Here at Women ADV Riders, we love talking to inspiring women. When I heard about Bonnie Johnson traveling with her Brady Bunch style family on the road, I got curious. Really curious.
I watched Bonnie travel with her family around the country, discovering juicy tidbits along the way. I found out that Bonnie used to play professional chess, and she took up professional boxing at age 30. And now she rides a motorcycle with her husband and children, and not only that, has written a cookbook! But, wait. I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning.
Bonnie says from a very young age, her parents inspired her to always go after her dreams. She says:
“I have never thought to my self ‘Now that’s something I can’t do” because of my skill level, experience or being a female.’ My dad would wake me up at any hour of the night if movies like Chariots of Fire, Rocky, or Rudy if they were on TV. From a very young age my parents inspired me to always go after my dreams. I was attracted to the under dog and since the age of 7 have pursued that ideal. I believe hard work, dedication, heart and an unwavering commitment can get you places that talent and skill alone can not. I would say my hobbies and passions have always revolved around challenges.”
“I have a long list of crazy things I’ve taken up over the years. I think my family has gotten use to me doing the unexpected. From professional chess, to artist, to jewelry making, and even taking up professional boxing at 30. Life has been a wild ride.
In an odd contrast to my other interests, I would say that the my most time loved hobby has been cooking. It has all of the ingredients I love— food, creativity, challenges and the puzzle of figuring out new recipes. Its also been a way that connects me to others. Its my way of showing my children, my husband and friends that I love them. And strangely enough, although I love food, I’m not a big eater. I appreciate the results and I of course do eat, but it’s not about that for me. It’s the cooking that intrigues me most. Its something I can get lost in. Like a meditation.
Riding was initially one of those under dog challenges for me. Marrying my husband— who has lived and breathed motorcycles since he was 4— and taking up motorcycles at 40, was definitely a learning curve. I had never even driven a stick shift. What I found with riding is that it was a place that I could have some time just for me. When I’m in a car for the most part I’m running errands. We have 7 children between us so its a lot of back and forth to their engagements , grocery shopping and things like that. When I’m on my bike its just me and the road and the music in my helmet. It makes me feel alive in a way I’ve never experienced. “
Bonnie did not grow up around motorcycles. In fact, she didn’t ride until she was 40 years old, and she and Billy started dating. On their first date he picked Bonnie up on his BMW F800 GSA. He had loaded his panniers with wood, cheese and crackers and summer sausage and a bottle of wine. They went out and made a campfire. “Both of us feel more our selves in the wild camping and exploring so this was the perfect first date for us. I’d say I got hooked on motorcycles that night. There was something about not being confined to a car . An odd tidbit to add: It even caused me to see my own little town in a completely different light.” Isn’t that the most romantic thing you’ve ever heard? But, the story obviously doesn’t stop there. Somehow, she goes from a 40 year old woman dating a new guy to riding around the US with her family. How did that happen?
“Our 3rd date landed me in the drivers seat, riding dirt bike riding out in the woods. Billy and I would hang out talking all night then we’d end up duct taping flashlights or headlamps to his dirt bikes and that’s how I learned to ride. Starting off on a Yamaha TTR 90 then moving to a Kawasaki KLX 110 and then learning the clutch on a TTR 125. It was a blast and Billy just happened to own many dirt bikes in those graduating sizes. The rule in that house… ride or sleep outside. Ok, maybe not really, but the implication was quite tangible in the air” she says, laughing.
“For the street, I rode two up with Billy for the next year. I loved it. Billy has been riding since since he could walk so he’s just such a natural at it. Getting to see and feel a motorcycle move with such an accomplished rider at the helm made it so much fun to ride with him. Within that year I started to notice that sometimes when we were riding I would pretend he wasn’t there… that it was just me riding. That’s when I decided to get my own bike.”
She watched Billy take adventure trips with his friends, and knew she wanted to share in the adventure with him. So, two years ago, while he was out west adventuring, she surprised him by getting her motorcycle license! “He was ecstatic!” However, the family was dealing with a number of financial challenges. Bonnie has always been frugal, so six months before their journey, she had stashed away enough money to buy a used Versys 300x.
