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Preparing for the Trip of a Lifetime

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How do you prepare for the trip of a lifetime?

I may well have mentioned previously that I am very nearly (seven weeks seven weeks seven weeks) about to embark on my trip of a lifetime. Something I have been dreaming about for years and years. I am incredibly excited about it. It’s been booked for well over a year now and I was excited about it even before then.

LincsGeek and I are off to America to ride around the Wild West. We are going with The Lost Adventure on an Eagle Rider guided tour, which we will do on our Harley Davidson motorbikes (mine’s a Fat Boy). Highlights will include all the places you might expect - Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Monument Valley, Death Valley, Yosemite, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Francisco, and of course the Californian Coast.

We are filled to the brim with anticipation for what experiences we will have over the 17 days we are in the USA – full of expectation for what we will do and see.

Harley Davidson Sportster Nightster 1200 in the Yorkshire Dales

The last time I rode a Harley – my borrowed Sportster Nightster 1200 on our top down motorcycle adventure back in 2009.

Getting Organised

Since we made the last payment for the trip a few weeks ago we have tried to get ourselves organised so we’re not rushing about a day or two before we fly panicking about what still needs to be done.

The list seems absolutely endless – getting a couple of large roller bags to cart all our gear out there (chosen but not ordered), buying me new motorcycle kit that actually fits and isn’t worn out (done thanks to Sports Bike Shop), finding some good quality but good value quick drying tops to wear under our bike jackets (not done yet – still looking for suggestions), getting all the paperwork in order (nearly there), hiring a car for our day off in Los Angeles (really need to do that this weekend), along with various other things.

Some of our biggest adventures have been on motorbikes so we’ve done this before, but never quite so far from home and never involving a trip on an aeroplane first! I feel like I have to do lists coming out of my ears and know that even if I tick every single little thing off those there will be things that still need doing the day before we go or maybe even on the way to the airport! But at least if I at least feel organised the anxieties will be suppressed a little bit.

Hired F650GS at Inch Beach, Ireland

On my hired F650GS on Inch Beach in Ireland in 2011. This place stole my heart.

Worries

I admit that I am worried about some aspects of the trip. It may sound ridiculous but when you are looking forward to something so much you really don’t want anything to go wrong, so if you’re like me you’ll worry about all those things that probably won’t happen. Or they might. This is one of the main reasons I think I’m too old and sensible for adventure - the adventure part is actually quite scary!

I’m worried about things like missing the plane, our baggage not arriving, forgetting to take something vital, forgetting how to ride a motorcycle, not being able to pick the bike up off its side stand because it’s too heavy (why I’ve been going to CrossFit!), being uncomfortable or too hot or too cold, getting annoyed with other people in the group, losing the group and getting totally lost, running out of cash, getting ill – you know – all those kind of things. And yes, I know that all of those things are incredibly unlikely, but I worry, I am nervous, I need to calm down.

With our bikes in Scotland

Stood with our bikes in gorgeous Scotland, 2012.

Looking Forward

The biggest thing I think I can do to prepare for this epic adventure (yes, this is my epic adventure), and to help counter all those niggling worries that seem embedded in my head, is to think about what it is that I am looking forward to the most, and to concentrate on my hopes for the trip.

As I’ve been dreaming about this for at least ten years my wants come to mind very quickly - riding an iconic motorbike on American roads, taking in the amazing views, enjoying the weather, seeing a new seascape, visiting some well known places, meeting some other people who love to ride, eating some great food, enjoying the wind in my hair.

Other, more specific things come to mind too. Standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon looking across, feeling the heat of Death Valley – the hottest place on earth (yes, I’m looking forward to that as well as being nervous about it), standing in the middle of an abandoned Route 66 township, eating pie in a proper American diner, lining up all the Harley’s for a photoshoot, riding over the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco, and more besides.

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

Of course I mustn’t forget that many of the things I will remember when I come home are things I haven’t even thought about or imagined. I have no doubt there will be conversations, views, food, and other experiences that aren’t on the itinerary that will become some of the best moments.

Life is all about the journey – and this is one journey I honestly can’t wait to start!

Riding my F650GS in Lincolnshire

Riding my BMW F650GS close to home in Lincolnshire.

Help Me Prepare

I’m looking for people who have already done this trip. Help me find them! If you’ve done this Eagle Rider tour (or especially if you’re going to be on the same one as us) tell me – and let me know what I should be looking out for on the road so I don’t miss it. Comment below or tweet me @Splodz. Did you blog about it? Send me the link!

Maybe you know Los Angeles, Las Vegas or San Francisco well – give me your top two things to do in each city – we’re only in each for one day. Where are the must-see places – where are the must-eat places?!

Finally, what are your top tips to help me top worrying about the silly things I’ve mentioned? Maybe I should run a sweepstake on the one vital thing you think I will forget…!

How do you prepare for a trip of a lifetime?

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