Up the mountain we rode.

August 27, 2012

The early lights,

a breeze insinuates itself, touches my brow

Morning.

 

Sun.

Sunday.

Fun.

 

A few bites of berries.

 

Clean the visor.

Don the leather.

 

Back out of the garage.

Fill up the tank.

Flip down the shield.

Roll the bike onto the road.

 

The engine roars, my heart it soars.

Curves.

Cops.

Mountain tops.

Speed jockeys in black leather astride futuristic metal steeds, slice the wind.

Hard core cyclists sweat blood along the precipices at a high spin.

Pushing pedals and limits.

 

We roll, twist, shift, carving the hillsides with our machines.

Bodies allied to the metal.

The rubber in dalliance with the tarmac.

The cool air between the skin and the leather.

It is perfect weather.

Sun.

Burnt trees.

Incandescent blue skies.

 

I rejoice in the perfection of a curve, when all vectors agree. All forces equal.

Eyes up, hands light.

A thigh in a curve coax a bit more lean.

Arkadaş willingly complies.

 

A day on the Angeles Crest.

Friends. Food. Laughter.

I’m so thankful.

I’m here among my friends. Here in the accepting arms of California.

I can close my eyes.

Breathe.

Let go.

 

updating

August 24, 2012

the day I finally ‘landed”

 

Another Friday. My third one in California.

 

Santa Monica visit

The sun shines, and thankfully the temperatures have dropped a few degrees from the 106 F we had a little while ago. It’s beautiful, hopeful, the evenings cool into the 70’s and it’s truly “ Summertime and the living is easy.”

 

beautiful buildings

It’s been a purposeful week, calls, meetings, seeing friends, there are many more I have to see and that will mean some more tanks of gas to cover the distances separating us.

fallen angel

 

I now have a phone number, yeah, one could almost say that I’ve settled down.

 

Rise… Become celestial body… Rise, Rise…

Looks like I’m going to visit San Francisco in late September for radio shows and performances, that is very exciting. I’m also concocting appearances in the area I’ll let you know when it’s confirmed.

 

Arkadaş at Santa Monica beach

I guess I’m finally landing. It took a bit longer to land psychologically than it was to land physically.  Last Saturday I was writing and that was when I realized that I was not here but in the past or in the future, it was uncomfortable, and the sudden awareness “swooshed” me into present time.

I don’t know how long I’ll be here, I have learned not to count my eggs too early, but I intend to enjoy every moment I am here to it’s fullness.  So far it’s been incredibly heart warming.  After being battered by emotions, the winds and my own mind, there is nothing quite like being among people who simply love you.

 

where the pavement meets the beach

 

I’m thankful.  So many blessings.  I’m thankful for having been challenged and for having risen to the occasion.  I’m thankful for the kindnesses, the selflessness of all who showed up on my path.  It’s truly mind boggling.

 

Santa Monica Beach

Many ask me what my plans are and I cannot quite answer fully. Not yet.  But please trust, have faith.  I know for some, my journey is a strange, unpredictable, fearsome rambling into the unknown, but that is not the case.  It is a Quest.  At this moment, I feel centered.  Strong.   Every step I take, ever so small or large seems guided and yields answers.

The world whirls.  The road unfurls, long ribbon, into forwardness with its kinks and knots and long smooth stretches.  We walk.  We are.

 

new friends

I think Europe, I think minstrel, I think sharing, exploring, learning, growing. I think lightness. I think roads and days of sun, sand, light, music. I think of finding the trail of masters. There are songs waiting to be birthed and sounds waiting to be learned.

old friends

 

I pray that I hear and follow the calling as truly as I can, without fear, towards the light, towards truth.

love etched in concrete

 

August 19th 2012,

 

the celebration of the life of Melanie Doerman. The day of.

 

It’s Sunday morning. Today is the 19th, August 19th. I learned of this date sometime in June. When all hell was breaking loose for me back in Ottawa. It was a target. A kind of Grail. Something to look up to, keep my eyes on, come hell or high water. Melanie’s Life Celebration event in California.

 

As all kinds of stuff came, went, passed, pushed, pulled, ripped and despite and thanks to all these things, I had kept my focus on making it here for the 19th.

 

The week before the celebration we had gathered at the Garden of Beaden, Irene’s bead shop, to paint cardboard skulls. There was to be 20 tables and those were to be the centerpieces. We painted, at first with a bit of hesitation, then gleefully the skulls. Melanie loved skulls.

 

 

 

 

Here are some samples resulting from our handiwork.

Then as the week end approached guests started to arrive. Saturday the house was full of friends and family. We had a directive not to cry, to be strong, this was to be a celebration not a funeral. We ate good food, there was drink, cake, natchos. All of this to tide us over until Sunday.

