PEACE LOST, THEN FOUND

Yesterday the P.E.A.C.E. SCOOTER was stolen outside the place where I was housesitting. I sent out a tweet and a Facebook post, and what happened next was really quite astounding. Hundreds of people both ReTweeted and Facebooked my post about the scooter’s theft. The photo I posted to identify my scooter has been viewed almost a 1,000 times.

When I walked out the door and realized that my scooter had not been towed for street cleaning, I promptly sat down and cried.

Yes, it makes absolute sense that I would be so attached to a scooter that I spent 189 days on–growing up, facing fears, having adventures. A couple of years has past since I did the peace ride though, and sometimes those memories are fuzzy. In a sense, it felt like identity theft. That scooter isn’t meant to be owned by anyone else. And what idiot steals such an identifiable scooter, huh?

I sent out a text to my buddy, a local reporter who I interned for last year. He is a motorcyclist and I knew he would be empathetic to the sadness I felt, and I just wanted some support.

“My scooter was stolen. I’m so sad,” I say.
“Where are you now? This is the story I am going to do tonight, if that is okay,” he responds.

Well, ok. I never imagined he would do a story on it. Crazy.

I met up with Mark and uploaded some of my trip footage for him to use in the video. Which was fantastic to look at again, and I’m all inspired to re-edit that crappy movie I made two years ago.
But I was sad looking at the scooter, thinking I might never get her back.

People said encouraging things, and sent a lot of hope my way. Their digital presence put some heat on the community, and the police–at least I like to think. I seriously am most amazed by the amount of total strangers who helped put out the word about my missing scooter.

Crazily, right before the newscast, I received a call that my scooter had been found.

A police officer picked me up and ran me over to identify it. I called the station, and they were able to do an on air update to the news story.

A story book ending. Interestingly enough, my co-workers at the news station learned a little about me. Many of them do not know I rode my scooter 22,000 miles for Peace. They just know I have a beat-up looking scooter with signatures all over it–a scooter only a Mom could love.

The bad news–my windscreen is broken, the brake is bent and the scooter won’t start.
The good news; I have an awesome scooter shop right down the street, Scoot Richmond, run by Chelsea Lahmers and crew.

To consider in the future; a better lock. Also, seeing as nothing can replace the scooter I rode 22,000 miles on, maybe I should keep it in storage and buy a used scooter for town?

As gas prices rise, scooter theft increases. Heck, as scooter popularity increases, so do thefts. Make sure to lock them up. Check out this awesome manifesto with tips to lock it up right.

And THANK YOU to the ANONYMOUS CALLER. They allegedly heard some noise, which was the scooter being stashed in a dark, long, tiny alley–one block away from where it was originally stolen. Realizing that the scooter didn’t belong to anyone in the building, the person called the police.

I do not know what the person who stole my scooter intended to do with it. I will never know. I do know that it came back home within 12 hours, and I am so thankful to have it back.

Navigating

The by-ways, highways, routes, lanes, and country roads of America reflect a regions culture;  offer up stories to the traveler that can not be found on the interstates. Sure if you need to zoom along from point A to point B, jump on the slab. You will notice that in America, we share an overarching culture, consumerism. If you want guarantees, take the Interstate.

Familiarity is guaranteed. Off the Interstate’s spine clings all the big box stores, fast food joints and commercial hotels where Pakistani clerks name Joey hand you registration cards. Sometimes these consumerist landmarks are a blessing, when all you want is what you already know;  especially after a 400, 11 hour, scooter ride. On the other roads, people will wave to you from their front porch.

Today, tucked away in my road journal I found this (unused??) sheet of directions. I cringed. Note how I highlighted every other line, to make visibility easier. My poor Richards version of a GPS, secured by a donated map clip. Needless to say, I had a lot of patience with this system. Then Chad gave me his GPS in Seattle, but with only 3,000 miles of the trip left, out of 22,000.

However, in retrospect, the perpetual excitement to discover our country, with it’s many geographical and cultural surprises, far outweighed the irritation of always scribbling (or printing) 34+ lines of directions–just to complete a 150 mile drive.

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Reunited and it feels so good

So where has my scooter been for 6 weeks? Did anything happen to it?
Nope. Something happened to my sanity without having it to ride for 6 weeks, but that’s another story. Today I was reunited with Audre.
As a flashback for y’all, my trip started and ended in Washington D.C. and my family and friends were still in VA. That meant I was still 1,000 miles from Maine, where I moved before the trip.

My partner and the kid met me at the finish line and wanted me to ride home with them. Understood. That and I was exhausted. I felt pretty lucky I just covered 22,683 miles without incident. I didn’t want to push my luck–I started imagining a crappy ending to the whole thing. I was told to ship it home and so I did.

That said, today J showed up at the house, heard the situation and got N to loan me his truck. 3 hours later I was in Boston. They loaded the crate into the truck. 3 hours later we were back home and dove into the crate.

MAD PROPS TO SCOOT RICHMOND. They are heroic. They built a crate to withstand a hurricane. They said I would need a crowbar–but really it took a drill. After popping off one side, there she was–Audre.

And she was nestled in so snug, with brilliant reinforcement at every compromising point. Really, the thought that went into the crate was obvious–topped off with two huge spray painted Peace signs.

On top of it, I find a glove compartment organizer decked out with Peace signs, a surprise from Rob Taylor. THANKS ROB!!!

The four of us realized that even if we tossed the crate out of the truckbed–the contents would be fine. But, of course, we just gingerly slid the back end off, and then drove the truck forward for the remaining part to slide off. Easy Peasey.

20 minutes later, after sawing through the reinforcements and releasing the tires–Audre was free.

I checked the oil, poured in some gas. Tried to start her–no diggity.
I checked the fuel valve and it was undone. Put it together, tightened the clamps. Attempted start again, no luck.

For some reason, after loosening the nut above the fuel valve, she started.

And the back tire spun like a caged Kentucky Derby horse pawing the ground. After a 10 minute warm up–the jacket, gloves, and helmet were on and we were off.

It was a chilly, short and BLISSFUL ride home. So good to finally have all my things in one place. It’s the first time I’ve ridden here in Maine, and I’m glad to have a couple weeks of decent weather left to explore.

N was also a hero today, probably because he rides a motorcycle and can empathize with my withdrawals–he helped unload tonight. Did the majority of it actually.

I think he wants me to teach his lady to ride my scooter so she can get one!!!!
Thanks Scoot Richmond. That was an impressive piece of work!
Look forward to those final posts–I’ve had writers block without the scoot!
Finally, all is good again.

Another serendipitous interlude

Shaun and I were scooting along through the hills of So-Cal. I was stopped to flip my page of directions and suddenly we spot a scooter. Then another and then a whole friggin pack.

Those guys were riding through wine country to raise money for a cure for breast cancer. We just happened to pass them. Everyone stopped, very awesome of them (since they hadn’t made it to the vineyard yet), and I met a bunch of great people.

We were invited to join, but were committed to LA for a Dodgers baseball game. Now that’s a good day-two choices, between wine country with scooterists for a good cause and a Dodgers game with other scooterists.
Scooterists rock.

