Self DiscoveryThe Charlie Bravo StoryTravel

Travels with Charlie

When Zach and I were first introduced to royalty back in January 2015, we named her Charlie Bravo in honor of the Honda CB motorcycles we were both riding at the time. I had no idea that John Steinbeck had written a book called “Travels with Charley”, in which he travelled across America with his standard poodle, camping incognito in a self-contained pick up truck. His goal was to see the America that was changing in the early sixties before she had vanished entirely.

This was already a dream before I read the book, but after my first reading, it served as a catalyst to solidify my worthlessness for normal society. Especially relevant at the half-century mark in my life was the following passage:

“A kind of second childhood falls on so many men. They trade their violence for the promise of a small increase of life span. In effect, the head of the house becomes the youngest child. And I have searched myself; I did not want to surrender fierceness for a small gain in yardage. My wife married a man; I saw no reason why she should inherit a baby.”


So now we ride, but instead of a truck, we choose a motorcycle. Not because of the “cool” factor, but because of the fact that on a motorcycle, you are exposed not only to the elements but to people’s perception of your intentions, be they correct or not. Also, by travelling so far from the safety net of home, we remove the possibility of scurrying towards its warm embrace when things turn a little pear shaped.

A trip has a life of its own; many are over long before you return home, while others continue many years after the bike is parked and the gear is stowed. Our small wanderings are all part of a much larger journey called “vacilando”, not wandering aimlessly, but no specific destination in mind. Calvinistic society may look at this as laziness, we prefer to look at it as life, and life is what happens when you’re making other plans.

When Steinbeck left on his journey, he packed reams of paper, a typewriter, dictionaries, etc, to chronicle his wanderings, but never wrote a single word from the road. He preferred instead to let the sum of the experiences simmer and mix, the seemingly at-the-time unimportant flavors mingling with the more piquant spices to create a perculiar gumbo. Charlie and I will be brewing our own stew as we get settled in, but until then, the following are a few of the ingredients we jotted down from the trail:

Fatigue creates fear, which makes fools of us all

The rule of three; you can cross the planet with three pairs of underwear and three pairs of socks. Also, both good and not-so-good things always happen in threes.

Don’t look so far into the distance that you don’t realize what’s right in front of you.

You go where you look.

Truck stops should only be visited at night.

It is entirely possible to get so funky on the road that an icy stream and a washcloth feels as good as a spa day at the Waldorf Astoria; or so I’ve heard.

Every thing in perspective; a mountain in Arkansas is a foothill in Colorado, and a national monument in Colorado is just another tall rock in Utah.

How should we treat others? There are no “others”: (hand painted on a truck in Taos)

Your world contracts to what you can pack into your bike, then expands to where the bike can take you.

“Alone” isn’t a synonym for “lonely”.

I can be as happy at home chewing on a favorite toy as crossing the southwest with dad on a motorcycle.

Even though there are many moments on a journey so unpleasant I wish I could snap my fingers and instantly be back home, those moments are always followed be many more moments where I’m later eternally grateful that I couldn’t.

Always avoid the crowds, never avoid the people

Young riders pick a destination and go… Old riders pick a direction and go.

“If you wait, all that happens is that you get older.” – Larry McMurtry

All that wander are not lost, all that lean are not off balance.

And God sometimes speaks in the silence that can only exist amidst the sound of the rushing mighty wind; this wind just happens to be inside a helmet.

See you on the road…

Dad and Charlie, June 2017 Gateway, Colorado

Join the discussion

  1. Liz Bell Dotterer

    Well said. Glad Charlie on the back of the bike worked out so well and that you had a fantastic trip.

  2. Marlene Petsche

    What beautiful memories you are making. 🙂

  3. Linda Hopper

    safe travels my friends

  4. Keri Murphy

    Enjoy the ride and much love to you and the Royal Queen herself……..CB!

  5. Marijon Partlow

    There are no “others”. <3

  6. Alison Love

    Beautiful words and the best travel tips…pick a direction, never avoid people.

  7. Sam Howard

    No TV, No Radio, the only way to be, travel on and be safe.

  8. Jeanne Mancinelli

    Well said Charlie. Thanks for the reminder about Steinbeck’s book. I read it when I was young… it will have greater meaning at this stage of my life.

  9. Carrie Reid

    Great read on a Sunday morning with a cup of “Joe”

  10. Robin D Mahan

    Wishing y’all safe and glorious adventures!

  11. Claire Scholte

    Your writings are meditations for me
    Thank you

  12. Judy Rose Homer

    I believe this photo is of the place where I met Charlie Bravo!!

  13. Sandy Runyon Lough

    More pure gold, dad. You and Mr. Steinbeck are kindred souls and companions along that road. I am going to shamelessly lift several wonderful morsels from this marvelous post. Exquisite charking.

  14. Linda Fleming

    You missed your calling in life? Writing seems to be the great gift you share with us. Give Charley hugs & hissed & most of all be safe.

  15. Kathy Moody

    Words to live by. We expect no less from your postings.

  16. Suzanne Marshall

    I follow you from Northumberland UK and I love your adventures please keep on posting.

  17. Lisa Taylor

    How beautifully summed up your trip was awesome one thing popped out at me I have been following Charlie for 2 years that makes you family when you post i get to go on a journey with you its awesome heart touching and I look forward to every post.

  18. Robin Lindell Coe

    Enjoy and continue safe travels

  19. Diane Brannon-Keech

    I, as many, love your direction that life is taking you. May you two always feel the wind! I hope one day that direction will be towards Michigan. I will leave the light on for ya and a bowl of water out!

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