In May 2022, Jess Stone set out from Flagstaff, Arizona, after being named the Overland Expo Foundation’s first Change Your World Travel Grant recipient! Jess is no stranger to exotic places. She’s lived in Africa and Central America while working as an aid worker for seven years. She also has plenty of experience traveling via motorcycle with her canine companion Moxie.
We recently caught up with Jess to find out how her trip has gone so far.
If you missed her introduction, you can check it out HERE.
OEF: So Jesse, tell us what you’ve been up to since you sit out on your journey when you Overland Expo West in May of 2022?
JS: We left Flagstaff and headed north with the goal of the Dempster Highway and, eventually the Arctic Ocean. We wanted to time it right and be there when there were nearly 24 hours of sunlight.
From the Arctic Ocean, we originally planned to cross Canada to Toronto to visit with family. Then from there, we thought that we could fly to Spain, ship the bikes, and continue south into Africa.
However, since our original budget was made, the prices of fuel, airline tickets, and shipping the bikes and Moxie had significantly risen, so we decided to instead head south and continue our explorations of North and South America.
Since we had the time, we decided to spend part of the winter in Baja to regroup and plan our trip south.
OEF: Baja is a great place to regroup. Where did you decide to head from there?
JS: We’re currently in Mexico and plan to be in Santiago, Chile, in November of 2023. From there, we’ll continue south, and if all goes well, we’ll be at the Antarctic Ocean by January 2024.
From there, we will ship the bikes to South Africa. Then, we’ll head up the East Coast of Africa to Greece, take some time to tour Europe, and then head east.
OEF: What’s one of the most memorable moments on your journey so far?
JS: I was about 30km out from Inuvik, NWT, Canada, on the final stretch of 850 gravel kilometers to the Arctic Ocean when I realized I would actually make it. I hadn’t made it yet, and there was still over 100km between me and my goal, but there is a moment in every journey, a moment on your way towards every goal when you look out at the horizon and realize for the first time that you are actually going to be able to do this. It’s not that you didn’t believe in yourself before, or doubted your ability, but before that moment, you couldn’t see it all play out.
OEF: That’s a great way to put it. On a similar note, what have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve experienced on your trip?
JS: Just before we left Guatemala, we had several oil leaks that popped up on my bike. Multiple times we tried to fix it since the bike was only a 2013 with 80,000 miles, but the issues just kept popping up. It ended up being a leaking battery, and the acid was wreaking havoc on seals and hoses. The cost of repairs from the battery and oil issue was close to the price of a good used bike.
So after a little searching, we found a 2015 BMW with 10,000 miles, so just a few days before we left, we swapped all of our accessories to the new bike.
Also, riding with Moxie on the back of the bike adds a level of difficulty on rough terrain. I took some training and continued to practice the necessary skills to gain confidence on the Dempster Highway.
Unfortunately, Moxie is having an back leg issue, so I’m currently lifting into and out of the cockpit. Which can be challenging since she’s 75 lbs.
OEF: What can you tell us about your work with Girl Up?
JS: I’ve struggled with self-confidence and feeling like an imposter my whole life. If I had a community of strong girls around me while growing up and the guidance and leadership that Girl Up provides, I believe I would be much further along on my own journey. That’s exactly what Girl Up aims to do. They provide inspiration and guidance for girls to feel confident in their abilities and goals.
Since I left Flagstaff, we’ve hired a Girl Up member from Mexico, Galia, to handle social media and outreach. She connects with Girl Up Clubs from around the world and shares their stories on the @goruffly Instagram. It’s a great way to spread the word about the Girl Up Clubs and the work they’re doing.
As we go south, we’ll meet up with more Girl Up Clubs. Currently, we’re planning to make stops at clubs in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama
OEF: That’s awesome! We can’t wait to hear how the rest of your trip and the club visits go! Thanks for taking some time to chat with us, and safe travels.