YNWA

10 Jul 2008 In: P.E.A.C.E 08

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, here it is:

Fire on the mountain

9 Jul 2008 In: P.E.A.C.E 08

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goodnight!

Challenge for a cause

7 Jul 2008 In: Uncategorized

So I have 250 keychains. P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER keychains
That’s too many to carry around and I have too little time to sell them on an individual basis. But, they’re awesome and you can say you helped support the historical creation of a 22,000 mile Peace sign-the biggest Peace sign to date.

So the challenge is on. Today Scooterville Montana took 20 off my hands, at just $100. So, I’m going to post their logo here. Can you beat that amount? If so, I’ll post your logo, or your self created personal banner. I will have to charge you for shipping, but out of love for you, will drop the handling charge. For an idea, shipping ranges from 1.38 for 5 to $4.80 for 40.

It’s on baby, step up to the plate and have your logo featured here!  Thank you Scooterville, MT-not just for being lovable, but supporting Peace Scoot.

scootervillelogo_fullcolor.jpg

View from the bottom and the top

7 Jul 2008 In: P.E.A.C.E 08

PeaceSunday I woke up with a mountain to climb.  The smell of coffee always fills the house in the morning and Nancy is there to greet me. The dogs and cat have taken to piling around me, in the wee hours of the morning. It is home.

Go Chetak GOWe all go about our business and have comical interludes while doing so. The night before we went to the community outdoor film festival. O Brother was showing, by the Coen Brothers.  We scoot around town together, as they own the scooter shop. They also let me test drive scoots and mopeds. It is fun to imagine owning all these other bikes, but time and time again I get back on Audre and know she is the lady for me. Her one year birthday was on July 6.

She understood that I needed a break from sitting on my butt, so off to the mountain I went. Last year Daphne and I went to climb the “M” trail. Daphne was in flip flops last year, so we retreated. It’s base starts at the University of Mountain. It is not the best trail, it is winding, skinny and full of rocks. The views are the best however.

Go tell it on a MountainMissoula is the most active community I’ve ever seen in America. They pool their resources into numerous programs and they actively contribute to maintaing a progressive town. Everyone is super friendly, none of this “look how cool and weird I am,” crap that you find in many “cool” cities. And they decorate their mountains with Peace signs.

All along the trail people said “good morning” and “hi.” I reached the top and soaked in the panorama. It took 40 minutes to climb 700 feet. On the way down I met Karen ( I think, but I’m bad with names). I was halfway down when she yelled, “Look, an osprey above you.”

I filmed it and on her way back down she stopped to ask if I was a film student. I told her about P.E.A.C.E Scooter and it led to a fantastic conversation. Part humor and part straight forward honesty-about Peace of course. We shook hands but she said, “I think I need to give you a hug, actually.” Thanks, that was needed.

I woke up also thinking there was some work to do. The ride of my lifetime will end soon. I never started off with a measurement of success. I just had to scoot. As the months have gone on, slowly turning into a year, expectations developed. Why? Hmm.

Well, I realized that I’ve dedicated my time, safety, life, and money into a demonstration for Peace. And I saw that last year’s March for Peace had a ton of press and supporters. That groups jumped on board to promote them. Sadly, not a single Peace group has made an at large announcement or offered their public support. NUMEROUS INDIVIDUALS have come forward to offer support, and some are affiliated with larger groups. So yesterday I comprised a letter to send out to my contacts.

You can read it here.

Compiling the letter and email list took awhile. I also finalized the calendar dates. Sadly, it seems my arrival in Chicago coincides with AmeriVespa, so I’m staying a week there in hopes I can catch up with certain people. Green ClothesThere will be plenty of work to do there though. At the end of this admin work, I was cranky and hungry.

Off to Good Foods, which beats Whole Foods aka Whole Paycheck, hands down. Back at the homestead I took down my laundry, which on a whim I had earlier hung up to dry and save energy. They smelled sunkissed. Nancy kindly sewed up my pants for me and I put patches on my new Goodwill $2.00 shorts. They are completely utilitarian shorts and so ugly they are cool.

Monday I woke up with a huge must do list before leaving Missoula.Rockin Rudy’s bought some keychains from me. I went to see the mechanic and he was really helpful. He made a quarter turn on the fuel screw in hopes that getting more gas to the engine will help my speed. He showed me exactly how to look at the sparkplug and let me put it back in. It was fun getting my hands dirty. I took off the air filter, discovering it was FILTHY. Perhaps this will help with speed also. I put on the new one. The scoot already feels faster.

Folks I served with todayI took it on a long fast ride to see if adjustments needed to be made. None. After running errands I had time to go volunteer at the local shelter. I wish there were more Poverello Center’s around the country. They provide shelter to women and men. Many shelters around our country DO NOT have space for women. They also provide three meals a day, AA meetings, business classes, clothing and a community room. It is funded almost entirely on community donations. It is the nicest shelter I have seen. It was nice to know that just two hours was helpful to them. I would rather do this work than watch TV, and most Americans watch at least 2 hours a day.

The food was actually edible, no, it was good. I have served food at other shelters that my dog would not eat. It was fun, I served with Shannon. He asked if I liked chess and then showed me his prototype for a round chess board. It is genius. He is looking for investors. China offered but he only wants to develop it here in the U.S. and use solar power at his warehouse.
I wish I could say I played a game on it, but I had to scoot off.

Shannon and his inventionHe’s staying at the shelter. Totally wants to making a living off his invention, but hopes that artists will contribute by designing their own unique pieces-he will provide specs for the rest of the frame. And give them 90% for the sale.

So awesome! How many milleniums has it taken to reinvent the chess board?
He says, “Flat board chess was developed when the world was flat, this is a chess board for the 3rdmillenium.”

OH, you can play BOTH forward and backward at the same time.

