Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Monkey on a Motorcycle

A weeklong motorcycle adventure with a 16-year-old and her dad.

High-Fiving each other after a series of great curves and bends

Story and Photos by Kendal Foreman and Jim Foreman

It was our second day traveling.  We had just finished a hearty breakfast in Silverton,  Colorado and were traveling north on what my dad explained was the “Million-Dollar Highway.”

After a series of impressive turns and a downhill zig-zag along the canyon wall, my Dad turns into an overlook.  Checking with Dad that it’s OK to dismount I started taking in the view of the canyon and the river below.  There was a faint rumbling sound that could be heard in the distance.

Walking toward a steel bridge, it finally caught me in wonder.  In front of my eyes was a real plume of water cascading down about 100 feet into a pool at the bottom.  All of a sudden, it became apparent why my dad stopped here.  It took several minutes of staring and amazement before joining my Dad further along the overlook. 

Right then, the motorcycle adventure became alive and vibrant in my mind.

Only two years ago, on Father’s Day, was my first motorcycle ride.  Though Dad had asked me occasionally if I’d like to ride with him, I always refused.  A big part of that was due to the warning and concern my mom expressed.  She was not comfortable with me riding on the bike.  Secondarily, there may have been some fear there, too.  My Father only said, “One day, when you’re ready.”

First time riding a motorcycle - Father's Day 2015
 That day did finally arrive.  Like before, Dad asked if I’d like to join him on a ride.  The difference was that I decided to say, “Yes!”  With a pleasant look of surprise, Dad fitted a helmet, jacket, gloves and knee armor for my jeans and we went on a short but exciting ride.  At the end of the ride, The only thing I could remember was asking when we could do this again.  We were both excited.

Of course, Dad sent photos of me in my motorcycle gear with the bike to my mom to let her know.  Later, that exploded into an ugly but short-lived situation between my Mom and Dad.  Dad took it all in stride and told me how proud he was of me and that we could do it again, as soon as I wanted.

Several days after my first ride, the anger from Mom disappeared, and I even got dropped off several times on the motorcycle with nothing but a smile and a wave to Dad as he said, “Have a great time!”
Since that first ride, I’ve traveled up Pacific Coast Highway and through Baja California from Los Cabos to Orange County, CA. 

Being 16, I find that any average day can easily begin to overshadow the adventurous spirit. The foundation of curiosity discovered outdoors is lessened more and more as the routine of life solidifies. Exploration and wonder are sacrificed for an undetermined obligation or countless hours mindlessly spent on the computer. 

A couple of weeks ago, my Dad asked if I’d be interested in joining him at the Top O’ the Rockies Rally in Colorado. 

I was tentative to the idea.  It sounded fun, but I was used to lounging at home during the few remaining weeks of summer vacation.  I finally agreed and began to pack and prepare the day before we left.  One thing my Dad has taught me is to pack light.  It was a surprise that I had some extra room in my bag for some luxuries like drawing paper and some art supplies.

We began early Wednesday morning by loading my Dad’s new BMW S 1000 XR.  It was the first time I was going to be riding on this bike.  My previous journeys were on the BMW K 1200 RS. 
Packed and loaded we began our two-wheeled adventure from Tucson, Arizona.  Riding across the Mojave and Sonoran deserts on the freeway are not fun.  We trucked the bike to Tucson from Orange County, CA.

Along the way, the journey began to show off its stellar portfolio. There are stair-like slopes configured, as if by design, and patches of trees and greenery placed as if to appeal to a particular aesthetic.   There are landscapes that appear impossible to exist, only a few hundred miles away.

Salt River Canyon
Nearing 150 miles in, the road enticed us through layered rock canyons that appeared flattened by a massive rolling pin. The clouds overhead filled the sky like scales to a fish.  In those times, the imagination is let off its leash and encouraged to stretch its legs. Suddenly it’s as if the sky is a theater stage and the clouds and mountains are the performers and props.

Long stretches of road are perfect for achieving a state of Zen.  Zen to me is the admiration and appreciation formed from being present in one’s place and time. It’s appreciation for the mountains, the clouds, the lingering cattle, and grazing horses. It’s the soul of everything we ignore or glaze over in daily life that is suddenly given weight and importance. 

