Leticia Cline

The Forever Tourist

 
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Kentucky born and raised my mama says my nationality is part gypsy and part rambler as I've always had a calling to be where I'm not. Forever a tourist, I believe in under staying my welcome but some places deserve a second visit. In my life I've logged over 4k miles by foot, 150k miles on my motorcycle, 300k by car and even more by plane in search of other people's stories and finding my own.

I've learned the hard way that life truly is short so you can't waste a minute of it. I unexpectedly lost my father at 29 and at 37 death came knocking on my door in the form of cancer. I kicked it's ass and stand as a testament that you don't have to wait for death to teach you how to live. Life starts when you want it to.

I've flown planes over the Atlantic, swam with sharks in the Caribbean, hiked mountains in both the west and eastern US, raced heavy Harley-Davidson's in Flat Track, got 3 Iron Butt Awards, Skydived over the Cape Canaveral Space Launch Site, traveled around the world teaching people how to fly 30 feet in the air in a water jet pack, crawled 300 feet below the surface of the earth in the worlds longest cave, ran moonshine across state lines and was the director of PR and Marketing for two fortune 500 companies (which was the scariest of all).

Currently I'm a journalist, motorcycle racer, Heritage Tourism Preservationist, owner of a wolfdog named Jack London, mother to a human named Caleb and better half to Preston who may be part Kookaburra. I ride an average of 40k miles a year on my motorcycles and write because a psychologist is expensive and ain't nobody got time for that!

A life on two wheels...

Photo by Josh Kurpius

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I grew up with my dad building motorcycles in the living room of our house.

From the time I could sit up I was helping my dad work on his motorcycle, cars and whatever else he could find to tinker with. Here's some old 8mm footage when I was only a 6 months old at the campground we lived at.

My baby photos are of me sitting on the choppers he would build and ride. After a while it just became instinctual. I favored the smell of grease over flowers. My dad put me on a Honda 50 when I was 4 and I never looked back. We would spend summers in his garage taking apart bikes, polishing all the pieces and putting them back together, he would handle each piece as if it were a rare and ancient artifact all while telling me what it’s function was.  When I was older we would ride to biker events together. When I started announcing for Supercross and Motocross races I would bring my dad with me and then when I had my son I bought him a Honda 50 for his 4th Birthday to continue the tradition. My father passed away the summer of 2008 and it devastated me. I rode his Softtail to the funeral and then I never got on a bike again until spring of 2014. Before then my life was consumed with a motorcycle race every weekend, dealers conventions, motorcycle events and just riding but I suddenly found myself unable to go to any of those things. I changed my life completely, moved to NYC and became the director of Marketing and PR at a fortune 500 company. The stage was set for me to be the next powerful lady in business but it just wasn’t me. After 5 years of being on autopilot I woke up and moved to back Florida to find myself again. In March 2014 I took my son to Daytona Supercross. The smell of the exhaust and dirt, the excitement on my little boys face as he watched the race only assured me of where I belong. The ride home was emotional but I knew what I had to do. The next day I rented a Thruxton, rode 300 miles to a motorcycle event and bought my dad a patch to place on his grave. The following week I purchased my Iron 883 and now I ride all over the country. I was afraid that riding would be to unbearably sad to not share it with my father but strangely I feel closer now to him then I ever did before. And that’s one of the great things about motorcycles: they’re more then a form of transportation.. they're a form of transformation.

Currently I'm a journalist for some of the top motorcycle and travel magazines and blogs. Everyday I get to test parts, gear, and motorcycles in some of the most amazing locations of the world. I  work closely with OEM's and organizations such as MIC, AMA, MSF, Power Lillys, Custom Culture Committee and ABATE to be a voice in the female marketplace as well as ensure the longevity and safety of motorcycling for everyone. I ride everything from 50 cc's to 2163 cc' and I'm also a MSF Rider Coach who's currently living in a converted Transit van for a project called The Lost Latitudes.


Forever Tourist

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What does the term ‘forever tourist’ mean?

When I was born my parents ran a campground and we lived in the old farmhouse on the property. Even though I was just distinguishing the differences between shapes, the everyday meeting of travelers instilled in me a transit lifestyle that got harder to shake as the years passed. The campground was only a few miles from the longest cave in the world, Mammoth Cave, and it wasn’t long until we bought some property closer to the entrance and opened a Rock and Gift shop, selling trinkets and gemstones to the tourist that passed through on their way to the cave. This became my education. Everyday I would be around people of all cultures, religions and races. I would hear stories of places I never knew existed or had only read about in school. At night I would dream of worlds and lands to travel to and during the day I would explore in libraries for more stories, photos and history. 

At first my adventures were just local. I discovered civil war history in my yard, Native American artifacts in my neighbors yard and then before long I was venturing out on the ridge and in the caves and at strangers tables at diners asking endless questions about the area and themselves. The minute I could legally drive I was gone. Often my parents would wake up to find notes by the coffeepot saying “gone to see New York, be back in time for school Monday”. This drove my parents crazy but they only had themselves to blame. Aside from owning a tourist business in one of the most popular tourist destinations, my father was a truck driver. I was his unofficial co-driver and on many of his trips I would climb up into the cab of that semi truck to see the world from the windshield of 85’ flat nose Peterbilt. I made friends at truck stops and coffee shops and diners. I talked to blue collar, white collar and no collars. On the road I never met a stranger and when I wasn’t on it I was yearning for it. I needed it’s stories and I needed to tell them even more, essentially becoming the “Forever Tourist”. 

Today I spend my time traveling the backroads and main streets of America. I visit the places considered “sleepy” in hopes of waking them up, if just for a little while. I stop at where the smell of laundry hung out to dry is in the air and the sound of rusty steel bridges over the streams creek and moans. Places where historical knowledge is currency but knowing more than one language is an unnecessary luxury. It’s a world of hard work with little to show for it but the remnants of the dreams they once had and the sunlight shinning down on a proud community. Authenticity and tradition are words that roll off the tongue and hide in the nooks only a small town can offer. It’s these places, the places where big things once happened, that use to be the heart of America. It’s roads were the arteries that pumped life into the land and if we don’t tell their stories they will die and the core of what America was founded on will die with it. There’s not a place that I’ve visited that I didn’t find a story worth telling, a city worth saving and a lesson I didn’t learn because the story of a small town in America is the story of America. 

You can understand these towns. Let me help you. 

On the old highway maps of America, the main routes were red and the back roads blue. Now even the colors are changing. But in those brevities just before dawn and a little after dusk – times neither day nor night – the old roads return to the sky some of its color. Then, in truth, they carry a mysterious cast of blue, and it’s that time when the pull of the blue highways is strongest
— William Least Heat-Moon - Blue Highways

I store my things in Kentucky