In 2007, my then 12 year old daughter and I set out for 5 weeks to tour the country via motorcycle. I knew of one other parent who had done this, and he was a father who rode with his son. I had no single mother role model, but I didn’t let that stop me.
I thought the trip was about motorcycling. Looking back now, I see that it was about parenting. I learned a lot about my daughter on that trip, and we learned a lot about each other. As a parent, I was giving her the most important gift of all, my time. I shared with her something that was important to me, I was sharing my love of travel, travel on a motorcycle.
Many people, when learning about that trip, commented that it would be something she’d always remember. The trip of a lifetime. I hope it’s not the trip of her lifetime; instead I hope it triggered in her a love of travel, and maybe a love of the road.
I know for sure it made an impact, as she chose to use the trip as the topic for her college essay. She was eager for me to share it with you. I hope that it influences just one of you to make plans with your child, to plan a trip of a lifetime.
Seeing Is Believing
Staring up the sides of the Rocky Mountains in awe, I realized this is what we had come for; this was the reason for our journey. The mountains seemed to consume us as we rode on, becoming closer and closer until we were right alongside them, riding the curves of the Rockies themselves. Moby’s “Feeling So Real” was playing in my ears and I couldn’t have chosen a better song to describe the moment. I opened my helmet and shouted over the wind to my mom “You were right; you have to see it to believe it!”
In 2007 my mom and I traveled across the country on her motorcycle. Everywhere we went we received a multitude of different reactions to what we were doing, everything from stares, interest, amazement, to pure confusion. The idea of a woman on a motorcycle was crazy to some people, but being a motorcycle-riding single mother, my mom didn’t let stereotypes hinder our journey. I however, was not as used to the stares as she might have been. I was self conscious about my bulky, unflattering riding gear: riding pants that were too big for me and a helmet that made me look like an alien. But after awhile I became proud rather than embarrassed. I realized I was doing something few people ever got the chance to do, seeing the country with my mom. As long as it was important to us, we didn’t need approval from everyone else.
My mom likes to say “You’ll learn more from traveling than you ever will from a geography text book. ”
I knew the Redwood trees were big before, but I never knew how immense they really were until I stood next to one. I knew Montana was known as “Big Sky Country” but I never could’ve understood the vastness until I was beneath it. Going on this trip opened my eyes to how different everything can be from your initial perspective. One day while stopped at a gas station in Oregon, the cashier inside inquired about our adventure. When we told her we were from New Hampshire she mentioned she had always wanted to go to the east coast. I had never realized how lucky I was to have seen so much of the country, that some people had never been so far away, and there I was at 12 years old, 3,000 miles from home.
The Trip is something I will never forget. Now, five years later, I am still realizing how it affected my life and me as a person. I’ve learned that perspective is not something that can be taught in school, only through experience. I learned that doing something that may seem impossible is in fact achievable. I learned how to be proud of myself, even if I was doing something different. I had the opportunity to see how diverse and unique this country truly is, and I have been inspired to someday discover the same things around the world. I’ve come to realize that you can see something on TV, read about it, see pictures of it, even listen to stories about it, but you will never completely understand something until you go experience it for yourself.