Cross-Country USA Motorcycle Trip 1995

Trip Report: My first X-USA June 1995


My first cross country trip. — Although I had planned on writing a
story with more moto content for the riders out there, this has
become more of a journal than a story of good roads etc. Being a
relative newbie to motorcycling, nothing in here would be all that
educational to other experienced riders. I personally learned a
helluvalot on this trip, but its more the kind of experience that
you can’t describe that easily in words.
Its lengthy and kinda boring but…please comment-
I’d love comments from anyone. —


Preface


Hi folks, its been a great trip and I wanted to jot down a
few things about my experiences for you all. I suppose for the sake
of people who don’t know me, I’ll mention that I’m a student at
Dartmouth College, who isn’t terribly experienced at motorcycling. I
took the Motorcycle Safety Foundation:RSS course late last yearand
managed to put on about 3000 miles on the Nighthawk S before I left
on my trip. I had never done even an overnight before I left on my
cross country, and so I was a little nervous.


Gear


In terms of the bike, I had to make sure it was in the best
condition I could have it in. I had an oil change done at the
beginning of the 1995 season, so that was fine. I replaced the shaft
drive oil, the clutch and front brake fluid, threw on a new Metzeler
33 Comp K front tire, new throttle cables – making sure everything
was in perfect shape. I appreciated that sticky front but I bought
it before I knew I was going on this cross country trip. I had
borrowed some OSI saddlebags from a friend and so I went ahead and
bought a Chase Harper Eurosport tankbag. Otherwise, my main
equipment was my Aerostich 2piece riding suit, the Sidi Combat
Touring
boots, and a pair of Held 275 TF Race gloves.


Eastern Time


I left Hanover, NH, in a flurry of packing and organizing. My
classmates were in the home stretch – spring semester senior year.
Many of them were gearing up for thesis defenses or were caught up in
the job search. Freshman year I had opted for the 5 year plan, which
gave me the flexibility to do this trip. I was sad to leave my
classmates and friends, but I was also itching for the road.


I spent an extra day waiting for the tankbag, and then left after
only afew good-byes. I really don’t enjoy them and good-bye isn’t
really good-bye to good friends from college. The weather was
overcast, but not rainy as I sped down I 91 to my first destination:
Williams College. My good friend Randall was also in the senior
spring slack mode and we caught up and grilled a filling BBQ. I was
basically getting used to all the extra gear on the bike and how it
changed handling. Rt 9 from Brattleboro to Bennington, VT was
really nice, albeit I was cautious about the extra weight.
I was glad to be on my way.


On the bike I tried to conserve as much room as possible, but I
seemed to be carrying quite a bit. In addition to the sleeping bag
and Thermarest pad, I had achange of clothing, Teva sandals, a quart
of Golden Spectro oil, camping stove &pots, a SLR & 3 lenses, and
some other stuff. I was also carrying my Powerbook until I got to
NYC, where my parents live.


After leaving Williamstown on 4/29, I went East towards Boston.
Route 2from Williamstown to Greenfield, the Mohawk Trail, was a real
beauty. It was morning on a weekday, glorious weather and few cages
(cars). My father has a good friend and business partner, Gabrielle,
who rides. Before I left, he called and asked me to stop by her
place- sort of his way of making sure I was serious and achance for
Gabrielle and her friend/riding partner Ethan, to evaluate my
readiness for a cross-country trip. My father rode a bunch in his
years before he moved from Japan to the states, even doing some
graphic design work for Honda. Much to my mother’s discomfort, he
wanted me to learn how to ride a motorcycle before I learned to drive
a car. His logic was that motorcycles are much more difficult to
operate and also heighten forces that affect the operator. Thus,
braking & cornering forces are much more apparent and understandable
than in a car. (Perhaps this is why so many motorcyclists refer to
cars as cages.) Also, once someone mastered riding a motorcycle,
driving a car would be easy. Although I learned to drive before I
learned to ride, he did buy me my first bike in high school- a 1973
CB350, which promptly died after a few rides. My interest was piqued
and try as I might, my mother stopped any further purchases. So I
supplanted riding with motorcycle magazine subscriptions.