He also said, “It’s a game of war. But in the end, no one dies. They just get smarter.”

That I liked. A lot.  It’s a game of strategy that teaches you critical thinking. I put in an order for Christmas time.

When I wake up Tuesday, there will still be a lot to do. There is a Peace center here that I want to visit and I have one of those god awful post office trips planned. The bags are getting to heavy.

The ride isn’t too long though, so leaving late afternoon should be fine.

OH, and I JUST heard news that Shaun has made it home safely to Tucson. He covered 1,000 miles by himself! Congratulations to him!

People amaze me

7 Jul 2008 In: Uncategorized

P.E.A.C.E Scooter takes more work than I ever thought it would. Not a bad thing and there’s really no way I could have known exactly what this would be like. Like today, I compiled a list and a letter, to be sent in mass to 1,000 people. I wrote to tell people that this is the final homestretch and I need support in many ways.

Brad wrote me back and what he wrote totally made my day. So thoughtful. Thanks Brad!

Alix,

Here’s something I’m doing that you may want to suggest to others. Every time I fill my scooter’s gas tank, I match the cost of the fill-up with cash in an envelope that will be sent to you (PayPal? prefer something else so no fee deductions). Been doing this for some time and I think I’m at about $40. I know it’s not a ton, but filling my scooter at twice the cost is still cheaper than filling my cage …. and it’s my way of “riding” with you.

Good luck and I really find what you are doing to be very inspiring.

Brad

Calling for support

7 Jul 2008 In: Uncategorized

Greeting friends, I hope there is joy in your lives. If you get the chance, I would love to hear from you. If you want to be removed from this list, let me know. There won’t be many more of these updates….

Most of you probably know that almost a year ago, I set out to make a dream come true. Now, with 19,500 miles on the scooter, I am just 3,200 miles away from home. Most importantly, I am 3,200 miles away from creating the largest Peace sign in history. I am writing to ask you all to PLEASE support P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER during the remaining 5 week homestretch.

Wow! I’ll be honest,  I’ve faced a lot of challenges in these 19,000 miles: hail, lightning, flash flooding, tornadoes, rain, temps from 40-106, antagonizers, breakdowns, road rage, spills, gravel roads, bad directions.  Your support, my conviction, and some gracious angels have made this distance possible.

What a country! What scenery! What amazing conversations! What problems we face and triumphs we can celebrate! I have spoken with thousands of people; about Peace, our communities, our environment, our future.  Many of you who are receiving this letter have helped me along the way. Not only will it be the largest Peace sign created, it will be the best because of all the stories and people who have contributed.

The routes I have taken will be put in a wikipedia so that people can continue to walk or ride the Peace path for generations to come. There are almost daily contributions to the Wall of Peace; creating a community where we can appreciate perspectives.
Those routes have led me through many cultures and terrains; through obstacles and challenges-all met with reward. They have led to old and new friends, my extended family now stretches around the country. My hope was that you could follow along with me through photos, blogs, and video, to gain insight into our grand country.

donate_map.jpgI need your support now more than ever before. I’m begging you to think about Peace with me everyday for the next 5 weeks, to read along, join me if you can, and to spread the word loud and proud amongst your friends, even strangers.

My goal this summer is to raise just $1 per 1 mile driven. Despite rising prices, of everything it seems, can you spare a little donation to a great cause? In tribute, your name will be put on the Peace map. You are not just helping this project, at least 60% of the fundraising is going to four other great causes.

They are: The Peace Alliance, The Last Mile (hospice care), Scootin for a Cure (breast cancer research) and an Environmental organization. (TBA)
To keep it fun, there are donated prizes being raffled every week, just $5 a ticket. So far, we have raised at least $5,000, please help reach the $ 22,000 goal!

feat_t-shirts.pngAnother way to spread the word about the Peace ride is to buy a limited edition tshirt through www.scooterworks.com. There are three sweet designs and they are all printed on American Apparel shirts. And last but not least, KEYCHAINS.

I think that’s enough merch to give you plenty of options, and I really appreciate Genuine for providing them as a way to raise funds!
Our strength grows when we unite in thought and action. Together, we are making a difference. We are inspiring people to dig deep and shape history.
Imagine the ripple effect if each of you could donate and convince one or two more people in also sending just $10–less than the cost of the average trip to the movies.

Of course there are many other ways to help-I also need ground support!

  • Can you place me in your blog roll for the next 5 weeks?
  • Am I on your route? Check the calendar to see. Know of a good host/hostess? Ride a scooter or motorcycle?
  • Want to ride along in this event?
  • Can you join me in Washington D.C. at the end, to create a large human Peace sign?
  • Know of an organization where I can volunteer or one that would love to know about the Peace ride?
  • Can you send the paper a press release?

What started as a bizarre notion with little chance of happening has grown into an amazing journey. Again, a deep bow to you for your compassion and belief in this project!
I know great people!

Pointing two fingers in Peace,

Alix Bryan

It’s a weekend of Patriotism. Do you know your First Amendment? Trust me, Homeland Security lit it on fire and then lit it’s cigar with the little piece of paper. Here it is….

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Hey everybody. I trust you are enjoying the long weekend. I personally rushed to make it to Missoula and rushing was hard, with all the holiday traffic. You know, all the people rushing to get somewhere to relax. Same here except I wasn’t out for blood. Thankfully I arrived safely and relaxing hasn’t been hard.

Thursday the ride totaled 350 miles. It wasn’t my longest distance covered but it was the longest day driving. I was on the road for 11 hours. Boy, I love the new GPS for navigation but NOT for keeping statistics. Like my actual mph-clocking in at a big average of 43 mph. Yowzers!  Sorry, I took no photos that day because my focus was set on making the long haul. Fortunately it doesn’t get dark here until 10pm; I made it just in the nick of time.

