Weathering The Storm

I am currently in a tent in Western Nebraska, taking on windstorm, which I’m sure will soon turn to rain.

If I close one eye and only chicken peck on my tiny phone screen with one finger I can almost imagine I am a pirate out to sea. A one eyed, one handed, pirate. The sound of the blowing wind and rattling leaves are the crashing waves, and my flapping tent is the sail on some old sailing ship. It isn’t true of course, but it sure is comforting.

I’m close to Kansas so the other part of my imagination is taking me to Dorothy’s house before she was transported via twister to a place much farther away. There is a barking dog outside, it belongs to one of the campers in the RV park I am currently stationed at. It is a small dog, reminiscent of Toto when it yips, so it just makes the scene I’m running through my head seem more real.

However, I’m not concerned or worried about a twister, I’m a badass pirate with a hook and an eye patch. I’m waiting out a storm in my ship, waiting til morning when I will safely arrive ashore to rejoin my trusty steed, Little Wing, as we make our way onward to the land of Colorado (a place I shall not go tonight by way of my humble home and twisting wind gusts. I just won’t).

Something I have to keep reminding myself of is the fact that I’m in Nebraska, wind is normal. Actually wind is normal everywhere. The flatter the landscape – the more plains combined with less trees – the stronger the wind seems. In the Dakotas and Wyoming I experienced this; the world is windy. I know it is a fact, but it is a reality I have generally had blockaded by trees.

I remember one summer, sometime in middle school, watching pieces of windmills go past on their way to distant places. There were many semi-trailers with ‘WIDE LOAD’ banners plastered on the front. Flashing helper trucks leading and proceeding the trailers containing the large pieces of metal on their way through Northern Minnesota. There would be at least one full disassembled windmill a day that would pass. Pieces on their  way to be constructed on some gustier piece of land.

It wasn’t until recently, the start of my adventure actually, that I saw a fully assembled windmill in Minnesota, well one of the newfangled ones I’ve been talking about anyway. It was on Highway 75, the nearest north/south highway bordering the Dakotas. I was riding along, enjoying the beautiful scenery of Minnesota knowing it would be the last I would see of it for a while, when I saw them. A field of windmills off to the west. It was County Road 13 I recall (though I don’t remember which county), and like I said, it was pointed West. So was I, so I followed it.

The enormity of those giant structures is something I couldn’t comprehend until I was riding under them. Intense, gorgeous, and loud — windmills are fascinating.

I often see windmills now. The gustier states are home to many. I always take it as a sign that I need to brace my arms on Little Wing, prepare for the berating force against our side that is the wind. And berate it does. Right when the bike feels stable and my arms feel tight along comes another gust, forcing me to tighten my arms more and lean my body into the wind to stay upright. My spine remains stiff as I hold my head motionless, pointing forward to keep my helmet securely in one spot as the forceful gusts push on it. Windy days result in sore arms and a tense neck. Both of which I am nursing at this moment, as the thunder and lightning sweep overhead, and the gusts make the sails of my ship billow in out in out innn ouuuttt in out n out n.

The rain just started. I’m awake again after falling asleep. I dream’t of Dorothy, Toto and Pirates only to awaken in my own bed (sleeping bag and ground pad) to thunderous claps and sky splitting light. The rain is coming down in sheets, warring with the fabric of my tent walls. The wind and rain appear to have the advantage right now, but my tent hasn’t gone down for the count yet.

It was windy today, and I know the cause was this impending rain. It rained some last night when I was in Neligh, NE and then moved West. When I woke in the morning I followed it. Little Wing and I got the better of it and beat it here to this campsite, but the clouds that graced us the whole afternoon acted as a fore warning for what I am now sitting in.

The sails of the ship go in out in out. In. Ouuutttt. Innnn. Dorothy is relaxing, the thunder has gotten farther away, headed North, and the lightning is faint compared to minutes ago.

The trip was full of clouds and wind and windmills. As I fought the heavy gusts the windmills I passed spun lazily around. And around. A stark contrast to my aching neck and stiff arms. It was a pleasant sight actually. It was relaxing to see something benefiting from the breeze that was pushing Little Wing and myself around.

The windmills brought me back to this weekend. The underlying discussion that brought everyone to a once-in-a-lifetime concert in which Willie Nelson and Neil Young teamed up.

I was informed that when Harvest for Hope was looking for artists to come and perform for the protesting of the giant pipeline Neil Young came forward and asked to do it. He ASKED. Of course they said yes, and then he, Neil Young, went and asked Willie Nelson to join him.

To be honest, leading up to the concert I was aware of the protesting nature of it, but I was going more for the music. I volunteered with the hopes of a ticket, which I got, and the good cause was an after thought.

The pipeline is a controversial topic. I knew this from the Enbridge pipeline that is currently being discussed in Minnesota. The fracking, the tar sands, the ruined drinking water, I know of it, I just know little about it. Excuse me, KNEW little about it.

I am a green type of person, I try to live sustainably. It comes from a childhood of being poor and using the resources we had to make a home and a nice life. Awareness of the harm we do daily to Mother Earth has always been a constant in my brain. I remember taking on the topic in almost everyone of my high school reports from age fifteen up until I graduated. It was something I was passionate about, AM passionate about, but something that became less real once I graduated. How does one take on the topic of sustainability and protecting Mother Earth when they aren’t going to school? What does one do when they are young and broke and voiceless (or so it seems)? It is hard to be passionate about large topics when working a minimum wage job and having to live in apartments where sustainability – or the lack of – is actually not really up to you.

I do my part. I buy locally when I can, though it is super hard to afford. I use as little plastic as I can and recycle the stuff I do use. I stopped buying brand new clothing for everyday use, instead going to thrift stores. I stopped supporting the inorganic cosmetic industry. Reducing the purchase of petrochemical filled products and instead use coconut oil, vinegar, and baking soda as my main methods of keeping clean and fresh. However, I don’t know if that’s enough.

This weekend I was surrounded by people who had opinions about the pipeline. Some were for and some were against, but the main thing was the passion. They all had a voice fueled by passion. The loudest voices, the ones we came to hear, opposed the pipelines. So much so that they volunteered – just like I did – to be there. In front of 10,000 people Neil Young spoke out against the pipeline and spoke up for sustainable energy.

The problem with the Keystone pipeline that is being discussed is that it would cut right through one of the largest aquifers in the U.S. It is being proposed by a foreign company that would ship the oil overseas, so the benefit to be had is not actually coming back to us Americans whose water is being put at risk; at least that’s what Neil said.

