And Now To Interrupt The Regular Broadcast…

image

Good morning folks.

Some of you have contacted me about helping financially. As I have been traveling I have picked up a few jobs along the way to keep the trip afloat. I am mainly an independent artist when I’m not on the road (except when I’m working for real money, which has to happen from time to time). Selling art off a motorcycle is a bit more difficult I have come to learn so I figured I would try another source of income til I am back home, safely secured upon a ladder and painting my next mural.

There is this cool website called Patreon to help people, just like me, in this type of situation. The deal is that you are reading my blog. Writing is currently my art, but it is not paying the bills, it isn’t (yet) filling the tank. If you would like to become more a part of the journey I am going to give you the option to do so by contributing a small amount monthly. It isn’t necessary by any means, but it will make the writing much better. When I don’t feel like I’m down to the last couple of dollars in my jingling pockets I feel more relaxed and free and tend to write more.

If you do choose to contribute I am offering extras. For any amount of money a month you can subscribe to the *Extra* email, full of fun weird thoughts that aren’t good enough for the blog. Extra pictures and updates will be sent out. It will give you the odd hectic, totally unprepared feeling that Little Wing and I feel all the time, all in email form. Join the adventure (insert deep, car commercial, voice here).

For even more money you can get a postcard a month plus the email. And for even more you can get a personal doodle plus the email.

Actually, if you are interested at all you can check it out by clicking the button below, and read more about it. Regardless of whether you contribute or not, the blog is still happening, as is the adventure. Little Wing and I are gonna keep on keeping on, but if you do really want to be a more involved this is one of the ways you can do it.

Thank you ♢

Advertisements

Surfing The Waves

After a long walk on the beach and some good bird spotting at the pier I am peacefully sitting on a curb enjoing my white tea and typing away. It has been more than a week since my last admission. It seems I ran into a case of writers block. Oh, excuse me, riders block.

I have this new contraption on my bike that makes for a handy going to town outfit. I have removed the back seat from my bike and put a pelican case in it’s stead.

Pelican, I saw one of those.

image

The pelican box is a bit different. It is a sturdy watertight box that works to hold my panniers a little higher up than they were, and it makes my pack sit so much better. Besides that it gives me an efficient storage space especially in the event that I’m going to town for a short ride and a long walk. Now I have a convenient place to store my small crocheted bag and my tennis shoes. When I get to the destination I take out the shoes and necessary bagged items and toss my boots into the case. That is about all it will fit, but it allows me the opportunity to explore/hang out/dance without the hot feet or painful blisters that my boots are more than happy to provide. I really like my boots. We are a nice fit, but honestly, they have their problems, and sometimes we don’t get along. I have found that ditching them with the bike is a great idea. After locking up the boots I then strap and lock my helmet and coat to Little Wing, and I’m on my merry way. Cooler, with a lighter load, and able to pass as a regular tourist rather than an overheated wanderer on a motorcycle. It is genius. I should have done it earlier.

Most motorcyclists get locking saddlebags and cases for this very reason. Little Wing is a bit small for such novelties, and I’m a bit broke, but the pelican case was given to me by a very kind friend. It was mounted on the bike by another friend (both smart engineers so the work is impeccable), the result is an inexpensive alternative for small bikes and bikers. Priceless.

image

The coolest motorcycle is the one with all its part and pieces intact.. sometimes we all have to look like a tool to accomplish that goal.

I walked down by the ocean. Dipped my toesies and watched the surfers. I want to do that, surf. Unfortunately I cannot swim. This is something of a problem apparently, or so my host has informed me… as has everyone of the Californians I have told. So apparently I need to learn to swim before I learn to surf. Who would have guessed? Ah, well, whatever, if I have to. Swimming might be a more valuable skill in real life than surfing anyway. It might.

If I wasn’t wearing my motorcycle pants I would have attempted to be more of a beach bum, but the idea of getting sand in amongst the fibers of my kevlar enforced jeans sounded rather unpleasant, so instead I just walked and watched the surfers. There was some palpable longing there. Though the water was cold, so surfing might not have been much fun anyway. All the surfers washing ashore were smiling, but smiles are easily faked. I was probably better off just walking.

image

There's one of those smiling surfers now.


image

I walked out on the pier. There were many funny sea birds, it was neat.

image

This bird was very stoic. And if you look behind him you can see another one of the surfer dudes.

image

That bird appeared to have left abit of its self behind on the pier.

image

There were some other creatures walking amongst the sea birds.

