As I write this, the clouds hang heavy in the sky, casting some grey light on today’s departure to Atlanta. Appropriately though, as recently I can’t seem to leave on a sunny day. My friend calls it the “Truman Ride.” It’s not that bad really, 2 for 2. However, when I left Charlottesville, VA on Thursday the 19, it was the first time Audrey the P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER was fully gear laden. Every time I started to load up, a severe thunderstorm would roll in. Philip Mccaleb called to say Hi and wondered why I wasn’t on the road, until he heard the heavy thunder in the background! I was really fidgety and wanted to get some miles out of the way, plus Jaymii in Asheville was expecting me the next day. At 5pm it seemed like the skies were good and clear-even the weather in Danville, 120 miles away said “sunny.” I was on the road by 6pm, stopping off at my favorite local places for a cup of espresso and goodbyes. Only 15 minutes outside of town the rain started lightly, eventually developing into hail. I did not want to be deterred though, so I pushed ahead. There was a lot of stop and go, and the weather would cease, until I got back on the bike-then it would start right back up! It was a good test run-all my gear stayed totally dry! I was riding in the dark, something I prefer not to do, but haven’t developed a good rhythm yet-so it happens. The storm hit a severe level-lightening was hitting closely all around me, hail was falling, there was flash flooding and I was only heading into the moist heart of it all. I jumped off the byway, unfortunately, on to another byway (i hate that) and found a florescent mecca for shelter. The rain let up and I scrambled to find a cheap motel. I got a look at the weather forecast and it seemed the storm system was only hovering above my two destination states!
The next morning I rose early, prepared for a soggy day, but there was only a bit of rain. It seems if I keep my rain pants on, the rain doesn’t fall-oh irony! I cruised 29S over to 58E. I have done a little over 400 miles now on 29, named after the 29th Infantry Division-it’s the South afterall. This road covers substantial terrain, and will abruptly transport you from rolling countryside one laner to a four lane metro byway. I was headed over to the Blue Ridge Parkway and really excited about taking it the Southern route all the way into Asheville. Once I hit the entrance I fueled up-fuel is really scarce on the parkway. There, a curious gentleman approached me and struck up a 30 minute conversation. Grover was a great fella to talk to and he warned me there was no way I would hit Asheville by evening. When I came out of the station, he handed me a $20, saying I was doing something he always wished to do. It turns out he was correct. Even though the actual mileage to Asheville was 180 from the entrance, it took me another day to get there!
I am completely in awe of this drive along the Parkway, and its been in my backyard this whole time. I kept thinking of Laird Van Dyck’s cross country drive on the BRP, cruising a Metropolitan 2, nonetheless, at top speeds of 20mph. Thankfully, a lot of conservation effort has gone into this 469 mile stretch through astounding terrain. I only hope that we put this much energy into conserving the rest of America’s beauty. My first appreciative observation was the absence of big, obtrusive road signs and tacky billboards. The signage was quaint, limited to the necessary and tiny. No one was in a rush, and I reveled at the lack of traffic around 5pm- rush hour time in some big city on a Friday! I talked to a couple of cage drivers and it was taking them about 8 hours to cover 120 miles! I started to suspect that I would need a place to camp….you don’t want to fly past all this beautiful scenery. It was really magical.
I have never made a ride like that by myself. There are tons of bikers out on the BRP, and they were all very nice to me. A few just looked away, but most were inquisitive. One biker said, “9,000 miles-you’re just as crazy as me!” I did head into a biker bar to check it out and grab dinner. Hydration and food are key to these long trips-I am discovering-it is more important to relax about the ETA and enjoy the journey itself. Every one was friendly at the bar and the lady running the place said, “oh thats different,” when I told her about my trip. I recommend their Station’s Inn as a haven along the BRP. It felt safe and clean, a lot of experienced bikers were there after enjoying the ride! That night I headed back to ten miles to the Doughton State Park Campground for a long slumber in my new tent.
The ride down the BRP really developed my relationship to the new bike! The route is two lanes cutting through summits and plummets, with no guard on the sides. There was no barrier between me and the beautiful country. Scooting makes for easy on and off, so I snapped a lot of pictures that others had to wait for pull-offs to get. The turns were sometimes tight-sometimes gentle and long. The road is a bit bumpy, but totally comfortable for scooterists-even though I saw no others. The bike made people really curious-I couldn’t even get out of the park for 3 hours after I woke up! But I had some really good talks with other campers and especially connected with a family who are members of the Church of the Brethren. It turns out this is one of the historic Peace keeping churches, many members have been conscientious war objectors. The church even decided not to offer refugee aid in this Iraq war, a first ever, because they did not accept the political modus operandi. Michael, Christopher, Madeline and Louise were so excited, encouraging and even financially supportive of the P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER. This trip is meant to be inclusive; to avoid the often restrictive nature of political and religious perspectives; to find a common ground-and we did.