I am of the opinion that we all have to decide for ourselves. I think that each and everyone of us should be passionate, but if it doesn’t come from within it doesn’t mean anything. I believe strongly in being sustainable. I believe Mother Earth needs us all to get over our self-fish, possession-honoring ways, and start giving a crap. However, I don’t like to preach, other people may have differing opinions and I accept that. As far as the pipeline goes, I have a small opinion forming but nothing that is passionate enough to live by quite yet.

I do know something though; it seems a lot like the wind. The wind that bothers me is natural. Mother Earth needs the wind, but I dislike it. At the same time it is providing sustainable energy to the Mother by means of windmills, and yet I still complain. I don’t like the wind, I want it to go away so I can ride Little Wing in peace. My inorganic, petrochemical based, engine that is emitting Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere, I want life to be easier for the two of us. The reason there is so much wind is because there aren’t many trees on the plains. They have been removed for the fields of crops that are now on either side of me, fields that now tunnel the wind. The small amount of trees that were here were edited down for farmland (think Dustbowl). The crops are now shipped all over the country by way of petrochemical based engines to feed people in less than local ways. The Carbon Dioxide being emitted is being fought by the trees we are chopping down, and to make it all more sustainable we put up noisy windmills to capture the natural energy. The noise pollution they cause can be as disliked as the wind that I complain about while astride Little Wing.

The wind, the trees, the windmills, everyone somewhere has a reason to dislike one or the other.

When Neil Young, Willie Nelson, and others preach ‘windmills not oil spills’ people stand up against the oil energy. The same way people are standing up against the wind industry. Us humans just won’t be happy with what we have.

I have a motorcycle. I’m riding across country, a choice I made. It is supposed to be joyful and relaxing. Instead, here I am, complaining about the wind and how tough it is on my body and bike. I made a choice to ride. I am emitting Carbon Dioxide everyday into Mother Earth’s  atmosphere yet I bitch when she hands me a bit of her own medicine.

It is very much like littering. I was on trash pickup Sunday at the concert venue. There was practically nothing to pick up. Out of 10,000 people we maybe gathered ten garbage bags worth of waste off the ground. It was crazy. The thing we were all saying to each other after we were done is that all the attendees were there for a good cause, a sustainable cause, so it makes sense they would respect Mother Earth more than just tossing their crap around on her. It was interesting because I see trash on the side of the road everyday. One can see people in cars with a great superficial appearance tossing plastic waste out of their window. Humans who care about washing their car and vacuuming it out, but who have no thought in regards to keeping their home clean. Immaturity forcing our Mother to handle our mess.

The hypocrisy of our complaints as a human race can start to boggle the mind after awhile. Wanting sustainable energy, but not recycling. Buying ‘Made in America’ products but wanting a foreign pipeline to be built in our freshwater. Wanting a nice superficial appearance, but tossing trash out on the side of the road versus waiting for the next gas station. Wanting things to change but refusing to vote. Complaining but not standing up and being passionate when it really counts. Hypocrisy, us humans have it mastered.

Pitter patter. Innn ouuuttt. Innn. Ouuutttt. Pit pat pit pat. The sails are settling, the waves aren’t crashing as hard. The ship hasn’t even required buckets to bail ‘er out. The storm has moved north and Dorothy and the pirate are in the clear. Toto is somewhere outside though, giving the thunder the what-for. Honestly, he may have single handedly saved us from that hour and a half worth of storm. His yipping is enough to make anyone go north (said the whiny, sore, pirate in the tent).

I am privileged. Here I am in a tent I was given by a good friend. I have a warm sleeping bag, and good gear to keep me warm and comfortable. Out side sits Little Wing, the bike I’m taking across our beautiful country, all that is privilege. All the things easily taken for granted as the wind buffets and the rain crashes is privilege. There’s the answer.

When someone is privileged they learn to take for granted the small things, like the landscape. Our Mother is forgotten because we have a nice petrochemical based, Carbon Dioxide emitting, engine to carry is around. Our Mother is forgotten because we don’t like noise pollution and would rather ignore water pollution (I think my bias is starting to show). We forget those are not our only options. Harnessing the sun and wind are very sustainable, but there are other methods of oil that don’t make our water source nonrenewable. A little research will provide curious minds with answers aplenty, there aren’t just two.

I’m coming from a windy day and a concert that was right up my ally. I feel that everyone should make their own opinions and I believe they should be passionate about it. If this bit of writing spurs you to go do some research, yay! If it doesn’t, so be it.

The worst thing I experienced this weekend were people who had an opinion, but no clue what they were talking about. For or against the pipeline, saying loudly one’s opinion with no facts to back it up.. that isn’t passion, that’s privilege.

Freedom of speech. Freedom to the pursuit of happiness. The freedom to vote for who you want in office, those are simultaneously rights and privileges. People put there life on the line for those rights and we citizens of the U.S.A are privileged enough to benefit from them. I have found that the best way to honor that is to have passion and seek knowledge. Just my opinion.

The rain has settled. So has my mind. Pit. Pat. Piitt. Paatt. The rain is lulling me to a dreamland. Dorothy and the Pirate have no reason to hold the sails any longer now that the wind is slowing down. Toto is still yipping, but it is after midnight and dreamland is approaching.

I’m going to sink into my cozy sleeping bag in my warm tent. I honor all those who have allowed me to be here in Nebraska, holding out against this storm, thank you. I appreciate the passion that has allowed me my privilege.

Sweet dreams all.

Goodnight Dorothy.

Goodnight Pirate.

Damnit Toto.

Pit. Pat.

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Nebraska On My Mind

After five days of hanging about and relaxing around the border of Montana and Wyoming I am now in Nebraska.

It was an odd feeling heading East today. Waking up early in the morning and having the sun in my eyes versus skimming my back. Starting off this morning from Shoshone National Forest just outside of Cody, WY meant I also had to go South to get to Nebraska. Southeast vs. Northwest, one might not think it would feel as extreme as it did, but it did.

The other oddity about such a journey was the fact that it took me out of the gorgeous mountains. Of the eight hours I rode today I would say only 20% of it was through beautiful scenery. The rest was slightly un-enjoyable. I think I may have been spoiled by my last five days of breathtaking beauty, not to mention the week before that. My ride through Shoshone National Forest was gorgeous as was the ride from the town of Thermopolis to the town of Shoshone, that was about it. The rest was average.

Regardless, after five days of taking it easy, eight hours through yellowed grass on rolling hills and windy plains certainly isn’t easy. The most I rode at one time in the last five days was four hours, and that was through the lovely scenery Yellowstone has to offer. I have been saying quite often lately how Wyoming and Montana have been pulling on my heartstrings, but after today’s ride through Southern Wyoming I have to say that statement only applies to the Northern half.

