Stranded a long way from home

How I Ended up 3,000 Miles Away from Home with No Money or ID

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!!

What happened

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!

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Me and bike (Baby)

The Joy of Feeling Present on My Cross-Country Motorcycle Trip

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.

Arches National Park

Motorcycle Trip to Twin Falls, Arches, and Zion National Park

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.

The ride

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.

Multnomah Falls in Oregon

Day 1 of My 6,000 Mile Motorcycle Trip Across the USA

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!

Clam digging on the Washington pennisula

The Joy of Razor Clam Digging on The Washington State Peninsula

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!

 

The gear

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.

Sunken Garden at Buchart

Awaken Your Senses at Beautiful Buchart Gardens in Victoria, B.C

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.

Pet Friendly

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!

Kahneeta Resort

Food, Fun & Spirits on “Distilled Weekend” at Kahneeta Resort

Looking down from the balcony of our room, I couldn’t help but marvel at the beautiful view and tranquility of the valley below. Kahneeta Resort is situated on the Warm Springs Native American Reservation and is surrounded by expansive grassy fields, red rock formations, and the crystal waters of the Deschutes River. If you’re looking for a place to get away from it all and yet still have a lot of fun activities for the entire family, Kahneeta is the place for you.

 

Distilled weekend was one of their special events, put together by their Sales and Marketing Manager, Cruz Bocanegra, who was our host for the special weekend. The event highlighted the delicious spirits of New Basin Distilling and the tasty ice cream of Sub Zero Ice Cream and Yogurt. Those partners, along with Kahneeta’s executive chef, Mike Pyell, provided us a fun filled and entertaining weekend I won’t soon forget. It also just happened to coincide with my birthday, so I, and two dear girlfriends celebrated in style and shared a lot of laughs.

Sunrise

My Transition Home and Alarming New Observations About America

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been adjusting to life back in the USA for a while. Surprisingly, it has been every bit as difficult as my first few weeks in India. My time in India changed me, in every way possible. In fact, I’m writing a book about it. I’m not the same person that left here feeling anxious and lost a year and half ago.  I’ve grown tremendously, and as a result, I’m noticing things that I didn’t before. Here are some things that I’ve observed about Americans since I’ve gotten back, and they are some of the things that have made my transition feel a bit unsettling.

Americans are too damn busy

I came home with an extensive list of things to do because I had been gone for a long time. I had deferred maintenance stuff to take care of on my house. I had to file my taxes, get new eye glasses, go to the dentist, visit friends, etc.  But what has fascinated me most is that all my friends and family are even busier than I am. I’ve already been home almost a month, and there are many friends I still haven’t seen because they haven’t been able to squeeze me into their busy schedules. Americans are all on a hamster wheel, running around in circles checking things off their massive To-Do list. Rarely, do we just sit and enjoy each other’s company. In other cultures, people often start the day with tea or coffee and just visit with strangers.

We have become a bunch of human doings, not human beings.

In America, I don’t see many people just being in the moment, relaxed and enjoying the present. Instead, Americans are too busy thinking about what they need to do next. I find it alarming now. It causes stress and anxiety. It isolates us from one another. It’s the reason that I’ve decided to break the chains of corporate greed and work for myself again. It’s why I’ve decided to travel so much. When I travel, I feel like I am enjoying the present moment and engaging in this day, these people and this place. I’m not preoccupied with bills to pay and errands to run.