Reality of the Road: The Landscape of Travel

Reality of the Road: The Landscape of Travel
reality of the road

Even I get caught up in the romantic notion of riding a motorcycle across the open landscape under sunny blue skies with the wind in my face. The reality of the road brings me back to earth. Every time.

Last week I arrived in Portland, OR afterd riding 4,000km/2,600miles in six days. It sounds so doable from my home: average 650km/400 miles/day. Until you factor in temperatures in the mid 90s (exceeding 100 one day), high humidity, traffic, and managing a migraine headache.

After a great first day, travel turned exhausting. I questioned my stamina to make it all the way in the time I’d allotted. Twice I ended up in a motel overnight because campgrounds were completely booked or unsuitable. I prefer the outdoors and my budget is for campgrounds.

Always, it was the treasures embedded in the challenges that energized me and reminded me why I do what I do.

Like the Amish woman who parked beside me at a grocery store and struck up a conversation. A mother of five, she’d just dropped her son off at his flying lessons. She enjoys the drive with him for the bonding time. The waiting time gives her reflective, spiritual time. She also recounted how she and her husband have moved away from their culture. She struggles with a spiritual challenge to stay connected to a community she found oppressive. Her story could have been taken from the pages of Crash Landing.

Or Alex, the fifteen-year-old behind the desk of my second hotel who worked it like a pro. Life hadn’t been easy for them and he and his siblings all had to work from an early age. His grandfather had built an exquisite custom motorcycle for which he’d refused an offer of $250,000. Grandpa also built a custom bike for his wife, Alex’s grandmother, who no longer rides. As soon as Alex is of age, he’ll learn to ride on his grandma’s bike and go riding with his grandpa.

Or camping on Mr. Haddy’s yard in the RV park after Trudy balked at riding in deep pea gravel to get to the tent sites. (Too much with a full load at the end of a long day.) The kind, frail 93-year-old WWII vet, nourishes himself through a feeding tube. He spends summers in Montana, moving to Arizona for the winter. I accepted the jar of jelly he gifted me with deep gratitude.

Depleted at the end of most days, my energy was recharged every morning, even after the night in the campground between an Interstate and two or three trains an hour running on the other side.

Finally nearing Portland, the last full day of riding was the hottest—more than 100deg F— and included powerful gusts of the Columbia River Gorge. Camping under the towering pines at the edge of the river restored me yet again on the eve of the first stop on the Long Road Home Tour.

Time and time again, stories of the strength, stamina, and resilience of my ancestors came to mind. Understanding how to draw from their lives while letting go of the stories that bound me is what Crash Landing—and this moto-book tour—is all about.

No matter what my expectations, the reality of the road always wins. Invariably, in a way far greater than I could have imagined.


Author, writer, and student Liz Jansen combines her artistic mediums to create stories that inspire readers to embark on their own journey of self-discovery.

2 Comments on “Reality of the Road: The Landscape of Travel

  1. Hi Liz! You are so inspiring! I know that i need to change. It would seem that I am living vicariously through your journey here and through Jean and Ross Copas’s tour in Africa going on right now. For some reason this season i have had a hard time wanting to ride anywhere but i managed to do one thing. Take the month of June and ride my smallest bike…a 1988 Honda NX250….on a road trip on only blue highways. So I arranged to meet my friend Aida Chappell who just lost her riding buddy Husband Graham in November, at Willville M?C campground at Meadows of Dan in s. VA. Had a great long ride and our plans to attend the MOA rally in Lebanon, TN never happened as we decided to help out Will who had to be hospitalized for a ruptured appendix that happened when we were there!We met at Willvile you see as she lives near Raleigh, NC.So since then I have just enjoyed my pond and home. I need inspiration.You are it!!! Thank you! Cheers, Sue from Meaford, ON

    • Hi Sue – Wonderful to hear from you here! You may want to explore that tension between wanting to want to ride, and what your intuition is telling you. It may be that it’s not the time to ride and we resist other messages our intuition is trying to send or where we’re being guided. Food for thought. 🙂