Weather Report

14 Aug 2007 In: Uncategorized

Mailbox Award


Ah, looks like I surfed the heat wave into shore…

I arrive in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in a few hours. High temperature today of 86. Thats 17 degrees cooler than what I have become accustomed to-hope I don’t get chilly. Fargo is perched at the top of the third trip leg. I arrive there within two days, extremely excited to visit this town. If you live there or are in the know on some Fargo happenings-email me! Only three states left to see in the U.S. after crossing North Dakota off the list-Maine, Alaska, New Hampshire.

I spent some time with the maps last night, plotting the course over to Missoula. 998 miles from Fargo to Missoula, an 18 hour drive according to google. For the first time, the non highway routes get me there faster-sweet scooter victory. My mind is still reeling at the thought. Time to get a gas can, put on the long johns, charge up the camera and learn the language of deer-since that’s about all I will see out yonder. Too bad those Scoot Stars won’t be riding along to keep me company, although their 50cc’s would only chug up the mountains ahead.

Oh, if you are in the Missoula vicinity (maybe Spokane, Butte, Billings, Helena) apparently there is a Mass Peace Ride in the planning, so I hope to meet you. More details about that coming soon!

Ride on!

Big Heart Oklahoma

I left Newton, KS early Sunday morning, scooting off into the cooler air around 9 am. Crystal, avid scooterist and blogger of girlbike had put me in contact with a Salina, KS host. However, my long day in the small town of Newton ran into nightfall and I didn’t want to traverse Kansas backroads at night-so I never got to meet up with Jerry. Hopefully, I will catch him on the return trip! Ultimately, my decision was sound, as the roads I traveled had many patches of gravel and were even missing asphalt in some sections!

After a restless night in Newton I was up early with excitement to hit the center of the Peace sign. I will revisit Salina, KS as I approach the last leg of the trip, so I didn’t fret about staying there long. The ride was a delicious complement to my mood. The skies have been so sunny and blue lately, and I prefer the heat that comes along with that over wet, rainy roads. My route was also North bound, so the gusty Plains winds were finally behind me, versus battering the bike from the South West, as has been the case since I hit Oklahoma. There literally were no other travelers out, so I had the freedom of stopping in the middle of the road to snap photos. Since I entered Arkansas, most of the roads have been without shoulders for easy on/off picture taking. Like I mentioned in an earlier post, this terrain has rules of its own and scooting around requires a lot of attentiveness.

I arrived in Salina around 11 am and spent some time cruising around the city. I stopped at a hotel to use their free internet and the clerk was nice to print out some documents for me. That done, I headed into the downtown area of Salina to find some morning percolation and grub. Salina is the closest city to the geographic and geodetic centers of the United States-truly the bellybutton of it all! I suppose this is why Steve Fosset chose to start his solo, nonstop aerial trip around the world from here. The suburbs of Salina were very Steven Spielburgesque, think E.T., low skyline buildings, mainly ranchers all nestled together in cul-de-sac formation. Closer to the downtown center I began to see more of the town’s timeline. I found it simple and quaint-as opposed to a pretentious and fussy renaissance you often witness older small towns going through. I ran across a brunch buffet and talked the manager into giving me half price. My point was that I didn’t need unlimited trips to the buffet, one would do me right. The deal was done and after my double shot I was ready to crank out some miles. Before starting the jaunt towards Nebraska, I took a moment to reflect on the miles I have traveled so far and entertained some ideas for the rest of the trip. I decided I am going to incorporate a daily Peace visualization/meditation into every morning. I invite you to join me. My goal is to do this every morning at 9am. Email me if you have any questions about meditation. I suspect that days spent contemplating in these wide open spaces of the Plains have influenced my decision to meditate.

It was noon at that moment and the bank thermometer flashed 98 degrees-probably an underestimate. The heartland of America has been pulsing with a heat wave the past week; temperatures reaching 103 degrees. I did some annoying backtracking and finally found my direction towards the back roads of KS. I was jarred by how quick the fields erased all trace of a bustling town. Major highways around the area diverts traffic from these roads, so they were very enjoyable-quiet and scenic. Also, they were well marked and have been ever since I left Louisiana.

I was cruising along really amped to have completed two major legs of the Peace sign. I can see the vectors taking the shape and now have a real confidence about what I am doing. That makes a difference in how I respond to inquiries and also how I accept donations! Now when people offer, I have no problems saying, “YES and THANK YOU, whereas I was a bit shy before. The end of this leg is Fargo, ND, although the plan for the day was just to reach Nebraska.
Even in the heat I felt excited and energetic. Summer time in the Plains feels like God is standing over you with a massive hairdryer and there is no where to run. In fact, scooting faster just brings about hot, burning gusts of air-no reprieve. Since I was meandering alone on backroads, I took off the riding jacket, otherwise I was going to pass out. The landscape was beautiful, but surreal. There was absolutely no shade anywhere, and I couldn’t fathom how crops were growing under the scorching sun. Everything in the horizon was shimmering from the heat and sun. Everything was also bleached out. I don’t think the photos turned out as good as I would have liked because of the blinding sun. My favorite photo was of the gravel road I wound up on. I suspected that would happen at some point, but the gravel was well combed and soft and I only needed that road for seven miles, so I proceeded carefully.

I was about 70 miles from Salina when I ran out of gas. I also knew that would inevitably happen. I haven’t needed to carry a gas can as of yet, and might only do so when I get to Montana. Running out of gas doesn’t really phase me. After all, I am in farm country, people keep extra gas for their lawnmowers. The bike didn’t actually run dry, she was just sipping from fumes when a farmer behind me at the stop sign told me the closest fuel station was still twenty miles away. John, the farmer, went to his house a mile back and grabbed some gas. Farmer John
After we fueled Audrey up we talked for about an hour. His first thought was my safety and he asked if I was ever scared. I guess I could have been scared that I was trapped on a back road with some guy I don’t know from Bill. Through this trip I am finding the world is not the scary one projected onto our TV screens. Personally, I am more frightened by what I wouldn’t discover if I were to stay at home, baking cookies and making lemonade. My mom always gives me a spiel (love you mom) about the dangers that lurk in the world, and fears that I will run into the bad, greedy, scandalous people who litter this world. Problem is, those people are also infiltrated into every level of our government and religious institutions. So no, I’m not really scared to ride alone as a female-although I do practice safety and I check in with “switchboard operator,” about twice a day. John was such a great guy for helping me out, he showed up at the perfect time and I thought he was very polite. Our opinions are very different, and he would always preface his viewpoint with, “I don’t want to upset you.” However, we found a common ground and thats what its all about, transcending political and religious frameworks, to at least listen to someone else’s opinion. I don’t agree with him, nor him me. It was quite a political conversation. His belief is that we need to win the war in Iraq to eliminate the future possibility of terrorist invasion. I said we need to stop giving them weapons to fight us with and that we have given enough money and our civil rights toward Homeland Security that it should prevent a future terrorist attack. The banter went back and forth. I brought up Hurricane Katrina, saying that it I am hesitant to think we can rebuild another country when we have such a mess in our own. He said that was a destruction of God. When it comes down to it, though, the government could have made the levees better. And mind you, that’s a blog entry of its own, which I will do when I can catch up, but I would like to refer you to the August 2007 entry of National Geographic. It’s informative and objective.
It was great to speak with someone so friendly and honest about their opinions, no matter how different from mine. I asked him to define Peace for me and his response was that feeling that he used to get watching his kids play ball, or being out at the lake. Hopefully, we can find a way in this world for everyone to touch that feeling. Since we were already talking so politically, I asked him how we can make policy shifts that incorporate diversity, don’t reflect imperialistic values, and how we can avoid going to war in times of conflict. We rapped about holding leaders accountable and what it means to be Patriots. Remember, our founding fathers were dissenters.

