Handling

My wrist hurts, as does the pinky and the pad of my hand below my pinky.

If you want to know where I speak of then go ahead and hold out your left hand, palm facing up. Trace a line from the web between the ring finger and pinky down along the curve of the pad that is below the pinky. Keep tracing down to the main vein that runs in your wrist and then make a sharp 90° angle towards that wrist joint on the pinky side of your arm. You have just succeeded in pinpointing my hurt, and who said one needed medical jargon and knowledge of anatomy to discuss health issues?

This pain set in a day or so after the fall Little Wing and I took. I didn’t notice right away, it wasn’t bruised and it didn’t hurt terribly. As the days went on it got worse and now it is just a pain. My hand hurts.

The pain is like a constant ache that gets worse when I move it. I took ibuprofen this evening and have been massaging it.

I think the injury occured when my elbow hit the pavement. I went down on my inner forearm and my elbow and (I think) my hand caught me at the same time. I know my elbow took some of the force because of the bruising, but I believe my hand whacked just as hard. The damage must of happened on the inside because I didn’t see it. I remember a lot of that incident, but I don’t remember the trip off Little Wing to the ground; that happened too fast.

My powers of deduction say it is accident related. My powers of healing aren’t as good as my deduction powers so now I’m left with an answer and an ache. Ah well, these things happen.

Things hurt and they heal. Hard falls result in injury, and injury is a leading cause of pain.

The moral if the story is I’m human too. Damn.

Ah well, I say. It is late, I’m tired, and my hand hurts. Time for rest I think. If I rest well maybe the morning will find me all healed.

Sweet dreams.

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Thoughts For This Morning – Part Two; The Humans Frenzied Writings

Some people say thinking is bad. Overthinking, being intelligent, having too much thought on one issue, it all can be negative, or so it seems.

I don’t know if I agree with that, I haven’t thought about it enough yet.

I’m a very logical person. I think above everything, and when I say everything I mean EVERYTHING. I choose to mull things over. I consider all possible outcomes and I always come up with the best possible solution, or so I think. Anyway, that’s what this trip is all about, isn’t it? Thinking? I’m giving myself time to think, am I not? I’m doing different things, and I’m thinking about them.

Well, if doing something different is the goal and I think all the time.. then I guess I’m supposed to try not thinking? However I’m perfectly happy, and I think all the time. I am regularly annoyed by those around me and I have trouble understanding people I deem un-intelligent, but other than that I’m happy.

When I think about it though, that sounds un-intelligent and not very logical. Hmmm.

I wrote about the motorcyclist Yogi in Bellingham in a previous blog. Something I didn’t wrire about was his profession. Besides being a Yogi, and a transient he was also a dance teacher and a balloonist. The balloons were fascinating. He twisted and he turned those things into bears with flowers, cats with pointy ears, and people on crotch rockets. He had a knack for such things and it was one of the ways that sustained his transient lifestyle. It was cooler than cool to watch him, and as I said before (multiple times now) he was also a Yogi. So there he would be, twisting and turning the balloons right before my eyes, and just so my ears didn’t feel left out he would twist up some pretty words too. He gave me a lot to think about.

One of the things he left me thinking about was how useless thought could be. Thought, it is what we all live in. It is what forms our own perceptions, and perceptions form the reality we perceive. The jumble of never-ending thought is in our brain making of the universe what it will, and we let it. Yogi Kai was of the opinion that one should harness this thought. It was our thought after all so why did we let it run rampant? Why do we humans let it occur even when we don’t want it to?

I have to say, being a thinker, I had a hard time conceiving of what he meant. I am now only trying to repeat it the way he told me. The only thing I have managed to deduce from these thoughts is that I should meditate more. Meditating slows the mind and allows one to gain the upper hand on over-active thought processes.

When I’m on my motorcycle, inside my helmet, I do meditate. Those thoughts become something that I can control. I tell my brain where to start and when to stop, or atleast that’s how it works on a good day. It is a different story once I get off the bike though. All those thoughts do their own thing at that point.

The mechanics of my bike is logic. Little Wing is a machine that performs function without emotion and is maintained through a series of scientific procedures. Motorcycle maintenance is logical, I know this because Rober Persig tells me so. This is why mechanics and myself get along so well. “How do you do mechanics? My name is Diamond I will be working with you today.”

“Oh, I’m running sort of rough today unfortunately.”

“That’s just fine, open up, say ahh. Oh yes, I hear it, lets take a look at you.”

Humans are not mechanical though. We all have our own set of odd things and they often are labeled with rules don’t apply stickers. Human emotion is mainly undefinable, however, I feel that I am good at that too. Logic is not just a mechanical thing. Being a scientific type of thought it can also be used in the human sciences as well. I am able to get human emotions, I understand them and I have them, and I consider them logically. They don’t get past this brain of mine without being ‘worried to death.’

Worried to death is a phrase that I have picked up from some of my engineer pals. One of them is in Minnesota and the other is in Oregon. 6000 miles away, by Little Wings calculations (that is an exaggerated number if one were to Google it, just so we all know that I know that), and these two engineers have the same phrase. I’m not entirely sure if they teach that at engineer school, but my Minnesotan friend did not attend such a program I don’t think so it doesn’t matter regardless. I find it interesting that two such logical people use such a phrase that seems so emotionally fraught.

For logical reasons I dislike the word ‘worry,’ but in this context, and when said worried, it works for me. It defines the action that I take part in. I worried all those silly human problems to a logical place where they can then be easily fixed and assuaged with simple answers.

No need for a self help book, Spock is here.

These thoughts, which I actually have learned to like a whole lot (one might even say love if it didn’t mean I should marry them), still pose a problem. They don’t stop. They don’t pause. They don’t tone it down. They just keep partying day and night til my brain is a muddle of loud obnoxious thoughts. Some thoughts that have passed the logic test continuing to make friends with those who have not. All of them dancing around to loud music, while a few over-thought thoughts are passed out on my minds floor, empties scattered alongside them.

Over thought imagery ^ right there.

When one is constantly worrying problems to death they are still in a state of worry. Yes, with mechanics, something that can be worried into a better state, that makes sense. With non-machines the worry is not as effective, though. Worrying about humans does not change the so-called ‘problem,’ and even if it did one can not change another human. We are all living in our own perceptions, and perceptions form the reality we perceive, so therefore unless one can manage to change someones perceptions that someone is probably not going to change their own reality. Being worried for someone doesn’t change a thing. Over thinking something that wasn’t overthunk to begin with — like a human intereaction — only causes distress to the overthinker. Taking these interactions at face value is generally the better solution. For someone like me, though, that means changing my perceived reality, because my reality is all about thinking.

If, instead of ‘worrying things to death’ in daily life, I were just to take it as it comes, roll with the punches, go with the flow, I would be met with a bit more positivity. Maybe not positivity from the situation, but positivity from my own brain. And being that the brain forms perceptions, which form the reality we perceive, the reality would be a better situation, or atleast I would think so.

