One of the newfound freedoms of being single at my age is the ability to just go with flow and wander. Another advantage was having 31 years seniority at work and being able to take time off when I wanted. I had already made my mind up that this 3 week trip would be made via my VFR800 and would encompass 10 states in the west. My first thought was “OK, how do you pack for 3 weeks on a bike and not end up looking and smelling like a character in a MadMax movie”. So I ordered cheap clothes online and had them sent to destinations ahead of time, then donated them afterwards. I planned on camping as much as possible so I could explore after the days ride. Knowing it would take place in August, I figured light materials would be fine, which for the most part they were. I had no actual timeline set, other than being in So. Cal for a few parties. I was using my new mantra of going with the flow. The nights I did stay at a hotel, I used my new best friend on the Internet “Priceline.com” to score rooms on the cheap, and I stayed in some really nice places. Two weeks before the trip I performed the usual work on the bike.. New tires, oil change and good waxing. I left on a Sunday morning and of course it was raining on the Wetside of the mountains. This already made me change my course from taking the North Cascades Hwy to the boring I-90 Snoqualmie route. Once I reached the summit, it was completely sunny and comfortable. My first day had me stopping in Spokane and staying at the rental house my son and his buddies had left vacant for summer while out of school. Hell, I figured I was paying the rent why not. Leaving Spokane I headed into Idaho and north on Hwy 2 to Bonners Ferry. One of the coolest parts of traveling for me is to view how other cultures in this country live. I rode along Hwy 2 and stopped for the night in Coram MT to camp. I met the manager and he walks me to the 3 possible tent sites left. I find a nice spot and call it home for the night. I ask him if firewood is avail to purchase and comes back in a few minutes with a wheelbarrow full of wood. It was at that point I asked him “What’s the deal with the 15 foot high cedar fencing along the back of the campground”. Ok, before he answers, picture a new 5ft wide section of fence. He answers “Oh, that’s the Great Adventure Bear Park, see those markers about 10 feet from the fence? Stay on your side of them”. Nice… One thing to be said about Montana, the night sky is truly amazing. The stars are as thick as mosquitoes. I wake to perfect weather for my visit to Glacier National Park. I enter the park and I am already amazed at what I am seeing. They had just repaved the park; the road was smooth and twisty. This was the first time on my bike on a road like this, where I was actually holding up traffic. I found myself only going a few hundred yards at a time before pulling over and taking it in. I have no words to describe this place, it is a must see and should be on everyone’s bucket list. The east side of the park was barren from a fire years back and I decided not camp here and kept riding and ended up in at a nice campground in Choteau. They had little cabins for a few bucks more than the tent site, so I thought I would take advantage of it since a nice storm was coming in. After a long day I was rewarded with a great sunset and lightshow. I took Hwy 89 to Livingston MT, found some nice spots along the way to kick back and reflect. It was a pretty easy ride the whole day. There were some nice sections along the way, followed by boring prairies. Another storm was setting up for the evening, so I took out the netbook to bid on a hotel for the night. I ran into a great guy who was on a 2009 Goldwing. He told his wife he was going out for a ride. He was just coming back from Alaska after 3 weeks to his home in Utah. He didn’t tell her where he was going, because he knew she would be upset with him. Glad he was in his early 70’s because he wasn’t going to get any when he got home. Today’s ride would be through yet another National Park. Yellowstone has always been a park I’ve wanted to visit. Most of my knowledge of the park was based on the geysers and vents and not so much on the beautiful meadows and streams running through the area. The first part of the day’s weather was perfect with some clouds, but the weather started coming in by early afternoon. I was able to hit the “Old Faithful” show about 20 minutes prior to it going off so I didn’t have to wait too long as it was starting to rain. The temperature dropped pretty quickly and I just decided to ride out of the park and towards my destination of Jackson Lake for the night. The traffic slowed as I came upon an electronic reader board that warned of a Grisly and her cubs crossing the road the next 5 miles and to be cautious of them. At that point I thought, great if the traffic stops for them, everyone else has a cage around them but me so I started playing the “what if” game in my head if the traffic was to stop as they crossed the road. I pulled into Colter Bay campground and was giving a spot in the “hikers and bikers” section. I setup camp and went exploring. This was the most amazing location with the Grand Tetons just across the lake. This was the place I wanted to be for sunrise. It poured the whole night and I woke at 5 to hike down to the lake with my tripod for sunrise. As I got to the lake it was foggy and I could not see the mountains. I thought well, at least I tried. Then within about 10 minutes a