But, now here I am. Laying in my tent in Nebraska. I was lucky enough to run low on gas right as I got over the border. I say lucky because I was exhausted and I happened to roll into the small town of Harrison, population 231.

The gas station, the ONE gas station, in this small Nebraskan town closes at 5:30. Imagine that. So here I was, an hour out of my intended campsite with no fuel and no station to get some for thirty miles. I was riding in circles around the quaint houses of Harrison, considering humorous puns I could have been making had I been in my Ford and making them anyway, while wondering what I was going to do. With very little money and no place to sleep there didn’t seem to be much for options. Then I noticed a sign with the image of a tent and an RV and an arrow on it. I was taken aback by this new found service in a town with a gas station that closed at 5:30. I had trouble believing it. Even so, I followed the arrow anyway. It lead me down two blocks of houses and to the city park. There was an RV parked on a gravel pad  and one other pad for another.

As strange as it seemed, there it was; here it is. Free camping in Harrison, NE right in the city park. I am quite pleased with this find.

Another interesting side note, the camp hosts are also from Minnesota. I am finding Minnesotans in the strangest places these days.

I guess I should tell you why I’m here, Southeast vs Northwest, Nebraska vs back up in Montana. I’m currently planning a trip to Neligh, Nebraska to follow the sound of music.

When I was in South Dakota a few weeks ago I was told by my aunt about a concert that was going to be held in Neligh to protest the pipeline. The performers are Neil Young and Willy Nelson.

Let me repeat. Neil Young. Willy Nelson.

What?!? I know. That’s like a real thing right there.

So yeah, I’m actually headed there. I am a young human on a cross country motorcycle trip, why wouldn’t I go?

The one thing that stands in the way is finances. When my aunt first told me about it I sort of laughed, thinking about how cool it was and how, like every other cool iconic experience I have wanted to have in life, it was utterly impossible. Too cool to be true, too out of my league. My realm of possibility limited by resources and a life tied down to.. wait, what? I don’t know. What is it that has always stood in the way of living those cool iconic experiences? I don’t know.

My aunt showed me the Rolling Stones article that told about the concert. The article mentioned that the last time Neil and Willie played together in Nebraska was 1987. I sighed in admiration and wistful what ifs. I chatted with my aunt about the cool iconic-ness of such an event, and the absolute impracticality of it.

The previous evening my aunt and I had talked about all the cool concerts she’d been to see. I sat and listened as she told me that she had seen the Grateful Dead live multiple times. I soaked in her tales of seeing Prince and Dire Straits live, all the while trying to place myself in her shoes. Wanting to be the young woman who got to see those acts live, just for a moment.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have seen a lot of great live music. Many Minnesota bands that will always top my list when asked to discuss talent. Bands like The Limns, Nathan Miller, Chastity Brown, Useful Jenkins, Saint Anyway; just to name a few. Some of my most favorite artists come out of the Bemidji and Grand Rapids area. The Seasonals and Sam Miltich and Friends, two groups that have a lot of talent in them. Talent that almost feels limited by the confines of Northern Minnesota until one remembers, they are what MAKE Northern Minnesota.

So my live music experience is not by any means lacking. I feel I have tales to tell too. The difference is mine only ranges so far. My live music experiences don’t include any artists that I have been listening to since childhood.

So at first when my aunt told me I laughed. Secure in the knowledge that I wouldn’t have to worry about attending such a cool iconic show. Then I remembered that outside the front door, just fifty feet away, stood Little Wing. And over on the futon, surrounded by my cousins’ guitars and keyboards, sat all my belongings for the next year. Scattered and ready to be packed back into the waterproof duffle and tank bag were all my commitments for an entire year. No strings, no tie downs. Just some bungee cords and fasteners.

It was then I realized there was no fancy excuse holding me back. There was no reason I shouldn’t go see two of most favorite artists perform live in Nebraska. No reason not to be the young woman who got to see the live acts. The only thing standing in my way is finances.

I decided I wanted to go, and in that decision I determined I would research my way around my financial restrictions. After all, I don’t know what has always stood in the way of living those cool iconic experiences, and I’m not sure I want to remember. I researched the concert, the venue, the ticket price, all of it. What I found is that all 850 tickets sold out. I also found there was a call out for volunteers. So, I applied, and now here I am, in Nebraska. The only thing that could drag me here this late in the season is live music, namely Neil Young and Willie Nelson.

This weekend I will get to experience it. The memory of today’s long ride, and the one I have ahead of me tomorrow, will soon be distant. They will be left behind here, in the small welcoming village of Harrison. I’m okay with that.

After this weekend I will hopefully not have a tale to tell about what stood in the way of living those cool iconic experiences. I am doing it.

Northwestern vs. Southeastern be damned. Little Wing and I will ride the distance for gorgeous scenery or the sound of music.

(Edit: There were about 7000 tickets sold is what I was told. The 850 that I mentioned earlier was most likely a small sale. It seems they ticket releases have been staggered.)

Playing Hopscotch

I am back in Wyoming. After four most enjoyable nights in Montana I have made my way back to the beautiful cascading expanse that is Wyoming. I came by way of Beartooth Pass. A large undulating mountainous pass that reaches an altitude of 11,000 at it’s highest point. Highway 212 cuts right through it as it crosses the border of the two states that I am currently playing hopscotch around.

I’m not alone now. I actually picked up a traveling companion, a friend from Minnesota who was taking vacation in this general area, so we made plans to meet up (he rides a KR1100 BMW, by the way). It is different traveling with somebody. I’m independent. I’d much rather be by myself than with another person so for me this  is an oddity. I am enjoying it though. The company of another human on a bike, it feels comfortable, even if for only a little while. Although I think the comfort comes from knowing it is only a little while.

Yesterday morning I woke up chilly. It was nice in my sleeping bag, but my sock-less feet were cold so I knew from experience it was frosty outside. I got up, sometime early dawn, to pee. I was met by a chill as I exited my tent with my bearspray. I made it a quick trip and just squatted by a tree near the tent. Not only does this method allow me to get back into my tent and warm cozy sleeping bag faster it also helps me to feel safer. The stench of human urine seems like a great deterrent against the wild creatures out here. So far it is working.

Here in the mountains I have a disconcerting fear of bears. I have some odd fears. Fear of a deer running at my bike while I’m riding down the highway. Poisin ivy catching my barefoot feet. My bike leaking to much oil without me noticing. The fear that tops them all though is bears. Having another wiser camper around helps to alleviate that fear just the tiniest bit.

But, still, I pee on my neighboring trees.

I am currently reading Cheryl Strayed’s book Wild. In it she says “Fear begets fear. Power begets power. I willed myself to beget power. And it wasn’t long before I actually wasn’t afraid.”

