It wasn’t until Colleen Norheim’s Gobi Discovery trip was almost over that her UTV (Utility Task Vehicle/Side-by-Side) got her name: Flow (Fun/Fierce Lady On Wheels). By then her reputation was well established.
Browsing the Renedian website after her Waterfalls and Wildlife safari, Colleen noticed the Gobi Discovery tour. “I knew nothing about Mongolia but its uniqueness and unspoiled nature appealed to me. I wanted to ride through the Gobi Desert and experience the nomadic life style.”
Colleen deemed her off-road motorcycle riding skills didn’t meet the level of proficiency needed for this trip but the UTV made the trip possible.
“When touring by motorcycle we interact with the world around us with our senses in high gear. The thrill and stimulation is second to nothing. Having the UTV as an option meant I could experience Mongolia with the same rush of adrenaline, sense of adventure, and connection to life I get from riding a motorcycle.
“In my twenties I’d raced local autocross racing, sliding around the curves on a windy track. I’m now sixty-nine and err on the side of conservatism, especially after a confidence-robbing motorcycle accident in Japan. In Mongolia, I was the old lady out there on the edge in the UTV but didn’t feel out of place. I grinned from ear to ear every day and shocked the others by easily keeping up with the bikes.”
Flow began picking up artifacts and taking on a personality on the first day out of Ulaanbaatar. That’s when a local man gifted Colleen with the flag from his car, a vestige of the Naadam Festival. The collection grew from there.
“During stops I began noticing animal skulls on the ground and thought it would be cool to attach them to the UTV. Prolific animal bones wherever we went gave me a real sense of the spiritual energy of the desert. I felt a heightened awareness of my surroundings, the feeling that we are all somehow connected to our universe—the people, the animals, the landscape around us, and the sky above us.
“The bones marked the cycle of life and death that has gone on for millions of years. Dinosaurs left their energy and the cycle evolved but their energy is still here. Bones represent life that made an imprint on this planet and then left.
“It makes you feel very humble and realize how little control you have over anything.
“People asked me why I wanted to go to Mongolia when there was nothing there. I found quite the opposite. The culture with the ger camps, extreme landscapes, and animal herds was awe-inspiring. There was a feeling of connection to the earth you don’t get in the Poconos.
“As soon as you go outside the city, you see the true difference that Mongolia has to offer. It’s such a warm, dramatic, and inviting place with genuine, charming people. I loved every minute of it!”
Photo credits: Colleen Norheim