Local riders’ motorcycle journey surpasses 17,000 miles

September 25, 2012

By Tad Haas and Gaila Gutierrez

Gaila Gutierrez checks out an abandoned vehicle somewhere in Arkansas. By Tad Haas

Just shy of five months into our journey, we’re hunkered down and taking shelter at a cozy B&B in Gunner’s Cove, Newfoundland, keeping an eye on the news of Hurricane Leslie that has Newfoundland on an anxious watch.

Fortunately for us, we’re on the Northern Peninsula with the worst of it hitting the southeastern portion of the island. Can’t say we ever thought we’d be waiting out a hurricane, but then again this is a trip of firsts and this is just another example.

Since we left on April 15, we’ve ridden nearly 17,000 miles zig-zagging through 16 states and five Canadian provinces — Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, with Labrador being a significant milestone of our journey as it’s our northernmost destination. Talk about fantastic!

From the mountains of Colorado, the deserts of the Southwest, the Louisiana bayous, the amazing Great Lakes, 15 national parks, Niagara Falls, and the coastal wonderlands of Newfoundland and Labrador, we have seen more in our five months than a lifetime of two-week vacations.

We’ve camped often, couch-surfed with friends and family as well as complete strangers, shacked up in a shack with a bicyclists from Vermont, been robbed by a feisty raccoon and have had more waterfront property than we could ever afford in “real” life. Life on the road has its inconveniences, but the experience and gift of time we’ve granted ourselves trumps that card any day. Not waking to an alarm clock is still a highlight of each day.

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 www.overlandnow.com.

On the other hand, it’s not all been smooth sailing; there have been some hardships along the way. Gaila wiped out on a dirt road in Wisconsin and was devastated to learn her ankle was broken. While waiting for hours on pins and needles for treatment recommendations, reality sunk in that she could be sidelined for four to eight weeks to recover.

Over tears and a box of Kleenex, we prepared for the worst and outlined alternate plans. Fortunately, the good news gods were on our side and it wasn’t as bad as originally thought; she was sent “home” with the doctor’s blessing and her stiff motorcycle boot as her cast.

Keeping on budget in Canada has also been a real challenge; we’ve consistently overspent by close to $50 a day, which is pretty considerable when our daily budget is $100. And if you think 24/7 of togetherness is always blissful, we challenge you to try it for a year. We’ve had a few roadside stand-offs; not many but a few. In the end, we just have to agree we sometimes do things differently. Communication is key, but turning off the headsets now and again works just as well!

As we make our way back down the Atlantic provinces and back into the States, we’re excited to begin our descent into New England to catch the fall colors. We’ll continue down the East Coast and figure out a route through states we haven’t been to yet and head for the next big milestone, Mexico.

Exploring the nooks and crannies of North America has been fascinating. We’ve discovered so much history of the regions we’ve traveled as well as local cultures and traditions, interesting food and friendly people. We can only look forward to what new encounters each day will bring — the good, the bad and everything in between.

There are risks in what we are doing, but we’ve learned the most dangerous risk of all is spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.

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