Pieter and I split up and I started my solo trip down to Argentina. While I was waiting to cross the border into the USA my ODOmeter on the bike showed 49.999 kilometer. Really crazy to start my solo trip with this meter stand AND at the beginning of a new country. My dad would say that coincidence doesn’t exist, who am I to argue… I had a 90 day VISA in the US as soon as I entered Alaska, so I had something like 50 days left to cross the US and enter Mexico. I thought I just try my luck and ask for a new VISA. The border officer said that 50 days was more than enough, and if I really wanted I could be in Mexico in two days. I didn’t want to rush trough the states right? He said I could go in for a second inspection and ask again. So thats what I did. After a lot of questions, I mentioned my website. The border officer took a look at it for a while and said: “well euuhm…, this looks pretty interesting, here is a fresh VISA” After some chit chat I rode off by myself into the USA with my ODOmeter on 50.000 kilometer. Things looked promising.
My first stop was the town of Snowqualmie, where the famous establishing shot was filmed for the TV show Twin Peaks. This meant a lot to me. Some 5 kilometers further was the famous Double RR Diner were Agent Cooper had the best coffee in the world and a delicious Cherry Pie. So thats what I had, and I can tell you, it was damn good coffee!!!!
High on adrenaline (or too much of the best coffee in the world) I rode to my ADVrider host in Tacoma, his name was Ned. As soon as I arrived there Ned took me to have some dinner and some beers, all on his expenses, because I’m on a budget right? We connected and I liked Ned immediately. Ned drives a BMW 1200 GS with a sidecar rig for the dogs. How cool is that? Ned showed me around town the day after in the sidecar (child dream), took me to a gun store, and we watched the documentary “Sit, Stay, Ride” about dogs in sidecars. Ned starred in it. He and his wife were really good to me. Ned gave me maps of all the states I will cross and plotted a route for me, which i’m following right now. The day after I asked Ned to ride with me to Aberdeen, home of Kurt Cobain. He even let me drive his sidecar with the dogs in it! We went to Kurt Cobains house and had a peek under the bridge where there was still some graffiti left that Kurt sprayed when he was living there. This was pretty amazing. Me and Ned hugged goodbye and I set of to Portland.
Five years ago I was travelling in Cambodia, where I met Leigh, an amazing 70 year old women whom I stayed in contact with over the past years. She lives in Portland so I really wanted to make it there that day. I pulled up the driveway and honked the horn and there she was, my beloved American Grandma.
We had beers until late in the morning. She let me stay in her camper on the driveway. I loved every second of it. I decided to stay a few days in Portland to get my shit together and take a rest from travelling. I saw on the internet that The Smashing Pumpkins were playing that weekend in Portland… Seriously??? Leigh has a really cool neighbour Kevin who shows up every day and builds his own guitars. He took me to a Jam Session while I was staying there, which was really cool because I could play drums. I mentioned The Smashing Pumpkins and he said his daughter was a fan too. So he set me up with a date with his daughter. We met in town on a fundraising event before the show started. Because I didn’t have a clue how she looked like and didn’t have a phone I asked her earlier how I would recognise her. She replied: “I’ll be dressed as Wonder Woman, so I’m easy to spot”. Seriously? So I went to a restaurant and The Smashing Pumpkins with Wonder Woman and had a really good time. The Smashing Pumpkins played for 3hours and a half and the sound was amazing in this huge arena. yes, everything is big in America.
The next days I hung out at Leighs place, catching up, went for beers, and went to Mount Hood. A really beautiful place with an amazing hotel, The Timberline Lodge. I felt I’ve seen this place before… later I found out that this was the hotel that was used for the outdoor shots of the hotel in The Shining. What. The. Fuck. We hiked a piece of the PCT Trail which was really an amazing hike. Haven’t seen anything like it. After 8 days of Portland, lots of beers and some chores that needed to be done, the road was calling again. Kevin, Leigh and I said goodbye as I was continuing down south. Leigh, I love you and visiting you on this trip was one of my highlights!!