Less thinking, more meditating.

Some people say thinking is bad, and I guess I could agree. It isn’t the thought itself that is bad, it is the over-thought. For even Robert Persig calls it Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Something else to think about.

Thoughts For This Morning

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A miniature thing of sorts is seen to be bouncing, maybe even frolicking (possibly skipping), through a windy, dull, monochromatic tunnel. As this elusive thing makes its way along it bumps into the sides of the tunnel, for it is to hyper for such a small path. As the thing knocks the side walls a shower of color appears. The color looks much like sparks, but as they fall on the thing they become part of him, much like the dye that one might see in a ‘color run’ except more brilliant. This brilliant little thing continues to gambol along, seemingly unaware of the ruckus it is causing in this monotonous environment. The gray matter around this brightly colored thing appears unflappable to the prancing thing running through it, but the thing continues, cavorting without a care.

Meanwhile, in a land far far away, a human sits alone in a room, staring off into a distance that is not truly as distant as the eyes appear to be making it. This human might be thought to be ‘day dreaming’ or ‘lost in thought,’ whatever the term one might use the fact of the matter is that this person is hanging about in there own head.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the thing has left the grey tunnel and entered a larger grey cavern of sorts. As this thing rounded the corner from its tunnel another thing entered from a another tunnel. The thing, unable to slow its speed in such a short space, romps right into this new thing causing a flurry of sparks and bright color. A whirlwind of sparks and dye. Like a storm or a twister these colors dominate and cause a ruckus larger than the single thing could ever achieve. The unfalteringly monochrome world is now being changed at a feverish rate. The color attaches itself to the cavern and then spreads like a fire. It lights up the tunnels and changes the grey matter into colors that matter. The firing of synapses is a thing of intense beauty, not easily stopped once started.

Back in the land of the living the human comes alive and starts writing so frenzied that one might wonder how the human is still attached to its fingers, or maybe the human is typing. In fact, the human maybe painting or drawing. They could be drafting or chopping. Carving, sculpting, or fixing fiber. Whatever it is that human is doing it is clear that they have been struck by inspiration, and those mysterious things called thoughts, have been struck by eachother, allowing the enormous pallet of inspiration to become available to this human.

I am not sure if that is really how these things works, inspiration and all, but sometimes when I sit alone with myself and there seems nothing left to think about I toss this thought around. It always seems very profound at the time, but really it is just a bunch of thoughts. Probably uninspired thoughts at that. Ah well, uninspired thoughts are okay with me as long as they’re colorful.

Typing away in Portland. Doop doop doop.

Remembering The Pearls

I went down hard. Going thirty or thirty-five miles an hour in the city  of Portland. I got caught on a trolley line. Little Wing’s front wheel got caught in the indent that runs in the road, I felt it catch. I attempted to get out by steering quick, but the rain and trolley line disagreed with my decision. All combined, the tire, the line, and the wet, we skidded out. Down Little Wing went, and I went down as well. Luckily enough I detached from the bike. My body continued pointing West (the direction we had been going). My legs pointed towards the bike, my eyes were also pointed that way. As I slid on my left side I watched the bike skid. Little Wing went down on his left side as well. He went down in such a way that his tires pointed at my toes and the seat was pointed West. Meaning, the bike went atleast 180° after I let go. I watched it skid towards opposing traffic. Besides the rain the image I remember most clearly were the sparks. The thought “I’m ok, but I don’t have a bike anymore,” skidded along side me.

I got off the black top and I swore. My legs hadn’t touched the pavement, neither did my head, but my left arm took the brunt of the fall. When I stood I felt a pain in my left elbow. I checked for range of motion and it was fine. I would find out later that my jacket made of kevlar and mesh had saved my elbow from everything but a purplish bruising.

They guy who could have ran into my bike — or more accurately, the car my bike nearly skidded into — had stopped. The Driver, a young man around thirty, asked if I was ok. I responded in a rude manner that tends to rear its ugly head when I get scared, “I sure fuckin’ hope so.”

I was an ass.

The man got out of the car as I walked over to right Little Wing. The driver appeared in my helmet-modified field of vision, and as he did so a college aged man appeared from the other side. “Are you okay? Can I do anything to help?” The College Boy asked.

The Driver asked the same question. I looked down at Little Wing, my strength all gone. I did something that I don’t often do. I told them that if they wanted to pick up the motorcycle that would be awesome. They did. As the rain fell, hitting hard against my helmet, and making streams of oily water flow on the incline I had recently skidded down, the two men brought my bike to the narrow shoulder. They asked again if I was alright. I said yes, and thank you, but I didn’t say it enough. My frustrations left me sounding a little ungrateful and for that I am now sad. Those men were so kind when I needed kindness, when I was at my worst, and I didn’t say thank you enough.

Little Wing started up after a little coaxing. My left mirror was twisted a bit, but everything else was seemingly fine (I would later find out that my left footpeg was also busted). I escaped with a sore spot on my elbow and a working motorcycle; I am fortunate.

I am alive. I have all my limbs. I am alive.

Enlightening discourse, bits of knowledge one can collect from other intelligent humans. My dad used to call these bits ‘pearls of wisdom.’ Often times his gifts to us were made up of, or padded with, these pearls.

The pearls were beautiful and shone with knowledge. They had a colorful sheen that was colored even more by the words Dad chose to wrap them in. They told of his life, the people in his life, and the many challenges and grace that had been tossed at him all throughout the whole thing. The glow of these pearls was something almost imperceptible to my naive sister and I. We saw it as just another talk. Just another thing Dad was saying *yawwnn* to hear himself speak. Dad called ’em pearls.

My host in Portland is father to one girl. He told me that raising a kid was difficult, because often times they don’t appear to listen. He figured that as long as he said the words though they would be there. The words would be in her head. When she needs them now she can draw on them.

As I make my way through life I often times am reminded of words Dad said to me. Pearls make their way forward and glisten within my line off vision when I need them most. All those *yawwwnn* moments seem to be paying off.

My thoughts as I slid across the pavement and watched the sparks fly were mainly curse words. However there were other words floating through my head. Pearls of wisdom from many voices popping up. I had trouble grasping all but one, but they were there.

Over the last week I have met some interesting individuals. I had the pleasure of being hosted by a man who was in the midst of a family reunion. He was ever-so-kind in offering me a bed. I was one among four other guests and the only female of the bunch as well as the only stranger. Six of us slept there that night, five men and myself. Discussions were fun and the food delicious. My host was a born story teller and his two brothers, dad, and nephew seemed to know it. It was a fun thing to sit among these guys as they chatted and caught up. That evening we sat together and the next morning we parted ways — I went North to Bellingham and they head South towards Seattle.

