What I love most about TSY is meeting good souls like Murph. Currently Murph is on the road, solo. Just him and his BMW GS. I have to say, I’m eatin’ my heart out a little over here, and before we dig into the story, I also have to say– I’d love us to support Murph on his trek anyway we can. Check out his travelogue / photo-journal of his travels chronicled on WHERE THE HELL IS MURPH… and while you’re at it, buy one of his prints and/or make a donation however big or small– just do it. Let’s keep Murph on the road, gas in his tank, and food in his belly.
I knew I couldn’t do Murph’s story justice myself. You truly have to hear it from the man himself, and you’ll see why this is more than a bike ride. It’s an inward journey as much as an outward one–
Born in Dublin, in the early ’60s– trials rider, enduro rider, then road racer. There’s a lot more in those eighteen years I spent there, but that’s another bottle of Johnny Walker Black. Left Ireland for the U.S. in the early ’80s. Lived in NYC (is there any other?) and loved it, but as fate would have it, a series of events had me move to Florida. At the time, blue skies, beaches filled with bikini clad nymphettes got me hook, line & sinker. I was soon to realise that all that looks good on the surface is not what it appears to be when you dive down a few feet.
Made a lot of money in Florida in property in the last ten years– in fact, was a multi millionaire. But then the Irish disease that afflicted my father got me. Booze. Alcoholism. I drank my way through a three million dollar apartment building I owned, a few houses, and three condos. Lost it ALL.
The last two years have been sober. January 17th will officially be 2. But before that I went down as far as anybody could go, the depths of 24hr drinking. It really was a horrible place I led myself to. So in December I bought the bike, and tried to stay afloat by staying in the rat race, but being extremly independent and always having worked for myself– a $10 an hour job and being treated like a slave didn’t last. Meanwhile my house has been in forclosure for the last two years, so I really just exploded and said– FUCK IT.
A retread on an old relationship didn’t work (go figure), I hated Florida, I always loved traveling, so got on the bike in April thinking– Lemme go and see some friends around the country, take some pictures, ‘n post ’em on a blog…
Well,I had finally found a passion, a dream that I had always secretly thought about doing– but always threw up logical reasons and excuses not to do it. I realize now, fear was the biggest obstacle holding me back. I remember the first day of the trip. I set off at 5:30AM up the turnpike. It was dark and there were no other cars around, and all through the first tank of gas, 350 miles or so– if I thought it once I thought a thousand times,“What the fuck am I doing,am I crazy? What happens if I break down? Where am I going to stay up the road? Do I have enough tools?” At one point I very nearly turned back– back to my comfy bed and sofa with movies on the TV, and a place to shower and make food– “The Comfort zone”, where I have everything right at hand. But by the second tank of gas, the spirit of adventure was starting to take hold, and self doubt was starting to wane. Confidence was building,but more importantly– it was becoming FUN.
I think throughout most peoples lives, here in the U.S. anyway, doing something as carefree and irresponsible (according to society) as heading out on a motorcycle trip, destination unknown, time frame yet to be determined, is something most people really want to do. Because of responsibilities, family & friends– they’re never encouraged to do so. For me, I meet people ALL the time who express those very same sentiments to me, and I feel very proud of myself that I quit drinkin’ and grabbed life by the balls.
My house, who knows how long it’ll be there, and I don’t care. My life is so good now. I spent the last three weeks in Death Valley, camping in WIldrose– isolated but beautiful. I got some fantastic shots. And that’s another thing– I’ve also camped ALL the way except for two nights.
Where I’m going from here depends on sponsorship that I just actively started seeking. I go to Florida for the holidays with me mum, and I’m going to sell everything I have. If I don’t get sponsorship– fuck it. I’m stayin’ out on the road with what little I have left and what I get from selling my stuff.
there is always a certain freedom when you just say “fuck it”. cheers Murph, the same path lead me to living in Bali and i’m glad i never looked back either.
Enjoy the ride Murph, …and may I suggest an excellent book along the way, one that resonated with and had a profound effect on me. Ghost Rider, Travels on the Healing Road by Neil Peart (drummer of the Canadian band Rush). Enjoy it and live !
Awesome – I really needed a good story like this today!
That is AWESOME!
Having always loved bikes- last year it came down for me to almost sell everything I had and wanting to work as an motorcycle adventure guide with an opportunity that came along literally within a day after I decided to quit a very unsatisfying (although highly ranked) graduate program.
Anyway- I didn’t do it, but I plan on taking those annual motorcycle adventure vacations and then if it takes over my life so be it. In the meanwhile, I let my other passion that rivaled motorcycles take over for now, books- so I’ll be a librarian. Yawn? You haven’t met the cool librarians.
I can really relate to your early sentiments about “what am I doing?” A huge reason why I decided against going into motorcycle adventure touring was because of school debt that had me in a catch-22- and I hated it.
Long story short- Murph’s my hero. Rock on.
I’m in grad. school for library science now and I get a few bucks for tuition since I’m a 10 year veteran- so if someone passes along his information to my above listed e-mail address or something, I really like the idea of sending him few bucks to keep it all rolling whether gas or some hot food. Viva la Murph. Carry on and keep alive ALL our adventurous spirits!
Ride on Murph!
Well, I can see that I won’t be getting much done at work today…
Thanks for the link, JP. Ride on, Murph!!!
Murph is an inspiration to me. He’s absolutely right that so many Americans dream of liberating themselves, in the way he has, but end up saying “I’m too old for that” or “maybe next year.” I’ll be following his journey for months (years?) to come hopefully. Might try to make a donation soon.
@ Larry….Will do L.
@ Pounds….Bali,Hmmmmm,how far is that???.