However, it was not all rainbows and light once she got her bike. “At the time a huge crushing family trauma came into our lives with one of our daughters. She had been sexually assaulted as a child for four years by a trusted person in our lives. At 16 years old, 4 years after the abuse, she came to us and told us one day. I had a lot of anger and sadness that culminated into a very deep depression and hopelessness. The legal battle began and just recently ended with a prison sentence. During that time we lost a grandchild at birth, a family member and the dearest of friends to cancer.”
I asked Bonnie if she took a break from riding when that happened. “No, my motorcycle became something more to me at that time. It became my life line. God has a way of making sure we have comforts in times of trial. For me it was that motorcycle. Riding was the only thing I found I could do to ease the pain in the midst of the most horrific time in our family’s life. Our family is everything to us. We are always together. Our happiest days whether on the road or in a house is having all of our kids and grand kids with us.”
I supposed it’s time to get to know the rest of the characters in this story, er, family. Here’s Bonnie’s description:
Billy my husband, has been riding for coming up on 45 years. He loves motorcycles without question more than any other thing that doesn’t breath. He says that on a motorcycle is the only place he feels normal, quiet and completely focused on one thing. Which really is a big deal if you understand who he is. Billy is one of those people that’s more like a mad scientist than anything else. His creativity, technical problem solving abilities and general wit are off the charts. His career is in design as a subcontracted creative director building or repairing company brands. He is able to wrangle and pair endless themes and concepts out of thin air. But it comes at a price. He has extreme difficulty in shutting it all off. He has been that way since his youth and found early on that for whatever reason… ‘motorcycle’ is the antidote.
Billy led an extremely unconventional life of adventure. He was a competitive surfer in his youth. On his 18th birthday he saddled an old Kawasaki 500 up with a tarp and blanket, and a bag of dried chili and headed out of Florida for the California coast. He lived there on that bike for a year touring the PCH. For the following ten years Billy traveled all over the U.S. rock climbing, mountaineering, canyoneering, caving, orienteering and backpacking. Somewhere along the line he picked up a KLR 650 and unknowingly embraced the adventure riding lifestyle. I say unknowingly because he didn’t know ADV was a thing. He had simply found a funner way to go camping. And that he did, and has been doing relentlessly for nearly 20 years now.
Adventure touring with Billy is handy to put it mildly. He has done it all for so long that even his knee jerk reactions to situations come from battle-tested solutions. When deeper technical matters arise or creative solutions become important… we have a mad scientist who won’t stop short of a remedy. ( I don’t think he can actually. Ha. ). But for the most part I love to tour with him because of the joy and peace I see that it brings him. And it’s that joy and peace that is his favorite part too— Not for himself but for sharing it. Our favorite thing to do is to see people happy, get happy, experience a moment of hope, feel encouragement and come alive a little more than they were. On the road, Billy talks to everyone—Or better said… he listens to everyone. He gets them talking by speaking into their hearts, interests, passions and then he let’s them talk. He tries to let them hear themselves FROM themselves that they believe life can be ok. It’s not like a planned psychological treatment or session. It’s just the way he naturally relates to people. We have made many dear lasting friendships in this way and I just love that seeing people come more fully alive is what makes my husband truly happy. Even off the road, just in our home town one of our favorite things to do is ride out to gas stations and just sit and talk to whoever we may meet.
When Billy and I got married we combined our family. Together we had 4 teens and Oliver who is now six. Both of our two older daughters in their 20s are married and have children. I brought four children into our marriage, Free who is 27 and lives with her husband and children in NC, Lily and Trooper who are 18 year old twins and Oliver who is 6. Billy has Dylan who is 21 and lives with her husband and children in FL, Josie who is 16 and Zane who is 18. Needless to say it is one big crazy household. Our family motto is “We may not have it all together, but together we have it all” We are proud of our Brady family and don’t view any of our children as ‘step-half’ or otherwise. We are simply one big family.
Oliver has been riding with Billy since he was 2 years old. He can’t get enough of it. All he wants to do is go faster. He has an incredible adventurous spirit and riding motorcycles is as natural and normal a lifestyle to him as brushing his teeth.