On the road again

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You can imagine my excitement over the past two weeks-presenting two wheel journeys to you while preparing for my own. I’m exhausted yet in a very calm state of mind. The work that I’ve put into preparations for the past couple of months taken shape. Thank you to every kind person who has helped thus far, you are helping launch this dream. It is a joyful experience to know you are reading along and supporting me in the ways you can. Your letters of encouragement are fuel….

And so the day is here. It is the day, and somehow, I even have time to rest well before the journey begins in 8 hours. I will awaken, have some coffee, pack the scooter up, meet my mom at the crossroads for a hug. Then “officially” leave from Scoot Richmond, at noon, today, May 2, to complete the 9,000 miles remaining in a 20,000 mile ride.. The floss is packed, the sleeping bag is stuffed, and my helmet is covered in reflective tape. I am ready to complete the largest Peace sign yet. To put Peace on the map and hopefully inspire people to define Peace, to help their community and to be better landlords of our planet Earth. (a fancy way of saying be environmentally conscious) OH, and to have a grand ol’ adventure while doing so.

Adventure? Not without YOU. If you are in RVA, feel free to come out at noon and marvel at the amount of crap I have fit onto the scooter. Or just say HI, high five or even ride down Hull Street with me.

Tomorrow is International Women’s Ride Day, so ladies, giddy-up.

Peace and love y’all, I can’t wait to be ON THE ROAD AGAIN.

For more great reading (but make some time for your OWN scooting)the final three long distance scooterist stories are below:

Tom Smith: In the Long Run: A Hopeful World Odyssey. Ok, so Tom is only the second guy I’ve found who has done the distance Matua plans to ride. In 1986, he began a 34,000 mile scooter journey around the world. His answer to “Why?”

“Finally, I came up with this project: to go around the world promoting friendship and international communication, to use and develop my skills as a writer and photographer, and to grow as an individual in the process.”

3 months, 11,000 miles, on a moped! The year is 1978, I was playing with Hot Wheels, age 4.
http://mopedtrip.com/

Second Chance Tour: 2 gents retrace the same route they had taken 50 years before, on scooters, through Europe. http://www.genuinescooters.com/2ct/index.html

Long Distance Scooterist #10

Click on this lovely photo to discover the adventure:

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Roaming Around My Beloved Land, Exploring

R.A.M.B.L,E is a distinctive travel journal, you will enjoy the accounts of America, whether or not you ride scooters. PJ Chmiel is a man of class and intelligence. He sets the bar high; just spend a few minutes on his travel blog and you will see what I mean.

The people I met were incredible; I really wish I’d had a clandestine voice recorder to capture the conversations. As it was I managed to scribble down a few quotes here and there. Besides scooterists I met good ol’ country boys, sophisticated women, gritty urbanites, hell-raising barflys, fast-talking street philosophers, soccer-moms, friendly hobos, wily entrepreneurs, Cajun swampers, Texas cowboys, back-to-the-land idealists and various students of life. The fabric of this big patchwork quilt we inhabit, all indispensable.

I am personally extending a deep bow to PJ for his assistance with P.E.A.C.E Scooter. He is the first person I contacted for advice and he has helped in incalculable way; the first was passing along Philip McCaleb’s email address.

I’ve learned a lot from this fella, and feel like I know a lot about him- it’s astounding that we have never met. But, back to R.A.M.B.L,E.

 

Well, what are you waiting on, go READ IT.

 

4 horsepower

I’m behind posting the daily long distance rider, so I will post a couple today. Here is a video for you, weighing in at 10 minutes-maybe a good thing to watch during lunch break. The trip was 6 days, 1,400 km-a respectable little trip on a tiny scooter. The steed? A Honda Today, a 49cc scooter. For perspective, my Buddy125cc has 9.52 hp.

The mission, in the words of the rider:

One of the purposes of this adventure was, besides all the great fun in it, demonstrating that one can have a good life with little money.”

WANderlust King

I owe y’all one about two wheel adventurers. Today’s guy truly has a lot of Seoul, coming right out of South Korea to the U.S. His modus operandi-see America and drink a lot of beer. Oh, and catch crabs-for dinner. I’m just amazed by this guy and so are his allegiance of fans on the totalruckus forums. He’s their celebrity ninja and it’s charming to see their devotion. He’s riding a 49CC Honda Ruckus, for perspective, that’s goes about top speed 35 mph. He saved money for a year to come over here, is now out of it, and has no sponsorship from Honda. (Although this would be the best guerilla marketed story ever) They seem to have zero interest in U.S. scooter sales.

His adventures are being documented on totalruckus.com and it’s actually an interesting way to tell a story; through the many supporters and mainly through photos. The quality of posts have become better throughout the trip-perhaps as he realizes there is a rapt audience. I meant to post about this one last night, but became so involved perusing through the 200+ threads about him, that I got sleepy! I did come across a post in the thread calling me a hippie, that made for a good chuckle. While those ruckers keep a tight crew-nor worries-we are allroad warriors. Maybe I will find him on the road and chug some beers with a fellow Wanderer.

Let me reiterate that while Wan is obviously having a lot of fun, it is no easy feat to clock 10,000 around America on a scooter that travels 35 an hour.

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Posts from 07-Kansas to Oklahoma

There were a couple of entries and photos not documented. WARNING: this entry is twice the length of my typically long travel blogs. Maybe enjoy in two parts.

I came across a box from OKC as I was packing up my stuff in preparation for the ’08 Sc00t. It contained some items sent ahead to lighten my load-mainly gifts from others and a nice silk scarf for my roommate. Also nestled on top was a video tape with note attached that said, among its warm salutations, “The news edited the shit out of it.” Of course they did, just as CNN chose to do, down in Texas, with 30 minutes of interview time.

Shoot, CNN not only interviewed me, they doggedly kept the cameras on while introductions were being made among activists at the Crawford Peace House. Then they followed as me and Kay took our walking meditation around the Peace Labyrinth. The conversation with that particular sage should be considered news worthy- I wish CNN had broken out of the box to show the footage. It saddens me that our media is only hungry for conflict and that mainstream news overlooks many newsworthy events. Anyhow, I digress.

What's that?Pam from the Atomic Brown Scooter (ABS) Shop had called a family member to tape the blip that aired on OKNews Channel 9. That was really a kind gesture, just one of MANY that ABS made to me in my brief visit. In fact, ABS was one of the few places able to get the news out to the shop.

I pulled into OK City as the sun was setting, often the case last summer, when sundown marked my quitting time. Cruising into town from 81S, a straight shot, bumpy, two laner, I was reminded of a line from one of my favorite bands. The Flaming Lips happen to hail from OK City. “Do you realize the sun doesn’t go down, it’s just an illusion caused by the world going round.” I placed this into context that PEACE Scooter was coming to a close for 07. OK City was my next to last stop and I was exhausted-also a little stressed about the final stop ahead in Crawford.

