Issaquah couple embarks on transcontinental motorcycle journey

July 24, 2012

By Tad Haas and Gaila Gutierrez

Tad Haas and Gaila Gutierrez stop in June at Taylor Park Reservoir, about 120 miles southwest of Denver, during their trip across North and Central America. Contributed

When is the last time you tried something different for the first time? Our last few weeks have been full of “first times,” but quitting our jobs and leaving behind the world as we know it to travel North and Central America for the next year has been the biggie.

We left Issaquah on April 15 on fully loaded motorcycles and took off into the wild blue. Taking a career break to travel, freeing ourselves from the stress and predictability of daily routine, and experiencing life in a different way has been unfolding much as we expected. Ten national parks, 7,300 miles, loads of new friendships, astoundingly diverse geography and magnificent (sprinkled with some not so magnificent) motorcycle riding is nothing to shake a stick at and there, in a nutshell, you have a glimpse of the first eight states of our adventure.

A question frequently asked has been, “Is the journey all you expected?” It’s hard to give a definitive answer just nine weeks into it.

To name just a few encounters: a surprise detour to a “secret” party in a Death Valley ghost town; a pianist and concert in a cave; watching a pod of dancing whales off a deserted beach on the California coast; a small town going-away celebration seeing local servicemen off to Afghanistan; and stumbling across awesome events and sights that we wouldn’t normally have done or known about. That’s pretty good stuff.

Dispatches from the Road

A series about a motorcycle trek across North and Central America.

Dispatches from the Road is an occasional series by Gaila Gutierrez and Tad Haas, who ditched the corporate world and are riding their motorcycles into freedom. Learn more or follow the journey at

Then, of course, there is the incredible beauty of our magnificent nation. All things considered, we’d have to say that life on two wheels is pretty much what it’s cracked up to be.

Riding across the country on a motorcycle definitely teaches you how live with less. Carrying approximately 60 pounds or less each of gear and clothing, we have everything we need to be comfortable. Expense plays a big part in how we make this work and our combined daily budget is $100 or less. This includes fuel, food and sleeping accommodations.

So far, we’ve met that goal and found traveling can be less expensive than one might think. Living on a tight budget is a challenge but it is also very doable. It makes us rethink how we spend money and is teaching us that we really don’t miss all the “stuff” we thought made us happy.

Life on the road can also stretch you to do things you didn’t think you could or would do. While we might not have a “blow-your-hair-back” experience every day, most have been awesome. However, not all things are roses.

We did have a very challenging stretch in Utah that caused heat exhaustion and dropped bikes in the silt, sand and rocks. Not to mention sheer terror on the road caused by incredible gusts of wind. Oh yes, and the cliff drop-offs that make us second guess the off-road route sometimes. Although we have moments of tension and trials, together we get through it with the support and love of each other.

Traveling America, rafting and hiking its rivers and canyons, and meeting its diverse population along the way still beats any day at the office. We’ve experienced the good, the bad and everything in between, and continue to look forward to whatever each bend in the road brings.

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