Follow Your Passion

A little over a year ago, I wrote about a place called Pie Town Cafe that Russ and I stumbled upon during our honeymoon. It was a story about experience, strength and hope when she purchased the cafe and eventually build a successful cafe that specialize in unique pie. I stumbled upon another place with a similar story last week.
I have been riding through Wisconsin via Route 2 for a bit and haven’t seen any street sign pointing to any historical places nearby for my daily detour from the route. So I came upon a Visitor Center and stopped to pick up map for the state (the best place to get a free map). So asked the lady at the counter about any significant historical places in the area. She said that she didn’t know of any but there is a good place next door that make Mead. Mead? I didn’t know what mead is and decided I had to check it out.
As I walked into the shop and it looked like a typical wine tasting room that is found all over the west coast. It had a bar full of various wine bottles and knicks-knacks associating with wines in the rest of the shop. So I approach the host and asked what kind of drink is mead. She explained that it is just like wine but instead of fermented grapes, it is made from fermented honey. I never knew that there was such a thing and she explained that mead is older than wine. She also goes on to explain that the term “honeymoon” comes from the tradition of giving the newlywed couple a “moon” supply of Mead to ensure a fruitful union. Sweet Mead was especially prized because it was believed that the “sweeter” the Mead the more “fruitful” the union and hopefully produce a boy from such union. Now I know where the term “honeymoon” comes from.

So, I asked her if she was the owner and how did she get into the business. She said yes and she and her husband has been running the place for almost twenty years now. It originally started as one of his hobby with making honey. However, the cost of producing honey was out weighing the cost of selling it. So instead of giving up his hobby, he discovered that the cost of fermenting the honey was more profitable. This in which turn into a new hobby of making mead. Enough where they could quit their day job and opened a winery in a town where they’re originally from. In another word, they moved back to their roots and doing somethings they love.

One of the other reasons for this journey I’m on, is to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life. I do know that I’m tired of working fifty to sixty hours a week with nothing to show for it. I have lost that passion in what did for work. I want to find my passion again, I just do not know where or what yet. Hopefully, someday I’ll figure that out. Until then, enjoying the ride and taking it one day at time.

White Winter Winery 68323 Lea St. Iron River, WI 54847

Flying Solo

The hardest part about this journey for me is trusting my own judgement. I’m very analytical by nature and loves to set goals. It is a lot of reasons how I was able to become a fully functional deaf person in a hearing world which isn’t always easy to do. Some people say that I’m stubborn or hard headed which is true but at least I’m not as bad as my father. As a child, I remember going Disneyland was like competing in a race. We had to be there an hour early and we would race through all of the rides at a fast pace. By the end of the day we were throughly exhausted.
One of the things I loved about Russ was his free spirited personality. He would easily get distracted by side roads and we never go where we intended to in the first place for the most part. I remember our first misadventure, it was right after he moved to the high desert and we decided to go exploring around the area in my car, a Toyota Corolla. Everything was going fine until we took a wrong turn on a road which ended up being quite sandy to the point where we got the car stuck big time. At the time, he was in a full leg cast after his horse accident, it was quite a scene watching him hobble around the back side of the car trying to shovel out the sand to put wood and board that we found to gain traction for the tires. Eventually, we were able to get the car out of the trouble spot. It was the first time and only time he got me flowers to apologize. Don’t knock him for not getting me flowers more often, I’m not a girlie girl who demand flowers for every occasions. Then anytime we set out for a trip, every time we come to a cross road, we would joke about our first misadventure and ask “Should we go left or right on Oak Road?”

So when I planned to set out this journey, I set my eyes on eleven old U.S. back roads that I would like to travel on due to the historical significance of them. Many has asked me what my itinerary is so they can follow me along or join up with me. Also, since being on the road, I have had many other offers of couch surfing by fellow travelers. However, some of them were significantly out of the way. Others were on the way but I sometimes took a detour to see other things on the way which bypass their destination. Their feelings got hurt when I detoured. I’m such a people pleaser that it bothered me that I hurt their feelings when it shouldn’t.

So the hardest part for me has been knowing whether I’m being too stubborn and sticking to the original planned route or if I’m being a pushover and pleasing people by detouring off of it. After Russ and I first misadventure, we learned how to balance each other out. We still had quite an adventure every time we hit the road but also we are more cautious about whether we should go down that road or not.  

