Having never been on a bike before, never mind a Honda Goldwing the idea of travelling half way across America seemed needless to say more than daunting!!
“Sure you will be fine” “Its no bother” was what every one was saying but I still was not convinced………There was only one way to find out and that was to get on the bike and take my first ever trip (ok it was only around the block) but I did it and survived, the biggest fear was thinking that I would fall getting on the thing. So after two very short rides on a Honda GL1800 Goldwing in Ireland I found myself on the plane to the states, I had all the gear or so I thought! Plenty of clothes, t-shirts for all that hot weather and prepared for the warm breeze to blow through my hair……….how wrong I was. Arriving in Salt Lake City, Utah in the middle of the night the first thing to do was find a hotel, get some sleep and get ready to pick the bike up the next morning.
A taxi ride took us to the Cruise America shop where we where to pick up our hired GL1800, of course on the booking form we had specified “NOT YELLOW” and there it was shining like a new pin our lovely Yellow GL1800 Goldwing!!! After much negotiations and whining they managed to find us a metallic silver one, this wasn’t the easiest transaction I have ever done as the sales assistant was very strange, and thinking about it now I think she was from another planet after she insisted that I hand over my motorbike licence even though I don’t have one or was not going to drive the bike. We finally set on our journey, too afraid to argue too much in case they decided not to give us our bike.
Our first stop was a mere 400 miles away to Yellowstone National Park, thinking we would stay here for a day then move on. It took us three days to see the highlights, being 2.2 million acres in size, the buffalo stop for no one never mind a Goldwing, we had lots of these close calls and by the end of our stay in Yellowstone we were at one with the buffalo, we left them alone and they got out of our way slowly mind you. Yellowstone is a must see for any one travelling to the states, the scenery is breathtaking and the wild life is amazing, eagles, grizzlys, moose and packs of wolves roaming freely on open plains….however the log cabins leave a lot to the imagination, and with there being no street lights and wolves howling at night it was quite scary, for a girl on the back of a Goldwing. Temperatures were below minus so my t-shirts did not see the light of day, our journey continued on to Cody, then Sundance, Wyoming where the Sundance kid originated. Our next early morning start found us driving along Interstate 90 in slight drizzle nothing to panic about, half an hour later this drizzle turned into a blizzard with severe cross winds and rain pelting down, trucks passing almost sucked us in and I can honestly say I don’t scare easily but by now I was petrified, my helmet had tried to remove its self on more than one occasion from my head thanks to the wind, the bike was swerving from side to side with the driver making the very best of a bad situation. This was where Mick's experience and good judgement came into play……he tried to reassure me but I had still made my mind up that my time was near and with the bible channel the only station coming through on the radio all I could here was a soft voice on my earphones telling me to trust in Jesus!! What better way to go than on the back of a wing…. The storm got worse and for safety reasons we found ourselves seeking another hotel room, the blizzard lasted the day and there was nothing we could do but wait.
The next 4- 5 days we took ourselves to South Dakota visiting Mt Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument and the black hills we travelled further into the wild west staying in Custer and driving through “The Big Horn” Mountain range was spectacular….. we passed many other Goldwings and too many hogs…….you could hear them before you saw them. We travelled on towards Washington State driving through the Rocky Mountains which were snow covered and by this stage my t-shirts had been left in a bin back in Montana to make room for much needed essentials…….ie thermals. The size and sheer presence of the Rocky Mountains make the mountains of Ireland look like mole hills and your definitely need your wits about you before attempting the many steep inclines and what goes up has to come down…the many road signs telling us to test our brakes and to beware of mountain lions didn’t put us off…and once at the top the view goes for miles. Another factor to deal with was “road kill” I’m not talking about a few furry creatures that didn’t manage to get across in time I am talking about Moose and Stag’s that had met an untimely end the night before and due to the fact that we had early morning starts we were always the first to come across these huge animals in the middle of the road.
Most days we travelled 300 – 400 miles taking in points of interest along the way on one occasion we had again lost time due to the weather we drove for 940 miles in one day…I was tired an I wasn’t doing any of the work and possibly fell asleep on the back on two occasions which scared me to death thinking I could have joined the moose that met its faith earlier in our journey. Our wing rolled on back to Utah, it had been faithful all the way until the last day when the wheel bearing in the front wheel decided to go, luckily we were only 90 miles from were we had to return the GL1800 and again Mick made it back safely…..back to the charming sales assistant in the Honda shop. We were convinced we would not get our deposit back as I had also lost the rubber pad of the back foot rest in Yellowstone Park and a grizzly was probably using it as chewing gum but after speaking to the mechanic and not the sales assistant he immediately knew it was not our fault and we were refunded our deposit, the sadness and depression had already set in and knowing we had one more night to stay before our flight home with no bike to look out for all we could do was wait for our flight and think of all the things we had gone through over the last 16 days, as a back seat rider you have a lot of time to think and the weirdest things come into your mind!! You go through many different emotions but the feeling of freedom will never leave me, so much so that already we are planning our next trip, for any one thinking about doing it or are unsure about it , take the plunge I can guarantee you will enjoy your trip I know I did but remember girls when the driver says the top box is not 4ft x 6ft he means it and there is no room for fancy clothes or cosmetics , you live out of a bag and every hot meal is a blessing ……but would I do it again…….you bet I would.
The End (until next time).
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