Northern New Mexico
Once crossing the state line, the pointed Rocky Mountains of the north immediately flatten into mesas, and the cattle pastures become delicate yellow scrubland. The tree leaves are no longer the green that I have known in more temperate climates, but have become faded silver in the relentless sun.
This place seems to slowly pulse to a distant drumbeat that is steady, thoughtful, patient, like the way the people listen to what I have to say, waiting until I come to a full stop before responding. Their tongues lag in their mouths, their stride equally paused and pensive. I think for a moment that maybe people don’t hear me, or they’re all on drugs, or their daydreams have taken over reality. Or maybe they are just listening to the drumbeat that I can’t hear, the rhythm still woven into the landscape from the Native Americans of old. It reminds me of the smell of freshly baked fry bread from the Taos Pueblos, and the men with long braids down their back standing at the reservation grocery store. It resonates in the symbol of the New Mexico flag, a sun with rays coming out in the four cardinal directions, an icon harkening to the first peoples, some of whom still call this place home.
But now a new culture has emerged. As I sit at a café, I notice the group of men at the next table all wearing spurs as they clink their way to their seats, then begin to rant about the government and how many heifers they have this season ready for breeding. How no politician can understand the moods and individualities of the cattle they call their livelihood.
By Tim Notier
As a guitarist, some of my favorite lines in 12 bar blues progressions are the turnarounds. Little personal licks of emotion, dirty and gritty as they can be, that lead back to the main rhythm and comforting progression of the song.
Marisa and I have recently experienced moments of our trip that seemed to have led to unknown, improvised directions of dirty, gritty, and truly blues filled trials that have eventually led back into the standard patterns of our trip that we are accustomed to.
Turnarounds, in my attitude, and the outlook of uncomfortable situations, have redirected me to the needed understanding of uncertainty. “Life is Chaos,” or more simply, “Chaos is . . .” I found myself repeating this to myself as if practicing Timism, a lesser known branch of Buddhism (please note this is not true at all). It's an understanding that the world is not out to get me, and that all things seem to settle back to normal if given enough time, attention, or realization that some things just will not change.
We had recently camped at Kolob Reservoir, and it was beautiful. We decided it would be a great place to set up camp and call home for four days.
On the third night we stayed at the reservoir it rained, then it hailed, and it did not stop for 15 straight hours. As we huddled in the tent, hail hammered the rainfly and the ground around us, splashes of water and mud ricocheting onto us from every direction. We were stuck, and filthy, and there was no way I was going to pack up the tent while God’s wrath hailed down on us.
This is the first part of our USA adventure, making our way from Illinois to Colorado via Missouri, Kansas, and we briefly skimmed Oklahoma and Texas as well.
Below are my personal impressions of a few of these states. Everyone's experience is different, so if you have been to any of these places and have your own thoughts about it, please comment below or through Facebook to further express the many outlooks we have collectively.
By Tim Notier
The last couple posts have illuminated the struggles we have had, but every problem has led to a better understanding on how to solve them as a team. We will be the only two members of this team for a very long time, and hopefully every so often be assisted by the generosity of others.
Problem: Started the trip without a driver’s license.
Resolution: Because the residents of the place I used as my mailing address were out of town, the neighbors watched the mail until it arrived, and mailed it directly to me. I am forever indebted to them, because starting a round-the-world trip on a motorcycle without a driver's license is not recommended.
By Tim Notier
Marisa and I have had a lovely time traveling through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico. In our short time on the road we have experienced near tornado-like conditions, rain and hail while riding down a mountain road that had more wet clay to it than gravel, and fire ants and roly-polies continuously getting into our helmets which meant Marisa freaking out... the stuff adventures are made of.
We worked as a team in all of the above scenarios, except for the roly-polies in Marisa's helmet, that was her battle. But on only the third day did we hit our first “oh-no" moment.
We were in Meade, Kansas on a Sunday afternoon for a lunch stop, and I was doing my standard walk around of the bike to be sure nothing was blatantly wrong. But something was blatantly wrong.
“We have a problem,” I told Marisa. She jumped off the phone and came running over.
By Tim Notier
Hit me. Our grand adventure is about to begin. In preparation, I gave us five weeks to get the final arrangements in order. We needed to accomplish a small list before we could hit the open road.
Then the flood gates of problems opened
By Tim Notier
It only took two weeks on the bike around Lake Michigan to figure out that we need to lose a lot of gear. It's one thing to go through your belongings and think about what you'll need on a three-year trip around the world, and it's another thing to actually pack it all on and ride around. The bike becomes heavy and unmanageable, especially on rough roads, and the gas mileage drastically worsens. But that was why we took this test-run trip, to figure out what we need to add or lose (more like lose) for our real journey.
I have rough camped in all sorts of places, but each and every time is a new experience. So I wanted to be sure we would have the proper equipment to do this in, and to start building the expertise to be confident we would survive the elements once we are out in the true wilds of the world, not just an hour from home.
While testing our gear, I came up with a short check list that Tim and I should go through while on the road.
1) Do Your Research (when available)
What I mean by this is first, figure out the laws concerning camping in the area you wish to go to, and make sure it's legal before you get out there. We never want to wake up to police writing us a citation, or a farmer with a shotgun yelling, Y'all best be moving along down the road now, ya hear?
By Tim Notier
Well that was insanely awesome!
I got to meet the rock stars of adventure riding: Sam Manicom, Azure and Roel from My Ticket to Ride, I shook hands with Ted Simon, and met Michelle Lamphere who had just recently completed the same route (mostly) that we will make during our first year of traveling.
I was lucky enough to get my newly self-published book, Maiden Voyage, into the hands of many over-landing authors and experienced writers, as well as a few beta readers. I am excited for the critique from these seasoned adventurers.