At this point, I was really missing Russ, wishing that we could jointly decide which way to go. So, I decided to make a reach out call to a fellow solo rider and talk out my issues and feelings about traveling solo and to get his opinion on it. He has met Russ once at the Horizon Unlimited event. He reminded me that this trip is for me and not to feel obligated to do things that I don’t want to. If someone is offended then in the end that is their problem and not mine. He also mention that he imagine that since Russ passed away sometimes I might just want to be alone. So maybe I should ask myself what Russ would say and let the magic of the road guide me.  

So the next day, I decided to let the wind guide me and ended up doing the route that I originally planned and when something look interesting while on the road then I took a detour. I just have to keep reminding myself just to take it one day at a time.


The Five Senses of the Road

Yesterday was my two month anniversary of living the life on the road. I know that it doesn’t sound like a lot and even to me it doesn’t seems like it has been two months already. Times do really fly by fast. Like I said, even though it has only been two months, I have been asked by several readers what has been the most amazing place I have been to so far. It’s actually not a places but the senses that has been awaken while riding a motorcycle. Things that a cager would never experience because they’re wrapped up in a car body effectively forms a cage, isolating them from having to interact with outside world.
As everyone know, we have five senses, hearing, sight, smell, taste and touch that help us process the information and respond accordingly to the information we received. Here is a breakdown of my five senses that I have experienced on the road.

Hear – I love the sound of my motor rumbling under me and this can also go under touch as well since I love the feel of the vibration from the motor, listening to road songs on my iPod, the train blowing their whistle when I wave at them.

Sight – the beauty of Mother’s Nature gives us, such as the magnificence redwood trees, the blueness of the water in crater lake. Also, the beauty of what is man-made, lately I have been fascinated by all of the bridges that I have crossed over, concrete, metal and wooden ones. However, the best was seeing the eye wide open on a little boy who was in awe of my motorcycle but terrified of it until his mom brought out his John Deere tractor to ride next to me.

Smell – This has been the biggest amazement to me is the smell I have noticed while riding. Such as anise, water, skunk, tar, burning brake, eucalyptus, fresh-cut grass, pine, exhaust. The most amazing thing for me is that I know when there is water nearby by it smell. You can’t smell that in a car. I always wondered if this is how the Indian were able to track water better than the settlers. When did we lose this critical sense?

Taste – Can’t really taste anything while riding but loving the taste of freedom of being on the open road. The taste of being able to set my own schedule.

Touch – I have felt the peacefulness of the open road and like I said above the vibration of the motor beneath me. I have also felt the cold, heat, rain and the wind which I hate with a passion both on the motorcycle and off of it. At least when the wind is blowing while on the bike, I can take a detour or take a break from riding but when the storm is raging around your tent. You wonder if you made the right choices in whether to camp or hotel for the night. That is another story in itself.

The other night at camp, I met another deaf solo female traveler. She has been traveling around the world off and on for the last thirty years ( We were swapping stories and comparing notes about life on the road. She made a comment about my pace of being on the road between each stops. She usually stay between three and five days at each stop that she make where I’m staying only one night most of the time with a multi-day stop every four or five days for laundry and motorcycle maintenance. I pondered on her statement for a bit but then I realized that each of us are different. I start to feel antsy when I stay too long at one place and need to feel the wind and his spirit on my back as I ride.

Girl Powers

That’s all they really want

Some fun

When the working day is done

Oh girls, they want to have fun

Oh girls just want to have fun

Back in May at the Overland Expo, I met Ruth Belcher, the organizer of Dirty Girl Adv. She was there to check out the event and the spread the words of this organization. You may be asking what is the Dirty Girl Adv is all about? It’s a group for girls who like to have fun while riding in the dirt and to organize group rides.

One night at the Expo, she was asking me about the purpose of my journey and was touched by my story. Then, she asked me if I would be in Washington during the time the Touratech Rally will held. I told her that I’m not sure since I don’t have a set plan or itinerary. She asked if I was in the area during the event would I be willing to speak at the Meet and Greet for the Dirty Girl Adv event. I told her that I would be happy to and to keep her posted on my whereabout. As the date got closer and as I meander up Hwy 1, it was looking like I would make the Touratech Rally after all and have advised Ruth so. She was so excited that I was going to make it.

