and we did the loop. Stopping at every scenic view point and activity along the way. My favorite stops were the Upper Geyser Basin and the Buffalo. I don’t know if Buffalo is considered a stop but it aught to be. Charlie strongly disagreed with my excitement, I really can not understand his unnatural fear of these creatures. Something about being terrified that one would impale him on his motorcycle. I on the other hand was trying to get close enough to get a selfie with one of these big guys. Minus the Buffalo both of us were in heaven.

Now, we lost track of time and it was getting cold and dark fast. We hadn’t planned on camping so we had no food or wood with us. Luckily we found snacks at a gas stop only minutes before they closed and used our resourcefulness to make a fire from wood we collected from the campsite. The wood we had collected may have been a whole tree but I don’t think anyone noticed....

there was nothing to see. hah.

(Yellowstone National Park)


As we talked that evening we realized this was the most fun we had since our trip to Europe and we had no desire for it to come to an end. We opened our map and started looking at what other National Parks we could stop at before we went home. This excitement was mixed with guilt if we chose to not show up to the motorcycle event. We had told several friends we would meet them there. What to do.. What to do..?

So the next morning we headed south.. in the direction of the motorcycle rally, well, at our last gas stop we were sending text messages again saying we weren’t going to make it because the world was telling us we needed to do something more our speed. We ditched everyone. We felt like real assholes, but there was something else that seemed to light a fire in us and you cant ignore those opportunities. Life goes by in a blur but its journeys like this that leave their mark on your soul and fuel you for years to come. After Charlie hung up the phone we called it a night at a hotel in Provo. This would be the entrance to 89 that would take us south all the way to Zion National Park.


Our new mission was born. Charlie and I would make it our next goal to visit all the National Parks by motorcycle but there had to be ground rules. If you focus your energy checking destinations off a list you miss the opportunity to let the journey steer you this way or that. You miss the spontaneity of the road. We wanted to get outdoors and take in the parks true experience. Visiting meant more than just passing through. We have to stay there for at least a night and really explore these natural power houses. Since this trip Charlie and I have visited several parks and will continue to do so in the years to come. This mission also inspired a National Park painting as part of my #ArtforGood Collection that allows me to donate money to NPS. Contributing helps ensure these natural places are there for those who come in the future to enjoy!

As Always Enjoy the Journey and See you out there.

#NationalPark #Zion #Yellowstone #GrandTetons #Mission



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