Whenever we set off on an adventure, we get the same set of questions from every motorcycle traveler, “Have you planned your whole route already?” No. “Do you know where you’re stopping every day?” Nope. This is generally followed up with, “Well, which way are you headed?” I gently raise my right arm and point north. “That way.”

Horses like bikes
Sometimes the place you land comes with a built-in farm. The horse, aptly named Trouble, was a permanent fixture around the bikes while staying at the home of a fellow traveler on Vancouver Island. (2010)Photo: Sandy Borden
Kansas restaurant
The sandwich board announcing “We Are Open” was the only indication of a restaurant in the small town of Lenora, Kansas. (2009)Photo: Sandy Borden

With their head slightly cocked and wearing a look of confusion, they stop the line of questioning and take a moment to digest the answers. Although we like to know our general direction, the whole idea of an adventure is not knowing where you might land at the end of the day. This may make some of you a bit uneasy but for us, it is part of the experience.

House in Kansas
After camping for a night alongside some long-range cyclists in Whitefish, Montana, they offered up their home in Billings, Montana, no questions asked. They knew what it felt like to desire clean clothes and a night in a real bed.(2010)Photo: Sandy Borden

All too often many of us miss out on the journey. What do I mean by this? We are so focused on maintaining control of our situations that we don’t allow give ourselves permission to get lost in the moment. It can be a very hard lesson for some to learn because, well, one must give up a bit of control. But then, we need to remember the reason why we take off on these three-day, five-day, month long excursions—to get away from our usual life. Our scheduled day to day life!

Vancouver Island ride
When this family on Vancouver Island heard we were headed their way, they offered up the trailer on the property for as long as we needed. Kindness of strangers wins again. (2010)Photo: Sandy Borden

Unless you need to land in a bed every night, say for medical reasons, there is no need to plan your every move, especially if traveling in the US. Even the most out of the way obscure route will eventually run across whatever you may need. There are plenty of hotels, campgrounds, BMI land, restaurants, and grocery stores to make sure you don’t have to go without. And, to be honest, you can just as easily find a place to land and refuel far south of the border. You’re going to have to trust me on this one. Just when we would land in Nowhere Town, Guatemala, there was always a hostel or a local resident willing to find you a place to park for the night and a warm plate of homemade goodness.

Pirate ship
Every boys dream comes to life when the family on Vancouver Island also had a full-size pirate ship for Jack to sleep on complete with walking plank from shore to boat. (2010)Photo: Sandy Borden
Motorcycle ferry ride
The only thing we had planned was to take a ferry from Vancouver Island to Vancouver, British Columbia. After we landed, all we knew was that we were heading north. We eventually landed in Whistler with a special hotel deal from a gentleman who overheard our need for a reasonably priced room. (2010)Photo: Sandy Borden

I do understand that most of us can only afford to take off for about a week at a time and want to make sure and “see it all”. But, you’re not going to see it all. Why do you want to do all that rushing around? Don’t you already do that? Isn’t that why you swung a leg over the bike in the first place, to escape the usual?

Motorcycle camping
When we pulled up the house on Vancouver Island, our hostess was grilling up salmon and halibut on cedar planks with foil wrapped potatoes right on the open fire. The picture was complete with the shovel used for potato moving and coal spreading. (2010)Photo: Sandy Borden
Ride hosts
(No, I wasn't lying about this story that just occurred a couple of months ago.) While traveling north with friends Simon and Lisa Thomas (www.2ridetheworld.com), we were approached by this lovely gentleman, John, who overheard our need for a campsite for the night. All the state parks were full, so John offered up his "orchard" (front lawn) for the night. Shortly after the tents were up, he came out with a bottle of wine and a couple of chairs to sit and swap stories. (2016)Photo: Sandy Borden

What is that saying again? “The adventure begins when everything ceases to go as planned.” Here’s an example: Say you find yourself at the end of a highway that gives you the choice of heading left or right. You know from your many weeks of research that if you head right, you’re guaranteed a Holiday Inn Express, a Pizza Hut, and a morning breakfast room filled with families and business travelers. This is your “typical” travel norm. But, what if (gasp!), you put on your left blinker and venture into the unknown. You have a full tank of gas, plenty of water, and a few granola bars to nosh on just in case. Who knows what kind stories you may end up with just by taking the road less traveled! Heck, we’ve even camped on a stranger’s front lawn just because he and his wife asked if we needed a place to bunk down for the evening. The gentleman even brought out a bottle of wine for us at dusk and made breakfast before we departed. I don’t know about you, but I find that much more exciting than soggy pizza and a parking lot full of minivans.

Moto camping on the lawn
With plenty of room for three Hilleberg tents, John made sure all were comfortable including breakfast on the deck and coffee promptly served at 6:30AM. (2016)Photo: Sandy Borden

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t plan at all. But instead of following a strict route with nightly planned stops, how about picking a landing spot a couple of days down the road and taking a route that calls to your sense of adventure? Instead of worrying where about the next chain restaurant is located, why not try that locals’ only eatery that advertised homemade pies and loose-meat sandwiches? It was right next to that kitschy little mom and pop hotel in that funky little town you passed just 5 miles back. Not all places are going to be awesome. I get it. But how are you going to know unless you give it a whirl? I dare you.