The Touratech Rally is an event for dual-sport bikes in conjunction with the Overland Rally. It include camping, classes, GPS tracks, group rides and entertaining guest speakers. On Thursday night, about 20 women showed up for the Dirty Girl Adv meet and greet where we got to co-mingle and get to know one another over a glass of wine. Toward the end of the event, myself and 3 other amazing women motorcycle riders got to share our stories and allow for Q & A about life on a motorcycle. At the end, we discussed which pre-planned ride we should do as a group and we choose an easy one so we can get the opportunity to visit all the exhibitors in the afternoon.

So the next day, we all showed up and plus some more which we quickly realized it will be too large as a single group. So we split up in group of two, one for the spirited riders and the other one for the beginner rider where I will be on the sweep team since I have a small bike. Well, I didn’t get very far on the ride when the chain broke on my bike. Sigh, it seems like my bike has a curse on these event. You may remember last September at the Horizon Unlimited event, my throttle cable broke. Luckily, it happened at the beginning of the trail head and two male riders saw what happened. One of them got up to Ruth to let her know that my bike broke and the other towed me back to camp. It looked like the Master Link shattered due to a rock getting in between the chain and the sprocket. I thought I had a spare Master Link in my tool kits but I can’t find it. So, I went to one of the vendor, Wenatchee Powersports, to see if they have my chain on hand and unfortunately they do not. However, they will have an employee bring one up from their store which is about an hour away. Touratech allowed me to park my bike under their canopy while I waited for the part and to work on the bike once it got here. Both of them were my hero that day!!! On top of that, these two gentlemen decided to pay for my chain after hearing my story about my journey.

While waiting for the chain, I started to doubt myself if I can replace the chain on my own. So, I asked Gary from Dirt First if he would be willing to oversee my process to make sure that I’m doing it correctly. Once the chain arrived, I got down to work on replacing it.  

 As true to his word, he didn’t try to take over fixing it but gave me great tips and tricks on how to make the process easier for me since some of the rear bolts are hard to turn. Whoo-hoo, my bike is fixed but it is too late in the day to try to sneak in a ride and I still need to clean up.  

 The girls finally came back and the hour ride ended up taking four hours since a couple of the girls never have been on dirt before and fell a couple of times. This brings back memories of the first time I went on dirt, I fell at least thirty times, no joke. I have done that same trails several times now and never fall once. I can’t believe how far I have come since that first time. Anyway, some of the girls want to do the same trails again tomorrow and was wondering of Ruth and I would lead and sweep for them once again. Yippee, I was excited that finally I will get to see some dirt. The next day, we got to ride the same trail again but this time with only five girls and boy it fun but very hot, it got up to 108 that day. So, after our ride, one of the lady arranged for us to go river rafting and we had a blast. On one point ride, we got to pull up to a beach and jump into the river, it felt so good to cool down and to be clean again.

On the bus ride back from river rafting, I asked Melanie from Wenatchee Powersports where would be a good camping spot halfway between Plain, WA and Spokane, WA. She and her partner looked at each other and said at their house would love to host me for the night. I was honored and delighted that they would do that for me. So the next morning, I met them at their trailer and followed them back to Wenatchee which is about 50 miles from where we were camped. Once I got there, I learned that Sally, Melanie’s partner had to leave that night for a conference in Spokane and Melanie will be meeting her the next day there. So that mean, Melanie and I will be riding together and she gave me a guided tour of a side road on the way to Spokane. During lunch at Billy Burgers in Wilbur, WA (delicious burger, by the way) , I learned that she is the owner of Wenatchee Powersports.

I had an awesome weekend at the event and it was great to hang out and ride with some of the most amazing women in the industry. It feels so good to fit right in among them. For so long, I have been the only girl whenever I go dirt riding, the guys used to joke that I’m not just a girl meaning that I was one of the boys. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t mind that but it is sure nice to be a girl once in a while.