Lily and Trooper , our twins, are experimenting with motorcycles at this time. They didn’t grow up around them but have both expressed and interest. Lily, having never been on a motorcycle saw the 125, sat on it started it up and looked at Zane and said so how do you work this clutch then took off down the road. There is really no fear in her.
Josie is very capable on a dirt bike and riding since she was a small child. She is ready to start practicing more on my xt250. She also has no fear. She’s extremely focused and athletic and persistent as all get out so I have no doubt she will will be the next Johnson ADV Moto inductee.
Zane…well he truly was born to be on a motorcycle like his dad. I always joke that I would give 4 fingers on my clutch hand and two on my throttle hand to be able to ride like Zane. He’s been on dirt bikes since he was 3. If you could lift him up onto the seat of any dirt bike he would take care of the rest. There are stories of him popping wheelies on a WR250F when he was 11… about 4’6” and 75 lbs. He’s also a wonderful riding partner. His ride is not just about him and he has helped tremendously with building my confidence on this trip. When there were technical areas that I would need to get thru he would get off his bike stand in front of my bike on beyond the obstacle look at me and say you got this Bonnie lets do it. I can’t say how much that meant to me.
In most every way I’d say that Zane is built inside to be the quintessential adventure rider like his father. He has a driving sense of duty, keen wit, pleasant demeanor, selfless in his ways, not afraid to rough it and… can ride like no one I’ve ever seen. It really is something to see. His mastery of the machine and extraordinary line selection makes it impossible to keep up with him if he isn’t letting you. He wrangles his 340lb. motorcycle through the trail as though on a dirt bike. It is even openly agreed upon now between Zane and Billy that Zane has surpassed his dad’s riding abilities. He has always called Zane his wingman on the trail. Billy recently came to Zane and clarified that is no longer the case, that Dad is the wingman now.
Wow. I was curious, so I asked Bonnie – What was it like to ride with such an experienced and capable crew?
“Riding with these two this past year has been at times a challenge, and a reassurance. I have learned so much from both of them. Because my XT250 doesn’t have the power that their bikes have, and I don’t have the same experience that they do It has taught me the true meaning of “Ride your own Ride”. I kinda imagined that I was on a solo trip ( since they weren’t in sight ) at one point I got separated from them in Durango Co and had to fully put myself in that mindset because my phone was dead, my charger was broke on my bike, I had no wall charger unit, I had no cash I had no phone numbers. So I pulled over and said to myself. You have to handle this situation as if you are completely alone. Which I did. I feel like that was a really important lesson for me. No matter how many people you are touring with you have got to remember the importance of self sufficiency.”
So, two adults blend their family into one dynamic, gas powered, adrenaline driven unit, complete with dirt bikes on the dining room table and a young’un always trying to get his dad a ticket. This could be the end of a very delightful story, but it turns out it was just the beginning.
Grab yourself a cup of coffee, because Bonnie is about to share how she and her family unplugged from modern life, hopped off the hamster wheel, and hit the road.
“Billy and I have never felt normal in “the normal world” we have always to some degree lived outside of the box. We had discussed our deep mutual desire to live and work on the road one day, possibly when our children were all grown. After a full year, and then some, of devastating blows to our lives and family unit… we had what, for all intents and purposes, looked like a major breakdown. We had mentioned a few of these blows in an earlier question but suffice it to say that there were many more happenings of traumatic nature. In fact, 6 of the instances were on the Time Magazine top 10 reasons why people commit suicide within one year of the trauma occurring. I wish I was joking. We were completely devastated financially, mentally, spiritually and subsequently the physical toll had began. We had a break down so to speak that we quickly thereafter recognized as a break through. We completely changed the course of our life in a matter of ONE day.
We decided we’d no longer labor frantically to keep up any appearances and compete for any level of stature in a system we didn’t even respect let alone understand or identify with. We hopped off the hamster wheel. We decided that we didn’t care what ANY single person thought about it. We concluded that we were going to do what we were passionate about in faith that THAT is how a person approaches more closely to what they were made for.
