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It was the best of times…

My father taught my brother and I to ride as kids. I remember crawling onto the R 80 RT that rarely left the garage (and I eventually rode from Tulsa to the Daytona 200 through both an ice storm and the “Dragon” at Deals Gap). My brother and I learned throttle control and clutch operation on a 250cc two-stroke Yamaha Trials bike.

Despite countless stories of riding adventures, the 15,000 mile round trip from Oklahoma to Denali (via Moto-GP in Leguna Seca – Go Nicky!) proves the most epic. Over five weeks, my brother, father and I averaged nearly 500 miles a day on two R 1150 GS’ and a R 1150 GSA. The extra gas paid off in Oregon when the non-Adventures ran out of gas – twice!

We saw the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, the “Narrows” of Zion National Park, John Ford’s Monument Valley, Hwy 101 from Monterey north to the turn off to Eugene, OR. We camped at Bodega Bay (where Hitchcock filmed “The Birds”}. We paid $12/liter for gas on the Alcan Hwy in the Yukon, changed tires in Anchorage, ate fresh halibut on the “Spit” in Homer, AK, spent a cloudless day spotting bears, wolves, and the truly awesome peaks of the mountain in Denali National Park. And that just covers the way there!

We rode the Dawson Hwy on our return {being sure to hang a sign in Dawson Creek}. Throw in some Canadian hot springs, the plains of Saskatchewan, Banff, Glacier, all the Harleys being trailered to Sturgis, and the adventure came to its bittersweet end.

If anything is taken from this journal, please let it be this: Live Now! If an opportunity presents, don’t think twice. Life will always intervene, and as I write this, I haven’t seen nor spoken with my father or brother in years. I am grateful and blessed to have these memories of better times.

Ride safe!

— Andrew Stites

Read more “All in the Family” stories in the May-June 2019 issue of On the Level, the official magazine of the BMW Riders Association. Have a story of your own to share? Contact us here (Choose “OTL Editorial Content” from dropdown menu).

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