It was nearing four pm and my water reserves had been tapped for awhile, so I pushed on through the cornfields. Thirty minutes later I came across a store and bought a gallon of water, using the money saved from FREE gas. Maybe this should be my new strategy to save some cash! Soaking a bandanna in cool water helps to regulate body temperature, as does pouring it over your head. I was cooling down in the shade when three bikers pulled up and started rapping with me. Laurie and BillWalt

I spent the next half an hour with Laurie, Bill and Walt-telling dirty jokes and answering questions about the trip. They each offered me some money and took postcards. I have already been contacted by some people they know, so many thanks you three-for everything-wasting time together, cash, and promotion!

I only had about 60 miles to the border of Nebraska, so I cruised on to find a hotel in Fairbury. The days trip clocked in at 200 miles. Originally I had planned to travel US-81, nice and convenient for its North-South run along the 6th Meridian, until I found out its mainly four lane trucker traffic. Highway 15 North was in good shape, little traffic still but scenic with average speed of 60. I will take this all the way up to South Dakota.
Capri MotelJohn the farmer had told me Fairbury had nice, cheap hotels. My friend called ahead for me and reserved one for only $30! I must say, the Capri Hotel is a traveler’s gem.It was nicer than any hotel than I have stayed at yet, for a fraction of the price. They offered clean rooms, hi speed internet, actual glasses in the rooms, refrigerator and a large, deep bathtub. I don’t need the perks like swimming pool or crappy continental breakfast for an extra $30. The town itself was small, pop. 4, 235, but it had all the essentials. I took a walk at sunset, something I need to do to reacquaint myself with land legs!

I noticed that Nebraska was greener than Kansas and went to sleep hopeful the heat wave would be breaking soon, or at least the trees would offer some cool shade spots. I smiled a lot, the day had that essence which defines travel. And a certain someone keeps the smile beaming…. IMG_1299

“In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us. ”

Thank you from Nebraska

12 Aug 2007 In: 2007 Blog

I’ve checked into a hotel in Fairbury, Nebraska, finally making it out of Kansas. Temperatures held steady at 106 degrees today. I’m parched, shaky and totally fried–sunburnt because I shed all my safety gear in the heat of the day. Still, I engaged with the hotel clerk, for about an hour. They don’t really see scooters out here, much less one loaded down with enough gear for three months. I had many questions to field and to ask.  I have some interview footage to upload and compress into video when I’m done blogging.  Tomorrow will be much of the same scenery; nothing but corn and soybeans, with the pungent aroma of pesticides and cow manure choking my nose.  Only the people I meet will make the day different. I had the vision to create this peace sign that spans 22,000 miles and now I’m here in the middle of it. I realized today, as I interviewed the people I met, and learned about their culture, their perspectives, that this is what I want to do with the rest of my life. Not here in Nebraska, mind you, and I don’t know where, when, or how. What I do know is that today it became clear to me that I want to spend my life finding stories and giving them a voice.

Musings from the Bellybutton

11 Aug 2007 In: Uncategorized

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Has the heat gone to my head?

Here in the plains, what I thought would be the boring, loneliest stretches of road, I am having a blast! Tulsa was one of my favorite stops, which I will write about, but for now, here is the stuff going on inside…

I just want to share with you what its like a day in my head and heart. I haven’t really spoken that much about the people I am meeting and the conversations I have about Peace. I usually post about the road and adventures and then hit the sack. Oh, and I upload hundreds of photos into my Flickr stream to keep the photo blogging alive and interesting.

The past few days of traveling I have experienced something-and its every bit as exhausting as it is joyful. In the past, Kansas or Oklahoma were places I went through to get to other places. Most everyone I know says the same thing. I grew up in urban/suburban areas were buildings, light, and population density comforted me. Today, its the sight of terrain stretching for miles to meet blue sky that comforts me. A place where soil fights a scorching sun to yield the most harvest of grain and wheat out of any other state. It’s a place of sustenance and survival. I appreciate it differently now, maybe because I am at Peace. I don’t need require the same distraction and stimulus that used to seemingly comfort me. And I am surely learning how to entertain myself for hundreds of miles. I am feeding myself. And when I pull into a place, others feed me. I have a feeling of both fullness and emptiness and I contemplate cycles like this. Like having Peace even in times of conflict.

So, after three weeks on the road, I am gonna break it to you: people often have a hard time defining Peace when I ask them. Which brings me back to why I set out on this journey. Having understanding and ownership of a word, an idea, or a metaphor is empowering. If we can’t define it, how do we embody it? If we don’t understand vocabulary, we use a word out of context. I find that people often assume Peace is only the opposite of conflict. It’s one or the other. I discuss conflict a lot with people. It’s dangerous to define Peace only as the absence of conflict-we couldn’t really ever obtain it, right? How do we create room for integral thinking? Are Peace and Conflict really two entirely separate cycles? Or is Peace the mind set that allows us to navigate conflict, that creates viable solutions despite differing opinions?

I met Ben Hutchinson today in Newton, KS. Ben Hutchinson
I came here via a tip about the Mennonite Church, who are known for their stance on peace. Ben asked about my scooter, I told him about the trip and then interviewed him. He defines Peace as the opposite of war, but not the opposite of conflict. We agreed that conflict is inevitable. But war is not. He believes that conflicts can help us grow and that Peace is the strategy you use to foster the growth. He sees War as total dominance and that it establishes power over another; there is a victor and therefore a subordinate. How would War (or dominance) possibly create Peace? That would be like beating your wife or child for obedience-it doesn’t resolve the difference of opinion-it just ends the conversation. Whereas resolving conflict is oriented towards creating power with, resolving something together. Isn’t that what you would want to see at all levels of living, personally and societally? And is it impossible to accomplish a shift in thinking? Or is the majority of our culture just doomed to be stuck in a paradigm of binary thinking? Dominance/Subordinance. Boss/Peon. Christian/Non Christian. Gay/Straight. Female/Male. Alpha/Beta. Rich/Poor. Republican/Democrat. Bad/Good.