IMG_1530Friday I blissfully slept in; all nice and cozy in the guest bedroom. My friends here run the scooter shop and they decided to close for the weekend! That’s a bold, but admirable move in light of the scooter frenzy here in the States. After coffee, breakfast and catch up conversation we mounted our scooters and headed to the neighborhood jamboree.

It was at Fort Missoula, a historical area converted into green space for the public. At one point it served as an internment camp in WW2, holding Japanese and Italians prisoner. Wow, we’ve come a long way, huh?
There was a rummage sale, vendors, sno cones and water balloon tossing. Oh, and watermelon. Of course.

IMG_1533I spotted something on a leash across the way. What could it be? Closer inspection cleared it up-BOBCATS. These people paid $1500 each for a brother and sister set of BOBCATS. Sure, they were adorable and I know they will be raised with love. BUT, these animals just aren’t’ supposed to be domesticated. $3,000 to have big cats. I joked they were the first people I know to have “Beware of Cats” signs on their door. Turns out they DO have one!

IMG_1539I was encouraged to approach the local Republican celebrity, who is fond of hoop skirts. She was in full Fourth of July regalia, so I took her photo. THen I asked her to define Peace for me. She dashed off after taking a postcard, saying she’ll leave her definition here. We took some scenic rides around the town and then went home to grab our swimsuits.

Next adventure was a BBQ with Nancy and Gary’s long time friends. Not just any ol’ BBQ or any ol’ house. Paul and Jeannie enjoy creating community. There were a lot of hip adults, pets and cool youngsters  running around; drinking, eating, strumming guitars, swimming and lighting fireworks. There was a hot tub also, very nice on my sore muscles.

IMG_2276Paul and Jeannie were amazing hosts. They have a lot of money but aren’t pretentious at all; they are very loving and welcoming. Thanks! They love celebration and this very tight, cool group of lifelong friends extended their circle to me. There was a lot of delicious food, beer and brownie sundaes. And lots of fireworks.

I’m just not fond of fireworks. They’re noisy, stinky and leave lots of trash in their wake. I think the last thing we need in America is drunk people playing with explosives. That’s just not how I choose to celebrate the myth of Independence. Despite the cautious parental guidance, there were incidences. Heart raising, stomach dropping close calls.

Let’s see. The Jack Russell apparently likes to attack the fireworks. He escaped the house and was suddenly running for the sizzling, flame spewing firework. I couldn’t look away, but wanted to. Paul risked his skin trying to get the dog. Everyone is screaming. He never actually got the dog away, but through a series of frantic dance moves, managed to avoid disaster. The firework shot into the crowd but miraculously hit the container of salsa, popping a hole in it and burning the pocketbook nearby. Saved by salsa.

I talked to Todd for awhile( I think-but I’m TERRIBLE with names) who is a helicopter firefighter. I was expressing how recently I’ve started getting this weird feeling; anxiety. I’m definitely a more confident rider now, after 19,000 mils, but I’m not cocky. Since I’ve started the homestretch though, I’ve experienced a nervousness that I never even had as a new rider. He said that firefighter pilots call it, “get-there-itis.”

He says it’s the feeling near the end that’s due to everything going right and therefore the mind gets an anxiety that in the last moments something will go wrong. He said he’s always more cautious on his last shift. Good advice.

After the Grand Finale, put on by Paul and Austin,  everyone headed home. It was one of my better Fourths. I slept in yet again today. Then I headed out to the Farmer’s Market to hang out with all the cool Missoulians. I really like this town, even though I don’t think I could stand to be so landlocked. It’s very progressive and not pretentious in the slightest. This is the last bubble of West Coast mentality that I will experience. From here on out it will be desolate with small conservative towns peppering the route. Fargo is the next big town I hit.

IMG_1546I decided to set up a table with P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER keychains. I sold 12 and had lots of neat conversations. I’m happy, sunburned and glad to be here. Everyone wants to help out! I went by Rockin Rudy’s to see the piece of the Peace sign they salvaged from the mountain. Years ago, a bunch of hippies made a massive concrete peace sign and carried it up the mountain. It could be seen from anywhere in the town. Qwest, bad guys, eventually took it down. I went to the cool record store to see it. Inside there was also another shrine-to Elvis. Cool place.

IMG_1544Tonight we are going to the drive in-to see O Brother Where Art Thou. You go have fun too!

Lookie here at how you can help support P.E.A.C.E AND keep your keys together:

P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER keychains


Don’t forget, you can clicky click on photos and go to the bigger sizes! YA!



P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER keychains

These green keychains appeared, SURPRISE, in the mail, from Philip McCaleb at Genuine Scooters. Thanks Phil, more stuff to carry. Help me lighten the load by buying one, five, ten or twenty…..they are only $5. On Monday I’ll figure out the shipping fee-no handling costs.
See, paypal takes a cut too, so the price is going to be around $5.50 for one.

I’m really happy about how nice these turned out, and you will be too! Thanks!

Growing Peace is Patriotic

4 Jul 2008 In: P.E.A.C.E 08

Here is an updated photo of Amy’s lawn. Please understand that you too can have something this incredible in your front yard. If you are on my route, I will do it. If not, YOU can do it.

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Today’s ride was the longest yet, in time, not mileage. I rode for 1o hours. That’s after counting “lunch break.” But here I am in Missoula, thankful to see friends. Whether they liked it or not, they’ve become accessories in this Peace plan. They kindly host me.

I’m off the road, away from the road rage, away from the impatient traffic. Away from drivers who think wherever they are going is so much more important than considering another person’s life. I suppose terrorizing a scooterist seems like a better option than just waiting 5 minutes for a chance to pass.

So, I’m tired right now. But I want to introduce you to David Hazen, who left a beautiful post on the Wall of Beliefs, and seems to have a really wise blog.