The 261 mile ride had been a pretty straight shot South, through tiny towns with bad names like Assateria. The past week people had been asking me: “What’s after PEACE Scooter?” Perhaps move to Kansas, I thought, to open a gas station, and charge $6 a gallon-as I wouldn’t have any competition. Of all the 21 states visited, Kansas is the one I recommend carrying a gas can through. I managed to run out of gas there three times. The thing that prevented me from actually picking up a gas can was, well, lack of space, and the abundance of farmers with extra gas around.

Jerry and the ladyThe starting point of the drive was Salina KS, the only place I visited twice-it was the bellybutton of the Peace sign. Salina is that place where good ol’ American tradition lives. Where you can find Peace in baseball games, watermelon slices, messy hamburgers at local BBQ’s, Fourth of July; a night time grasshopper symphony, and bluegrass music. It struck me as a good, safe place to raise kids. It’s predominantly white, Christian, middle-class and agrarian. Driving around the neighborhoods over to Jerry’s house, I wondered if it really was that safe-Salina might be a hard place to do anything but conform. My host Jerry, though, is a interesting fellow, someone who has a connection to Crystal, of www.girlbike.com. I really appreciated that he welcomed me so generously. He had asked if I liked pizza, and said he was craving some. I had expected delivery but there was a tasty homemade pizza waiting when I arrived.

We spent dinner discussing the importance of buying local food. I expressed my disdain for shipping food in from other countries, especially if it can be grown in the states. He explained that eating out wasn’t something you really did growing up in rural Kansas. We talked about arts, and debated when culinary trades-preparing coffee, making wine, food, etc. can be considered art. After dinner we moved into the living room to talk about music. He is a bluegrass enthusiast and shared his collection of ‘pickin greats with me. It turns out he attends an annual local festival that features some really talented known/unkown musicians. Our conversation steered into one about spirituality, namely about a book called the Celestine Prophecy.

I read the book back in 1993 and suppose I never saw how pivotal it was in my life until the conversation with Jerry. I think he enjoyed being able to share his perspective with someone. At least I can hope so, because it was enjoyable to listen. The conversation was fitting, the main character in the book is on an adventure to find and understand nine spiritual truths. These truths are rooted in ancient Eastern psychology and spirituality.

I’ve taken the time to list them below. Also, remember the warning, this might be the time to go pee, stretch your legs and get some H2o

1. Feeling restless? You’re not alone: Everybody’s starting to look for more meaning in life. Start paying closer attention to those seemingly “Chance Coincidences” – strange occurrences that feel like they were meant to happen. They are actually synchronistic events, and following them will start you on your path to spiritual truth.

2. Observe our culture within its proper historical context. The first half of the past millennium was spent under the thumb of the church; in the second half we became preoccupied with material comfort. Now, at the end of the twentieth century, we’ve exhausted that preoccupation. We’re ready to discover life’s ultimate purpose.

3. Start to get acquainted with the subtle energy that infuses all things. With practice, you can learn to see the aura around any living being and to project your own energy around it to give it strength.

4. An unconscious competition for energy underlies all conflicts. By dominating or manipulating others, we get the extra energy we think we need. Sure, it feels good – but both parties are damaged in the conflict.

5. The key to overcoming conflict in the world is the mystical experience, which is available to everyone. To nurture the mystical and build your energy, allow yourself to be filled with a sense of love.

6. Childhood traumas block our ability to fully experience the mystical. All humans, because of their upbringing, tend toward one of four “control dramas”: Intimidators steal energy from others by threat. Interrogators steal it by judging and questioning. Aloof people attract attention (and energy) to themselves by playing coy. And Poor me’s make us feel guilty and responsible for them. Become aware of the family dynamics that created your control drama and you can focus on your essential question, which is how to make of your life a higher- level synthesis of your parents’ lives.

7. Once cleared of traumas, you can build energy through contemplation and meditation, focus on you basic life question, and start riding a steady stream of intuitions, dreams, and synchronistic coincidences, all guiding you in the direction of your own evolution and transformation.

8. That evolution can’t be done alone, so begin to practice the new “Interpersonal Ethic” by uplifting those who cross your path. Talk to people who make spontaneous eye contact with you. Avoid codependent relationships. Be there for people. Call attention to other people’s control dramas. In groups, speak when the spirit (instead of the ego) moves you.

9. Our purpose here is to evolve beyond this plane. Fewer people (a result of reproductive abstinence) and more old-growth forests will help us to sustain our energy and accelerate our evolution. Technology will do most of our work for us. As we begin to value spiritual insight more and more, we will pay those who bring it to us, and this will eventually replace the market economy and our need for paid employment. We can connect to God’s energy in such a way that we will eventually become beings of light, and walk straight into heaven.

Source:
http://galactic2.net:81/kjole/nordic/nineinsights.html

Looking back through those, and looking around at even the mainstream news, I notice that our culture has begun to embrace these ideas. These ideas are no longer as “fringe”today as in 1993.

MotorMy evening in Salina ended with a deep slumber. The next morning before I left he showed me his personal Peace-a Chevy. Wish I had taken better notes, at this late point I can’t remember the dang details. I know the price he paid for 2 decades ago was mainly for the hood ornament. Insert full hearted WOW in though, as I saw the before pictures. Jerry transformed this truck and in many ways made his own personal transformations while doing so. Not knowing much about antiques, or cars/trucks in general, couldn’t keep me from recognizing this as a masterpiece.

It was October 9, in four days I would reach Crawford, TX. For 3 months, all around the country, this life defining experience, creating common ground with strangers; discussing transformation, community, and Peace-despite our diverse religious and political backgrounds. Riding into Oklahoma, I knew I was one state closer to the stopping point for ’07, yet I wanted to stay present. What I did, without a reply from the ABS shop, was check into a cheap motel and fall promptly asleep-and snoozed for 12 hours. At some point I woke up and caught the Daily Show on TV, I laughed so hysterically that a prime video clip is included at the bottom of this entry.

Velvet Monkey Crew in OK City, OKThe next morning I reluctantly climbed out of bed and went to visit the folks over at ABS. They are a very cool, diverse group of people. As I discovered earlier in the summer, with a stop in Tulsa, Oklahomans are a unique breed, very fun to be around. They went out of their way to help with anything I needed-so insistent to help that I felt a bit shy. I mean everything was taken care of-lunch, coffee, scooter ride, dinner, beer. Even a haircut-they took me to a shop owned by a lady named Estrella, who rides a Stella. Steve, shop owner, also has a special limited edition Stella, issue number 2, and we know who has 1-Philip Mccaleb.

Brew-ha-haABS/OKCSC scooter club won a P.E.A.C.E Scoot award for seemingly able to drink more beer than anyone else I met. However, they were also some of the most enjoyable people to be around. Dinner and drinks that night passed the time rather quickly. OK City CrewI met Marke, another long distance scooterists, who had ridden about 9,000 miles. Steve is also Buddhist, although he has studied longer than I. This winter, I studied a lot, inspired by our conversations.

The clock was ticking away, my friend Daphne was driving from Virginia with her daughter, to meet me, and others at the finish line in Texas. I was beginning to experience some anxiety, wondering about the political climate ahead in Crawford. The source of this fear was that P.E.A.C.E Scooters intent might be contorted. ABS let me voice these unnecessary worries and helped me keep my head on straight. They also gave me their number saying I could make that late night call if I had to-that get out of jail call….