To make the long trip more enjoyable, my Dad outfitted my helmet with a Sena Bluetooth system.  This enabled us to talk to each other and for me to listen to my music off of my iPhone.  With a percussive tap to my knee armor, a sway of my shoulders, and a slight bounce to my helmet, the party was just getting started.

Often, I’d reach out my arms to catch a breeze in my arm vents, which then turns into a game I make for myself. One notion that you learn is how the angle of your fingers affects the way your hand lifts or dives while in motion. Motorcycle riders must make exceptional pilots.

Upon first entering Colorado from New Mexico, the wind greeted the arrival with a purple sundown and a wonderful smell of rain with trees.   A light drizzle began to fall.  I noticed Dad take a more deliberate and cautious pace as we traveled the last 20 miles in rainy darkness.  Dad pulled behind a car and seemed to let it lead the way.  He later explained that was because the car has better lighting and if any deer or other animals come onto the roadway, he’d have the additional reaction of the car driver ahead to react safely.

Our first night in Colorado, we spent in Durango. Our older little hotel smelled a bit musty. As we unpacked, there was a faint drift of marijuana in the air.  In school, I had heard stories about the pot appetite here.

Dinner at Durango Brewing Co.
We found Durango Brewing Company was still open after 9 pm, so we enjoyed a great light dinner.

The next morning we hustled to make Paonia, CO by noon so Dad could prepare for his 1 pm presentation about, “Riding in Europe Without Going Broke.”

We left Durango to gorgeous blue skies and wonderful weather as we continued north on the 550. 

Forests galore and beautiful mountains followed. It is proven by this passenger that one can receive a natural high just by being surrounded with enough shades of the color green.

Understandably, Colorado means 'colored' in Spanish.  That's why the welcome signs at the state line say "Welcome to Colorful Colorado."

A rush of exhilaration slapped a massive smile on my face. Endorphins must hang in the air! I inhaled a walloping mass of the breeze, knowing it’s among the freshest I’ll probably ever experience. The sweet smell will forever linger in in my mind and tease the senses.

We arrived in Silverton, a mining town that was able to preserve the rustic buildings from a time long passed. Here, this minor (not miner) had her first experience sitting at a bar, albeit with a cup of cocoa and not whiskey or tequila. Rest assured that no one cared.  It was evident there wasn’t the space to sit elsewhere.  It felt pretty good, too.

Fed and refreshed, we mounted the XR and continued north.  A quick stop at the previously mentioned waterfall brought us within minutes of Ouray, CO. 

Ouray is a charming town known for its hot springs.  It’s unlike anything I’ve seen, so far.  I hope to return and maybe spend a couple of days there.

Arrival into Paonia, CO and the Top O' the Rockies Rally
We arrived in Paonia, CO and the Top O’ the Rockies Rally at 11:30 am.  Each year, the Rally is put on by the BMW Motorcycle Club of Colorado.  Dad got right to work preparing for the presentation.  I helped in any way I could.  His presentation was exciting and made me think of my visit to London and Paris. 

Afterward, many people came up to me and said, “Hello Monkey!”  This surprised me because that’s my Dad’s nickname for me.  I guess online, he also refers to me as ‘The Monkey’ and that’s how people seemed to know me.  It’s happened before.  I am surprised by the number of good friends, all over the world, my Dad seems to have.

Paonia, Colorado is a small town with few people.  It’s very tranquil and green. The hills have a coat sewn with the brightest of grass, and the mountains hold you in what seems like cupped hands. The view surrounding me is pleasing to the eye and fuel for this daydreamer.
Motorcycling in Mexico Presentation

The following day, my Dad presented his popular ‘Motorcycling in Mexico’ presentation.  It was a full-house as nearly every seat was filled in the building.  Many people recognized me from the pictures Dad used during the presentation and asked me my thoughts of traveling on a motorcycle.