 

I had been asked to sing a song. I didn’t search too long. Melanie had asked me a few times to sing my song “Rise” from the Alien Suite back when I was here in 2010, but I wasn’t confident enough to do it as I had not played it in a long while.  So now I had my chance to redeem myself. Chances to redeem yourself cannot be ignored, they must be embraced. So Sunday morning I warmed up, prepared, started to get a picture of what I wanted to do, what I wanted to communicate and how I wanted to communicate it. Songs can be chameleons. Their meaning can morph, adapt, change, be enriched… just like us.  I wanted to make this one become Melanie, represent her, speak of her, speak to her.

 

The party was held at the Hip Kitty, a bar- restaurant I had been at in 2010 with Melanie and Asbjorn, I had witnessed the band Groove Session or “the boys” as everyone called them (two of the band members are Irene’s sons) perform there, I had really enjoyed myself.

 

Memories are also like songs, they can be morphed, adapted, changed and can be enriched by their owner, I stood there, matching my memories of the place with what I saw. It was a bit smaller than I remembered, not quite the same shape, but the lights above the stage were the same, it made me travel back in time, I saw myself sitting there, months ago…

 

Soon the skulls took their residence on the tables, an altar to Melanie’s memory was put together with her helmet and boots, some of her artwork, photos… then there were art pieces that were created in a Challenge. Every year the Garden of Beaden has this challenge where artists are given a theme and they create a piece. The pieces were aligned there, tribute to the master.

People started to come in. Hugs and more hugs, love. So much love.

 

Humans are so beautiful when they express their love. Here we were, most of these souls strangers to me but our mutual connection to Melanie made us all brethren, united, beautiful.

Here is the work of one soul. Here is the impossibly beautiful achievement of a life lived completely passionately and generously. It is so moving. So profound.

 

Oh my sister, how I miss you. How I love you. But my missing is a selfish thing. You came among us and followed your path with deep passion and engagement, keeping always your head high, your eyes on the road ahead, willing to discover, to search, to overcome and you did this with such grace. The gift of your friendship and sisterhood was a gift of such magnitude for me, something that changed my life forever and for better. How we laughed, how we cried, how we shared. Thank you.

 

Starting with Asbjorn, her husband, we then listened to the words of those who knew her, loved her, it was the chance to know a little more, share a little more, be with her a little more through her friends. Then there was a slide show, again, a chance to dive into her universe. The artwork, the friends, her magnificient smile, the motorcycle. A life, a work of art.

Songs came after, Melanie loved music, from heavy metal to sweet delicate songs.

 

Crystal sang the first song. “Soul sister” she would sing and I would feel it.

 

Then Forrest played his piano. I closed my eyes. It is much to take in.

The view from the stage :

Then it was my turn. I got up on the stage and the energy from the good people sitting there was unbelievable. I had been asked to sing 3 songs, so Rise was the last and for that last song I had asked all the musicians who were there to come and join me, then asked the audience to sing along :

 

Rise, rise

Become celestial body

Rise, rise

Forget the body

 

Take control

Liberate the soul

Mind over matter

Rise, rise, rise

 

The song rose, the voices rose, Forrest keeping the heartbeat. Then Crystal singing, Sarvenplaying his guitar, Ronnie his bass, and Manny delicately brought in cymbals then his drums. It was so beautiful. I actually am not sure how I kept it together, it was larger than me. I felt her spirit with us. I think everyone did. Rise, rise… All of us, as one, all together. This is one of those Gifts from life, from the Gods. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

 

Then Groove Session played Pink Floyd’s Shine on Crazy Diamond and they put all their might into it, the fire of rock, searing guitars… Perfect.

 

Sometimes,  when you set your mind on one goal, persevere, hold on, you get such gifts in return. I could feel all the miles, from Ottawa, to Winnipeg, to the border crossing, all across North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, California, some 5000 kilometers.  I could feel all the times I had grabbed on to that decision to be here, to make it in time, all the times I feared I might not make it, all the plans A, B, C and D I was concocting to achieve the goal, all the times I said out loud that I was going to be there all the while wondering if I could make it.  How much I wanted to be right this time and how much I knew how plans can be foiled.  I hung on to the desire to be here for this date with my soul sister and the road opened for me.

 

Thank you for the gift of you Melanie.  Thank you for the gift of your world.  Love you Forever and Ever you adventuress, artist, lover of life, motorcycling amazon, discoverer of life’s secrets, bead magician, sorceress and enchanteress.

 

I headed out after topping up the bike’s tank, quenching the need for water and electrolytes with a bright blue bottle of Gatorade then drenching my head and shirt with the contents of a bottle of water before covering with helmet and jacket. My camel back is full of cool H2O. Outside it’s a furnace and I’m heading out into a desert like place. I’m kind of praying for no traffic jams. Those really take it out of you as you sit on an idling engine, amongst idling cars on a hot tarmac.

