The Pilgrimage: An Introduction

It feels like I’ve been planning this trip for forever, but in reality it’s only been a year. Now that kickoff for this adventure is right around the corner  -a little over a month away now- I figured it was about time I sat down and addressed it directly. 

  This Summer is going to be crazy. I’m leaving from Portland at the end of May to go to Motos in Moab (thank you @seanpatrick68), then from there I’m going up to Missoula to start the Pilgrimage in the beginning of June, then hosting Rocky MTN Roll at the end of July, and last but not least I’ll be at The Dream Roll in August. 

  The Pilgrimage is a solo, 3,800+ mile motorcycle trip to circumnavigate rural Montana. Along the way I’ll be hitting as many ghost towns, scenic byways, and natural landmarks as possible in a span of about six weeks. For quick reference, it’s only 2,585 miles from Seattle, WA to New York City. In case traveling the fourth largest state in the US sounded easy, I’ve also made a few rules for myself; no GPS, no hotels, no chain restaurants, no major freeways, and at least one on-location sketch a day.

 Since I graduated High School I feel like I’ve been steady on the path that I was expected to walk. I went straight to Art School in Portland, started my Apprenticeship at a Tattoo Shop half way through College, Graduated, and now I’m about to finish my Apprenticeship. I’ve arrived at a fork in the road. So, it seems like the perfect time to reward myself, with a lengthy road trip right? I’m twenty-four years old with nothing to my name but a BFA, two working motorcycles, a truck, and a ton of debt. Perfect. 

 I grew up on a little Montana ranch, that will always be home to me.  It’s difficult to explain what happens when I hit that Montana border after being in the city for a while. I take in a deep breath and feel like a huge weight lifts off my chest. Like I’d been breathing in lead until that moment. I feel like nowadays I don’t even have to make it to the Ranch to feel better - the whole damn state is my home. 

I started riding motorcycles in 2012. I decided that if I couldn’t ride my horses regularly anymore, a motorcycle was going to be as close as I was going to get. Not to mention my little habit of running away from the city was getting expensive in the gas department, and the motorcycle would help with that.

  Montana is huge and I’ve only ever managed to see/explore the Western part. However, I don’t want this trip to be about being able to say that I’ve been to all those places, or to break some kind of record. This is about being comfortable with myself and where I am in life, while pushing the limits of what I believe I’m capable of. 

Projected Route: RULE #1 No GPS!


This brings me to the rules I’ve set up for myself. I know they sound a bit odd, no GPS, no freeways, a sketch a day, no hotels and no chain restaurants, crazy right?

1. No GPS 

Of course I used online maps to help plan my general route, however while I’m on the road it’s going to be paper maps only! Adventure is what happens when you find something really cool because you took a “detour.” 

Montana Backroads are Bliss! 

2. No Freeways

 This theory also applies to my avoidance of major freeways. Although they are faster, they consequently have more traffic and tend to bypass all those little towns and parks that I want to stop at. By taking the back roads and old highways I’ll get to experience Montana at a slower pace.

This one turned out to be trickier than I imagined it would be. 

 3. Daily Sketches 

My daily sketches are going to serve as my travel journal. I want to highlight the landscape and scenery, but also any characters I meet, or random conversations I may have. These sketches will go up on my Instagram daily. I’ll do my best to update this blog at least twice a week, but don’t worry you’ll get to see all of the photos at the end. I’ll also be making video diaries and recording most of my trip, those videos will be published on my YouTube at the end of my trip. I’ll also be using Rever to record my route. 

 4. No Hotels

 I want to maintain my theme of ‘connecting to Montana’ by including my rule of no Hotels. Camping is about as close to nature as you can get, and that’s primarily the point.

 5. No Chain Restaurants

Skipping fast food restaurants means that I’ll be eating a bit healthier and supporting local small business. The plan is to eat food sourced from local Farmers’ Markets, and a few strategic stops at some of Montana’s more ‘quirky’ restaurants and bars. 

 I don’t expect to go on this trip and have everything magically revealed at the end. That’s not the way that real life works.  If my education has taught me anything, it’s that understanding more about the world around us, gives us a better insight into ourselves and how we interact with that world.  All I can do is hope that spending six weeks on my own, traveling around this state and meeting a few of the characters it has to offer will bring me a little bit closer to finding my place.

  There’s a month left before I head out for Motos in Moab. 

 I still need: 

  - A New Helmet (mine is officially two years old and has been rubbing the skin on my temples raw where the outer soft layer of fabric has peeled away) 

  - New Tires for Lazarus 

  - National Parks Pass 

 Other things like camp soap, zip ties, a bottle for extra fuel are needed but not necessarily essential for the trip to happen. Full List Here. 

Well, I guess that’s it for the introduction to the Pilgrimage. I’ll be keeping you guys updated, I’m sure I’ll have a lot of photos to share with you this Summer! 

UPDATE: Wolfman Luggage, ICON 1000, and Butler Motorcycle Maps sponsored my Trip! 

NOTE: Before you watch the above Packing video, keep in mind I changed a lot of things once I got on the road, this is just for reference about what I took when I initially left Portland, OR in May 2016.  SEE MY UP TO DATE PACKING LIST HERE.