Once I decided that not to ride was just plain wrong, I had to decide what kind of motorcycle to get. Not even knowing how to ride meant my criteria was practical rather than heart-driven.

I wanted a deal, a second-hand bike that I wouldn’t cry over if it hit the dirt while I was learning. I found a used Suzuki 350DR with an after-market, over-sized fuel tank that already had lots of scratches.

After our first summer learning to ride, we were itching for adventure. Dainius and I loaded my Suzuki and his Kawasaki KLR onto the back of the old truck and, in the middle of December, headed south. We were looking for weather warm enough to ride and fantasizing about hot sun and desert.

Unfortunately, there’s winter down south, too. The bikes stayed on the truck until our turnaround point of Joshua Tree National Park.

We celebrated New Year’s camped out in the desert and took advantage of the few hours of warm sunshine in the middle of a stellar day to unload the bikes and get onto the back roads of the desert.

Joshua Tree National Park is named after the tree that grows within its borders. Those trees and the huge rocks that make the area a Mecca for bouldering and rock climbing, result in a stunning, desert landscape and a magnet for my guy.

Unfortunately for me, beyond a few bits of Yukon construction and a section of the Coal Lake Road, my riding to date was limited to pavement.

As we turned off the highway and onto the sandy desert track, Dainius started grinning and my shoulders started slowly moving upward, trying to make contact with my ears.

I was totally convinced I was going to lose control. I’d heard stories about motorcyclists being pitched off their bikes headlong into some of those spiny Joshua Trees.

Every mile further into the desert meant one more mile of hateful, terrorizing sand and ruts I’d have to suffer through on the way back.

I finally reached my limit and admitted to Dainius that I’d had enough. I was almost in tears as I told him we had to turn around – now.

Have you ever noticed how the way back always feels further than the way out? It is.

We finally pulled back onto the pavement and, after a couple more turns, we were on Highway 62 heading from Twenty-nine Palms to the small town of Joshua Tree itself.

As soon as I hit the pavement, I started to breathe again. As the pavement whipped by under my feet, my shoulders instantly began to drop.

In that moment, I decided I needed a new bike, more specifically, a street bike, and one that didn’t like dirt roads.

By the time it was warm enough to ride in the Yukon, the Suzuki had a new home and my Shadow was parked in the driveway. This time it was a new bike, black and shiny and it absolutely loves the pavement.