breeze picked up and the clouds and fog drifted north and the mountains appeared. I sat on a log at the lake for almost two hours just recharging my soul. Jackson Hole was a pretty cool town, but too crowed to stop and take it all in. I headed Southeast on Hwy 191. It was a great ride through the mountains until I got around Bolder WY, then it was just plain boring until I stopped for the night in Rock Springs. I really studied the maps this morning to decide on the route of the day. I have spent time on the eastern side of the Rockies in Colorado, so I thought I would travel down the west side on this trip. I stayed on Hwy 191 and headed toward Flaming Gorge Reservoir stopping at the dam and Canyon rim lookout. Once into Vernal UT, I headed east on Hwy 40 until I got to Dinosaur CO and headed south on Hwy 64 into Rangely and then continued south and finish the day on Hwy 550 stopping in Ouray CO which I thought was the coolest little town I have ever stayed in. I left Ouray around 7am with clear skies and really cold temps. It was 32 degrees when arrived in Silverton. This was another really cool town to explore, no pun intended. I checked out some of the old mining equipment and warmed up for a bit. The next leg of the Hwy 550 was one of the best sections I have ever been on. The crisp clean air along with the incredible views really made me forget about the cooler temps. I could see myself coming back here to rent a place for a week and veg. I stopped in Durango for awhile and watched the tourists waiting for the steam locomotive rides. It was then time to check out the map and see which way to head next. I turned east and hit Hwy 160 and rode it to Pagosa Springs for lunch. That was a nice casual section to just cruise. After lunch, time to head south on Hwy 84 until it hit Hwy 64, which was just incredibly fun. I stopped at the summit to just soak it in again and continued down the mountain into the furnace of the valley and to walk out on the bridge over the Rio Grande before heading into Taos. The Pueblos were really cool but I didn’t have a good feeling about leaving all my stuff unattended so I took a few photos and split. I continued to work my way back to Hwy 84 and ended that day in Santa Fe. I decided to ride into old town and check it out. I can see why so many people go there, great atmosphere and really down to earth people. Even the bike cop was cool as he rode beside me into the square and having a great conversation. After visiting the shops and having lunch it was time to head west to reach my destination for the next few days. Since the heat was building I blasted out on I-40 until I got to Grant and then taking my neighbors advice headed south on Hwy 53 and through into Zuni Pueblo. It struck me again how fortunate I am, while riding through the reservation. After crossing into Arizona, I headed south on Hwy 61 and spent a few relaxing days visiting my parental units in Pine Top. My next destination was to Southern California for three days and two parties. I left the mountains at dawn and made the best time I could to get through Phoenix before it hit 110 degrees. I continued to roll on I-10 into California and stopped at the Colorado River to remove my wallet from my riding pants and to take off my boots and walk into the river to cool off for awhile. That was nice and refreshing for about a total of 20 minutes until I was bone dry again. I got a great deal on a hotel in Palm Springs. So I unloaded and vegged at the pool while having drinks from 3:30 until 8pm. I spent more on drinks than what the Hilton cost me. Now I was in familiar territory having grown up down there and having run the local routes over and over. I was really looking forward to hitting Hwy 74 hard, but the budget cuts down there have basically destroyed the section from Palm Dessert to the top of the pass from all the tar snakes they have laid down. It was like riding on gum the whole way to the top. The road did start to improve and Ortega Hwy was in perfect fast shape. I made a quick pass of the coast and then off to my $45 four star hotel via Priceline, to unpack and bodysurf at Newport Beach. Now that I reached the Southern point in my trip it was time to start the trek back home. I called another friend and made my way to Clovis to hang out in his pool for a few hours and then let him lead me on some of his favorite local roads. We worked our way to Oakhurst for dinner where we parted ways. I stayed the night at a local lodge hoping to get some great riding in the next morning. John suggested Hwy 49 north, which was a great time. I rode Hwy 49 to Grass Valley and then worked my way west to end up in Chico. I wanted to hit Hwy 32 and head into Lassen National Park. A perfect section to run in the warm afternoon. The tarmac was in great shape with incredible scenery the whole way to the park. I hadn’t been to Lassen for about 20 years. I was blown away that it was in the mid 40’s up there and that the lakes were still frozen solid. I found my way to Weed, CA for the night. The rest of the way home became very familiar with another stop at Crater Lake and then through Detroit and Hwy 35 to Hood River for the night. I had never been around Mt Adams, so I headed north on Hwy 141 to the B-Z Glenwood Hwy. I saw great views of the mountain. Headed to Yakima and then over Hwy 410 home to Edmonds. I spent 19 days on the road and enjoyed every minute of it. Looking forward to winter so I can plan for 2013 and another new adventure.