David did some work on the engine before lunch time, my scooter was running really rich. The speed had been a noticeable 5mph faster. Steve offered to escort me down to the Alfred P. Murrah Memorial and then I would make my way out of town.

We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity.

Chairs in memorial of workers

View from Survivor Tree

In 1995 my friends and I stopped through OK City while crossing the country. It was 4 months after the attack. The town was subdued and we were overwhelmed by the palpable weight enshrouding the city. Rubble was still being bulldozed, signs were posted in every shop asking citizens to report any leads to the FBI. This visit back through OK City, a memorial had been constructed and I went to sit and meditate at it. There are many pictures you can see by visiting my flickr. I was emotional, thinking about the innocent lives lost, at the hands of an American terrorist. This thought was compounded by our current involvement in a war to fight terrorism, and recognizing the amount of terrorism here in our country, within a decade’s time. My meditation was also a prayer, that people visiting really take heed to the statement, “may people who leave here know the impact of violence.” Violence that I pray we learn how to avoid-in our personal lives and in our institutional systems that often breed it-whether deliberately or not.

P.E.A.C.E sticker left at Oklahoma City memorialI left town after two encounters with the security guard, a paranoid fellow who almost confiscated my riding jacket that I left behind while taking photographs. But, first, I placed a P.E.A.C.E Scooter sticker on the Memorial shrine and prayed that we make history by creating peace, than become history in its absence.

‘Hog Tales’

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*photo image from www.bikerlady.com/bikerladyweb/saltlakecity.jpg

Above are the first women to cross the country by motorcycle, Avis and Effie Hotchkiss. This duo braved a land still inhabited by real Cowboys and Indians; a land devoid of Starbuck’s monuments and, gasp, good roads. Seeking no fame nor fortune, they completed the tour to the Pacific in four months, returning in just one. The first thing that struck me about this ride is their departure date-May 2, 1915. My trip starts May 2, just 8 days from today. I picked the day in honor of International Womens Ride day. Perhaps this day is in honor of the mother/daughter duo?

In September of 1915, The Harley-Davidson Dealer magazine reported that the team faced “bad roads, heat, cold, rain, floods, and all such things with a shrug of their shoulders.”

Now that’s the mojo I will be bringing with me….

There is scarce reading to be found of these two. Here are two links:
http://www.harley-davidson.com/wcm/Content/Pages/Women/women_history_2.jsp?locale=en_US
http://www.bikerlady.com/bikerladyweb/effie!.htm

If this guy can do it….

was the persistent echo…..urging me into the belief I could ride cross country on a scooter.

I, too was the owner of a 49cc Honda Metropolitan. When I found Laird Van Dyck’s (brief) account of his 9,000 mile cross country ride-it was all green lights. Without furthur ado:

http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/tstories/vandyck/ 

P.S. It’s not a pretty website. But, it’s a heck of an accomplishment.

Mopeds and Sasquatches

Ok, it is day 4 of two wheel travelin’ tales. I’m presenting one that you just couldn’t make up. The story over at Crappy Little Dreams is hypnotic, hysterical, totally original. I only hope to keep my travel tales as interesting as this fellas-he’s really got that mopeder, off-the-cuff spirit. This is one of the most fascinating stories I’ve come across yet. The tone is equal parts genuine consciousness, crusty punk nonchalance and sarcasm, to travel reporter-all these hats without ever skipping a beat. So far, this one is my favorite, I haven’t even read all the way through-YET. Total wack-o. Oh-his mission? Bigfoot. To find himself a Sasquatch. Buy the book if it ever comes out.

*pictures from http://www.crappylittledreams.com/expedition.htm*

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*pictures from http://www.crappylittledreams.com/expedition.htm

Picking a helmet

Tonight I had a lot of lofty goals to accomplish on what has been a laid back Sunday.

Instead I started poking around on the internet to find today’s long distance scooterist. (LDS) Four hours later, I’ve blown off my other tasks, but am literally reeling from all the captivating, weird stories out there. I don’t think one a day for 14 days is enough time…..

In addition to the LDS of the day, I found a great equation for helmet purchasing. This is quoted from Brian Holmes, from Scoot Quarterly. I recommend reading the whole article HERE.

I’ve recognized that my angels were with me last year. Not wanting to be shit out of luck this year by taking them for granted, I know I need a new helmet. Nolan helmets has now officially jerked me around on the phone, not once, but TWICE. They gave me verbal confirmation of a free helmet, only to dodge following through with delivery of said helmet. Not wanting to spend, nor having big bucks I’m stressing about buying one. This is a great rule of thumb about helmet purcashing:

Helmet. Controversial. “Let those who ride decide.” But for me, yes. Here’s a simple formula I use to determine the minimum amount of money I’ll spend on a helmet: $1 per IQ point, plus $1 per every year of the age you’d like to live to, plus $10 for every prior crash, plus $100 for every dependent child you have at home.

My total: $416

Today’s pick: Ok, I’m relatively new to scooter culture. I bought my first bike barely a year ago and have since clocked about 13,000 miles. Hard core scooterists probably know about the legend Giorgio Bettineli.

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Most of what you will find here is reposted from other sites. Apparently Giorgio has written 4 books, but they are all in Italian. There is also a fan website, and lots of little snippets about him here and there.

This is what I discovered about him tonight:

“In 1994-95, writer and journalist Giorgio Bettinelli rode a Vespa 36,000km from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego and in 1995-96 from Melbourne to Cape Town — more than 52,000km in 12 months.

In 1997, he left Chile, reaching Tasmania after three years and eight months, having travelled 144,000km and crossed 90 countries across the Americas, Siberia, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania. All in all, Bettinelli has travelled 250,000km on a Vespa.

Even being abducted by a group of guerrillas in the Congo did nothing to deter him.

His next stop? A tour through the capitals of all 33 provinces of the People’s Republic of China, covering more than 60,000km.

Why, you may ask? Well apart from the four books he has published detailing his adventures, Bettinelli simply does it for the love of being on the road and on a Vespa.”

From scoot.net:
“Giorgio Bettinelli is arguably the greatest scooter-riding world tourer. He has ridden around the world numerous times on a Vespa PX. However, he apparently recently upgraded to a Vespa GT200. He has vowed to ride through every country in the world on his Vespa.

Bettinelli believes “The Vespa is like a bridge to tolerance and sympathy.”[5]

Surprisingly, Bettinelli has few repair skills. When asked what he does when his Vespa breaks down, he replied “You wait. Someone comes, someone helps. A car, a truck, a camel. An hour, a day. Someone comes, someone helps.”[6]

He has written books about his trips, but unfortunately for us English-speakers these books are only available in Italian.”

If you are a Vespa World Club member, check http://www.vespaworldclub.com/homepage/tabid/93/language/en-US/Default.aspx

To Guatemala, 1975

Today, in honor of two wheel exploits, to be continued until my departure, I’m sharing something PJ Chmiel sent to me.
He discovered this newspaper clipping through www.scooterbbs.com.

