So I should explain that, I've finally "settled down" a bit and signed an actual lease here in beautiful Bend instead of living life on the road so much. Over the previous 7 years, I'm guessing that I averaged 200+ different beds per year, partially because I was seeking adventure, and eventually because my work demanded it. I've slept in hammocks and tents, in vans and on their rooftops, in National Parks, cheap youth hostels, bus stations, trains, international border staff quarters, steamships, cruise ships, airplanes and airports, homes of friends and family, and of course a variety of hotels, ranging from $2 to $800 per night.
How did I choose Bend? Looking back at the last blog post, I eluded to how much this town had charmed me from my first moments arriving in July of 2013. I was able to spend 3 months here then, 3 months again in 2014, and simply couldn't get Bend or the friends I had made here out of my mind. Even when I was away in fascinating countries like Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Turkey and Greece last year, or gorgeous places like Patagonia that I continue to enjoy through RIDE Adventures, Bend is where I've wanted to call "home." (Photo below is on the Oregon coast, hangin' with friends at a vacation rental for Lesley's birthday in October 2013.)
Since my last posting almost 2 years ago now, there has been less and less doubt in my mind about whether my motorcycle travel business, RIDE Adventures would continue. Coming up on the 5-year anniversary since the business launched, it's clear this operation is running well and here to stay. Such success and growth of the business is what has allowed me to slow down a bit, so instead of feeling like I constantly need to live on the road for promotions and business-growth reasons, now I know that I can settle down a bit, take care of myself better, and be in Bend for at least 8-9 months out of the year.
I will definitely still be traveling those other few months though, I still need to guide some of the "Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego & Ushuaia!" motorcycle trips. To help though, I've got 2 great guys that live in Chile, (Ulli and Andres) that are now helping regularly with those trips as I can't do them all and run the business at the same time. Also, I want to do at least 1 major "research trip" each year to keep growing the business outward, internationally. This coming September, a group of friends & customers that I've grown fond of will embark on a 4-country motorcycle trip from Victoria Falls to Cape Town, South Africa, riding through Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa to complete the route. Very much looking forward to this event, I'm sure it will be a fun pseudo-vacation just before I get into the ultra-busy months of October through April (when everyone in the world it seems wants to ride motorcycles in South America.)
With the growth of RIDE Adventures means greater investments in marketing and such have taken place, most notably the 2014 Mercedes Sprinter shown below, that I now use to attend weekend motorcycle rallies and events, trade shows, etc. Oh, and after 7 years of owning a motorcycle only, I can't begin to explain what a convenience it is to have a vehicle like this. More than just a grocery-getter, the Sprinter does SO much I need it to, and is a fun home-type project as I build and add things onto it. Last week, I put solar panels on the roof, and today I'll be installing the 450ah of battery storage beneath the chassis. With all this power, I'll be able to sleep in there with my CPAP machine (yes, I'm on one now) and run a flatscreen TV and other things at events to showcase what RIDE Adventures is doing to help people "Ride the World" via motorcycle. (Nice job to Jason and the gang at Stream Creative for the design work on the van!)
Speaking of which, I need to get out there and get to work on the van and enjoy another beautiful day here. Way, way too much has happened in the past couple of years to really write more about it, and as mentioned in the past 5 years, so much of my time is spent on the computer to begin with, I struggle to add more. Just know that my parents are well in Wisconsin, my brother is well (lives in Atlanta now) and I recently realized that: Each year that passes, I think about how I don't want to get older; yet each year that passes seems to be the best year of my life. Strange fate, it seems.