So I’m trying that. I am trying to be more powerful than a bear. I carry bearspray, I whistle while I walk, I do push ups, and I pee near my tent.

All in all it seems to be working just the tiniest bit, but last night during a rainstorm I had a freak out. All I could hear were little paws batting at the bottom of my tent. The raindrops were low in comparison to the deafening scratching of imagined creatures. I grabbed my bearspray and clutched it to my chest before considering the fact that if there was a bear I was more likely to spray myself in the face than spray it. So instead I set the spray on my belly and put my hand by my side so I could be quick to the draw. I lay in my sleeping bag, staring upwards, shaking, and listening to the miniature creature that was only the rain. And then I remembered Cheryl Strayed’s words:

“I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.”

It was then I realized that regardless of whether or not there really was another living creature cozying up to my tent or not there was really nothing I could do about it. I could get out of the tent, confront it and interrupt my sleep. I could lay there and let it either claw its way through or not, while I fell back asleep. Or, the best option, I could realize it was just the rain that I was turning into a scary story. I chose the last option, and fell back asleep.

It is interesting how the human mind works. We all have the ability to create our own perceived reality and that is generally how we walk through life. I have been told countless times over the last few weeks that what I am doing is brave. That is the exact word, brave. I was first told it by a close friend when I had first announced my plan to start this adventure with Little Wing. Sitting in one of my favorite bars, listening to a great Duluth band, he said “The running theme throughout our whole conversation has been bravery.”

That stuck with me. I didn’t really believe it, but I sort of liked the adjective of brave being applied to me. However, as time has gone by I feel a little intimidated by the term.

My third night in Wyoming, right before my first trip into Yellowstone I met a woman at the campsite I was staying at. She was intrigued by Little Wing and had noticed the previous night that I was the only one going in and out of my tent.

“All by yourself? Traveling on this all by yourself?”

I responded with a smile, and a nod. I told her “Of course, why not? I know many people who have done it.”

She looked at me puzzled. “Girls?”

This frustrated me. Who cared the gender of the person traveling? People are people, my gender does not determine the bravery of my actions.

She went on to tell me “Honey, be careful. There are many people looking to take advantage of a cute young woman like yourself. Don’t be telling to many people that you are traveling alone. Maybe I watch too much True Crime, but there are a lot of bad people out there.”

“Yes there might be” I responded “but there are many good people out there too, those are the ones I want to meet.”

When someone calls another person brave there are two ways it can come out. It can sound like it is a compliment given out of admiration, or an insult born out of judgement. The kind of judgement that says ‘your dumb, here let me tell you why.’

The truth is I am aware of the dangers, but I don’t feel brave living my life. Which is really all I’m doing, living. Sure I might get ate by a bear or kidnapped by some lunatic, but that could happen in Minnesota too. Truth is, I know I’m a woman, I have always been of the female gender, and I always shall. The truth is bad people do tend to target women. Truth is, humans are kidnapped/killed/raped in our world daily. However I am subject to the same risks whether I stay put or travel.

The truth is I love riding motorcycle. I love traveling. I very much enjoy meeting new people.

I was in Red Lodge, MT the other day when it started to storm. Large clouds filled with rain, thunder, and lightning filled the sky. My initial thought was to ride through it faster and find a camping spot, but then a voice of reason came through. One of those motorcycle buddies I spoke of, one that has traveled quite a bit on his bike through multiple countries, came to mind. His words were to stop. If it is raining the first reaction should always be to pull over. So I did.

Red Lodge is a nice town. A small community that is pitched as a tourist town, especially to motorcyclists who are looking to go through Beartooth Pass. That being the case there are many places along the mainstreet for a biker to pull over, dismount, and feel comfortable. The place my gut directed me to though was the Red Lodge Cafe. I went in, seated myself and tryed to slow my shivering.

The rain had just hit. I mean I had seen the rain clouds for miles, but they were headed East while I was headed South. I had figured we were going to pass eachother and I would be free to find a campsite. Because of this I didn’t stop to put my rain pants on. So when I sat down in the Cafe my jeans were soaked.

I was sitting and shivering when the waitress came over with a menu. “How are you this evening?”

“Cold and wet.”

“Oh no” she said. “Can I get you some hot coffee? Water?”

“Just water for now.” I told her. I then went on to ask if she knew of the cheapest motel in town. She asked if I was on a bike and then asked if I was looking for something cheap because I didn’t have much money. I told her yes to both the questions and then went on to tell her I had been planning on camping until the lightning started. She told me to look at the menu and she’d be right back.

When she came back she brought water and I ordered the cream of mushroom soup (the cheapest and most appetizing thing on the menu). She took my order and then offered me a bed at her place in her trailer.

The kindness of strangers is amazing to me. My gut had told me to stop at the cafe, chance – or fate or whatever it is – had the lovely waitress wait on me, and human kindness saved my ass from getting struck by lightning that night.

It turns out that she is also originally from Minnesota. She has been riding motorcycle since she was fourteen and has a beautiful Excelsior-Henderson in her garage. She had previously been a producer of commercials, back when producing commercials (though it still is) was predominantly a field for men. She had worked her ass off despite the glass ceiling and now is the owner of two pieces of land in Montana. Being a server is just a side job for her.

That cream of mushroom soup at Red Lodge Cafe is some of the best I’ve ever tasted. The conversations with the lovely waitress there, who gave me shelter and kindness, were just as good. During our exchanges she also made mention if how she thought my adventure was brave. She said it in the complimentary way. She told me that the world is full of good people and that traveling was a great way to meet them. Her days of traveling when she was younger had helped shape her, and she knew they’d do the same for me.

That’s how I am perceiving of the adventure. Little Wing and I may be traveling alone, and I may be a girl, but nothing about that is scary. Like Cheryl Strayed says “Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told.”

There is no reason anyone, man or woman, should feel the need to edit their life for ‘bad people.’ Choosing to live in fear because other people intimidate you is the worst way to exist. And that’s all that is, existing. Living is making choices you want to make. Living is being a good person to strangers and not being that scary individual people fear. Living is good.

Camping is wonderful. I love camping both by myself and with another pal. I dislike that I have a fear of bears, so here it is, I don’t. Instead I have a healthy respect for them. I work around them. I store my food, carry my bear spray and pee near my tent, but I don’t waste my time worrying about their nightly activities. The same way I respect Little Wing and check the engine daily for leaks. The same way I watch for deer and don’t ride at night. The same way I respect that humans can be dangerous while also being kind and positive with strangers.

Brave is an intimidating term. When people tell me I’m brave I have to ask myself why they chose THAT word. I have to ponder what there is that Little Wing and I have to be brave about.