No one really knows anything about her or escapades from her trip. Just the purpose.

In 1975 a lady from Tulsa, OK decided to promote the transportation alternative of her Vespa. She simply wanted to demonstrate that gas guzzling need not be a way of life. She wanted to show, “the economy and dependability of her bike.” She also comments that she planned on contacting the press along her 1,700 mile trek to Guatemala, and that she had hopes they would “roll out the red carpet,” for her.

I wish this lady could be contacted. Her comment, “I am looking forward to kindness and hospitality, ” caught my eye. This is the mark of one with faith in humans and trust in the universe. It was courageous for a woman to set out alone in 1975, on a scooter.

Many times I have answered the question, “Why 20,000 miles on a scooter?” When interviewed by Scoot Magazine and other online sources, I always say, “It is the means of transportation which can bring me to the public with the least amount of environmental impact, aside from walking or biking. The roads suffer less and so does the oil supply. It’s also important to me that Americans see the resilience a scooter has–if I can ride one 20,000+miles, they can ride one 10-15 miles to work!” In fact, that was the original line I used when contacting Philip Mccaleb for sponsorship!

But here is this lady, in 1975, already on a crusade! Sometimes it feels like there are no new ideas, just slight twists and variations, and the appropriate time to reintroduce old ideas. The only photo I have of this lady is taken from the scooter forum, but click here, or on the picture to see the larger version of the newspaper article.

And remember, if there has ever been any time to choose alternative transportation, it is NOW. Oh, and remember,safety first. This lady seems to have absolutely no riding gear.

You will have to click on the picture to see it in larger form and read the article. Please do, it’s interesting! Peace!

guatamalaonvespa1024.jpg

Lois is on the Loose!

One thing I discovered last year while riding a scooter 11,000 miles is that hundreds, thousands of people have taken the road less traveled. They have flung themselves away from comfortable homes, onto the road where they must constantly redefine their comfort level. Everywhere I went someone told me about so and so doing such and such. Perhaps their rides had no “mission,” no “cause” and many are not documented anywhere. However, many are, and these journeys are becoming more accessible with online technology.

I want to get you in the mood for following along with the 9,000 mile leg of the 20,000 mile PEACE ride. So for the next couple of weeks I will try to post links and blurbs about these other epic rides. It’s also my way of showing respect and harnessing my own road mojo. Because these trips meant something, whether or not there was volunteering or fundraising or talking about Peace. Those wayward travelers took the first step-they blindly answered a call to explore the world and meet its inhabitants. In the process of meeting hundreds of humans along their path, valuable human exchanges were made; inspiration and legends were created. I want to honor them.

A couple of months ago, I wrote to Lois Pryce. book_cover_sml.jpgI heard about her adventures traveling 20,000 miles from Anchorage, AL to the southern most tip of Argentina. Alone. A woman. On a 225cc Yamaha Serow. This means her top speed was 55mph. It’s not a scooter, and I chuckle that there are several out there that would leave her in the dust. It seems like an all around, go anywhere bike and those big tires sure would come in handy.

The first long journey must have infected her with the travel bug, because she got back on her bike and rode the length of Africa. The book about this 10,000 mile journey will be released in June 2008. The reviews are smashing, I recommend them for all ye with wanderlust. Or even you closet travelers who might get your kicks reading about an adventure you would love to have. Below is a simple Q&A, followed with a video of Lois.

Enjoy!

Fortunately, a fair amount of women are setting out on the open road and publishing their stories.
Was it hard to find publisher?
I have a literary agent who got my book published but it took about a year to get the first
publisher (in the USA) then the others followed.

Did you work for income while writing?
Yes, at the beginning I was a motorcycle courier and van driver for a TV/film equipment company

Speaking of women on the road-it’s not as scary to ride alone as most
people project. Can you address this societal fear? Any suggestions for
females traveling alone?

The world is not actually a scary place on the whole, but you won’t believe it until you get out
there! There’s nothing stopping you!

I know I had a switchboard operator, so to speak. I checked in, especially
before heading through very desolate places. What about you?

I kept in regular phone contact with my boyfriend (now husband), my brother and my mum.

Was there a certain point where you felt yourself transform as a rider?
It was more a gradual process I think, although in Africa, in the Sahara, I had an epiphany with
sand-riding – one day it just all came together.

Was there a point where you learned a lot about survival?
I found reserves of ingenuity at times. There was never any point where I thought I would pack it
in.

Was there a significant point where you felt at home on the road? All along?
Halfway through?

It took me a few months – by the time I’d ridden through Mexico I was into the swing of it. When I
went to Africa, it took me a few weeks to get that feeling again.

What went through your head as you reached Ushuaia? (the southernmost tip on her 1st ride)
Woohoo!

Did you have some company along for the ride?
Yes, I met all sorts of other motorcyclists along the way.

It’s funny that Serow actually means antelope. It seems as though your ride
was sturdy of foot, although not so fast. We basically cruised at the same
speed, except I was on 12 inch wheels on a 125cc.
Did you ever regret your choice in motorcycle?

Only at high altitude (15000 feet) in the Andes when it could barely get up the hills!
Was the speed enough?
Most of the time yes, I never really needed to go faster than 55mph!

Were there any close calls? (tailgaters, speed demons, jackasses)
A crash in Patagonia but nothing broken, also lots of crazy traffic in South American capital
cities but London is a good training ground!

Did you have enough power to get out of tight spots?
Yes, the Serow can go anywhere – unless it’s at high altitude

There is beauty in contacting those who have gone before us for a wealth of
information. Did you already know, “twice-round-the-world motorcyclists,
Austin and Gerald Vince of the Mondo Enduro and Terra Circa teams”?

I met Austin because I was planning my trip and a mutual friend introduced us.

I love the bike mods and your travel kit. Would you have done any of it
differently?

yes, the luggage was pretty crap – too heavy and too high.

How long did you spend preparing? Did you decide, Ok, I’m gonna do this and
go? Or put off the call for a bit until one day you could think of nothing
but the ride?

I spent about a year planning it

Isn’t the community of riders so amazing? It seems you found a bit of free
lodging through the network of cyclists.

Yes, the motorcycling community is heartwarming indeed, and I try to return those favours to other,
to keep the good will going round.

Any people you still keep in touch with?
Yes, I’m still in touch with several friends I met on the road

How did your gastronomy plans work out? Did you ever buy a stove?
No, I never bought a stove or did any cooking – raw fruit, veg and sandwiches is OK for me.

Did you already know how to work on your bike? Did it require a lot of
maintenance?

It required basic maintenance and I was used to working on my bike up to a certain level. The
engine needed some work (top end) in Peru which I got a local mechanic to do – big mistake!

Any thoughts that you couldn’t escape while driving?
Not really, I’m not tormented by my own thoughts! I write in my head as I ride.

Is your Mum adventurous? Where does this wanderlust come from?
My mum and dad are quite gung-ho – they are definitely not prissy!

I noticed one of your pictures is titled, upright for once on Ruta 40. How
many times was the rubber side up on the trip?