In Arlington, I stopped at the house of George and Gabrielle, both
photographers and artists. Gabrielle also spends a bunch of time on
a BMW R65 and when I rode by, they were out front waving at me. I
turned into the driveway and met up with my father’s friends.
Gabrielle’s riding partner and colleague, Ethan (R80) also was there
to greet me. As I moved my luggage inside, they were joking about my
father worrying about my readiness for this trip. They were
expecting an inexperienced squid on a sport bike sans helmet, with
the requisite tank top, Umbro shorts and Oakley Blades and I showed
up fully Aerostiched on a standard bike.


The next day I was shopping for a rear tire to replace the Dunlop
K591 that was on there when I bought the bike used. I shopped around
and realized that retail prices for tires were outrageous! The 33
Comp K I had recently put on I had mail ordered from Dennis Kirk.
The retailers in the Boston area were asking for nearly twice what I
paid for the front tire. I decided to mail order my rear to my
parent’s place in NYC and have it put on there. Ethan, Gabrielle and
I visited their local shop, Freeman Cycles in Beverly. I met Skip,
the owner and was really impressed with the shop’s cleanliness and
atmosphere. I really like the looks of the new R1100 twins, but I
wont have that kind of cash for a while 🙂 While there, I bought what
turned out to be one of the most important purchases for the trip, a
Widder ‘Lectric vest. It ended up becoming an essential piece of
gear and now I wonder why all motorcycle companies don’t have
accessory plugs standard on all bikes for this option. The Freemans
folks are such a friendly crowd, I was really pleased at the
atmosphere. Twice a year Freemans rents out NHIS at Loudon for their
customers and employees, sort of a race school/ track time situation,
and I was watching the “saddle bag cam” footage from Ethan’s old R
bike where they tucked a camera in one of his saddlebags – cool
stuff!


Before I said my good-byes to these friendly folks, George gave me
all sorts of ideas for places to visit to photograph in the West. I
then motored on to my friend at BU.


Magaret, an old friend from high school, was also about to graduate
from BU and Ispent the night hanging out with her and her boyfriend,
Alberto, who hails from Cali, Colombia. We had a nice dinner out at
a Thai place and debated the issue of the drug trade. Alberto had an
interesting viewpoint as I had not heard what life in Colombia is
like. Alberto’s point of view centered around lessening the violence
involved, especially in Colombia. Margaret and I were able to catch
up a bit and I was glad to have stopped by.


Riding in Boston was an experience! Since I had spent my first 3000
miles on the Nighthawk S in New Hampshire, most of my miles were
rural roads, certainly not city miles. Add to that the horrible road
surfaces and those crazy traffic circles, and a city I was unfamiliar
with, and I was unnerved initially. I was really glad that my friend
Jamie and I spent a bunch of time wiring on a pair of Fiamm horns to
my bike, which I used liberally to announce my presence on the roads
of Boston.


Leaving Boston, I motored on superslab highway until I got to
Hartford to visit another best friend from high school, Peter, who
was also soon to graduate from Trinity College. These longer periods
on big interstates gave me abetter feel for the bike at higher
speeds. The drafts around 18 wheelers and semis were something I
hadn’t really appreciated, riding mostly in NH. I spent afew days
around Hartford, visited another friend at Wesleyan University in
Middletown, and then headed south towards NYC. I was becoming
comfortable at traveling all day.


When I first started contemplating a trip across the country, I
rationalized that it would be a string of day long trips. This was a
positive attitude towards the trip as it became easier to comprehend
in day long stints than the whole trip together. Back in NYC, I
waited for my tire and tried to calm my worried mother. While in
NYC, I cruised around, visited the new BMW shop down town and tried
on a Motoport one piece rainsuit. Try as I might, this one piece
rainsuit was a pain the @ss to put on and so although it was really
nice, I decided against. I also went down to Tent & Trails and
bought a small Sierra Designs tent to use camping.


A few days ended up being a week as I waited for some stuff I had
forgotten at my friend’s place in Williamstown. I left again
Saturday 5/13 noonish. I rode all day and into the night, the
Nighthawk averaging 45 mpg. Around 9pm, I started looking around for
a campsite and settled down at the Keystone Kountry Kampgrounds in
Keystone, PA. There were quite a few RVs and motorhomes around but
no men in white hoods and gowns, thankfully 🙂


Sunday morning I awoke to a steady rainstorm and blearily looked
outside at the miserable weather. I took out my walkman and found
out that a tornado watch had been called for my area! I hunkered
down for a few more hours until around 11am when the skies cleared.
I packed quickly and headed for my next stop: Gambier, OH and Kenyon
College.


