Motorcycling Hudson couple sees the world with only the vaguest of itineraries
HUDSON -- In their mission to make the world a smaller place, a Hudson couple shifted their motorcycle travels into full gear and proceeded to make lots of new friends along the way.
Several years ago, Mike and Kim Botan began blogging about their adventures via their website, www.Ride2Adv.com, and earlier this month Mike released his first book, "Mr. Cotton Wanders Europe: Where To Next?" to further share with armchair travelers his and his wife's adventures.
By last fall, the website had surpassed 50,000 visitors, with views from 114 different countries.
The Botans' journey began several decades ago, when Mike, then a recent college graduate, purchased his first motorcycle. With Kim perched on the back, the pair hit the road most weekends, usually traveling through the northern part of New Hampshire.
Wanting to share fully in all the experiences the open road had to offer, Kim eventually obtained her motorcycle license and a bike of her own.
"That's when we began taking some longer trips," Kim recalled.
Early on in their marriage, the young couple's passion for two-wheeling was temporarily stalled when a serious crash forced them to put on the brakes for a year while Mike recovered from a broken femur and rib.
But eventually wanderlust won out, and the pair found themselves back on the road, with each journey taking them farther and farther from home.
Over the years, Kim, a registered nurse who works for Tufts Health Plan, and Mike, who is employed as the vice president of government contracts for United Healthcare, have made excursions through Alaska and the Canadian Yukon, to the tip of South America, through remote villages of Iceland and across untamed stretches of Labrador.
Mike said it was their most recent adventures, this past summer, that inspired him to put together his new book.
"People like to hear about other parts of the world," he said.
With no planned travel itinerary, the Botans last summer flew to Spain, where they rented motorcycles and headed for the open roads.
Traveling on gravelly back roads, the couple said they were drawn to tiny towns and remote villages as they motored through Spain, Andorra, France, Switzerland and Italy. Sporting a jaunty eye patch, their tiny mascot, a flexible yellow toy dubbed "Mr. Cotton," rode along, securely fastened to a handlebar.
"A lot of people like to check out the tourist spots, but not us," Kim said. "We've found that the people living in the more remote areas are so friendly, so giving."
Being on two wheels rather than four also proved a great advantage when it came to hobnobbing with the locals, Mike noted.
"When you're surrounded by glass, people can't approach you," he said. "But when you're on a bike, people tend to seek you out."
The couple recalled one incident in Iceland in which Mike's bike was stalled after his chain came loose at a water crossing. Two passing motorists, a man and his young son, armed with armed with a tool kit, pulled over to lend the Botans a hand.
"He didn't speak a lot of English, but he lent me his tools and asked me if I was on Facebook," Mike said of the older man.
Taking delight in the little boy's fascination with Mr. Cotton, the Botans didn't hesitate to hand him their toy as a gesture of thanks.
These days, there's a new "Mr. Cotton" riding along with the couple, who follow the original Mr. Cotton's Icelandic adventures via Facebook to this day.
With summer quickly approaching, there's no telling where the road might lead next for the Botans, but right now the plan is to travel the back country of Colorado.
Asked about their favorite traveling experience, Kim and Mike agreed they were hard-pressed to narrow it down to just one.
"Different parts of the world are kind of like ice cream flavors," Mike said. "They're all so different, but each one is delicious in its own way."Paperback and Kindle versions "Mr. Cotton Wanders Europe: Where To Next?" is available for purchase online at Amazon.com and CreateSpace.com.