Reader Ride: Westward Bound
For years, I had wanted a motorcycle and for one reason or another had never attained one. But after I returned from an all expenses paid trip to the other side of the world, courtesy of Uncle Sam, the motorcycle fund was sizable enough and my wanderlust was brewing. When my brother Patrick got back from Iraq, we began planning a long overdue trip to take us into the heart of the western United States. Almost two years had gone by since I had seen him. The day I stepped on the plane to go home was the day he set foot on the same sand I had left behind, and we never crossed paths.
I had been riding for nearly a year, so Pat had some catching up to do as neither of us had ridden bikes before our deployments. After much work, practice, and many odds and ends were purchased, we jumped astride our KLR 650s and headed west. The initial plan was to take our time and enjoy the ride but fate stepped in and bestowed two days of scenery drenched with rain. Though tired and soaked, we pushed on, ahead of the storms. We arrived in the Badlands of South Dakota on the morning of the third day - not a bad push from our rural home in Eastern Ohio. Despite our being saddle sore, excitement built as we passed through the mud-caked mountains and strange formations of Badlands National Park. We set up camp, off-loaded our gear and explored the various back roads dotted with potholes and prairie-dog towns under the canvas a big sky painted on the horizon.