I drove trough scenic winding roads to Bend. A really nice town. I found an ADV rider host for the night. Kevin and Mindy were a lovely couple and Kevin had an amazing workshop with lots of tools. I needed a new chain and guess what. Kevin was a mechanic and had just the right contacts. Because they don’t sell my bike in the US, its hard to get parts but Kevin managed to pull it off thanks to Atomic moto (www.atomic-moto.com, fellow riders, If your in the states and you ever need something, I can definitely recommend them). I needed to check my valves urgently, because I was 15.000 kilometers over the recommended service. He wanted to help me so the day after we started working on the bike. After 12 hours of hanging out in the workshop my valves were checked and the bike looked like new. I stayed for three days in Bend, went for a long walk, almost stepped on a scorpion in my bedroom, and decided I wanted to hit the road and see the desert!
I’ve never seen a desert in my life, but this was really cool shit! On my way to my next destination I stumbled upon some dead deer and an amateur rodeo show. I can’t say I liked it, but it was very interesting (and very American). It felt a little bit redneck to me, so I wasn’t that much at ease. I left the place and stopped at a small gas station where they sold t shirts that said “Black Rifles Matter”. Nope, definitely not the place for me. I was having a look at my map when two older guys walked up to me to take pictures of Marnix, yes thats the name of my motorcycle. They seemed really nice guys and invited me to go camping with them. I doubted for a second but thought like, “Hey, why not”? So I ended up camping with 5 seniors, all of them older than 65 years. And I can tell you, I had a really good time staying with them! I’m finding proof on this trip that age really doesn’t matter. We had a lot of campfire stories and laughed our asses off.
The day after I hit the road because my chain I ordered in Bend would arrive two days later in Boise. I set of in the desert again, beautiful landscapes and decided to take a Forest Service Road. 50 kilometers of gravel over a mountain trough the forest. My stomach had a strange feeling about a flat tire. I didn’t want to stop, because as soon as you do, your tire goes totally flat and you can’t ride it anymore. I decided to keep pushing and stop in the nearest town to check it out. As soon as I stopped my feeling was confirmed. A rear tire with a big nail in it. Luckily I was carrying all the spares to change it. After 40 minutes I was really proud I managed to pull it off totally by myself. I started pumping and jup, there it was. The pssssssssssssssssss sound. I pinched my new inner tube putting it in. There was no other solution then to start over again and patch the inner tube with some bicycle patches. I got really frustrated because I couldn’t get if of the bead when two dirtbike riders showed up and offered to help. Thanks guys!!!! That really made my day. After 3 hours of sweating and swearing I was back on the road.
I decided to pull in the closest campsite. I was starting my campfire when I guy yelled at me: “Hey, where you in Whistler three weeks ago?” Well I be damned but I met this guy and his girlfriend three weeks ago while I was cooking noodles in front of the bank. We had a campfire together and they cooked me some delicious chicken. Coincidence doesn’t exist… The day after I rode to Boise to collect my chain. Off course, as always as I need something its never on time, so I had to spent the night here. I’m still in Boise staying with a fantastic family again. They all ride dirt-bikes and Lance, my host, has a motorcycle rental company. I can stay here until my chain arrives. The grandfather lives in the basement and took me for breakfast in the morning. I happen to stumble on the most fantastic and friendly people. So far so good!
Can’t wait to get some miles done and burn some rubber because I’ve been sitting still too long. I’m sorry for the long stories, but there is no other way to tell them. Things keep happening every day, its amazing.
Next time I’m telling a story I’m hopefully in Colorado with a ton of fresh stories and people I met. Travelling totally by yourself is sometimes really unreal and gives a feeling I can’t describe. Imagining I will live like this for the next year blows my mind. I’m fortunate and grateful that I can experience this.
Mom and Dad, I miss you and thanks for everything you taught me.