The Midwest:


I was stopping at Kenyon to visit with Abigail. She and I met at
summer camp in Colorado in 8th grade. We spent two summers out there
and were friendly. We have stayed close friends ever since, by
phone, mail or more recently, e-mail. But we had not seen each other
in person in 8 years! I would counsel her and she me on anything and
everything from romance to college decisions, etc. So with the
freedom of this trip, I decided to swing through Gambier and visit
with her.


Rolling into Kenyon, I rode down the mainstreet and spied more than a
few students gawking at me in my arresting costume (red & black
Aerostich suit.) Icircled through looking for a student center so
that I could look up Abigail. Ihad told her that I was going to visit
a week earlier and hadn’t been able to get back to her since. Riding
through once more, I stopped randomly at what seemed to be an
off-campus house. A few men and a woman were lounging around in
shorts and t-shirts throwing around a Frisbee. I slowed to a halt
and cut the engine. As I began asking one of the guys about the
whereabouts of the student center, the woman turned around and stared
at me for a second. Then she walked up closer and said,


“Oh my God, is that you Gen?” I blinked and nodded. I then quickly
took off my glasses and my helmet and hugged Abigail for the first
time in eight years. Smiling, I shared the uncanny coincidence with
her that the first place I stopped to ask for directions in Gambier,
I found the woman I was looking for. She wasn’t expecting me then (I
was late by a few days) and saw a guy decked out in motorcycle gear
with lots of luggage and squinted at me behind my sunglasses and
under my helmet. I didn’t recognize her right away as she had cut
her hair by quite a bit and the last picture I had of her was at
least a few years old. Needless to say we were ecstatic to see each
other and couldn’t stop asking the other question upon question.


Abigail had just finished handing in her last assignment and was done
with her college career save for graduation. She was planning to
leave the next day for abackpacking trip in Kentucky with her
roommate, so I planned to stay only one night. Abigail and her
roommate took me to go skinny dipping at the local spot for the
afternoon and the water was totally refreshing after a few long days
in the saddle.


I forgot to mention that while in NYC, my mother was in the process
of moving from Compuserve to AOL and so before she quit Compuserve, I
decided to have a look-see at the interface. Naturally, I went
directly to the motorcycle forum. Within seconds, I had a dialog box
up on the screen asking me “do I know you?” addressed by an old
friend Mike from high school. He was going back East as I was going
West and so we decided to meet up at Kenyon.


My friend Mike, met up with us after we got back from swimming and
the four of us zoomed over to Friendly’s where Mike and I chatted
bikes and the women made fun of us. I was curious of Mike’s new
ZX11-D and his past bikes, a CBR1000F and a 600F2. Mike and I
planned to ride together when I went back East in the fall. Later
that night we watched the first half of the Langoliers and scared
ourselves silly. I left the next day hoping to get more miles under
me.


Before I had left, Mark Holbrook on the New England list tried to get
me to promise that I’d only take backroads. While I didn’t have that
kind of time, I did try to take smaller roads if the option presented
itself. Eventually, I ended up doing much more superslab than I had
planned to make my Seattle destination on time. But leaving the East
coast, I wanted to get out West as fast as possible and so went on
more interstates than I had planned. (sorry Mark! 🙂


In Springfield, OH, a few hours out of Kenyon, I stopped at
Competition Accessories as they were right on I70. I was sort of
underwhelmed at their store, figuring that a place that takes out two
page ads in almost every moto mag would have a sprawling store. It
was much smaller than I had expected, especially if you take away the
motorcycle dealership. Plus it shared space with a horseback riding
store which seemed to be under the same management. I bought a two
piece Fieldsheer rainsuit and a cruise control. The rainsuit came in
handy that afternoon, although the pants leaked right in the crotch
and the bungee stirrups broke with the first use. I’ll mail them
back as soon as I get achance.