In that process the wheat and chaff were separated instantly. It was bizarre. All the slammed doors and broken pieces were swept away. Even our friendship were purified in the process. We quickly discovered who was really our friends and who just wanted us around for what we could offer them. We didn’t anticipate that one AT ALL but at length it was beautiful because today our circle of friends is truly a circle of friends. In one comical yet equally horrid example, a ‘dear’ life long ‘friend’ of ours accidentally sent Billy a text that absolutely dragging him through the mud for our decision. It was meant for someone else and somehow the woman sent it to Billy on accident. It was very a very ugly text. Billy, while hurt, did have a little fun with it in his response. But, ya, viola… all things became new.
We concluded at length that on the motorcycles, camping, meeting people and immersing ourselves in different cultures with the intent of inspiring was what we loved, felt passionate about, and wanted to do… and could do because Billy works online. So we told the kids the plan, put our house on the market, sold everything in our house, keeping only our most precious family items and made plans to leave Florida within 6 months. As soon as we committed to the decision things started moving faster than we anticipated and every door started to open. It was two months later that the Story Moto ADV tribe pulled out of Florida.
How was this possible for your family? What decisions did you have to make for this to become a reality?
Oliver hadn’t started school yet so he went straight into home school on the road. Lily and Trooper were both finishing high school and setting up for college so they ended up traveling to different destinations to meet us out on the road when they could. Josie and Zane were both already homeschool students before we took off. As far as financial decisions, although we sold our house it didn’t fund our journey. Billy is a graphic designer by trade and was able to still work from the road from his laptop and submit his completed jobs when we had wifi available.
We had also started our Story Moto ADV youtube channel and other social media platforms to talk about our journey. With that exposure we gained various sponsors for motorcycle related gear and other services from T-Rex Racing, 690 ADV, LOMO, Biker Buddy and Caribou Luggage Systems. It’s worth the mention to readers that we don’t benefit from sales directed to those sponsors in any way. They are just companies that we believe in who chose to support us in the ways that they could. T-REX Racing offers our followers a 10% discount at checkout by promo code STORYMOTOADV and Caribou Luggage Systems offers a 5% discount by the same code. Our hope was to have all of our sponsors offer a promo code but as it turns out… that’s not an easy thing to do. lol.
We also were blessed with a cash sponsorship from a company called Wendy Mignot Fine Leather and Pearls. An incredible family of 4th generation Bohemian jewelry makers that use leather and rare sea pearls to make astounding pieces. It’s not what one might think of when they hear the world pearl. Ha. They are amazing and worn by people like Steven Tyler, Pierce Brosnan, Jewel, Alice Cooper etc. The Mignots sailed the world and settled near our hometown several years back to begin selling their work in our community. They are wonderful people that simply support the spirit of Adventure and who themselves had experienced similar tragedies in their life that moved them to want to help us. In full transparency it was $5,000 dollars total paid to our account $1000 every 2 months. It was insanely helpful and appreciated. All of the sponsorships were nothing short of miracles and blessings to us. Beyond that, we supported the journey out of pocket through Billy’s design work. A unique challenge in and of itself.
I’ll never forget the night I came home and found Billy in the back yard literally sobbing with joy. He had just received an email from T-REX RACING offering Story Moto ADV a sponsorship. They were our first sponsor so it is near and dear to our heart. It felt good for the first time in years that we were heading in a direction that we were truly passionate about. To have someone who supported and believed in us wanting to sponsor us… it was beyond encouraging. At that time we were still in dire straits, dealing with the fall out of so may things. Half the people we knew were whispering about us. The other half, many even some of the people closest in our lives were shell shocked, and for that time were pretty much silent. I’m sure they were just trying to make sense of it all too. But at the end of the day… at that time… we felt completely alone as we prepared for the next step. That email from T-Rex Racing couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. I would add one more name to the list of those we were thankful for in that desperate season… A fellow adventure rider named Glen Baker – also known on social media as West Coast Wanderer – reached out to us all the way from Perth, Australia. He reached right out of the blue from literally as far away as he could possibly be — literally as in… ( Billy did the math.) If we headed out our front door to Perth it would be almost the same distance no matter what direction we turned to start the journey. Glen reached out on Facebook with some messages of encouragement for us and what we planned to do. This was before we understood that the Adventure Riding community was really and truly a community.”