This black or white thinking, in every day living, does it truly reflect reality? A team might lose a game and still win the championship. Lover’s quarrel. What is it that keeps them in love through the conflict? A dialog? The working through of differences to see similarities, to find common ground? Why must we only trust our lovers and family to have this type of thinking? How can a Christian scorn me because I don’t have the same lifestyle? And how can a Christian believe in War? Or racism? But, they do.

The second person I interviewed today was Don. Don Goger

Basically, I have been at this coffee shop for four hours now. By the way, I wrote a whole entry already, only to have it deleted (holy crow). It was a lot better than this one, because I do it really well once, not twice. Anyways, this entry is just a tiny viewfinder into how I spend my days; I think, I drive, I listen to amazing personal stories. Don told me a lot, we talked for about an hour, about many personal things. He thinks peace can be used like a verb in the same way that love can. Love starts as an inner feeling and then you show it to another; you love them. While I might not ever use the expression, “I peace you,” I get what he means. It starts inside and you offer it outward. Like the seeds here in the fields, from sowing to reaping, from Kansas to your table. But you can share it, despite differences, despite rough times, despite sadness, or conflict-you keep your eyes on something better and work towards it.

That’s what Peace means to a few people…..

I spend my time riding, thinking, and meeting strangers. Today I came up with some alternative names for P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER: Blowin’ in the Wind, Blown in Kansas, The Tightest Mulhabanda that Ever Was, I came close to Climax, KS-but just missed it, I am working on Good Posture by Scooting 10,000 miles Tour, etc.

Seriously though, I have never been this far from home, for this long, alone. But, surprisingly enough, it’s not loneliness I feel…it’s a combination of contentment and trepidation that everything is happening both par for the course and yet totally derailed. Today I am at the center of the Peace sign in Salina, KS. I have come 3,333,9 miles (you bet) and I have feel more welcomed here than I could have possibly imagined.

This is Alix, reporting live from the field(s)
peacescooter@gmail.com

Three Grand into the Peace Sign

11 Aug 2007 In: Uncategorized

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I’m getting ready for that massage….

Today I reach the center vector, the belly button of the Peace Sign Map. Salina, KS is the only stop I will go through twice.

Check out the google map link to see the formation of it!

Putting Peace on the Map!

Crazy 8’s

8 Aug 2007 In: Uncategorized

Love Will Save Us
Today, on the eighth day of the eighth month, I reach the eighth vector on the Peace sign! Totally random by the way-just beautiful serendipity.

Yesterday I went in and out of four states, calm not being one of them. That’s not entirely true, my iPod was all charged up and the random shuffle really synched in with the events, helping me to remain calm. I get total joy from a good random shuffle….

I left Shreveport, Louisiana early, headed for Tulsa, about a 10 hour drive. The route wove in and out of both Arkansas and Texas. Mostly I plan my routes using a combination of google and an inadequate atlas-but a good friend just sent me a birthday package with individual states maps. Score! Usually google is pretty decent, but the detail can be convoluted and too much information to retain on a ten hour drive. I enjoy seeing the route right in front of me, old school navigation-atlas and compass. Excited about using my new maps, I ignored the route google suggested. There are several things I have to keep in mind when I plotting my course-back roads and keeping the Peace sign shape-which can be unwieldy.

Route 71 out of Shreveport looked advantageous-it was a straight shot up and over to Tulsa and would keep the first “Peace spoke” of the circle pretty defined. I was expecting to lose the usual city traffic about 10 miles out of Shreveport, but it turns out that many big rigs use the road. In these parts, scooters are an anomaly-people drive trucks-probably for farming purposes and to deal with the lackluster road conditions. They also haul more than farm equipment-they haul ass down the road. Making the best of it though, I choose to enjoy tuffing it out with the big boys, cruising along with the Peace flag flying and trying to stay off of people’s grills. Speed limit was unexpected for what had appeared to be small by-ways, anywhere from 55-70 mph, MINIMUM. Mostly 71N was a two lane road with passing allowed, so I had ridiculous scenarios with people zooming past me, tractor trailers close ahead coming towards us. I had to see it through though, unless I wanted to backtrack 50+ miles, until I could cut over to 70W to Broken Bow, OK, where 259N would take me to Tulsa. Even 259N, a curvy mountain route cutting through beautiful OK forests had a speed limit of 65 mph. I just don’t think this can be avoided, and that’s also what I have been told. My scooter can handle high speeds and if you are going cross country on roads like these, I don’t recommend anything less than 125cc. Safety is crucial! I find myself pulling over a good amount, just to relax and keep a positive mindset when facing hectic traveling. The main obstacles I face are the poor roads in certain parts-made riskier with high speeds, tractor trailers, heavy gear, and high wind across the plains. It’s relatively unpaved territory to take a scooter on these roads, so I hope the info I am offering helps other scooterists-and I welcome any travel tips. I choose to ride Audrey for this mission because she is environmentally friendlier-on roads and the fuel supply. Also, what better way to reach people than travel right through the veins of America? I get to notice all the little details of each town’s culture. And the road signs/attractions are just better along these routes!

I definitely observe a huge difference in culture, especially after leaving New Orleans and the charming southern hospitality attitude. People all along the East Coast were generally curious and engaging. That gives me an immediate opportunity to talk about the project and find common ground with people. With the exception of my host, Doug, in Shreveport and the lovely people he works with, my welcoming in these parts has been chilly. The past couple of days I have had to make the first moves and break the ice. Long stares and silences usually welcome me so I just smile a lot, use polite addresses and tell people up front what I am doing. Despite our differences, there is usually a way to dissolve a stranger’s skepticism. Part of them warming up to me could just be the sheer craziness of driving a scooter 9,000 miles. I do find it ironic that this heartland of America is very faith oriented, yet not friendly or loving to strangers. There are abundance of signs, “God Bless America,” etc. and yesterday I found myself wishing Christ had ridden a scooter and not a cross-maybe drivers would give me some room.

