Women Riders

Mara and Jan's Road Trip

Written by  September 30, 2007

After a beautiful riding spring and summer we are now headed toward the chilly fall season. I will welcome a relief from the heat in exchange for the awesome color changes of trees and flowers. A word of caution regarding the sun, continue to sunscreen through the remainder of the riding season. Even though the sun may not be beating down on your face and arms on a cloudy day, the UVA/UVB rays are still quite harmful and can lead to wrinkles and skin cancer.

I hope all our readers and riders got an opportunity to head out on memory making trips this year where you had no obligations, no appointment books, and maybe even no cell phones. Everyone needs to do a trip like this at least once a year. You point the bike in the direction you want to go, letting Mother Nature and your desire to see the unknown guide you to the next stop. Depending on the time of year, you could probably go with no reservations, no route, and no place to be, just riding through the mountains, desert, or two lane country roads where sometimes you are 50 miles between the small towns. You are breathing in the fresh air and smells that surround you and admiring the miraculous work of God. How lucky we are to experience this total sense of freedom.

This month I’ll share one more road adventure with you from our neighbors who moved into our neighborhood a year ago. When we saw they both had bikes, it was like “Wow! Now the adjoining neighbors are surrounded by the sweet sound of Harley engines, morning, noon, and night!” We visited with Mara and Jan a few times in their driveway; in fact Mara had just bought a 2007 Road King from Gail’s Harley-Davidson. Jan rides a 1996 Road King and they were talking about the 14-day trip they were going on in August. On a side note, Jan has been riding since she was 15-years-old and Mara took up riding at 34-years-old, starting on a 750 Suzuki.

The neighbor who takes care of our lawn kept an eye on their house while they were away so when they returned from their trip he talked to them before I had a chance to. He told my husband, “The girls rode 8200 miles in 12 days!” Oh my gosh! I couldn’t wait to talk to them. The mileage was unbelievable because that calculates to 683 miles a day! I had a whole new respect for them as motorcycle riders if they rode like that. It sort of brings new meaning to “iron butt riders!” Well, a few weeks later when I saw them out, I rushed over to congratulate them on their ride and when I mentioned the 8200 miles, Mara laughed and said, “No, we went 5020 miles in 12 days.” Now that sounded more practical to me, that is if you are traveling in hopes of getting some sightseeing in, not blowing by each state, town, and city to rack up miles. But, still, over 400 miles a day is a long haul for 12 straight days. I have done some 500 mile days too, but not every day for 12 days. Since the most miles I have done on one trip is 3800 and that included an extra week after the 100th Harley-Davidson party in Milwaukee, their trip certainly warranted a space in my column for our readers.

In reading Mara and Jan’s journal there was the same quote at the end of several different days, 'We are so tired and our butt’s hurt!” And, now that I think about it, I don’t remember hearing their bikes fire up for a few weeks after they came back, wonder why! They rode more on that trip than some bikers ride in a year! Here is a chronicle of their longest ride so far:

“We were all packed and headed out of Kansas City on Thursday, July 6th and rode toward Omaha, Nebraska. We had stopped for gas and did a quick fix on Jan’s peg, although it didn’t hold because it later slipped down again. We had our MP-3 players with us, but my battery went dead shortly after we left so the singing was left to me. Along the way we got really good at pothole dodge ball, and we were surprised at the sudden temperature rise by Briarwood’s huge power plant. Then out in the middle of nowhere there is a Harley-Davidson dealer and I didn’t even see it! Mara!

Goldie asks: “How do you miss seeing a Harley-Davidson store and WHY didn’t Jan take the exit? I guess you were too excited to finally be on your way.” We pulled in to the Day’s Inn and got the last room available, 2nd floor no less. There is nothing like lugging your T–Bags up two flights of stairs after a long haul on your bike or wanting to get into the hot tub to relax and find out its only 82 degrees.

Heading out of Nebraska to Sioux City, Iowa it was interesting seeing the strange hay bales or piles and rainbows in the sprinklers watering the vast corn fields. From Valentine, Nebraska we rode to South Dakota and visited Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore, hitting rain and missing deer. As we rode toward Buffalo, Wyoming we had three bouts with rain and came up with a few sayings that may be fitting for the rain we were about to hit, “Who said the west was dry? Jungle rot on a motorcycle?” You would not believe the hail storm we encountered; luckily we were leathered up and had full face helmets on. Others that we met did not fair so well, they were actually cut up from the hail. Our bikes got a couple dings, but it came on so fast and furious.

