Motorcycle Tour of the USA

The author meets more subscribers and completes his motorcycle tour through the heart of our country.

| December 1993/January 1994

This is part two of a travel essay begun in "A Visit to MOTHER Readers Across the Country

By now the throbbing, hollow notes of the Norton are comfortably familiar. They reverberate off the sheer walls of a canyon in northern Colorado, where I am putting the Norton through its paces. With the amplification it becomes obvious why they called these bikes "Snortin' Nortons." The big twin-cylinder smokes and burbles its way through the turns, the G-forces pushing me deeper into the seat. Every bike has its road and today the Norton seems to have found hers.

Most of the people I have met on this cross-country motorcycle tour have been kindred spirits, environmentally aware, practicing low-impact lifestyles. But every now and then I'd come across characters who were diametrically opposed to that way of thinking. The farther west I traveled, the more clearly the lines were drawn between environmentalists and their counterparts. While environmentalism is more of an intellectual argument in the East (where land and much wildlife were decimated long ago), old-timers in the West still remember a wolf howl splitting the night or finding a grizzly track beside a mountain stream. Here the fight over management of public lands, forests, and wildlife is being waged with all the passion and rage of a civil war.

The Norton expels me from the bosom of the Colorado mountains and onto the high plains of southern Wyoming, scaring a few deer and pronghorn in the process. The pronghorn, with its dark racing stripes and splendid crown of horns, is the fastest mammal in North America and can sustain speeds of more than 40 mph for up to 30 minutes. I toy with the idea of giving them a blast of the bike's horn just to witness that perfect acceleration, but they look too bored to care.

The farther I ride in the direction of Yellowstone National Park, the more I am joined on the road by rental cars, campers, and buslike motor homes. By the time I reach Jackson, construction on the highway leading to the Park has turned the traffic into a smoke-belching throng, several miles long. The flagwoman kindly waves me and a guy on a Harley to the front of the line to avoid eating the dust of a hundred Winnebagos.

Yellowstone — once the playground of thousands of bison, elk, grizzlies, and wolves — is now a zoo of people who cruise the main road on bicycles, motorcycles, cars, trucks, trailers, buses, motor homes, anything that rolls. The speed limit in the park is 45 mph, as kids and parents and grandparents press noses to windows to catch an air-conditioned glimpse of some of the Earth's most spectacular scenery.

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: September 14-16, 2018
Seven Springs, PA

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard