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.
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.Â 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.Â 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.Â 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.
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!Â Ed seems to be notorious, a great guy, and I wish our paths would cross. But I was in good company all around.
Olivia, Johanna, and Lora offered enthusiastic welcomes. The guys, Nick, Stephen, and Coleman had Audre up on the rack within minutes. Bob,Â the ringmaster, ran around much like Batman.Â Honestly,Â 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.
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 circlesÂ 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.
I 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.Â They recently sealed the deal and married and they’re totally perfect together.Â 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.Â 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…….
I made a final stop by Corazzo on the way out of the Rose City. Still hopeful I might get a foosball game out of Chad, I made like I wanted to film the shop. Well, it is a rather nice shop. And I do adore Cletis, the puppy.
Fortunately for Chad, the foosball table was covered with merchandise. I even got a quick glance at the prototype for the Speedway Women’s Mesh jacket-although it was whisked away from me before the camera captured any official glimpse.
We took some photos and I was off for some espresso. I passed out some postcards at Stumptown Coffee and it turns out one of the girls was from Maine. I still get confused where I’m from, exactly.
Yes, yes, I grew up in Virginia, but just two weeks before the P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER ride, I moved all belongings to Maine. Sometimes when people ask I say Maine, sometimes Virginia. The PO Box address for these fine Peace postcards is in Maine.
Speaking of, another one came in! Keep sending ’em in if you’ve got ’em! I would love to do a gallery exhibition with them and photographs of kind folk I’ve met along the way!
The drive to Seattle was long and full of wrong turns, some my fault, some Google’s fault and the rest could have been avoided WITH PROPER ROAD MARKINGS. I crossed a lot of bridges lately, with the route snaking along the Columbia River. After close to a perfect ride, I happened upon a large bridge.
And it was perfect too. Although, traffic was heavy and I spotted a motorcycle, ambulance and fire truck. This was unsettling and I pulled over for a second to call on my angels! Just then I spotted an ambulance headed my way and so I pulled in front of it, knowing they would give me lots of space. Well played.
Halfway through the bridge I entered Washington and raised my arm in victory.
Most of the ride was through small, conservative towns and was speckled with amusing and scary signage. After a 9 hour ride, I arrived at my hosts house. The misdirections added on a bunch of time, but the scenery was purty. An hour before 8pm, I called Shaun.
Remember Shaun? He’s here in Seattle and his friend is hosting us. Shaun let me know that I should push on, despite the hunger and cold. He also told me the sun wouldn’t set until 9pm. Weird, but good. The last stretch was a little tricky, navigating numerous potholes on an industrial road, but I arrived safely nonetheless. His words were the encouragement I needed-as was the festive spirit of a parade that I rode through in Yelm, WA.
I woke up this morning in a fancy high rise apartment with a view of Mt. Rainer. Gorgeous. Oh, and Starbucks brewed fresh for free in the lobby. Schmancy, but FREE. Today was a taking care of business day. Scooter stuff that is.
I know and trust the mechanics at Ducatti Seattle. They work on 15,000 dollar machines after all. Audre needed a full diagnostic and is even having an overnight visit at the doctors. She had a new front fork put on, as well as rear shock, new headlight, oil change, and new back tire. The back tire was iffy-but better to take care of it now before heading into the deserted Big Sky Country.
With my steed taken away, I decided just to hang out at the shop today. Good people there and it was totally chill. So chill that I fell asleep in the showroom reading the Vespa Bible. Robert woke me up and sent me upstairs to the couch, where I took powernap #2.
Perhaps I was pooped from the excitement of an interview with the local news. Wow! A real news interview! Somewhat serendipitously, a reporter was in the shop, switching up her 50cc for a 150cc. David, the dapper, joyous proprietor, connected us. After a look at the scooter and a brief chat, I guess she decided P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER IS newsworthy. WOW!
An hour later Denise and Rey were on location! I tend to be camera shy, but only because most reporters ask dim, slanted questions. But not Denise. Hopefully they do the story justice, it comes out tomorrow. They stayed for over an hour, so it’s hopeful that they wanted to put together a good piece. Denise is a motorcycle rider and also just keen and kindhearted. They both signed the scooter and then Denise let me film her defining Peace! You know that’s cool!
We discussed Peace, anti-war sentiments, alternative transportation, the rigors of a long ride, parking spaces for motorcycles, generosity of strangers, logistics and the origin of the idea to make a 22,000 mile Peace sign.
If you’ve read this blog from the beginning, you know that Seattle rolled out the red carpet last year. I made rounds, checking up on those generous people and saying thanks again. We had dinner at Buca di Bepo’s and the manager covered the whole check. This is a bustling Italian restaurant, apparently a chain, but it feels pretty unique. The staff at this one are really genuine. We talked about peace and traveling to the different people who stopped by the table to say “HI.” Last year Tracy opened the restaurant to cook me up a whopping plate of pasta and then treated me to two nights at the Marriott!