But why? Why would an entire family try something so unconventional? Weren’t they scared?
“Our hopes were to live a passionate life doing the thing that made us feel alive. Living in our truth and sharing that with as many people as we could along the way in hopes of inspiring them into believing they can change their life too if they are leading an unhappy life. A person doesn’t have to wait for everything to be perfectly lined up to begin living a dream. The decision just has to be made that…wherever you are… you’re gonna jump in with two feet. We don’t have to have a master plan to make it happen. We just have to be willing to let go of the outcome and trust that the right doors will open.
So many people out there are living quiet lives of desperation. They have deep desires and calling in their heart but they don’t have hope. That was our mission for making our journey public, to give people hope. People need to know that they can do this too. Of course, there is a lot of fear with that. And there was for us. There was also a lot of excitement too at the thought that we had actually pulled the trigger. We didn’t know how it would be. There’s no handbook for living with your kids on motorcycles on the road. We just continued to press through the ‘not knowing’ fears and the financial fears, the security fears. As we pushed on, around each corner a new door would open…so we just went with it. Sometimes running with joy and excitement and sometimes coaxing each other along crawling. In the end… we like to refer to our exodus as Brapping it out of deep deep mud. That’s what we were good at and that’s what we did. And we were in mud up to our eyeball at that time.
I’ve heard so much, I wish we could do what you guys are doing. Its my dream but…but…but…
And that the thing. There cannot be any buts in the equation. To make this happen you have got to put yourself in a mindset where you are willing to live with uncertainty. You have got to realize that life and the future are already uncertain. If it wasn’t a bit of a challenge or surprise how much fun would that be anyway? On the road when things got really tough we had a little family motto that Billy reminded us of. “Don’t miss it. Don’t miss the adventure. These uncertain not so perfect moments are the ones that make the memories.” “
So Bonnie and Billy changed the course of their entire lives with this decision. Like all long term travelers, they had to decide what to keep, what to sell, and what to take. They had to figure out how to legally and comfortably take a five year old on a motorcycle. As it turns out, the gear companies don’t make adventure gear for 5 year olds, so the family improvised. And at the last minute, the entire family changed which motorcycles they were riding so they could travel lighted and go deeper.
I asked Bonnie what the challenges were on the trip.
“On the trip…. Everything was a wonderful challenge. That’s pretty much what adventure is. We knew that going in and it helped a great deal to the effect of keeping it all together. We were robbed by crooked mechanics, had a bonafide mexican standoff, accosted by a crazy person, got lost, had things break, ran into sketchy wildlife, had batteries die, mechanical failures, got rained on, frozen, over heated, fairly serious injuries, stabbing toothache, trouble back home demanding immediate attention, no cell or wifi at crucial points of needing it, the list goes on. We just place it on a shelf labeled adventure and do the next right thing until the challenge is overcome. I think that’s probably the most important thing a person should understand when embarking on an expedition. Expecting the unexpected no matter what it is sort of how to stay in the drivers seat of consistently enjoying an adventure no matter what. Some of the best experiences we had came directly as a result of tending to the worst experiences.”
Traveling with kids, homeschooling, camping and cooking has a different rhythm and routine that what many of us may think of with long term travel. Even Billy was surprised at how different it was than traveling with friends or alone. Since this was the kids and Bonnie’s first long term motorcycle adventure, they didn’t have anything to compare it to, but they found they had a lot to learn. Early on, everyone was willing to pitch in, but no one knew what they were supposed to be doing. After a time, each camp would develop a routine, and then it would be time to move on, and find a new rhythm in a new home. Water and wood were the constants, and could be a challenge in the family’s favorite riding areas – the high desert. “All in all however… we all got the jobs done and for the most part learned a ton about adventure camping. Sometimes more than we wanted to learn about things like ants and monsoons but that come with the territory.”