“Peace must be reframed to mean vigorous support for the economic, health, and relationship security of the land in which we live, and of the people with whom we live, in order to be seen as patriotic.”

I encourage you to read the rest and then to go enjoy your independence-in thinking, choosing and creating a better world.

I re- read the previous blog post, about the Bavarian village escapades. I still don’t feel like the moment was captured.
There I was, totally a zombie, when two really cool individuals appear. I spoke slowly. I could barely speak actually. And somehow, when I didn’t think I could even muster a conversation, the next three hours wound up touching my soul.
It was just the experience that makes me urge people to travel. There were no egos or roles being played. We said things that impacted one another and took moments to say, “hey, let that sink in for a second.” The words flowed and hit places that I know have changed me.

DockingI was very sad to leave these ladies but we had tentative plans to meet in the morning. Becky called to invite me out onto the river. I was sick and wanted to lay in bed, changing my mind to spend two days in Coeur D’ Alene, to two in Leavenworth. I caught Shaun’s cold, the second time on this trip. That’s more than I’ve been sick in years.
They promised to call and have dinner with me. And they did, but events had transpired. By the time their call came through at 4pm, I was driving a Jeep to Seattle, with Audre loaded in the back and two guys sitting in the front.
Going back to Seattle was a hard decision to make. My front end was and still is vibrating much more than it ever has. I was worried it might have something to do with the recent fork change. There was oil on the front tire, weird. I took a photo of it and sent it to Ducati. I talked to Philip McCaleb and even Trey; another really helpful person at Genuine.

Shaun and Chad felt like it was no accident they had made an impromptu decision to come visit me in Leavenworth. Pit CrewBasically, if there was a problem with the front end, I still had 400 miles fast miles to travel, over the mountains before reaching another dealership. Shaun was very sweet to say, “I will do anything I can to make sure nothing bad happens to you.”

I looked over at my KOA neighbors and caught Faith’s eye. They seemed pretty interested in our deliberations. I didn’t believe that Audre would fit in the back of a Jeep Wrangler. Faith encouraged me to solicit Tony’s help. He was already standing up.
“He loves figuring things out. He tinkers, builds, and perfects.”

Well, welcome to the Pit Crew. Turns out he had four tie-downs that would keep Audre’s front end securely hanging out. Adding to the comedy was Shaun’s soon departing flight. We had to load up fast. The five of us broke camp, loaded and secured the scooter, got my refund and we were off. Faith and Tony offered to take Chad’s seat and spare tire to Everett, a closer drive for him than Leavenworth. They have already left their definition of Peace on the Wall of Beliefs. Many thanks to you both!

IMG_1505I didn’t think the dealership had done anything to my scooter, I thought they would be the ones to fix it if something had gone wrong. It turns out the oil on the tire was from the grease used to make the tire change. It had melted at highway heats and collected in the rim. They remounted the tire and checked all the bearings. Everything was stripped off the scooter; mirrors, windscreen and topcase. It didn’t vibrate as much, but still more than it did the previous 18,000 miles. We test drove it in rounds.

“Maybe it’s your gear.”
“Nah, I’ve got the gear down to a science.”

They didn’t find a single problem. It’s still vibrating, but I don’t feel like it was a wasted trip. The scooter has been vibrating like this since my idle was changed and valves done, in San Fran. I thought it would go away with a suspension change. It must be coming from the engine. Ultimately, the handling is fine. Ducati put my conscience at ease-now it’s good vibrations I guess.  At least I know my wheel isn’t gonna fly off.

IMG_1511The other difficult thing about traveling backwards is saying the goodbyes all over again. I really like all these people. And the Pacific North West will be missed. Chad says, “Hey, call me if you need anything. You’ll be SOL though.”
Thanks bud.
At 2pm I zoomed off, heading home for the 2nd time-and hoping to reach Coeur D’ Alene but knowing I wouldn’t. The campground is still charging me for the reservation. IMG_1516Totally unreasonable jerks. Stephen’s Pass welcomed me again. The wind wasn’t as gusty as Monday, but still strong once I passed over. The curves were more fun now that I knew Audre was fit. The GPS is a blessing, but my stats at the end of the day show some sorry news. My average speed over 200 miles was 48mph. Most of the miles have been mountain terrain. But 48 mph?

The reality of what I’m doing is really starting to sink in. This is hardcore. I’m traveling America at average speeds of 48-60 mph, for 22,000 miles. I could have gone around the world by now. Or to Taiwan, where the scooter is manufactured AND BACK. And these roads that most people never travel lead to time capsules of culture. The roads lead to front porches were people wave at the P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER.  The roads curve through towns that only seem to exist because of the road itself. Because those 6 curves of the road bring in travelers with their gas, food and lodging money. It’s a mystery sometimes how people are surviving out here. And how they define Peace.

I find welcoming in unexpected places. I trod up in my orange safety vest with reflective Peace signs and buy water. Conversations get started and laughter exchanged. I go to the next town; fueling up frequently keeps me from blowing past these small dandelions with population 750.IMG_2262

It almost seemed like I could arrive in Coeur D’Alene, if I had been willing to drive two hours in the dark. I was a focused 48 mph bullet through the desolate Highway 2. Up and over hills and seriously-Amber waves of grain. I passed back through the familiar Bavarian village, catching quick, awkward glances of recognition. Then through the Apple Capitol of Washington, a valley oasis hydrated by a beautiful river. Traffic disappeared as I cut through canyons reminiscent of Arizona. Suddenly I was in farmland.  Eastern Washington is very different.
Big transformers clarified how far away the sky is, and contrasted the fields of grain. Today has been hazy, a thick sky-relunctant to  allow the pinks through at sunset.

