Lesson Learned on the Road

“There are no mistakes in life,

only lessons. There is no such thing as a negative experience, only

opportunities to grow, learn and advance along the road of self-mastery.

From struggle comes strength. Even pain can be a wonderful teacher”

(Robin Sharma)

Well, I made it through week one without any catastrophic event.  However, I already had some ups and downs on this journey.  This process had allowed me to step back and acknowledge those lessons and to learned from them.

  • As odd as this may sound but I was so excited about finally be able to strip down to nothing when crawling into my sleeping bag on the first night of camping.  After wearing multi-layered riding clothes and being in other people’s company, my body was starting to feel a little bit claustrophobic. However, it was a bit nippy that night but as I was taught, it’s a good thing to be naked in the sleeping bag so your body heat will keep you warm.  All was well until I starting panicking about whether or not I could do this solo.  I felt so lost without Russ.  Then I started to get critical with myself. Reminding myself that I have gone camping so many time solo and this time is not any different from before.   By this time, I tried to compensate my panic attack (my first ever) by trying to be prepared for any worst case scenarios such as a bear, natural disaster or other misdeed. While this was going on in my head, I decided to put on some clothes in case I needed to get out of the tent to walk around.  All of the sudden, I started to relax quite a bit and fell right back to sleep.  I was kind of surprised by this.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate wearing clothes but at first I couldn’t understand how this action brought comfort to me.   The only conclusion I could make from this is that I felt exposed and needed to feel some protection around me.
  • On the second night of camping, I was able to sleep through the night wearing some basic clothes.  However, when I woke up I discovered that it has rained overnight.  I asked a fellow camper when did it rain.  He said it was around 4:30 am and was surprised that I didn’t hear it since it was a quite a downpour.  You may be asking why don’t I wear them during the night, well they’re a bit uncomfortable to wear all the time.  Kind of the same situation as wearing clothes all the time, the ears feel suffocated.  Plus, they’re hard and press into my ears when I lay on my side at night.  By the way, there are advantages and disadvantages of being deaf.  The advantage is that I can turn off my ears anytime I want to.  Russ used to tease about the day we got married is the day that he stopped snoring.  However, the disadvantage is that I miss out some soothing noises such as the sound of rain pattering on top of the tent.
  • Most of the first week has been with wonderful companies of friends and other motorcycle riders.  However, I need to learn to make some alone time for myself to process my thoughts and feelings.  This week had a significance meaning for me since it would have been our fourth wedding anniversary.  At first I thought it would be good to be constantly busy but I feel that I haven’t properly grieved for my loss.

All in all, it has been off to a good start and looking forward to all of the wonderful experiences whether they’re up or down but that parts of life.   Onward to the next lesson in life.

The Journey Begins!

“Tin Man”

Sung by America

Oh, Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man

That he didn’t, didn’t already have

I can’t believe that the day actually has arrived where I’m starting the journey of a lifetime.  I can remember the days where Russ and I were dreaming and scheming ideas and places to go on our adventure when we retire.

Here I am, my entire life is now sitting in a 10 x 10 storage unit and l am living the life of a vagabond for the next year without him.  If you have asked me several years ago if I could do this on my own, I would have said no way.  Apparently, Russ has alway known that I could do it.  He had more faith in me than I did myself.

The other day, I got a very special message from my sister-in-law.

“I am so proud of you for seeing this through… (have to admit to my tiny bit of jealousy that you are doing what I can only dream of doing)

I know what Russ wanted for you (he spoke incessantly about it) I know how important it was for him to know that you would one day venture out and more importantly that you would trust and believe that you could do anything you put your mind too. He knew how amazing you were… but somehow he didn’t think you knew how amazing you were. I think I was assigned the task of making sure you understood exactly how amazing you were when he was gone. I know how hard it has been this year. I have been in your shoes. You are an amazing woman. He knew it. I know it.  You have to be to get through it and do what you are doing!”

Russ was right, I did not give myself enough credit or had enough faith in myself that I could do it.  Especially about writing, all my life it has been a difficult challenge for me to write due to my hearing impairment.  He has been pushing me for a long time to start blogging about our little bikes and I just always shrug at him.  It wasn’t until last year where Carla King who gave me the final nudge to just do it.  At first, it felt awkward and I was over thinking the process.  Then after talking to several of my friends, they told me just write from the heart and ignore what others think of my writing skills. Next month will be a year since my first blog post and I have had 15,000 views since then.