 

99 South.

 

I keep an eye on the engine temperature and I am surprised to see that it stays between 88 and 90 C. Very nice.

 

I found by trial and error that it is much more pro survival to keep all the gear on. It insulates you, keeps moisture in. Even the face shield is kept down to keep from a direct contact with this hot air that feels like flames.  I guess it’s like the Beduins in the desert with the long robes and turban.  Keep the system’s integrity.

 

As much as the cold, the heat is dangerous. The human body has shallow margins of tolerance.

 

I zipped down the highway, staying in the open spaces, constantly moving, changing lanes to stay alert and stay where there is the largest amount of wind. It’s amazing to realize how much heat one truck can generate and on the same breath, amazing to feel how much coolness a tree generates.

 

Along the road are mainly orchards or some type of farming. Another amazing thing is the intensity of the smell of pesticides.

 

I’m doing pretty good. The wet hair and shirt in conjunction with the wind act as air conditioners. I get to Bakersfield in 2 hours and some, I don’t recall exactly, I can never quite keep up with numbers, be it distance, time or amounts, all I know is that I made good time, everything performed as needed and that it now is time to stop. I  fill up and it hits. As soon as you stop the 106 F of pure heat hits without delay.   My head swims, the heart pounds, the sweat pours and the breathing gets more difficult.

 

One more Gatorade, one more bottle of water. What I found out is that when it’s that hot, I need to take a serious break after 2,3 hours of riding. It’s a must for me and for the bike. If I don’t do that, I start feeling agitated, weak, overwhelmed then dizzy and disoriented.  It seems to apply for the bike too.  If I don’t give the bike a cool off time it seems that the whole machine gets too hot, as if there is a softening of the chain, brakes, engine… it gets louder, it doesn’t feel quite right.  The BMW was built for that. You could ride that machine for 12 hours, stop and go and it would not mind. I don’t think that Suzukis were made for that sort of continual, all day long, non stop riding. It’s just my opinion and it’s not scientifically proven but if I take that longer break, especially when it’s brutally hot, it seems the machine is thankful.

 

On my way to the Starbucks, a young man on an old BMW pulls next to me.  He’s smiling, he saw my license plate : “ Did you come all the way from Ontario?

 

“Yeah!”

 

“Cool! I just took a trip around America on this bike!”

“Awesome, what year is it?

“1974”

“Wow!!!”

His bike reminds me of Beowulf, built like a tank, big engine, big metal boxes for luggage. The guy looks so free and happy, fresh faced, open, it’s a joy to see him. Bikes will do that to people.

 

“Do you need a place to stay?”

 

“No, I’m on my way to San Dimas, I need to find the Starbucks…”

 

“Follow me!”

 

He guides me a few blocks down and points to the Starbucks, he continues and I turn left. I wish he’d have time to stop, I bet he had lots of stories…

 

I parked and walked in. Yeah. Super cool air. Phew. I need to stay at least 90 minutes maybe more. I feel my body almost pinging from the heat. I ordered a frozen drink, pulled out the laptop.

 

A while later a guy comes towards me.  He’s wiry, white haired, intense.

 

“Which one of you is riding the bike?” He was looking at me and the guy at the table next to me.

“I am.”

 

“Oh, well, I was wondering, how is it for woman physically to travel on a bike, how can you deal with it?”

… For a woman… Poor chap. Doesn’t he know? Women are tough. Women carry the babies, the husbands, the families, the villages on their shoulders since the dawn of time…

 

“It’s fine.” I said.

 

“Well, I have a BMW 1200 (something or other…) and I’ve always wanted to take a trip but I don’t know… I like my comforts…”

 

“If you really want to take that trip, you should do it. It’s really amazing.”

 

We chatted a little bit. He left. I wondered how many bikes sit in how many garages with their owners thinking of taking them out but not doing it. How many dreams bottled up in the shiny glass of comfort bottles.

 

I looked at the map, chatted with a few friends on Skype and Facebook about the options available. My plan was :

58, 395, 15, 210

 

“You should avoid the desert…”

“You could take the I-5…”

“You could take the 2 and get some curves…”

“You could take the 14… “

 

So I modified the route this way :

58, 14, 15, 210

 

The desert wasn’t too much of an issue as it’s getting close to 5 PM and very soon the temperatures will come down, the 5 I really didn’t want to take… too much traffic, too fast, I was too tired for that. The 2 well, that was tempting but same idea, too tired, didn’t want to take unnecessary risks.

 

Time to go. I drenched my head and shirt, checked the load on the bike, put on the gear and headed out.