I am also a bit nostalgic for those bayous of Southern LA but am now surrounded by the plains and farmland. Of course I enjoy the scenery contrast, but I didn’t really get to take many pictures, since the driving was pretty hectic. The air had a smell to it that reminded me of summer camp back in Virginia, it must have been the pine trees. Southern and central Louisiana was so fragrant, to my surprise. The bayous released a salty smell, the earth there is very fertile, and at night, some particularly intoxicating flower opens up. Texas and Arkansas didnt really offer me any olfactory reprieve. State maintenance was cruising the other side of the road, headed my direction, spraying chemicals, which means that part of the route was saturated with an unpleasant toxic, smell. Bad timing for me. The raging heat amplified the smells of factories and I spent most of the day without the helmet shield even cracked. Times are a changing for sure, heading North and through the main artery of our country.

I will reach Tulsa in a few hours. I stopped last night at sunset in a town called Poteau-whose mascot seems to be Pirates. Poteau rhymes with Tae-Kwon-Do, just so ya know. Salina, KS is the middle of the Peace sign and I will arrive there Friday. Traveling is going really well overall, at every level, and I hope to see some Critical Mass rides happening soon. There is a heat wave happening, which is tolerable for me, although I am loosing lots of electrolytes and even get wicked charley horses at night-there is a correlation I think. So, even though I swear off Walmart, I utterly despise them, I am heading over right now to buy some Emergen-C. Thats a great powder you dissolve in H20 to consume mass electrolytes and vitamins at once. I have been fighting making a stop at Wal Mart, they are littered throughout the country and would make shopping easy, but my health is important. I have been able to reduce my shopping there to a once a year event-and usually thats just to take advantage of the “Wal Mart rental program.” 🙂

Stay tuned for the updates about NOLA and the ride to Shreveport. I have to scram now….

Have a wonderful day!

Per The Question of Faith

6 Aug 2007 In: Uncategorized

Here’s a response offered today about that staircase MLK JR. speaks of, “Faith is taking that first step when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

“You know that staircase I haven’t ever seen? I’m still blindfolded and still willing to do a double flip, ninja kick off the landing. “ (Daphne on life and living)

Check out the flicker stream for pictures of the most eccentric place I have stayed, to date at least. It’s called Well Necessities and it’s an amalgamation of different enterprises. Scooters, coffee, aromatherapy candles, sleep apnea research facility, big fluffy beds….come to think of it, all the necessities I need to be peaceful! Right now I am going out on the town for a ride with Doug, whose passion here is scooters! I will update later!

Ark-La-Tex

6 Aug 2007 In: Uncategorized

. New shades

Tonight finds me in Shreveport, LA, which is nestled alongside Arkansas and Texas. Hence the title. The night has been spent uploading photos, so have a look-see. http://www.flickr.com/photos/alixbryan
I am working on titling/captioning photos as well as posting updates on the past 4 days. I left NOLA Saturday evening after enjoying the SATCHMO free jazz festival. IMG_0827

If I hadn’t beat it out of town I would probably have rented an apartment by now! What a great city!

2134 Napoleon Avenue

3 Aug 2007 In: Uncategorized

The power of our human network is strong-and information technology only helps us coalesce. Everyone knows about the “six degrees of separation,” right? Once you live in certain town, work for certain institutions/causes or just travel enough- I think that rule becomes, “three degrees of separation.” Between my friends, scooter boards, and the “P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER PIT CREW” I am winding up with some great places to stay and wonderful hosts. My friend Jaymii from Asheville, NC contacted her friend in New Orleans, who also used to work at Omega, but not when I was there. Rebecca is my lovely hostess this week-and because of this, my visit has actually stretched a few days longer than originally planned. She is relatively new in town, having moved here for her own anthropology research project and we have fun exploring together.
The conversation has flowed from the very beginning, as I keep pleasantly discovering it does with most New Orleanians. We both get to support one anothers projects and offer suggestions. The documentary aspect of this project is becoming clearer and I feel more comfortable with my role behind/in front of the camera. Rebecca also has a lot of information and opinions about the travesty here and the reconstruction process. I am telling you, there are so many levels of daily life affected here-no one could be prepared for the resulting circumstances. This means a strong community solidarity must demand its government, all branches, serve the people. Today I want to offer this photo to you, as a tribute to the loss my host’s family experienced. I didn’t snap it, the photo was actually taken by Thomas Dworzak and published in Time Magazine-Rebecca’s family didn’t know about it until they saw the cover. Imagine the survivors and evacuee of NOLA, people stuck in attics or rooftops four days and longer-with helicopters passing them by- all totally in the dark about their future.
DworzakThomas-NewOrleans-copia

I am now headed out to Common Ground, a bit of a haul over to the Ninth Ward. I finally found a route that will take me on a scenic drive through the city, versus stuck in traffic inhaling exhaust for 45 min and leading to a big drawbridge! I filled up when I came into town on Tuesday and am already on “E.” Thats 150 miles!

Later on today, the Satchmo jazz festival starts, so I will experience some free music tonight and tomorrow before heading towards Shreveport tomorrow afternoon. New Orleans, ah me.

I conclude with these two other infamous pictures below, that capture someone coping through the trauma, a bit of dark humor that symbolized the attitude of recovery here, they are reposted with permisson.

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At the end of the day….

3 Aug 2007 In: Uncategorized

Ah me. New Orleans.
I took a long drive today, originally headed out to the Common Grounds compound in the Ninth Ward, a district hit the hardest.  As I drove further out Claiborne Street, signs of hurricane destruction became more and more apparent, until I was surrounded by nothing but devastation-except for the new shiny blue Burger King. I began to cry, there in my helmet, under the watching hot sun. I didn’t care that I was in what people tell me is a “bad area,” I had to stop and process what I was witnessing. Yes, I am a traveler here and I did not experience this suffering first hand, but I recognize the pain and injustice I see. I offer my respects and strength to the peoples of New Orleans. May you experience solidarity as a community, continue to rise up and face the big questions.

I will not be taking photos of all these destroyed houses and buildings. It is not my place to snap pictures in these neighborhoods. If you want to see them, come see yourself-make a pilgrimage and witness the biggest natural disaster to ever happen on American soil.

Instead, I am taking photos of the community and its peoples;  their beauty, resilience and weariness. Hopefully, their new chapters will wax brightly here in the Crescent City.

I have been greeted properly-welcomed into the vibrant culture that pulses through New Orleans. Today I experienced many personal shifts and have engaged in many powerful discussions. Eyes and heart ever open, I thank all those along my path today.

And, I got to see a free Brass Band-Soul Rebel!
Paul

“At the end of the day, peace is looking at that guy in the mirror and knowing he is a good guy.”
Gulu

Gulu, she interviewed me for the college radio-and then I interviewed her. But, I left my book at her house, so I will quote her later.