@ SO Rob…I actually quote Neils story to people who stop and talk to me,even though i never read the book.However,Neill was always up there for me,you see I once was a drummer for a neighborhood band !!!,so I used to practice listining to one of my favorite Peart riffs,Xanadu.
I guess I should get the book for myself for Christmas.
Neil lost so very much in a very short time frame.
@ R1100S ..Thanks,honored to be the one to provide.
@ John,books have always been a passion for me also,so your path is a worthy one IMHO.
In fact at the beginning of this trip I had just started reading a Michener,the fifth one in a row,this one was Alaska,and being a bit of a book snob,OF COURSE it was the hardback(are there any other types?),so needless to say,the morning of the trip I sadly had to leave it behind due to the sheer size of the book.But now that the journey is extending into it`s second year on the road,I may have to consider the paperback version(shudder).Michener just has an incredible way of bringing you down into the smell and feel of the land that he writes about.
PS,my email info is on my blog and there is also a donat button also.
I would prefer to give something in return for getting something,which is why i offer prints of my pictures for donations.
@ Max,glad you enjoy the blog.
@ Charlie,honored to be someone you look up to,and yes,it WILL be years of following Charlie.
And to JP………i`m a little lost for words right now Jon,needless to say this outpouring of thoughts and well wishes from people who relate on many different levels to what I am doing is really an honor,as well as something I had hoped would happen.
Like I said to you in my email,if i can strike a positive chord with just one person,thats good enough for me.
Here’s to nothing but blue skies and open roads, really touched by this.
Thank you Eli
Good on ya Murph !! Inspiring to say the least !!
Safe travels, Murph! When I was 21 yrs old, I rode a 21 year old 1972 BMW from NC to Mexico City. Until reading this, I forgot about how many waitresses, shop keepers, and strangers, would mention how much they wished they could take such a trip, or just travel. I told them it was easy to drop everything and do it – at 21 yrs old, it was easy. 2o some years later, I realize it isn’t easy anymore and I’m glad you’re seizing the opportunity. Enjoy!
That musta been a helluva trip twenty years ago.It was still fun back then,unlike now.
Which is one of the many reasons that I threw caution to the wind at 47.
I was so tired of just getting by,feeling nothing,or at least not the way I used to feel,alive and vibrant.
It`s easy to still do it Bill,……
Good show Murph!!! I wish I could go all year. Gotta work for now. However, as a school teacher, when that bell rings on the last day before summer…I am off. The last three summers I have taken solo cross country trips from NYC to the Pacific Coast and back. Though I have seen many of the same spots as you, I see from your blog there is more to explore. One day I will switch to enduro. I keep taking my Bonneville places she shouldn’t be, but I can’t help myself! Those dirt roads are so appealing. Well, I will virtually ride with you during the winter and maybe cross paths sometime in the summer. Until then, keep the rubber side down!
If you would like to have a look at my journeys, feel free!
Great pictures NYG,really like the blog a lot,may have to put a link to it on WTHIM if thats ok.Good work with the images.I used to live in NYC,Houston & Mott,loved it.Used to go to MTK `n the Hamptons all the time.Did some drinkin there too!!.
Glad to see you use the Bonnie the way it should be used.
Safe travels and NEVER wash it ……..
Thanks Murph. Yeah hook up the link. I will make a links page on my blog too. I often share the link to the Selvedge Yard with people. I’d be glad to add you too. BTW, I don’t have your mechanical skills, so when I bring my bike in for some work they let me hear it regarding the filth. At Sturgis this year a good ‘ol boy from Texas offered to clean it for me. Though I like the seasoning that comes from 10’s of thousands of miles, she does look good when she shines!
I’m on an R1100S myself. Third Beemer, 18th bike (been on them over 30 years now, and I just turned 38). Luckily my wife gets it. She understands that, for me, the bike is better than Prozac: Lifts you up when you’re down, chills you out when you’re frazzled. I actually tried to get my insurance company to cover the cost of this bike, since it allowed me to wean myself off of psychotropic (legal) drugs. They said no, the bastards. But I’m healthy now and still alive, thanks to motorcycles, not in spite of them.
Best of luck out there. Keep it sane. I’ll follow your progress. May run into you (not literally) along the way. You definitely should read the Peart book. Good shit.
And JP: Thanks for letting the dude say Fuck it, without resorting to asterisks or whatever. Kinda defeats the purpose of articulating that particular phrase, if you dilute it. Right? And for what it’s worth, this is my favorite blog. It’s why I stick with photography on mine. Your blog already contains pretty much everything I’d put on my own, so I don’t bother. All you’d have to do to make it perfect is write about Sonny Boy Williamson, the blues harp player, and I’d happily be a co-author to this thing.
Shedding the empty trappings of hollow success and phantom security is the only way to be free. Good on ya Murph, if you ever find yourself in Dallas and need a place to shack up for a few nights drop me a line (email@example.com)
Will do Josh,thanks man.
PS,hollow success and phantom security,very apt,well said.
Go Murph! I will do the same very soon…
Don`t wait too long Erik…….see ya on the road…
I can fully appreciate your “fuck it” attitude. I myself am rejecting all that is comfortable and familiar for a 4+ month trip in Northern Africa. Giving up everything that defines my life in favor of the unknown, and god-bless. Routine breeds complacency and complacency breeds idle content. To be avoided at all costs. Good luck!
Go Murph! he’s living the true life. I know I have this spirit, but it’s definitely more dangerous for a gal to embark on this type of adventure. I don’t think anything feels as good as the open road. inspiring post.
Keep going and never turn back, Murph! You’re truly on the road of life now.