 

I rolled through the desert, It was beautiful. A brand new patch of road, lots of trucks, mountains looming in the horizon, golden, burnt, parched. I thought of stopping for photos but it’s too hot. Those stops with the gear on put so much stress on the body, I made a note to come back this way. I did that again when I got onto the 14 and the Joshua trees stand, massive crowds of them, basking in an orange-purply light as the sun finishes its round. It was breath-taking. But I motored on.

 

I finally hit the 15 and it’s rushing flow of traffic. It’s wild.

 

I can feel the destination ahead. I’m almost there. All the emotions start to rush in. I almost cry. I almost scream in victory, but I’m not there yet so I don’t.

 

210 West. I’m here. I’m really here.  I’m in California, I am finally hitting my destination after a very long detour.  I’m a few exits away from the place I left 17 months ago. I was going to be gone for 2 weeks, handle a few things and be back and resume life.

It’s epic. Dwarfing. It is the will of life and the moves we make to deal with it.

 

The motor runs. It’s getting dark. Ahead lay the last colors of the day, around the air cools. I’m lying on the tank, watchful. Arkadaş took me all the way from Ottawa to California, from lost to found, from wishing a hopeful thing to seeing it happen.

 

I get to the exit, it’s kind of unreal. It’s real. It’s now, it was then and I think of Melanie, my soul sister, she won’t be there, and I choke. 1 set of lights, another and another, the gas station I used to fill up… the dip down the road where the temperatures are always at least 5 degrees cooler. Turn left, another left, turn right and a last left. Oh my God…. It’s all quiet in the neighborhood. I pull up to the garage door.

 

It opens, slowly, in a dignified sort of way. I see Ozzy. I see a whole bunch of bikes, the red Fiat Melanie had told me about so excitedly. I don’t remember what I said, tears run down my face inside the helmet, I get the bike inside the garage, get off, give Ozzy a big helmeted hug.

 

I made it.

5 hours and some

August 9, 2012

follow the finger

Thursday morning.

Merced.  I just got back out in the world after a good night’s sleep.  I became a rock.  I slept through and the world could have been blown to bits and I would not have known.

Starbucks.

There is a Starbucks just next to the Motel 6.  I packed the bike then walked over.  Life is sparkling.  People, one filling up a job application with such intensity, oblivious to us all, another reading in such a calm aura, a couple from my hotel, obviously from Europe are not sure how to get their food and coffees, the woman is impatient and the man stands around politely waiting.  A beautiful black working man gets his giant Frappuccino.

Life so alive.

A fly lands on my arm, I wave it off.  The blenders blend furiously the many drinks. The sun is high and bright, it’s late already, 11:07.  I decided to sleep then meditate instead of rushing out to try to get an hour of cool.

Last day on the road before destination.

I don’t know how I feel.  I’m good.  I’m tired.  My face is puffy, my body is keeping up with the abuse.  My right shoulder still in the throttle position; stretched forward.

People are beautiful this morning.

Deep breath.

While meditating a question rose : What will I do?   What is my path?

Another deep breath.

The caffeine is starting to course my veins.  What is this thing?  What is this unstoppable desire to live, to experience, to be alive?  All of us…  Pushing through, like the salmon in the stream.  Life, life, life, coaxing, beating, pulling, gently or brutally, as much as you can bear and a little bit more.   Like gravity, want it or not, it is.

Fear of the years passing by, of missing the golden canoe ride down the river.  Wants and needs and desires like the bright neon signs in the desert night.

flower and armor

My hands are slightly thick and stiff.  Motorcycle hands.  The bike sounded so loud to me last night.  Loosening exhaust parts? .  We both need to stop, rest and restore.  There is a little over 5 hours or driving left.  It will be around 100 degrees F.

All these beautiful souls I will reconnect with are just 5,6 hours away.  I don’t know how I feel because I still can’t quite believe I’m here.  17 months since I left and was going to be “right back”.    The “what ifs” raise their hands with questions like eager over achieving students.

What if?

No.  You cannot question.

But what if I was supposed to…

No.  You’re not supposed to nothing.   You just be.  You just face life like you face the road : you commit fully and go on and take  the blind turn and then you will be guided.   Like when I heard “SLOW DOWN” as I was heading to Great Falls in the middle of the night, in the rain, in the cold.  I missed the deer thanks to that voice.    Is it all preordained?

So.  Time to go.  Time to commit to this moment and its factors:  the heat, the fatigue, the loud bike, traffic, road construction and whatever else will appear in my path.

My friends, I’m on my way.  I’m on my way.

the long and narrow road, day and night

Today was kind of everything planned went wrong, maybe wrong is too strong a word, everything went somewhere else.