Goodnight. Thank you for continuing to stop by and read this blog. Drop me a line if you want-peacescooter@gmail.com

Gulf Coast towards Crescent City

2 Aug 2007 In: Uncategorized

Monday morning found me right outside Mobile, AL. The day before was my birthday, an unforgettable day of exploring-inner and outer realms.IMG_0618The traveling was also perfect that day, no wrong turns really, steady speeds, time to stop and write. Perhaps Mondays are just wretched travel days, or perhaps I didn’t rest well, but the days events were challenging, life threatening, and overall crappy. My mindset was somewhat anxious, I will admit, and I could have been projecting. I tried to settle into the ride with the mentality that any obstacles I experienced were nothing in comparison to the suffering experienced in this region, from Katrina’s demolition. At the end of the day, that only translated into a night of sleep-without resignation- knowing I was alive and a bit closer to New Orleans.
Traveling into this territory is wild-rules don’t apply.
The heavy media coverage of Katrina did not really extend to the travesty the Gulf Coast suffered. My first instinct when plotting the route from Selma to New Orleans was to circumvent the Gulf Coast all together and head west over to Hattiesburg, MS, then South. My uncle lives in Mobile and I have fond memories of visiting the Gulf Coast as a kid-its white beaches and warm water are lovely. It turned out that my uncle lived about an hour east off of my course-the first monkey wrench in my planning. The second was discovering that bridges are still out along 90W. There are only two ways into New Orleans-90W and Interstate Route 10- which means a frightful amount of zooming tractor trailers and cars. Curious to document Hurricane Katrina’s destruction, I delved into the confusing detours, with a massive storm following me the whole way. I suited up into rain gear and scooted on, stopping for a little break when the lightening was really intense. Gimme ShelterI must have looked like a space smurf, in blue gear and silver helmet, when I pulled into the local Waffle House for lunch. The lack of healthy greens in the deep South has been frustrating, but the priceless down and out banter to be overheard in these little joints nourishes and entertains me.
I was driving along 90W, which once was a straight shot into New Orleans from Mobile, but two major bridges, one at Biloxi and the other at Pass Christian were still out two years later. Actually, thats what I was told, but Pass Christians had just opened, two weeks before I came through-no map search engine is up to date on this stuff. The detours weren’t marked at all when PJ went through last year, and this year they were only slightly better. The detours only re-route you onto the Interstate and out of hot, frustrated delirium I decided to give I-10 a gander. I was cruising along the little detour bridge towards the I-10, psyching myself up for the highway, when I see a large portion of steel grate in front of me. Now, in a four wheel vehicle you can feel your tires pull on steel grates-imagine taking them on just two bitsy wheels-with a lot of gear packed on the bike. I am sure many scooters get used to it-I just hadn’t faced this yet-Charlottesville doesn’t have any. My brain was swimming with adrenaline from that encounter when I jumped onto I-10. I stayed in the right lane and just tried to brace myself, but the conditions were way to ridiculous to consider staying on for any amount of time. At that point I was going to try and stay on 45 minutes to get around the Pass Christian detour. But I had almost NO control over Audrey, the wind was very gusty from the storms, the roads were wet, and at one point there were three tractor trailers around me. I could actually feel the wind tunnel lock the bike in and I pondered my mental condition-what the hell was I doing? Then I saw a bridge loom up in front of me and had a hunch there were steel grates on it too-something I was not prepared to do again at rush hour traffic in the high wind and rain. All of the days events were making me wish I hadn’t had any coffee earlier in the day-as my natural stimulants were now fully kicked in. Earlier, a jerk had pulled right in front of me, while I was cruising at 50 mph on a wet road with a truck beside me-only to stop dead on when I began blaring the horn. Basically, at this point when I jumped off I-10 before the bridge, I was ready to punch the timecard and call it a day. For some reason, detours, backtracking or quitting after 70 miles really bothers me.

So, I stopped to figure out the backroads approach and met a gentlemen by the name of Lloyd. I know this man has an interesting past, you can see it in his eyes. He wasn’t too sure of the roads, but offered his friends help throwing my scooter into his truck and carrying me across the bridge. That was a nice gesture, and I do believe in accepting the kindness of strangers-but I’m not out here trying to scoot America only to give up over 20 feet of steel. We spent an good hour talking-Lloyd revealed a lot to me-and it was nice to have him test me a bit on the politics of human nature. The conversation branched out in too many topics-his past, his future, his kids serving in the war, his divorce, Native Americans, Aztecs, Democrats, Republicans, Harley’s, scooters, Osama Bin Laden, American foreign policy and the CIA. I interviewed him on his definition of peace and then he offered me some cash he had made playing poker. That was nice and when I turned the ignition key over, I felt much more centered. I made it over to Gulfport, with no rain falling but the clouds heavy and grey still. After my first steel grate episode I called PJ and inquired if all the bridges on 90W were like that. We spent about ten minutes discussing the complications of this route-which I kinda wish I had known before hand. PJ had a crazy, dangerous run of 90W last year, a lot of it at night, and he said he wouldn’t wish that on me, suggesting I stop for the night. There are literally no hotels, other than a few casinos, past Gulfport, they were all wiped out. Since I only had an hour of good daylight left and didn’t want to bang around on my bike at night in the deserted swamp lands, I picked a crappy low budget motel. They presented me the hairdryer, microwave and refrigerator as a great deal-but I don’t need any of those things and was irked with the price. The area seemed a bit desperate so I rolled Audrey into the hotel with me, happy I wouldn’t have to pack her up in the morning. So at 8 am we were rolling out the door, with quite some looks from the construction workers who all relocated to the Gulf Coast.
Thankfully, after seeing my post on urban scootin, a lady in New Orleans had contacted me about a place to stay. I gave myself plenty of time to snap pictures the remaining 100 miles down the coast and planned to meet her at 2:30. With all the detours, the Gulf had previously been out of my view so the morning breeze and blinding white sand was a welcome sight. However, it was both beautiful and haunting. Every dock had been viciously snapped but pieces still stood in the water, resembling broken spines. Most businesses were completely destroyed along the waterfront, but some skeleton signs remained, not that I was unhappy about one less McDonalds in the world. I believe that the Gulf area in Mississippi was quite a hot spot before Katrina. There were many affluent houses along the way and I rode up to check out their damage. Some looked fine, but their neighbors were totally destroyed. The road in front of their houses was completely ripped up with big piles of asphalt littered about. I couldn’t believe the amount of destruction that I witnessed, mile after mile. The whole drive was peppered with closed businesses, FEMA trailers and bad signage. A lot of construction was happening though, which was promising to see, but there were still meteor sized chunks of debris left everywhere. Absolutely everything has changed life in these towns. There was no protection between them and the water. IMG_0686Even when the road took me far inland I glimpsed destroyed buildings and trees. My guess (hope) is that a lot of road signs where also lost in the storm and that isn’t a priority to fix right now. I wound up at the NASA space station unexpectedly. 90W just dead ends at its gates unannounced. The security guard and I surveyed each other awkwardly, and then he nicely pointed me towards the road that would lead me to “old 90W”-as long “as I didn’t blink an eye, I would see it.” Thank God I wasn’t driving around there late at night in the dark, or locating said route would have been near impossible-much less surviving the drive on it. All of the local construction has made traversing dangerous-with gravel, debris and lots of mud on the roads. I was somewhat dubious the road was doing to 90W, it was totally unmarked, but after a long, creepy 8 miles it dumped me out onto “old 90W.” Here the road opened up with the swamplands all around it and made for beautiful pictures. The landscape was full of stunning contrasts-white sand, blue water and green marsh grasses against heavy industrial equipment.

