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  • Writer's pictureR. Gurley

Michelle and Her Motorcycle Revolution

Michelle Lamphere is a woman who doesn’t shy away from adventure. She says, “From the time I graduated from college, I had worked for 21 years as a hotel manager which is very stressful and left me with no personal time. I was missing so much of life – time with my friends and family, time to explore the world. I finally had enough and decided to find a different way to live.” Her decision led her to give up the stability of a first world to drive a motorcycle from the USA to the Ushuaia, Argentina, the world's southernmost city.

Lamphere relates to the fear that impedes many women from traveling. She says, “I was afraid of traveling by motorcycle alone for several reasons – the motorcycle itself and my not knowing how to work on it, my safety, especially in foreign countries that I had never even visited, etc. And I wasn’t sure that my boyfriend and I would stay together so I worried about what could happen and what I would do if we split up while we were traveling and I needed to go on alone.” However, Lamphere worked through the fear and found a world different than what she expected. She says, “My friends and family were really concerned about my safety and wanted me to take some sort of weapon along to protect myself. The morning we crossed the border from Arizona into Mexico I rode over a tope and lost my balance while turning and dropped my motorcycle. Two men came running out to help me lift it before my partner could park and come over. They were both so kind. It was my first memory and impression of Mexico.”

She has since returned to her native South Dakota where she has written two books. Tips for Traveling Overland in Latin American: Things I wish I had Known Before I rode My Motorcycle to Mexico, Central and South America, which is a collection of tips for overland travelers in Latin America. It includes a basic Spanish course, and detailed tips/suggestions for safety and security, finding food, water, fuel and shelter, communicating while traveling, exchanging currency, and staying healthy while on the road for the short or long term. Lamphere also has written The Butterfly Route, her personal narrative of the events of her 2 year adventure. Both books are available on Kindle and Amazon.

This year Lamphere’s new adventure is playing host rather than traveler. She has refurbished The Chalet Motel in Custer South Dakota, which has been serving travelers in the Black Hills area since 1937 when it was built as a "cabin court" that provided roadside lodging on one of the only motorways in the Black Hills at that time. She says she will keep a room available for women like her who do not shy away from adventure. She hopes others will see that “There is WAY more good in the world than bad, and it’s worth the chances you take to go experience it.” Women like Lamphere keep the light on.

Michelle Lamphere’s complete blog can be found at

The Chalet Motel is open for North American summers.

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