IMG_2265Ala Cozy sit nexts to the Shell Station, in Coulee, WA.  I can gas up and push on or unsaddle for the night. Dale and his wife (sorry, I’m so bad at names) run a surprisingly cozy establishment out yonder. A Barack Obama 08 sign seems to be the most current thing I glimpse walking into the time capsule. This is the kind of motel before advertising, marketing and pastel sterilization took over the industry. It is a shelter run by people with stories, who love other peoples stories. And it’s just where I want to be tonight.

Earlier it had crossed my mind that Peace might not be a welcomed sentiment as I travel through conservative places during a Patriotic holiday. The story, however, came spilling out. Dale asked a bunch of questions.
“How come?”
“How many more miles?”
“All alone?”
“Are you independently wealthy?”
“Who are you raising money for?”

And the next, very awesome question,”Honey, why don’t we give her the room for free?”

IMG_1526So, here I am, graced once again by the generosity of strangers AND saving more money to donate to charitable organizations. Incredible. Perhaps it’s because I choose to find the beauty in our world that I keep finding it! And tomorrow, I will find more, hopefully docking after a long ride in the very welcoming town of Missoula.

VIDEOS! Of the riding! Warning! Turn your volume down because the wind is obnoxious! Videos are in order of most recent!

The beginning of the end

1 Jul 2008 In: P.E.A.C.E 08

There it was, the turn East, the invisible archway announcing my arrival upon the homestretch.

And I knew for certain because of the fancy, new to me, although used, GPS system now mounted on my dash. What’s this?

Ha, something I should have done a LONG time ago.
Chad kindly gave me his old GPS. Well, I traded a P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER tshirt for it actually.

No more wasting time and paper plotting and printing out google maps. No more worrying if I might run out of gas. I can run a search and BLAM, all the stations within 50+ miles show up. Fancy. Real fancy and TOTALLY needed. It was going to be the ONE thing I regretted never buying. Ok, and maybe a bigger top case.

I can now keep track of countless statistics- how long my stop breaks are, my average speed, my exact speed. Need a place to camp? BLAM there is the campgrounds location AND phone number!

I also know now that it’s 3,100 miles to Washington D.C. Another 140 to Richmond, where it would be nice to have a party. And then, a final 700 home to Maine. I guess I’ll just ride on home? I can’t think of where to even ship the bike in Maine.

Chuckling hysterically. 3,857 miles, that’s IT!

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I can’t believe how elated my mood was from this little piece of technology.
But it couldn’t keep the hail away.

Close to Leavenworth, WA the wind gusts pounded me, even lifting up the front wheel.
Quite a beautiful Wild West scene. Trees bending in the wind, 10,000 foot snow capped mountain peaks encasing the road, and a high river swirling-swollen and frothy rapids.

IMG_1500I was whupped when I stopped for coffee. I must have looked like a zombie when Becky and Kita approached me, commenting about the T.S. Eliot quote on Audre’s flank. I scribbled it on there back in Austin, TX.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time

They revived me. Totally energetic, wise, friendly ladies-there kayaking the river for a couple of days. The brewing storm finally dropped on us. Thunder, hail, rain and lightning pummeled the village.

Next thing I know, we were searching for good German food in a town that should have some. Leavenworth adopted a Bavarian village theme back in 1960. Yes, this has given them plenty of time to find some German recipes. We kept reaching out to the locals, asking for said culinary spot, but none was recommended. We finally coaxed “The Pub,” from someone. It was “up the hill.”

Hmm. Well that’s funny, because we are in a mountain town.
Finally, we found Ducks and Drakes, aka “the pub.”

Good comfort food and drinks accented the conversation. It never ceases to amaze me just how real you can be with strangers. Lord, try it some day if you don’t know what I’m talking about. It’s like the first time every time-a new confirmation on how warm and genuine a stranger can be. Our three hours together was but a blink.

The conversation covered politics, apocalyptic forecasts, gender, sexuality, travels, kayaking, foreign languages, religion, Bill Gates vs. Steven Jobs, charity, growing up with 14 siblings, transient lifestyles, raising 9 year olds, on and on. No holds barred.
One thing that came up a couple of times was the importance of traveling our own country. Many people want to travel abroad for a grand adventure. But it’s astounding how many cultures and climates our own country has. Last year, one of the first comments made here was,

This is a huge, beautiful world, and most people only see a tiny fraction of it. Explore your own country — meet your own countrymen — then go explore the rest of the world.

I had to check in at the KOA by ten and was sad to hug them goodbye abruptly.

Just thirty minutes later a hard, deep slumber took over me. In 10 hours I would wake up to a text from Shaun. Him and Chad were actually now in Leavenworth. This will be the third time I’ve had to say goodbye to the guy.

Bavarian adventures to be continued!
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Channel 4, you are number 1

29 Jun 2008 In: interviews, P.E.A.C.E 08, PR

Thank you to Denise Whitaker, who, with the help of Ley, the camerman, put together the best mainstream coverage P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER has yet received.

Click to view it on their website:

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Last year, I rolled in to Seattle with a cowgirl limp. Crossing the Wild West through Big Sky Country and Eastern Washington had proven harder than I imagined. There were some flukes-electrical issue and flat tire. And I was rushing. It’s never palatable to rush these kind of trips. It’s all hazy really. I want to say I didn’t do much on my visit, but then again, I did.

Perhaps this time I just connected with more people. I feel more present and not as exhausted. Seeing familiar faces has given me just the needed boost to push on home the final 3,500 miles.

And maybe the Parade today has something to do with my spirits. I’ve never been to a Pride Parade. Susan, at Scoot Around, told me I could ride in it with the SQREAM scooter club. It’s much better to ride along than watch! Well, maybe. Seattle Pride brings everybody out to the streets-everybody.

At 9am I spot gaggles of googlers staking out their spots. I rush up to the meeting spot, hoping to find a gas station along the way. I don’t and I’m worried that I just might be that one moron who runs out mid parade. Phew. I don’t. It was only a mile stretch after all, but we drove in circles and it took about 80 minutes.