Yellowstone was our next destination, entering we maneuvered for 7-miles on gravel, then traffic was a mess and people were just stupid, getting out of their cars to take more pictures of the Bison they had just passed. Then we continued on to the Tetons, spent the night in Jackson Hole where it was cold, in the low 50s. Leaving Jackson we rode through the Palisades Reservoir to Idaho Falls to visit with my (Mara's) cousin and 94-year-old grandmother in Boise, Idaho. It was a nice break getting off the bikes for a couple days and visiting with family. As we were leaving, my grandmother came out of the house with her walker to see us off and came over to Jan’s bike as she started it and put her hand on the throttle and said ” Rev it up.” She got a kick out of seeing us ride off.

Our next state was the tip of Oregon, along Jordan Valley to Sparks, Nevada. Great roads, but it was hotter than Hell. We traveled on to Sacramento, California to visit my sister, brother-in-law, and their two children. We headed over to San Francisco and rode the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge, which was a little disappointing since it wasn’t a very scenic ride with all the fog.

From there we took Highway 1 to Cambria, it was beautiful riding along the coast to Big Sur, then on through the desert to Bakersfield, California. Now it started warming up and it felt great. We had a near mishap when a semi-truck pulled out in front of us and almost took us out, I clipped Jan’s saddlebag with my peg trying to swerve and she thought the truck hit her. It was a very scary experience. We spent the night in Las Vegas and of course it was hot, hot, hot. Being an engineer, Hoover Dam was a highlight for me. I spent a lot of time there and marveled at the site, construction, and the new bridge they are building.

The next day we headed to the Grand Canyon; now we are back to being cold, it was in the 40s and raining, but when it stopped we took in the most beautiful double rainbow over the canyons. It was absolutely breathtaking and the pictures don’t do it justice, it was one of those, “You had to be there” experiences. We rode on through the desert and Indian Reservation to Tuba City, Arizona only to find both hotels were full. It is now 10:30 p.m. and we are tired and hungry, but we trudge on to Flagstaff which took about an hour. We found a hotel and crashed. We stayed around a little longer the next morning before riding to Albuquerque, New Mexico. We didn’t spend a lot of time in Albuquerque because we will be back in October for the Hot-Air Balloon Fest.

As we headed home on our last leg of the journey we counted our blessings that it was a safe trip, no mechanical breakdowns, met some very interesting folks, and saw amazing sites and views through the ten states we traveled.

Reminiscing with Mara and Jan it sounded like it was a fabulous trip and they are already planning their next one. Will it be Beartooth Pass? The Blue Ridge Parkway? The 105th Harley-Davidson party? So many places, so many choices, and never enough vacation time to do it all.


A question from one of our readers:

Dear Goldie,
Can you give us some ideas of places we can stay in or around State Parks that offer a little more comfort in sleeping other than camping?

Lincoln, NE

Hi Linsey,
Great question because, like you, my idea of camping is a Holiday Inn! After riding all day I want to be able to unload the bike and walk into an air-conditioned room with a mini-bar, hot shower, and a sleep number pillow filled bed!

There are several places that will bring you closer to nature, and you won’t have to sleep in the wilderness to appreciate it. Some offer rustic lodges and cabins priced from $29 to $80 a night. Most of these have great restaurants and spectacular views.

The following were recently listed in Newsweek as wonderful places to stay:
- Backwater Falls State Park, West Virginia
- Brown County State Park, Indiana
- Burr Oak State Park & Resort, Ohio
- Cumberland Falls State Resort, Kentucky
- Defray Lake Resort, Arkansas
- Dothan State Park, Virginia
- Fort Stevens State Park, Oregon
- Kodachrome Basin State Park, Utah

Have fun Linsey checking out the nice selection of “off the ground” accommodations.


Wherever you travel, set out on autumn bike tour. Take in the sights of cornfields, hay bales, and sunflowers. The views have never been better. I’m leaving for Mississippi in a couple weeks to ride the Natchez Trace for a few days, and then traveling down to Clarksdale, Mississippi to attend the Helena Blues Festival in Arkansas. I’m looking forward to touring the plantations and seeing all the sites in Jackson and Vicksburg, Mississippi. And, what better way to end the trip than with some “down home blues music.”

Take care until next month!

Goldie Arnold:
Goldie Arnold

“Never rider faster than you angel can fly”

TIP OF THE MONTH: When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal, not your decision to get there!
Zig Ziglar