Hello my ADV friends, (I see different styles here on the forum, varying lengths of text/more pictures, so I am still on the fence as to keep this format up. Other option would be less text and more pictures, please let me know what you guys prefer! I promise I won't get angry ) Let me start by prefacing this story, that although the title says ''solo'', this trip was in no way really solo. I have met so many wonderful people, especially from this forum, who have made this trip in the succes that is has become. So special thanks go out to Gerard and his family, Bruce, Robert and Scarlett, Aaron, John, Cory, Winston and Tom. Prelude =========================================================== In 2016 I flew to Vietnam on a whim, after having seen a guy who rode from North to South (Hanoi to Saigon) on a 110cc. Bought a similar 110cc Honda Win through a Facebook group, learned how to ride and shift the Honda the next day from the seller and left, hopelessly ill-prepared and completely ignorant....What an adventure it turned out to be! Without navigation, basic skills in riding or mechanics I set off and reached Saigon three weeks later. Needless to say, my love for ADV motorcycling had begun to bloom. In 2017, living in Europe but being a complete nut for anything USA related, I decided I needed to do a trip through the Deep South. However, contrary to Vietnam, I actually needed a motorcycle driving license, which I promptly managed to fix, one week before departure. (In case you haven't noticed, time management/planning is not my strong suit). After weighing the costs of renting a bike for 4 weeks (4500 USD!!) and simply buying one and trying to sell it again at the end of the trip, I decided for the latter option, backed up by very meagre proof that this was actually possible for a foreigner. Whilst preparing for that trip I kept on finding the ADVforum through google, always providing the most useful information in all my queries. I bought a Suzuki V-Strom 650 in Athens, Georgia and set on a loosely planned route, that took me all through Georgia, North-Carolina (Tail of the Dragon), Tennessee (Countrymusic in Nashville), Alabama (Becoming honorary member of a Fraternity), Mississippi (Running from Hurricane Harvey), Arkansas, Oklahoma and finally after 4,5 weeks Texas (Hunting hogs and all kinds of Texas shenanigans). Selling the bike proved a little more of a chore than expected but only because the registering papers had gotten lost in the mail. That is when I got to know Gerard, who has been so friendly and helpful and instrumental in the succes of both my trips. He managed to get the papers and sell the bike. So long trusty V-Strom, to be never seen again! Or so I thought.... Flash forward to 2021: With a pending change of position at work I found myself to be in the lucky situation of being able to take a couple of months of. Where the plans first were to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, this quickly changed due to COVID requirements, budget and insurance questions. Very quickly I decided it would have to be a motorcycle trip again, there is nothing quite like it in terms of exploring a country. I contacted Gerard, and after some consulting and me stating I would like to explore the states West of Texas, he offered to inquire whether I could rent my old V-Strom back from the new owner, who is a friend of Gerard. A little later I got word that this was oke, and I was able to rent my old beloved bike back, for a price that could be classified as philantropic, thank you again Bruce!! A quick look at the map set my sights on Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. But then what, I still had time and wanted to see something else than the USA too. Then, as a complete wildcard, I opted to continue the trip in Colombia. I had never been in South-America before, but enjoyed the people I've met from there, saw something about riding in Colombia and decided that was what I needed, a little less polished and high speed and more ''2016 Vietnamesque dusty adventures'' (Little did I know I got exactly that and then some). Vamonos! '"How did this work again?!'' Adventures in the USA ============================================================= After reading countless blogs, watching Youtube videos, even dreaming of the perfect routes and mulling over the intricacies of mesh suits, vents, CE2 protection, earplugs and all the other small stuff we like to keep ourself busy with, it was time to actually embark on the trip. Covid be damned, we will explore! Arriving in Houston felt like coming home, with many thanks to Gerard and his family again, who took me in like they have always known me. After getting my first Whataburger meal ever, (have you really been to Texas if you don't get Whataburger?), I struggled to get my body, filled with 2 liters of Cola and a Double Whataburger to the garage, flicked on the lights and lo and behold, there she was: The V-Strom 650, as adventure ready as always, taunting me to set out immediately with her. I resisted her longing looks and closed the door, ''Soon''. Two days later, the ''Soon'' was replaced by ''now''. During a quick check and going over the bikes extra's with Gerard, before setting off, I was super puzzled by a buttons hyroglypics, a somewhat upwards coiled spring. Thrown off by the hyroglyphic, I lost common sense and asked Gerard. He replied simply ''That is the ignition button...'', while looking at the button that is universally the same worldwide on every bike ever made, probably severely regretting his decision of letting me ride on his friends bike. Shortly afterwards, I paid the first deposit of the rent, a little kind of extra insurance for parttime idiots like me All turned out to be good though, once you take a seat, everything is intuition again. Austin it is! With Gerard accompanying me on the first leg of the day through the Sam Houston Forest, I got used to the bike again and she was still as fun as I remembered her from 2017. This was gonna be one hell of trip! In Austin I was taken in by Winston, who was kind enough to let me sleep in his house, through the ADV tent space thread. After checking out his awesome