That day, Dad noticed that the rear tire had worn dangerously low to the cords.  He spent a few hours sourcing a replacement in this rural part of Colorado.  Finding one about an hour away, he made arrangements to get it replaced. 

Dad being gone gave me an opportunity to set out, on my own and explore the surrounding farm at the Airbnb we were staying.  The kind lady who owned the home also took me into the dainty Downtown area of Paonia. 

After strolling around and enjoying the afternoon on my own, Dad called me to say he was back and could pick me up.  It was wonderful to just wander around and enjoy the nuances of this little town.
Sadly, the end of the rally was upon us.  We packed our gear and got ready to head back home.

For the ride back we took a different way along the Blue Mesa and down to Gunnison.  Then we headed west to Naturita and then over to Utah.  It’s interesting to me how the scenery and terrain change quite dramatically across the state lines. 

We stayed the night in Utah to continue to Monument Valley and cross into Arizona the following day.

As we approached Monument Valley, a light rain began to fall.  It was no big deal, and only my knees seemed to get wet.  I wish we didn’t have such a long distance to cover that day.  I would have loved to spend a whole day among these giants.

Canyon de Chelly
We continued south through the Navajo Nation, stopping by Canyon de Chelly.  It was remarkable for the picturesque formations and bright green grass at the floor.  I wandered down to get a better look into this natural wonder.

From Canyon de Chelly, we made a mad dash home.  We hit rain for about 80 miles, but it was light and kept the temperatures cool. 

After 525 miles, we finally made it home.  In total, we traveled 1625 miles during these six days.  I was glad to be back, but a part of me missed being on the road. 

The following day, I had time to reflect on this amazing trip and came up with some truths and observations.

The world wants you to see it. It’s enticing to think that everything sits just for me, waiting to for discovery. It’s beautiful that nature is never the same from day to day.

To think, one could be locked up in their room only reading about experiences like this. This time, I got to live it.

Travel is a surefire way to uncover what you truly desire for yourself. It has done wonders to improve self-esteem and bring me out of the little world I’ve created for myself.

It cannot be stressed more that the world is incredibly vast, exciting, beautiful, and worthy of your time.

I may be the happiest kid in the world because of these chances for adventure presented to me.

This story is sponsored by Irv Seaver Motorcycles in Orange County, California.  When you're in the area please visit this legendary dealership.  Irv Seaver Motorcycles is Orange County's BMW Motorcycle Dealer offering world class service, New and Pre-Owned Motorcycles, Parts, Accessories, and Apparel.

©2017 Jim and Kendal Foreman All Rights Reserved

San Luis Obispo on my journey up Pacific Coast Highway
An interesting natural wall on our journey home
At the Closing ceremony at the Top O' the Rockies Rally
With my Dad at Loreto, BCS
In the Route 66 town of Holbrook and the Wigwam Motel.
A short nap and then we continued
In front of Michael Jackson's former Neverland Ranch
Loreto Centro
Utah was very beautiful


  1. Great story! Thanks for sharing. I wish my daughter would let my grandkids ride with me, but they think its too dangerous. I am passing your story onto her in hopes it inspires her to change her mind. I guess you will be riding on your own soon. good Luck and ride safe!

  2. Hi Monkey - you did a great job describing the indescribable joy of motorcycling! Together or alone, the sMiles roll past, etching into our consciousness the beauty of the experience. Thank you for sharing your trip and for hinting about other destinations. Buen Camino!

  3. Great story. Thanks for sharing your adventure.

  4. beautiful story! kudos to both!!

  5. Thanks Jim. Good read as always!

  6. My daughter and I just got back from a 4 day trip and had a blast! She turns 16 in September and has been riding with me since she was 5. This summer she's taking the rider training and when she's 16 she will start riding her own bike. I can't wait for the day we ride out of the driveway together on our own bikes!

    Thanks for the story and reminder how awesome it is to have our daughters share this love we have for the open road.

  7. Great story! You have a gift with words, snd now have the travel bug. Both will take you far. It was a pleasure to meet you both. Be well. Gene and Chaco, Los Perdidos

  8. What a wonderful story. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  9. Thanks for sharing your story.I really enjoyed it