I motored through Illinois, stopping for an oil and filter change in
Springfield, IL. Although I hadn’t calculated this until now, the
Nighthawk was consuming about 1 quart per 1000 miles. I had assumed
that it wasn’t eating any oil. I kept moving through IL and right
over the border into Indiana.


One of the best decisions I made on this trip was to stay away from
I70 or I80. After a short stint in a downpour on I70 (where the
safest place to be was right behind a semi who displaced the most
water) I decided to take I36 which was a two-laner that runs along
the top of Kansas. While it was slower (legal 55mph vs. 65 on the
interstates), I didn’t have to compete with all of the tractor
trailers and 36 seemed like a much more local route with cities much
smaller and less catering to the truckers on the bigger Interstates.
Perhaps if I had a bike that was comfy at the higher speeds or a
‘Wing, but even then I36 would be a blast.


While I didn’t have a single mechanical failure on the Nighthawk S
the entire trip, I cursed the Honda engineers who designed that puny,
ill-canted bikini fairing that they placed to house the headlamp.
The Nighthawk is a taller than normal bike, perfect for my 6’2″
frame. Yet they placed the fairing such that the wind noise was
horrendous at any position save for bolt upright, which got tiring
real quick. At times I enjoyed the minimal fairing and bodywork when
the weather was hot and I wanted more wind. When it was colder, I
really wished that my fairing was larger, had lowers, and even hand
guards to deflect the wind.


Otherwise, the bike was a joy. Granted the real oomph of the engine
is way up high, between 9 and 11K on the tach, and I rarely used that
part of the powerband except in uphill passes and onramps. I did
wish that Honda placed more of the power lower down where it would
have made more sense, but I was pleased. No chain to wax, I merely
watched the oil level, gassed it up, and everything was peachy. The
saddle was a bit softer than I would have liked but comfy enough for
the range of the bike-180 miles (give or take a bit). The suspension
was pretty tired even before I left and the myriad of road surfaces
and punishment I gave it over the trip didn’t help it at all. I
haven’t yet decided if I want to keep it or sell it to help fund my
next bike. If I do decide to keep it, upgraded suspension is my
first mod, Progressive springs up front and new dampers in the rear
too. Although I am not an aggressive rider, Irealized how the rear
would skip around in corners with uneven pavement. That wallowing is
somewhat due to my weight at 200# and the saddlebags and gear, but
also with the suspension that is tired at 23K miles.


I motored on into Missouri on 36 and hit the beginning of the nasty
weather that created all the flood conditions in the midwest. I was
glad that Iwas moving against it, but it was a good lesson in rain
riding. I praised the makers of Rain-X and of my Fog City shield as
they both performed flawlessly. I didn’t have raincovers for the
luggage, but I had packed everything in nylon satchels that were
lined with garbage bags and lined each saddlebag with its own garbage
bag so nothing got wet. I had left the Powerbook back in NYC for my
parents to mail out to me as I didn’t want to risk it when I realized
that it cost me twice what my bike did 🙂 That night, after having
ridden in the rain all day, I broke down and snagged a room in the
Hannibal, Missouri Econolodge. After a refreshing night in a bed and
a shower, I slogged on through rainy weather into Kansas.


Kansas seemed to go on forever! I stopped somewhere on my way in
Kansas at the site of the “center of the 48 contiguous states” and
took a photo. As I didn’t have a tripod and no one else there to
help, all of my trip photos will have a bike with no riders – sounds
weird, huh? It was raining on and off the entire day and I was too
hot in the rainsuit if it wasn’t raining. Took off the jacket and
immediately it started to pour again. There must be some law about
rainsuits and weather 🙂


My only mishap was about to happen. It was such a brain-fade, I kick
myself just to think about it. As I said, it was raining all day on
36, and I was making time going West on 36. A few miles outside of
Belleville, I slowed down, planning to stop to plug in the electric
vest. I don’t know what I was thinking, but going about 5mph, I
pulled off onto the shoulder. It immediately collapsed into mud and
the bike started sliding. Grabbing the brakes was useless as there
was no traction whatsoever and the rear stepped out towards my left.
I jumped off and set ‘er down gently. I cut the engine and
immediately shut off the gas. My Nighthawk was stuck in the mud on
an empty road outside of Belleville, Kansas, and I was wishing then
that I had a buddy or two to help me, even if it was at the cost of
jibes and jokes.


