Sunday, January 4, 2015
Sunday, November 30, 2014
It's interesting the things I find myself worrying about these days. It used to be storms, engine failure, or running out of drinking water that got me stressed. Lately I've found my abundant collection of shoes, specifically heels get me stressed out. This is the leg of the journey we've been training for. We've lived in a tent and out of a backpack so you'd think we can most certainly manage in a bus or a room in someone else's house.
Monday, September 22, 2014
When we first began planning this journey, we spent a lot of time gathering inspiration from sources around us. From documentaries, to blogs, to people out on the internet doing crazy adventures and amazing things. These people were what inspired us to keep trucking, put on a happy face about what we were trying to achieve, and keep moving forward. The thing of it is, while you're trying to pull something like this off, you become incredibly self centered. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't mean self centered in an ego maniacal God complex kind of way. I mean the kind of self centered, self focused zone that puts you in a place where it doesn't even occur to you what the rest of the world may think. To be frank, we were under the assumption that nobody would care or even notice what we were doing. Imagine my shock in Florence Oregon, just a week into our journey when I was having a conversation with someone and they told me how inspiring this journey was. For months we were telling everyone that we were going to load up these tiny bikes and take off. The secret was that we weren't sure we were going to make it very far- we were excited to simply make it to Portland, Oregon and back again. But we carried on. All the while meeting more and more folks that were absolutely floored by the distance we've traveled and most of them telling us we were inspiring them in one way or another. This is the interesting thing about inspiration; the more people we meet that tell us it inspires them, the more we want to move forward. The really incredible thing to me lately, is the reaction we're getting from people that we were drawing inspiration from before we left home. Large motorcycle owners and small moped jockies alike are all absolutely thrilled to meet us and talk with us about our journey. These are names in the game that once upon a time I'd looked up and thought how cool it would be to meet them, and now here they are, asking us to stop by and meet them, or even answer a few questions for an article in a publication they work for. Like I said, when we took off from little Medford, Oregon, we didn't think anyone would care. But they do. And that gives the drive- the inspiration to carry on......
Friday, July 18, 2014
While travelling east through Idaho on Hwy 12, we had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of Murry. We had just bathed in the brisk waters of the Clearwater River and were beginning to be on the lookout for a place to bed down for the night when we zipped past Murry while he was walking along the road side with the largest pack I've ever seen on his back. We soon found a beautiful little wayside that was littered with wild daisies across the highway from river. After exploring a bit and snapping plenty of pictures, we began to set up our tents and up walked Murry. He asked if he could share our spot and there was plenty of room, so of course we told him he could most definitely camp with us. I'm so glad we said yes to the universe and had the opportunity to share the evening with this man. He has been hiking all over the country since 2010 and shared with us the most incredible stories about his adventures. Not only were his stories fascinating but Murry himself was one of the most interesting people I've ever met. The way he knew the flora and fauna surrounding us, his philosophies of life, and the way he told stories were enthralling. At one point late in the evening while we were sitting around the campfire, Murry began to lament the death of his violin. He then recounted he numerous McGyver repairs he did on his instrument until sadly, he got caught in a heavy rainstorm, which caused the back of the violin to pop off and it became beyond repair. He then told us about how he worked for a time as a piano tuner's apprentice at the Berkley school of Music in Boston and that with time, all piano tuners became alcaholics. He believed it had a lot to do with listening to all those partial chords all day. When Adam and I told him about our musical background and the instruments we played, he became very excited. Especially about my playing the accordion. He asked me all sorts of questions about different accordions and their size versus ability. And then with a twinkle in his eye he told me about an opera he's been working on. You see, with all this time on the road to yourself, you have a lot of time to think. Murry is working on an operatic version of the Iliad. And with great gusto and an incredible voice, he sang us the opening song, explaining first that the scene opens with Homer's son playing an accordion. As I've said, this person was fascinating. I've never met anyone like him and I believe that I'll be hard pressed to meet anyone like him again. Meeting Murry on that highway in Idaho was such a gift. Not something tangible, of course, but a gift none the less. Something I will remember and treasure for many years to come. So Murry, if you're out there reading this, thank you for the time you spent with us while on your journey. May your days continue to be filled with wonder and adventure.