I arrived without any morning percolation and with heavy spirits because Ralph died. I see Tracy, the manager at Buca di Beppa’s. Once again, three times now, she gives me EXACTLY what I need at the moment. Coffee. A Starbucks card. Oh, and bottled water accompanied by trail mix.

While waiting to sign in, a volunteer comes up smiling. I stick out my hand but find myself suddenly captured in a big hug.
“You don’t know how much I needed that.”
The story of Ralph comes pouring out before I can bite my tongue. He starts crying. I feel horrible, yet again. We hug again, me consoling him this time and I go to get my coffee. I make a note to keep my mouth shut about the cat.

IMG_1456Five ladies pull up behind me, on Harleys. The sign in guy asks tenatively “Dykes on Bikes?” Ha.

Soon I am in formation with the SQREAM club. Benjamin is our queen. He bedazzles, leads, and inspires us. We are told to be regal and welcoming; the queenly wave is demonstrated. We practice. The loud thunder of the Dykes on Bikes kicks in.

Apparently, they are the ones who bring out the city residents. And I DO mean the whole city. Not just queer folk. Straight folk, dogs, cats, firemen, kids, grandmothers.

IMG_2220Perhaps the only ones not there were those attending the Mods and Rockers scooter event. Tons of stuff happening in Seattle this weekend.

I however, just didn’t foresee another Parade opportunity in my future; a chance to adorn my scooter with the giant Peace Flag and wave to thousands of people. In fact, as I went about the day later, people approached me saying, “Hey, I saw you earlier at the Parade.” Neat.

After the thunder of Harley’s disappears ahead of us, us scooterists begin our Meep Meeping and ride in circles down the streets; throwing glitter, candy, peace signs and kisses to the SCREAMING crowd. We were second in the Parade; our horns swelling into a motorized mosquito cacophony.
It was quite simply the best gig for a Leo. I was part of a loud, jubilant organism. It just doesn’t happen like this in the Southern Bible Belt, baby. WOW!

If you have found your way to this website because of the many Peace flyers I handed out while parading-thank you. Thanks for making this second visit to the Emerald City sparkle! 😉
You MUST see the many photos. I didn’t take enough. The Parade last 4 hours. I left early to help Chad with the cat.
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Okay, I rode 18,450 miles before changing the suspension. Perhaps this is even the first historical Buddy suspension change? If not, it’s in the top 10, I bet. Oh, and since the Ducati boys threw on some Conti Zippy 1’s, the final homestretch promises to be even smoother!

Audre (the scooter) also left Ducati with a classy piece of Rat Fink comic art “tattooed on her. Except it’s called “Peace Fink.” Now I have cool art to look at over the next 3,500 miles!

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What better way to test this new improved ride than by riding all day? After picking up Audre from the shop, I zoomed off for an afternoon riding with the boys. To be exact; my three friends from last year, Chuck, Ken, and Ralph, and my new friend, Orin. I’ve heard of Orin through the blogosphere and his writing keeps me up to date on Seattle scooter scene. In exchange for the kind words he’s put in for me along the way, I let him ride the Peace Scooter.

I admit, even though I told him, “ride it like you stole it,” after a bit of time passed, I was twitchy.

I was along on their scouting ride for the rally next week. It was a fun ride, but I preferred the one they took me on last year. That was an impromptu ride that the West Enders Club treated me to; we scooted all around Seattle. I enjoy riding with this club. They are all witty, talkative, generous and also-experienced riders. No showboating, they just love riding and they do it well.
After scouting we headed to a BBQ.
Not just any BBQ, mind you, but a rather fun event-the Secret Sunset Scoot and Skewer. They even had buttons made for the event!

Did I mention the jousting?

An hour before sunset we all mounted our steeds and scooted off for the sunset location. There was a good crew of us and with festive attitude we honked and waved at all the oglers. It was quite a bit of riding, almost a mini rally for me at day’s end. Unfortunately and the reason still unknown, my camera shots are lackluster. Perhaps the settings were changed? Sorry guys and gals!

We made it just in time to watch the sunset. It was a moving experience. Heh.

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People are good to me. Thanks People!

Watching the sunset made me excited for the turn East that I will soon begin. That final homestrech towards Washington D.C.!

For more videos and photos, visit MY FLICKR!

Rest in Peace Ralph

29 Jun 2008 In: Uncategorized

The first thing I touched this morning was a dead cat. Ralph.
Ralph

Ralph fell off the ledge today from the 25th floor.

At 5:30 am I woke up to people talking loudly. I asked them to talk in the other room.
I didn’t know they were talking about Ralph. I got up, went to the bathroom. Chad, sitting at his computer, in the faint sunrise light, points to Ralph. “The cat fell, he’s dead.”

Honestly, I thought he was messing with me. It was 5:30 am, afterall. I just barely knew where I was.

No one said, “Hey, we are talking loudly because we just brought our dead cat upstairs.” Ralph appeared to be stretched out, snoozing contentedly.

At 9:00am I see the cat looks, eerily, exactly the same. So I reach down to stroke him and the early morning snippets come back to me. I say, “Hey something is wrong with Ralph.”
Shaun say, “Yes, Yes we told you that.”
Oh Lord. I feel like a jerk.

Well, he did fall. I came home at 1:30pm from the Pride Festival. Chad is trying to process that he lost his favorite cat. Ralph is still in the living room

It was clearly time to act.
I call two emergency vets. Chad wants Ralph buried in his birthplace-Georgia.
Problematic. The vets insist on cremation. This is not going to happen.
I decide to call a funeral home.
I ask the nice lady, “So, how do you handle a body? Like, if your Aunt dies while you are on vacation, how do you get her home? Our pet died and we want to ship it back home.”
She explains it must be embalmed and to call a taxidermist. She also emphasized that toxicity and decomposition are factors we should handle immediately. I give Chad the options I’ve come up with so far.
So, we head out to buy a cooler and some dry ice. Ralph is now on his way to the great outdoors.