Try as I might, I couldn’t lift the bike because I had no traction in
the mud, but also the bike was considerably heavy with all the
luggage. I took afew commemorative photos and hailed down a kind
farmer who helped me drag the bike close enough to the asphalt where
our feet had purchase. With his help I got the bike back up and onto
the asphalt. I turned the gas back on and waited afew minutes before
giving the starter a go. It went after a few seconds and Ilimped
into Belleville. The first few miles I was going so carefully as the
mud was everywhere and had coated the tires and front right brake
disc completely. Again, I felt defeated after this incident and broke
down and got amotel room. Iunloaded the bike and washed down my
‘Stich and boots first. Just as I was parking, the rain started again
and so I changed into my swimsuit and ran outside to clean the bike.
The heat from the engine had baked some of the mud on like clay and I
spent maybe 30 minutes in the pouring rain with a hose going full
blast. It must have been comical to watch 🙂 I hadn’t noticed any
damage until now when I realized that the right mirror socket was
partially broken. The next day I realized that it was so loose that
it wasn’t usable at any speed and I did replace it later on. That
nights dinner at Pizza Hut was very much appreciated.


Mountain Time:


The next day was another long push from mid Kansas into Boulder, CO.
The rain was much more itinerant today and I wont say much except
that I really enjoyed coming into Colorado and having the Front Range
slowly appear in front of me. I did meet a really nice farmer right
by the KS/CO border when I stopped at a local ice cream joint. He
filled me in on the farming lifestyle, what sorts of crops he grew,
etc. It is a lifestyle I have almost no knowledge about and we had a
nice conversation. He invited me back to his farm if I was going to
swing through on my way back East.


I arrived in Boulder late that afternoon and flopped down on the lawn
of Kevin & Terry’s place. I was pretty tired out and decided to
spend the weekend in Boulder and took some time to fully clean off
the bike. I bought a new mirror to replace the cracked one and
installed the 80/100W headlight that Ihad bought in NYC and carried
out there for lack of a 10mm socket :). I also bought new grips and
installed the cruise control I had bought in OH. I saw a lot of
riders in Boulder sans helmet and more often than not cruising around
in shorts and t-shirts. I remembered that it was a college town and
then everything made more sense (or is it less?). Most of the riders
I saw fully outfitted with protective gear were some R bike riders.


Before I left on this trip, I queried all of my resources for info on
long distance motorcycle trips. Most people gave me useful info
which I then used on the trip. But no one mentioned the BUGS! While
it was only really bad in the Midwest and the Northwest, the bugs I
hit were tremendous! Not only in size but in number. I was so
disgusted by the dried dead bug entrails that covered the shoulders
of my riding suit that I washed it in Boulder and then again once I
arrived in Seattle. There’s also another Murphy’s law about raising
your faceshield at speed. Murphy says if you open your faceshield at
highway speed to scratch you cheek, a dozen bees will materialize in
the path of your helmet! This happened to me in PA, where I had to
slow down and get to the side really quickly and get the dazed and
dead bees off my face before they decided to sting me. Luckily, they
didn’t, but it was GROSS! Some of the bugs felt like rocks hitting
the helmet, but would leave me a nice clear/yellow mess that would
dry into glue by the end of the day. Riding in the rain was nice in
that there were no bugs and any bugs that were on the bike/helmet,
were mostly washed away.


I moved on from Boulder on a morning of misting drizzle at 50 degrees
or less. This kind of weather is horrible to ride in as water
condenses on both sides of the faceshield and the low visibility
precluded speeds high enough to whisk away the condensation. I
stopped maybe 10 times in 2 hours to wipe at my faceshield. It wasn’t
very safe riding weather but I wanted to make more time towards Utah.
Icalled James, who I was going to visit in UT, and he said that the
trip from Boulder was about 12 hours. I left at 11am after debating
whether or not to leave. Once I reached altitude on I70, about 5
miles from the Eisenhower tunnel, things cleared up, but all the way
up, traffic was moving at maybe 25 mph with so little visibility it
was scary. I went to use the horns but they weren’t working! The
relay clicked but the horns made no sounds. Thus, without horns, I
made liberal use of switching between high and low beams. I later
surmised that the torrential rains in the midwest must have been
their demise.


