Brief backstory: I’ve worked a job that I hated for at least 9 years now but I have no debt and some money saved and I finally said “fuck it” and decided to ride my BMW F650 GS around the country. There are a few planned stops: the 49ers BMW rally in Northern California, the Grand Canyon (because I’ve never been there), a friend in New Orleans, my old stomping grounds in West Virginia, Nova Scotia (again just because I’ve never been there), family in Indiana and finally the International BMW rally in Des Moines, Iowa. Beyond that, who knows? That’s the fun, right? I’m just going to skim over most of the trip with more details for the stops and stories I find most interesting. Though this is mostly a solo trip, I started out with a buddy who had never done a long distance, or really even an overnight, motorcycle trip. We left the Seattle area on May 18th and took a ferry across the sound onto the Olympic Peninsula. It spattered rain on us the first day (shocking, I know) but we were aiming for the Olympic Hot Springs anyway. It requires a bit of a hike to get to them and about 10 miles out from the trailhead, we were stopped by the Rangers and told the road was washed out ahead. We settled for the Sol Duc Hot Springs, which are slightly more developed and resort-like but still relaxing after a wet ride. We rode past a beautiful Crescent Lake, though the road was undergoing some renovations that made the twisties uncomfortably gravel scattered. Any other time of the year it would have been an extremely fun ride. We visited the Hoh Rain Forest and camped at Kaloloch Beach. The tide pools filled with colorful seastars and anemones are absolutely worth the drive to the peninsula if you live anywhere near the Seattle area. I eventually dropped my buddy at his home in Aberdeen, WA, where I’m sure he seethed with jealousy as I continued on and he returned to work. From there I went on alone down the 101 along the coast of Oregon and northern California. It’s an amazing ride with almost constant epic views of the ocean and the beaches below. I didn’t have the time I would have liked to dawdle and wander the beaches as I was heading to the 49ers BMW rally in Mariposa, CA. Around Eureka, CA the 101 turns inland towards the Redwood National Forest. These gigantic trees are something I’ve wanted to see since I was a child. I rode the Avenue of Giants, a quiet, winding two-lane road with towering trees just inches from the pavement edges. It’s wise to have a low speed limit as I was so busy looking up and around, I was constantly surprised to find myself in the middle of the road or into a curve with an “oh shit better lean…” Towards the end of the avenue, there is a private drive-thru tree. It’s $5 to get in and ride through and as I parked my bike in the tree-tunnel and hopped off to snap a photo, my phone alerted me that my battery was too low to use the camera. I had thought it was plugged in but apparently not. I blame the gremlins. I let it charge while I wandered their little gift shop but it was getting dark and I needed to find a campsite. My phone was still too dead and I was about to give up and hit the road when a lady stopped to ask about my bike and my trip. I took a chance and asked her if she’d be willing to take a photo on her phone and text it to me. Yay for kind strangers!