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My top 3 things that I HATE and LOVE about motorcycling the United States

Season 6 : Project Alaska

16 August 2022

Truth be told, this is not my first visit to the United States. I spent an entire 4 days in New York City, some ten years ago. But most Americans will probably agree with me, that doesn't count. So I consider my motorcycle journey through the United States as my first  real  visit. I won't be visiting every single state this time, but I try to see as much as I can while I'm heading north towards Alaska. I crossed California, the edges of Arizona and Nevada, a fair bit of Utah (albeit mostly in a car with my motorcycle in the back… ) and Colorado. Now it's time to write about the three things that I hate and love about riding through this country so far. Let's start with the negatives, so I can end this blogpost on a positive note! 

Food

I won't make it sound better than it is. The food situation in the United States is pretty bad. Fast food is widespread and you'll find the same chains everywhere. Subway, McDonalds , Burger King, Jack in a Box, Denny's, Starbucks… to name a few. Obviously, there are some family run restaurants to be found with healthier food. But without local knowledge of the "Mom and Pops" place, this is what you're going to get. I decided to cut down from 3 meals to 2 meals per day, so I wouldn't gain a pound every day on the road here. 

I do have to add one positive thing about eating (well, technically, drinking) in the United States. You get free coffee refills! Unbelievable! As a European, I must have missed out on so much free coffee. It just doesn't cross my mind that I get another cup for free. In some places you'll have to ask for the free refill but in others, the waitresses are incredibly eager to keep that cup filled. I had to hide my cup at some point as my caffeine levels were going through the roof. 

Western Culture

There are many, many culture differences between the United States and The Netherlands, where I am from. But ultimately, Europe and the United States are both Western societies. That means, I have the same problem in the USA as I have in Europe. I get a little bored. I can easily understand the language and communicate with everybody, everything is well organized. It's pretty predictable and overall… just a little too tame for my taste. Comparing motorcycling in the USA, to crossing through a country such as Iran, Turkmenistan, Namibia or Nicaragua, you get what I mean. Countries where I don't (or barely) speak the language, with huge cultural differences, and tons of animals running around the terrible roads... simply appeal to my inner adventurist more. 

Crowds

I don't do well with crowds. As soon as I see seas of vehicles parked and masses of people admiring the same view, I just want to do a 180. I can enjoy a view that is much less spectacular, more than the 'real' attraction, if I can admire it on my own in peace and quiet. I sound like an old woman now, don't I?! I am not sure whether the pandemic has something to do with it, but the national parks that I visited in California were incredibly crowded. To be fair, I shouldn't complain much because by riding the dirt roads in the National Parks, I could in fact escape most of the crowds. But it did mean that I often skipped the most spectacular viewpoints because it was just too crowded. 

Now that I've had room to do some complaining, it's time to share my top 3 things that I love about motorcycling in the USA. 

Off-roading paradise

Let's start off with the biggest positive of the USA for me: off-roading. I have been absolutely blown away with the level of off-roading in the USA. It is truly world class. There are millions of miles of dirt roads, spectacular mountain passes and lots of backroads where you'll find yourself all alone for hours on end. Exactly my kind of place! I was warned by many Americans that I would struggle finding dirt roads as everything is paved, but I found this to be the opposite! One of my favorite types of landscapes to ride a motorcycle is the desert environment. There is just so much of it in the USA, that certain areas are specifically allocated for off-roading. Whether it is on a motorcycle or a side-by-side, you can legally ride wherever you like and have the most amazing time. Top class professional riders come here for training and I can definitely see why! 

Variety of Nature

The views to admire on a journey through the USA are mind-blowing too. Fair enough, it is a large country, so a large variety of landscapes is to be expected. I couldn't cover every place on this journey of course, but the areas that I've seen were absolutely breath-taking. Without a doubt, I need to come back another time to explore more places. One could easily spend an entire year exploring the USA. I won't do that, for several different reasons I won't dive into in this blogpost, but there is lots more to see that's for sure! 

Wifi

The last of my top 3 things that I love about the USA is probably a little unexpected. As a content creator, my work is online and I use lots of data! Out of more than 50 countries that I rode a motorcycle through so far, I found the best and cheapest internet plan here. I couldn't believe my ears when I was told in the phone shop that I would get unlimited data for 70 dollars per month. There’s 5G network everywhere so it's fast too! Being so reliant on internet connections to run my YouTube channel, this sparked me with joy every single day. The things that keep this motorcyclist-slash-vlogger happy, right?

 

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+1 to Rob80s comment. Yelp is a game changer for food. You'll find a treasure trove of little mom-and-pop restaurants anywhere you go. Get the phone app.