It’s an early night with this crowd, but that’s cool. Chad showed us how to make “fizzy bombs” by dropping Mentos mints into a 2 liter of Diet Coke. It’s a thing Bernard from Still Life with a Woodpecker would have learned how to do in 4th grade. It shot straight up about 4 feet! Big fun!
Since it’s chill tonight, I’m figuring out the schedule for the final part of the route! Only 4,000 miles left! I’ve decided to add a two day stop in Coeur D’ Alene, Idaho, en route to Missoula, MT. Last year I blew through there and it looked very interesting. It is, after all, an area known for white supremacy, so there’s bound to be interesting Peace conversations.
The rest of the weekend will be very hectic. Tomorrow is a group ride and BBQ with the West Enders group. There is a Gay Pride Parade on Sunday, with a group of scooterists riding in it and that could be fun. The same day is the Mods vs. Rockers Scooter Ride. For those who don’t know, this is a classic rivalry between scooterists. It was best dramatized in the rock opera by The Who, turned into a movie also called Quadrophenia. And then there is Eric, a talented writer also on a long scooter haul. Our routes have led us across the country and here at the same time, so hopefully we meet.
Feel free to check out the flickr sets and leave your definition of Peace! Here is a video of crossing the Burnside Bridge into downtown Portland: Here is a video of the random parade. They said it was a celebration of the Prairie?! Here is a video of Corazzo. WOOOO!
Watch closely, you’ll see P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER drive by….
I can’t believe how crappy this article turned out. Mike from NOHO Scooters had a lot of great things to say that were edited. So did I, but at least she worked in, “Alix Bryan, crossing the country for Peace.”
People constantly ask me if the ride is getting press, and NO, NO it’s not. Even when NBC interviews me, they cut out my responses. Of course, the article is about gas prices, not scooting for Peace. We just happened to be at the shop on the one day it’s closed, and Mike just happened to answer the phone, and I just happened to be there.
But you know, what speaks loudly to me is that the press doesn’t want to cover this ride.Â It means there is something complex under the surface, something volatile and hard to confront-which only affirms the need to put Peace on the map.
Today I had the honor of speaking with Rosie Olson and Karen Johnson, live on Blog Talk Radio. Rosie is the host, and her warm personality made me feel as though we were friends in the same room. This helped with my initial shyness, although the program aired live and captures a lot of my “ohs, ums, and ahs.”
Because it was more like a conversation than an interview, I didn’t say a lot of things I wish I had. About how wonderful and generous everyone has been. See, I felt shy about going on and on about me.
It was really an honor to speak with two insightful, experienced women and I wish Karen Johnson had spoken more, as she lives what I’m on the road doing.Â She is a wise woman, the MidWest Regional Coordinator for the Department of Peace. The DOP is legislation that must be passed and I encourage everyone to read more about it through the Peace Alliance website.
Karen wrote me back a few months ago, one of the few Peace organizations to do so-not only encouraging me, but notifying her contacts about the ride. This show of solidarity was impressive, as I have sadly seen little of it in the Peace, specifically anti-war movement.
Among many other things, I discuss my recent disenchantment with the liberal 60’s in this show. It is an hour and a half long. Go on, turn up the speakers and listen while you surf the web. Thanks to Rosie and Karen for making my first live interview so comfortable.
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.I 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.
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
Was there a significant point where you felt at home on the road? All along?
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)
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
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
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
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.
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!
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.
Fidgeteer from Alix Bryan on Vimeo.
Last night I had the honor of speaking with Dave Mangano, who runs great podcasts over on sctrcst.com . Dave is a pleasant conversationalist. That attribute, along with his amor for scooters, makes his show a success. He walked me through my first use of Skype. Actually a simple process. The headphone purchase will be helpful doing video voiceovers, although not all white noise is eliminated. What was discombobulating for me was the lack of eye contact.The show airs sometime after 3/30. You will then be able to hear his side-but for now you can watch me fidget. Apparently, I have lost my good posture from so much time behind a computer. I think its time for one of those fancy office chairs.
We talked about the trip last year and he invited me back onto the show before leaving on this 9,000 mile journey. That’s only 5 weeks from today! I will have a lot more concise details to share with him-there is some exciting sponsor news and potential raffles in the works. Money raised through all raffles will be donated to nonprofit organizations. I have decided on one recipient,the Peace Alliance, who are steadfastly working on legislation to create The Department of Peace. We will talk in detail about that premise soon. The legislation is an important, intelligent measure that will “enhance our current problem-solving options, providing practical, nonviolent solutions to the problems of domestic and international conflict.” The DOP will work in equal standing with the Department of Defense-a measure that even our Constitutional Forefathers suggested would assist in that premise of ‘checks and balances.’ (remember those, anyone????)
I am honored to have their support and to raise funds for donation to such a worthy cause. The new postcard is almost through its final stages and tells the story of last years trip; the places and people I experienced. The back is mostly the same. An invitation to define Peace and then send it forward to someone you know.