Then came the final preparation for the trip itself, all of the planning and logistic are starting to come together.  I talked and wrote incessantly about it.  I think a lot of people just listened to me ramble about it but did not really believed that I truly was going to do it.  I actually overheard a conversation between two guys where one of them said that I wasn’t going to last more than a month.  I may and I may not but I have sneaky feelings that I will prove them wrong big time.

As the departure date came closer, I decided to apply to become a Jupiter’s Traveller thinking that I have nothing to lose in trying.  I never considered myself to be qualified to be in such elite group of adventure travelers.  Suddenly, I got an email from the Executive Director stating that he was delighted to see my application come through.  He also stated that they have a lot of applications to review and will let me know in a couple of months.  However, he was pretty confident that I will make the list.  I was pretty stoked, I couldn’t believe that they thought my story would be worthy enough to be in the same class of those other adventure travelers.  The official announcement came a day after my last day of work.  What perfect timing.

Here I am, on the road starting the next chapter of my life.  Just like the song, I guess the OZ never gave me anything that I didn’t already had in me.  I just needed to believe in myself that all.

Death by GPS

Today, I got my custom seat made for the TW200 by Seat Concepts.  The company is about sixty miles from where I live so it mean I had to go down the hill as us local calls it.  I live in the area called the High Desert which has an elevation of 4,000 feet and where most urban dweller lives are down the hill.  Since I wanted to avoid the freeway as much as possible, I took my TomTom Rider that I got for Christmas to show me the way.

Prior to heading down, I decided to review Google Map to get a feel of the route that I generally be taking and wrote it down onto the paper I kept in the map holder just in case.  Geez, the GPS took me on a couple of wrong roads both going down and back up.  Also, it was not user-friendly in trying to change the route.  Especially on the way home, it kept wanting to navigate me up through the mountain range which I knew wasn’t a good idea since the weather man called for a possible snow storm up there and I wasn’t geared for that kind of weather.  So I kept trying to change the route but it kept giving me these crazy route.  Luckily I’m not a typical girl who has no sense of direction.  Every time I felt that it was taking me in the wrong direction, I just steered back North West toward my destination.

Like I said, I actually have a sense of direction and know my North from South and East from West.  However, with more and more drivers relying on the GPS to navigate them to their final destination, there has been an increase of fatalities due to the misinformation that the GPS provide.  As drivers becoming more reliant on the GPS, they’re also more and more losing their common sense about the direction they’re given.

This remind me of an incident we had up here a couple of years ago.  A women driving from Las Vegas to Los Angeles followed her GPS direction to exit on Stoddard Wells Road and make a couple of right hand turns which ultimately had her onto the railroad track.  Now, I would think that common sense would have her to change direction and seek an alternative route to head to her destination.

Since “Death by GPS” is on the rise, many National Parks are now posting warning sign about it.  Here is what Death Valley National Park has posted:

Using GPS Navigation 

GPS Navigation to sites to remote locations like Death Valley are notoriously unreliable. Numerous travelers have been directed to the wrong location or even dead-end or closed roads. Travelers should always carry up-to-date road maps to check the accuracy of GPS directions.  

DO NOT DEPEND ONLY ON YOUR VEHICLE GPS NAVIGATION SYSTEM.

Using the TomTom Rider today has taught me a valuable lesson, do not rely on GPS only.  Actually, I wasn’t planning on it but wanted to have one in case I need to find a gas station quickly.  I will be using maps for my trip because I really want to focus on the old back road of America and I can’t program those road into the GPS.

So my excitement of getting a new seat from Seat Concepts only got mired by my frustration of the GPS sending me in the wrong direction.  However, I quickly cured my mood jumping onto a dirt road I knew to take the back way home.

Leap of Faith

Today is my official last day of work after eleven years with the same company.  Wow, I can’t believe that the day is actually is here. Just the other day, I was talking to a friend of mine and she mentioned that it seems like it was yesterday when we were talking about the trip when it was nine months away and it seemed like it was so far away. Now it is approaching upon much too quickly, it only a week away for kick stand up (ksu) and to start drifting on the back road of Americas.

I can’t believe that I have been planning for this journey and dealing with the closing of the estate for more than a year now.  So much has happened in the last year and it has been a huge roller coaster ride for me.  I can see now how much I have changed, grown and strives to keep putting one foot in front of the other.