There was also a small food stand, but it didn’t seem to have anything very promising. I was considering some fun seafood, which I still might go do. My friend in Portland treated me to first raw oysters. She rides motorcycle and discussed how full of protein and energy they were. The second time was when I met the motorcycle riders in Point Reyes, CA. One of the guys, Don, asked if I liked oysters. I responded that I was new to them, but yeah. We walked around a bit, I had forgot he’d even asked. The girls and I (the wife and girlfriend of the two men) seperated from the guys and went to check out a yarn shop. When we met back up with the guys, right near where all the bikes were parked — two BMW’s, an Italian beauty, and Little Wing– in front of a darling cafe, Don came out with two oysters on a plate and made the same observation that my Portland friend had made, “they are full of energy.” Full of energy is perfect for a biker. I acccepted the oysters graciously — I mean, I didn’t want to offend Don, really — and enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed the first oysters I had tried. Actually, I enjoyed them more. They were fresh as could be and I could taste it. I was hoping for that flavor today near the ocean.

I have also found that kalamari and I get along well, as well as scallops. Most seafood I try while here by the actual sea, is quite enjoyable. I thought I would like it but I didn’t realize how much. It is sort of like the first pomegranate that I picked fresh off a pomegranate tree. And then there was the second, third, fourth, and fifth; amazingly, they all taste pretty damn good. Just like the fresh avocados my host got from her neighbors tree, or the pomelos and tangerines. The fresh cut roses and Californian lettuce, it is like I died and went to So Cal, except I’m still alive, which is even better.

It is about 70° here and I’m Christmas decorating for my host. I don’t really celebrate the holidays, in fact I really dislike them (just to support this full disclosure thing I’ll admit I’m like the Grinch or Scrooge, but without the final rehabilitation), but she does, and I like decorating so I’m doing it anyway. It is a funny thing to have no snow on the ground while cutting out paper snowflakes. I’m wrapping wreaths outside while wearing sunscreen lotion and a tee shirt. I’m picking succulents from the outdoor garden and watching humming birds .. now I’m just bragging. All I’m saying is it sure is hard to get a Christmas movie look while decorating with this bright sun and green grass, but my ‘Christmas spirit’ is easier to maintain. Truly, I’m not complaining.

image

My first wreath made of pine boughs and succulents for my host, Andrea. Since this wreath I've cut many snowflakes for a mobile above the dining table, made a pretty, Martha-Stewart-like, pillar decor, and completed another wreath. It doesnt sound like much, but try being as unspirited as me and see how easy all that is to do.

The other thing is that California is pretty darn secular. There is a large majority of the population that isn’t Christian which is not something one can say about the Midwest. It is a fun change and also means there isn’t an over abundance of holiday music, which is something I’m cherishing. All my life I’ve needed a break from that stuff and it took until I was twenty-one to find it. Life’s struggles.

I see people posting pictures of home, Minnesota, with all its trees. The leafless branches covered in white powder, and the roads cutting a swath through the snow piles — small as they might be this year. I miss it the tiniest bit. Home isn’t like this pardise I’m in, it is home. Then I remember that I get to ride Little Wing in December while sweating, and the missing is diminshed. Missing isn’t the mission anyway. Also, I’m sure next year will be full of flying snowflakes and icky carols, so California is doing me just swell.

Yesterday I had the joy of joining a group of older women in their neighborhood Christmas party. I was told by my host that it was a cultural experience I wouldn’t want to miss, she was right. It was held at the house off a 76 year old. An adobe house with tall ceilings and logs sticking out of the sides where the second story started. It was just like an adobe from the old Westerns except bigger. It was gorgeous. I determined it was my dream house, only bigger. I will make mine much smaller. I don’t really need an adobe mansion. There were about forty of us women there, and the age range was about 40 to 93, I believe. Except for me.. and maybe two women who were probably in their thirties. There was a gift exchange and a lot of chatting. I’m staying with a woman who has an organic farm and a B&B in the hills of Oceanside. The majority of her neighbors are on the wealthy side because of some success or the other. This means that the conversations are very interesting. I had a blast chatting and observing the loveliness of age. The gift exchange was also quite pleasing because I ended up eith a bottle of Chardonay from the local winery. I dislike gift exchanges as a rule, but there is an exception to EVERY rule, especially if it involves wine. My host was gifted a gorgeous orchid, and I got the pleasure of toting it back to her place as she taxied it and I in the truck.

image

I am finding that the world is exotic and luxurious when one isn’t shoveling snow. A motorcycle trip across country makes for a lot of interesting new things, though I’m not sure that’s surprising. I think it’s what I expected, but I’m certainly not dissapointed that my findings are meeting and exceeding said expectations. Little Wing and I are having a ball.. we must be butter because we are on a roll.

