P.E.A.C.E in the news


Trekking for Peace. That’s cool. You’ll notice, though, if you click on the photo and squinch your eyes at the bottom text, that Scott misquoted my mileage. He wrote, “2,500 miles.” Or else someone misprinted it. Perhaps they thought-oh, no, that would be impossible. Not so my friends! The odometer nears 22,000 right now!

To check out a piece of GREAT WRITING, click on the photo below or follow the link. I was hosted by Pete Selkowe, of Racine, WI and it turns out he is a professional journalist. Man, I wish we saw more of his style in the press these days. He’s old skool.
More on my visit to Racine, but check out the article.



Chicago, fast town

Are you in Chicago? I’m in Chicago! We should talk.


I’m not here for long, but I will be a year older when I leave!!

Be the lamp

So, where did I leave off? Oh, right,  a 300 mile ride that brought me into Madison, WI, as evening fell. That’s probably the longest stretch of riding I will do until I make the drive from Washington D.C. to Maine. For now, there are many stops along the way, driving 50-200 miles at a time.

I was up very early, for me. Usually, my biochemistry doesn’t allow anything before 8:30 am. Doesn’t matter if I’ve had 8 hours of sleep, taking a flight to Hawaii, or am headed to work at the coffeeshop- an 8am rising will make me groggy all day long. The exception is the Dalai Lama.

Groups of families and individuals clustered around the entranceway into the Coliseum. Many people were wearing beautiful custom dresses.  It felt like I was attending church, until I took my seat on the third tier, in the noseblood section. The coliseum was just too big of a venue for this occasion.  My ticket in was free. A gentlemen clutched a handful of them and serendipitously began handing them out as I walked up.

This was great, as tickets were $55. I was going to go either way. This particular event has never happened in the US. The Dalai Lama was not there just to offer a speech to the public. He was there to teach. I was given 2 books, translated into English, and a pretty bag to carry them around.

First, I was frisked more attentively than any airport security ever has. Very high security! No cameras allowed.


This event coordinated the teachings with a Tenshug. Tenshug is a long established Tibetan Buddhist tradition. It not only strengthens the bond between the spiritual teacher and disciple but also motivates the teacher to live longer. Those who participate in this offering ceremony do so with pure motivation and dedication.  The Dalai Lama just celebrated his 73rd birthday. From a distance, his body is small, and his back bent. As though he has slouched too long. His voice and presence, however, are strong and powerful.

I was deeply affected by this leaders desire to empower, educate and foster his people. I have seen or studied no religion which places so much energy into educating it’s followers how to be better people. Expanding the thought,  a religion which is very firm that there will be non-judgement placed on others.

 “Be a lamp onto yourself” — to examine and test the truth of religious teachings before accepting them.

Buddhism is most concerned with whether an action is helpful, based on good intentions, and freedom from harm. Thus, a specific act can sometimes be either permissible or not permissible, depending upon its context. This differs from the positions taken by Christian faith groups. They often evaluate a specific action itself, based on whether it is good or evil according to a system of morality derived from that group’s interpretation of the Bible.”

I felt many emotions while at the teachings. One was complete awe for the infinite gratitude the Dalai Lamas people have. I watched them prostrate (pray) over and over again. The act of prayer involves stretching down to the ground, completely. Monks sat around his feet in brightly colored robes. From a distance they looked like flowers opening petals. And the stage was so commanding, with its vibrant colors, back drop of Buddha and a 15 foot throne.

We stood everytime the Dalai Lama stood. He read from the texts in Tibetan. This put me to sleep a couple of times. His voice is hypnotic. I would jump awake when the translator began speaking.

Every passage he read from and examined, are topics that have been on my mind. Not that he did it for me, but I was in the right place, indubitably.

Quoted from the books and explored in depth by the Dalai Lama:
the perfection of zeal
“Uprooting its opposite in this way, one should strive to increase one’s zeal with the powers of aspiration, self confidence, delight, letting go, dedication and determination.”

One should apply self-confidence to these three: actions, secondary mental afflictions and ability.

“I alone should do it” expresses self -confidence with regard to action.
***not egotistcal  pride but self confidence says the DL.
This was helpful because I’ve wondered if I had rushed to make this trip, doing it alone as a consequence. People ask why alone? They seem judgemental sometimes-as though another rider would make my sanity legit. I never stopped to think hard about waiting for another. I felt this was the mission and it had to happen right away.

the perfection of meditation
thus, although working for the benefit of others, there is neith conceit nor dismay; and on account of the thirst for the single goal of benefitting others, there is no desire for the result of the maturation of one’s karma.”

***SO, you don’t practice kindness to build credit for yourself. You don’t do it based on any incentive other than to selflessly help others, help improve the world.

Training the mind and compassion.
In which he mentioned that part of pursuing your goals is to know when rest is appropriate.

I mingled about the grounds after the four hours of teaching and met some new friends.

Then I went over to Amy’s house, my host for the night. I met her through modernbuddy.com. It turns out she actually won a raffle prize awhile ago. Neat. i had forgotten.

She seemed very nice from the minute we met. Since my riding pants, my only pants, were destroyed, we went shopping. At Goodwill I found a pair. Not perfect, but roomy with pockets and only $4.

Amy has owned her St. Tropez for just a brief time, but is a confident rider. She showed me around town and took me to a fantastic diner. Walking in, I thought I would only find pancakes and greasy spoons. But they had a wonderful selection of organic veggies, vegetarian, meat and vegan dishes.

It was an early night. I forgot to take a picture of Amy for my collection. I snapped one of her dog, with my camera phone. He looked like my dog’s big brother. Which Daphne says, “Is hard to think of him having any family other than humans.” Because my dog acts like one. But he has a brother in Madison, i tell you.

Day 5 in the Twin Cities

****If you scroll down, you will find 5 entries about Minneapolis. Right now I am in Milwaukee. My focus isn’t going to be the blog. I have just two weeks left on the road. I’ll check in, but I won’t have time to write the longer pieces. I hope you can help spread the word about the trip. I will arrive D.C. 8/8/08.****

Sunny skies were with us again on Sunday, fortunately, because we had more riding planned.

Kate typed up a press release for me and I sent it out to a few people. After boring admin stuff we left the house.

There was a meet up at Pizza Luce and then a rehearsal ride for the Twin Cities upcoming rally. Nathaniel needed to be there early since he is a blocker. If you don’t know, a blocker is a designated scooterist who helps control traffic so that the formation of scooterists can all clear a light, or turn.  They literally block the intersection, with hands out, until the scooterist pass. They are crucial in a group ride. Nathaniel hasn’t been into scooters all that long, but it’s impressive to see how he has delved deep into the pursuit.

IMG_1668He’s very knowledgeable and he’s just so smart that his passion for scooters is like everything else he does, he does it well. I’m going to miss riding around with him and Kate, for sure. A respectable number of people were at Pizza Luce,  I had a chance to meet some new people and pass out postcards and stickers. I even sold some keychains. They are almost all gone at this point. It was nice to hear the favorable response. People understand why I’m riding. They are thankful it is happening. I’m honored.

Joe said, “Hey, I’m a government official and I couldn’t be happier about what you are doing.”

We rode about two hours and then I had my awkward collision into Nathaniel. Not his fault, the guy in front of him slammed on the brakes. Ironic that before the ride I had been asked if I’ve ever crashed. Also ironic was that during the ride Kent had given me a nice, quality sticker that says, “Start Seeing Scooters.” I don’t suspect it’s meant for scooterists, but the joke was on me later.

But once I battle rammed Nathaniel, we were there, right in front of our destination- the Bryant Lanes Bowling Alley, Theater and Bar.

IMG_1698The little establishment sure had some noble aspirations, but seemed to be pulling it all off quite nicely. Kent took over seating us and we settled in for some food, gags and conversation. In honor of my wreck they bought me a Surly beer. Lots of breweries in the Mid-West.
Really laid back crowd. Kevin and the guys seem to have been friends for awhile. There really is never an awkward silence with them around.

