Nate up close on a bike

I am the recon man. The expeditioner. The big idea generator.

This is a huge responsibility and I have to say, it doesn't rest lightly on my shoulders. Now that I have a wife and 2.5 children (third boy is still on production line but I'm assured he will go operational in early December), I have a lot more to consider. I've said before, Google is a mediocre way to plan a trip. What you don't get on ye old computer is smell, taste, touch. You don't feel the warmth and the cold of a valley as you come to the top of a grade. You don't smell the sage or the pine.

getting ready to leave on the Harley

Also, you can only find so much inspiration or clarity on the internet. No one I have ever met said, “Hey, I need to go clear my mind. I'll be on the computer for like two hours.”

There was a time when patience and quiet time were sought out activities (if i could even call it that). When a person knew that a good life adjustment or better perspective meant shutting up and just watching the world around them. Breathing deeply and getting lost in thought.

Nate driving away on the Harley

That's where the country boy in me has the advantage. When I was younger, I would go for a walk. After living in Los Angeles, getting perspective became a bit more complicated as walking was generally not done. Plus, when looking to refresh my brain, an endless line of Seven Elevens and strip malls doesn't lend itself tranquility. One of my friends would always take off and go catch fish (about three hours away). I'm not much of a fisher so I wasn't usually in.

riding from behind

I found that I was more of a “ride off for the horizon” type of guy. I went and got my motorcycle license and sought out a new form of meditation. My life is filled with enough adrenaline, so I wasn't looking for thrills at a hundred miles an hour. I'm 6'4″ and don't fit on many “average” sized things anyway (much less likely in or on things made in Japan).

Nate riding

I went to the local Harley Davidson dealership to browse and learn and found myself sitting on a Road King. Classic look, nice power to move a gorilla like myself and a big comfortable seat. Luckily they had a rental office so I picked it up for a few days.

black and white harley

When I travel (like really travel) I am averse to lines and cues. To guided tours and over-treaded paths. What I discovered I loved about riding my Harley was that it played right into my need. I set my own path, my own speed and my own destination. I could cruise down the road and clear my mind. My stress was washed clean with the aroma of the golden summer grass of the California hills. The cobwebs in my mind were swept away by the passing green branches of oak trees scattered around the country side. The world became larger and my life less miopic. Sometimes I would travel with a friend and we'd having interesting conversations. One of us would point to a rock formation in the distance and say “Look,” while the other would gaze on, nod and confirm “Yup.” Deep, meaningful conversations about the universe.

Harley Davidson riding

With the family, we travel mostly in a Ford F350, which has an 8′ bed and Leer shell cover. So sleeping and rest stops are pretty much self contained. No such luck when motorcyclin round the countryside.

Harley actually partnered with Best Western and created an optimal situation for riders. The Best Western Ride Rewards Program sets you up with a travel planner, 1200 possible stays (specifically optimized for riders, ie “rider-friendly”) and motorcycle care and parking (including a cleaning station with towels for the bike) and amenities like free lip balm. I myself decline the lip balm as I usually find a nearby burger joint to moisten my pucker strips. . . but hey. . . more power to ya. Heck, they even have a motorcycle travel blog to follow called You Must Be Trippin. It's actually written by a fellow Californian who's home base for now is back in my old stomping grounds of Los Angeles. I really like his post “California Dream Trip, Day One: Home to Paso Robles.” You can follow Best Western over on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to see the latest traveler adventures, including a current motorcycle journalist trip

riding through the trees

These little trips are my way of clearing my mind. I don't like to be too far away from my army. . . er, I mean my family. So I keep my excursions to a day or two. I find that getting away from electronics and near city life can lead to decompression and great inspiration.