 

Starting with missing the 28 out of Carson City. I thought : “ Uh..  Was that it?…” I was going 100 km/hr in traffic zig zagging big mountain side curves and turning around seemed way too much trouble.  I thought : “ Well, the 50 was the other plan.” so I went with it.

 

Went through Tahoe without stopping, except for the traffic lights, which were numerous. At one of those a big guy on a very expensive looking sport BMW bike pulled next to me.

“Hey, you rode all the way from Canada?”

“Yeah! Ottawa.”

“Cool! I have a boat here, I live about an hour away so I come on the bike…”

We exchanged a couple other platitudes and the light changed and he took off. I got caught behind an old man in a pick up truck who turned then could not decide which gas station he wanted to go to so I never saw the BMW jockey again.

 

The road became really gorgeous. Very curvy. Very mountainy. I was very happy. Then a few of us happy go luckies, got caught behind a red old school Jeep going 50 km/hr the speed limit is 50 miles per hour…   maybe he was Canadian? I swear the guy was doing that on purpose. It made me laugh to thing of the frustration rising for each and every driver accumulating behind. But the bike is still fun to ride slow or fast so I was enjoying myself. It went on for quite a while, finally, a passing lane appeared, I floored it, leaving him behind and resuming the great riding.  A Grey Volvo followed my example passing the Jeep, but  no car can corner like a bike so I soon left him behind.  I had the whole road to myself…   Until the road work.  After that we were a slow caravan of vehicles, lumbering down the road.

 

Finally, the signs for the 49 appeared and I took a left. It was starting to get really hot. I rode until I saw the sign for Amador City and I thought , lets take a chance and see what that is all about.  I drove into this little hamlet. What a surprise, the full on Cowboy town. I walked around, wanted to eat a bit but all the food places were closed, so I took some photos and headed back out.

 

Then came Sutter Creek, another cowboy town but bigger, more touristy, I found a coffee place with WiFi and wrote the earlier post.

I was feeling tired. Wondered if that was the heat, left over fatigue from my night ride 24 hours previous or something else. I just did not feel that great. I hit the road and that is where things started to get funky.

 

I started to just want to stop for the day. But couldn’t see any campsites. I followed the 49. I am looking on the map and cannot figure out where I went… I know Jackson is part of it, but I can’t see where I went. I remember seeing Bit Trees Park and took a road off of the 49. Ended up at a cave place with zip lines and suddenly I had to stop my heart going way too fast and a sense of panic coming over me : heat exhaustion. I had my jacket on and that was too much.

 

I got off the bike, barely managed to park it, went inside, got some gatorade type stuff and sat down for a while. I asked if there was camping there, there wasn’t but the big tree park is up the road…

after about 20 minutes I went back out, got on the bike but without the jacket and somehow that felt really, really bad… I couldn’t imagine if I was to fall… that asphalt is 100 degrees F… Yeesh… but if I wear the jacket I’ll get too hot… so I got back on the road.. arrived to the next town… see a “Big tree” sign turned and ended up in yet another cowboy town but this time it’s all about wine tasting and buying expensive stuff and you know… I can’t remember where the heck that was… I got off the bike there. I’m starting to feel panicky. I am riding really poorly, I have a hard time making decisions, I can’t figure out what to do next… so I went in a place and got lemonade. Sat for about 30 minutes. Calmed down. I looked on my phone (it has the BEST GPS function) and realized that the road I was on was taking me back directly on the 49. With purpose I got back out, by this time it’s starting to cool off so I can wear the jacket.

 

I get back on the 49 and realize I had been in this town before, and the next… I made some sort of loop… totally weird and I don’t really get what I did. I finally hit new territory, ride for a while,  then I see signs for Yosemite. I turned… end up on a mountain road with these 355 degree turnaround riding behind a motor home, my engine is starting to heat up as we are going 25 mph it’s still 90 some degrees out and there is no air and I’m going too slow and it’s getting tough… I pulled out. Waited. Started again. I see a sign for a campsite, turn. I finally get there… I am not impressed. I feel so tired. I park the bike at a site. Yuck. I thought. Campground in California are not yummy. Too many people use them and there is not enough rain to cleanse the places, so they are dusty, dirty little spots.

 

I stayed about 20 minutes… didn’t feel like staying, didn’t want to unpack the bike, could not imagine repacking the bike in the morning, didn’t want to put the tent on the ground or the sleeping bag on the table because it’s too dirty. I laid down on the table’s bench. Closed my eyes.

 

I got back up, grabbed that phone again : So much distance going East  towards the 395 so much distance going West back to 49… OK, you can do this. I told myself. I got back on the bike, headed back out, back down the mountain, got stuck one more time behind someone terrified of curves and deep ravines in a very fancy white car. We were 3 following him and he would not, for all the money in the world, have pulled out at one of the many pull outs, to let us go free.

 

Finally back on the 49.