A few falls in sand in Baja and lots of trials in the 100mph winds in Patagonia.
Any big injuries?
No, nothing major. I witnessed a terrible injury of a riding companion in Bolivia though.

Did you ever think, “What the hell am I doing?”
No, not the Amercias trip. A few times on the AFrica trip.

It seems that you didn’t get married until after your 2003 trip. You mention
wearing a fake wedding ring and using your fake husband to get past a human
barricade….but now you have a husband????

I never thought about wearing a faker-then again I am a androgynous chamelon
when necessary….
I married Austin Vince, the most amazing person I have ever met.

10 months was a great length of time to give yourself. Did you plan to write a book before you hit the road?
No, I just wrote stuff on my website and it went from there – quite amazing really.

I know people love to offer gifts, out of hospitality and encouragement.
Favorite gift given to you?

I couldn’t accept any real gifts – no room in my luggage! Hospitality and help from strangers were
the greatest gifts I received.

Any heroes/heroines?
Hero – my husband, Austin Vince. Heroines – Theresa Wallach – motorcycle adventuress from the 1930s
– look her up.

Advice for people traveling in South America?
Have fun and try and learn more Spanish than I did.

Did you change your gear for the Africa trip? What did you use if so.
Better luggage system.

You said “You wrote stuff from your website and it went from there.”
Tell me a little more about that, some inspiration for us bloggers.
I posted regular updates on my website and they got linnked to various sites around the world and
my site started getting lots of visits. A friend of a friend who is an author read my journal
entries and thought her agent would like it. She did and when I got home I wrote a book proposal
and the agent sent it out. Took about a year to get first publishing deal.

I’m sad that the posts are all taken down-but I guess I just have to get the book.

Does Serow sponsor you at all? Did you have any sponsors?
Serow is the model of the bike – it is made by Yamaha. But no, I’m not sponsored by them – or
anyone for that matter!

Finally, how do you define Peace? That’s for my website-since I’m making a
documentary on how people define peace.

Peace, from a personal point of view, is an feeling within yourself that comes from acceptance of
the way things are – Change what you can – accept what you can’t. On a grander scale, it would mean
everyone in the world accepting people who are different from them – much harder to achieve! book02_cover_sml.jpg

Spend some time checking out her website.

I think you are going to like what you find, so don’t be shy, give her books a go as well. And celebrate one woman cyclist who answered the call of her itchy feet. It’s so easy for us to sometimes hesitate and say, “Maybe later” or “what if such and such happens” Let’s applaud someone who shows us it is worse not to know what you are missing than to be fearful of what might happen.

Circle, MT

AKA Roundtown.

Circle!

A lurch. Check the mirrors, good–no tractor trailers behind me. A silence. Then a loud POP.  Navigate the bike off the road.
Wind gusts around me, laughing it seems, as I forlornly turn to stare back towards the small town in the distance.

Circle, Montana. POP=600. Highway 200W.
A beautiful but lonely by-way through desolate, dry Eastern Montana. Small towns, mainly for fueling, speckle the map just about 100 miles apart. The night before,  I rode into Circle just as all traces of light disappeared from the sky. The day’s ride had clocked 353 miles.

468 miles ahead to the next vector, Missoula, MT. Half a mile back to the town I had just left.

Kick start the bike. Nothing. No tools, no parts, no sounds except a choking from Audrey. Switchboard (Daphne) tells me there is a cycle shop 65 miles east of me. The call is made and I discover there is actually a motorcycle shop closer, in Circle. Hang up, try again.

Eissenger’s answered my distress call, immediately. No sooner had I taken a seat when they pulled up-in a big truck. Then they pulled out an arc shaped ramp with rungs, about 2 foot wide. Still curious. I probably annoyed them by repeatedly asking if that thing could really work. I unloaded Audre and miraculously she went up the “ladder”.
Only 17 minutes had passed. That’s service.

Of course, I doubt there was anything else happening in Circle that day. Just kidding, well, no, I’m not.  But they got there fast because they are good people. They were also probably somewhat intrigued by the description I gave them. Turns out Jerry, the owner of Eissenger’s had seen my scooter parked outside the Traveler’s Inn early that morning. For whatever reason, probably just that “I’m far from home feeling,” and “there’s no Genuine dealership for hundreds of miles,” a bit of anxiety had kicked in.

I also knew that questions would be directed my way any minute. What am I doing 5,000 miles from Virginia on a scooter. Where am I headed?
Would they be ultra conservative? Would they think the P.E.A.C.E tour was anti-patriotic? Would this be an awkward day? Would they know how to work on the bike? I was at their mercy, basically. Pit Crew

I got a big lesson on how to keep the faith. People are treating me really well out here on the road, despite our differences. I keep finding we aren’t actually all that different, really. I keep finding good people, because I believe the world is inherently capable of good.  It is almost as though my belief, “I’m not focused on how we are different, but how we can make a difference,” provides a safety blanket.

Genuine Scooters has a guaranteed roadside assistance program. It’s solid.  It would have covered my tow up to 150 dollars. But that part was already taken care of, now I needed a good mechanic. The next certified Genuine mechanic was 468 miles down the road, in Missoula, MT.

I was a bit panicked by the ill timing and location of my breakdown. Genuine came through for me in immeasurable ways–as did the crew at Eissenger’s in Circle. In fact, everyone in Circle, MT did.  Jeremy, the mechanic strolled in from lunch about half an hour after we had arrived. Immediately he put me at ease. He is a small engines wizard. We started with a check list of possible scenarios; easy stuff first and worked our way up. Audrey began surgery. Sparkplug changed, no water in gasoline, jet alright in carb, oil levels fine. His testing ruled out many possibilities-and then it was time to test for spark.

Audrey wasn’t making any. This was unsettling. Electrical stuff meant Genuine parts, which would mean more time in Circle. It was a bad week to break down. My friend from Maine was coming out to Seattle for a visit and I had 4 days to get there, with a stop in Missoula. I got Genuine on the line and put them in touch with Jeremy. There were a couple of scenarios that could be going on-the CDI box or the stator.

It was agreed that Genuine would send a handful of parts and we would send back whatever wasn’t used. This impressed Jeremy, who said an attitude like that was unheard of. Genuine had 15 minutes to overnight the parts and triumphantly did so! Rock on! Still, none of us expected the UPS truck to arrive in Circle by the next day.

The boys seemed surprised that I had a good attitude. I told them this is part of the adventure. There was a lot of fun banter about the situation, which made it more entertaining for me. Josh kept me laughing with his wisecracking. Our conversation became heavy once, when he bust out with, “Maybe that sticker should say, Screw Peace-Give War a Chance.” I was stunned for a second and retorted with, “Josh,um, we are-we have-not so successful. Jeremy was a good conversationalist and I enjoyed him telling me so much about his life. He was also really cool about answering my bike questions. Doctor's OfficeIt was a good opportunity to fully inspect her insides, since she was wide open. He said he hardly ever has to fix a stator, and it must just be a fluke for it to happen at 5,000 miles. Genuine has never had a problem with the stator on the Buddy before, either.