I crossed many bridges, happy that none had steel grates! The heat was really kicking in and I was thankful to have been gifted a CamelBak, which helps with hydration and cools me off under the jacket. I was nearing the Crescent City and feeling the anticipation of my arrival. IMG_0682The road had been very odd and lonely, but coming around the bend into a more populated area of New Orleans was still eerie. I saw massive apartment complexes boarded up and felt a general emptiness to the area-even with people around-I could sense this used to be very populated. I think this was one of the sections hit the hardest, but I am working on getting all my facts straight. I have tons of stuff to post about my experiences here so far and tomorrow plan to go out towards the Ninth Ward and levees, since my attempt yesterday was intercepted my thunderstorms. Late afternoon thunderstorms are classic here and I am visiting in the “wet season.” The thunder and lightning seem so much closer than I am used to-not sure why.
Yesterday we braved a lot of the storm on scooters. Jodi and Treesa met me at a coffeeshop and took me for a great city ride, stopping to get me some fried okra for lunch first. Treesa contacted me a long time ago, when the website was bare bones and the dream was taking shape, as did Jodi. The scoot community is very supportive and better networked than I realized. It was so great to have wonderful, cheerful people to meet up with, as I had been alone since Saturday in Montgomery. After the ride we scooted over to Treesas to dry off and meet her neighbors-all very interesting. They have a shared courtyard area with a pool and everyone stops by to chat. A kind lady, Suzy, offered to put me on the guest list at Snug Harbor, a premier Jazz Club in town. With the rain letting up, Jody and I headed out to her house right before dark, a good thirty minutes west of town. Street conditions here are miserable, and have always been. The daytime is bad enough, just plant the feet firmly and stay braced and perched-but there are potholes you could go fishing in. At night, with wet streets and low visibility, I was having a hard time keeping up. Jodi, my DOT certified fairy, offered me some safety advice-it turns out you just can’t see my headlight well with all the gear on the front. She also pointed out that the lower turn signals are just dummy lights, so I need to have that wire spliced next time I get serviced. As we pulled into her neighborhood, the night sky was deep purple and I could tell we were near the swamp from the night air and cacophony of bugs and frogs. Her husband and two curious, loveable dogs greeted us. I threw my pants in the dryer and ate some pizza with them. I was quite delirious and don’t know if I made a lot of great conversation, but I really appreciated the hospitality. I was too tired to even label pictures and the big decadent bed beckoned to me. I climbed in and slumbered 10 delicious hours- waking up feeling a bit rude-but reborn and thankful to have completed one side of the peace sign. And to be so nicely welcomed into New Orleans! We talked briefly before I headed off to the city-and to meet Rebecca, who I am staying with for a couple of days. I pulled up for coffee at Mocachinos and the manager sitting outside struck up a conversation immediately. She was really interested in P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER-and very talkative. I love people without filters! In three minutes of me pulling up she knew my story and offered me coffee and a meal. The baristas there were exceptionally cool and I did some interviews with them. I am very fortunate to have these intimate discussions with locals, and am coming to understand how every level of life has been affected by Katrina. I have much more to say about this so stay tuned…

Updates On the Way!

1 Aug 2007 In: Uncategorized

I promise! I am in Nawlins’-and I have received a proper welcoming. Yesterday I went for my first group ride, all over town. We were headed out to the broken levees and a massive thunderstorm hit us three blocks away. It was a soggy ride, but all the divas bucked up and took it on. Feel free to explore the flickr stream and see a photo blog of sorts-most of the pictures are from the Gulf Coast ride to New Orleans, and stay tuned for an account of that wretched journey. Here’s a photo from yesterday and I am busy uploading the rest. IMG_0691

116.7 miles

30 Jul 2007 In: 2007 Blog, Gulf Coast

A lot of significant moments can occur in 116.7 miles, regardless of whether you travel by foot, bicycle, car, horse, boat, or scooter. Moments too can happen in one minute-like meeting cool strangers like Lloyd. I asked Lloyd if I was headed in the proper direction on my meandering detour and we spent the next hour talking. Talking about war, peace, the CIA, his sons in the military, his badge of Native American ancestry, his past, his hopes for the future, the economy, greed, and poker. He also offered to put my scooter in his truck and carry it over the bridge. But, I had to say no to that, although I accepted the $20 he donated. I prefer that interlude to the two seconds of sheer panic when a jerk tried to kill me, by pulling out right in front of me and then stopping. I don’t use the horn often, but I was under the impression it means get the hell out of my way-not stop in front of me. I was cruising at about 55mph, the streets were wet and a tractor trailer truck was on my left-but I found the brakes. There was little peace on the streets today, but a lot of it inside. In fact, I guarantee that around 5:15 pm, I was loudly Oming inside my helmet. It was a kind way of saying “bless you asshole” to the derelicts on the road. I grappled with steel grate bridges for my first time, twice as a matter of fact. But there was no bravado to be found on the Highway at rushour traffic, I exited after a few minutes. Due to storms, the wind was bad enough, but throw in three tractor trailer trucks passing you, along with wet streets-and scooting is no longer fun-or safe. It’s difficult getting around these parts, especially with severe thunderstorms following me all day-making for nice ominous photo backgrounds though. Most of the day was spent be re routed, but I did finally see some of the Gulf for five minutes. I managed to get in some pictures, but headed towards a hotel as it was getting dark. I heard there are still no lights out on Highway 90, since Katrina. After a day like this, I don’t feel like banging around dark, deserted roads through the swamp. And tomorrow, I can go sink my toes in the Gulf and take some more pictures. It has already been humbling to witness the travesty experienced down here on the Gulf. There are still remnants of disaster everywhere you look.

I look forward to rising fresh for the remaining 80.4 miles and meeting New Orleans scooterists.
It will take about 2 minutes to get Audrey ready in the morning. I decided she was sleeping inside tonight. After this kind of day, she too deserves sanctuary in doors.
Snug

Don’t worry, there’s no cuddling happening…..

