Riding with your spices: Motorcycle trip planning

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Riding with your spices

Some years ago, I was going through a turbulent time in my life. I woke up one morning from a dream saying the words "Spice Rack of Happiness." I don't recall the dream, but I got the underlying message and went to work writing down 10 or 12 things that make me happy. I figured if I focused on those I'd come out of my funk. And you know what - it worked!

Over the years some of those spices have changed, and it's always fun to sit down and see what's in my spice rack today. More importantly, it's been fun to plan motorcycle trips incorporating as many of those spices as possible.

I'm writing this in the winter and looking forward to getting out to do some multi-day touring sooner than later. Using my spice rack, I'll have a better idea of where I want those rides to take me and the experiences I'll aim for. Of course, there's always the experiences you don't plan on that make it an even more interesting trip.

What follows is a short list of what's in my current spice rack and how I've incorporated some of those spices into motorcycle travel over the years. Ill start with some of the obvious and go from there.

Motorcycles

The most obvious is motorcycles. I've been riding for five decades starting when I was 10. I like learning new concepts in riding, working on them, modifying them to my personal preferences. Heck - I even enjoy cleaning them!

I enjoy checking out museums that include a few bikes in their collections. There are a number in the Pacific Northwest worthy of the trek.

Travel/Touring

I didn't really start doing overnight touring on a motorcycle until I was in my late 30s. Since then, I've ridden most of the Western states including three islands in Hawaii. Riding the road to Hanna at 6 a.m. on a dry morning is still on my bucket list. I'm hardly a world traveler with Canada being the only foreign country I've ridden. Two factors contribute to that. Money and time. If I'm going to ride in Europe, I want at least a month to do so. Finances and obligations pretty much make that impossible. So I've made the most out of my touring locally in the Pacific Northwest for the most part. I've truly enjoyed seeking out every nook and cranny of oddities, wonder, and scenery here.

Trip planning is also a fun aspect of it. My home is filled with maps, my computer is loaded with all the latest GPS software, and my brain is filled with memories of putting together a decade's worth of Sasquatch and Road Trip tours along with nearly two decades of Rally in the Gorge events.

Food

At home I enjoy cooking. When I'm on the road I like to take the extra time to map out a few restaurant destinations of note. If you're going to eat 2-3 meals a day, you might as well make every one a good one. Save the fast-food chains for when you get home and step back into your hurried life.

I personally keep cooking on the road to a minimum. Setup, cleanup, teardown are just things I'm not crazy about when there are other ways I'd want to be spending my riding day.

Over the years I've learned a lot about nutrition and what to pack on board that has a good shelf life. That way if there's no suitable food where I'm going, I'll typically have a few things on board to take me through to the next dining experience.

Some of my memorable experiences include prime rib at Hamley's in Pendleton, an exceptional lunch with a view atop the patio at The Viewpoint Inn looking over the Columbia River, dining in the club house at a golf course on Harrison Lake in Canada, and the list goes on and on…

Photography

Everyone can take pictures, but the art of making a photograph is what makes someone a photographer. I've been a shooter since high school, but only learned how to make pictures when I got into my 30s. Sometimes it's a simple as finding the right angle to shoot a subject or getting the folks on the group ride to gather for a posed shot. Other times it's knowing the best time of day to shoot something. And sometimes it's just luck!

Taking a photo of Palouse Falls is almost always a winner. The image changes depending on where the sun is and what weather activity is going on at the time you get there. And of course, a trip to Palouse Falls means you get to ride the Starbuck Highway and no one can complain about that!

Some riders just want to be on the bike moving. But if a photo is in order, I'll be the first to pull out. Fun places and things I've shot over the years included The Glass House near Canada's Kootenay Lake during a Road Trip Tour, Utah's Arches National Park while on a tour with Eastside Harley-Davidson, picking up shots of riders with Mt. Adams as the backdrop on multiple occasions and working with groups doing moto photo clinics on the road.

Reading

This spice has gone on and off my spice rack over the years. Having it here doesn't always mean I read a dozen novels last year, and that is certainly something I don't want to do while I'm motorcycle touring. What it does mean is that I enjoy digging up information about where I'm going. Finding out if a town was historically a logging hive, or are they on the map for some precious metal they mined out years ago?

Ghost towns and near ghost towns dot the landscape pretty much everywhere you go. Today you don't need to go to the library to do your research. Simply start with Wikipedia and move on from there. Try searching a town you want to visit soon in Google Books and it's likely you may learn a thing or two from a few old magazine articles that are now archived in this giant database of publications.

Computers/Electronics

I've had a passion for electronics ever since I strung four 3" speakers through my bedroom and attached the wire to the inside of the volume control on my Woolworth cassette player. And then there was that time I experimented with attaching a 120-volt wall plug to the 9-volt terminals of a transistor radio. That was some electrical fire.

Computers arrived in my house in the early 1980s and I've tinkered with them ever since.

In 1998 I installed the first network running Lightspeed for Renton Motorcycles. Early on in the life of the internet, I managed websites for RMC, University Honda/Yamaha, Aurora Suzuki, Lake City Powersports, and built the used bike database for Ride West BMW. My passion was beginning to directly finance my motorcycle passion.

Today I have several GPS units and create all the GPS tracks for our tours and rally. Sound RIDER! runs on architecture I created, not a cookie cutter system like WordPress.

But… sometimes I enjoy leaving all the tech behind and just going for a ride.

One day I was riding in Keuterville Idaho and bumped into one of the largest collections in the world of calculators at the museum near the not-so-well-known monastery there. What a surprise. That tipped my computers/electronics spice open that day.

Other spices in my rack at present include Music, Gardening, Camping, and Walking Dogs. I could go on in more detail, but at this point it might be fun for you to jot down your own Spice Rack of Happiness and start planning your next road trip!

Here's to some grand spring riding!

TM/April 2021


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