I remembered in the beginning it all felt overwhelming and I thought I would never be able to sell all of his stuffs. I’m being nice here, he was actually a bit of a hoarders.  I had to sell thirty motorcycles, seven cars, five trailers, two acres of miscellaneous stuffs and a house.  You know what is ironic, that most people thought I would be lecturing everyone the danger of smoking but actually, I have been preaching about having all of your affairs in order in case of unexpected events such as death.  Since he died without will, I had to go through probate in order to liquidate everything.  Many has asked me why I had to go through that since I was his legal wedded wife.  Welcome to California, a community property state, which means that when he dies, the court decide how to distribute his assets among two living generations.  Lucky for me, his parents waived their right to his asset but I had to deal with the legal mess of probate.  I still wrapping up little things right up to the date of my departure and won’t be seeing fruit of my labor probably until July.  It has been a frustrating process and I do NOT wish it on anybody to have to go through this.  So this is why I’m the biggest advocate of having a will or a living trust.

As for the trip, I think I got everything that I will need except for the seat.  Next week, I will riding Purple with down to Hemet to meet the guys from Seat Concepts.  I always like their seats but it add about an inch to the height to the bike.  So I thought it would never work for me. Someone suggested that I give them a call to see if they would make a custom build a seat for me.  That is when I learned that they’re only an hour from where I lived and was welcome to bring the bike to the shop and they will design and build the seat while I’m there.  Whoo-hoo, I can’t wait to get my new seat, just in time for my trip.

Now that the estate and the bike is almost squared away, it is time for me to start packing up my own stuff that I want to keep and put it into storage for the year.  I’ll have to keep reminding myself how important is it while I’m packing.  So I don’t put my kids through the same thing in case anything happens to me.

Then it will be time to take that leap of faith and begin the journey of learning how to stand on my own two feet again  through motorcycle.

The Last Trade Show

For the past eleven years, I have been exhibiting at three trade shows a year for the software company I worked for.  There are a handful of exhibitors that does the same rotation as I do, some are competitors and some provide a partnership. A lot of time Russ got to go with me to these trade shows. We all tends to hang out together after hours for dinner or sight-seeing around town. We always had a good time and gotten to know each other’s pretty well.

When Russ gotten sick, we received a lot of well wishes and supports from these guys. During hospice, one of the most frustrating question I ever gotten was “What can we do to help?” Or “Is there anything you need?” I was already overwhelmed with the situation and didn’t know what I needed at the time. This is where I got one of the best encouraging words I ever needed from one of the vendors during these difficult times. She sent me a private message via Facebook and said “If love alone could heal, there isn’t a doubt in my mind Russ could be healed in a heartbeat.  I see the way your eyes light up whenever you talk about him, your love is that deep and transparent.  Stay strong and know there are countless people like me out here praying daily for both of you”. It was what I needed the most to give me the courage and the strength to be there for Russ. To this day, I still keep that message in my pocket as a reminder of the love that he and I had.

Back to the present day, many of the vendors have been following my blog and knew that this will be my last trade show. So, on the last day of trade show, we have always have a banquet and this is  where they presented me with a gift for my journey, a GoPro video camera. I was shocked and honored that they went out of their way to get me something. In what industry do you see that competitors gets along with each other?

It was actually comical how came to decide to pick the GoPro as a gift. I didn’t realize that they were picking my brain for ideas while I was there. Apparently in one of my blog post, I mentioned that I has a list wish list of things that I needed but never posted it. Then, they thought of giving me a gift card for hotels but mentioned that I will be camping and couch surfing among the network of friends through the motorcycle community. At the trade show, we always have giveaway to attract business cards and one day, one of the vendor and I were walking around and I noticed that one of the give away was a GoPro and mentioned how cool it would be to have one of those. Hence the aha moment.

It’s a good thing I still have a few more weeks to learn how to use the GoPro before I begin my trip. I want to take a moment to thanks to all of those vendors who pitched in for the wonderful gift!  I’m truly honored and will miss all of you guys.

The Pony Express trail

I am always doing research for work and use the Google website for the search function to seek the information I need. I love the historical tidbits that Google does on its splash screen. The other day it had the information about the Pony Express 155th birthday, the geek in me had to read all about it.

The Pony Express is a mail service that spurred due to the threat of the Civil War blocking means of communication to the West.

The service opened officially on April 3, 1860, when riders left simultaneously from St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California. The first westbound trip was made in 9 days and 23 hours and the eastbound journey in 11 days and 12 hours.