We are just surfing the wave.

Even if just figuratively.

Sunny Bright Future

image

The undulating waves of minerals, it is something I often marvel at. Since the beginning of my exposure to rolling hills and grooved terrain of the mountains I have been awestruck by the fluidity of the form. Mountains look like wrinkled sheets, left unmade. The way the light and shadow strike and partner up in such gargantuan forms is breathtaking. They are like large rocks scattered in a yard, and if that’s the case then I’m like a very small ant, racing along with my gaze cast upwards.

In the desert the rocks are in constant fluid motion. For one they are what they are, and they have an asthetic appeal of movement, but besides that the wind is used as a tool by mother earth to direct the many minerals wherever she pleases. The dessert alters form with the wind. The dessert reshapes itself with the rain. Everything else adapts to the ever changing landscape, and that is the beauty of such a biome.

Little Wing and I found ourselves adapting to the motion of the desert. Death Valley chased us back to West Coast with the threat of rain. I talked to various workers at the oasis that I stayed at and they all had a different take on what would come of the precipitation, or what the forecast even meant for the area. The one that stuck with me though came from the oldest of the people who advised me. Jonathan was his name, and my guess is he was about fifty. He told me that when it rains in the desert the landscape changes. He said that rocks and sand wash out and go wherever they please. He told of people driving in the rain in the desert and having to hide behind their car as the detritus stopped the vehicles and turned them into just another part of the landscape.

I think it was just horror stories.

Even so, being a person who listens to the advice of others, especially when I know nothing of the area,  I took off for less dangerous terrain.

All of California is getting rain today, or so the internet tells me. Since I didn’t know exactly what to do with myself after finding out that the desert actually gets rain too (I am quite flabbergasted, to be honest),  I decided the coast was as a good a place as any. I’m now sitting at my new hosts place in Oceanside, CA, staring out the window at chirping birds on the feeders,  typing and drinking tea. It beats being caught in a mudslide in a place that has the word death right in its title.

The desert was actually quite charming. I found that I had a healthy amount of apprehension about it stemming from my lack of knowledge and experience. There are no swamps or trees there so it was really nothing like anything I’ve known. I was instead going off the knowledge I had attained in books about the Sahara and thirsty cowboys. Movies also came to mind, and visions of Peter O’Toole riding camels served as a type of guide (I was thinking of him before the motorcycle accident, otherwise it is clearly not the best imagery of the great Lawerence of Arabia) while traversing on my own humble steed. I did fell the tiniest bit nervous. So much dry dirt, so many rocks, a lot of heat, it would be one of the worst places I can imagine to break down. Because I haven’t yet spent a lot of time there I find that I still think of it with trepidation. I will have to wander over there again to alleviate, and overcome, this odd hesitation. It is an emotion I am unused to.

Speakingof breaking down, I didnt come up with that idea out of thin air. The first evening that I rode into the outskirts of the valley I was actually met by the reality. It wasn’t my bike that broke down, but a strangers scooter. After an hour and a half of riding through the dark desert I was met by an oasis of light and people, something I had only been dreaming of when riding first on the windy dusty flat roads, and then the winding steep mountainous roads, all in the dark. At one point I became the front of a short procession. It was just Little Wing and a semi, but that was enough to make it feel like a chore. We were going down hill and the only turnoffs were sandy gravel patches which I was unwilling to undertake in the dark, fearing a fishtail off of the hill into the rocky crevices below. I could hear the semi driver putting his foot on the brakes, riding them as I went around the corners at 25 mph. I tried to ignore the thoughts of his brakes going out, and the scene of the eighteen wheeler plummeting down the steep terrain, Little Wing becoming just a hood ornament to be seen later after the dust had settled and the truck was uncovered by the rescue team. I attempted to keep those thoughts as far away as the campsite that was at the end of the ride. The semi must have been thinking the same thing though, because after ten minutes of being lead by the small motorcycle we hit a long enough stretch of straight, flat road and he passed me as I hugged the right side of the road. He immediately picked up speed and I could hear his brakes relax. Needless to say, I was relieved as could be to see the lights of civilization at the end of that trail. Despite the dark blue and black that dominated the sky it was only 6:30, so I was wide awake and pumped on adrenaline. I pulled up to a gas station, and observed that there was also a campsite and bar in this brightly lit bastion of civilization. As I cut the engine and got to uncinching my helmet I observed a man sitting outside of the convenience store at a table. As I watched he got up, and as I hung my helmet he approached. I told him good evening as I got off Little Wing, and then he proceeded to engage me in conversation.