One thought that is marinating in my head as of late, is,” let’s make the political, personal.” The mantra I have always heard and incorporated, was,” let’s make the personal, political.” I feel as though its time for us to stand back from the hazy political framing of social agendas and personally define peace. Of course the way we personally choose to live out our lives becomes a statement, whether or not we intend it to. But, often our personal lives have nothing to do with politics. For example, I know great people who are anti-war (politically wanting peace) but who are still sexist, bullemic, on anti-depressants and throw their cigarettes on the ground (personally and environmentally-not peaceful). I read in Kalle Lasn’s, Culture Jam, that something like 75% of Americans are diagnosed with a mental disorder of some sorts-be it depression, weight complex, insomnia, etc. Now, that might be an example of how the personal is political, because our big businesses and the government should be held accountable for selling myths or providing inadequate health care. There in is the personal though, because we NEED TO SEE THROUGH THIS AND DEMAND MORE-after all-it’s ALL OURS. And we have been taught to expect more, more, more all the time. Why aren’t we demanding more of the good stuff? Why aren’t we demanding policy designed to benefit ourselves and others? Why is it idealistic to think we can deserve the same quality health care Canadians have? Thats why I think it’s time to make the political personal.
We must personally reckon with the limitations and injustices our nation continues to accept. We do. The end!
I know I am asking myself “why would I continue to accept this standard of living?” Some beautiful soul wrote on the Wall of Beliefs, “It is no coincidence that the people of this nation are by and large, far too busy keeping their heads above water to take a stand against a government which acts against their will, on behalf of many, in the interest of few.” (by the way-use the Wall of Beliefs if you haven’t already-its a WE space)
It’s a culture of Peace that I am talking about-how you relate with yourself, others, the environment-even a Higher Power. Its how you treat an animal, a child, a neighbor, a stranger, a friend, a forest. It has to do with diet, health, goals, compassion, sense of self,
It amazes me how many people are having such a strong reaction to Peace-I notice most people find it Political-first and foremost. Trust me on that statement-I’m out here talking to a lot of people. It’s sad enough that most of my generation are apathetic to politics-but now this clever thing has happened where Peace has been branded political-and people are apathetic to it as well. It’s for hippies. It’s for protesters. It’s for the idealists.
I THINK IT IS WHAT WE ARE ALL TRYING TO GET-EVEN IF WE TAKE DIFFERENT ROUTES THERE AND DEFINE IT DIFFERENTLY. I am happy to be seeing Peacemakers everywhere though, I met some great ones along the BRP and I saw a lot of signs for Peace in Asheville.
I finally made it here to Asheville before sunset on Saturday. I just put my first grand on the bike, about 865 miles towards P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER. I met my hostess, Jaymii, working at Omega Institute. I was pretty delirious by the time I arrived, but amped from the beauty of the BRP. We eventually made it out to a veggie restaurant that stays open until 3am. Pretty cool, its usually hard to grab healthy, yummy food after bars close! Sunday we tried to take a tour of Asheville, but went to the wrong pick up point and wound up chasing the LaZoom bus around for a couple of blocks before giving up. The town feels similar to Charlottesville, with the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance, a progressive scene-lots of music, arts, community and veggie eating. The time spent here has been really appreciated, her house is beautiful, the bed is sooooo comfortable and I get to love on her dog! Although my tent did make for a nice cocoon! As far as gear goes, by day two on the road, I made some adjustments, cleared up foot space and have everything totally set and balanced! The saddlebags are working out so well and all I have to do to fuel up is wedge the H20 bottle in the seat to access the fuel tank. Oh, and another one of Jaymii’s talents-she sews-SO the peace flag is now flying on the bike.
The sky looks like the storm is clearing, so I am gonna try to make a move now…
Next vector on the Peace sign is Atlanta. After that Montgomery. I wrote to Ava Lowery, twice now, to see if we could meet in Montgomery, but she just keeps ignoring me. I still think what she does is inspirational and amazing, but I don’t understand why she won’t contact me back-at least to say she is busy. I would love to interview her for the Putting Peace on the Map Documentary. Otherwise, I am going to see my family there, visit the Dexter Church where MLK was pastor and check out the Rosa Parks museum. Thanks for wasting some time over here on the site….
“But peace does not rest in the charters and covenants alone. It lies in the hearts and minds of all people. So let us not rest all our hopes on parchment and on paper, let us strive to build peace, a desire for peace, a willingness to work for peace in the hearts and minds of all of our people. I believe that we can. I believe the problems of human destiny are not beyond the reach of human beings.”
John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)
I think this is a funny picture below, but I disagree-our future is sooo bright, we gots to wear shades!