It was a really random situation, perhaps some Divine sign from God that my life would be incomplete without another night in Circle. And really, who knows the mysteries of circumstances, perhaps it could have been worse ahead-maybe this was fate intervening. I tried to get them to loan me an Arctic Cat four wheeler for the night, but they weren’t road legal and offered me a car instead. I said no to the loaner and they kept insisting-maybe they think I have a problem with cars. But I just felt really past due for a long walk.

I was looking for some nightlife, so after a home cooked meal at Kay’s, I grabbed the camera and hit the main drag. The whole mile of it. Circle was really pretty. The buildings are low and the expansive Montana skies extend in every direction. The wind rages through Montana and many buildings had been worn by its force, adding character. There was a sense that the place was bustling once upon a time. Perry told me that Circle used to be a big steer town, biggest in the area. I just ambled about and talked to people. Oh, I got to meet the sheriff the night before, he was very nice. It turns out he met a 50cc cross country scooterist before, in Lake Pectin. I’m thinking this might have been Laird VanDyck, who wrote up a little bit of interesting reading about the trip. The Corner Bar had a decent crowd, so I pulled up a stool and talked to the bartender. Turns out she moved to Circle with her husband, from Chicago. And her mom, who I met the next day, drives 1 of the 4 scooters in town. I approached a fella about his snazzy Hawaiian shirt and we chatted about his days of traveling. Most conversation in the bar revolved around traveling. Some people are really interested in the trip itself, others more interested in the mission. Some people like it all.

Perry, the owner of the Traveler’s Inn showed up and bought me a drink. He also offered me the next night free if my parts didn’t come the next day-which he also didn’t think could happen. I shot some pool, by myself, and did a little electronic gambling. Then I headed back to Room 15 for some writing and a good slumber. Seeing the light on in the office, I went to tell Paula goodnight. Turns out she was online reading the blog entry on Tulsa. We talked for a bit about her life story and she let me take a cigar box from Perry’s collection-which I mailed to a friend the next day. The motel is really unique. PegasusIt’s inexpensive, clean, and the hosts are colorful. The lobby is worth the visit alone, its a small museum of interesting signs and collectables. Paula was really sweet, a couple of times she invited me to meals out with her friends.

The unexpected hiatus gave me time to catch-up. I’m forever playing catch-up with the blogs. I also did laundry at the world’s best laundromat. Around noon Jeremy called to say the parts had, by grace, actually arrived. He started working on the bike after lunch. By 4pm she was ready to pick up. The problem did turn out to be the stator and he replaced the coil inside. I asked if he rode it and what he thought. I could tell he liked the ride and he said they were really easy, logical bikes to work on. Being the great guy he is, he only rode a mile, since my odometer was getting ready to hit 5,000. When Paula and I arrived at the shop, Jerry asked if I wanted to race against a Q-Link (chinese scooter) for pink slips. I said, “No, I don’t need a Q-Link for anything, thank you.”

If I was going to break down anywhere in Montana, I’m glad it was Circle. Circle didn’t seem to offer anything until I took the time to get to know some wonderful characters. Paula seemed bothered that I was leaving so late in the afternoon, but I wanted to put at least 60 miles behind me before dark.

To everyone in Circle, thank you so much for being helpful, charming and entertaining. You are all wonderful. You gave me great memories and I wish you all the best! I do think you eat too much beef though, and it would be great if Kay’s had something green beside iceberg lettuce.

Additionally, thank you to everyone over at Genuine, for jumping in quickly and professionally. Thanks for making such a kick-ass bike that is taking me the distance around our amazing country. I always enjoy my “check-ins” with Roy or Brett over at the HQ’s. All of us made it look easy! Rock on!

Peace to Circle

Now you are up to date on why the itinerary is a bit off. It would have been impossible for me to meet my friend Daphne in Seattle by Friday, so she rented a car and drove to Missoula. We just stayed put there for the weekend, so I was in Missoula longer than originally expected. Needless to say though, there is some big love in my heart for Missoula. That’s the next update.

Banter in Circle:

Josh (he’s priceless)
Oh, you should do this trip on a Q-Link.
Circle, MT, where we’re all Square
You should have Genuine just send you another bike and call it Audrey 2.0. To which I said, “but I’m a MAC user. It would have to be Audrey 10.4.10.”

“Me and Jeremy decided we are gonna do a scooter tour too. But drink a lot of beer. We need to get sponsors”
(me) “Hmm. What’s your cause?”
(Josh) Leave our wifes at home.
(me) Great! There’s totally a demographic that will identify with you.

I lost my spark! No! It’s not a metaphor. Get a grip.

“Why does she look so happy to stay here another night?”
(me) Well, because I know I can leave eventually.” 😉

(in response to my concerns about a diet of beef and wheat) “Alix, beef and barley are MT’s cash. You can’t walk around MT and diss ’em. Besides, I’ve got a wife. I don’t have to worry about my figure.

“Democracy will never work.”
“Oh, any ideas for something better?”
“Nothing works.”
“Oh. Want a postcard?”
(btw Me and Josh)

They call this town Circle, but my bike is so broke that I can’t even drive in one.

“They call me the King Bachelor in town.”
“Oh, so ya going home alone again tonight?”
“Yep”

“Does anyone here find it ironic that I broke down in front of a rifle range?”

International Peace Garden really exists.

TO GOD IN HIS GLORY,
we two nations
dedicate this garden
and pledge ourselves
that as long as men
shall live, we will
not take up arms
against one another.

Well, P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER has gone international, not so much an intentional happening. Just a zany invisible border that declares one country separate from the other. Perhaps one day we will do away with borders and flags. We could follow the examples set by the IMF/WTO, who have already found a way for corporations to maximize profits without heed to borders. Why can’t we as peoples do this, with intent to maximize Peace, culture and the human connection?

May Peace Prevail on EarthAfter staring at North Dakota license plates the past few days, I got up the nerve to ask, “Why are you the Peace Garden state?”

“Really, we have a Peace Garden in America?”

I scooted up to the Peace Garden from Devil’s Lake, ND.  While this was about a 70 mile detour, it seemed an appropriate one to make. One can’t overlook the International Peace Garden when on a 22,000 mile ride for Peace, eh? You betcha.

Highway 2 led me over to Route 5N, which I picked up in Rugby, ND. Gas stations were limited, but frequent enough. Due to the massive chunks of farmland, there are few roads to take. Hwy 2 is a four laner, with a speed limit of 75, although traffic was sparse, so the road wasn’t stressful at all. Picking up Route 5N led me right into a fair head wind, so the going was slow. I plugged on curious to discover this garden that Americans know so little about.

The dedication of the Garden took place on July 14, 1932, with 50,000 persons present. This is interesting to me for two reasons. One, I haven’t met that many people who even know about the International Peace Garden. Two, the kick-off date for P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER was close to that, July 15.  I choose the departure date in commemoration to Jimmy Carter and his “crisis of confidence” speech in 1979, exactly three years after he accepted his party’s nomination to run for president. Here is a sample from that speech:

During the past three years I’ve spoken to you on many occasions about national concerns, the energy crisis, reorganizing the government, our nation’s economy, and issues of war and especially peace. But over those years the subjects of the speeches, the talks, and the press conferences have become increasingly narrow, focused more and more on what the isolated world of Washington thinks is important. Gradually, you’ve heard more and more about what the government thinks or what the government should be doing and less and less about our nation’s hopes, our dreams, and our vision of the future.

