An adventurer goes from here to there, comes back and says: “This is what I did.” An explorer goes from here to there, comes back and says: “This is what I learned.”There’s an important difference.
— David Concannon
My name is Bill Whitacre. I got involved with traveling as a kid because my dad took us on camping trips all summer. He saved vacation time and we went on multiweek camping trips and other long weekend vacations.
It was interesting how I started in adventure motorcycle riding. One day by chance, I was at the BMW motorcycle shop in Boise, ID and met two guys from Canada who were circumnavigating North American. As they got tires and oil changes, I sat around and visited with them. I was totally intrigued with what they were doing. Later, I got really interested in the film Long Way Round with Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman. I was captivated because they traveled around the world on 2 BMW motorcycles.
In 2004, I bought my first adventure motorcycle and that was the KTM 950. The 950 was great and I loved it. Within two years I had purchased a BMW and that was fantastic too. I rode a lot and spent a lot of time riding by myself because I was riding Harleys and dirt bikes and I really didn’t have anybody to ride with.
Riding by yourself is enlightening.
During this time, I learned to camp. I learned to pack too heavy then pack too light. I learned to deal with my mechanical issues because I am not mechanical. I’ve been intrigued by it ever since.
Things have changed for me over the years. In the beginning, it was really the thrill of being on a motorcycle in the back country. I think we all evolve when we’re in the back country with these bikes and we connect not only to nature but to people and then ultimately it became more about exploring. It became, not being on a motorcycle to see what I could do with a motorcycle, it became more about pursuing my interests and curiosity. The motorcycle was just a way of getting there.
When you spend a lot of time on the motorcycle you learn to wing it, not being sure where you are going to be or what you’re going to be doing. That makes it exciting when you come up on a small group of people or a small community. Whether it’s in Uzbekistan or Wyoming, I enjoy the opportunity to visit with the local people because along the way I’m running across people and stories that I connect to.
Create unfiltered experiences.
It’s important for everybody to understand that what I am doing with Along the Way is not a travel log about motorcycle travel. It’s not about me promoting myself as a great motorcycle rider. In fact, I’m not an expert rider. I know what expert riders look like, and I am not one. However, I tend to ride a lot of expert bikes, because if I want to go to these places, I have to be able to ride them. At the same time, I’ve been asked frequently to participate in school programs and college programs, speaking at various organized groups and I realized that I wasn’t organized. People wanted to connect with some of my experiences and I didn’t have an organized way of doing that. So that’s where Along the Way came in.
Along the Way becomes a vehicle by which I can talk about my experiences.
Along the Way is sharing how I satisfy my curiosities about remote places in the world, different cultures and ethnicities. I create real questions in my mind about what these places look like, what they will look like, and what type of evolution they will go through in the future.
We all have an Along the Way story and we all have a certain curiosity. I think we should embellish that curiosity. I think we should capture our curiosity. It doesn’t have to be on a motorcycle. It doesn’t have to be in the back country. If your life is involved with being curious about various things, you should pursue it.
Ask yourself, how do you share your story?
How do you share your experiences?
How do you make sure that it gets beyond just yourself?
Travel provides us with this incredible understanding of the people and cultures of the world.
It’s interesting, when you live in Idaho, you have lots and lots of choices. In the beginning, when somebody asked me where I was going, I typically would say, “I really don’t know where I’m going. I’m going to take off this way and then I’m probably going to go over here and maybe I will do this.” I carried maps and GPS. But I chose early to ride in the back country until I learned the back country and experienced it. I rode all over Idaho, most of Eastern Oregon, and some of western Wyoming. It was fantastic.
Today I’m more organized because I’m learning where I want to be.
I’m learning what I want to experience. Right now, as an example, I am determined to experience Eastern Europe post World War II, the Stalin years. I’m scheduled to head to Eastern Europe and that will be about museums and learning. Anytime I can find somebody that can share stories from that era, I appreciate those conversations. Sometimes it takes remote villages or towns. You see a coffee shop and just a couple of people sitting around. They quickly welcome you when you pull up on a motorcycle.
I don’t know where we should all begin when we do this. I do think it’s important and I think it’s valuable to ‘experience our curiosity’.
I have a fundamental curiosity about things.
It just so happens mine is about some of these remote places in the world and experiencing parts of the world that people don’t get to experience. But whether it’s something local or something in southern Utah or northern Idaho, I encourage people, if that’s what you’re interested in and if you’re curious about it, just go take simple steps to do it. It’s about doing things once and then maybe twice, if you still like it do it five or six times.
Challenges always come up particularly when I’m by myself. However, I have found that things seem to work out when you are as organized as you can be and you pursue your passions. I can list many stories about things that rattle you sometimes and get your attention.
However, it makes you a better adventurer
—a better explorer—
and it’s part of the stories and the memories that you create.