Stories of Our Roots

The recurring theme this week seems to be about stories of where we come from and sometimes going back to our roots to start over again. Two very special places struck a cord with me, Agness, OR and Warm Springs, OR. After several weeks of riding Highway 1, I was getting tired of constant fog and winds so after Gold Beach, OR, I decided to turn inland and ride the Bear Camp Coastal Route. Right before you begin the fifty miles of twisty and winding road with 15-25 mph curves is a town with a very small population called Agness.   Agness is an unincorporated town that is located two major river in Oregon, Rogue and Illinois river. The Post Office was established in 1897 and the town was named after the Postmaster’s daughter. Agness is only one of two town that is served by rural mail boat still operating in the U.S. The area is a popular for fishing and the river tours. I stopped at the Old Agness Store in Agness, Oregon to take a break and to try some Apple Fritters. The Apple Fritters were delicious and sorry Allison, I couldn’t get the secret family recipe. As I was sitting there, an older lady (Rebecca Sims-Grant) walked in with her daughter, granddaughters and great-granddaughter. I couldn’t help but overhearing their conversation inquiring about certain resident still living there. So I asked her, if she lived in the town and she said that she used to back in the early 50’s. Then she proceeded to tell stories of living in the town during those times. It was also her daddy and uncle who built and owned the General Store. The store was the gathering place for the local news and gossips as she put it. The one room school house still exist to serve the local kids. She remembered that there were only nine kids in the days she went to school there.   I asked her what brought her back here and she wanted to show her family where she grew up and what it was like living in a small rural town. Rebecca was quite impression how the General Store looked now. This is due to new owners, Steve and Michele, who bought the place back in 2013. It took them four months of renovation in order to bring it back to life. Steve and Michele Berlant met back in 2008 when Steve was living in Agness and Michele, a resident of New York has been visiting her family here since she was five years old. She decided to move back to Agness and married Steve to begin a new life here with the general store.   I wished I had more time to listen to their stories but they were quite busy cooking and attending to the stream of customers that kept walking in. It was time for me to mosey on to the next stop on my journey which was Warm Springs, Oregon.    As I was wondering up Highway 26 toward Mt. Hood, I noticed a little museum on the side of the highway and decided to check it out. It was called The Museum at Warm Springs which was about the Confederated Tribe of Warm Springs. It consist of three tribes; the Wasco, Tenino (Warm Springs) and Paiute. It was typical of any Native American museum but what caught my eye was the last line on an informational plaque about petroglyphs. The plaque was called “Songs of Our People” and it read as this: The stories of our people tell of our creation, evolution, and destiny. They live in ancient song and are written on the land around us. We must protect these stories, passing them along to future generations by sharing them in the present.   The writing on the rocks and the ancient songs still speak to us. But will we listen?  As I read that, I think about how many people who have had to move away from their hometown due to jobs, economy, weather or whatever reason it may be but never go back and revisit their root or pass on the stories of their childhood onto the next generation. As for me, I haven’t been back to my childhood home in very long time and hopefully soon I will get the chance. For now, I do not have any roots since the road is my home but at every stop I make, I get a postcard to send to my granddaughter so she can see where I have been and cherish the stories I have to tell on my journey.

In Memory Of

Well, we had our 2nd Annual Russ Austin Memorial ride in Santa Margarita Lake, CA and once again it was a success. For those of you has been following my blog for a while, may remember that the last year event was a bittersweet experience for me. It was a joyous event in remembering all of the good times we had but also a painful reminder that he is not here anymore.

Just like one of the cliché expression that I don’t like says “time heals all wound”, the wound was still there but it was easier to deal with the emptiness of his presence. We had the same amount of TW200 riders as last year but with new faces than last year. We had several rides come from out-of-state, such as Washington, Nevada and Arizona. Also, we had a couple of women riders this year which I’m always excited about! It is nice not to be the only girl in the group.
Just like last year, everyone arrived on Friday, even me. Actually, I made it up a day early but stayed overnight in Morro Bay, CA to visit with my sister-in-law. As usual, our wonderful camp host, Mel, provided us with the meals all three days. He loves providing us with a central place for chow so we would have more times among with each other than everyone retreating back to their tent or cabin during meal times.