So, taking the family on a year long advenure. There must be a million lessons, things they learned about the earth, themselves and each other. We asked Bonnie what her reflections were from the trip, and how to keep the insights and awareness alive now that they are staying still for a bit.
“Everyone discovered their place, strengths and weaknesses. And I think that’s a lot like what we are all trying to do anyway no matter where we are. The difference is that in adventure camping you have to discover your place pretty quick or be cold, hungry and thirsty. Those immediate consequences have a great fast tracking way of motivating a person. Not only motivating action but all of it… Immediate consequences like hunger will move a person to admit their weaknesses and ask for help, recognize their strength’s and offer help, and of course all that moves a person pretty quickly into what their place is in the team when the chips are down. In those places of weakness and strength there is a fast track too in the development of character. In our weaknesses we learn how to be humble and have gratitude. In our strength’s we learn a sense of personal value and accomplishment that builds self worth and sense of purpose. In both weakness and strength we learn the value of relationship and kindness. We learned that living this way, out on the road one of the most important things for us as a unit was complete transparency and communication. We are all over givers and pleasers as a whole so this was a definite learning curve for us. To speak our mind unfiltered to each other is totally necessary in this way of life. When we identify all those things while they are transpiring during the course of a day it makes life make a lot more sense. And when life makes sense… everything is a little better and more beautiful across the board. A day of camping is a bit of a microcosm of life in that way I guess.
We don’t necessarily have a plan for how to implement these lessons for this time that we are back in Florida for the season but I know that the lessons are there. They are more a part of our foundation now as a family. While those matters have always been important to us and have been something we’ve tried to instill in our kids and ourselves, the grindy, worldy, rat racey, life doesn’t really bring that out in people. Those sorts of lesson get muddied, lost in the fray and at best dimmed. Our experience over these many months really provided a stark contrast for us to be able to see that upon returning to normal civilization. I mean, don’t get me wrong… inner circles are inner circles and in them there is usually kindness, humility, respect and gratitude but as we zoom out of that inner circle, the farther we go there is less and less. I just hope that we hold fast to ours and propagate it as far and wide as we can for as long as we have the chance to do so. I think for every family that starts with keeping it alive in the home. We have a special opportunity to do that having just seen the power of it in such a focused way primitive camping for those lengths of time. We created a different type of family bond out in the wild. That bond has continued into our time here in “civilization”. We check each other constantly and constantly. “Are you good, you need anything.” We are more apt to consider each others moods and needs. Even in a house we continue to live wild.
That’s really what we wanted out of this thing insofar as our family is concerned. We wanted to rekindle the flame so to speak. We wanted to remove the distractions and show them that the world is bigger than just what we see in front of us. We wanted to open them up in that way I guess, open ourselves up, see what we are made of so that we can also truly see where it is that we connect. I think if a person knows who they truly are and knows who their people truly are… they really do have a great starting point for becoming what they want to be and why.”
So, a chef and her family go on the road, and truly reconnect with themselves, each other, and this amazing country. Having a chef on this experience sounds pretty nice to me. I asked Bonnie to tell us more about cooking on the road.
“For us personally we never ate out even while living in a house. Only on special occasions like a birthday or fathers day. There wasn’t really any question for us that we would be cooking at camp. Even when we stayed at the occasional hotel to get cleaned up we’d miss cooking and eating around a campfire. Cooking at camp can be a part of the adventure. We are already asking for life to be different if we are adventure touring. Cooking and eating around the campfire is a great component to that.
Eating out can get very expensive. It also takes away from the time you get to spend riding. With us it would have gotten really expensive. We always had at least 3 of our kids with us at a time so that’s a family of five eating out. There were still super easy nights where we’d settle for a can of chili cooked in the fire but most of the time we aspired to eat more healthily and that entailed cooking. As someone with a life long history in cooking that included owning and operating 3 restaurants I was ready to try.
From the first night out I got a pretty good idea of what the challenges were going to be. All we had was Billy solo cook set which was at least 10 yrs old. Even TRYING to cook a simple meal for 5 in that set was a complete disaster. I knew if we had the right tools for the job we’d be eating better food with a lot less frustration from the cook. The tools you have are everything. They effect the time spent cooking and cleaning right down to the amount of time you get to spend riding and exploring. So I would say first step is the right tools for the job.
Next would be figuring out exactly what you want to eat. For us I was up to the challenge of recreating some of our favorite meals we were used to having at home. If you are car camping, van camping, or just weekend camping you are able to cook more like you would at home as well as being able to pre-prepare some meals ahead of time. For us everything had to be done from our motorcycles and we had to travel light. I wanted us to be able to get to camp and enjoy it—just set up and have fun without having to always be running to the stores. When looking at recipes I might use on the road I look at each ingredient and ask myself does this really have to be in the recipe? Which ingredients are crucial and which are not. Which ingredients can be substituted for something light weight or shelf stable. From those discoveries I basically came up with a small pack of shelf stable ingredients that would across the board be reusable in multiple recipes and still be entirely different meals. Instead of taking a lot of spices I made a few spice blends that work for many recipes. I also took into consideration some hacks I’ve learned for quick cooking without having to sacrifice flavor for foods that you would typically have to simmer for hours at home.
I think if your adventure touring you really have to take into account your energy level as well. Riding can be exhilaratingly exhausting, and then your also setting up camp, gathering fire wood, filtering your water. You’re burning a lot of calories you’re not use to burning. On a two week trip you can get away with 50% unhealthy, living on the road though you have to think more about the food you eat as an extension to maintaining your health and activity. But even so with a two week trip… who wants to arrive back home feeling 50% horrible?
As far as carrying your supplies… if your with a group you just come up with a system. For us we each carried our own snacks in our tank bag. One of us carried the staple pantry, one of us carried the collapsable bowls, plates and sporks and cooking instruments. One of us carried the pots, pans and camp stove. We decided on titanium for all cooking because its so light weight and durable. Of course we were carrying for five. If your on a solo trip that would defiantly be downsized and absolutely light and tight.”
But, wait, it gets better. Would YOU like to have fresh healthy and affordable meals on your next adventure? Bonnie and Billy are about to make that a possibility for you.
“We saw a need in the adventure camping world for something that just plain old doesn’t exist. The common categories of camping anything is still primarily divided into SURVIVAL or RECREATION. These categories simply do not address the needs of modern, sport oriented adventure travel camping. As Billy joked, “I know how to snare a rabbit but I’m not going to ride all day and get to camp relying on that for the possibility a rabbit stew dinner. And as for the recreational category… I don’t see myself hitching a trailer to my bike to tow the grill and corn hole boards out into the wild either.”
That said, we have crafted a robust adventure travel camp cookbook that explains every aspect of our method. The shopping, packing, tools, spices, staple foods, crossover foods, hacks, links and essentially everything it takes to travel light and tight and still eat right. And do so while saving loads of time and money. Our cookbook will save a person what the book cost in a day on the road in most cases.
We have also taken over our friend and fellow rider, Zee Traveler’s Facebook Group for camp cooking. It will be newly titled as Motorcycle Camp Cooking. We plan to have that announcement and transfer done by the time this article comes out. We will be trending it’s content more towards the sharing of recipes and methods for light and tight adventure travel camp cooking. It’s going to be awesome!
So, everyone I’ve talked to who has taken a long journey has shared some challenges stepping back into traditional society. Bonnie and her family are no different. I wanted to know what life was like now that they were “back.”
“We had sold our house and now upon returning rent a house month to month. We aren’t calling is a home, but instead a command center. The home word is just too much at one time. It is awesome to have a nice soft bed and bedding. It is nice to have a room with a door to close and the sound of a box fan whirring away. It was interestingly awesome to realize that all we had to decorate our command center with is the things we did not part with, which were ALL items that have deep personal meaning to us. No clutter. Nothing for looks alone. It is all meaningful so everywhere you look and see something.. that something has special prioritized value in each of our lives.