 

Ooops, detour. Take 120.

 

OK

 

I take 120 for what seemed a long, long time. I ended up way, way out of the way of where I thought my way was. I landed in yet another cowboy town, bigger than the other two.  There is so much traffic, we’re crawling along and my engine’s temperature is doing it’s own crawling, going up very fast, 110, 112, 114, 115… I know 120 is the “stop everything” temperature, I had just looked it up in the manual the day before… Damn! Finally we got moving, the motor cools off, phew… Where am I? I had not studied the 120 so I don’t know the names of the cities, there is a sign for 120 and it doesn’t say East or West… damn!

 

It went on like this, then the scenery flatened. The towns became ugly, approaching civilization and I finally saw a sign for the 99.

 

I headed South. Out of Modesto, major traffic jam. Road repairs at 8 PM, we’re all asked to move to the left lane and when we get near the workers, drivers gawk, almost stop…  Geez…  It clears up and I keep going. Oops will need some gas:  not a problem around here, where civilization is, gas stations abound, not like in the boonies. I got some gas, got going again. It’s dark now. I swear the days are shorter with this Pacific time zone.

 

I am now on the lookout for a hotel, anything. I see a motel 6, 39.99 but there are no exits for miles and miles, I finally saw “ Motel row” in Merced. They are all here : Super 8, American’s Best, Holiday Inn, and more. I see motel 6, pull in there. Got off the bike. There are 2 rooms left, a smoking one and a non smoking one.

 

“non-smoking please.”

 

“You can leave your bike right here in the light close to the office, so it will be safe.”

“Well thank you!”

 

So I landed for the day.

 

No magic night in a forest under the stars. A Motel 6. But I am burnt. I need the rest. I noticed that my chin was all red and the skin all dried out, never seen that before… maybe I had some kind of something… maybe that was why I was so tired. But now I am safe, sound, I will sleep like a log and tomorrow I’ll get into San Dimas.

 

I still can’t quite grasp what is taking place now. Davidian had said : “Be” and I found it to be the most useful advice in a long time. Just be. Not be happy, be free, be all you can be. Just be. Then life comes to meet you and you’re ready because you “are”.

Love ya all.

 

August 8, 2012

 

I am sitting in a coffee house in Sutter, CA.

 

Yes I have arrived, I am in California, about a day from arriving in San Dimas. Yesterday was off. After that all nighter driving I needed a break, couldn’t go on. Even last night I was still seeing road rolling on when I closed my eyes.

Today I’ve only been riding for about 2 hours and I am wiped out. The heat being one factor and the lingering fatigue from two days ago the other factor. I sit here and I feel I am in a chicken coop. There are two tables with woment chatting and the two women working here are also chatting loudly… maybe it’s because of the racket made by the fridges, air conditioning, fans… or maybe I’m just tired. And not to say I’m evesdropping, but when I hear something it’s all about complaining or criticizing. It’s tiring just to sit here. Yeah, I must be tired…

I did not stop inTahoe on the way down. It was not a place where I felt I wanted to visit. Too trendy. Too much of a consumer-spend your money- show off you’ve made it- kind of place. Beautiful, yes but too much… I like the out of the way places. Solitary, calm, wild, untamed places. So I just rode through.

I rode down the 50 then the 49, gorgeous. The rolling hills of gold, sprinkled with trees brave enough to grow big under the burning sun and rare water. There is a different type of people. I’ve mentioned that before but the second you cross a state line, everything changes. It seems impossible but it’s like that. The feel, the look, the vibes, it becomes “somewhere else”.

 

I will have to change gears soon. Land. But before that, I will enjoy one or two more camping nights under the stars. One or two more nights before “reality” swoops in and start to demand this and that. Arkadaş needs some TLC. It was not running the greatest, an oil change and a good clean up and maintenance will do good.

 

In images

August 7, 2012

 

 

Yes, what the hell?

Well, last night I assumed once again that Nevada was normal.  I was in Elko and decided to ride a little further assuming I would find a decent room down the road.

First thing that took me by surprise was that at 8PM it was already dark.  We’re on Pacific time but hours away from the coast and I guess the days are shorter?  My thought is that since there are so many casinos, earlier darkness is approved by the business owners of the state.  Just a thought.

But the thing is, I thought I had 2 more hours of daylight to ride and I didn’t.  The good thing : I caught these :

 

 

First attempt : Battle Mountain.  Holy S#$@%

The place is ….  dismal.  I tried the super 8 : full.  Then went down a bit further and saw the “Owl Motel & Casino”…  I can’t describe..  zombies on casino terminals, cigarette smoke, workers in work clothes smoking and spending their hard earned money, the signs glow in the dark flashing and enticing ” come… come…” as if it was exciting.  I walked in, there was a restaurant, the two waitresses must have been 216 years old, faces thick with make up.  I’m looking for the desk…

“Oh, go to the back, see the cashier.”