bikes and marvelling over them, he gave me one of the best advices of the trip: Buy a book called Lonesome Dove. Having never heard of it but being an avid reader and big fan of stories of exploration/frontiersmen in the USA, I set out the next day to the nearest bookstore. Ofcourse, Lonesome Dove is one of THE thickest books in existence and completely unsuitable for travel by motorcycle. Thou shallt come nevertheless thy! Walking back with at least 5 pounds of paper, I started wondering if I would sacrifice my underwear or shoes to take the book with me. Luckily for both me and the rest of the world, none of the above had to be jettisoned, and Lonesome Dove found a place in my tankbag, accompanying me all the way to Medellin, Colombia, serving as source of amusement, placemat, nightstick and counterweight. After some shenanigans in Austin with some friends and almost succeeding in finding a girl to marry to get my greencard, I packed up my bags and set out for the first full day of riding. Two hours west of Dallas, out in the beautiful rolling fields, I was greeted by Aaron, who hadn't changed a bit since I had gotten to know him in 2017. Wearing his 7 inch ''big dick energy'' sombrero he blasted towards me on his quad, his right hand permanently glued to a can of Dokter Pepper. The next days were comprised of letting it rip full auto, bagging three hogs (two of them being ''designer pigs''), bbquing and generally talking sense and nonsense. It was at Aarons that I learned about Harley Pirates, ''get back whips'' that found more use in their bedrooms than on the road and other bike lingo. If it were not for the other places I had to see, I could easily have spent all my time there and Aaron should not be too surprised to find me squatting on his property in the future (Don't warn him) Next stop: Tucumcari, New Mexico. While doing my research I found out I would be crossing part of Route 66, and whilst I know that there are far superior roads in terms of scenery, for a European guy who loves the US, it is something that could not be ignored. And although part of the old route has been taken over by the I40, the Texas/New Mexico is awash with cool memorabilia and one of the most iconic stops of the road, the Blue Swallow motel. On the way there, by advice of Aaron, I rode through the little town of Turkey, TX, where Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys hail from. Me, being a huge fan of Waylon Jennings and basically always listening to his songs on the bike, I got to know Bob Wills through his song (''Bob Wills is still the king'' in case you're wondering). After having been to Luckenbach, TX in 2017, Turkey, TX now was a must see too. After Turkey came my first real taste of the ''awesomeness'' that is West Texas.... NOT. Damn, some roads were just never ending. I recall one particular road that looked so short and sweet on the map, that in real life forced me to stop twice out of sheer boredom and looking at the map whether I had not fallen of the earth and entered the twilight zone. Only to be depressed about the little progress I had made, I got back on the bike and bombed along. Then, after some while, I saw a bend in the road and have never been happier. We turned slightly and then it was back to going straight. It's the little things Road 214 from Freona to Adrian, if you are reading this, you suck! After finally ending my ordeal, I came up to the exact midway point of Route 66, which was a fun quirky photo op, after which I quickly got to Tucumcari. Being happy I arrived, I found out the Blue Swallow Motel was full which turned out to be no factor, since I still got to take the quintessential picture, and was able to sleep in the Roadrunner Lodge, which was wonderful, with even 50's and 60's music on their own special radio station in the room. Next stop: Salida, Colorado Leaving Tucumcari, I had no idea what to expect of New-Mexico, but I dare say this was THE surprise of the trip, what a cool state!! Starting my day with snaking through the desert and around actual snakes on the 104 towards Las Vegas(NM), I got to see the real splendor and magnificence of those ''cowboy movie landscapes'' I marvelled over as a kid. Beautiful wide open plains, red dirt, intersected by cool rock formations. Even if the scenery of New Mexico stayed that way, I would have been satisfied, but no, there was more! Starting up from Las Vegas, I took the 518 to Taos, meandering through forests and mountains, which I felt would be at home in Oregon. Totally not what I had expected from New Mexico, a state which I thought to be dry and flat. Entering Colorado, I expected more of the same scenery, being that I had built up Colorado to be THE nature state, according to what I had heard and seen on tv, with virtually every nature lover going there. However, I found the first day of riding in South Colorado not as exciting as the scenery of Northern New Mexico (possible unpopular opinion alert ). Deciding I'd make it a long day, to have more time the next days, I zipped all the way up to Salida. Accompanied by 4 dustdevils at the same time I felt like I was in the movie Twister, on a otherwise non-eventful part of the road. My first real surprise in Colorado was when I went in to a gasstation, and the cashiere had all her teeth. After having ridden through West-Texas and New-Mexico, being greeted by a complete set of pearly whites, I realized it was true what they said, Colorado is a richer state. But even the smile of lady at the gasstation could not offset the elevation, man I was feeling it. Dry eyes, dry nose, headache, bloodshot eyes, feeling tired, I was having it all. Luckily, I was headed for another tentspace address, that of Robert and Scarlett, who are both avid ADV riders, exploring Colorado two up. After a very warm welcome they showed me around Salida, which is a beautiful town, with a river running straight through it. The next day it was Buena Vista, with two awesome roads Robert had recommended me: Cottonwood Pass (one of the coolest twisties I have ever ridden (until Colombia..) and and old traintrack, that led through some awesome tunnels. NEW MEXICO: End of part 1 due to picture limits.