Hey ya! Let’s meet tomorrow. Right now I am only in Gulfport. It has been a crappy day of meandering, confusing detours, crazy cage drivers almost hitting me, bridges with steel grates and severe thunderstorms. I am waking up early in the morning, to make the rest of the drive. I heard Pass Christians bridge is back open, so thats good news. I didn’t want to make the rest of the drive in the dark (I hear there are absolutely no lights on 90) or on the highway, so I am settled in for the night. Gonna go eat and then do a post on the day.

Lookin forward to meeting you all!

P.S. How about a number to make things easier? Thanks!

Toward New Orleans

30 Jul 2007 In: 2007 Blog, Scooters

Hey y’all-I am heading out in a minute, glad to have an early start to the day after reading PJ Chmiel’s travelogue on the Gulf Coast route to NOLA. His website is a great resource of info and photography-and good way to waste time also! I know I sure have! Definitely check him out and especially this journal entry: http://www.pjchmiel.com/ramble/archives/2006/12/gulf_coast_and.html

Wish me Luck!

SCOOT-A-LISM

30 Jul 2007 In: 2007 Blog, Alabama, Pro-Peace, Scooters

I concur

I have been traveling about a week and a half now. Those first few days seem really distant in my mind, with the geography and culture of the landscape changing so rapidly. I am getting used to most of the quirks one experiences traveling by scooter.
First, there is the gear, and the packing/unloading of it every night-as well as stopping for gasoline. The best attitude to have is one of acceptance-no need getting frustrated-regardless of grappling with stuff in 90 degree heat. I can strap my gear up blindfolded at this point and I enjoy the moments of fiddling to get everything just right and balanced. If the weight of your gear isn’t balanced, you will be able to tell instantly. The other day I forgot to clip the saddlebags straps to the frame and was weaving a bit on the road. My muscles are also adjusting to the full body involvement of scootering.
Second, there is a tempo to traveling back roads. Finding the right pace that allows you to stop and explore whimsically, while still setting an ETA- and not running out gas. Most maps are misleading and I was constantly feeling lost at first. I thought maybe it was just my map, but I looked into some others and they weren’t much better. It seems the most detailed cartography lies in individual states maps, which would require too much pack space and use up too much paper-in my eyes. I haven’t actually been lost, but back road travel is different than point A to point B interstate travel, where there is a constant reminder of how far ahead your destination is. I have become more comfortable reading the sparse signs one is give discern their location. And I really hate when a road suddenly becomes a highway-it’s a startling wake up.
Third, I am attempting to get an overall good rhythm going. There are many things to distract me though-like cool roadside shops, photo ops, museums, contacting press (no replies so far) uploading pics, blogging, doing interviews. I am a bit of a night owl also, so I haven’t been hitting the road very early. My opinion-it’s better to get an early start-although its fun either way. But early morning travel means less smog to huff, less traffic, less heat. Also, in the South afternoon thunderstorms are common and then there are the tons of bugs splatters on the visor at night that interfere with visibility. And a lot of these rural roads just aren’t lit, covering the many creatures running about for their night’s hunt.
All said though, I am feeling right at home on Audre and the open roads, be them one, two, or four lane routes.

My head was swimming as I left Selma today. The past five days have been spent studying the inspirational, yet bloody, history of the Civil Rights Movement. It was a blessing to put what previous knowledge I had into a geographical context. This morning I headed down for a continental breakfast, as they call it, but for me it’s more a process of discerning what crap I actually want to eat. I had gone down to the lobby in my swim trunks and tank top-and suddenly became aware of my attire. Everyone other patron was in their Sunday best for church. I was considering going to a church service-only because the church played such a prominent role in the Civil Rights Movement. Pastors did not have to answer to anyone (like a white boss) so the facilities were safe for blacks to meet. But, noticing how nicely everyone was dressed, I realized my dirty road clothes would make me stick out even more. So I scrapped the plans to attend church and instead scrounged up some change for laundry. With fresh, warm clothes packed up, I headed over to the Edmund Pettus bridge. March 7, 1965 was the day that 300 marchers tried to cross the Edmund Pettus bridge, but cops and the KKK were waiting to beat them severly and push them back. I made the walk across the bridge slowly, imagining the bravery it took to walk into a mob of angry men brandishing weapons. Marching

I took two pictures, one from each side and looked for some people to interview-but none were found. From there I took a peek into the closed Voting Rights Museum; they charge too much though-I wouldn’t have gone in were it open. I then jumped on Audrey and scooted down the Historic Trail, following markers over to the Brown A.M.E Church, which was the starting point of the infamous march. The marchers were finally given protection to march all the way to Montgomery. Third time is a charm, I guess. The final march started with 3,500 people and swelled to 25,000 upon arrival in Montgomery. Once I arrived at the church I called my mom and asked what she was doing March 7, 1965. She couldn’t recall. After our conversation, I sat in the midday scorching sun and did some contemplating. The other day in ATL I picked up a postcard that listed Six Principles of Non Violence.

I decided to send it to the President and question what similar injustice might be right in front of our eyes, that parallels the Civil Rights Movement-that too will seem unbelievable in 42 years. That momement on the stoop of the Civil Rights Movement Head Quarters felt perfect for filling it out and the words came naturally. Non violence tactics were utilized by both Ghandi and King, who was a student of Ghandi’s work-and the mentality was injected into the Civil Rights Movement. In many situations, non violence has proven to be the most effective way of communicating-I have seen it first hand in many protests.