In Bellingham I took in the farmers market. I tasted the best grapes I ever tasted. Bought some amazing tea made by a lovely young woman. I bought bread for dinner as well as some nuts. I met some lovely people and got to watch angry proselytizers preach hate in the name of God. It was an experience, and as the market closed up I made my way back to Little Wing with my armful of goodies. I had parked beside a Goldwing with an Arizona license plate. As I made my way to my trusty steed I saw a man standing over the Goldwing. “Is that your bike?” the man asked.

“Yes, it is. Is that yours?” I pointed at the Goldwing with my one free hand.

“Yes it is.” He went on to tell me about how he had obtained the bike (a gift from another rider), and why maybe I should consider getting a Goldwing. We chatted for a bit and he invited me for a ride.

The last time I rode as a passenger on an on road motorcycle I was two or three. One of my earliest memories, I remember my uncle holding onto me as I sat leaning against his belly. On the Goldwing I sat on the back. Kai, the owner of the vehicle, and I chatted.

It turns out he was a Yogi. He was quite wise and had been living off a motorcycle for decades. We had much to discuss. He offered me a place to sleep that evening and I took it.

It is funny the people one meets. It is funny that I met a Yogi who spoke of humans being perfect the way they are after my discussion with the nephew of my host that morning.

The morning before the market was met by tea, served to me as soon as I was awake and dressed, and a breakfast of eggs, bacon, and toast. A hearty breakfast to welcome the day. Other than the nephew all the men had atleast a decade on me. The nephew was only a few years older than myself, and a rather attractive boy. He was in the Marine Corps and had a definite military bearing. He was shy while also being opinionated, which made for interesting discussion.

As the rest of the guys dispersed towards the great outdoors the nephew stayed and started up conversation. He started with a question, asking if it was wrong of him to think that boys in skinny jeans were douchebag.

I mentioned earlier that one of the things I got to experience at the farmer’s market were angry proselytizers. They were a couple of men preaching hate and holding bright neon signs. They were saying things like “God hates gays,” and “God hates atheists.” They also had in tow a little boy, about five years old, who was speaking to strangers about repenting. Humans preaching hate, a thing so common in this world, but something that usually seems so obviously wrong to an observer.

I have heard negative words placed against boys wearing skinny jeans before. I have heard the same disgust for boys wearing cowboy hats or girls with died hair. I hear words like jugalo and hipster tossed around with contempt, much like the words homosexual and atheist. Labels that people assign and then apply some level of judgement to. Words that are just words, but that are used to justify hate.

“Yes, that is wrong,” I told the nephew. “Apparel, regardless of your thoughts on it, does not make anyone a douchebag. Appearance does not define people.” This discussion turned from a mere funny anecdote from the young nephew into a Diamond-rant about being kind to others.

Boys wearing skinny jeans don’t deserve a label any more than a Marine. A chick on a motorcycle doesn’t deserve a label anymore than a chick with an old rusty truck living in Minnesota. Humans are all different, we are all in a state of constant change. To label someone who might seem different than yourself is wrong because we are all different, and since we are all different we are also all the same. We are all snowflakes. Each snowflake is different, there aren’t any two that are the same. Unique, beautiful, and perfect the way they are. They are all special, and therefore none of them are special. They are all just snowflakes. Humans are all just human.

This rant was delivered a little more stuttered than the way I just laid it out, but there it is. My revised speech, my pearl of wisdom. My second day in Bellingham I attended my first church service. Before that Sunday the only church services I had attended had been weddings and funerals. The service was pretty though. The speaker did not spew hate in the name of God, he spoke love. He said we were love and God was love, and we were all apart of God because we were all in a state of being love. He spoke of accepting and loving others. He spoke my language.

Pearl of wisdom no. 1) Treat others how you would have them treat you. Would you have people judge you by your appearance? Or maybe by the beliefs you hold? Would you have others preach at you? Call you a douchebag?

Pearl of wisdom no. 2) Listen with an open mind. Yogi Kai was full of intriguing wisdom, I’m glad I had the chance to speak with him. The church service was fascinating and because I listened I was pleased. The Marine nephew was intriguing despite the fact that I disagreed. Speaking to him taught me something about my own viewpoints.

Pearl of wisdom no. 3) When you go down get up faster than you fell. Resilience.

Dad said many wise things. I have considered all three of these pearls over the last week, but the only one that skittered across the pavement with Little Wing and I was the resilience. In that moment in time I was pissed, I was not feeling love. I didn’t treat The Driver or The College Boy the way I wanted to be treated, but I did bounce off the road gripping that resilient pearl in my hand.

Sometimes we all forget the things we strive for, like love or being kind. None of us are perfect, but we are perfect in our imperfections. We all of us are snowflakes and not one of us gets through our life cycle without melting or breaking off a few crystalline limbs. We all suffer, we all breathe. We all fall into judgemental mode, and we all fall. 

Pearl of wisdom no. 4) Don’t let the bastards get you down. To borrow a more graceful saying from Elenor Roosevelt, regardless of the hate, rain, or  trolley lines “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” If you want to pick yourself up you will. Love is a super power by itself, and employing it doesn’t hurt. Learn from the falls. Be the love you wish to see in the world, and let the way you OVERCOME define you.

If there is one pearl of wisdom I can hand you, words I can put in your head for later, let them be “be love.”

I am fixing my footpegs tomorrow and I’m looking into some more crash worthy pants for riders. I’m avoiding trolley lines and loving my fellow vehicle passengers. I’m learning. A fall doesn’t have to be just a fall.

Things One Might Say To Those Who Are Tipsy

Patience, young grasshopper.

When getting on a motorcycle one should always maintain the center balance of the bike. One must be sure not to let it tip one way or the other. Leaving the kickstand down while mounting is generally the best way to insure this.

Once one is comfortably situated on the bike it is necessary to disengage the stand so that when one starts the bike they don’t bust it off by riding with it down. Some bikes are equipped with an automatic shut off for such instances when people shift into first gear with the stand left folded down.

The kickstand is mighty important.

This morning an anxious rider mounted her faithful motorcycle. She started it up. It cut out. She pulled out the choke, restarted the bike, and let it idle in neutral. The rider then disengaged the kickstand. She snagged her helmet and started to put it on when she noticed something pertinent which she had forgot before mounting her motorcycle. She hung the helmet on the right handle bar and leaned the bike to the left, balancing it in its parked position so she could dismount and attend to the forgotten something-or-other.

Remember, the rider had disengaged the kickstand.

This young grasshopper saw the most entertaing thing this morning. The bike and rider were parked on green grass. The precipitation was such that small pin prick sprinkles glimmered and fell. The air smelt of Washington in fall, and the soft grass appeared even more bright in contrast to the dim, cloud filled, sky.

The rider dropped like a rag doll, still wrapped around the bike. She realized her mistake too late; the kickstand was no longer standing by her side. The bike leaned to the left, and kept leaning, and then gravity took hold and the bike fell with that rider still on it. The rider hit the soft grass like a rag doll.