Rochelle, Joe’s wife met us at the bar, arriving in a Smart Car.

Or as the guys dubbed it, “a 600cc scooter with windows.”

IMG_1692I asked if there was a Bob’s Java Hut. Jak from San Fran wrote it on my scooter, but I couldn’t remember if it was in Minneapolis or Milwaukee. Everyone enthusiastically decided we should go and off the flock went. Bob’s is a cool place, with a motorcycle theme and strong coffee. Strong like crude oil. IMG_1693Delicious stuff, although my ice coffee was $3.75 and that’s just too much. That’s the price of a gallon of gas in Minnesota. But it was tasty.

We sat around and joked some more and two bicyclists had an accident in front of us. Much like the one I had an hour before. Eerie. Gravity wasn’t working right that day. Kent joked on me a little bit more. Then I got to drive the Smart car! I have some video of that to upload, at some point, as well as group ride footage.

It’s a tough call, between the Smart Car or the Prius. For my family needs, a Prius offers more space. For couples or solo driver, the Smart car is perfect. Brilliant, even.
Cool feature-You have the option to change it from automatic to manual.
It’s pretty cool to see how consumer trends are now demanding the kind of technology we’ve had for awhile. And to see the bar being raised. We are quite capable of some amazing technology.

IMG_1679Stephen pointed out a guy who drove a moped to the Black Hills. That’s about 1,200 miles! On a moped! Going 45 mph, with none of the sweet suspension that I have! I went to day a quick HI before leaving. The old timer monopolized me for a bit and I didn’t have the chance  to say a proper good buy to Lora. Kind of a bummer. She was another Scooterville employee that made the visit exceptional.

We didn’t get back home until 9:30. We watched a movie and I had a sense of disappointment that the visit was wrapping up. Kind of awkward sometimes to instantly click with people and then have to quickly click off and move on. Nathaniel made a large donation and I didn’t want to accept it, because they had refused to let me pay for anything when I was there. He compared it to tithing. You know, I’ve heard that idea discussed before in some of my college classes. The idea that even if you don’t belong to your church, saving 10% of your income and donating it to charity helps out your community.

My two hosts signed the scooter and offered to ship home the fender, so I can have the souvenir. It has a lot of signatures on it….

Never enough time, I was up very late trying to contact people on the remaining route. It looks like I’ll be able to ship home my tent soon, I have places to stay almost every stop ahead. That will surely make a difference in the scoots handling and clear up some needed space.

Thanks to everyone in the Twin Cities who showed me how great your cities are, and your character. More peace per capita!

Day 4 in the Twin Cities

It was a late night. Nathaniel and Kate were enjoying sleeping late on a Saturday morning.
How weird. A day off. A weekend off. Holy Crow. A normal schedule. I’m not sure I will be able to handle a 40 hour work week when the ride is over….
It’s gonna have to be a good job after all the things I’ve proven to myself that I can do.

Beans. We needed coffee! What better way to wake up than smelling strong, delicious java. Have I told you yet how cool Nathaniel and Kate are? I’m so thankful that Nathaniel contacted me in April.

Cap't BobWe had plans to meet some Lora and her husband at Scooterville, to ride around town when she was done with work. I get to see a lot of things tourists don’t. I’ve got access to all parts of the city, not just the major tourist spots. Although, Minneapolis seems pretty accessible, by light rail.

In fact, they also encourage biking with The Green Trail, which is a converted train thorough fare that runs the main artery of town. There are a lot of cool spaces in the city. Like two major lakes, city center. On any given day people are rollerblading, biking, running, walking, swimming or wind surfing. I suspect having an outdoor recreational space smack dab in the city promotes a direct appreciation of green spaces and the awareness to conserve them.

The Guthrie TheaterThe Grand Rounds are parkways that circle the Lakes. The speed is set just right for gazing at all the fancy homes. None of them were overtly pretentious. Just beautiful, old stone work. Our plan was to ride the rounds. As soon as we got to the shop the clouds let out some heavy rains. We all hung out until it cleared and decided to first visit the Guthrie.

Troubled Bridge over waterIt is located in the Mill City historic area which reminds me a lot of downtown historic Richmond, VA, where I grew up. We too are a port city and had a lot of industry moving in and out. The Guthrie however, is a majestic modern theater that somehow, doesn’t seem out of place next to its dilapidated mill neighbors.

7 scooteristsIt is the antithesis of commercial Broadway. You can go in wearing jeans of tuxedos. You can roll in with a pack of your scooterists friends and goof off on the different levels or you can take a date to dinner and a performance. But that will cost you. Looking about and goofing off is free.

There is a wonderful observation deck to view the city skyline, the bridge being repaired and the Mississippi River. Interesting that just two months ago, I sat by the Mississippi while in New Orleans. Completely different atmosphere, one river.

My many facesThe museum design makes great use of angles and lighting. The third floor is yellow and made me feel pleasantly lightheaded.
Edgy                     There are some really great pictures on my flickr, check em out.

Two Wheel GangSFrom the observation deck we spotted a Segway tourist group. This is now all the rage, touring cities on Segway. Ya know, one guy rode cross country on a Segway and made a movie about it, 10mph, which won an award. I’ve seen it, it’s good. As we left the building they rode past and we followed them for a bit. They asked if we were Hells Angels.

It’s fun riding in a pack. People always look so happy to see a pack of scooters. I feel like we are a parade. A Genuine parade that is, with almost every model in their line up present. Day TrippersAfter frolicking around dinner was to be had. Conversation flowed well. These Minnesotans are really giving Southern Hospitality a run for the reputation. Nathaniel and Stephen geeked out a little, but I enjoyed it.

They were talking inventions and I’m encouraging Stephen to build one in particular. I don’t want to spoil the prototype, but I will tell you that this particular video came up. Check it out below.

We split out after dinner and went back to the house to lounge around.  Good day!

Day 3 in the Twin Cities

July 17th, the day Americans anxiously await the release of the Dark Knight.

My Minneapolis recreation activities director  had returned to work after a brief vacation with me.  I had many things planned though and was happy to have my own transpo. I even felt pretty comfortable getting through the big city. Eden Prairie, where my hosts live, is a 40 minute drive into the city. I forgot this and was running late.

Electric BobI was heading to Scooterville to meet Bob and attend a Green Fair being hosted by the biggest law firm in Minneapolis. Bob was invited to showcase scooters, especially his electric pride and joy, the Vectrix.

Read this thorough review of the Vectrix to find out about a really cool machine that has ZERO emissions and takes pennies to operate after the initial purchase.


It was an interesting two hours. I actually took the scooter up to the 29th floor, on the freight elevator.
I was asked if it was going to leak everywhere. I said, “No, she’s housebroken.”

I was impressed that the firm offers an event like this to their employees. There were about 15 booths, with information ranging from alternative transpo, to efficient lighting, recycling, composting, organic food. I talked to just a few people who knew more than I did. Not to sound smug, I’ve just been pursuing a sustainable lifestyle for a really long time.

I found out about potato spoons though. That makes the potato even more exciting than ever. You can eat a baked potato with a potato. That’s cool. And then you can compost it and fertilize the ground to grow more potatoes. Brilliant.

Each exhibit was given a liaison, someone who worked with the firm helped promote our booth. Ours was a fellow two wheeler and she really helped educate people about P.E.A.C.E Scooter. People signed the scooter and were really cute and awkward about it. Somebody asked, “what’s some cool scooter lingo? What do you say to one another?”

“Rubber side down. Shiny side up.”
So he wrote R.S.S.S.S.U

IMG_2380I ran around and collected info to send home to my mom, thinking she might learn a couple of things. I applaud the steps the firm has taken to be sustainable. They have made a firm commitment and  they have the money to do so and if other firms and corporations follow their example the price of these new technologies will drop. One cheerful, talkative lady made a good point. She said, “in most cases, to get people to listen, you have to separate conservation from environmentalism.”

