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.