This grasshopper isn’t privy to much in the way of humorous falls. In my recollection they mostly appear frightening. However, that rider on that motorcycle was just fine. Her cheeks were about as red as the lovely roses that adorned that green grass around the perimeter of the yard where the bike and rider had toppled. The rider untangled herself and clambered from under that bike — less than gracefully I might add. The rider brushed herself off, and gave a quick sweep of the vicinity to check if any eyes had saw, this grasshopper was the only witness. She picked that bike up, and continued about her bussiness, attending to the pertinent task that had caused the ruckus.

Kickstands are mighty important that’s all I’m saying. AND one should have patience, young grasshopper.

Cool Oceanside

I am going to Bellingham, WA to go check out the glass blowers and the farmers market — a big thing on Saturday I’m told. Today I’m taking a ferry from Port Townsend to Coupville with Little Wing. When we get to the other side of the salt water and onto dry land we shall ride the rest of the way to the promised market.

I have a hope that I shall see sea-life, but I’m not too worried if I don’t because when walking Puget Sound in Seattle I observed a seal. We made eye contact and chatted and became pretty great friends. Before swimming away the seal told me that other sea critters aren’t quite as charming so no worries.

Nah, just joshing ya. The seal was exceptional, but I find hoping for things that aren’t likely makes one feel empty. Maybe the first story is better. Anyway, when I did see the seal I hadn’t been hoping for anything so I was very excited by the little creatures existence. It differed from the rest of the trip in that way. For example in Yellowstone I didn’t really want to see any creatures. While astride a motorcycle I’m sure that is many riders secret hope. I saw many creatures there though. I saw a buffalo with his ass hanging out in the highway as his front end wrestled a tree branch in the ditch. As everyone else stopped to take pictures I used my small vulnerable size to my advantage and got the duck out of there. The buffalo was on the left of me and in the opposing ditch. He had managed to stop a miles worth of vehicle ensconced, picture-obsessed, Yellowstone patrons with his animal antics. Regardless, I was not quite so fascinated. Being from the swamps of Minnesota I am very aware that animals can be sweet and interesting one moment and turn around to charge a motorcycle the next. If raccoons can do it so can buffalo.

The moral of the story is that I am happy to play the critter seeking tourist as long as the critters are in the water, but I’m not holding high hopes.

The water. This is the Pacific Ocean we are talking about. Dude. That’s cool. I’m pretty pumped. I’ve been on the coast about a week and the excitement hasn’t died. Speaking of being here about a week, let me tell you the story.

I went to Seattle last week. Little Wing and I arrived Thursday to a wonderful couple who hosted me. Julie, John, and cat and dog. Julie gave me a tour of the busy busy city so I got to see it without getting lost on Little Wing. We went to the Fish Market and to Jimi Hendrix’s grave. I took pictures so feel free to go check those out on the new The Pictures page there, up top, on the menu bar. We went to some of the parks and I got to attend my first party in a month and a half. A group of interesting minds gathered around to eat good food, talk and have a good time. Seattle was intimidating because of the traffic, but great because of the people. My method to life had me spend an hour lost while leaving the city. Despite great direction from my host I lost myself anyway. A reoccurring theme in my life, I gave Portland the same treatment when I left.

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Jimi Hendrix's grave in Seattle, WA. It was a beautiful to witness. My friend, Julie took me to see it, but we were not the only ones taking it in.

These boys appeared to b local and just coming to hang with Jimi just because they could.


Yes Portland, my next stop after Seattle. “But wait,” one might say if they had followed this rambling story. “You are headed North to Bellingham, WA now. How? Why Seattle to Portland and then North?”

Great question. Be patient observant reader and I shall get to that. Besides, directions and I don’t usually keep a tight handhold. I went from Yellowstone to Neligh, NE and then back to Wyoming and headed North, I’m not much for straight lines.

Back to the story though -Portland. I have a friend back home who set me up with a passle of radio engineers that I could stay with. Sprinkled across the country are a handful of engineers willing to take Little Wing and myself in for a bit. My latest engineer, Gray, is ever so kind. A real treat to stay with. The conversation has been enlightening and the welcome warm. Portland itself is a great city. Though confusing and hard to figure out it is filled with art and an interesting group of people. I haven’t made it into the art museum yet (which I very much want to do), but the city streets are sort of the next best thing. Sculptures, paintings, culture, it is everywhere. I met a busker named Tony Street, a fascinating work of art himself, on the streets or Portland. We chatted, I took pictures (to be posted later), I gave him a small amount of money from my small supply, and we exchanged contact info. I continued on, exploring, photographing, taking in the town. Eventually I hopped a bus and got myself lost, got back on the right track, and made my way back to Gray’s.

I don’t know if you have ever heard of Utah Phillips. He isn’t well known, but he is good. If you haven’t heard him you should look him up. I first learned of him because he collaborated with Ani Difranco and a friend shared the album with me. I have since become a fan. The reason I bring it up is because Gray knew him and he is currently renting a room to Utah’s son. My brush with celebrity did not go without a few dramatics. It is hard to hide admiration regardless of how much one doesn’t want to sound like an obsessed fan girl. I didn’t sound bad, however I was slightly weird about it. This actually lead to a discussion with Gray about cool vs. uncool and some new thoughts from myself on the subject.

I have had so many brushes with cool. As a radio DJ I constantly approached musicians I admired, and felt overshadowed by, and asked for CD’s or conversed with them. I have worked with cool musicians, artists, and other humans, and managed myself well enough. I tamp my weird admiration down and try to get on with people without squealing. One of the things I have trouble understanding is people now calling me cool. People have admired my art and now my journey. People say things like ‘bad ass’ and ‘inspiring.’ People have admitted that they have slight envy and another said I should make a documentary. My friends are vicariously following my story as are people I have never met. The word ‘cool’ has been tossed around a bit and applied. What? Me? Cool?! It has been hard to understand.

Recently a friend told me that all she ever wanted was to be ‘cool’ and she never succeeded. This was shocking to me, I thought she was really cool. I didn’t have a preconceived notion about her being cool as I do with musician and artists and such, but I found her just as cool. I didn’t have to tamp down squeals, but I had to hold back appreciative hugs. And in that lies the answer.

We all have these dumb notions that cool comes with a definition. That because we feel uncool and dorky we must be those things. Well, the truth is that we all feel like that. If we don’t feel that way we very well might be ‘uncool.’ We are all stuck in our own brain. The only person we can or will ever know fully is ourselves. We look at others and see the superficial bits and think “that’s cool.” We hope that we can be like that, and as I said before, hoping for things that are improbable or undefinable is unfulfilling. One grows empty with the feeling of inadequacy and they wind up depressed.

I guess what I’m saying is a have no aspirations to be ‘cool’ because I’m happier without those aspirations, and just because I find another person cool doesn’t mean they agree. I find it is hard to make friends with people who admire me when I don’t understand why. I want them to treat me as an equal and not hold me on a pedestal so I am certain others must generally want the same. Despite being in awe of Utah’s son, I made a conscious decision to let it go so I wasn’t the one weird girl sitting around the table. And the thing is he is also a musician. He had a group called Fast Rattler which he is currently on hiatus from. He gave me a CD so I shall be soon playing him on the radio alongside his father.