Meaning that most people are willing to conserve resources when they realize it’s beneficial to them-that they will save money.  Just like the scooter frenzy taking place. People are willing to choose a fuel efficient, low emissions vehicle now that they are getting hit in the pocketbook.

But I know what will happen. They’ll wind up having fun on one. They might even drive 22,000 miles. I mean, I only had my 50cc for 350 miles before I decided to do this trip.

I’ve found lately that heavy duty conversation wears me out and I loose my voice quickly. I still love what I’m doing. I’ve given a lot of energy to thousands of people; listening, helping, learning, teaching, writing, riding. It’s made my life better and brighter. The work itself regenerates me, but it’s my body that is starting to hurt.

When we arrived back at the shop, David Harrington was there, of www.justgottascoot.com. And wow, talk about energy. That man is solar powered. I told him I had to eat before I could manage an interview.

It was easy, he’s an informed conversationalist and smoothes over any rough moments.  As we were taping (you can hear the two strokes in the background) people started arriving for the BBQ. Thanks to everyone’s generosity, we raised $180. Many thanks for the donations and great conversation.

I don’t think of myself as the celebrity that people make me out to be. I feel awkward when people call me that.  I don’t want to be ogled, I’m a little shy like that. I think everyone should know that following your dream is a relatively simple undertaking. The biggest thing that prohibits someone is that they focus on all the things stopping them and not the things there to help their dream along.

Also, I guess I don’t want someone who travels to talk about Peace to be a hero, because I would rather that our world never got to this point.

Nothing means as much to me as new Peace definitions on the website. And actually, the fine people in the Twin Cities have been leaving a lot of them.

There were the usual round of questions. About my butt. About housing.
And then, the most interesting question yet.
“Do you ever cry?”
“Yes. I did. Recently.” I told him all about it. “Do you cry?”
“No. Men don’t cry.
“I think of it as exfoliation.”
“Like a face mask. Rubbing the dead skin cells away. When and if I can cry (doesn’t happen that easy) I am getting out what is weighing me down and making room for what can bring me up. ”

C-FoamThere was an abundance of food and conversation. Herbert was stealing the show with his funny one liners. He gave me the Lake Wobegone Mints. Kent stole the best in show with his mod Stella beauty, C-Foam. I met a lot of great people that night, thank you all for coming out and making the long road a lot more bearable. I wish every city could offer the same amount of support!!!!
Then, it was time for the Dark Knight. I’m not a movie reviewer. It’s a brilliant movie, if you can get past Batman’s silly voice. Go see it.

Blue Skies over Lake Wobegone, finally

Minneapolis July 17. Day 2

I didn’t want to get out of bed. I did. I had some coffee. I wanted to go back to bed. The sky dumped torrential rain. Thankfully, no driving. I can’t think of a day in the past year when I’ve pulled back the blinds to see rain and promptly snuggled back into the covers to hibernate.

Dave called right on time. Man, he is surely a recreational activities director!  We discussed the afternoon BBQ. I was told that Minnesota weather is as fickle as a presidential candidate;  it will change every 15 minutes. A conference with Bob confirmed that we should do a raindate and Friday might be better anyhow.

Ok. I should have gone back to bed.
By the time Dave picked me up, it was gorgeous and sunny.

IMG_2372We went in search of People serving People, the only family-focused shelter in Minnesota. I wasn’t sure if Dave was dropping me off, watching me work, or working with me. I was so incredibly happy that he decided to put on a hairnet, apron, gloves and serve food next to me! This is what I’m going for- action!
It’s one thing to tell me you think the ride is cool, but I want you to jump in and define Peace, to help volunteer, and to do it even when I leave your town!

If you are Minneapolis, People serving People needs you, and for a variety of services. They serve approximately 300 people a day, three meals a day. Dave portioned out carrots and became a health Natzi when the kids came back from 2nds-of cookies. “Did you eat your carrots?”
No one really did, he should have been the cookie man-more popular.

IMG_2374The cookie man was actually from the company that provides a lot of financial support to the shelter. So was the chicken and baked potato man, Tom. Pretty cool, donating money and labor. A lot of places have told me that it is actual people that they need as much as money. The food looked good and they provide really valuable services.

It was hard to see so many children, but I know that the shelter is providing many, many services for them. Lynette was the conductor of the whole thing and I liked watching her in action. She was very good with the kids and took aside many mothers to encourage them. Dave and I kept the jokes rolling and he seemed to enjoy the whole event.
Hmmm. Where were all the Dads? Maybe trying to work? I hope. I saw maybe 6 men the whole time.

After I swept up, we went to grab the scooter! Apparently, I was beaming. Dave even texted Daphne to let her know how happy I was to have it back.
I have gone back to completely stock engine. The performance pipe is gone. We felt that this was best since my elevation keeps changing. It’s a great pipe, though, and now my engine is ninja. So quiet in comparison, but probably better on the eardrums and long term hearing. Hearing is only something that can be lost, not gained back!

Kate's sketchWhat better way to celebrate than a drive out to Lake Wobegon, err, Lake Minnetonka. Nathaniel seemed impressed that all I want to do on my days off is ride, but they happily got on their scooters to show me around. We took a nice cruise and everything was so green, smelled so good-after the rain earlier.

I really like riding with Nathaniel and Kate. They know their bikes, know how to ride and like to play at stoplights. We rode very harmoniously over to the India Palace, their favorite. Everything on the menu looked so good! I went with a paneer and somehow finished it. Kate drew a P.E.A.C.E Scooter sketch and received compliments on her art and her pink scooter, from the employees.

Volunteering, riding, Indian food! Makes you sleep good at night! Seriously, if people could just turn off the TV for 2 hours a week and visit their local shelter-they would find it is a rewarding feeling and that their help is greatly appreciated!

Arrival into Minneapolis

Tuesday July 16. Minneapolis, MN

Greg had dropped me off in St. Paul, on his way to Wisconsin. The scooter was unloaded at Scooterville, MN and then we managed to find a random, cheap hotel. He wasn’t sure how I would get back to Scooterville but this is where Dave enters the picture.  Scooterists are amazing people. On the road, I’ve become comfortable with the amount of help I’m constantly offered. It’s one of the things I’ve had to work on-accepting help. I prefer to help people.

This trip would be completely different without the far flung scooter family. I wonder if it is this connected in Europe? Dave had contacted me to let me know he had taken a 2 day reprieve from work to escort me around the town. He arranged a BBQ at Scooterville, found a volunteer gig for me and notified the local media. And he was on his way to extract me from St. Paul. He said, “old guy, green jeep, arriving 10 minutes.” I said, “okay, green guy, old jeep, see ya soon.”

While I waited, Cort told me a lot about the city. He said there is a divide between the Twin Cities and that many people never cross into the other one. I said that scooterists are bridging that gap. He said that,”St.Paul is the last city of the East and Minneapolis is the first city of the West.”

Dave is far from green or old. He came across as a gentlemen displaced from the South, known for its hospitality.  I let him know that I wanted to stick around the scooter shop to see what was going on with my scooter. I like to get in there and help where needed.  I think this might have surprised him, but he gracefully changed the tour plans into a day of hanging out with the crew at Scooterville.

I was in a exhausted daze, still reeling from the difficult travel days. IMG_1656

Scooterville has a reputation. An oasis smack dab in the MidWest, where winters get down to 40 below. Bob somehow remains the 3rd dealer in the country. I’ve read about their events online before, they seemed like a great crew. I knew Audre was going to be in skilled hands. Famous Ed used to work there, before Genuine snatched him up and put him and his dog in the Love Bus; now they are Genuine Scooter ambassadors. Genuine has Peace and Love on the road!  Ed seems to be notorious, a great guy, and I wish our paths would cross. But I was in good company all around.

IMG_1641Olivia, Johanna, and Lora offered enthusiastic welcomes. The guys, Nick, Stephen, and Coleman had Audre up on the rack within minutes. Bob,  the ringmaster, ran around much like Batman.  Honestly,  one minute he’s standing beside you and the next he’s gone. The shop was bustling but no one seemed stressed at all. They get it done and keep the jokes coming. FOX news called, another reporter called, David Harrington called and someone on spot started interviewing me.

