It is time to begin real preparations for this coming year. It is an exciting time of creation, trying to save money and find sponsors, and rebuilding the motorcycles so they are in top-shape to begin. It’s pretty much Holy Shit time, as the reality of beginning approaches us more quickly than we want to admit. In our spare time, we find hot springs and drown our thoughts there. Utah is good for that.
We are two. Independent travelers, we met in the midst of our own solo journeys, in the wild of the Yukon. We sought the same shelter in a rainstorm, built a fire, and warmed ourselves with heat from the woodstove and the friendship of another on a journey alone. At sunrise we made coffee and continued down the empty Alaskan highway. I pedaled my bike and he kick-started his – back on our lovely, singular, alone roads. We must have lingered vaguely in the back of each other’s thoughts, and a few months later fortuitously met again, this time in new york on new year’s eve. We rode bicycles around the city for 12 hours, raced the clock over the brooklyn bridge spurred on by the cheers of thousands of people speaking hundreds of languages, and he kissed me on the cheek at midnight in Bed Stuy. Again, we parted ways and traveled to our respective homes. The next month we met again, in Tanque Verde where we camped on a hillside overlooking the city and listened to the wind howl between our bodies and the desert stars. Since then, we have traveled through Texas, Arizona, Louisiana, Utah, New York, and into each other’s lives.
(Scott at Tanque Verde, AZ)
Scott is a freelance film-maker and I have spent the last seven years working for nonprofits in New York and Utah. I have always wanted to travel, and began living this dream by bicycle in 2014 when I took my first 3-month solo trip from Colorado to Washington, and then on to San Diego. Scott has been traveling by Motorcycle for years, most recently a 9-month journey to the arctic Circle, to Mexico, and everywhere in between. Now we travel together, and will be embarking on the most challenging and long-term adventure yet. We leave after the 2017 Solar Eclipse.
We are going to Oxaca, we are going to Mexico City, and we are going to attempt the legendary Darien Gap by foot and small boat from Panama to Columbia. From Columbia we will continue on and find coffee farms to work at, discover hot springs, climb a volcano, photograph and follow the Dakar rally, kiss the ground of Tierra Del Fuego, begin thinking in Spanish, and tell the stories of the people we meet along the way. When we are running out of money, we will come home (we think).
Our motivations lie in many places. Both of us love to write, take photographs, and meet other humans who live lives both similar and dissimilar to ours, but who are all connected through the same kindness and humanity. We are driven by connection and story. We believe in true justice, and will to tell the stories of the people we meet through the mediums of photography, film, and writing. To share their struggles and victories, and to share their individual wisdom with the greater world. We also desire to expand our own understanding of the world so that as we continue in life we have greater capacities for understanding, compassion, and vision. Expression is a value we share, and this journey will give us the opportunity to stretch ourselves beyond our current limits and improve our artistic communication skills which we can then make open to anyone who cares to read/watch/see/share
(mud, San Rafael Swell, Utah)
I used to envision myself cruising around on a tiny Honda cafe-racer (although I didn’t know what a cafe racer was at the time), but I never really knew how to make it happen. After I met Scott and we began talking about this trip, It became clear that it was time to make the dream a reality. I found and bought a beat-up 1992 xt350 which I learned to ride with trepidation, sweaty palms and high-levels of adrenaline. It was terrifying. I rebuilt the brakes but the adjustment screw was wrong and they seized and warped my rotor. I rode with with anyone who would take me, and eventually began to feel the rising joy in winding canyon roads and lakeside rides. I graduated to the XT600 by necessity when my 350 broke down and I needed to ride to Moab, Utah, from Salt Lake City. So I jumped on the 600 and it felt ok – then I rode on the highway for the first time – the longest distance I’d ever ridden, by myself. I dropped the bike in Moab. I kicked apart the decompression cable. I found Scott, and we rode home through a numbing wind and rain storm in the badlands. It was brilliant.
We will be riding matching vintage Dual-sport Yamaha XT 600’s: Whiskers and The Hammer. It’s a bit over-the-top cute, but also makes sense to have bikes with interchangeable parts. Those are the bikes we chose – because we have them. Because they are relatively simple to work on, and because there is something special about the relationship between a person and the steed on which they travel. These bikes have character. They have lived as much life as we have, and have proven that they are tough and up for a challenge. Whiskers and The Hammer will be as much characters in our lives and travels as we ourselves will be.
(Sharah and Whiskers in Crescent Junction, Utah)
As far as questions of the dreaded motorcycle maintenance, I have always taken pleasure in being able to figure out and repair my own cars and bicycle. When I was young I used to watch my dad and grandfather work on the cars, and I at least learned how to avoid striping out a bolt and how to critically think mechanical problems. Scott is the expert though, and has re-built plenty of motorcycles, replaced transmissions, and is a general wizard of all things. There is an added element of self-sufficiency and adventure that old motorcycles will contribute to our travels. It’s actually quite an important part of the journey and I know we are up for some frustrating and untimely repairs. It will challenge our patience, resourcefulness, and ability to work together under duress. We will grow, we will share our motorcycle troubles and solutions through our chosen mediums, and I am looking forward to meet the unknown.
(Dawn in the Yukon along the AlCan Highway)
These are our motivations and goals. We will be stretched to our limits, discover new depths of strength and of our souls, we will fight and learn treat each other with love even then. We will be cold and miserable and elated and victorious. We might die. We will certainly live.