My third day in Portland was met by a call from Tony Street and we met up at the fountain where we had met the day before. He played three different instruments, all within the woodwind family. He brought one with him the day we met up and we walked the streets. He was a bit like a tour guide. Like a tour guide straight out of a Tarentino film. I recently watched Django Unchained, it was actually the last Movie I watched. The busker was very reminiscent of Jamie Fox. He was wearing a red shirt under a vest when I first met him. He had on a pair of sunglasses and a cowboy hat as well. The day that he acted as my tour guide he wore all black and had lost the sunglasses. His hat remained though, and the most interesting part of his appearance, his facial ink, also remained. He had symmetrical lines adorning his chocolate skin that made him look like a work of art. He looked like something I would have drawn, it was beautiful.

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Tony convinced me to tak a selfie with him. Fine, whatever.

Tony Street and I walked through the streets searching for yarn (for me), and interesting things to look at. We would also stop so he could play every once and awhile. I would watch as people stopped to listen while others just kept walking. We would find other musicians and they would pair up and play. It was such a work of art. I got to traipse beside and experience the life of a busker, and it was awesome.

The whole day I was observing while Tony was asking. He would talk to strangers and get the questions we had answered while I would look to signs for my answers. Between us we didn’t have a problem finding what we needed, but had he not been asking or I not observing we would have been lost. It was a fifty fifty split, we needed both skills to be implemented to have a productive day.

I came to realize that I don’t ask enough. I walk through life with an I’ll-do-it-myself attitude and often get lost because of it. If I asked more I wouldn’t get lost leaving big cities and I wouldn’t spend an extra hour on a bus when it was only meant to be a fifteen minute ride. I tend to avoid asking questions because of the word ‘cool.’ I find others too cool and intimidating or find someone might realize I’m ‘uncool’ if I ask.

You know what’s uncool? Being lost in Seattle. I have better things to do.

I’m about to get on my first ferry. Thoughts of music and busking fill my head. Thoughts of the walking art I wish to paint are dancing in there, kicking up the dust that is caking my painting muscle. Thoughts of farmers market and glass blowing are in there too. Thoughts of heading back to Portland permeate it all.

I am going back to Portland on Tuesday because I get to be cool. A friend set me up with an artist who photographs and films women on motorcycles. Little Wing and I are meeting her Tuesday which is the answer to that far away question, ‘why Bellingham?’ I’m killing time and exploring. I’m spending five days exploring the coasts and vineyards of Washington before going back to Oregon.

However, it isn’t as easy as saying I’m “asking questions,” I have to do it, and so that is what I’m going to do on this roundabout trip back to Portland.

Asking questions and being cool. I’m not allowing ‘cool’ to define.others for a bit to see what happens. And I’m taking a ferry to a farmers market.

That’s cool.

Morning Tea Ritual

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Drinking tea out of the my new tin cup. A gift from my new found friends in Seattle. My blue cup is going to make camping a little easier.

Back when I inhabited a house, in the days before becoming a transient, I can remember sitting down at a table of sorts to gather my wits for the day. Relaxing, breathing in and out, pondering.

In all actuality, this sitting and relaxing at a kitchen table wasn’t always the reality. There were a couple of years where I didn’t take time in the morning. I relaxed hit the snooze button.  Primped and pondered daily attire. Considered possible morning meals. Then I rushed out the door. Life was life then, I forgot about living.

I’m not really that old, so that two years was the time right after graduating high school. I was sad and unsure. I didn’t know that breathing was important. I’m not entirely sure where I got so uncertain since my dad had taught me the value of breathing and living my whole life (I attribute it to my rebellious phase). Eventually I remembered though, and so I left that style of life and moved onto a style of living.

Before taking off on the adventure I lived a whole year where I sat and pondered at a kitchen table, something I had learned to do growing up with my dad — taking the first few moments of the day to really breath deep and live.

The first moments define the day. If one wakes up from a bad dream and has a bad attitude they have a choice right then to change it. If one takes the stance of not being a morning person (a stance I held for years) they miss out on the chance to change. Sure, one can come back from that. They can, say around midday, be happy and chipper and walk about smiling, but think of all the hours they lost that morning? All the negativity they swam through and breathed in up until that moment of change. All that life was just endured rather than lived.

Starting my junior year of high school I remember waking up early with my dad and sister and walking four miles every morning before school. 4:30 was always a comfortable time. We would wake up, brush our teeth, grab our walking sticks, and click clack our way down the road. We started silent, looking around, giving our companions a moment to gather their breath and wake up. The only sounds would be that of our walking sticks and the slow sound of Mother Earth stirring. We would look up at the stars and out to the woods. We walked along the high way so we were often interrupted by early morning commuters, but we didn’t mind. We would eventually gather enough independent thought to start conversation, and then we would. We would converse. We would speak of life and futures. We spoke of things my sister had read or things my dad had heard on the radio. I would often fall silent. I found my knowledge was far surpassed by my older sister’s and my father’s. I would instead listen and look to the stars. As 5:00 rolled around the stars would slowly fade, and the closer we got to the two mile mark the more the morning shone. The walk back was always filled with the beginning stages of daylight, as though Mother Earth was also gathering her breath and waking up. We said good morning to beavers, and spotted wolf tracks. The birds of Northern Minnesota, always changing depending on the season, would sing to/ for/ around us — I mean who really knows? All I know is that all that life made me live.

High school was tough. I was an outsider, though I’m not sure anyone but myself really knew it. I’m certain they did, but I didn’t talk about it. I was also terrible at learning the way our school taught. This last year I had the honor of working with kids in an alternative school, I taught them art. I came to realize I should have been in a school like that. Either way, the walking helped. The getting up every morning and being mindful of breath and my surroundings, it helped.

After the walk and before changing out of our walking clothes (typically just our pajamas) we would sit down at the table and dad would pour us each a cup of coffee. We would sit, listen to the radio, and drink coffee. By the time 6:30 rolled around we would be making our way back to our room to change into school clothes and then it was off to school.

I became a morning person at that time. My senior year took a toll on me, but I didn’t lose morning person status again til I was out on my own. However, I regained it.

This last year I was doing art teaching art, and living with a fellow artist who is now one of my closest friends. We met a little over a year ago and since then became super close. She taught me to breath again.

Every morning I woke up and took a seat at her table to gather my wits for the day. Relaxing, breathing in and out, pondering. Often times this was accompanied by a cup of coffe. Hot, black, and very sttong. The coffee was my ally in helping me to breath and be mindful. Before starting the adventure I quit drinking coffee. I found it made me jittery and wired, which are two things one shouldn’t be on a motorcycle. It was hard, I love coffee, but I have always found enjoyment in tea as well. I think it is the sitting over a hot mug and breathing in the smell and warmth, as much as it is the beverage in the mug.

