Windham Taylor: The Adventure of a Lifetime
When Windham Taylor finished a four-year tour in the United States Marine Corps in 2018, he decided to do something memorable to mark the occasion. That’s how he began riding his motorcycle from a military base in eastern North Carolina to the southern tip of South America. Taylor traversed more than 24,000 miles and 12 countries over the next eight months, experiencing local hospitality, wild animals, and breathtaking scenery.
Accustomed to living out of a backpack after his time in the military, he packed strategically for his motorcycle journey. Two saddlebags on the back of his bike held the basics: sleeping bag, tent, emergency food rations, cook stove, coffee cup, clothes, a laptop, and a nice camera. He also brought motorcycle gear for all weather conditions. “That was a good idea,” Taylor says, “because I got snowed and rained on a lot.”
Taylor traveled through diverse terrain including mountains, desert, tundra, jungle, and coastal areas. He says the only moment when he felt nervous was shortly after crossing the border from the US into Mexico. “I didn’t speak a word of Spanish and wasn’t sure what to do because they didn’t stop me to check my passport,” says Taylor, who turned around and went back to the office to get his passport stamped. Once past the border, he relaxed and soon experienced plenty of local hospitality. He used a mobile app to connect with local residents along his route who were willing to host him in their homes. In more rural areas, he camped.
“I met so many kind people along the way who helped me avoid dangerous areas, taught me about local culture, and introduced me to delicious food,” says Taylor. “I have a deep, genuine belief that most people are good, and this trip just confirmed that.”
While traveling through South America, Taylor explored options for the next stage of his life and decided to apply to the Haslam College of Business. He graduated just this past December with a degree in marketing and works on the digital marketing team for Covenant Health in Knoxville. “Digital marketing allows me to be analytical and tap into my creative side at the same time,” he says. “That’s why I’m passionate about it.”
Looking back on his epic motorcycle trip, he is grateful for how it changed him. “It has made me more thoughtful and introspective. When you’re camping in the mountains of Bolivia, miles from other humans, it makes you think about the way you live your life and the actions you take.”