Since, the beach ride last year was a huge hit, we did it again. We rode up through Hi Mountain Road starting from Pozo and ending up in Arroyo Grande. It’s a 34 mile fire road through the Los Padres Forest. It is classified as an easy trail but there seems to be more ruts in it than last year. At one point on the trail, there was a broken down truck which amazingly our chase vehicle narrowly squeezed by. The chase vehicle was driven by my son’s girlfriend which was loaded with many of the guy’s significance others who wanted to tag along for the ride. All of the wives gave her high praises for her skilled driving.

On day two of the event, I took one of the guy’s wife who is a beginner for a private ride to help her gain confidence in own riding skills while the guys went on a ride looking for the Pozo mine. I don’t think they ever found it but still had fun exploring the various roads in Pozo. I had a blast riding with her, it actually brought back many memories of the days I was learning to ride while Russ patiently riding behind me. It is so nerve wrecking having someone we love watching us as we learn how to ride. It sometimes become unproductive because we’re so self-conscious of trying not to make a mistake and we end up making more mistakes than normal.

Most of everyone left on Sunday night except for the usual hard-core SoCal TW200 riders, we stayed the night. As we sat around the campfire, we noticed two motorcycle riding into camp trying to find an empty site to camp. So, we offered to share our site with them. They were best friends, one live in Oregon and the other one in Colorado who meet up once a year and ride around. They were ever so grateful for our hospitality and as usual, our camp host, Mel, ran off to dished up a warm meal for our guests.

All in all, it was an awesome weekend with old and new friends sharing our passion for motorcycles. As I said last year, “remember that life is too short and cherish the times you have with your friends, family and loves one. You’ll never know when you might go home to an empty house”. As for me, the open road is now my home and my heart is not empty anymore since he is riding with me in spirit.

“Make New Friends”

Make new friends, but keep the old

One is silver and the other gold. A circle is round, it has no end

That’s how long I want to be your friend. Here is my hand, and here is the other

Let’s put them together and we have each other.

The other day, a friend of mine made a comment how fortunate that I was to have many friends who are conspiring together to help me have a successful journey! This reminded me of an old Girl scout song that I used to sing and taught to my daughter as well in Girl Scout. It’s called “Make New Friends” and according to Wikipedia that Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of Girl Scout found this song from the Kent County Song Book. This book contained folk songs from the British Isles. Ever since Russ and I acquired the mighty Tdub (aka TW200), we have been gaining new friends from all walk of life through these little bikes. In the past, we would not go on group rides because we were easily distracted by the endless side roads which could mean new adventures lie ahead for us but being stuck in a group ride means that we’re stuck on a set itinerary. However, one day we decided to bite the bullet and try out the TW200 group ride through Joshua Tree. This is where we met Jeff and Ron who became a lifeline for him and for me after he passed away. In fact, after Russ passed away I acquired hundreds of brother-in-law. They all step up to the plate in helping me selling the motorcycles, covering the funeral expenses and getting my bike ready for this trip. I could not have done it without their generosity of time, parts and moral supports. When I started planning for this trip a year and a half ago, I started attending the Horizon Unlimited and the Overland events to get educated about the life on the road, I met amazing people who have been traveling all over the world on a motorcycle and some of them have written about their journey. One in particular is Carla King, Russ and I met her at our first Horizon Unlimited event back in 2013. She was fascinated with our little bikes and the all of the modification we have done with our bikes. That is where she originally suggested that we start a blog about our bikes, the mod we have done and the tools we made to be frugal in our spending. However, at the time I too afraid to write the blog know that my writing skills were not up to par with the writers that are out there. When I met her again at the Overland and once she heard about my plan for the year-long trip, she once again encourage that I blog about my trip. This is where I got braved enough to tell her about my hearing impairment and how it hinder my writing skills. That is where she suggested I create a sticky about my writing styles and then not to worry about others might think about it. So here I am on the journey of a lifetime and sharing to the world the trial and tribulation of it all. Then I can’t forget my three girlfriends, Kelly, Christine and Janet who has been through it all with me since childhood. Sometimes life don’t allow us to get together often enough. However, when we do get together, we always pick up where we left off as if we never had a gap.     There are too many other new friends that I have met along the way to mention here. However, all of them have been my guiding angels on this trip. When a particular situation arises, I can alway hear one or the other talking in my head to give me the guidance or moral support to get through the situations. I’m sure that there will many more people who I will meet along the way to give me the experiences, strength and hope on my journey.