My tea has always been reserved for relaxing. I take great pride in my tea box, which is home to my mortar and pessel as well as my assortment of teas and filters. I had to leave it behind when taking off on the adventure but I did take some tea from it. Tea has always been the thing along side coffee. The just-in-case-this-doesn’t-work, or the come down-relaxer. I would take my tea box out for headaches, evening pick-me-ups, days of sadness, bad breath, and other such ailments. My roommate came to call it my ‘tea ritual’ and it was like that, a ritual. A special reminder to breath.

The reason I even bring this up, is that this morning I had my morning tea ritual. I fetched the small amount of tea from my commitments and loaded up my filter. I boiled some clean water on my popcan stove before making my breakfast, and I had a cup of tea.

It warmed my insides on this chilly morning in the Washington mountains. It woke me from my grogginess. It rid me of an on-the-rise head ache. And it reminded me to breath and be mindful.

Though drinking tea is not exactly the same as walking.. well actually, it sort of is. It is the act of doing something to better oneself while also being mindful. It is the comfort derived from doing activities that calm oneself and then the breathing that accompanies it.

I don’t have a tripomter on Little Wing, nor any form of gas gauge, so I have no way of knowing when to fill up other than my own memory. To save the strain of having to recall numbers I started writing the mileage on my windshield with dry erase marker. Below this I will also write the directions to my next destination. Right now my destination is simple, Seattle, so right now I have written the word BREATH. It is a reminder what this is all about. This transient living that I am doing right now.

I’m not sure what the meaning is behind it. I’m not sure why I feel the need for an adventure or why I wanted to do it on the back of Little Wing, all I know is that it is like the walking, or the tea ritual. It is meant to be done while mindful. I’m living right now, I’m not just enduring life. I’m drinking tea and breathing.

Something Oh-So Right

I had a friend tell me the other day that my excitement to be onto the next town reminded him of Mac Davis’ lyric “happiness was Lubbock, Texas in my rear view mirror.” Though in my case that was a good thing and it wasn’t just Lubbock, Texas.

See, in that song Mac comes to learn he was young and fooled by youth, and therefore memories of leaving his town were negative. That isn’t the case for me.

When my new friend told me this he meant my departure from Missoula and the excitement I was feeling to be on the road again, and he was right. Correct twice over, because the lyrics first brought to my mind the actual happiness I experience when I look in my rear view mirror. The happiness my rear view mirror brings me, besides the happiness that leaving brings me.

I have two differing mirrors, one factory and the other a cheapy to replace the other factory mirror I managed to bust off within an hour of owning Little Wing. The right one, which is the original factory mirror, is beautiful. It stays steady and when I look in it I can see the cars behind me. The other mirror, the twelve dollar lefty, is horrendous. It jiggles and jostles, and I can barely make out anything in it when I get above 50 mph. Though annoying I have decided that the left mirror only serves to make me more grateful for the perfection that is my right mirror. I feel truly happy when I look in the right mirror. Not only can I see the traffic that is behind me, I can also make out the disappearing landscapes. I can see mountains, and sky, and trees, and even towns, all behind me. It is like an opportunity to get a second helping of the delicious scenery I just took in.

The things I have noticed out my rear view mirror are pretty much the same as what I see out my visor, the same stuff I see ahead of me, but it still seems magical.

In Montana the distant hills and mountains look to be a colored pencil drawing. So lovely and soft in their appearance, I feel as though I’m riding in a work of art.

Wyoming, in its rectangular shape, is like a desolate yellow painting. A windy painting with fields, oil rigs, and cows. Surrounding the picture though is a lovely intricate frame. A rectangle of mountains and trees and gorgeous sky’s framing the yellow painting.

Every state seems to have it’s own type of beauty. Every state has a subtle shift in the way things appear. The fields of Washington look nothing like those in Nebraska when one looks carefully, and no state has trees quite like Minnesota. Even Idaho is not easily mistaken for Wyoming even though they are right next to each other, and the northern tip up by Coeur d’Alene is all its own.

I have been trying to relate things as I go. Sometimes I will see a field and consider how it looks like the farm areas surrounding St. Cloud. At other times a rock face will remind me of Duluth, or a swampy area will bring me over to Mile Lacs, but the truth is that none of it is comparable. The U.S. is a variegated territory filled with borders that contain differing magical bits inside each one. Different pieces of art for the eye to see.

My rear view mirror captures it all. When I haven’t seen enough of a place I look in my right mirror and stare for longer. When I am leaving a city I can choose to look in my right mirror or my left mirror, depending on how I felt about the area. My mirrors do bring me happiness. Like a moving picture frame that fleetingly captures the past.

The leaving of a town also brings happiness. The Mac Davis quote is actually quite apropos to my journey. I find comfort in getting on Little Wing and riding away. Regardless of the welcome I received in an area, or the friendships I acquired, moving on is my comfort zone.

I have always enjoyed leaving. When the going got tough I, being tough and all, got going. I up and left.

I do stick things out as well, though. Like many people I have stuck around stress-inducing jobs for to long. It wasn’t to long ago that I was known to turn my cheek more than twice in human relationships. I sometimes work on tough problems for longer than most people think I should. I don’t completely abandon some projects that remain unfinished for excessive amounts of time, I keep them around expecting to get to them later, and I do. However, when things get really tough, when I know there is no solution, or good answer to tell me why I should stick to it, I run.

When the going gets tough I get going.

Once I do run or get going it is hard to get me to go back, and that is why I say I enjoy leaving. I love the freedom that comes from ‘giving up.’ Turning tail and bolting. Looking at bad situations out my shaky left hand mirror, and allowing the lack of clarity to envelope the past.

I have left many a big town recently. From Laramie to Rock Springs, WY. Pocatello, Idaho after that, followed by Missoula, Montana. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho was the last big town, and after that I was ready to be done. Too much of the hustle and bustle. Too much interstate riding, I was ready to hit some back roads and say good by to the interstate out of my left hand mirror. First, though, I had to get to Spokane.

Spokane is a busy place, a frighteningly busy place. In order to get on Highway 2 out of Coeur d’Alene though I had to cross it. The freeway was insane. It was busy, fast, and rather lawless. The 60 mph signs did no good with the renegade traffic all around. It was worse than the freeways into the Twin Cites from my home state, Minnesota, and I thought nothing got worse than that. I was at the mercy of fast moving traffic, and as its casualty the freeway apprehended my license plate.

A traumatic event if nothing else. Okay, well actually, it wasn’t that bad. The worst part of the event was the traffic, the losing of the license plate really only relegated me to the back roads and small towns of Washington, which is really what I wanted anyway. I’m on my way to Seattle so when I figured out how to get my new plate from Minnesota to Washington it was all sort of golden. Like an occurrence put in place and made meant to be by some larger force. With the help of an amazing friend, and the state of Washington DMV I am legal, and should be even more legal once again come the weekend.