“thank you very much.” I walk to the back, a young man with a girl who looks like a teenager who is growing up way too fast right now and then are ahead of me.  As I look around the scent of misery is all around.  “Addiction problem?” pamphlet and Western Union money drafts forms.  The cashier is inside a box with bars made of 2 x 2 steel.

She asked me : ” What do you want?”

“Do you have rooms?”

“No, we’re full.”

“Thank you very much.”

I walked out, couldn’t wait to walk out.  It feels wrong, sad, I couldn’t leave the bike out there without worrying.  I get on the bike and go further down the road, the American’s Best is there.  I get to the door : “No Vacancies.”  Someone opened the door and a stench of old carpet and cigarettes blew out.

I sat down and consulted my GPS.  Next town Winnemucca.  OK

I drive down there.  It’s like a cowboy town, there are tons of motels-hotels etc.  Idon’t want to be at a casino.  so I turned back there was a couple of places that looked not too bad.  I picked the “Frontier Motel”.

I get off the bike get inside.  It has a sort of rustic charm.

The guy comes.  He’s young, maybe 18.  about 100 lbs overweight.  Ruddy features.  Heart attack candidate.

“Do you have rooms available?”

“Yeah, You want to see it?  it’s 44 dollars.”

the price was right.

“Ok I’ll go look at it.”  I did.  But somehow, I was too hopeful.  I overlooked everything but the stench.

“Well it’s smelly but it’s OK.” I told the young man.  I Paid.  Parked.  Got a couple of things off the bike and went in.

Man that is really, really smelly…  I walked in the bathroom, the toilet had not been flushed… or cleaned in a while.  The face cloth, well it was like cheese cloth, actually you could not make cheese with it, the netting would have been too wide.  I’m starting to regret.  But I figure I’ll do the right thing and sleep.

I take a shower, at least there is tons of water pressure.  I come out and reluctantly dry myself with what passes as a towel.  This is when I started to look around.  There were yellow drippings on the walls.  Multiple layered huge smelly stains on the carpet, demonstrating eras of abuse.  The little table was stained with gray and all around it’s just filthy.

Then I pulled the cover off the bed.  I’m not sure those sheets have been changed…  there was a couple of little drawings on the bed sheet, 666 and little crosses and an arrow showing towards the middle of the bed.

Crap.

“you gotta rest. You’ll start early tomorrow and it will be ok.”

I spent some time sorting out the pictures of the day, that made me smile.  But then it was time to sleep…  I got pricklier and pricklier.

“you must rest”  I tried meditating but the vibes of the place are so negative I didn’t want to go any deeper.  I finally went to bed. fell asleep at around midnight.  At 1:30 I woke up.  I am feeling awful.  It seems things are crawling all over me.  I got up.  Tried to reason but couldn’t.  So I hopped in the shower again, got dressed and hit the road at 2:30.

I rode stopping every 100km.  I stopped at the rest area before Reno and saw the first lights of purple and deep orange contour the mountains in the distance.

I kept on through Reno.  Another insane city of casinos and flashing lights.

Suddenly I need gas.  I’m so tired.  It’s 6 AM.  I have to turn around, I found a Shell station and the Starbucks just opened.  So here I am.  I’m going to go find a place to sleep in Carson.

Crazy Nevada.

wild flowers in Montana

 

the stream running a little ways from my campsite

 

 

we are dirty

 

The morning of August 4th I took my time to pack up things. Meditated then left, taking the dirt road the other way towards the highway. I rode pretty much all day going through what some would call nowhere but it sure was beautiful. It was a lone road, with the Montana skies in the background, some funny signs and the joy or riding Arkadaş.

a sport bike in the wilderness

Interestingly enough, as much as I was going like a banshee through Ontario, as much as I’ve kept my speed very reasonable. I don’t think I’ve gone over 130 km/hr and that was only once or twice.  I’ve been saying it over and over but these roads, the space, the land… I’ve been filled with a deep sense of peace.  Not that everything is healed but I’m out here, I’m alive, I’ve got some plans, some ideas, but mostly all this beauty fills me up.  Like a cleansing of the mind.

I couldn’t have done it without all the help I got…  K for helping me get the bike, H for helping me later, Sam, Steve, Ozzy,  Mom (she bought my tires among other things (love you xxx) Melonai & Davidian, Lisa at the Y who brought the dream back to life, Fazilet, Ceren, Ilyas for giving me a home when I was totally homeless.  And I’m likely forgetting others and I apologize, my brain is really unreliable sometimes when it comes to remembering things..