On the other side of the Eisenhower Tunnel, it was a glorious spring
day with no clouds in the sky. I quickly dried out and really
enjoyed the ride out of Colorado. Even though I was on a large
interstate, I70 west of Denver is really an amazing road to ride on.
I knew I had a long way to go to reach Jamie’s place in Mt. Pleasant,
so I didn’t stop to tour the Colorado State Monument. In fact, here
again, I had to make time to Utah and had to move faster than I had
wanted and thus my trip was more hurried than I would have liked. I
stopped for gas and dinner once I got to Green River, UT and had a
well deserved burger at Ray’s. A good friend Martha and I had
traveled through Green River and had eaten at Ray’s a few years
earlier on the way South to go canyoneering in Grand Gulch. Its nice
to see that some things hadn’t changed.


I eventually got into Mt. Pleasant, Utah, around 10 pm, ragged and
tired after a full day on the bike. Not only was is the longest day
in terms of hours and miles, the beginning of the day and the end of
the day were taxing mentally because of the rain. The rain at the
end of the day came at night, after dark. The mere rain wasn’t so
much of an issue as was the cattle trucks that ply back and forth
along the road I was on. With the rain falling, these trucks would
cause a big spray behind them that would practically blind me as I
rode through it going in the other direction. I steeled my nerves
and tracked the bike carefully, cursing these trucks and promising
myself to either cut down my meat intake more or stop riding in the
rain at night with 18 wheelers in the next lane oncoming.


Jamie (James) and Kristin moved out to teach at Wasatch Academy one
year ago after graduating from Dartmouth. They were almost at the
end of their one year tenure, Kristin to move on to Harvard Law to
concentrate on Native American Law, and Jamie to LA to a position as
a clinical research assistant for a Ph.D. trying to get a drug passed
by the FDA. The original plan was for Jamie and I to ride down to
the Grand Canyon, him on his K75S and me on my Nighthawk. I had just
ridden in some horrible rain and wasn’t quite excited for more rain
riding -which was on the forecast, so we wimped out and changed
plans. We took the Isuzu Rodeo to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Zion NP
and then on to Las Vegas. I won’t go into Zion much except to say if
you have a choice, enter through the West entrance rather than the
Southern one – the experience would be vastly different. Jamie won
$80 at Blackjack at the MGM Grand and I was taken by the fact that
every single electronic slot machine in every single casino
(literally hundreds of machines) was made by the same company: IGT of
Nevada. Hmmmmmm.


I was sad to leave the wonderful company of this wonderful couple,
but Ihad to move on towards Seattle. I had managed to set up an
interview at a company in Seattle that I hoped would give me a summer
internship so I had to make time again. I took interstates from Mt.
Pleasant to Seattle but I was pleasantly surprised that people moved
rather quickly and the roads were really nice. I began to see more
riders out on the roads, specifically more Harley riders and more
‘Wingers. I really hadn’t seen many riders out on the roads I was
on, and Iattributed that to crossing the country earlier than most
others. At times I felt alone, but at other times I was really glad I
didn’t have to be responsible to anyone else. Also, I felt like
having some time to myself.


Some of the simplest things can really make a difference. The
cashier at the Conoco in Boisie was a striking young woman, maybe 20
years old. I walked in with my cash to pay and she stared at me
behind my sunglasses, helmet and riding suit. “I think I see some
eyes in there,” she said with a smile that almost knocked me off my
feet. I smiled beneath my helmet and replied, “Well at least you
didn’t make a Power Ranger joke. I get those all the time,” and she
smiled again with a light lilt in her voice and a tilt of her
brunette head that sent me reeling again. She didn’t see my
reactions hidden behind my helmet, but I thanked her and went on,
feeling full of life from avery short interaction with another
person. I spent the night right outside of Boise and got ready for
my last day into Seattle.


Pacific Time:


My last day on the road was another gorgeous day going from Boisie to Seattle. As I crossed over the Cascade range and down into Seattle, I had mixed emotions. Ihad a great trip overall, visiting with good friends and experiencing weather conditions I would not have otherwise have dealt with. I rode in such torrential rain that the safest place to ride with behind the tractor trailers who displaced the most water with their wide rear wheels and heavy loads. I rode in hot weather through most of the Pacific Northwest and the dry side of the Rockies. My electric vest was an essential item that allowed me to comfortably ride early in the morning and late into the evening if I had to.