Washington has its own beauty. Mainly it is the smell, but the fields of produce and friendly small towns don’t hurt. Signs that speak of safe driving all begin with the word ‘Please,’ and that is sort of the atmosphere here. It feels gracious and safe.

Driving laws are tough here, or so I was told by the man at the DMV. Emissions standards are set and regulated, and organic orchards crop up along the smaller roads. It is all part of this culture of being kind to one another, I think. I dig.

I just rode through this town called Quincy. It was home to a apple factory (is that what its called? Or is it a processing plant? Or what?) and a potato plant (plant, as in another word for factory). The town smelled amazing. It smelled like a great day in the kitchen and made me hungry for some healthy, plant derived sustenance. As I continued to ride I became engulfed by fields and orchards on either side. Grapes, apples, blueberries, pears — the amount of fruit was ridiculous. The best part was that the majority of these fruit patches were labeled organic. It just makes one feel happy. I was looking in my right hand mirror as much as I was looking ahead.

The best part of seeing town in my rear view mirror is the unadulterated scenery one gets to take in once they are on down the road. The scenery free from ostentatious bill boards, or never-ending traffic. Landscapes that are home to cows, fields, trees, vegetation, and luxurious spots to stop and rest encumbered by other humans. Happiness is the moment when the previous town is absent in Little Wing’s right rear view mirror and nature takes over.

Little Wing, myself, and the landscape, the going ain’t too tough.

Living Simply

Since I’ve been on the road I have changed Little Wings oil, trimmed my out of control locks, and had a tire changed. Over four thousand miles traveled in a months time. Maintenance is my middle name. Little Wing has a small oil leak due to factory seals. Nothing bad, easily controlled by constant monitoring. Everday I check all the nuts and bolts to make sure things haven’t come loose, as they tend to do. Little Wing is a one cylinder making it quite the jittery machine. So maintain I do. I tighten the bolts, check the oil, adjust the tire pressure, and toss a helmet over my short doo, and life is good. Honestly though, despite all the maintaining, I’m almost the furthest I’ve been from high maintenance. I don’t shower regularly (though that’s not odd for me). I don’t often look in the mirror. My ears are un-bedazzled despite all the piercings they are speckled with. I wear the same clothes everyday without washing them often. I am totally grunge right now, bringing back the 90’s one dirty motorcyclist at a time. Grungy motorcycle, spattered in oil and dirt, and I am not too far from that description myself. My wardrobe consists of two t-shirts, one pair of jeans, two pants, two warmer shirts, a set of Under Armor, and the necessary socks, underwear and hats. Generally I consider myself rather dapper in my appearance, and now I find I’m grungy and loving it. My pants are men’s Wranglers that work wonderfully for riding and staying anonymous. They are my daily wear. The t-shirt that I also make a daily item is a Patagonia shirt. I bought it at an outdoor store out side of Grand Rapids the day I left. It is one of those wick-away-sweat, 100% cotton, shirts. It was an interesting story actually. I walked into the store about 11:00 am on the day of departure, after attending to all my necessary responsibilities that morning. I was sweating. It was an 80° day. One of those beautiful September days that started at 35° and warmed up quickly. I was wearing my Wranglers and my JC Penny bought band tee with Jimi Hendrix on the front. I had known that polyester shirts were an unwise idea for hot days, I mean I had been riding all summer. However I hadn’t yet purchased a good cotton shirt so Jimi was all I had. Needless to say, it was hot. So when I rode into Thousand Lakes, the outdoor store I was desperate to be less sweaty. I just kept wondering how I was going to survive in Arizona’s heat if I couldn’t even handle Minnesota’s. The store mostly contains fishing gear, but also has some camping gear, and a very nice selection of outdoor clothing. The sales associate, one of the owners of the business (the customer service there is awesome, just so ya’ll know) asked me what it was he could help me find and I told him I was searching for clothing meant for hot weather. To my extreme pleasure they had actually just put the summer wear on clearance that morning. He showed me to the women’s shirts which were all pastel colored, I wasn’t impressed. It isn’t that I dislike pastel colors, but when one is planning to wear a shirt day in and out while possibly sweating profusely light colors are the last thing they want. I was also looking for something a little more geared to the men’s pants I had on — more unisex. So I turned to the men’s shirts, seeng they had the badass black and grey colors. The sales associate asked my what I was looking for and I told him something darker in color. “How ’bout this?” I turned to see him holding up a black shirt with the picture of a guitar on the front. The guitar had only one string and under it were printed the words ‘live simply.’ “Yes, exactly,” I said. It was perfect. The shirt that embodied my newly chosen lifestyle for the next ten months or so. I went to the rack and picked the exact shirt I would be living in for months and paid for it. It was 30% off, so though spendy it was the best deal of the day. I am wearing my Wranglers and live simply shirt right now, and though grungy I feel rather dapper. My grungy motorcycle is parked, and when I look at it I see the “patina of my adventure” as one friend has said. The beautiful smudging of dust and grime mixed with oil. The generally shiny rainbow colored pipe is now fogged over from the time in the mountains when it snowed. Little Wings teardrop tank is scratched from my tank bag and my windshield is caked and layered with dead bugs. On the second day of my trip I posted a blog about the same day I bought my live simply shirt — my now moto shirt. It was about the day I took off, September 3rd, and the cleaning of Little Wing. The lovely feeling of closeness I had with him when sponging off all the grime. Since then I haven’t had access to the facilities to wash Little Wing. We both keep getting grungier and grungier, which actually gives me as much of a feeling of closeness as washing Little Wing did. We are two of a kind. My apparel is wonderfully mine. I look like a grunge master and I haven’t yet seen anyone dressed like me yet. I am one of a kind and so is Little Wing. However there are things to be high maintenance about. 1) Oil levels. One must be vigilante about the spots oil might be leaking from and how it is leaking. 2) Tire pressure and tire wear. With only two tires to fall back on one must be certain they are well taken care of. 3) Tightening of various nuts and bolts. One does not want the bike falling apart as they go down the road. 4) This ties into the last one quite well, safely securing commitments to bike. Having a loose piece of anything caught up in the tire spokes is a terrible thing to imagine. 5) Brushing ones teeth. I feel that doesn’t require any explaination. And there it is. Living simply is easy on a bike. That is as high maintenance as I get. Of course all five of those things are infinitely important, but that is much less than a list a may have made six months ago. Living simply. That may very well be the purpose of this journey on Little Wing.

A Little Lady And Little Wing

I’m sitting in Missoula Montana at a quaint little cafe called the Walking Mustache listening to live music. The cafe has pictures of Charlie Chaplin on the walls, which is where I assume the name was derived from. I’m taking in a lovely woman with a strong voice and an acoustic guitar belting out her art. It is lovely.

Less than forty-five minutes ago I was standing in front of my bike posing for a picture with another lovely woman that I had just met at a theater here in Missoula. Now I’m drinking water at 10:30 pm in this Mr. Chaplin adorned cafe.