Living.

Choosing life over fear, that has got to be it. We all have the ability to create our own perceived reality and that is generally how we walk through life. My perceived reality is that.I am stronger than my fears. I am able to do things not despite my gender, but because of my gender. Because as a female I know what it is I am taught to fear. I know what barriers I face, and so I know which ones are the first for me to knock down.

“Fear begets fear. Power begets power. I willed myself to beget power. And it wasn’t long before I actually wasn’t afraid.”

I’m not afraid. I am powerful. Maybe I am brave, who knows. All I know is that I am tired of having my gender brought up when asked if I’m traveling alone.

Regardless, right now, I am hopscotching in between Wyoming and Montana. Checking out the mountains that are starting to win my heart. Carrying bearspray and camping amongst the pines and stars.

Living life.

And enjoying the hell out of it.

“With a thousand smiles she gives to me free. It’s alright, she says it’s alright, Take anything you want from me, Anything. Fly on Little Wing.”

The Way Water Moves

Water flows. Gravity takes its toll and pushes the water down, and in response the water flows. From one high point to many many low points.

Water can also cascade, trickle, or drip, but the general rule is it goes downwards. Water flows.

People flow. They go from one point to many points. Gravity doesn’t usually determine our direction, we have learned to flow around its laws and physics. Us humans can fly and we can dive. We have even learned to avoid gravity all together by passing beyond it. Flowing beyond it.

Riding through Yellowstone I found myself the pace car for an RV, a Subaru, and another motorcycle. The curves and twists in the mountains made me feel like I was a flowing molecule of water leading three other molecules. I flowed the fastest because I was the smallest and they followed behind at their speeds based on how physics interacted with their sizes.

For the first part of the ride through the mountains in Yellowstone there are trickling springs flowing from between the rocks in the mountain face. I found myself turning to look back every time I passed one. I was fascinated by the flowing water and my eyes were drawn to it.

It is interesting how us humans are drawn to things that flow. Water, mountains, movements, humans, relationships. If they don’t flow, if they are stagnant or more choppy they are avoided, except by a select few risk takers.

Gentle interruptions in the flow are generally accepted. Ebbs are setbacks in the way things flow. We all have ebbs, major or minor changes in our lives. Things will ebb, but then they will continue to flow.

As I rode through Yellowstone the traffic following me ebbed and flowed. The main causes of the ebbs were beautiful landscapes and living creatures that caught the attention of picture takers. Traffic would slow for a car that wanted to pull off or another car who wanted back into the stream. Just a bunch of water molecules attaching to the spring trickling through the mountains.

I found that as two o’clock approached the water molecules became more unbearable. Insisting on flowing faster and riding very close to the tail end of smaller molecules. After the third time of ebbing my flow (pulling onto a parking area) for a vehicle that felt the need to ride the bumper of a motorcycle without a bumper I finally gave into my urge and flipped the fancy 2013 Honda Accord off. I realized when pulling back into the stream of traffic that I allowed crappy drivers to cause choppy waters in my flow. I let them get to me in one of the prettiest places in the U.S. I brought my city attitude to the serene country around me. I didn’t like it.

I ebbed my flow at the next turnoff and parked the bike of my own volution. I got off and walked out onto a plateau. This flat spot was full of yellow grass and yellow stones. I looked up and out over a vast landscape of green pine trees. Some were dead, and looked like large sticks jutting out forty foot above the green undergrowth. The forest was littered with growth. When I loked beyond the valley of trees I saw the Mountains of Yellowstone. Some grey with green lines of flowing forest. Some red with the sheared faces of rock that had lost pieces of themselves to avalanches. Some were blue because they were so far in the distance all one could make out of them was there form.

I stood there, looking at all the colors and beauty that flowed out in front of me, and for the thousandth time that day I felt my breath catch. A surge of joy rushed through me, and the angst I had allowed myself to feel at the bad drivers of Yellowstone seemed petty. I let the bad vibes flow out and the good vibes flow in. When I felt good enough to go back to Little Wing I turned around and hiked my way back to the parking area.

On the way I met a woman who said hi to me, and I gave her a smile in response. I went to Little Wing, took out my map of the park and checked out where I was at. A lot of the park was actually closed for road construction so I pretty much knew where I was. The map was sort of just my attempt to maintain calm longer before getting back on Little Wing.

As I stood there the woman came back from her walk. I smiled at her again when we made eye contact.

“Beautiful View isn’t it?”

“Huh?” She said.

I repeated and she said “Yes it is, but isn’t all of the park the same? All beautiful views.”

I laughed and concurred and we struck up a conversation. She spoke with an accent so I asked where she was from. “France” was her response.

Turns out she was actually from Paris. When I told her I was from Minnesota she asked me where it was. I was taken aback by that. I don’t believe I had ever talked to someone who didn’t know where Minnesota was. It was a wonderfully interesting change.

Cecile, as her name turned out to be (isn’t that a lovely name?) and I spoke for awhile. We talked about traveling and our own homes, it was a lovely flowing conversation.

Right there in Yellowstone, WY I met a water molecule frim France. Isn’t it amazing how life flows?

After our encounter I continued on. I got back into the stream running through the park and made peace with my fellow water molecules.

I made it all the way through Yellowstone and into Montana yesterday. I flowed down from the mountains of Wyoming into the mountains of Montana like my very own spring.

The best part about this metaphor is that Little Wing is blue, and his tear drop gas tank looks like a rain droplet. Depending on the amount of light Little Wing resembles a sky blue or sky grey. Sometimes the blue looks like the blue waters of a prestine lake. Yesterday all I could see was the color of Little Wing flowing so naturally into.the environment around us.

I’m in Montana. I have wanted to see this state since I was twelve, and now look at me. I’m flowing through the states, ebbing, but then continuing to flow. Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and now Montana. I’m going from one point to many, meeting other molecules as I go.

Isn’t all of it the same though? All beautiful views. Ebb and flow.

Taking A Minute

I dropped my bike in Bighorn National Forest.

It wasn’t a big deal. My GPS mount fell of when going around a curve so I turned around to retrieve it. I saw where it had landed, but I had to keep riding and turn around again because it was on a steep curve. On the second pass of the runaway piece of plastic I stopped to pick it up. Though, being the curvy narrow roads of Bighorn National Forest, what I actually ended up doing was getting my tire caught off the edge of the busted up shoulder. To avoid running into the steep and narrow ditch – a home to many loose stones and rocks – I purposely layed Little Wing down.

