There aren’t many places in the world where you can see two bears and half an hour later play miniature golf or visit a cool wax museum. That is exactly the situation in the charming towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. There are all kinds of fun hillbilly happenings in the stunning Smokey Mountains,…
It was a potentially life-threatening moment. I was 3,000 miles away from home with no money or ID. The temperature was about 90 degrees and I had been riding my motorcycle for hours. Exhausted, I pulled into a gas station to fill my tank. I looked down at where I keep my handbag and my heartbeat started racing. It was gone!!
About 100 miles back, near the Kentucky border, it had started raining hard. I pulled over underneath an overpass to put on the rain gear that my friend had let me borrow from her just for the trip. I ride with my bag slung over me, so I won’t lose it. I had to take it off and set it down to put on the rain gear. You can guess what happened next. A momentary distraction cost me dearly. I rode away and left it there under the overpass!
So, there I was at a gas station in the middle of nowhere, with no money to fill my tank, no ID, and no credit cards. I felt weak. I was sweating profusely and trembling. I sat down and tears filled my eyes. What was I going to do? I pulled out my cell phone. I could barely see the screen without my glasses and they were in my purse! The battery was down to 20% and my charger was also in my handbag! I was disgusted at myself for making such a stupid mistake!
I’m on a 6,000-mile solo motorcycle trip across the USA. Most of the time, I find that I’m dirty, tired and dodging extreme weather. People often ask me why I’m doing it. There are many reasons, such as to experience our beautiful country and to visit friends and family. But my greatest joy so far has simply been the way I feel so very present while I’m on this ride.
Many Americans spend so much of their day dwelling on the past, day dreaming about the future, or despising their present situation, that they often forget that the present is a gift to be treasured. Sometimes it’s not easy for us to quiet our mind and really consciously enjoy the present moment. It can take practice.
The easiest way to focus on the present is to engage your senses and quiet the mind. Many people do this during meditation, but I’ve learned that you can do it anywhere. Just stop your mind from drifting and focus on your five senses. What do you see, smell, hear, taste and feel? Riding through the beautiful state of Tennessee yesterday I really took it all in, and this is how I engaged my five senses.
I’m a third of the way through my one month solo motorcycle trip across the USA. Today I hit the 2,000-mile mark and entered my 6th state, New Mexico. I feel pretty good and I’m having a great time, but adventure travel can be an emotional roller coaster. It’s anything but comfortable. Here are some…
Riding though Zion National Park, I found it hard to concentrate on the road. The vivid contrast between the red rock and the green trees made the whole place look like a living painting. There is so much beauty in the American west, and in the past week, I’ve been honored to see some of the most stunning places in the U.S., including the massive waterfalls in Twin Falls, Idaho and the breathtaking rock formations in Arches National Park.
Visiting such places on a motorcycle adds a whole new dimension to the adventure. Weather plays an important part in my journey. It’s been very hot so far on my trip. Yesterday it was 101 in Zion. To deal with it, I try to start my day very early and hydrate best I can. I have a water bladder tucked in my tank bag where I can drink from it while I ride. But sometimes the elements get to me. Traffic was stopped for an hour in Zion before the 1.1-mile-long tunnel and I had to sit there in the heat of the scorching sun and do nothing but wait. RVs that are 11.4” high or taller have to go through one at a time because they have to drive in the center of the two lanes. As a result, traffic was backed up in both directions for about half a mile. It was brutal and by the time I got through I felt sun burned and a little dizzy.
The road calls to me like a lover in the night. I’m not sure if it’s an addiction, desire, or need, but nature beckons me, and so I must go. I didn’t put a whole lot of planning into this trip, which is very unlike me. Perhaps it’s because I was so busy selling my possessions and cleaning out my house, or perhaps it was just that I wanted to feel free of a schedule for once. Whatever the reason, I have an idea of my route, but like most things in life, it is subject to change.