I am in Missoula after an approximately 400 mile ride from Pocatello, Idaho. Last night I was hosted by a stranger there in Pocatello. By the time Little Wing and I took off this morning she was no longer a stranger, she was a friend. This evening I met another stranger who is hosting me tonight. I am certain that we shall soon be fast friends.

He works at the theater here in Missoula. A small quaint theater which features independent releases. Tonight they were featuring a documentary about hiking the the Camino Trail over in Spain; it was quite beautiful. The movie focused on the internal journies we embark on when we start physical adventures, “right up my ally” as my new stranger/friend, Chris, said to me. The movie was too cool, I recommend it ( Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago, you should check it out).

When I walked in Chris introduced me to the lovely woman I mentioned earlier (not the singer, the one in the photo). She was from LA and was helping to promote the documentary. We chatted about life, this country, and adventure – my favorite subjects as of late. She was wonderful. One of those strangers that was soon a friend.

I told her I was sure I would love the movie and she told me to report back. Of course I loved the movie and after it was over the director gave a very interesting talk. She spoke of life, the world, and adventure.

I went back to report to Claudia (that being the lovely woman’s name) after it was all done. She made a point of introducing me to the director, and that is why a little more than forty-five minutes ago I was posing for a picture in front of Little Wing with my new found friend.

The director was as interested in my journey as I was in the ones she portrayed in the documentary. It turns out that Little Wing and I are taking the same route down to Portland as the movie tour. We are certain we will run into each other along the way, and what a neat thing that’ll be?

It is crazy the friends we make when we aren’t even thinking about it.

A friend has challenged me to find as much live music as I can and Missoula was one of the places that has been suggested as a good city for art. I guess that is true; friends and art. Now here I sit, taking in the marvelous vocals of an independent singer/songwriter. I met her too. Her name is Kristi Neumann, and the lovely woman who was once a stranger with a great voice is now a friend.

The song that kept running through my helmet today was The Doors’ People are Strange. The song goes ‘people are strange when you’re a stranger,’ and ain’t that the truth? Yes they are.

‘Faces look ugly when you’re alone.’ Yes they do.

You know what I think? I think people are less strange when you get to know them. There is nothing strange about a new found friend. You are never alone when you have new friends around.

Today I met a neat fellow (I actually didn’t even catch his name) at a gas station in Osgood Idaho. He was driving an old rusty Honda from the early nineties. The gas station had bars on all the windows and the doors, giving it a slightly creepy appearance. The man was unshaven with a few day old five o’clock shadow. He could have appeared strange. The setting was just perfect for one of those horror movies, and had I been a giggling fifteen year old girl again I might have found some reason to be creeped out by this kind man and that creepy gas station. Instead I sparked up a conversation, and we discussed life, this country, and adventure. When we were done conversing and filling our tanks we each got back on/in our vehicles and went our separate ways. It was quite pleasant.

Yesterday I had to get my tire changed. It had been one hell of a struggle to find a shop that had a tire for me. See, I was in Wyoming before I got to Pocatello. October 2nd I had rode from Laramie to Rock Springs on a balding tire. That section of highway is the most windy stretch I have rode thus far. They call it Windy Wyoming there. I stopped at a rest stop to check my tire and use the facilities about thirty minutes West of Laramie. The informational sign there told all about the wind and why it was vital to Wyoming and its habitat. The very bottom of the sign said “wind is our friend.”

It was a lovely reminder to all those driving through the fifty mile per hour gusts who might have stopped to read the sign. All us drivers/riders who were cursing the friendly wind. I spoke to many people while I stood in the rest stop warming my hands. Everyone of them was as shocked by the wind as I was. These strangers finding something to relate to with this short stranger staring out the window.

The winds were so bad that the rest of the tire I had was gone by the time I got to Rock Springs. I camped that evening and in the morning went to the motorcycle shop I had found when calling around the day before.

The shop was called Joe’s and that was who I ended up meeting. He took Little Wing from me, gave me an estimate of an hour, and sent me to an awesome joint down the way for some breakfast.

I sat in the bar called Marty’s for an hour and waited for my tire to be done. I had soup, fries, and tea while I studied my route to Pocatello, Idaho.

After an hour I made my way back to Joe’s, where Little Wing awaited me with his fully tread new tire. I loaded all my commitments back onto Little Wing, and strapped it all down, all the while admiring the beauty of no chords showing through on my shiny black new tire.

I paid Joe for the work, and he asked me about my plan, where I was going. I told him Pocatello Idaho, but then told him I was actually traveling the whole U.S. Joe took interest in this so we discussed life, this country, and adventure.

Joe had a husky voice like John Wayne, and a way of calling me ‘little lady’ that was rather endearing. He was all biker though. Burly with a beard and a black Harley hat on, that matched the black of the rest of his outfit. Biker, cowboy, friend, whatever the label, Joe was no longer a stranger by the time I left.

People are strange, it is a fact. However people are also wonderful, and fun, and interesting.

The world is what we make it. If one wants to befriend it they can, or they can also stray away and call it strange.

The world is full of art and friends. It isn’t all that ugly. It is actually rather beautiful.

After wandering from the Walking Mustache (the Charlie Chaplin cafe with the wonderful singer/songwriter) I walked over to a bar called Top Hat. It was intriguing because of the awesome guitar solo that was being pumped out all over the block. I made my way inside where I was carded and stamped by an imposing bearded bouncer. I then made my way to the front where I saw three college boys rocking out. A drummer, a guitarist, and a bass player. A typical college band, but they were still damn good. It was a fun listen. They had a poet get up and join them with some spoken word over the rock-n-roll. It was late when I rolled out of there.

The music at the Top Hat reminded of two things. 1) Jim Morrison’s spoken word rock, which just brought me back to The Doors’ song about people being strange, and 2) the conversation I had with my host friend in Pocatello this morning. She had said that the mutual friend we shared was worried about me, and to alleviate her fears of this young woman going it alone my host had used an example of a woman walking into a bar.

“I asked her if she would go into a bar by herself, and she said she would. I told her that would scare some women, they wouldn’t be able to do that. I told her that was the same as you,” my host friend told me. “You are doing something that would scare many women, but to you isn’t that scary.”

That analogy used by my host friend was perfect. It IS like that. Women/people don’t go into bars by themselves because people are strange. ‘Faces look ugly when you’re alone.’

The worst type of people can sometimes inhabit bars. Some are out to do bad things to other people, and to be aware of that fact is good, it is the same of the real world. Some people are ugly. Some people mean harm. Some people don’t.

Some people are the kindest, coolest, down-on-their-luck people, just filling up their car at a gas station in small-town Idaho. To avoid talking to them because one is afraid of strangers is the silliest thing.

This evening has been filled with new friends and learning experiences, in fact the whole ride from Pocatello to Missoula has been this way. People are strange and wonderful. People are people. Being aware that people can be otherwise is good, but one should not be wary. Don’t stray from the beautiful faces that make up our lovely country.

Life, this country, and adventure.