I did this the day before too. Two nights before was my first time camping since I set out on the trip. I was tired and so I just parked with out much fore thought. I parked in a valley. Pointed down. Getting out of the valley was a pain, to say it nicely. The next morning I spent an hour maneuvering Little Wing out of the gravity trap.

Just so we all know, motorcycles don’t have reverse. Motorcycles also don’t have four wheel drive. At least not the small dinky 650’s like I got. 300 lbs, plus gear, going up a muddy incline, that ain’t easy. An hour I spent. Stalling. Driving. Inching.

I also dropped, and picked up, Little Wing four times. My arms were sore before 7:30 rolled around.

My back is sore still.  So when I looked at Little Wing, tipped over on an incline in Bighorn National Forest, leaking a good puddle of gasoline on the crumbled tar, all I could do was groan. I tried lifting the bike, ignoring my complaining back and the gasoline soaking into my Wranglers, but the first try didn’t do it.

As I stood there, contemplating trajectory, a mini-van pulled over. A middleaged woman stepped out and asked if I needed help.

I am not the type to ask for help. I don’t like asking people, I don’t like them asking me. However that is one of those annoying little traits about myself that I am trying to work on. So I said yes.

She asked “What can I do?”

I asked her to stabelize the front tire while I lifted. She did and we got Little Wing off the ground, with my back only giving a little shudder in response.

She told me she had seen me pulling out of the gas station in Buffalo and I realized she did look familiar. As we were standing there another van pulled over and a man got out to ask if I was alright. It was at that point that I realized what it looked like. It looked like a small girl on a big bike who had an accident.

What a scary thought.

After I assured them I was fine, and it was just my newby incompetence rearing its ugly head, they got back into there own seperate vehicles and took off, leaving me to gather my bearings and ponder as I got back on Little Wing.

I dropped my bike in Bighorn National Forest.

When I say it or read it that way it sounds maybe scary.

It’s not.

Well, I don’t know, maybe. I find it exhilarating. In the most beautiful parts of the country I am managing to drop AND pick up my bike. I am making my way as an independent adult making dumb AND wise decisions, on my own. I have no one directing me from the passenger seat. I am figuring it out on my own, and with the kindness of people I’m meeting along the way.

That isn’t to say that I haven’t been an adult for a while. I mean I have been deciding things for myself for years. The difference then was that I was always near someone who could help me out. Someone to vent to and discuss the things that frustrated me, like dropping my bike perhaps. Now it is just me. I have to figure out how to independently work out my own frustrations so that I can get back on and not drop Little Wing again.

The thing about riding (well just like driving, except with fewer tires to rely on) is you have to be in the right mindset.

People who have rode will tell new riders “always look where you want to go.”

If you are going around a curve pick a spot out way ahead and let your eyes move forward at the same rate as the bike. Looking down beside you while riding will put you on the ground. Looking ahead at the road keeps you aware and in a straight line. It is the same with the attitude you take on the bike.

If you focus on the frustrations in your head you will fall into them. You will end up being more frustrated by the end of the ride, whether literally or just figuratively. The way to have a positive ride is to take the time to breath deep.

Take a look around.

Notice the beauty around you.

Appreciate that you can inhale and exhale from the beautiful environment you are riding in.

Allow gratitude to seep through you for the fact that your bike still runs.

And then, only then, turn the key and press the start button.

That’s how you end up with a great day of riding. That’s how you end up with a great five minutes of riding. Riding should always be done while breathing. For me it can feel like a yoga practice. All the moving and breathing, it is as relaxing as a yoga session if done right. The key is to focus. Focus on where you want to go.

I dropped my bike in Bighorn National Forest.

And

I picked up my bike in Bighorn National Forest. I rode all the way through Bighorn National Forest, and now here I am. About to ride through Yellowstone National Forest.

It is gorgeous outside. Warm with very few clouds. I can see the mountains, which appear to be welcoming me. I am thankful for that.

Focus.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Turn the key.

Time to Fly on Little Wing.

Who Is It That Sees For Miles?

Sitting in Black Hills National forest, overlooking a beautiful lake, eating the best ever South Dakotan apple; Other than the fact that I really have to use the bathroom (and there are constant vehicles passing making squatting discreetly impossible) it seems rather perfect. Trees, water, AND mountains, ofcourse it’s perfect.

Riding through mountains is probably the most amazing feeling ever. Being surrounded  while on my bike is my favorite. And there they are. Large rocks, housing conifers and small snow patches, giving me a welcoming embrace as I pass through.

In Northern Minnesota we have plenty of trees and water but more swamp than highland. The way the world looks over here is almost like a fairytale, magic, or something. It certainly is nothing I’ve ever seen. My mind is being blown and sculpted as I ride through the Black Hills. Much like I would imagine the four heads on Mt Rushmore felt.

Mount Rushmore is crazy big. How awesome it is to see the art of a man who didn’t have much for technology, but yet managed to perfect some of the greatest street art in our country. And on the top of a mountain to boot. Us humans have managed to turn it into a gawdy tourist trap now. Someday. Someday that’ll be me and my work. An in-your-face tourist trap.

Rapid City has this great thing called Art Ally over on Main street. It is a gallery of street art right there in the ally. Anybody is allowed to go and add their own work to the g-ally (the name I have decided to call it. Get it? Gallery and ally?), making for a conglomeration of various styles and abilities of graffiti. It is absolutely beautiful. I added a piece. It was a cool feeling adding to such a large body of work.

It is interesting how everything appears to be larger right now. The g-ally and street art, the mountains and hills, the trees and valley’s, it is all just so much bigger.

I have no music on Little Wing so I often find myself singing to myself. The acoustics in my helmet are awesome making me sound a little better than my usual singing. It is funny the songs and lyrics that pop into my head at certain points. Over the last few days it has been The Who’s song about seeing for miles. It is extremely apropos because I can see for miles. And miles.

On the plains one can see for miles in every direction due to the lack of trees. In the mountains one can see for miles if they look up. Looking up those mountains are TALL. One can also see for miles at the top of the mountains looking down if they look through a clearing in the trees . Then in Wyoming it is a combination of the two, plains and mountains. Plains on mountains. Mountains on the plains. For miles. And miles.

I have never been to Wyoming. The furthest West I had ever been was the Black Hills of South Dakota when I was five. At that time I was too young to go see Mt Rushmore. I remember taking a nap with my sister while all the adults went to vist it. Sixteen years later I rode past it on my motorcycle. All grown up.

Riding new places in the U.S makes me feel bigger too. I mean, my mind is being blown so that helps, but I also do feel grown up or something. The way I looked at all the adults who could go to Mt Rushmore when I was five is now they way I see myself.

Another thing I’ve noticed are Wyoming’s red roads. Red roads, black hills, yellow stones, someone should make a color crayon set from the colors of U.S.