As I sit here typing this, I'm taking in the view of the Oregon side of the Columbia river gorge. We've been riding all day from Hood River. We're on one of those stretches of highway in Washington that warns us of "no gas for 82 miles". What that sign didn't tell us was that there was going to be absolutely nothing for the next 82 miles. We came upon what was technically a tiny town, since they had a post office about 45 minutes before we stopped for the night. The tiny post office was about there was, other than a large neighborhood. Oh! There was a small store and diner that unfortunately had closed 20 minutes before we rolled through. A bit dismayed we prepared to roll out of town when I remembered that our water bottles were either empty or well on their way. So we rode through the neighborhood until we saw a father and son on their front porch and asked if we could fill our water bottles from their hose. They both retreated inside and after I thought they weren't coming back, they came out with three bottles of water. So we had bare neccesities and down the highway we went. We all knew we weren't going to find any campground or forest service land of any kind, so we started to scavange a spot off the highway to sleep for the night. What we found is by far one of the prettiest spots on the gorge. With a wind farm across the wide expanse of the Columbia, we spent the night in the perfect spot. The highway was below us, the stars blanketing us from above, while the huge electrial lines behind us hummed like giant robotic crickets. We have found our bliss and it hasn't cost us a dime. This is something I've began to realize while out on the road; not everyone has the means to take a journey like ours and it has nothing to do with money...
Thursday, July 3, 2014
So many things and experiences have happened since Portland.... I was going to title this entry "The kindness of strangers" but the more I've thought about it, the more I've realized that their really aren't any strangers out there. In the country we've covered in the last 2,200 miles(!) we've met all sorts of folks. And the bond that ties us all together is not just our bikes but that we're all people. Real people. This has helped me discover and decide that it's not strangers out there. It's people. New friends. Friends that are so excited to see us take a journey like this, that they can't help but gift us with their kindness and sometimes a cold Bud Light out of their cooler. This isn't what strangers do for one another, this is what friends do to care for one another. Examples of this have been presenting themselves left and right. When we went through Hood River, I needed a snap rivet attached to my helmet, as the original got ripped off, along with the face shield by the wind on Hwy 26, going into Portland. I tracked down a sail repair business and the guy fiddled with the snap bracket but realized that he didn't have the tools needed to connect everything to my helmet. 5 minutes later, we found ourselves downstairs in an independently owned motorcycle shop and Jesse, the owner and operator had attached my rivet free of charge. From Portland on out, we've received blessing after blessing from folks like this. From small towns in Idaho, to the national parks in Montana and Wyoming, everyone we've met has been nothing but kind, warm, and generous. Even as I type this, I'm sipping a beer in the lodge in the Grand Tetons thanks to the generosity of a couple we met on the side of the road outside our campground. It's these perpetual gifts that give us the fuel to carry on our way. Oh! And I want to thank you all for your patience! Wifi I've discovered is a tricky thing to find out here, so I'm keeping up as best I can. Stay tuned, y'all! I'll have more to share as soon as I can!
Sunday, June 29, 2014
Rain, mustaches, anything slightly obscure or off beat, lots and lots of people. This is Portland. We originally planned to stay one night but we were having such a great time staying with my friend Evan and his roommates Elizabeth and Robert, that we ended up staying two extra nights until Saturday morning. While in Portland we walked, used the public transit, and buzzed about on our 90s. To be honest, folks, I was really apprehensive to ride around the city on my bike. I'm not fond of even driving a car. Actually, 'not fond of' is an understatement. Let me put it to you this way; a couple of years ago while checking in to our hostel in downtown San Fransisco, I had to move the car out of the loading zone. By the time I had made it around the block, I had broken down into a full blown panic attack due to the terror I experienced in that single city block. So yeah. Driving in the city is not my thing. Or didn't used to be my thing. But that's just the thing. Travelling in the manner that we are, I've found that I know longer have the luxury of aversions. So I hopped on my 90 like I knew what I was doing and off we went. Truth be told, that day of riding around Portland was the best I experienced in the land of micro brew and epic facial hair. And it reenforced a lesson or theme I'm acquainting myself with. This journey is not just about seeing beautiful countryside and meeting all sorts of people. It's about pushing all of our limits to the point of breaking them, becoming comfortable with them, then moving on to the further most edges of our comfort zone. It's this flavor of existence that will both challenge and free us as we make our way into the unknown.
Now don't get me wrong, Portland and the surrounding areas wasn't just about the rain and riding a tiny motorcycle around like a bad ass. We had a great time. We had the pleasure of a private viewing of the classic Star Wars film, Return of the Jedi in the 5th Street Cinema on the PSU campus, wandered about the different districts in town, and we even got to spend the day shooting with a camera guy while exploring the Columbia river gorge on our way out of town. We found Doug, our camera guy through Craigslist. By the time we got to Portland, we were all getting frustrated with the dichotomy of trying to catch all of the shots we want for the documentary while truly experiencing the trip itself. To remedy this, I decided to throw out a hail Mary of a Craigslist ad and see if we could find a camera person this way. We had some requirements for whomever would be interested in shooting for us; we couldn't pay them or cover their costs. We realized what a request this was and you can imagine our surprise when someone actually volunteered for this position. Like I said, it was an amazing and fun day and I'm kind of proud to say that our first camera crew was a man, his wife, their daughter, and a mini van. The perfect crew for this project!