First of all, I would like to begin this post by thanking Grant and Susan Johnson. They are inspirations to many of us travelers and now for me as a business person. They have done such an excellent job of creating a vibrant community via www.HorizonsUnlimited.com. Their site is definitely one of the very best online resources for current and future travelers. As they say “Get Inspired, Get Ready & Get On The Road.”
Perhaps one of the most amazing things is how they have transitioned a web-based community into this vibrant and giving collection of global family. Twice this year Gaila and I have had the chance to participate in their physical events. These are so much more than the typical rally and occasional Meetups. If there is any way you can make it to a Horizons Unlimited event in your area you most definitely should. http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/events
HU CanWest was held in Nakusp British Columbia Aug 23 – 25th and I highly recommend you mark your calendar for next year. At this event Gaila and I were privileged to be giving our relationship talk – “Couples Travel Not Always A Cake Walk” aka How Not To Kill Your Partner Traveling 24/7/365 and “Take-off & Landings, The Scariest Part of Long-term Travel”. Our couples talk is usually good for a laugh or two and gets lots of smiles etc. – especially when we discuss intimacy on the road. Take-off & Landings is a look at our perspective on quitting perfectly good jobs to travel and what it feels like to come back. Always a work in progress.
The village of Nakusp is such a great place to have a large family gathering. OK, maybe 325+ is larger than a big extended family but it sure feels like it. Seeing old friends and meeting new is what this is all about. Natural beauty, wonderful little town and of course the riding is spectacular on-road or off.
Horizons Unlimited meetings in California have historically been held at a kid’s campground of sorts in Cambria CA. This year they expanded and stepped up to the Fairgrounds in Mariposa CA just outside of Yosemite. Now I should have some great story about the town of Mariposa and our visit to Yosemite, but the truth is we spent virtually no time in either. Having been to both before it was sort of BTDT (been there done that) for us. Frankly, the HU event itself was so compelling and busy that we had no time to sight see anyway. I will however highlight CA Hwy 49 between Sonora and Mariposa as one of my favorites. I highly recommend a tour down this twisty bit of goodness mid-day, mid-week when traffic is low.
This HU event was special for the MotoStays team as it was our first full exhibit. Previously we participated in a fun and worthwhile regional event www.soundrider.com/rally over Labor Day weekend. This time we had a full booth and exhibit setup with other great businesses/organizations like Giant Loop (http://giantloopmoto.com/), MotoPockets (http://adventurepockets.com/) and Lost For A Reason charity (www.lostforareason.org) among others. Our primary goal here was to build awareness to our growing motorcycle home sharing community. Building awareness, spreading the word and getting people to think outside the hotel box (every pun intended) was what we accomplished.
Perhaps the most rewarding part of the weekend was meeting current MotoStay members. It was so great to chat about positive travel experiences and the goodness of home sharing. We had so many curious motorcyclists, some already traveling and some just out for a weekend of inspiration come by and ask about home sharing might work for them. It was great when existing travelers could tell the story for us. Questions about “Do I always have to say ‘yes’ to a hosting request?” Of course not. To things like “I am in favor, but now I need to convince my wife/partner.” Overwhelmingly, people stopped by the booth to say what a great idea this was and how eager they were to sign up. Not sure, but our home roasted coffee, cookies and mug giveaways might have been a draw too. Thanks to the MotoPockets people as they provided some quality top case bags when our coffee ran out.
When we weren’t busy at the booth we were either presenting our talks or busy listening to other great inspirational / educational speakers. Too many to name all but I must say I found Ramey “Coach” Stroud’s (www.ridecoach.com) presentation on Saturday night very heartfelt and moving. He delivered his story about personal tragedy and overcoming the odds to a packed and awestruck audience. His decision to make the best of his life changing accident and the triumphs and travels that followed are inspiration indeed. Also, Nicole Stavro Espinosa hosted a really interesting “Working from the Road” panel discussion where Gaila represented Team MotoStays. While we all hope to find such joy, it is harder than it might seem was the consensus.
On our way home we travelled to Oakland CA where we did a MotoStay with Chad and learned more a about this diamond-in-the-rough city. His stories about dirt track racing, a few cold beers and a good garage were just what we needed. Oakland seems to be one of those cities – in the US and abroad – that often gets a bad rap. Sure there are tough neighborhoods and yes you should use common sense about the safety of your things and yourself. What I think is important though is that we should not let stereotypes or media hyped fears keep us from seeing the beauty in and on the roads less traveled. To go full circle, as Susan and Grant would say “The only borders are in your mind!”
Now that our summer of travel and motorcycle events is slowing, we will be making adds and changes to the MotoStays.com site. Please give us your feedback and ideas via social networks (www.Facebook.com/MotoStays/, www.Twitter.com/MotoStays or info@MotoStays.com. Spend less, experience more!