Till Death Do Us Apart

As long as I can remember, I had an unhealthy fear about being buried or visiting the cemetery. I think it has to do with my religious upbringing and being disillusion about the Catholicism’s philosophy. So at a young age, I announced that I wanted to be cremated against my parent’s wishes. I even knew exactly where I wanted my ashes to be thrown. After having climbed Mt. Whitney several times in Junior High and High School, I fell in love with a beautiful meadow up there. I was too naive then to know that it is probably illegal to have ashes spread out in a National Park.

One day, Russ and I were having our “grown up” talk (so I thought) and I told him that I wanted my ashes spread up there. He would joked about being too old to hike up there and I teased him right back stating that he can ride one of his donkey up there to take care of it. Then when I would inquired about his preferences, he would just scuff and say “If I become incompetence to take care of myself then put in a wheelchair and push me out to the middle of the desert and leave me there”. Sigh, I would never get a serious answer from him.
In January before his death, Russ, a friend of our and I did a tour of weird and wacky sites in our area on the TW200. We visited the burial site for Brownie, the Railroad Dog, Victorville Rock Faces, Concrete Dinosaurs and the Roy Rogers and Dale Evan’s cemetery. The latter site was Russ’ favorite for two reasons, one, he idolized Roy Rogers and two, there was an anatomically correct life size statue of Trigger (Roy’s horse).

So when Russ passed away, I knew exactly where to have his ashes spread out, right behind Trigger. You may be asking how come I had him cremated since he never let it known what his wishes were. Well, he was kind of claustrophobic, so I knew that he wouldn’t like the idea of being in a coffin as much as I did. So I had him cremated. I also had a paver made at the cemetery in memory of him. I originally did this so his parents would have a place to go to visit him. However, it was I who visited him at the cemetery frequently. Anytime I was down or needed guidance from him, I would go and visit him. I have become more and more comfortable being at the cemetery.
Since being on the road, I have stumbled across several unique ones and even visited my family’s cemetery in Toledo, Ohio. Some were elaborate such as the Springs Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, OH which is the second largest in the United States. Others, were either ghostly or lonely such as the Betani Lutheran cemetery in North Dakota. Then there is a sad one that I visited on Barlow Road in Oregon. In 1924 when the Department of Transportation was building the highway, they discovered a grave of an unnamed pioneer woman.

Now, I’m having second thoughts about having my ashes spread out in remote area. Oh don’t get me wrong, I still want to be cremated. I still don’t like the idea of rotting in the ground. However, I’m starting to appreciate the idea of having a headstone placed somewhere for my children, grandchildren and future generation to visit and maybe hear my stories in the wind like I do when I visit Russ, my grandparents and my great-grandparents at the cemetery.

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 http://www.whitewinter.com

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 (http://lalaironwheels.blogspot.com). 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.