PHOTOS BY GRANT PUCKETT – VIDEO BY JOE STEVENS – WORDS BY STEVE EBERT
Open eyes. Open roads. Open throttles.
We set out as four friends looking for an adventure and a break from our day-to-day routines. When we started, we all shared a love for two wheels and a desire to experience as much of what life — and America — had to offer.
We left the West Coast looking to get into as much as we could in one short month. America is far from an undiscovered land, but we knew from our experience growing up around Portland that there was gold to be discovered off the beaten path.
NORTH CAROLINA & TENNESSEE
The Trans-America Trail.
Our route was to be the famed Trans-America Trail (well, famed if you’ve happened to frequent online dual-sport motorcycle forums), an inter-connected series of dirt roads and trails that zigzag their way from Andrews, North Carolina, to Port Orford, Oregon. It takes you from the deep South to the deserts of Moab, over the Rockies, and into the forests of our home, the Pacific Northwest.
You, your machine, and the path stretching out before you.
When you start a trip like this, it's always difficult to fully prepare.
For what you'll run into, how long 4 weeks actually is, and the ups and downs you'll experience day in and day out. What really stood out over the first week was our collective willingness to adopt a team mentality. But there was also a feeling of singularity. We were all going to the same place but each having to carry our own weight to make it. We weren't ripping towards the Pacific, but towards experiencing as much as we could every day.
Getting our sea-legs the first week, we dropped bikes; on the trail, in the gas station parking lot, and in river crossings. We stumbled across epic viewpoints and met amazing people. We laid out our soggy gear in empty campsites and jammed into small hotel rooms. Shit, Joe even almost got run over by a Forest Service truck.
ARKANSAS & OKLAHOMA
2 weeks in and 2,700+ miles covered, the routine of the trip had begun to settle in.
Wake up, pack, coffee. Ride until we're hungry enough to stop, then get back on the trail. Pick up beers if we can and enjoy one while they're cold, the rest will be warm by the time we reach our campsite for the night. Set up camp, sleep, then repeat.
By this point, it'd become painfully obvious that we'd all severely over-packed.
Versatility. It's an oft overused word. Yet there's a clear difference between a passable job at a few tasks and the tools we were coming to depend on, day after day. Some things were nothing short of indispensable, and our knives definitely fit the bill.
From making lunch on the side of the road to shaving off a melting side cover our blades were in use as much as they were at our hips. Luckily, we were within striking distance of our first drop point of the trip, Tulsa, OK. Once we made it we all mailed a box or two of under-utilized gear home.