Gosh. What a welcoming.Alix Bryan 065

Jeremy, who writes for a local monthly paper, Triangle Park Creative, showed up. He talked to me for a few moments and then left to go get a better camera. We did some fun photos, and used Bob’s Stella. Bob made the shoot easy, he was totally candid and we talked about the war and fuel supply while driving in circles  and up and down the street.

Jeremy asked a lot of great questions and I was worried about him scribbling all the answers on paper. He realized his recorder was needed, so I loaned him mine. He hadn’t really planned on doing a big story until he found out more about the P.E.A.C.E mission.

We talked for almost two hours. I think he’s going to try and take the story to another level. And he should. I trust him and our conversation was the best I’ve had yet with any reporter.

IMG_1660I was completely drained when he left. Dave and I went to eat. He had a nice little place to show off to me, the Red Sea, an Ethiopian restaurant. I was finding that the Twin Cities in MN share many similarities with my Twin Cities in Maine. One being the Somali refugee population.

We spent awhile discussing Somali’s- their pleasant disposition, intelligence, community and plight. Dave had far more energy than me-I just wanted a nap. We said goodbye to everyone at the shop and he took me out to Eden Prairie to meet my hosts. My new family. My dear friends Nathaniel and Kate.

Dave took the long way and bombarded my brain with info about the area. You can’t get a better tour guide. I was surprised that this city was so big, so cultural, so funky. We made plans to volunteer the next day.

Kate and Nathaniel were immediately cool. They had great laughs, great wit and two dogs to lick me adoringly.  They recently sealed the deal and married and they’re totally perfect together.  Kate shared some of her past and perspectives with me. They were both really active Adventists and Kate not too long ago became disenchanted with the lack of equality the church perpetuates. I had a lot of respect that she left her job because she felt there was a structure in place that creates a glass ceiling for women.

Our society doesn’t recognize that women still get paid .75 cents to the dollar and in many organizations, a man with the same or less experience will make more money than a woman. In addition to making less money, women pay more for things. Let’s see. Tampons are ridiculously expensive considering they are made from cotton. Viagra is covered by insurance, but rarely is birth control. In our 30’s, insurance goes up because it’s prime baby making time. Whether or not you want to have a kid or even have a same sex partner.

Conversation about this only came up in college. I guess to prepare us for making less money. Ha. But I am constantly surprised when people want to brush over discussion about this glaringly obvious truth.

Kate does deserve more, she’s genius and so is Nathaniel. It is very cool that she began to question practicing a faith that won’t allow women to preach. Although, they are both very spiritual.  It was nice to be staying not just with scooterists, but people who support peace and are politically informed.

Most of the night is a blur, but we talked for awhile. The Psychology of Batman was on the history channel and made for an interesting watch. Nathaniel told me about the Stephen Colbert speech at the White House Correspondents Press dinner. It’s basically a roast, but certified genius dinner theater. It is from 2006, but I’m behind the times when it comes to TV. If you are also and never heard of this gem, take 24 minutes to watch it yourself!

I’m still trying to figure out if it was planned. I worry that the White House coordinated some of it, thinking it would show the American public that this administration can laugh at themselves and get us to simply soothe our frustrations by laughing at ’em. Otherwise, I don’t understand how Colbert, a known Bush critic, got away with his punches. The public tends to just laugh at Bush and call him stupid. This is dangerous and feeds apathy. And in no way does it substitute for an informed, active citizen body.

I made my way to the guest room and slept hard, wanting to snooze through the alarm that came too early the next day. What a first day! Which means there is more on Minneapolis coming up…….

Rip, crash and a new state!

Ok, so I’ve slipped from this blogging gig as of late. And quite frankly, the previous week and a half was chock full of some bad events. So why bother?

It feels really good to be back in the saddle. Although I was up at 8am, my departure from Minneapolis, or Mini Apples, wasn’t until 1:30. There were two cute pups to walk, bags to pack/load, and mail to send out. Mail home that included my alternate pair of pants. With just 3 weeks left on the road, the bags could be lighter.

IMG_1716My decision was poorly timed. No more than an hour after I sent the extra pants home, my riding pants ripped. Ripped in ways that brought a blush to my face when interacting with strangers at the gas station. The fancy pants have failed the road test. I’m thankful they were won in a raffle, because they didn’t live up to the $100+ price tag. Anyone know a good thrift store in Madison, WI? The pants ripped JUST as I mounted up to leave Scooterville. What an exit!

I was there for an oil change and front tire “fender” replacement. Not sure why everything is falling apart these days, but I am personally responsible for the crash which ruined my front “fender.”

The locals were doing a rehearsal ride for their upcoming “Rattle my Bones” rally. All went well until the LAST turn, when we made a left. I was looking in my mirror to see if people cleared it. I looked back up, just 2 seconds really, and there was Nathaniel-at a complete stop in front of me.  Why everyone had to stop so suddenly in the road is beyond me. Bad move.
I slammed on the brakes, full force. The back tire lifted, I was standing completely upright on the floorboard. Blammo, perfect tire to tire collision. IMG_1666Somehow I landed on my feet, taking down the scoot as gently as one might when not even cognizant of the motions.

My favorite quote from that awkward situation was, “That’s not what we meant by blocking Nathaniel.” His scoot was fine, thankfully, except for the P.E.A.C.E sticker he put on the back, which I managed to rip.

Fortunately, Scooterville had a parts bike laying around and they fixed me up. I owe them big time for all their work on Audre! After goodbyes, Bob suited up and rode me out of town.

The best course of action was to put a lot of miles between me and Minneapolis. Were the Dali Lama not teaching here in Madison, I would have stayed longer. It’s a great city and will get it’s own proper blog.

Today, day 80 on the road, I covered 300 miles. Highway 55 began picking up speed and traffic after Bob and I parted. There was a fork in the road and either way would get me to Highway 61. I took Highway 52S after watching traffic from the side for a few minutes. It seemed to be the road less traveled.

IMG_1707Two lane divided highways are nice when you are in a hurry but don’t want to compromise scenery by taking an Interstate. The Minnesota side was rather fast and slowed down in Wisconsin. I made very respectable time today.

Unexpectedly, I came across some curvy roads and steep climbs. The terrain reminded me of Virginia, except for the hundreds of acres of farmland. It smelled like Nebraska or Kansas, but there were more pine trees and little mountains than either of those states. The sun was shining brightly and reflecting off of the Mississippi River. Gorgeous, mechanical trouble free riding today!

Wisconsin is another state that I think I’ve been through, but probably just stopped for gas and rations. I crossed into the state on Highway 14/61. Basically, just three roads today. The Mid West is really easy to navigate without taking the Interstate. The first sights were a massive beer brewery and signs for cheese and brats. Gas prices went up, but stayed below $4 a gallon.

IMG_1714I noticed a Scandinavian influence and spotted some lawn vikings.

There were many noteable things worth exploring, but daylight was short. Frank Lloyd Wright built his home in Spring Green in 1911. I imagine it would be cool to see the evolution of his design work on the 600 acre property. Near Spring Green I saw signs for “House on the Rock.” Which is strange, because my favorite sci-fi/fantasy writer Neil Gaiman, talks about House on the Rock in his novel, American Gods.

I was busy thinking about that book when Madison snuck up on me. Just in time. The GPS had gone into nightime mode and I couldn’t see the roads very well. They really are in bad shape around here, with long but wide pieces of asphalt missing. Those kind of grooves are dangerous to 10inch wheels.

I can’t help but think those mechanical failures were proof that fiascos can lead to opportunity. If I wasn’t behind by five days, I wouldn’t be around Madison to hear the Dali Lama. Tomorrow, I have school; 4 hours of teaching from the Dali Lama, His Holiness, Peacemaker!
So lights out!