Agree with you on crowds and the national parks have exploded with crowds since covid, but sometimes one has to comprimize on crowds (and asphalt) to see some of the most amazing sites. Helps a great deal to travel off season.

rageabout  | 

You may already know about Yelp. It is an application that accepts ratings of lodging, stores, gas stations, restaurants, etc. When you are in the US or Canada it is the best way to find the above. I use it mostly to find non-chain restaurants or drive-ins. https://www.yelp.com.
At 80-years of age, I don't travel on my motorcycle as far as I used to but still travel the many back roads and rural areas in the western US.

Rob80  | 

Who's got time sitting in pricey restaurants for breakfast or lunch waiting to be served and burning valuable daylight when you are on the road dual sporting? When I'm on the fly its a American bacon and eggs fast food breakfast because it's fast, predictable, affordable, and it fills you up. For lunch go light, fruit bars, nuts, beef jerky, and some energy juice. For din din duck into any major supermarket chain for a couple of 8% cool down seltzers and get a salad bowl starter with the many dinner plates the deli offers. Works for me!

Mark  | 

Hello Noraly, I just became a member of your community. I started watching your channel back in August 2022. Thanks, to a friend of mine from Canada who told me about your channel. I started watching just as you had hurt your ankle in Nevada. I followed you through your journey all the way to Alaska. I have watched almost all of your previous seasons. I am on S5 E24.
Your content is amazing. I have so enjoyed all of it. Your editing, music selection, narrative all is top notch. Your smile, laugh, interaction with the local people and there culture is infectious. Now if I was just 40 years younger 🤪. I will stick with paved roads on my Gold Wing Tour. I started riding in 2010 on a Silverwing Scooter, over 100K miles and 42 states later I am still having fun. Thanks Noraly for all your awesome adventures. Looking forward to your next adventure and please be safe.👍👍👍😊😊😊

CathyN  | 

Hello Noraly, I notice a lot of these comments are people taking exception to your observations and views, but as I see it you are doing exactly what you want, so what could be better? One suggestion, and you probably have noticed this is that early in the morning you will find the best breakfast place is where the most cars are parked.
I ride a fair amount, riding about 12k miles per year with about 275k miles on my last two bikes, both adventure bikes - Suzuki 650 VStroms. Being 77 years old I still reply to folks who say "Ride Safe", "If I wanted to be safe I'd take the bus, not ride a moto". I'll say "Have fun", though I do worry about you at times. Eric T Southern Calif

EricT  | 

As one who has lived all over the world (when I was in the military, I told people I was a professional homeless guy), and travelled extensively here in the States, I have to tell you, you absolutely missed the best part for a motorcyclist - the Pacific Northwest.

In Oregon and Washington, you’ll find virtually everything you love about travel. Even portions of our Interstate highways can get a bit technical, let alone the network of Forest Service, BLM and logging roads, or just ol’ cow trails. This is punctuated by the roller coaster landscape of the coast range and Cascades. And we have everything from high desert to rain forest in a sparsely-populated area not much larger than your native Netherlands.

If you make it over here, again, my wife and I would be happy to host you, and get you pointed in the right directions to get away from the population centers and into the adventure you’re looking for. We can even throw in some decent meals, and pointers for camp cooking and avoiding the fast food nightmare.

Thoroughly enjoy your channel, and the excitement my 14-year-old granddaughter gets from contemplating the possibility of following suit.

Wherever it leads, we’re anxiously awaiting the next installment. Keep the rubber side down!

JD

Captain Spaulding  | 

Noraly, it seems I know much more about your breakfast, and occasional lunch, but nothing about dinner?! I know you are tired at the end of the day of riding so perhaps its too much bother, but how about sharing dinner? Eating in America is like eathing in England. English food sucks. No one is looking for it in London. Its all about the international cuisine available! In small town North America it is hard to come by but there are opportunities. Just stay away from the average "Chinese" buffet!

Rockett  | 

It's interesting that you thought the food was the worst part of America, because traveling the world for years I think it's easily the best part about the USA. I get that if you're on the road alot and seeing all the fast food signs everywhere and that was your idea of food then you'd not like it for sure. And some very small towns might not have good options. But in terms of ingredient quality and variety of cuisines, the USA takes the cake as the best place to eat anywhere on Earth whether you want to eat healthy or otherwise.

DutchStoner420  | 

I'm so sorry you didn't like the food here because I've traveled many countries and the best food is here in the states, the key is to ask questions. Stay away from "fast food", find the little hidden treasures that only locals know about. I find other countries tend to cook bland food. The south is where your spicy flavors abound, you missed the adventure of traveling Texas but it has the best flavors in the world. I count myself among the great cooks of the South. If you venture through here please come by for a great meal & a comfortable bed.

NinaEB  | 

I think you are amazing!! I feel lucky I was introduced to your YouTube channel!! I’m hooked and I love all the beautiful nature in your videos and I absolutely LOVE ❤️ that you are so passionate about nature!! Beautiful and educational!! Keep riding on Noraly!! Much love and respect for you! ❤️

Happyroaster  | 

Thanks so much!

Noraly  | 
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