From the Atlantic to the Pacific-Ralph, may mice everywhere be yours for the catching and Ralph-may you also have eternal catnip…..

IMG_2206I 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!

IMG_1377The 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.

IMG_1379Most 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.

IMG_2208I 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.

IMG_1387With 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!

IMG_1390An 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.

IMG_2491If 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!

SX Appeal Top Case Winner!!

26 Jun 2008 In: Uncategorized

Congratulations to “Mikie Taps” from Seattle, WA–

You have SX Appeal!!

AND CONGRATULATIONS TO ALIX–FRIDAY MAKES 8 WEEKS ON THE ROAD SCOOTIN’ FOR PEACE! (in 2008)

FOR A GRAND TOTAL OF 21 WEEKS SO FAR!!
RIDE STEADY AND CONGRATULATIONS ON ANOTHER STATE LINE!!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Top Case Raffle. The raffle raised a grand total of $290.00—The $250 goal was met just 5 days and 2 hours after opening the raffle! We didn’t even have time to give a day’s notice that it was closing–you guys really pulled through! Thanks!

The math on the Raffle proceeds:

TOTAL RAISED FOR PEACE, ENVIRONMENT & COMMUNITY MINDED ORGANIZATIONS (from this raffle): $290.00

Peace Alliance: $73.00

The Last Mile: $14.00

Scootin’ For a Cure: $14.00

An Environmental Org TBA: $73

P.E.A.C.E Scooter Support: $116

THANK YOU!

This Portland stop- I can’t say if it went fast or slow. If I stayed just the right length of time or not enough.
Try to imagine what it’s like to find “home” on the road. The whole point of being on the road is that you aren’t at home. So it’s tricky. A seasoned traveler masters the art of appreciating unfamiliar spaces and faces; unfamiliar becomes familiar. Comfort becomes simply a shelter away from the scooter, traffic and elements. Loose definitions.

Since I’m not on a vacation and don’t have money to stay wherever I wish, kind folks around the country host me. And it goes really well. So far there has only been one time that was sorta awkward and that wasn’t because of my host. That was the other person she was also hosting.

maryI rarely visit with folks I’ve known for more than 10 years. I’ve known Erika since 1997. That’s cool. She’s seen me grow up. And her new homestead, Portland is beginning to feel like home. I can navigate around on my own pretty easily.

Thanks to their passion (and funding) I’ve been able to sample lots of tasty vittles. If you visited me here, I would know where to take you. I like that. Of course, there is lots more to explore, I can tell. I’m leaving with a sense that I’ll be back and quite hopefully with the dog and partner. Packing up the bags wasn’t so hard last night; staying has been tough, because I’m jumping ahead of myself. Duh, this isn’t home. I still have 4,000+ miles before I’m home and there’s no time to start missing mine.

My room had exploded, my stuff was everywhere and I caught myself reading three different publications. How nice to pretend I was home, on my floor in our house. I introduced them to Flight of the Conchords and so my evenings have been spent watching TV. Weird. I never do this. I was disappointed that after show 8 the writing wasn’t as good, but there were still some chuckles. Mary rides a scooter, too. Lots of people ride scooters here. There are like 6 scooter shops. And Corazzo, crafter of most things I wear while aboard my scooter-underhoody, jacket, gloves, and messenger bag!

I’m a selective person, I deliberate heavily before I buy. Last year, I searched and searched for a jacket. I looked online and went to motorcycle shops. Finally, at the scooter shop, tucked behind a sparse selection of lame jackets, I see the Corazzo jacket. Of course, it wasn’t my size, but it had lots of potential. The lame local scooter shop said, “two weeks before delivery.” I didn’t believe this and took matters into my own hands. Two days later, I had my Corazzo 5.0 jacket. And it fit, perfectly. Good, I had lost sleep worrying. I was leaving in two days, afterall. I would be screwed if this didn’t work.

IMG_1347Chelsea from Scoot Richmond also gave me her heavier Corazzo. Riding at this year means the weather conditions are volatile. So far, I’ve used three different kinds of jackets to deal with the climate. I’m riding with the heavier one now.

IMG_1350So, here in Portland, I have the chance to visit these fine folks. Cletis, the puppy, greeted me at the door. Then out comes Chad and then Bradford. We chatted; I chased puppy around, playing a fine game of tug of war and even some frisbee. Chad asked for a stack of my postcards and said he stuffs them in with single jacket purchases. That’s so cool. They gave me some hi-tech Carbone gloves. How nice! It’s strange to retire my others, but they are worn and offer no warmth.

Yesterday I was rushing to fit in little stops around the city. So after checking out Chad’s fine scooter, I was off. I’m fascinated with these two wheel machines and there is still much to learn.

Next was a visit with someone I met last year.

IMG_1357Justin, who runs Vespa Portland and Scooter King, which sells Genuine. Justin just switched locations and is now probably the contender for best scooter shop. In his old shop, you had hold your breath to get past someone, now we could breakdance and roller skate inside, it’s a huge warehouse. But it’s accented with warm, smart colors and just the right amount of boutique and rockin warehouse.

I played sales lady and talked to several customer; even helped answer some questions. Justin has more scoots than I’ve seen anywhere around the country. But, he’s out of the Buddy, for right now. IMG_1352This new scooting frenzy is unbelievable. Justin bought some P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER shirts. I wished him lots of luck, left some postcards with him and went to meet my friends for dinner.