After filling out the postcard and taking some photos, I was ready to leave, but I needed to use the bathroom and was hopeful somone might be in the church. Well, it turned out the pastor was still inside and he unlocked the door for me. We got into a discussion about human nature and compassion. He was heavily involved in the Movement and I enjoyed hearing his perspectives. I told him about my project and asked to interview him for the documentary. His answer was very appropriate for a pastor-very beautiful-and I appreciate his offering. He told me that a lot of interesting characters come through that church, and I was definitely interesting! I am glad he thought so, instead of being irritated that I caught him on his way home. With that done, I felt it was time to put some road behind me.
The route was very pleasant and easy to navigate, mainly a straight shot; a two lane road into a four lane road. I made great time, arriving in Mobile right after the sun had set and full moon was rising. There were combinations of ramshackled homes, antebellum homes, deserted businesses, totalled cars, ponies, goats and long rural stretches of green hill. Train tracks ran parallel to the road most of the way. At one point the blaring of the trains whistle was so excessively loud I almost fell off the bike. I was in my own world and suddenly it sounded like a train was bearing down on me, but it was to my left, hidden behind a grove of trees.
Most of the thermometers I saw today registered anywhere from 93-101.
The good thing about intense heat like this is knowing it can’t get that much hotter. Heat and humidity are tolerable to me though, having grown up in the South. I have begun pouring water over my head during fueling breaks, and am being especially attentive to hydration-even though I feel bad about all the water bottles I have used up. A blissful wind hit about halfway through the trip, carrying the promise of rain with it. I looked over to the east to see heavy dark clouds sweeping in, so I spent the next hour scooting ahead of precipitation. The weather was actually better than predicted today, my rain gear was packed on top, and that always seems to hold storms at bay. Despite the heat, I stopped for a late lunch of yummy fried okra. I could smell Church’s fried chicken wafting through many of the little towns, bringing back memories of visiting my pops here in Alabama as a youth. My second break was to take advantage of free wi-fi. I realized the other day that if a hotel sign says “high speed internet,” they don’t usually require a password. In general, hotels can be utilized whether or not you are a paying guest-free wi-fi, bathrooms and often-maps. Around 6:30 pm I started getting really drowsy, probably a combination of hot sun and heavy fried okra. I stopped for a reprieve off of Route 43, about 50 miles outside Mobile AL. It was time to sit in the late afternoon sun, rest the eyes and enjoy the perks of having a travel French Press. I did some writing and fielded numerous questions about the scooter and my purpose for “being in these parts.” I was also attacked by ravenous gnats, but enjoyed the break none the less. I hit the road again, blasting Sound Tribe Sector 9, a live NYC show from last year.
The next 50 miles flew by and then Route 43 dumped right into a Highway 65, to my chagrin-the speed limit was 70. I pulled off as soon as I could-about two miles down the Hwy. A very nice, angelic couple led me from a gas station to a cheap, safe hotel via confusing backroads. Tomorrow I will get an early start for New Orleans, since I don’ t yet know where I am staying-but I have some numbers to call. I really hope to do some volunteer work but I hear they don’t take people for less than a week.

I will do some more backlog posting on ATL-that was a real wild, fun part of the trip. I was roped into visiting ATL’s notorious strip club, the Clermont-the most surreal and cool nightclub I have ever been too. Now I know why 10 different people told me to visit it. Also, Bill of Twist and Scoot offered an oil change, put on my permanent plates, and send me off with two air filters. Thanks for being part of the Pit Crew, Bill. His shop is really sharp, you can tell he knows what he is doing-and has a nice rapport with customers. He also seems to enjoy fun and cool collectibles of various persuasions. I was invited to attend the Wednesday night scoot gathering with them over at the Thinking Man. On my way over there, however, a torrential thunderstorm left me soaked within a minute. I was carrying around all my electronics so I turned back to my friends place. By the time the storm passed, I figured everyone was gone. Sorry, guys, I would have loved to have met you all.

The moon has fully risen, ripe and luminous overhead. It really has been a birthday I won’t ever forget and I am thankful that so many friends took the time to drop me a note or call. Also, thanks Mom. I was going to stay with a relative in Mobile, until I found out that he lives about an hour in the opposite direction of New Orleans-so Mom offered a hotel as a birthday present! As far as gifts go, the family has been really nice to me and so has the Universe…
LuckY DaY
Groundscore!

Yesterday, I found $40 on the ground.

Overheard in Montgomery, AL, hotel lobby. I felt obligated to interject a joke to break the awkward silence. “Well, she’s not in the trunk is she?”

Pondering

28 Jul 2007 In: 2007 Blog, Georgia, Non violence, Pro-Peace

When I was in ATL the other day I picked up a book from the MLK Jr. Center for Non Violence and Social Justice. The first sentence in the book , The Measure of Man, questions, “What is man?” What follows below is an excerpt:

“Some years ago a group of chemists who had a flair for statistics decided to work out the worth of man’s body in terms of the market values for that day. They got together and did a lot of work, and finally they came to this conclusion: The average man has enough fat in him to make about seven bars of soap, enough iron to make a medium-sized nail, enough sugar to fill a shaker, enough lime to whitewash a chicken coop, enough phosphorus for about 2, 220 match tips, and enough magnesium for a dose of magnesia. When all of this was added up in terms of the market values of that day it came to about ninety-eight cents. Now, I guess, since the standards of living are a little higher today, you could get about a dollar ninety-eight for the average man. (and now days that would be about 3.98)”

This is interesting. Think about it. Man’s bodily stuff is worth only 3.98. But can we explain the whole of man in terms of $3.98? Can we explain the artistic genius of Michelangelo or Alex Grey in terms of $3.98? Can we explain the spiritual genius of Martin Luther King, Jr. in $3.98? Can we explain the mystery of the human soul in terms of $3.98? There is something within man that cannot be explained in terms of dollars and cents.

And I’m looking for it. Here’s something priceless from my day:
Baton Rouge say "Peace"

Hey folks. So, here I am in Sweet Home Alabama. Yep, I was born here awhile back-and moved away as a baby. It’s scorching hot today, 95 degrees without humidity! Today finds me in Montgomery, AL-I had a family day yesterday with my Aunt-a different tempo from the fun, wild ATL nights. Auntie brought me some fresh baked zucchini bread that I am currently enjoying with some java before I head out into the city. The plan today is to visit the Rosa Parks Museum, Dexter Church and the Hank Williams Museum if I have time. My Auntie treated me to a hotel for my b-day-no complaints there. Fortunately the front desk peoples are letting me leave my bags so I can zoom around downtown for sightseeing. Late afternoon I am planning on driving over to Selma, AL and unpacking my bags. Selma isn’t one of the vectors on the Peace Itinerary, but I want to pay my respects to the Civil Rights Era. The famous march from Selma to Montgomery, represented the political and emotional peak of the Civil Rights Movement. I loved reading about the Civil Rights Movement, so right now I am really moved by the opportunity to put things in a geographical context.

It’s a quiet introspective birthday for me this year. Tomorrow is actually the official day, and I will start my day by attending church, at the Brown Chapel AME, which was the starting point for the famous Selma to Montgomery march. I don’t attend church, I view the immediate world around me as a sanctuary, but tomorrow morning, I want to bow my head in the appropriate venue. Churches were the organizing points in the Civil Rights Era, a powerful way for community to gain its strength Reading and seeing the words and landmarks of Martin Luther King has me humbled. I am astounded when I stop and contemplate that our constitution often substitutes “some” for “all”- “All men/women are created equal.” That era witnessed people marching for their rights-and risking their lives-to overcome inequity. It is an honor that I can now pay my respects. I’m off to explore…..

You tell me…

25 Jul 2007 In: 2007 Blog, Direct Action, Scooters

If you believe we deserve the right to question the decisions of our leaders? And is it offensive to do so? And do you feel there is value to your opinions?

Is that a scooter in the background, that the cop is riding? Far out. This is a photo from Carter’s inauguration. I’m spending the day exploring the Carter museum and discovering how idealistic this President was. In fact, many of his concerns are hot topic now. Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter + Scooter in Background

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