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Motorcycle Trip: Part 1 of 9

While organizing my place this weekend I stumbled upon a notebook I had written in during a motorcycle trip with my father.  Over the next few days I will be sharing the contents of the journal for others to enjoy.

Originally written: September 28th, 2010

The Journey Begins

Maui, Hawaii

It is 11:45 in the morning and I am sitting in the Hawaiian airline terminal, in Kahului, Maui, waiting to board my flight to Phoenix, Arizona where my father will meet me at Sky Harbor airport just before midnight.  Even though it will be a late night our motorcycle trip to Yellowstone National Park begins early tomorrow.

I’m leaving another perfect day on Maui.  The trade winds are up, bringing the cool ocean breeze with it, keeping the temperature in the mid 80’s.  Clouds are hiding Haleakala’s summit from my view: doesn’t look like upcountry is getting any rain.  He clouds are tall rolling clouds, not dark ominous storm clouds.  It is just a typical day on Maui.

The airport is busy, as it always seems to be, and the security checkpoint was backed up.  As much as I do not enjoy being seated next to complete strangers on a plane, I do get some entertainment people watching and eavesdropping on unsuspecting travelers.  I am always amazed at society and how other people conduct themselves in public.


I am excited, nervous and very anxious to begin our motorcycle adventure.  Going to so many national parks in such a short time frame may not work out as well as I hope.  I just hope we give ourselves enough time to relax and enjoy what each attraction has to offer.  Riding a motorcycle 200-400 miles a day is not a concern, in fact, living on Maui I do not have to opportunity to ride so far, so fast.  Inclement weather is my biggest concern during this trip.  I have water-resistant boots and excellent rain gear, so I should be prepared for the rain.  I’m hoping the temperature will not be too cold during the daytime.  Riding in cold weather or even snow would definitely be an unwelcome challenge during our trip.  My leather jacket, scarf and rain gear should help reduce the wind factor substantially.  If the weather demands it, I may need to purchase thermal underwear or cold weather gloves during the journey.  Since they do not sell these weather specific items on a regular basis here on Maui, and I decided not to buy any online before I left, it will be a purchase on the road out of necessity.

I have my camera with me and cannot wait to take pictures.  I have a tendency to take pictures of nature, more than people, so this trip is perfect for me.  We are going to be visiting national parks that are expansive and are known for their beautiful landscapes and abundant wildlife.  Time permitting, we intend on visiting as many national parks as possible in nine or ten days.

The Idea

This motorcycle trip was born some time earlier in the year, from a journey that has not been realized…yet.  I was attempting to try a motorcycle trip of New Zealand’s South Island during their summertime.  While doing research for that trip my dad and I spoke about riding from Phoenix to Yellowstone, back to Phoenix via the Pacific Coast Highway.  Finding inspiration from Ken Burns’ National Parks documentary, as well as Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman’s motorcycle adventures around the world, we began to talk about touring the national parks while riding motorcycles.

The trip route has been amended a few times during the idea phase, but Yellowstone was always a must for me.  Having been there with my family when I was young, I am anxious to see if I remember anything besides a vague recollection of Old Faithful.  Having become more into photography this past year, I wanted to visit a park where we could spend more than a matter of hours, some place I could explore.

There were always reasons to postpone the trip or cancel it altogether, but eventually the time came to make a decision on when and where the journey would begin.  Originally, I was hoping to camp the majority of the trip, but mother nature decided to cool down a bit and made the decision to book hotel rooms a lot easier to swallow.  Fortunately, working for Hilton is going to be a tremendous asset on this adventure.

The Route

The current route begins in Phoenix, Arizona tomorrow, September 29th, and goes from Phoenix to Flagstaff, Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon’s south rim.  After the Grand Canyon we will head back to Flagstaff to sleep.  The next day we are off to St. George, Utah.  From St. George we will go to Ogden, Utah via Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks.  From Ogden we will ride briefly through Idaho on the way to Jackson, Wyoming.  We will remain in Jackson for two or three days, than we will head back to Phoenix via Durango, Colorado and Green River, Utah.  We will attempt to visit the Grand Tetons, Arches and Mesa Verde National Parks on the way back to the beginning.

It is an ambitious itinerary, but it should make for the trip of a lifetime.  I hope we do not become slaves to the time or mileage and just enjoy the time we have together and exploring the parks.  Although my dad does motorcycle road trips a few times a year, this will be my first.  I hope it won’t be my last.

Things to accomplish on the road

Capturing the journey with my camera is one of the biggest motivating factors behind this adventure.  I cannot wait to see places I have seen in books and on television.  I am looking forward to standing in a quiet area of a busy park and watch the world through my lens.  I started this journal and also bought sixty postcard stamps in the hope that I document the journey as well as my writing allows.  The journal does not need to be a literary masterpiece, but I would like to get my emotions and observations down on paper.  I have to remember not to edit myself and just write.

The plane ride

The flight from Maui to O’ahu was a short, thirty minute, hop, skip and a jump.  Nobody sat next to me, so it was very enjoyable.  The layover in Honolulu was just under an hour.  I took that time to buy three postcards to mail out as soon as I land in Phoenix.  I also wrote a few pages in this journal and sent some texts out to friends.

As I boarded Hawaiian flight #36, bound for Phoenix, I was behind twenty or so young men of the Hawaii BYU soccer team.  The boys were wearing matching red polo shirts with black slacks, so they definitely stood out.  I selected a seat towards the rear of the aircraft because it is usually less crowded.  That is not the case on this flight.  We are crammed to the gills.  I have my window seat and I am always prepared to stare out the window and just shut out the rest of the world.

The family behind me has a young boy who continues to bump my seat and cry as loud as he can.  The lady next to me seems very scatter-brained, but harmless.  As she sat in her seat, she immediately began looking frantically for a blanket.  She did not hear me when I explained to her that she was sitting on her pillow and blanket.  After repeating myself two more times, she finally listened to what I was saying.  The man in front of me insists on having his seat reclined at all times.  I find myself staring at the clouds and the irritations melt away.