I am no longer sitting in Black Hills National forest munching an apple. I am using the WiFi in a Starbucks in Gillette, WY. It is still a little brisk outside so I’m taking it easy. I am looking forward to a scenic route to the next destination. I took a selfie with Devil’s Tower yesterday, and traveled 34 to Sundance. I found a nice campsite to solve my sleeping situation, and camped for the first night since I started the trip.

It has been 11 days. Only 11 days. It has been amazing. I can’t wait to see what comes next. I have went miles and miles. I have seen miles and miles. And miles.

And miles.

And miles.

Because there is magic in my eyes.

Going West And How It Was Won

I waited for a warm day to travel the chilly plains of South Dakota. After a couple chilly days visiting with my family and avoiding the Canadian cold front, I headed across the great expanse.

It was still cold. It is still cold. Even with my wool hat and sheep skin I can still feel the chill. My method to avoiding the cold was to stop in every small town with a gas station and add an extra layer of fabric to my body until I was sufficiently warm. The worst part though was my hands. No matter how many layers of clothing, no matter how many finger bends and streches one does, fingers don’t unthaw at 40° while riding down the road. The problem was the thin leather gloves I own. As perfect as they may be for riding they certainly were not made for cool weather.

After about 125 miles I couldn’t do it anymore and pulled into an ACE hardware store in one of the random South Dakotan small towns. They had nothing for warm gloves, but the town was also home to a Hardware Hank which did have a supply of warm gloves.

I have small hands. I am a smallish individual one might say (that’s why I ride Little Wing, The Savage is a small bike). The leather riding gloves I own were the smallest that were sold at the store I bought them at. In South Dakota, home of the cowboy and farmer, it is practically impossible to find a small work glove. The best I could do was a medium cowhide glove with Thinsulate lining. The glove is atleast 3/4’s of an inch longer than my hand so the overhang is rather comical. However they are warm. They have helped my frozen phalanges immensely.

The advantage of the to-big cowhide work gloves I am now wearing is they have added to the Western movie that I am narrataing in my head. The buffalo, saddelbags, plains and wind have helped with the script as well.

I love Westerns. In fact, the reason I am obsesed with the idea of riding through Montana is because of all the romantic ideas I have sifted from Westerns.

I am quite fond of Cowboys. One might say I love them. Wayne, Eastwood, Redford, McQueen..
I wanted to marry all of them. Well, at least I did before I realized what that meant. Because the truth is, I don’t want to be the partner/’sidekick’ to a cowboy, I want TO BE a cowboy. Two totally different things.

Now as a girl it makes much more sense if I say I want to be a cowgirl, but that is false. Based of the romantic ideas Westerns pump out, I don’t actually wish to be a cowgirl. Sure, Annie Oakley was cool, but she wore skirts. In my daydreams I wear pants, speak out of the side of my mouth, can ride any horse, rope any cow, and I don’t have anybody giving me any guff about my gender. Romantic, I know.

I don’t actually know how to ride a horse or rope a cow. I don’t have a Clint Eastwood squint, and people still mention my gender on the daily. The only thing I have going for me is the pants. I am currently wearing my Wranglers.
I love being a girl, but I want the advantages and freedom of a cowboy.

Though, right now, riding around the plains and mountains of the West, saddlebags on the back, sheep skin drapped over my saddle I feel pretty much like the star of my own Western.

My favorite part of the ride was passing over the Missouri River at Lake Oahe. The bridge looks so long, but feels miles too short. Riding under those great beams, the pillars of the bridges ‘walls’ hugging me on either sides, it felt like a beautiful cathedral or something. The beauty of the natural world surrounding the man-made beauty, and then me on Little Wing – the mechanical bit of beauty – it was fantastic.

The ride on the bridge came after the new gloves. That was about the time I started enjoying the beauty around me again. It wasn’t soon after that when I noticed more buffalo ranches. Coming over a hill (there are a few around that area) I saw a buffalo in the middle of the road. It was HUGE, almost larger than life and probably a mile ahead of me. It took me a minute before I realized it was moving ahead at the same rate as I was, and since I was viewing its profile and not the rear of the animal I came to the conclusion it was larger than life. I sped up to get a better view and saw that it was actually a semi-trailer filled with round haybales. What I was seeing were the backs of three large haybales that were stacked in such a way that they formed the head, humpy back, and rear end of the buffalo. The wheels on the trailer gave the appearance of legs, and my over active movie writer imagination had turned it all into a living creature. So, I just rolled with it.

Over every hill and around every curve I was met with the Buffalo Deity, as I affectionately dubbed it. My Western movie took a turn for the abstract somewhere near Gettysburg.

At some point my Buffalo Deity left me. It sped up to pass another semi-trailer and I was left alone, with only the real cows and horses to keep me company.

Little Wing and I hit warmer climates probably 50 miles later. 50° and mountains coincided. Well buttes. The mountains came later.

It is cold out there now, but I hear tomorrow is going to be warmer. I’m continuing West. My Western movie hasn’t resolved itself yet. This cowgal hasn’t conquered enough renegades yet. Or maybe I am the renegade in the movie. Than again, maybe I’m not a cowperson at all. Maybe I’m just me riding around the country on Little Wing. I guess we will see. How will the movie play out?

The Pretty Plains Are Not Pretty Plain

Art.

I have been creating art.

I started the trip and didn’t do much for Art. I did some Sharpie art on a friends chair and then that was it for about three days. Yesterday I started doodling. Today I’m doodling. I love it.

One of the reasons I wanted to go on my adventure was to create. Creation based on observation in places other than my own. I have found my mind absent of creative thought as of late.. or at least thought that is willing to travel from my brain to my hands and cause my fingers to create. I have been typing and writing, but for me that’s not the same. Talking comes easily to me. Telling stories through words is a calming, but a much less magical, stress relief than applying lines and shapes to paper.

So. I have been applying lines and shapes to paper.

I have a cousin who is awesome at lines and shapes. He does ink art – like me – except he also applies it to skin. I stopped by his place and got a refresh on my ink and we also visited.

Before the trip I lived with an artist. I worked with artists, taught artists, hung out with artist, now I find I am the only artist.

That is an exaggeration. The truth is most everyone a person meets is an artist in their own right. We all have the ability to create, it is a beautiful thing. However, it is difficult to find people who converse about it. Hardly anyone goes through life announcing “I’m an artist. I do so-and-so and am very passionate about it.”

I think they should. People like to announce their jobs. They announce their marital status and the love they have for another person, but they don’t annonce the things they enjoy to do for themselves to pass the time. We should.

