Thursday, August 5, 2010
Thomases go West via motorcycle
By BARRY BURLESON
Kevin Thomas was ready for an adventure of a different sort. His wife Donna went along.
The Holly Springs couple traveled 5,500 miles round trip to California and back on their Honda 1800 Goldwing.
“You don’t really appreciate America until you see what’s out there,” Thomas said about the 14-day journey. “And you need to do it one mile at a time – see it and feel it – rain and sleet, whatever the elements.”
He started riding motorcycles about two years ago.
“I bought a used one first to make sure I would like it,” Thomas said. “A year later I bought a new one with the goal of seeing the countryside.”
His wife was skeptical, he said, but excited that he was looking for something different to experience.
“I just had to buy one comfortable enough for her to ride,” Thomas said.
They started taking small trips and last year went to Yellowstone National Park.
“It’s really an inexpensive way to see the country,” he said. “Flying – you don’t get to see everything.”
They left for their most recent adventure on a Friday in May with plans to travel Historic Route 66 as much as possible and end up on Highway 1 between Los Angeles and San Francisco. They would ride until they got tired and stop at motels along the way. They took just three days of clothes and would wash at the motel stops.
“We tried to get off the interstate as much as possible,” Thomas said. “The interstates are a little more dangerous and boring. We stayed in a couple of historic hotels in New Mexico.”
Other attractions included the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, Beverly Hills, Hollywood and Alcatrez.
“It was incredible – everything we had hoped for and more,” Thomas said. “We did not have an idea the coast-line (adjacent to Highway 1) was that beautiful. It was amazing.
“The Golden Gate bridge was our last destination. We felt like we had reached our goal when we reached the bridge.”
They stayed in San Francisco for a day and “contemplated,” Thomas said, putting their motorcycle on a train and taking that mode of transportation back to Mississippi.
“When we got there, we were very tired and knew we were a long way from home,” he said.
“But we decided to strike out on Highway 80. That was probably a wrong turn.”
They experienced snow and sleet when they left Reno, Nevada, and went over Donner Pass in the Sierra Mountains.
“We made it to Evanston, Wyoming, in the afternoon and it began snowing more than I’d ever seen it before. It was coming a blizzard and we were on a motorcycle.”
They stopped at a Cabela store and purchased some warm clothes.
“We didn’t quite pack enough,” he said.
The next morning the skies were clear but it was still cold all the way to Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Also on the ride back, in Nebraska, they experienced a big-time thunderstorm. They took to a two-lane road and sought shelter in a grain bin.
Thomas said they lost their second GPS of the trip, thanks to a big bump. The first one had quit when they reached Los Angeles.
So they just “came on in” to Mississippi without their Global Positioning System.
“I’d never been away from home that long,” Thomas said. “We had a wonderful time but it was good to see Holly Springs.”
Would he take the same trip again?
“I think since I’ve seen the lengths of the United States and experienced that, I would maybe fly to the West Coast and use a rental,” Thomas said.
“But I do plan to go to the East Coast – Boston and Maine.”
And for his wife?
“She would ride that route again in a minute,” Thomas said. “She loved it.”
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