By Nicholas Leduc with John Anderson

Last summer Auburn Mass Daily readers were asked to tell us about their special summer vacations, and we got a single reply. Nick Leduc and his wife Kellie had recently completed a 16-day motorcycle trip, and here is Nick’s story from 2014:

From July 25th to August 10th we took a motorcycle trip to visit as many National Parks as we could. We decided that rather than spending an extended time at any one park, we would try to see as many parks as possible. Once we purchased our National Parks Pass, we decided to not only see National Parks but also any sites under the management of the National Parks Service.

We knew that our schedule was a little aggressive, but we also knew that we weren’t going to be able to get away from our kids (8 & 10) for this extended amount of time any time soon.

Our first sight-seeing stop was the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. We lucked out since about five minutes after purchasing tickets to the top, they sold out for the evening. Our next major stop was Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, and this was a “drive thru” for us. We stopped at most of the scenic overlooks, but didn’t venture too far from the road. The next day, we drove through Colorado National Monument, spent a few hours walking through Arches National Park in Utah, stopped at Goosenecks State Park, visited Monument Valley, and finally made our way to the Grand Canyon North Rim.

We spent the next day at the North Rim and rode to Zion National Park by the evening. This park blew us away, and our plan to just drive through changed quickly. We decided to spend a few hours and go for a hike until the park closed. Ending the night in the park, lying in a field as the sun set, we were joined by 15 deer (3 fawns) feeding on the grass just yards away.

At breakfast the next morning, we decided that we were close enough to Bryce Canyon and that we would “swing by there just to say we did it”. This turned into an all day event as major storms came in the afternoon. We experienced hail for about 10 minutes (motorcycles and hail isn’t fun!) and lightning stuck a tree no more than 200 yards from us, exploding the tree and covering the road in chunks of wood.

After the storm, we did a little more hiking, and by then the day was pretty much over, so we decided to sleep there. That evening, Kellie was looking at tour books and decided she wanted to see the Bonneville Salt Flats, a diversion that would add four hours to the next day’s ride. Since I had a hotel booked in Jackson Hole for that night, she convinced me to wake up, be out the door and on the road by 5AM to make our reservations.

This day was our longest of the trip. We swam in the Great Salt Lake, drove on the Salt Flats (we missed Speed Week by one week, but were able to watch large rockets being launched by the Utah Rocket Club) and made it to Jackson, Wyoming by 1AM.

The next morning, we drove through The Grand Tetons National Park on our way to Yellowstone. We spent 2 days at Yellowstone, making sure we saw all of the major attractions and did some minor hikes to view some of the falls. One danger we didn’t think of until we got there was that on a motorcycle, we had no protection from the Bison. At one point we were lucky enough to have a Park Ranger drive his SUV between us and a very agitated bison in the road so we could pass.

The next stop on the trip was at Sturgis, South Dakota for Bike Week. We spent two days at a small bed and breakfast in the Black Hills enjoying the riding and views such as Devils Tower National Monument and Mt. Rushmore. On our way home, we decided to take a northern route, going north of Lake Michigan, heading through Canada and down to Niagara Falls. On our last evening of the trip, we celebrated our First Anniversary of marriage at the falls. Overall, we traveled in 2 Countries, 20 States, and did 7,962 miles!

Editor’s Note: We would like to thank Nick for submitting this great adventure story, and he was right about getting away without the kids since he and Kellie had their third child, a girl, on August 14th. Nick told us, “We knew the trip last summer was going to be our last chance to be able to take a child-free vacation for a while.” They called that one perfectly.