It turns outhe was a Russian, so he spoke with an accent. His name was Misha and he had immigrated to the U.S. seventeen years ago. When he saw me on the motorcycle he thought I might have the tools on me for a broken down scooter. Now mind you, I know nothing about scooters so I have done a little research go figure out how exactly to explain the problem without sounding uninformed, so bear with me. The drive belt had basically disenegrated within its housing. The drive belt is the equivilant to the chain or belt on a motorcycle, except different because it works on a variator. Motorcycles have clutches and gears. Like in a standard transmission car, one holds the clutch and shifts gears. A scooter has a belt in a variator, making the difference between scooters and motorcycles sort of comparable to a standard transmission vs. an automatic in the four wheeled vehicle world. The scooters variator changes the position of the belt depending on the speed, controlling the back tires movement in relation to the engine. The rider doesn’t have to do shifting, it is automatically determined. At least that is the way most modern day scooters work. At least that’s how Misha’s worked.

The belt was a disenegrated pile of dust laying on the side of the road with his scooter and all his gear. He had a new belt to replace it with, problem was, he didn’t have the right tool to to turn the nut holding the variator in place while simultaneously insuring the circular disc did not spin. Meaning, he was turning and turning his wrench and nothing was loosening. He needed an impact wrench.

I don’t carry those on my bike. I agreed to help him find one though. First I wanted to get the tent off the back of my bike. After figuring out the camping situation I setup my tent as we discussed his different options. Me riding two up with him four miles to the place that the sccoter was safely stowed away was discussed. Borrowing tools from campers also came up. The idea of him getting the bike towed was mentioned. The decided upon action was actually a walk over to the bar and adress a question to the bartender. One radio communication later and we were in contact with some of the workers at the campsite area, and thirty minutes later we were in a truck on our way to fetch scooter. Less than eighteen hours later the scooter would be fixed with the help of these men. During the time in between though Misha and I had a whole evening in which to discuss and get to know each other.
image

It was a neat experience to go to Death Valley in an effort to experience a bit of nature only to meet another friend. One of the coolest things about the experience was the fact that I finally felt I was given a very small opportunity to pay forward all the kindness I’ve been the recipient of. I didn’t actually do much other than offer my company, but whatever it was, it felt good. Small steps.

Misha’s scooter was fixed and he was off to his home the next day. I filled my afternoon with exploration of the valley. I saw the sand dunes and had a great ride in the desert. That evening I would find out about the rain, meaning I only had one good day of hanging in the desert before being scared away by the elements.

image

These papery flowers have a name which I have trouble pronouncing. All I know is that they are lovely and very common around Oceanside. Along with pomegranates, pomelos and avocados. Not too bad.

Ah well. I’m now in Oceanside, it is raining out there. I’m glad that I can react to such works of nature with gratitude rather than angst. It was healthy to remove myself from a place where I was dreading the elements, because really, that’s what it is all about. The elements make up the bigger picture. California needs needs rain, and who am I to bitch about it when they get it? Well, I’m not now. I’m safe and dry. I’m not in the path of mudslides or dust storms. I have heat and dry place for Little Wing as I watch the birds frolic in the rain, and the plants on the organic farm that my host owns stretch their limbs to take in the glorious moisture. I’m not complaining.

I will go back to Death Valley soon, and hopefully I will be met with as much life and shared adventure as the first night there. We shall see. For now I’m working on not being intimidated by things I lack knowledge of, and researching them if I do.

image

Hey all, if you are getting sick of that snow and rain in your area feel free to send it over to California. They’d sure appreciate it I’m certain. I’m off to dip my toes in some puddles.