There will be posts, soon

The reception here in Minneapolis has been so wonderful. I can’t believe it is already time to go! The days have flown past with lots of group riding, some volunteering, a Peace BBQ at the scoot shop, interviews, dog walking, and chilling with my two fabulous hosts. There will be much to say and I will pick up as promised, with Blue Skies over Lake Wobegon.

Next is Madison, WI and serendipitously, the Dali Lama is there teaching. After deliberation, I have chosen to shell out the $55 to see His Holiness speak and participate in 4 hours of teaching. I believe there is a lot to learn from him.

Herbert reads the blog and offers me Lake Wobegon Amusemints
Lake Wobegon Amusemints

Lake Wobegon, where are you?

The afternoon was windy. Not just fly a kite windy, but make sure the mailbox hasn’t flown away windy. There was a wind advisory out actually. I missed my turn and didn’t realize until I was 40 miles south of where I needed to be. Winds battering me from the northwest made for an impossible backtrack north. I tried. Within one minute my heart was pounding as a tractor trailer passed me and I blew off the road. I mean gusts up to 50 mph were happening.

The Interstate gained an appeal it has never had. I stay off “the slab,” as it’s known to hardcore bikers. Usually the views and culture are meager compared to the rich landscape on the backroads. There it was, Interstate 94, offering me the straightest shot to Fargo, with a tailwind guaranteed. Oh, and even an unexpected overnight visit in Bismarck if all went well. Did I do it? You betcha!

I wasn’t sure Bismarck would be obtainable. That was officially the most wind I’ve driven in for the longest consecutive bout. The Interstate was fine, better than fine. It curved and took me through the Badlands, the painted hills. They looked exactly like the ones in South Dakota, except with some green foilage. It was gorgeous and desolate, with a majority of motorcyclists and an occasional tractor trailer truck. It wasn’t scary and eventually, in the last two hours of the ride, the wind disappeared completely. It was one of the most exhausting 310 mile days that I ever hope to have.

Well, I’ve now visited Bismarck, the capital of North Dakota, the Peace Garden state.That’s about that. I stayed in a hotel and I slept, snoozed hard. Everyone I met was there doing sales work and they were all nice but we couldn’t manage a decent conversation past, “visit this bar in such and such town.”

I set off for Fargo, only 120 miles away. 73 miles later one of the last things I want to happen happens. It sounds bad, but wasn’t as bad as it sounded. I didn’t know this at the time and was really frantic and strangely-depressed. The Interstate isn’t necessarily the best place to break down. People are going too fast to stop. The probably think, “oh, the next person will help.” On the back roads, people always stop within 10 minutes. I was there 2 hours and no one once stopped. The loudness of tractor trailers becomes unsettling and there is no where to pee in privacy.

Genuine offers roadside assistance for a year and mine has expired. The 800 number did locate a tow truck for me though. I gave it a shot on my own, even calling the Harley dealership in the next town. All options were unavailable on a Sunday. Finally the tow showed up and it was truly hysterical. A piece of chipped plywood reluctantly covered the trailer. Two threadbare ratchets were offered. Impossible. Finally, after more were delivered and I secured the scooter, we were dumped at the closest town. Then I received the $220 bill. I offered $100 and made a good case for myself, only to fall on deaf ears.

IMG_1636Finally the next day I made it to Fargo, only with the help of a Genuine rep who just serendipitously happened to be in Fargo and agreed to extract me from Jamestown, ND. My afternoon was spent with Greg. Somehow, he had never heard of P.E.A.C.E Scooter and he asked a lot of questions. I asked him a lot of questions. The day flew past. The Genuine crew contacted their friend Bob at Ma’s Cycles. They fixed up the clutch, which had come loose. Great guys, really helpful. Important pitcrew to have on your side.

70 miles later, I made another distress call to Greg. He was on his way to Wisconsin, and would go right through Minneapolis. He came to save me again and with the help of two construction fellas, Audre was lifted into the truckbed.

Lake Wobegon must be somewhere nearby, in the land of 10,000 lakes.

Most of the ride felt like a lecture, but I was just hot under the collar. Over and over about how I’m doing more than anyone has ever done on this 125cc scooter, weighing it down, riding it wide open throttle, long distance miles in the hot weather. My engine is air cooled, which means the oil is simmering in there. Everything made sense but wasn’t what I wanted to hear at the moment. What I focused on was the patience this guy had with me. And how happy I am that the company has stood behind me every step of the way.

Greg even drove the backroads for the 180 mile stretch. We all tried our best but there was no way to really get in there and fix her without getting to the next Genuine dealer. So I had to compromise by accepting that at least me and Audre were literally on the Peace route, together.
To be continued….Blue Skies Again over Lake Wobegon. The incredible welcoming from cool people into a cool city. And the scooter is alive again…..


Peace Scooter leaves D.C.P.E.A.C.E started one year ago today! It’s still a spanking new fresh baby, there is a lot more to come in the years ahead.
July 15, 2007 I scooted on up to the White House, GWB’s place of business. There I met Denise, who bought me a cup of coffee, and Samuel, who below, offered his definition of Peace. There was symbolism to the departure date, it was in tribute to Jimmy Carter’s “Crisis in Confidence,” speech, an amazing read.

The speech really impacted me because Carter is addressing many of the SAME EXACT issues we face today, 32 years later. Fuel crisis, doubt in our leaders, environmental problems.

What inspired me was his invitation to have honest dialogue with the people and admit things were not so good. He recognized that the public has to be involved in the solution.

Frustrated with our own leadership, and that has a double meaning, the launch from D.C. was not publicized. The trip was meant to celebrate the depth of American experience, to take the sacred idea of Peace away from the capitol and to the people.
Thank you to the people who are supporting P.E.A.C.E and making it the most memorable year of my life!

Below is the first interview I did, with Samuel.

Time alone, set to a tumbleweed symphony

ProppedHighway 200, long neural pathway.
Ascending, descending mountains, one lone scooterist tracing the Continental Divide. Entering into Eastern Montana, the landscape flattens, with rolling hills offering just enough crest to see where I will be in 2 miles. Montana, with Missoula on one end and Circle at the other. The gates, but providence where?

Here, here in my head. I’m staring ahead to the East, the homestretch, stretching for miles without sight of anything except mesmerizing grain. To the North and South the miles of landscape stretch into a blue sky. Yes Big Sky country, big enough to make me understand just how little people really are. And here they are survivors.

Last ditch effortDaisy walks to the door from her lazy chair. Oxygen is in use, air supporting life. Outside the wind offers me little support.

“M’am, I’m going to run out of gas before I reach Jordan.”
“Ok, I’ll turn on the pumps for you.”

With little interest in government taxation and changing times, credit cards are just as obsolete as the dinosaurs that once roamed Montana. It all feels like a joke, but it is my fault for running out of cash. I hate using my credit card.  She gives me the gas instead, with promise I will help someone down the road.

“How long have you been here Daisy?”
“At the shop since 1956, but I was born here. People don’t come around the same anymore.”

Here is there, Sandy Springs Montana. 30 miles from Jordan, MT.

Jordan, refuge to the Freemen militia. In a state where people are bound to the land.
I am eating at Hell Creek, talking to strangers and Daphne is texting, don’t let them buy your drinks, don’t get drunk.  Of course not. But there is common ground to find. Crawford, Waco, Jordan, New Orleans, Selma (Alabama), Seward (Nebraska). Places of extremes. They are on the Peace map for a reason. Each location brings me closer to understanding, myself and others.

Paleontology BobPaleontology Bob is reveling in the journey. He is connecting to the spirit it takes to do this.  This is where we relate. We are both surviving. The next day I will mysteriously run into him twice, by the hotel. He will tell me he’s been thinking about me.

Mr. Ross is asking, “you aren’t vegan are you?”
“Well no sir, I just had a hamburger.”

Montana is the place to eat beef if you must. So I’m invited over, I’ve passed the test. He makes what little money he can from beef. Here cows wander, they are grass fed, they are free of anti-biotics and GMO grains.

