This was hands down my favorite vacation of all time. Trav and I celebrated his birthday and a year together with a roadtrip from Texas to Southern California. We rented a toy hauler, loaded up our dirt bikes, headed west and spent almost two weeks on the road.
And so the adventure begins.
The first two days were heavy on the driving. We left on July 4th and passed through El Paso as beautiful fireworks burst in the clear sky all around us. Spent the first night in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Woke up the second day and didn’t stop until we hit the west coast. We arrived just in time to watch the sun set at Mission Beach in San Diego, California.
We spent the night in Temecula. Woke up early the next day and headed to Fox Raceway for our first track day. Fox Raceway is located on the Pala Band of Missions Indian Reservation in Pala, California near the Cleveland National Forest. The track is surrounded by large mountains as far as the eye can see.
The weather was pretty nice. Hot, but very dry! This was our first experience with major elevation changes on the track, which we have come to learn is typical of pro tracks in Cali. I have to say, pictures are not capable of truly capturing the vastness of these tracks. You’ve got to see them person.
Several pros at the track that day. Justin Barcia was throwing out mad scrubs and whips. Aaron Plessinger and Alex Ray were also flying around the track. I’ve been to Supercross and watched these guys race, but this was different. I saw the pinnacle of this sport and was blown away by the sheer speed and talent of the guys up close. They are just ripping! Fearless.
This was also the first track Travis convinced me to climb the biggest hill and sail down the other side. Racing up the hill was such a thrill. Then what felt like a free fall down the other side was a wild feeling. Part of me was scared to death and the other part was laughing hysterically like, what on earth am I doing?!
The best part of pulling an RV to the track (besides the AC) is being able to take a shower after you ride but before you leave! Our setup was so legit.
Safe to say by the time our first SoCal track day was over, we were high on moto. Next up, a drive up the PCH through all of Southern California’s best beach towns. I never realized how different each of them are. They all have their own vibe and we fell in love with a couple. Manhattan Beach and the final destination for the next few days, Malibu.
With an extra day in “The Bu”, we were able to enjoy an amazing lunch overlooking the Pacific Ocean at Moonshadow, drive into Los Angeles and explore a bit, eat some local seafood for dinner and take a walk along the beach. We also picked up a deck of cards that we ended up playing VC with almost every night for the rest of the trip.
Next up was Cahuilla Creek MX, which was also located on an Indian Reservation near Pala. A local to Houston pro and guy that rides our home tracks, Curren Thurman, suggested we add this to the list, said it was a fun one. He was spot on! Both tracks were super long with a lot of elevation changes and plenty of step ups/downs and big tabletops. I loved the vet track because it felt like such a roller coaster. I was putting in hot motos all day long! Can’t stop. Won’t stop.
After the ride, we headed north towards the San Bernardino Valley and spent the night near Bonita Falls. Woke up early the next morning and headed to the one-and-only, mega-iconic, Glen freakin’ Helen.
When we pulled through that gate, the energy of this place hit me in the face like a wave. We had arrived, like really arrived, at the Southern California Motocross Mecca. It’s everything I imagined it would be and more. Massive. Breathtaking. Humbling. I crashed the first and second lap. Had a good cry in the camper (only one of the trip!) and went back for a third, just to prove I could make it around that track without laying it over. I didn’t cry because it hurt, I cried because I was so frustrated that I was having a hard time. With less than a year of experience riding, I spent the last few months leading up to the trip riding like crazy to get in condition to make it around these super challenging tracks. I wasn’t going to give up. I was there to ride and you better believe I did it. Meanwhile, Trav absolutely killed it on the main track.
Glen Helen is quite literally built into the side of a mountain. I have never seen so many outrageous climbs and what look like flight paths down the side of a mountain. Mount Saint Helen is awe-inspiring. Just when we thought this was one of the most memorable motocross experience ever, we realized it was pro day. Christian Craig + his family, Shane McElrath, and Dylan Ferrandis (who by the way rides at the actual speed of light) were all testing around the main track. Incredible. We took our time getting out of there. It was almost hard to say goodbye.
We didn’t love the RV park we’d stayed at the night before. We were supposed to stay there again, but called an audible. Re-route to Big Bear, California. Such a cute little mountain town. The drive was filled with switchbacks, towering California redwoods and the most gorgeous views. It was a nice cool spot to stay for the night. The great thing about road trips and the freedom to explore is that you discover new places you’d like to go back to and spend more time in the future. For us, Big Bear is one of them. Next time you’re there, grab breakfast at the Grind and Grill. Yum.