The vegetarian dish I had at Swagats was scrumptious. Our conversation was amazing. The ride home was supposed to be easy. We were headed home to finish our shows and trade music. Erika asked if I was ok with the bridge. I thought she meant the Steel Bridge, and that one is ok. But she meant the Stadium Freeway Bridge, which is part of the highway!

I was following her and was still dubious that we were actually getting on the highway, even though we were clearly getting on the highway. I thought to myself that the ramp would actually lead us to another road, which is the case in many cities. You get on just for a second to get you over, if that makes sense.

Then I see, around the bend, a quite expansive bridge. And it’s high up. The wind pummeled me and our merging lane dumped us into the fast lane. A tractor trailer was beside me. And then another behind it. I was in the fast lane going 30. I couldn’t control my scoot in the strong wind, especially right now, with the suspension the way it is. I threw on the hazards and felt like this might be the end. Erika was gone. It was me alone, struggling. She’s not used to scooters. It’s beyond her. She would have no idea what it was like in my head right now. My arms were limp, this happens when I get nervous. I plugged along. People gave me sympathetic looks as they drove by. I think they were scared for me and wanted to distance themselves. Their looks gave reassured me. Had I been in California, someone would have made me a hood ornament. Thanks Oregon!

Phew. I made it and then I was on the Interstate. Yay! I’ve never been so happy to be on an Interstate. I jumped off AT THE FIRST EXIT and navigated my way home. See, I know where I’m going. I actually beat them home, but that’s because they were waiting at the exit further down the road. I almost puked. I had a full belly and there had been no time to steel myself for what was ahead, as I have in most bridge crossing situations.

IMG_2745So that’s my bridge story. We swapped some music and I plotted the route to Seattle. I’m well rested and caught up on work, kinda sorta. I’ve even had some Stumptown espresso. I’m in the Pacific Northwest, afterall, and I know exactly the shop to visit the SECOND I arrive in Seattle. Cafe Vivace. With the cold, I had to cut back on caffeine. Now it’s time to plunge into the thick, pungent espressos that await me. Crude oil. Yum!

I’m excited to switch back into traveler mode. I will be volunteering in Seattle and going on a group ride. If you are there, maybe we can meet. Let’s have some espresso!

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I’ve moved all my stuff in, I have my own floor here in Portland. The house is so yummy. Can a house be yummy? Well, sure. It’s painted in bright, citrus colors, yellow, tangerine and green, that are oh so pleasant. I have two friends here, no make that three if you count Henry, the dog. Audre is outside, I wish she could come in. We haven’t ridden in two days! She just hit 18,000 miles, yowzers! I’ve been neglecting the classic turning odometer photos.
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Portland has been very high on the potential home-to-be one-day-in-the-future list. For now, I happily keep my address near the East Coast Portland, Maine. But the West Coast Portland has many, many prospects. My hosts love eating. That’s mostly what I’ve done so far, along with some nice walks, conversations and lots of work. (blah)

Oh my body, sitting on this scooter for a total of 18,000 miles. Yes, there was a winter break, but I never recooped from the last long haul. And winter is for hibernating! What a great feeling to walk and walk-blood pumping hard through my heart and limbs, with sore legs today.

IMG_1312We went through a lovely rose garden. The dog Henry was almost more pooped than me. We played his favorite game. Check out the little video below– he loves jumping and hanging from the tree. I was worried, but apparently, he is engineered for this. My dog’s favorite exercise is moping. Just kidding, but there is no way the little guy could pull these stunts. Henry is a happy guy after being rescued 4 years ago!

Oh, the food! Last night was homecooking and then my fave-popcorn, with nutritional yeast and Braggs. I introduced Mary and Erika to Flight of the Conchords and we enjoyed many gut laughs. Fun show with songs that get stuck in your head and people wonder, “what, what, what is she singing?!!”

IMG_1325Tonight we indulged at the Screendoor, with lots of great comfort and soul food. Okra! Fried Green Tomatoes! Mac and Cheese! Long gone are the gritty, dilapidated kitchens of NOLA, where only the soulfood shines. Although, there was Louisiana hot sauce on the table, sassing up my greedy portions of okra.

Then it was haircut time. My long, shaggy mane has been obstructing my view. Erika, hair sorceress, took care of this matter. She seems to prefer me with short hair. Oh, kinda sad to watch the curls go. But the new doo is fantastic! My helmet was feeling all pinchy on the temples and back of head. Especially with the hood up, which I need because temps are much cooler here in the NorthWest and might just get cooler as I head into Montana and North Dakota. Bye curls, I’ll grow you again.

Before:
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After:
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After spending the day getting caught up at “work,” I have lots to squeeze in tomorrow. Then it’s on to Seattle, leaving Thursday, I predict. I want to give the chap fixing Audre a bunch of time. He’s facing a lot of work; a new front fork and rear shock. Shaun is in Seattle, so I think I have a place to stay. He was successful in the first half of his solo scoot back home, making it to L.A. Then he bought a plane ticket to Seattle! For those asking how he is-thanks. I told him his fans want him to blog again. Wink. Wink.

Monday I leave Seattle and begin the turn home, heading East again. It’s all going so fast, yet I never feel rushed. But suddenly, it’s almost July! I’m more than halfway done this round! Ahead is Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and D.C. Then hopefully a victorious arrival at Scoot Richmond, maybe some people to toast with me! I’m tossing around in my head the idea of simply scooting home to Maine. It’s a 675 mile ride, at least. But, hey, that’s just two days!

Oh, the letters people have been sending! Oh, what wonderful people are in the world! Thank you thank you! Kelton-I will try to organize the photos, I promise. Last year I was so good about it. This year there are no stories about the people, places, and things-I know. Sorry! I stayed in a lot of cheap motels last year and had more time alone! At least I promise to do it when I’m done riding.

It’s off to bed so that I can rise early enough to squeeze in a bunch of last minute visits! Ciao from us three, er, four!

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Henry’s Dance:

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