Once we are in good I tell him I’ve been vegan. He wants to be disgusted but I am too busy playing both sides. Using expressions and body language to calm him. I present the case of the vegan. A nod of acceptance happens. I will not push my luck this night.
Militia men and dinosaur diggers commend my journey because it mirrors their own desparate survival, adaptation and sometimes conquering of nature. Here, they listen only because I’ve traveled so far.
What will we have to show for it at the end of these days that fill chapters and time?

It has been a long ride, I will go home to my affordable lodge that usually shelters hunters and fishermen. The mileage was 403, short of my hopeful 467 miles to Circle. I was frozen from temperatures that fell 30 degrees short of the previous day. Four layers on my top (two jackets) and two on the bottom. The scooter loved the temp and so we rode.

Rode through a land that could resemble the moon, if only it was covered in grass. A cloak of pink lightly settled over the landscape, like a shawl. In the summer night it is but a quick fix; the sun sets late, at 10pm and is up early. So was I, greeted by a wind that had me at a 45 degree lean most of the day. I have learned to watch the grass and trees to predict the force and direction of the wind. There will be a wind advisory most of the day, with 50 mph gusts.

Paula and JerryNow in Circle, the Bermuda Circle, my scooter won’t start. It is the bond we have there. My bike breaks and they help me fix it and we discuss local gossip. They are surprised I have been led through there twice. Our conversation goes back and forth with ease and I have the feeling I have walked into another set. One where I don’t belong, but am welcomed. I am offered a husband and a job as a ranch hand. Hugs are passed around and I am back on the road.

20,000 Milemarker20,000 miles turns on the odometer, in under a year.

Leaving Circle, I am overwhelmed with all that I have seen, all the places I have left myself, and parts people have given me. I have passed through that final gate, and into North Dakota.

My nose is both bloody and black from dusty winds.  I think if I was to cry it would happen right….now, but my eye sockets are just as dry as my nose from this arid climate.

Pass it onI think back to an unexpected sign I saw outside of Great Falls and the tears stream, for just a moment.

If Montana was a woman she would have ruby lips and piercing blue eyes that make me see into my own soul.
Montana, you are better than therapy.

Apparently, the P.E.A.C.E ride is no different than Hitler

 I’m including this whole conversation because it was a learning experience for me. It was a test, for me not to be judgemental, angry or close minded. To continue to be listen calmly even though I did not agree with almost ANYTHING this gentleman said. I walked away thinking, “what if that guy was God?” What if he was just testing me.

I had hoped to convey that people build you up by showing you were you are weak. Well, someone read this and sent me a good link, (thanks Parker) so I’m putting that right here, it’s a Pema Chodron video. 

I walked out of the store, having bought a banana. I’m in Circle, MT. I was there last year, waylaid for a couple of days and so I’m excited to go visit Paula at the Travelers Inn Motel.  A gentlemen and his family look at the scooter and start asking questions. I go for it and tell them all about the mission, give ’em the spiel. I think it always comes out sounding genuine, because I believe in it with all my heart. Approving nods and ah has are happening. Good. You just never know in certain areas.

They ask, how do you define Peace?

“Well, how I take care of myself, my community and the environment”
“It’s the ability to not always impress my idea of how something should be, but have the humility to accept what is best.
Non-judgement.  Finding alternatives besides anger, violence and judgement to resolve a disagreement. ”
Pause. I could go on.

Something comes up about pacifism. I say I’m peaceful, but that requires action. I say the word pacifism is perceived as non action, but it takes a rather big commitment to  achieve your goals through  non-violence and non-agression. In fact,  I think it’s harder, because, in policy, pacifism isn’t our customary modus operandi.

He says, “Ghandi…”

“Yes, Martin Luther King, yes. Ghandi said that the end is inherent in the means.”

He looks dubious.

“For instance, anger begets anger. War doesn’t bring peace, it brings submission.”

“Hitler defined Peace as submission.”

I think this is where the ball starts rolling. I might miss a couple of lines here, sorry Merit.

I don’t know what I said to that (what do you say to that?)  and it was obvious Merit had his own agenda and has probably used this angle numerous times in his spiel.

He asks if I think Hitler was wrong.

I think about it for a second. “Well, actually, I can understand that what Hitler wanted to protect is people. That’s what he thought he was doing. But killing others to protect his people was clearly wrong. I’m more focused on what he did, and how that mentality can be avoided in our future, than just saying Hitler was wrong.  Hitler was a suffering individual,  his ego cried for attention and power made him feel important.

“Is murder wrong?”

“Yes. Yes it is.”

“How do you know murder is wrong?”

That’s a damn good question. And quite frankly, I’m shocked that we are having this discussion. In front of me, but to Merit’s side, stands his son, perfectly stoic. Merit has the spotlight. I still don’t anticipate what lies ahead. It should have been clear to me that Merit does this often.

“My belief in a greater spirit.”

“A god?”

“I don’t call it a god. I don’t feel like I need to, hmmm, let me explain. I recognize that there is something definitely greater than myself. Knowing this makes me understand that other men/women are small also. If you can appreciate how small you really are, I think you develop an empathy that makes you less competitive, judgemental and violent. We compete to be bigger and more powerful. But we’re all really small.  I think what makes us big is when we work together, despite our differences.”

“So YOU believe murder is wrong.”

“Yes. ??”

“But, how do you KNOW?”

It’s really a life defining moment for me. In my head I see myself  thinking protection is the only justification for harming another person. Then it’s survival right? But in my heart I don’t agree with this. I’m confused now. My approach involves what is an idealistic world, and only faith in that can keep me working towards its creation. This means I have just as much faith as Merit does, although he might disagree, because his faith comes from a specific God and commandments.

“I know because we have hearts that allow us to care and minds that allow us to create a better solution. We have no reason to murder.”

“Then it’s based on what YOU believe, which is really no different than Hitler. He had a belief too.”

Oh this is cheap.

“So how do YOU know murder is wrong?”

“The Bible.”

“See, the thing I don’t understand is that if we are created by a God, he/she/it gave us a brain, right? Did God give us a brain to not exercise it? I think a God would ultimately hope that we don’t need commandments to be good, conscious beings. If God doesn’t want us using our noggins, why are there friggin psychedelics out there?” (I don’t say that part)

He carries on, I can’t remember all of it.

I comment that isn’t it beautiful that I have a grasp on universal truths and I don’t even go to church. I’m trying to find a common ground.

He implies that it’s egotistical of me, similar to Hitler, AGAIN, because I consider myself the governing body of my life.
I say that I have appreciation for all living things and that meditation is my form of prayer.
I say if, I am created in God’s image, then wouldn’t I inherently know the Golden Rules?

If I’m practicing them why would I have to go to church?

Then I ask him about homosexuality. I’m really interested to hear someone say they think it can be cured by God. I’ve heard this before on TV.

“Oh that’s a sin.”

He quotes the passage. I ask if there is more than one. He quotes those also.

I ask if he’s ever considered stoning his neighbor for working on a Sunday?
It’s cheap, I know.  Most Christians, Merit, included, don’t believe they are bound to the Old Testament other the 10 Commandments.

“Oh, that’s Old Testament.”
“So are some of the examples you are giving me and so are the Ten Commandments.”
(which is all SO confusing, because in one part of the Bible Jesus says, if someone hits you on the right cheek, turn other cheek to them also. And then Moses is saying an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.)

He proceeds to tell me that homosexuality is a sin, that homosexuals can be forgiven, but it is clear that the Lord does not approve.

I’m wondering if it is a ethical sin, no one gets hurt afterall, except for messy breakups and love triangles. It might be a religious sin, like touching a pigskin (dammed football players) or touching a menstrating woman.

“Can God cure homosexuality?”

He believes that when the homosexual honors God’s will, the act itself will cure those lustings.  He compares it to adultery.
“No where in nature is their homosexuality.”

