I spent only a couple of days in Salzburg, but it was long enough to realize that Salzburg is a most extraordinary city. It’s a fantastic mix of ancient architecture and modern-day cosmopolitan conveniences. The food is delicious and the people extremely friendly. Honestly, there is nothing I didn’t like about the city, except for…
Road trips aren’t just about all the destinations, but the journey. It’s the adventures, the possibilities, the change from our daily routine that beckons us, and it’s even more true when taking a solo road trip on a motorcycle. Space is limited. Nature is in your face. Fatigue sets in sooner and the risk of injury is much greater. I had an amazing time on my ride across this beautiful nation. I had a lot of time to think, and this what I learned in 31 days, 19 states and 7,000 miles, alone on my motorcycle.
I’m No Princess
There once was a time in my life when I had to have my coffee a certain way, I couldn’t sleep without a fan and a feather pillow. I wore those comfort requirements like a badge of honor. I don’t know why we do that. Maybe to show how civilized we are. Maybe it’s for attention or to demonstrate that we have evolved into a lifestyle that can require such things. In any case, those days are long for me. I slept on a two-inch air mattress with a tiny pillow. Most days I didn’t get coffee, or if I did it was from a convenience store. I averaged about 350 miles a day. I camped in 40 degree temperatures. I rode through torrential rain, 30 mile an hour sustained winds and 106 degree heat. I’m no princess anymore. I’ve gained a lot of self-confidence and feel like I’m strong enough to handle just about anything, even ending up 3,000 miles away from home without any money, ID, or credit cards.
It’s amazing how a road trip can make you appreciate the simple things that we generally take for granted. I found myself grateful for a hot shower, a cup of coffee, dry clothes and a quiet place to sleep. The sounds of the birds chirping in the morning, children laughing while they play, or a babbling stream, were like music to my ears. We have so much to be grateful for, but we are often too distracted to even notice.
I’ve had a lot of weird experiences on this cross-county motorcycle trip, but my wild night in Badgerville, Wisconsin might top them all. I spent the night in Badgerville RV Park, just off the freeway, and next to Kegonsa State Park. I was assigned a cute little spot next to the fish pond.
As I was setting up I met the neighbors, Dave and Tami. I couldn’t help but notice that they, and most of the RVs in the park, had decks and sheds. Turns out that instead of buying a weekend cabin like many of us do in the northwest, people in that part of Wisconsin buy a year around spot to park their RVs, and then they proceed to customize it with decks, fences, sheds, and so on. As a result, most of the weekend residents know each other. They also have their own golf carts just for driving around the RV park.
Next to the office was a cute little bar, and I had some computer work to do that required WIFI, so I figured that was as good of a spot as any to get my work done. I sat there working for about 2 hours and it was nonstop entertainment. I met Jan, who had lived in the park for 15 years! She was the first to arrive and one of the last to leave. I also met Big Joe, a large guy with a fun sense of humor. who insisted on buying me a drink, and another drink, and another….
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!
Razor Clam digging is a way of life on the Washington State peninsula. Many families have been razor clam digging for generations. They anxiously watch the Washington Fish and Game website for announcements of upcoming digs, they track the tides, clean their gear and plan their clam eating feasts. They look forward to the first time they can take their kids, or grand kids, out on their first dig, and when they do, pictures are proudly posted and joyous new memories are made.
I first went clam digging in 2005 in Ocean Park, Washington, which is just outside of the town of Long Beach. I had so much that I made an offer on a beach cabin that weekend, closed on it, and have been clam digging ever since! I’ve had the joy of introducing all kinds of friends to the experience and their reaction is always the same. They love it!
Razor clamming isn’t really all that hard. It only takes a few attempts to figure it out and each time you go you get a little better at it. The old timers will limit out much faster than the beginners, but there is always someone around to help you spot them and encourage you to keep at it. “Here’s one”, I’ve had a number of strangers call out to me, as they point to a divot down in the sand. It’s a time that the whole community comes together and new friends are made.
Butchart Gardens will always hold a special place in my heart. It had been 13 years since I was there last, and it was with my mother, just a couple of months before she passed away from cancer. Needless to say, I had stayed away too long. Within moments of stepping inside of Butchart Gardens, I was reminded of how truly spectacular it is! As I walked through the front gate, the delightful aroma from the blooming hyacinth hit me. It smelled heavenly, like a perfect Spring day. Butchart Gardens is situated on a bay, so when the breeze blows you can also get a hint of sea air. The two smells combined awakened my senses and made my spirit dance.
The gardens are also pet friendly, so I was delighted to be able to take Ozzie in with me. Visitors from around the globe bent down to show him some love and visit with me. There’s just no way you can be in a bad mood at Butchart. The hardest part about going there is deciding which garden to visit first!