I’m truly never alone.  I know you are with me, following me,  I love you.  Here, there, close by, far away, my heart holds you all close by even if my body isn’t right there.

 

the gravel road back to the highway

 

Looks like wisdom won…

 

Hmm I wonder what they worship?

 

By the end of day I found myself in Idaho, a bit regretful to leave Montana.. I will come back, I have to… but I was suddenly rewarded with an very curvy, twisty freshly paved mountain side of a road. I arrived at the bottom of the hill needing gas and saw this station in North Fork and stopped. The place was new, clean, people looked sharp, I paid for the gas and asked the cashier :

“You got good food here?”

“Yes we do!”

So I decided to take a chance and eat there. The menu looked good. I sat at the counter. There was an older lady sitting there, Bern, her name, we ended up chatting for a good hour while my food (trout almondine!) came and it was delicious. I was so excited to eat something good for a change!!

 

at the Forks, If you find yourself there, do stop.

They had campsites there,so I decided to stay.  I lubed the bike chain, I’ve been really good about that. I wish I could wash it but it would take a few things I don’t have right now to do a good job so it will have to wait.  Then I took a shower and that was SO good.

 

I took out the Go guitar and realized I really wanted-needed to play. It was all good until I inadvertently started playing a piece I had written for K.  And it all came rushing back.  I put the guitar down and watched the moon come over the mountains.

 

She was lopsided, she was a Van Goh moon with it’s ear cut off, looking to the left with that expression in her eyes. Orangey. Beautiful. I hear a few frogs, a river running a few meters away, the Salmon River.  I was hoping to sleep under the moon but I had to set up the tent, too many mosquitoes.

 

The next morning, Sunday Morning, I woke up, got up, packed up, then went for breakfast. It was as hoped : delicious again.  I met another local with whom I had another great conversation. He said : “Stop by again, next time you come around.”

 

I hit the road and it was glorious. Curves, sun, no traffic, beautiful scenes one after another. I don’t know where the Idaho potatoes are but they are not around these parts…

At some point two sport bikes arrived behind me. I slowed down and waved them ahead. I didn’t feel like having to watch either my back or ahead of me.   I stopped to take more photos but still ended up with them at a road work stop. We chatted a bit, one is from Nelson BC, rides an Aprilia, the other from Oregon, rides a GSX R. Both bikes look like right out of the show room.

 

We finally got moving again into a convoy of cars, trucks and bikes, the road was rough, gravel holes, and that sort of things.  At one point I let them go.  I don’t like to line up and I had seen something worthy of photos so they moved on and when I was done with photos I had the road to myself which I enjoyed fully.

I hit the next town, and there they were,  the guys were there filling up and I needed to do that too.

“You want to have lunch with us?”

“Sure.”

We rode into Chalice, stopped at a cafe where the smell of burn grease permeated the air.

“At least we know what we’re getting into!”

 

We had lunch, chatted, one is a vice director in a school, the other does IT stuff. They paid for my lunch which is getting wild as I’ve managed to get free food, or meal or coffee just about every day on this trip.

 

We took photos, I followed them for a while. The road got even more curvier and twistier it was incredible.  I’m not missing the roads of Ontario!   I kept looking at that Salmon River thinking that I should really get my toes in it… it was so hot. It would feel so good. So when I saw a nice pull out I waved goodbye and let them go on.

One BC rider

One Oregon rider

 

I stopped and went to the river.  Took my leathers off and went in the cold fresh pure water. It was cold, vivifying.  I was laughing.  Life is good.  Life is being so good to me…

the Salmon River

and a self portrait of one homeless rider!

I got back on the bike refreshed and rode on. The 75 turned to the 93 there was more fun to be had.

 

I stopped in Hailey for a good hour to cool down.  It’s been getting hotter and hotter, no more need for a heated vest.  I got back on the bike and rode until I hit the 20 West. I had promised myself I was going to stop in the first campground I would see, I did, but when I looked around it was a bit of a Blade Runner kind of vibe of poverty and dirt and weird vibes. I left immediately. I ended up riding for another good while, catching the sunset.

 

Then catching the smog from the forrest fires, which made me feel once again that I was on my way to Mordor…

first glimpse of the forest fire smoke, I thought it was just a wild cloud..

the same cloud some miles down the road..

a close up

 

then later, the smoke over the land on the 20

I felt like I was getting into Mordor with the evil forces watching me

I rode until I hit Mountain Home, Idaho.  I turned into the first hotel parking lot I saw, asked for a room, got one.  Went in there and I started to laugh like an idiot.  It was cool, clean, full of all I needed : shower, bed, nice towels. nice chair to sit on and get on the computer, outlets to charge all the gizmos and a quiet, clean, warm vibe.

Lets get some rest now.  Tomorrow, it’s Wild Horse Reservoir in Nevada…