Ha.  I took biology.
“Monkeys. Monkeys engage in homosexuality and orgies, actually.”

He shrugs it off. He says, “I can see bulls mount bulls, but they are animals, we are better than them.”

I want him to stop comparing adultery to homosexuality. “Adultery is different. You’ve made an oath to your wife through marriage. Aren’t homosexuals created in God’s image also?”

He says that humans are given choices and that we will struggle with sin. So, yes they are created in his image, but it is their challenge to overcome this curse.

I ask if he’s ever lusted for a man, or been in love with one.
He says No.
I tell him he’s fortunate that he hasn’t had to  experience the feeling of loving someone with all your heart only to think it is a sin.
I also mention that the Bible, from my shallow understanding doesn’t condemn loving monogamous homosexual relationships, the focus in the Bible is actually all the gang raping and lusting that’s happening.
And that he should be thankful that God didn’t say it was a sin to love women. Then I ask about the girl on girl action because I’m a little confused by the Bible’s terminology. Seriously, I think there is one reference to it, all the other language is men on men.

I’m being playful at this point, but it’s helping me handle the fact that I’ve just met myself a religious fanatic.

Merit tells me something to the jist of accepting God’s law or continuing to view myself as a cosmic accident.

He tells me, pointing to his dog, that made in God’s image, I am better than his dog, better than the chicken he ate for lunch (rubbing his belly) or the deer, cow, or pig he can run over in his car or shoot in the head.

I’m a little sickened by this.

“Actually, aren’t they God’s creatures too?”
I go onto to say that assuming these creatures are inferior to us has given us a dominion over land and cockiness that mostly leads to a rape of the land. I point out the problems with eating meat just because it’s our God given right. Like all the grain and water that goes into feeding a cow, all the land that grows the grain, and meanwhile people are starving.”

I say that our problem is we think we are better and more important than the land and its animals. I say, maybe we can think, Merit, but look at all the sin it leads us into, huh?

Perhaps those animals that you say are “raping, lusting, looting and pillaging,” (not lying) are actually more divine because they don’t go through the process of sin and choice that we experience.
Then I tell him that indirectly my dog taught me how to treat humans better. And he did, because one day I thought-“geez what if reincarnation is true, and I came back as the dog and he was my owner.”
Probably not gonna happen, but what IF?

Merit said he could tell the conversation was over, shook out his hand, and him and his son walked away. He must do this often, because i’ve never seen a family so patient. We talked for almost an hour and they just stood there. Before he walked away, he told me, “I’m ok, I’m gonna be fine.”

Thanks bud.

To soothe the intensity of this post, watch a funny video by Bill Hicks! Caution, a few F words, if you’re at work, turn down the volume!


Well, I’m sitting here underneath what seems to be a pretty precise half moon. I guess you might want an update on my scooter. I’m busy contemplating how my scooter is like your one, two, three or more bedroom house. Everything I use is on it. 90% of the stuff is functional and the accumulation of stickers and signatures adds decoration. I’m used to every creak, rattle, hum, vibration and vroom-knowing what sound belongs where, and when a sound is awry.

New SaddlebagsSo when I make a change to my scoot, my eyes linger over it and back to it constantly. Today I splurged-a early birthday present to me. New Prima saddlebags. I hung out at the shop for 9 hours today and these beauties came in the mail. I was unpacking boxes and stocking the stuff. My hands traced the lines of the saddlebags inquisitively. Good aerodynamic shape, facile on and off, ample room. They are just as wide and not quite as deep; it is the length, almost form cut for my Buddy, that makes the volume comparable.

I have extolled the virtues of my RevPacks. You can’t buy better quality-totally durable and waterproof. But did I mention the absence of 6 clip straps? No more fiddling for twenty minute. The RevPack shape is also bad in the wind. The zipper entry on my new bags makes for easy in and out. I’ve had some brilliant gear changes in the past three weeks that leave me more time for riding and Peace making.

Nancy gets it. She says, “Oh, it’s like when you paint a room in your house and you keep going back into the room to stare at it.” Exactly.

Saving time is my goal right now. High school, senior year. Either you didn’t want it to end or you just couldn’t wait. In this case, I want to fully experience every moment and possibility left, but look forward to being home. Make sense? Good. I’ve honestly worked on nothing but this ride for more than a year now, even when I wasn’t riding. Four weeks left and I hope to generate a lot of discussion about Peace!

I can only imagine what a solider goes through; a commitment that requires every ounce of your presence, making it seem forbidden to slip ahead into the ‘life after’ scenario. Putting your life on the line for your beliefs. Of course, I just deal with angry ‘cagers’ , bad roads and bad weather- not bombs, hatred, anger, death, blood, lack of privacy and safety.

Makes me appreciate that I can and am out here scooting for Peace.

Speaking of scooting-Audre is ready for tomorrow’s epic haul.  The mechanic’s first impression was that the bike was cutting out because my oil was low. I knew this was wrong. He said I sounded pretty confident of myself. Well, yea. Experience on that one.

I’m just glad the problems are all fixed.Problems that have been building up for awhile, about 2,000 miles and haven’t been resolved until the scooter quit working. I really don’t want to go into it-if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all kind of thing.

I had a lot of shop lessons today.I pulled out the sparkplug. Just two days ago it was close to the perfect color. Today it was black and reeked of gas. Ryan from Genuine called and I gave him a play by play of the past few weeks. He knew exactly the source of the problem.

Once we were all on the same page, it was time to get into the carburetor. Now I know that taking apart and putting back together the carburetor isn’t very daunting at all. Most of the mystery in my engine is gone.  I can’t figure out why no one wanted to go in there before and look at the jet. It’s easy. My jet was clogged.

But on top of that, the fuel valve was filthy. Dave put on a stock fuel filter also. And he discovered that my roller weights were getting flat. That explains some of the excessive vibration I’ve had. He checked the valves and my spark. Dave showed me what he was doing at every step and what to avoid. I helped where I could. He took the scooter on a really long ride and now Audre seems fit as a fiddle.

That said, I’m a little behind, but just check the calendar. It’s updated. If anything, I’ll run a day behind the calendar, but I will catch up since a lot of time is scheduled in Chicago. Lots of riding the next few days, so I’m off to sleep.

Charred RemainsBefore I go, an update on the fire. It was contained when I woke up at 8am. Now charred patches adorn the mountain. Thankfully the fire happened yesterday if it had to happen, because winds gusted at 30 mph today.

LaughterOh, and I also picked up a new paint pen for people to keep leaving their inspiration on the scooter. Gary wrote YNWA. Know what that means?

I do-You will Never Walk Alone. He’s a big Liverpool soccer fan. I’m now properly educated on the origins of what was a kinda lame song turned into a rousing soccer fan anthem. And I recognized that the song is sampled in Pink Floyd’s Fearless, one of my favorite songs.

So, here it is:

Fire on the mountain

IMG_2356The mountain is on fire. The very mountain I hiked three days ago. Firecrackers ruin mountains.

We watched grey puffy smoke roll across the mountains-from the mouth of a fat dragon it seemed. Almost forgettable at first, grey smoke just drifting through a blue sky. Now, helicopters are swooping water from the river;  it seems much like trying to spray a water gun at a massive bonfire. As night fell cooler wind fueled it. Now the flames have grown, at night they appear to be rivers of lava moving in a kink around the mountain.

Fire on the MountainApparently two youngsters birthed this tragedy.  Their parents will substitute college education by paying tens of thousands of dollars in damage control. There will be no firecrackers on the Fourth of July.

It probably won’t be contained until tomorrow. It’s RIGHT outside our house! My eyes are burning and the smell of smoke lingers. It wasn’t the first fire I saw today. The mill, the one on the way back into town, was blazing. The way back into town?

Well, yea. Today’s planned long haul was to Circle, MT, 450 miles.  I was looking forward to surprising Paula at the Traveler’s Inn. I was waylaid in Circle last year, as a matter of fact. So the day found me up and off early, after granola and coffee with Nancy and her visiting mother. About thirty miles outside of town, my speed dropped from 54-30. Lurched. Then the engine cut out. This is when the haze of patience kicks in, like an psychological morphine.

