Summer is just around the corner, and black flies aren’t the only bug in town. Rising temperatures and sunny weather mean you might find yourself bitten by the travel bug.
If the timing isn’t right and you can’t embark on a real-life adventure, why not treat yourself to a virtual motorcycle trip? Mega-talented Maine author Glenn Adams’ latest novel, The Big Loop, will take you on a literary ride you won’t soon forget!
Glenn is my guest today at the Novelist’s Nook. Please join me in welcoming him!
Thanks for stopping by Glenn. The Big Loop chronicles the epic motorcycle adventure you shared with your wife Betty in 1978. Of all the places you got to experience on your 11,000 plus mile trip, which had the most impact on you, and why?
We were constantly bombarded with spectacular sights, but the breathtaking views of faraway peaks and deep gorges below the roadway as we traversed the Rockies stand out. The ride across the Bixby Canyon Bridge at Big Sur on California's coast, familiar to many because it's so widely photographed, also stands out.
You and Betty took to the open road without the benefit of some of the modern conveniences we have today. It's scary to think about traveling all that distance without the benefit of GPS, cell phones, wi-fi, etc. I imagine even finding a pay phone could have been a bit of a challenge. What three modern conveniences would you have brought along on your trip had they been available then?
You're right, finding pay phones (remember those?) was often a challenge. But we sent a lot of post cards, the earlier version of texts, to fill the gap. My first choice for a modern convenience to have along is a no-brainer: smart phone. Not only could we make phone calls, but it would have been easier to take a lot more photos as opposed to the bulky Canon AE1 35 mm camera Betty lugged along.
Experiencing new cuisine is a highlight of any road trip. What were some of your favorite food and drink discoveries you made on your travels?
Nothing extravagant, I'm afraid. A nice steak in the Oregon restaurant would have been nice if we hadn't gotten kicked out first. But I made up for it with a steak in the New Orleans hotel where we stayed. Betty says she had a fine meal at a supper club in Wisconsin, but she can't remember what it was. The bacon and eggs breakfasts we had after 50 or so miles of early morning riding always tasted fine.
I'm guessing some of the highlights of your journey were being gifted a tent, and not being attacked by tarantulas in New Mexico. What were some other pinnacles of the trip?
Those who remember “Easy Rider” will recall that motorcyclists weren't treated very nicely in the deep South. It was the opposite for us. We were received with open arms, whether is a back road taproom in the bayous or in New Orleans. I'll always remember the construction worker who was glad to lend a hand when we had a flat tire, then insisted we stay in his motel room for the night.
In your book you note that during the trip Betty thought she'd crossed paths with the famed 1970's disco group, The Village People. Were there any other moments of the trip where you brushed shoulders with intriguing people, celebrity or non-celebrity?
It's the non-celebrities that always intrigue me the most. The two fellow bikers we rode along with in Wyoming, the guy with the car he turned into a pickup truck in Texas, the motorcycle mechanic with the bottle of Jack Daniels in Minnesota, people like that.
You met so many interesting people on your journey. What was the best advice you were given before you set out? What was the best advice you received along the way?
I don't recall anyone giving other than the obvious advice: Be careful. We did our best at that; I don't drive very fast and we wore helmets (in most places it was mandatory then anyway). I had good tires, the bike was well-tuned and solid.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to replicate your trip?
I think going cross country these days would be a lot different. There's more traffic, simple things are more expensive, and unfortunately, it's more dangerous out there. So if you're going to go, get saddle bags to stow your gear, have a bigger bank account to draw expenses from (we relied mostly on cash and travelers' checks), set reasonable goals for daily routes (350 miles is a good average) and make sure you have a trusty machine.
This motorcycle trip isn't the only adventure you and Betty have shared. Are there more epic voyage books in the works?
First on the list is the book we'll collaborate on detailing our year as editors of the Queen Elizabeth 2 ocean liner. It will have a similar journal-type format with lots of stories about the characters we met and encountered as we sailed around the world. (My first book, “Ambrose,” is a fiction based on that 1979 experience.) After that, a look-back at my cross-country trip in 1968 with my two cousins. This coast-to-coaster was on four wheels: a 1959 Rambler sedan that broke down time to time.
Thanks for taking the time to chat, Glenn. We look forward to reading your next book!