Sleeping Around in America

At 50 years old, I set out on a motorcycle journey to spend 50 nights in 50 mid-century motels across America. The Motelorcyle Chronicles is my account of exploring these highway icons of the past and re-discovering the lustre in those famous old neon motel signs.

There is a cheesy romanticism about motels and motorcycle travel. Images of iconic 1960’s motels and James Dean prevail in your mind. They take you back to a bygone era where holidays and business trips were king and many first experiences were realized. The irony that motels were brought about as a result of cars and this is about motorcycle travel and motels is not lost. But by bridging the two together we can hopefully realize a romance that is a long time in the making.

Motels peaked in popularity in the 50’s and 60’s as car travel became more affordable and families went out to explore the country. Before the US Interstate system was completed secondary highways were the norm. The motel provided refuge for weary families and business travellers alike. Their history is not always glorious. They were sometimes the location of the down and out and debauchery not spoken about in decent company. The motel owner provided directions and if they had a restaurant served up warm meals. In their heyday, motels served as the first introduction for many to color TVs, air conditioning, automatic coffee makers, outdoor pools and HBO. And while often the motel served as a stopover on route to somewhere else, other times they were the destination themselves.

Along this journey I meet, learn and share unique stories about the people (moteliers) who have chosen to operate and restore these retro motels. I tell you their stories.  Who are they? What inspires them? Are the motels an expression of the moteliers in the same way motorcycles are riders? What is it about the destinations that attracts them? Why have they have chosen to settle where they are and do what they do? What is the history of the motel?  Who were some of the guests?  What is the craziest thing they’ve seen? Why are these motels great for motorcyclists? I meet other travellers and learn about their adventures. And I discover the quirky cultural elements  unique to each place. Finally, in the long periods of quiet helmet time on the highway, and beyond the buzz of the old half lit neon moteI signs, I get time to evaluate where I am in my own life and share with you the thoughts I derive from hours of solitude.

 

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

 

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