Joshua Tree National Park is one of those places I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. It’s a haven for artists like me, and Trav was into the remote aspect of the location. As for the direction of our journey, it was time for us to head back east and Joshua Tree was perfectly located on the way to Arizona. We had to fight off major feels to pull off the highway and ride our bikes on the Johnson Valley OHV trails, but we just didn’t have the time. It would’ve been a ton of fun. Once we arrived, got our trailer set up and spent some much-needed time hand-washing and hanging laundry. After that, we set out for a hike and a little rock climbing.
When you dream of experiencing an incredible place for so long and finally step into it, it’s amazing how much it can change your perspective and effect your energy. Joshua Tree charged me up and inspired my creative side. This trip was about moto, but it was also about personal experiences together in beautiful places. Trav is the greatest adventure buddy. We both excel at different responsibilities. He is the muscle, the guy who handles the logistics of the trailer. I am the planner and although I did a good amount of driving, discovered that I am an outstanding navigator. When I would get stressed out or anxious, Trav would remind me to chill out and live slow. It was on this day of the journey that I really settled into vacation mode. Seems like that always takes three or four days, which is why I love being gone for a couple of weeks.
Next stop: Gila Bend, Arizona. A chill night at the RV park called for skateboarding. My mom commented on my Facebook post, “Love it! Not a vacation for couch potatoes.” She’s right. We don’t do slow very well. I always say we can rest when we are older, but I seriously doubt we ever will. We like to go fast.
The time came for the last track day of the trip. A different sort of track, an Arizona track that was built in what looks like an empty lake bed. Arizona Cycle Park, located just outside of Phoenix, was so meticulously prepped. It was a long, fast track with big jumps. My favorite. Long motos and short breaks made the riding experience here super fun. Pretty sure ACP was the birthplace of Raptor mode. My nickname since college has been Melaraptor. I am a huge Eli Tomac fan and get so pumped when he goes into what they call Beast mode while he’s racing. When I get in the zone on the track and start to feel like a legit pro racer (come on, I can dream!), it feels like I’m channeling my inner Tomac. My game face is on lock and I’m caught up in a wave between pinning the throttle and brake chatter. In those moments, my mindset and energy feels perfect, all is right in the world and I feel so alive! Trav coined it, Raptor mode. Best mode. I see a butt patch in my future.
The greatest adventure of the entire trip was about to happen. Another somewhat last minute addition to our journey was Sedona, Arizona. Whoa. I’ve always heard good things about this spot and it’s becoming pretty popular. It wasn’t far off course and we thought it was worth a night. Let me just say, it’s actually worth a week or two. We got there late and had to leave early, but wanted to get a hike in before sunset. Trav had heard about the vortexes in Sedona, so we set out to experience one. A vortex is thought to be a swirling center of energy that is conducive to healing, meditation and self-exploration. We chose the Airport Mesa Loop Vortex. We arrived about twenty minutes before sunset and were sent in the right direction by a stranger. The hike along a desolate and narrow trail on the steep side of a mountain lasted much longer than expected. It took almost 4 hours to make the loop and we did most of it in the dark with a flashlight. We were careful, Mom. Promise! The uplifting energy was overwhelming. We were high on life and everything we had experienced together up until this point. Our love for each other might have doubled on that walk. Everything is better together.
Of all our stops, Sedona is the place we are most excited to go back and spend more time exploring. The energy there is powerful.
The next day was another long drive day. All the way to the alien-crazed town of Roswell. Along the way, we passed a motel of sorts with wigwams and vintage cars! So weird, yet an amazing photo op. Yeah, we had to stop.
Made a new friend. Say hello to Norm.
After a wrong turn, we ended up paying $25 to drive through the Petrified National Forest to get back on track. Slowest, most bumpy road for a trailer ever. Got a couple pics and a good laugh out of that one.
Rolled into Roswell, New Mexico pretty late.
There wasn’t much to do, but we somehow still had some energy. Whipped out a bottle of wine and our new deck of cards. Sat at the picnic table and played for hours. One of my favorite nights.
Woke up the next morning for our final and long leg of the journey back to Houston. We decided drive days are just as good as any other. It’s all an adventure. Ten days. 4,000 miles. Not a minute apart. I had the time of my life. Best trip ever. Serious case of wanderlust happening over here. Already planning next Summer’s moto roadtrip.
Colorado, we are coming for you.
Where We Stayed
- Las Cruces KOA
- Temecula Vail KOA
- Malibu Beach RV Park
- Big Bear Shores RV Resort
- Black Rock Campground at Joshua Tree
- Gila Bend KOA
- Rancho Sedona RV Park
- Trailer Village RV Park