We are still using our camp gear. We are cooking in the kitchen but with camp pans most often. We each still have our toiletries in their respective zipped cases. Bonnies purse is a small Camelback pack. On the patio are our collapsible camp chairs. Our dining table centerpiece is a helmet. Our sunroom adjacent to the dining area houses our motorcycles. A large space with the floor protected of course where we tend them as it suits us. I can reach and touch my motorcycle from the seat I eat dinner from. I love that.
We are trying desperately to become more accustomed to what goes on outside the command center. The hustle and bustle and striving of it all makes about as much sense to us as I’m sure our life decisions make to them. Despite all the shortcomings of the life we have chosen… insofar as it can stand in the model of life we see cranking, honking and grinding all around us… I just can’t get past the thought that we just might be right.
We lasted a month before the wander lust crept back in strong but we are using our time wisely and enjoying our time with family and friends all the while planning our soon to come Exodus 2.”
And now, an important question – Bonnie has been traveling the US for a year. I needed to know – where was her favorite place to ride?
“If I had to pick one place for camping and riding that I consider my favorite it would be Utah. Before this journey I had never been to Utah and was just amazed at the pictures my husband would bring home from his trips. Utah was definitely a great place for me to work on my riding skills. Before the trip I was manly just commuting around our little town in Florida. Needless to say although our town is one of the most sought after vacation spots, its not much for riding. Flat, straight, hot, sandy roads is about the sum of it.
Utah was like being on another planet. While camping in Valley of the Gods I also laid my bike down for the first time. It happened out of no where as I took a curve too fast. My helmet really bounced down some pretty had packed gravel. Billy was right behind me and caught it all on video so I was able to look back at the video and see where I went wrong. My foot peg landed on my ankle as I slid and I still have a bit of edema and swelling. After laying on the ground for about five minutes I shook it off and hopped back on to continue the ride to camp. At that point I didn’t realize that I had also fractured a rib. I just knew I had to get back on my bike and ride. Ive seen so many riders lay their bike down and wait too long to ride again. That stuff can really get in your head if you let it. In our way of life I didn’t have much of a choice. The ride back to camp was pretty excruciating but I honestly believe you have to see those situation as opportunities to realize that riding means falling sometimes. Its just part of it. What matters is… the getting back up. The more you do that the closer you get to a place to letting go of fear. Not letting go of caution and sensible riding, just letting go of that looming fear that pulls you out of your riding game. When the fear of what might happen is gone… you get to actually enjoy what is happening— which for us is usually some awesome riding.”
So, what is the future of Story Moto ADV?
“We hope to continue our journeys and develop a voice for Story Moto ADV large enough to be heard. We want to ultimately do two things with that voice:
- Continue to inspire people to believe that they can change their lives if they are unhappy. Because unhappy isn’t something that resides in only the unhappy person. Unhappy becomes a generational thing. And the same applies for happy. Touching someone’s heart goes so much farther than that single touch
- Speak out for the positive continued growth of Adventure Riding in the US. Billy has noticed an exponential increase in riders out in the thick of it especially over the last 5-6 years. And with that… more trash, more land use conflict, more everything that comes with more people. And here is what happens next in that scenario… ( and we know this because it happened to us in our home town when generations of beach culture were nipped in the bud overnight by the privatization of our beaches. ) …what happens next is that the legal definitions of public land use will begin to change. It stands to reason that outdoor sports involving motorcycles would be the first to feel the pressure, or worse a clean-sweep ban on day one of the legislation like it was for us in our hometown. People would say that it could never happen. We are here to say it can and has.
We hope to speak into the adventure riding community to do our part in fostering a sense of brother and sisterhood strong enough to keep our sport and it’s riders on the same page when it comes to respecting the lands and one another in such a way that promotes healthy growth. For over a decade, in areas where Billy wouldn’t see another soul for a week, we now see people all day long every day. The growth is here. It’s happening right now. It’s up to the riding community to keep it healthy.”
CONNECTING WITH STORY MOTO ADV
STORY MOTO ADV WEBSITE / BLOG
CONNECTING WITH CAMP-UCOPIA
CAMP-UCOPIA INFO & ORDERS
Looking for more cooking on the road stories? Check out Egle’s Paleo on the Road!