Sadly, our state of affairs has not changed for the better. Anyhow, I decided that my intentions for this trip mirrored his goal; to engage the American public in dialogue about our future. I also hold great respect for his willingness to delve deep into the true problems that our Nation faces, the fundamental problems, and his attempts to be inclusive. Unfortunately this resulted in his exclusion from political graces.

Entering the Garden was made easy by the gatekeeper, Sara, who overlooked the $10 entry fee after reading my postcard. I arrived around four in the afternoon , on a Saturday,  and was a bit surprised that there were not more people enjoying the beautiful gardens. Could this be related to the employees of the Garden? Perhaps to them, it’s just a job, maybe even an annoying one with pesky tourists?

The pamphlet I read discussed the Gardens creation within a historical context. Dr. Henry J. Moore conceived of the idea; a garden to commemorate and perpetuate our relationship with Canada, and to promote the value of Peace in our world. The Peace Garden made the front page of U.S. newspapers, its existence a product of the times. 20 million people lost their lives in World War 1 and President Woodrow Wilson had recently initiated the League of Nations.

The Garden opened in the middle of our Great Depression, when unemployment was high and people were desperate. The President, Franklin Roosevelt, proposed a plan to protect two resources- our land and our young men. “He proposed to recruit thousands of unemployed young men, enroll them in a peacetime army, and send them into battle against destruction and erosion of our natural resources.”

Roosevelt’s creation of the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the projects they developed, like the Peace Garden,  helped preserve national pride during the Great Depression.  The CCC left behind permanent objects in many states as markers of it projects. From inception, the CCC utilized government resources to bolster the quality of living when times were rough in America and to preserve our environmental resources.

There in the Garden, I struggled to find current examples of such community minded projects which have full support of executive and legislative branches. September 11 pops into my head as having bi-partisan support. Although now, many firefighters are left without access to the medication they need after developing health conditions from the clean up. Hurricane Katrina? Not really. Joseph Albaugh, the head of FEMA at the time, already acknowledged botching the response to Katrina. After visiting New Orleans this summer and talking with its residents, I would not say that a progressive, bi-partisan recovery action has been implemented. In fact, New Orleans teems with corruption and its civilians suffer the price. Thoughts like this were racing through my head as I perused the beautiful grounds.

Time for Peace, yo!

I was also in the Garden wondering where all the visitors were. Apparently, at one time, the Garden welcomed thousands of visitors. With 2, 339.3 acres of nature to explore, it’s easy to understand why. A slump in tourism hasn’t affected the landscaping buget. The grounds are dazzling, featuring more than 150,000 types of shrubs, grasses, trees, and flowers. Several  monuments commemorate events throughout the eras.

Our current reality  often intertwines with a history forgotten. How many people who attended the opening of the Peace Garden are still alive today? Apparently, traffic on the Garden’s opening day was recorded at 57 vehicles per minute. Remember, this was a time when all aspects of traveling were much more challenging. The tiny, barely alive town of Bottineau, were I stayed that evening, was completely flooded years ago when the Peace Garden opened. All town services were closed July 14, 1932 . Would Starbucks do such a thing today for its employees? Would people want them to? I might not even want such an inconvenience like that.

The afternoon sun offered warmth and cast an amber hue onto the grounds. I had packed a stack of postcards with me, so I scurried around locating people. I was only able to distribute about 12, but I did enjoy several conversations.Garden and Visitors

One elderly gentlemen sat on a bench enjoying the view with his wife. He commented that I was young enough to be an idealist. That particularly saddened me–not the first time I’ve heardit proposed that idealism is only an attribute of the young.

Apparently,  ahead in my future, lurks a magic age when I will give up caring and believing in change for humanity. Hey, maybe in ten years I will read this blog and think, “Lord, what an idealist!” Seriously though, I listened to his perspectives–he was old enough to have visited the Garden’s opening as a child. While this gentlemen has witnessed big changes in our technologies, he has also seen multiple generations face the same problems.

Nancy, my hostess extraordinaire in Missoula, commented on meeting “war weary” adults. I realized that in my living, there have only been two wars (not counting invasions). Vietnam ended in my first year alive, so it’s not included in my tally. Two wars is still two many for me. But this gentlemen I spoke with, he has witnessed six wars, four invasions in his living. Suddenly, his curmudgeonly attitude was understandable. He’s war weary.

Our generational differences, how do we resolve them? How do we simultaneously integrate the reality of conflict while working towards a peaceful resolution of conflict? There will always be conflict, but there doesn’t not always have to be outright war to resolve it. My generation–sadly, we don’t really know War or Peace.

We live in a sterile, neon, marketed times;  chock full of product placement and seduction. We don’t even know we have a Peace Garden. We don’t know what’s its like to have every aspect of life change because of wartime. We don’t have Victory Gardens or food rations because of this Iraw war. Our generation simply hands over more at the pump to keep driving SUV’S while sipping a Frappucino, blasting Fergie, and apathetically laughing at the President.

We can not cultivate a deep national pride through consumerism gadgets. Yea, it might seem like I am pointing one finger, but I pointed it at myself a long time ago. I sold my car. I began walking and biking everywhere.  Ten years later I eventually got a scooter. I don’t shop corporate if I can avoid it, because buying local keeps more money in my state. Why waste time watching TV when there is life to be experienced?

The way I live came about after a deep examination of what I purchase, eat, believe and teach. These philosophies stem from an desire to improve our nation. It was not taught to me and I realize I am a minority group when it comes to thinking like this. I don’t however, believe it’s impossible for my generation, or any other, to change this course we are on. Shifts happen! See above;  I’m an idealist! I’ve got ideas!

Sadly, I saw no one my age, or close to it, at the Peace Garden. And I hope this changes. When I get back home, I’m going to create one. I’m gonna give Peace some roots in my hometown.

It was a lot harder to leave the Garden than it was to enter it. When I entered the Garden I did not go through Canadian customs. Apparently, since the Garden shares land with Manitoba, I had to go through a rigorous U.S. Customs search. That was pretty fun, with a heavily laden scooter, packed to a precision only I understand.

I chatted with the customs officials about my trip. All in all it was a nice enough encounter. Their line of questioning was very detective like though; very deadpan and every question seemed loaded. I felt like they were going to catch me in the act, though I had done nothing wrong. The nice official couldn’t get the compression sack back on the bike, or the SHAD case closed, but he apologized.

The rummaging through the saddlebags completely off balance. I wasn’t planning on getting very far that night anyways. The search had taken an hour and the sun was beginning its quick descent, so I decided to stay in Bottineau for the night. The next morning I set out for Montana and covered about 358 miles. There was nothing spectacular along the route, but the landscape began changing as I entered Montana. Cornfields finally gave away to rolling hills covered in grain–and thankfully, the smell of poop was gone!

Next update: Circle, MT and the beginning of my full week in the grand state of Montana.