Eventually, the Pony Express had more than 100 stations, 80 riders, and between 400 and 500 horses. The express route was extremely hazardous, but only one mail delivery was ever lost. The service lasted only 19 months until October 24, 1861.

According to Wikipedia, The Pony Express route is approximately 1,900-mile-long (3,100 km)  roughly followed the Oregon and California Trails to Fort Bridger in Wyoming, and then the Mormon Trail (known as the Hastings Cutoff) to Salt Lake City, Utah. From there it followed the Central Nevada Route to Carson City, Nevada before passing over the Sierra into Sacramento, California.

                                        

The route started at St. Joseph, Missouri on the Missouri River, it then followed what is modern-day U.S. Highway 36 (US 36 the Pony Express Highway) to Marysville, Kansas, where it turned northwest following Little Blue River to Fort Kearny in Nebraska. Through Nebraska it followed the Great Platte River Road, cutting through Gothenburg, Nebraska, clipping the edge of Colorado at Julesburg, Colorado, and passing Courthouse Rock, Chimney Rock, and Scotts Bluff, before arriving at Fort Laramie in Wyoming. From there it followed the Sweetwater River, passing Independence Rock, Devil’s Gate, and Split Rock, to Fort Caspar, through South Pass to Fort Bridger and then down to Salt Lake City. From Salt Lake City it generally followed the Central Nevada Route blazed by Captain James H. Simpson of the Corps of Topographical Engineers in 1859. This route roughly follows today’s US 50 across Nevada and Utah. It crossed the Great Basin, the Utah-Nevada Desert, and the Sierra Nevada near Lake Tahoe before arriving in Sacramento. Mail was then sent via steamer down the Sacramento River to San Francisco. On a few instances when the steamer was missed, riders took the mail via horseback to Oakland, California.

Hmmm…it sound like it would be fun to follow the entire Pony Express route. We stumbled upon one of the old station back in 2012 on a road trip we did.  So, since U.S. Route 50 (aka the loneliest road in America) is already on my list of routes I want to travel on. Now I guess I’ll just add US Route 36 to my list as well.

             

Why do we give our ride a name?

After I posted about getting Purple back, my aunt made a comment about how as a little girl I have always loved the color purple, only eating grape ice cream and purple gum.  So, she thought I was still infuriated with the color purple.   I didn’t actually seek out a bike that was purple but it kind of fell into our lap.  Russ was looking for another TW200 for me since the first one we got had a bad CDI which was a common problem with 1987 model.  A guy nearby where we lived was selling a 1991 TW200 on Craigslist and it was in good condition so we bought it.  This bike became my baby.  So Russ suggested that I come up with a handle so I can join the TW200 forum community.

So I decided to run with the color since I didn’t think I would be changing the look anytime soon.  When I first started looking into name of characters that were purple.  Upon research, I could only find a handful of characters that were purple; Barney (oh heck no!), Cheshire Cat (a tongue twister for me), Grimace (eh?), and the Purple People Eater (that is the one I decided on).  So that became my handle which is kind of long-winded.  Most people either call me Purple or PPE for short.

Since I christen the bike as Purple People Eater, I had to run with theme when I decided to give it a facelift.  When I was looking for a vinyl wrap that has the color purple in it. I stumbled upon a website called MetroReStyling.com where they had a wrap that in a camo pattern and it was purple.  It was damned tedious to put on but it was one of the best investment I ever did.  That wrap has protected the plastic every time I have crashed on the bike (not that many, honest!).

Now, you’re probably wondering if I have given a name to my street bike as well.  Of course I did, his name is Felix after Felix the Cat.  I know that it sound weird to name my ride but I discovered that I was not alone.  According to a Nationwide Insurance survey, plenty of drivers name their ride.  They polled about 1,082 U.S. car owners and found that:

•Nearly 25% of U.S. car owners have a special name for their car.

•More than 31% were inspired by the vehicle’s color and appearance.

•At 36%, car owners between the ages of 18 and 34 are more likely to nickname their cars.

•Women are more likely to have a nickname for their cars than men — 27% vs. 17%

•About of out of four surveyed think of their car as a girl, with women more likely to have a “baby” girl. Such as “Eleanor” from the film Gone in 60 Seconds or the homicidal Chevrolet named Christine from the movie Christine.

•Men are more likely than women to name their car after a famous or historical person or a character in a movie.

So, do you have a name for your motorcycle or car?  If so what is it?