I would warn Easterners that there are hazards out West that one
wouldn’t experience. How about shiny metal cattle guards, wet with
rain, late at night at every interstate on and offramp? Those things
are as slick as an oil spill even during the day, dry.
How about howling crosswinds that whip across the open spaces and make a
motorcyclist feel his/her mortality very quickly?


I want to thank everyone who made this trip much more enjoyable for
me, Randall, Leslie, Margaret, Peter, Abigail, Kevin, Terry, Jamie,
Kristin, and Adam’s family who welcomed me into Seattle. I want to
thank my parents and especially my mother for understanding why I
wanted to go on this trip.


Gen Kanai

7 comments on “Cross-Country USA Motorcycle Trip 1995
  1. Drew says:

    My high school buddy & I are thinking of taking a trip cross country next year starting in Sept. to celebrate our 50th birthdays. We will be leaving from NC and plan to take secondary roads mostly, but neither of us has evere done this before. The electric vest and the heads up on the cattle guards will go into my list of things to remember. Appreciate your sharing your experiences, you are lucky to have had a chance to do this at a young age. Happy trails—

  2. Ben says:

    It’s 33degrees and snowing here in Pa. I got to looking at motorcycle trips thinking of better days.Is your bike a 700cc?.I give you props, that’s far on a nighthawk. Plenty of power but pretty light weight for heavy duty touring.I would think you would get thrown around alot. My dad and i have been on three trips. We rode to canada one year, up through the vt,nh,ma,another time and this summer made it down to daytona.Did you get a windshild yet? I can’t stress the importance of a good windshield. I hate them but for long trips a must. Also highway pegs of some sort. Planning a trip out west since im a senior and this will be the last big trip for awhile. any suggestions of places to go. I enjoyed the trip. Are you still riding the nighthawk? I have a honda 1100 aero v-twin. Not much power but comfortable as hell.peace

  3. Pat says:

    planning a crosscountyr trip from rochester ny to california, my friend thinks we can make it safely in 11 days MY ride is A 650 Vstar hers is a small Harley any thoughts on the feasibility of this? her thought is to take I80 to I70 all the way out

  4. Shawn Annis says:

    Hi There ,
    I’m about to take my first 1 month trip cross country trip starting about May 5th .
    My name is Shawn .
    I’m a 45 year old below knee double amputee (from birth) and just started riding in 2002 when Honda came out with their 600cc automatic mega-scooter .
    So far I’ve logged over 20,000 miles and am on my second SilverWing .
    Tonights my last night on the internet , as I’ve decided to let my isp run out before leaving on my adventure .
    It was nice to read your article though .
    I hope to have better weather on my trip that you seemed to run into , but just being on the road will make the trip worth it for me .
    I have a lot of riding years to catch up on due to the lack of hand controlled motorcycles in the past .
    Take Care ,
    Shawn Annis
    16 Chestnut Ct.
    Amherst MA. 01002

  5. Dixie Billups says:

    My husband and I are leaving on May 7th for Dripping Springs, Texas. Just outside of Austin. We are both in our late 50’s and it is a challenge we MUST try!!! We are leaving around 1:00pm on Friday and expect to be at our destination by Monday evening around 6pm Texas time…then back home to Western Washington by Sunday evening the 16th. What a life time experience!! I have a 1999 Honda Shadow Ace Tourer 1100cc and my husband has a 1991 Honda Goldwing SE. Wish us luck and good weather!!

  6. Adam says:

    Good for you kid. ‘Got my first good taste of the road 24 years ago on a little trip from New York to Canada above Maine. Last year was Alaska. Careful, it’s addicting!
    Oh, when you get a chance try hanging a hairpin right on 8 North off the Mohawk in North Adams. I ride this area often.
    Happy travels.

  7. Kathy says:

    A friend and I are planning a cross country round trip going from San Diego, CA to Atlantic City, NJ. We don’t want to take the same route going and coming. We’d like to do it in 3 weeks starting the 3rd week of July and returning by the second week of August. Any suggestions for routes and places of interest?