Issaquah couple take a year off to blog motorcycle diaries

April 17, 2012

By Tom Corrigan

Tad Haas and Gaila Gutierrez have done what many probably dream of doing. They quit their jobs and hopped on these two BMW motorcycles for a year-long road trip that started April 15. By Tom Corrigan

Sitting in their nearly empty living room, the couple says they know plenty of people who would love to do what they are about to do.

Gaila Gutierrez said she has heard a lot of people offer reasons they could never take off for the year of wandering that the pair has deliberately only semi-planned out.

“If you want to do it, do it,” she said. “You can make it happen. There’s ways around everything.”

Early the morning of April 15, Gutierrez and Tad Haas set out from their Tiger Mountain home on two BMW motorcycles. Packed carefully aboard those bikes was clothing, camping gear, cameras, notebook computers and other items the two thought they might need for their yearlong trip across the United States, around the Great Lakes and up into eastern Canada, and then back cross-country into Mexico and Central America.

For Haas, the timing was important. He wanted to be on the road when he turned 49. Gutierrez is only a few months younger.

“I’ve flown over so many things,” said Haas, who quit his software job, a job that had him traveling quite a bit by plane. “I’ve flown over the Grand Canyon I don’t know how many times. But I’ve never been there.”

That spot is one firm destination on their loosely planned itinerary, a spot Haas said he believes will be a great part of their trip.

For her part, Gutierrez took a buyout from the city of Issaquah, where she had worked for 16 years as a member of the city’s Major Development Review Team. Both she and Haas said they liked their jobs and enjoy living in Issaquah. But they also decided they were ready for something different, that they didn’t want to wait until they were 65 and retired to get out and see things.

“We casually started talking about it,” Haas said of the trip, though both he and Gutierrez said that casual talk quickly became something different.

“We both thought, ‘Why not?’ and ‘Why not now?’” Gutierrez said of the trip. “I am looking to re-energize from this trip.”

She further talked about “rediscovering the things that make her super happy.”

What to know

Follow the yearlong road trip of Issaquah couple Tad Haas and Gaila Gutierrez at www.overlandnow.com.

The Issaquah Press will run dispatches from the couple’s trip throughout the year. Find them at www.issaquahpress.com.

While they have somewhat of a route in mind, the pair purposefully did not plan out their every move. They also don’t plan on sticking to the beaten path. They want to travel back roads, not interstates. If they find some unexpected spot interesting, the idea is they will stick around long enough to enjoy it.

While on the road, Haas figures they will camp about one-third of the time, stay in inexpensive hotels another third and “couch surf” the last third. They plan on staying with family or friends as much as possible, including heading to Missouri for a large Haas family reunion this summer. Gutierrez said she has been shocked by the number of people willing to put the two up for a night, or offer that they have friends or family members in far-flung spots willing to do so.

To chronicle their travels, the two have set up a website, www.overlandnow.com. The plan is put up regular posts from the road, at least when possible.

Gutierrez said she and Haas are not going into the trip naively. Both expect there will be problems with the bikes, that they will get lost, that they likely will become homesick at some point. Haas speaks a bit of French; Gutierrez knows a bit of Spanish. But they still think there may be language problems in Mexico and Central America, as well as in the French-speaking parts of Canada.

“We will be on a strict budget,” Haas said and both agreed that dealing with some of the financial realities was one of the more challenging parts of planning for the trip. They will be renting out their Issaquah home, which is why furniture and other belongings were being put in storage.

Still, for all the obstacles, Gutierrez several times insisted they were more than ready to take a leap of faith. She cited a quote, which has been used as a book title by a few different authors: “Jump and the net will appear.”

“We’re looking, hoping for the unexpected,” Gutierrez said.

Tom Corrigan: 392-6434, ext. 241, or www.tcorrigan@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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