The Long Road Home

May 21, 2013

Issaquah couple recall a year of touring North and South America by motorcycle

Just over a year ago, we left behind our jobs and home in Issaquah and set off on a motorcycle journey that took us through the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Central America. We didn’t know what to expect other than to expect the unexpected.

Having fulfilled the dream and accomplished the goal of arriving safely back into the states, we can’t help but congratulate ourselves for a ride well done. It has been the most rewarding year of our lives.

Photos contributed Above, the bright blue waters of the Rio Celeste are created by a chemical reaction from the Tenorio Volcano in Costa Rica. Below, the deepest lake in Central America and surrounded by three active volcanos, in Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala, was a favorite.

Photos contributed
Above, the bright blue waters of the Rio Celeste are created by a chemical reaction from the Tenorio Volcano in Costa Rica. Below, the deepest lake in Central America and surrounded by three active volcanos, in Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala, was a favorite.

We have traveled through 32 U.S. states, six Canadian provinces, Mexico and Central America — 10 countries in all and more than 38,000 miles. Our travels have taken us as far north as Labrador and as far south as the Darien Gap in Panama, an 80-mile stretch of impassible jungle where you either stop and turn around or figure out a way to ship your vehicle to Columbia. In our case, we didn’t have the budget to continue into South America … not this time.

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Local motorcycle riders meander through Mexico on journey

January 1, 2013

Gaila Gutierrez and Tad Haas pose their motorcycles beside a small Mayan ruin in Limones, Yucatan, as they joined an End of the World rally and were happy to wake up Dec. 22 with the world still alive and kicking. By Gaila Gutierrez and Tad Haas

Sitting under a beachside palapa in the small quaint town of Mahahual, Yucatan, we’ve managed to travel through north, central and southern Mexico without losing our heads, getting robbed, bribed or landing in jail.

We’ve traveled through areas high on the State Department’s website identified for “known cartel activity, dangerous and unnecessary travel not advised.” We’ve ridden through major cities, on remote dirt mountain roads and through impoverished villages in the middle of nowhere. While we’re sure there are stories out there of people having bad experiences, we have had nothing but warm welcomes from friendly, beautiful people with an amazing culture and unique traditions.

On the other hand, riding through Mexico on motorcycles has been a crazy adventure in itself physically. If you’ve driven in Mexico, you know what we’re talking about, but if not, let’s just say you don’t have to go off-road to get white knuckles; you can find plenty of it in any of the cities.

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Local riders’ motorcycle journey surpasses 17,000 miles

September 25, 2012

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!

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Issaquah couple embarks on transcontinental motorcycle journey

July 24, 2012

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.

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Issaquah couple take a year off to blog motorcycle diaries

April 17, 2012

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.

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