Anyway, my cousin, he’s an artist. He purchased one of my pieces,  redid one of his pieces on my skin, and we talked Art. What more could an artist ask for? Well, I guess not much, because right after I started doodling again.

The inspiration that is derived from another; I felt like a mosquito when I left. Drawing on the passion of another person to fuel my own. Neat how that works.

The best part about talking Art with another person is the ability to allow ones true self to shine. I am pretty open and straight forward as it is, but I still have trouble swapping tales of creation and passion with other humans. It comes easy with those I know, but not so easy with those I’m just meeting. I should work on that.

The problem is that I was raised humble. Taught how not to go on about the things I knew I was good at. I swear it is a Mid-Western/ Minnesotan trait. We just don’t speak up.

Yah. You betcha.

Thinking about it I now feel the need to ammend my prior statement. I am NOT the only artist. That was as inaccurate as it was an exaggeration. The TRUTH is most everyone is an artist. I also have several people in my family that do fiber art, which is also something I enjoy. I can get down with knitting and crocheting, but I consider them to be much like writing – not quite as great at relieving stree as drawing. However, my family, they are amazing with the fiber arts. Weaving, knitting, carding, crocheting, spinning, you name it they probably do it. From sheep to hat.. or whatever your desired wool product is. It is amazing the things one can do with a bit of fiber.

I now have a sheep skin for my rear end, two wool hats, and a redone ink design on my foot. The art I am receiving is exceptional.

This is where the inspiration is coming from. People with the ability and want to create make me want to create.

The whole trip has been filled with creation though. Whether it is music or sound, engineering or construction, ink or fiber, it seems everyone I meet has something they love and want to share with the human race. Most everyone is an artist.

Artists, creators, openly weird people, they are the cool ones.
I love passionate people.

I have decided that I am officially going to ride through life exclaiming “I’m an artist. I do so-and-so and am very passionate about it!”

Then everyone will know. There will be no question that I am an artist and people will feel free to share their passions and weirdness with me as well. Or, so I hope, we shall see. I will let you know how it goes.

Art. Isn’t that something? I’m going to go do that. Drawing on Little Wing.

Butterflies And Salamanders And The Happiness From Within

I have seen probably a half dozen butterflies the last few days. They seem to hang near the road and fly across when vehicles pass (much like winged deer). I am not sure if the over abundance of these winged insects is to be blamed on the season or the location. Either way, whatever the reason, I am responsible for the death of atleast four of these beautiful creatures.

They say when a butterfly lands on a person it is supposed to be considered a good sign. I have been told that the fact that such a gentle bug would go out of it’s way to perch on ones person means one is more kind.. or something like that. I’m not sure what it says about butterflies that fly directly at a motorcycles windsheild.

The sighting of nature didn’t stop at the butterflies though. The other day I had a friend talk to me on length about the sighting of salamanders. He was telling me how many he had recently spotted at his house and I told him I hadn’t seen one in years. I also told him that I heard they were a sign of healthy water (Is that a thing? I don’t know). Anyway, so my dry streak on salamander spotting is now over. A few days ago I spotted two of them. One was alive and spry, wandering around in the evening eating bugs. The second was found in the morning, dead.

The curiousty of revered critters dying.. this has been puzzling me. What conclusion does one draw when something considered a sign of good fortune winds up dead?

I had an interesting discussion a few days ago in a small town In Minnesota with a woman that was kind enough to let me sleep at her place. Her son is a friend of mine, but I had not yet met her. When my future plans with Little Wing became a topic of discussion she had strong opinons involving the danger of motorcycles. She was sweet, but also wanted it known that she didn’t want her son to get one. I responded politely with the response I always give to knee jerk, anti-motorcycle, feedback. I told her I loved riding, it makes me happy. I told her if I were to be seriously hurt it would be something I was ok with because atleast it happened while I was smiling. Her response was an interesting one. She was not wooed by my reasoning and instead told me ‘No that’s not how that works. You are not an island onto yourself.’

I thought about that. I am not an island onto myself. Thusfar the whole adventure has involved crashing on other peoples couches. I am not a woman of independent means right now, that was sort of the point, to give up stability in lieu of adventure. However, I am just me on the bike.

Her point was that when a person dies they aren’t the only one who loses out. All those close to the individual also lose something. That being the case she says individuals are not islands onto ourselves.

Like I said, I have thought about this. I sort of disagree.

The butterflies that got hit by my windshield were beautiful things with positive vibes sorrounding them and then they died. The salamander was not to different. Good things that died. The butterflies probably pollinated some flowers and the salamander probably ate some bugs. They effected change while they were here and now they are gone. One died while ingesting dinner I would suspect and the others died while flying.

I guess one could choose to feel bad for the fact that these beautiful creatures passed. One could choose to shed tears over the loss of life and talk about how sad it made them. However I personally don’t feel sad for the loss. I think it was great that they lived and performed good things while they did.

I am of the opinion that we may not be islands onto ourselves, but happiness still comes from within.  All the people who are offering me kindness are not making me happy – I am not making them happy. We all are choosing to be happy for ourselves. I am choosing to be happy about riding Little Wing while the woman chose to be worried for me. Having her happiness levels determined by my choices is not something I can help her with.

No matter how sad I think small creatures passing is I don’t let it effect me. I find that riding down the highway tearing up about squashed butterflies is not conducive to good riding.

So, what conclusion does one draw when something considered a sign of good fortune winds up dead? I don’t know, I don’t draw any. Death is just a natural extension of life.

This is a subject I have been trying to find peace with for a long while. Riding bike has really put it into perspective recently. I don’t mind death. I don’t mind that people want to constantly inform me that there are worse things then the final end, and that I should consider my loved ones. I just want everyone to know, I’m not an island, but I am a very happy subsection of village.

Butterflies and Salmanders and the happiness from within. It is all part of a larger picture, and these are just the musings of a chick on a motorcycle who has a lot of time to think. Please feel free to draw your own conclusions. I’m just drawing on Little Wing.

Cold Hands

Minnesota. North Dakota. Headed towards South Dakota.

Chilly mornings are the worst. The beauty of morning skylines become slightly marred by the frozen hands that must operate the clutch and throttle.

The first warm rays of sunlight are the best though. The black leather of my gloves draws the heat and I can feel my fingers thaw. The road I’m taking is headed south so my left hand is getting most of the benifit from the sun, but every time the road twists a bit to the East my throttle hand gets its turn in the sunlight.

I’m currently sitting in a gas station in Breckenridge, MN warming my hands by typing on my phone. I feel comfortable now. Time to get back on the road.

I have had many other thoughts that I have been writing out, so expect another blog soon.
This was just a warm up post.

Time to go ride. The sun is higher now.