Welcome to Montana. Dead air. No cell phone coverage. I spot a ranch, with a carved wooden sign saying STAFF ONLY. The scoot starts up, so we cautiously roll over the quarter mile gravel driveway. It looked like a compound, as though there should be a lot of life there, but all the buildings were empty. I located the office and introduced myself as the wayward traveler in need of a phone. Months ago, Wendy gave me a calling card. Wow. This is old school. Blessed card, with 750 minutes on it.

IMG_1555I make some calls, trying to problem solve. A call came in for me from Ron, the mechanic at Scoot Over in Tucson. I want to ride, just open throttle and pray it was an “incident.”

But the Rocky Mountains wait around the bend for me, with a climb about 7,000 feet. And there will be no mechanic until Minnesota-almost 1,500 miles. Heading back to Missoula seems more responsible than living on a prayer. A cowboy hears me talking and sends me down the road to the resort mechanics. He guarantees their excellence and experience.

Why not? I talked to Chad. (?) He can only make suggestions, but can’t do any work on the bike, as the “resort” would be liable. After handshakes and well wishes, ya ya-I’m back on the long gravel road.  Patience. Well, the scoot IS running.

I hate these moments. When neither solution is savory, but one gets you immediately closer to your goal. Just as I’m asking myself-who solves this conundrum-the universe calls. The scoot dies. Once. Starts. Dies. Starts. Drive 10 feet. Dead.

Fine, I’m going back east. I’m now a mile from the resort. There is no cellphone coverage. GPS says gas is 8 miles West. 45 minutes later I arrived, through a combination of riding and pushing. It was all downhill, fortunately. I anticipate that the gas station will have a pay phone and food. IMG_1560No pay phone.

The clerk lets me use the phone to call roadside assistance, a one year feature that comes with the Buddy. Turns out the line is for credit cards too, so the bartender at the conjoined restaurant is yelling at me. Unbelievable.
She gives me the number for another line and points to the phone on the wall.  I sit, order french fries and wait for roadside assistance to call. The phone rings, I instinctively pick it up and the bartender yells at me again. As though this dive in a town with pop. 50 receives a high volume of calls. I oblige her by enthusiastically answering “Potomac Bar and Grill.” But the call is for me.

Oh, really? Roadside assistance expired with Audre’s birthday, 3 days ago. At this point I don’t care-I pull out the card-“Genuine is sponsoring this ride, they will approve the extension.”

She calls Genuine, calls me back. Says she spoke to Leah and Leah said NO. I just didn’t believe her, so with evil eyes on me from the bartender, I call Genuine. Cindy confirms there is NO Leah working there and they instantly call Roadside Assistance for me. Sweet. Thanks Genuine.

Hours ago, Scooterville, MT mentioned coming to get me, but I knew they were slammed and it was a ways out to get me. When I tried to call back, three times, no one answered and I decided it best if their patience with me just went to the scooter.

IMG_1561Tow truck guys says 45 minutes. Which turns into two. The bartender publicly shamed me by yelling in front of the barflies-“I DO need my phone back NOW.” It wasn’t the kind of place where you’re welcomed if not a local. So I played four games of pool and read my scooter manual front to back twice. Finally Sean showed up and Audre went somewhat precariously onto the rig.

IMG_2345Return to Scooterville.  Audre is in the shop, but it was closed by the time I arrived-6pm. 8 hours after the breakdown. That’s a day. I now have a sea foam green Buddy loaner. My Scooterville saints have taken me home and fed me and let me chill out. They’re good to me.

Especially when all I wanted to do was get a motel room and sulk. Nancy walked with me to grab coffee and the banter was enjoyable, but I was still beat.My body and mind felt like a noodle, and more than anything, I just wanted to feel, something. Anger? Peace?Sadness?

Frustration? Well, there is some of that. I haven’t felt like my bike was solid for awhile now. I always feel like the scooter shops I visit are frenzied with the scooter craze. The commandment that bikers on the road get first service is somewhat obsolete when shops are scrambling to handle 100% sales increase.Understandably so.

Diagnosis? We’ll see. I know I’m in good hands and I’m sure the sage Genuine mechanics will hold conference with us. It’s obvious that she’s not getting fuel to the engine. Is there a bigger problem than cleaning the carb? We’ll see. The valves will be checked, the coil, the float. Maybe the float cracked.

I’m not an expert, but I’m learning heaps from this trip. After reading I see by my Own Outfit, I long to have my hands dirty and experience the pride found in rigging a solution out of grit and fate. My Buddy’s just not the same as Peter Beagle’s Heinkel though-vintage might just be easier to work on, but require more consistent tinkering.

Either way, keep in mind, Audre’s more than passed the test on performance, she’s not a touring scooter, but has served me well. I don’t know that anyone has ridden this far on a 125cc. They just aren’t meant to go wide open throttle day after day. I’ll keep you posted as I know, looks like I’ll be here until Friday at least.

Me? I’m sad that my homestretch keeps getting spun on its compass. Plans with people will be delayed. Home is getting further away dammit. But this is traveling, this is adventure, home is here now. And I’ve got to stay fluid, I’ve got to be here now. Perhaps I’m really meant to visit the Peace Center here after all!

Anyone noticed the backtracking I’ve done lately?

photo-11.jpgI left my camera in Missoula. One thing I’ve learned about Big Sky Country is that nothing ever goes as planned here. So there’s no point stressing out. It was a late start anyways and so I had to stay put once I retrieved the camera. It’s Montana afterall. The deers come out in gangs and the evening light can make forests hard to pass.

It was a hundred mile ride, I got to test out the scoot-and her performance is MUCH better after simply changing the air filter. The handling still feels awry, probably getting used to the new fork.

I took a look at the schedule to see what this means for my time. I must have had a lot of coffee when I set it up. Wow. I have some trucking to do, but as long as there is no dawdling in North Dakota, I should be fine, just exhausted.

It’s hard leaving Missoula and all day it felt like another day after the day after planned departure. That’s how it goes sometimes. Funny that I’ve never left behind such a big piece of my gear-just phone chargers and USB cords.

All the keychains were mailed out today. More than half are spoken for now, THANKS. The new raffle is up, thanks to Daphne, so place your bids. This week features something for civilians and scooterists alike. 😉  All this action lately has helped bump up the fundraising but boy has it been WORK.  It’s kinda fun, but I wish there were more people involved-this two woman non-army thing makes life hectic. Without Daphne’s help on raffles I would be spending all my time behind the computer.

The holiday weekend made it difficult to fit in some of my plans. Like hanging out at the Jeanette Rankin Peace Center. Obama was in Butte, eating hotdogs and winning the starry eyes of Montanians on the Fourth. Everyone from the center was there. It’s a really neat place though. Yesterday I had a couple of hours in which I could do two things: visit the Peace center or volunteer. Basically, I could spend two hours talking about Peace with people who are obviously working hard at it OR go work hard at feeding the homeless. It was a hard call to make, but the volunteer work was rewarding.

It was so nice to serve people that I decided to fix up a big suppah tonight. I arrived BACK in town at 7:30 and somehow managed to load a ton of groceries in with all my gear. The feast was my special veggie tacos. We spent the night joking around and I sang a horrible rendition of Peace Train, substituting the key word, Scooter! It was a more memorable last night I suppose, but I hate goodbyes enough as it is.

Today I spoke with Matthew from Birmingham, Magic City Scooters. He gladly took some keychains off my hands and then asked about AmeriVespa. It’s THE scooter rally for those who don’t know. About 3/4 of the scoot population will be there. Which means it’s the ONE place I’m likely to see the most people I’ve met all gathered together.  That would be cool, so many people have contributed to this story. However, I feel as though it is too indulgent to take him up on his offer. I would rather that money go towards charity. That’s the cause this year, there is always next year….