Lee and Violet Cannon have had a bucket list for some time. One of the activities in that bucket was to take a journey from Anza, California, all the way around the four corners of the U.S. and back again.
“I wanted to get this done before I was 80,” Lee Cannon said with a grin. “But I actually had to wait until I was 84.” His wife Violet is a young and vibrant 77 years old.
The couple left their home on Terwilliger Road one bright morning, May 27, and by the time they returned, July 2, they had traveled an incredible 11,576 miles in just 35 days.
But this trip was not a car ride or a take-the-train kind of trip. It was a motorcycle adventure that took them to some of the most beautiful and historical areas of this great country.
Lee Cannon, who retired from “work” as he said, declared that the 2001 Honda Gold Wing “trike” or three-wheeled motorcycle performed extremely well and suffered no mechanical issues on the trip.
He said of the bike: “She performed with smooth competence and a prodigious thirst for gas. Carrying double and loaded to the gills with luggage took a toll that cost me money. Still, not a single hiccup, from engine to tranny. Great bike.”
Lee Cannon used to race motorcycles and is very knowledgeable about them.
But weather was a factor on their trip. One day it rained so hard, the water “rained” inside of Lee Cannon’s sunglasses, within the face shield of his helmet. Their rain gear was leaky and stuffy. The wind also had an adverse effect on their travels.
On route to Billings, Montana, “the gusts were hitting 35 to 40 mph,” Lee Cannon said. “We had some that tried to pull my helmet off. It took some concentration to stay in my lane.”
Traveling with modern technology – a couple of smart phones and a Garmin GPS – they were able to set a course that provided the most scenic routes and had the ability to email loved ones at the end of the day, reporting on their progress.
“All is well with us, Violet is learning to be a biker chick,” Lee wrote from Albany, New York, and “Greetings from Augusta, Maine. We arrived here just 2 margaritas ago.”
Starting in Anza, they traveled to Interstate 10 and began heading east. Through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, they made good time, averaging 300 to 500 miles a day. After a visit to the Alamo, they left Texas for Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. They drove the length of Florida, ending at the southernmost tip of the continental U.S. in Key West, a mere 90 miles from Cuba. Back up the East Coast along Interstate 95, they visited Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. Inclement weather and gridlock abounded, but they were not daunted in the least. From Maine, they revisited New Hampshire, Vermont and New York, and began a westerly, southwesterly course through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho and Washington. Then they turned south, through Oregon and finally back to California.
They stopped for the night in comfortable accommodations and visited relatives and friends along the way. The Cannons ate hot dogs in Chicago, saw Old Ironsides in dry dock in Boston, fought through traffic jams in New Jersey and suffered rain storms in New York.
The reaction they got from people on their travels was heartwarming, receiving a lot of “thumbs ups” and children waving in greeting from passing cars. Violet Cannon commented on her fellow travelers.
“We met some very friendly people,” Violet Cannon said. “We never met so many people and couples much younger than us.”
In Glacier, Montana, they were amazed to discover that they shared the motel with an all-woman biker club of about 40 leather-clad individuals. Not a man among them, they were having the ultimate “girl-time.” Luckily, not all the rooms were taken by the group. The Cannons managed to score the very last one available.
They even met a pastor who had been thinking of doing a trip in much the same manner as the Cannons, but going from church to church. The couple made friends in Texas, exchanged numbers and met them again in Maine for dinner. They found fascinating people and sights along the road.
“People were honestly interested in what we were doing,” Lee Cannon said.
Driving south on I-15 in the Corona area, just a couple of hours from home, a car came up next to them. The woman in the vehicle gestured wildly. They looked over and realized it was their daughter Candy. Each had no idea they would see the other that day.
The couple were enthusiastic about the trip and positive to a fault, so the big question is would they do something like this again?
Lee answered, “Anyone for a group ride to Alaska?”