Day 1: La Center to Pendleton
I left my home at about 10:00 this morning after handing over the keys of my house to my new tenants. I had intended to leave earlier, but the late start actually meant that I missed the early morning rain. I’m also fighting a cold, or perhaps it’s just bad allergies, so I was moving a little slower than normal this morning. Finally, I had everything perfectly bungeed down and the weight distributed correctly. My leathers were cleaned and my saddle bags full. I secured my helmet and shifted into first gear. I was off on my 6,000-mile motorcycle trip. Born to Be Wild, my usual road trip song, blared in my head phones. I felt a surge of adrenaline as I got on the freeway. Finally….I was on my way!
This morning I couldn’t find a bowl for my cereal. I finally found a bowl only to realize I didn’t have a spoon. I decided to just make coffee instead and then realized I no longer owned a coffee maker. These are the things we take for granted every day, the things we spend a lifetime accumulating. Well, I’m letting my things go, in every way possible.
Preparing for the moving sale
During Memorial Day weekend, while most Americans were out camping, celebrating, and having fun, I was in yard sale hell. I’ve spent an entire week sorting, stacking and packing up all my earthly possessions, preparing to sell everything at my gigantic moving sale. By the time I opened my garage door on Saturday morning at 9:00, I was already exhausted, but people were parked on the street waiting, and waves of people came and went all day long.
“Will you take fifty cents for these?” a woman said to me while holding out a pair of genuine Coach shoes that I paid $110 for a couple of years back. What do you say to such questions? It’s just stuff, and I really don’t need any of it. We settled on $2.00.
I think many people read my travel blog and assume I’m living a glamorous life traveling the world. It’s true, I’m traveling the world, but it’s far from glamorous. Other people think I’m having a mid-life crisis or am being selfish. The fact is, I’ve made a very calculated decision to make some serious life changes. I’ve always wanted to be a writer and I’ve always wanted to travel, and I’m blessed to be doing what I love. But I’ve had to give up many things I like so that I can do things that I love. I’m paying a heavy price for my freedom and here are just a few of the sacrifices I’m making.
It’s hard to have a romantic relationship of any sort when you’re traveling constantly. I left someone I love behind in India and I’m avoiding dating now until I have a more stable lifestyle. I’m missing out on seeing friends and spending time with my family. I had to say goodbye to my most loyal companion, my dog Ozzie, who is now being cared for by some dear friends.
If you ever visit the magnificent island of Kauai, make sure that seeing the Ne Pali coast is high on your list of things to do.The sheer splendor of it will leave a lasting impression.
I’m still a little sore from the boat ride, but boy was it worth it! Nepali Pirates offers a fun day cruise up the Na Pali coast that is full of thrills and spectacular beauty. The whole trip took about 5 hours and includes a bouncy ride on their Zodiac, snorkeling, and snacks.
Many famous films have been shot on the Ne Pali coast, including Jurassic Park and Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s easy to see why. The Ne Pali coast is simply paradise. Lush green valleys and huge waterfalls sit next to gorgeous sandy beaches and incredible coral reefs. Layers of colors fill the landscape, including red rock, various shades of green from the massive rain forest, black lava rock, soft beige sand and the clear turquoise sea water.
Standing next to the 100-foot waterfall, feeling the water spraying over me, the sound was deafening. It was the day before Mother’s Day, and I couldn’t help but feel blessed with the beauty of our dear Mother Nature, and the Kayak Wailua tour is a great way to see her at her finest.
What to expect
The day began with a meet and greet with the cheerful staff at Kayak Wailua. I was excited that my daughter, Jamie, would be our guide for the day. She explained to our group what to expect on our expedition. The tour would take about 5 hours total and would include about 5 miles of kayaking through the Wailua River and an easy one mile hike (in both directions) up to Secret Falls, called Uluwehi by the Hawaiian people.
The only other people in our group was a family of four from Santa Cruz with two young energetic boys. We all loaded into the shuttle and headed for the marina. While our driver unloaded the kayaks, we received some last-minute paddling instructions from Jamie and loaded up our gear. Soon we were on our way up the river. The Wailua, which means Spirit in Hawaiian, is surrounded by beautiful jungle, with tropical trees, colorful flowers and lots of interesting birds. We paddled past the Sleeping Giant, known as NouNou Mountain and Mouna Kapu, then into a narrow and overgrown area where we disembarked and began our foot excursion.