Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Minimalism of Travel

From mid-June to mid-July, this is our home.
The picturesque Village Camper Inn in Crescent City, CA is tucked away in the sky-high pines and redwoods and is surrounded by the echos of birds by day and the foghorn from the lighthouse at night. It's beautifully peaceful here, with only the faint buzz of a chainsaw off in the distance from time to time. In the front half of the park are spaces for tents and RVs staying for shorter stays, along with the laundry and bathrooms.

We're staying in the back of the park with the monthly renters, among a wide array of RVs, mostly towables. There are a couple of "Tiny Homes", a mobile home, and a couple of structures that I couldn't even classify. Some of these homes appear to be built by hand, right here on the property. Each space is kept clean, well appointed and nicely cared for.

From the window of our toy hauler I can see our neighbors are quite busy today. This older couple is going in and out of their RV, toting bins, laundry, and grocery bags. I'm rather impressed with their industrious nature.

Dean is hard at work today.
The folks beside us have a 30' fifth wheel with a slide out. It appears they've lived here for quite some time, because they are quite dug in. They have a shed full of tools, a workbench, a chest freezer and a wishing well outside their RV. They also have a paved sidewalk, custom redwood steps to their front door and some beautiful plants, including a gorgeous hydrangea. Even though their space is narrow they have cut away some of the forest behind their rig to store even more items.

Our neighbors have quite the set-up, including the most beautiful hydrangeas I've ever seen.
We've enjoyed our stay here. We have hiked a little, spent time on the beach, enjoyed coffee shops, the local brewery and even had Thai food delivered to the bar. There's good riding here, along the coast and into the twisty, mountain roads. It's quiet in Crescent City, especially at night when the last of the open businesses close at 10 pm.

I can see how easy it would be to settle in here for a long time. And whenever one settles in, one accumulates.

I'm very tactile, so I tend to accumulate things that feel good to the touch. I love fine china, real furs, soft blankets, beautiful jewelry, bulky sweaters, etc. I'm learning to appreciate things without owning or keeping them, which has helped me embrace minimalism. And in minimalism I'm finding more freedom.

Certainly, seeing the panicked look on Steve's face each time I bring anything into the RV reminds me to keep things to a minimum. Steve has a terrible aversion to "stuff". His ex-wife is a hoarder and when he left that marriage he was determined to live with less. When we began living as vagabonds I began to see the benefits of minimalism. The less I had, the less I had to worry about.

I love this teapot not just because I drink tea everyday, but because it was such a thoughtful gift from my Mom.
Still, I have things I want to keep with me. My English teapot of bone china was a birthday gift from my mother in my early twenties. I missed having it when we were vagabonding by motorcycle, so it's been nice having it with me in the RV. But when I dropped the lid and chipped it last week it made me a little sad. It had been pristine up until that time, but now I'm left to wonder how long before it will fall and shatter.

I'm still attached to certain things, I suppose. I believe most of us are attached to a few things. If you're like me the thing you treasure reminds you of a special person or time. It's often not the thing that you value, but the feeling associated with it.

As we embark on our RV-vagabond adventure, minimalism is constantly in the forefront of our minds. We're still determining what we need and eliminating things we thought we would need and don't. We're also finding we don't have everything we need, such as a chair for my workspace, an outside WiFi antennae, and wheel chocks for our motorcycles. (At this point each bike has fallen over once, regardless of being strapped down snugly.) The balance is a difficult one and something we must remain mindful of.

As I watch my neighbors spend the entire morning moving stuff around, I'm grateful I don't have those types of things to worry about now. I have almost as few things now as I did when I first moved out of my Mom's home in 1983, when I packed everything I had into my Chevy Vega Station Wagon. I spent my life accumulating, hoping to find something I was missing, only to be left more empty than ever before. Now that I have less, I have found simplicity and peace and I've never been happier.

We're on another Road Pickle! We hope to find great breweries, tacos, steak and biscuits with gravy, as well as some roadside oddities along the way. If you don't want to miss a thing, join us by subscribing to our vlog on YouTube. I PROMISE you'll see some cool stuff!

And don't forget about my book, Rude Biker Chick, Lessons From My Daddy. Click below for more information.


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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Wearing Enough Motorcycle Gear

Wearing enough gear

All The Gear, All The Time. How many times have you heard you need to be wearing enough motorcycle gear stay safe?

How much gear does a motorcycle rider need?

Certainly it will protect one from serious injury or death in the case of an accident. But are these "Gear Advocates" being just as cautious in all aspects of their lives?

Most riders stop and have a meal during a long day of riding. If you're anything like me, you eat burgers and fries, not a salad. I have a huge appetite when I ride so I usually want something substantial. Riding burns calories, even if you're just riding a long, straight, boring highway, so it makes sense that you'll want a big meal.

According to statistics, 17,629 American motorcycle riders died of heart disease in 2014, but only 4,295 American motorcycle riders in the U.S. died in a motorcycle accidents in the same year.*

This staggering statistic shows more than 4 times as many riders die of heart disease than in motorcycle accidents.

Chances are those "Preachers of ATGATT" are not putting the same thought about safety into every aspect of lives. Do these same people wear a seat belt every time they get into a car? Are they getting regular health checkups at their doctor, practicing safe sex, reducing their stress and going to the gym regularly? Do they smoke, drink too much or use drugs? Are they wearing sunscreen and drinking enough water? What other dangerous habits do these same critics have?

As I said, wearing gear and protecting yourself is wise. But I'll be honest. I am fed up with being nagged about the jacket I wear or the type of boots I buy, especially if a rider is clearly not taking the same care with all aspects of their health.

The hypocrisy is repugnant.

Like everything else in life I believe that my body is my business. If I ride without motorcycle gear, have casual sex with strangers and eat 10 Jack-In-The-Box tacos at midnight, it is my choice. It's not that I don't appreciate the sentiment, because I believe some of these riders really care. But I would hope that they are evaluating their own lives as much as they are evaluating mine.

I guarantee you the next sanctimonious nag that gives me unsolicited advice about my choices is going to have their bacon cheeseburger slapped out of their hands and get an earful from me in a show of solidarity.

We're on another Road Pickle! We hope to find great breweries, tacos, steak and biscuits with gravy, as well as some roadside oddities along the way. If you don't want to miss a thing, join us by subscribing to our vlog on YouTube. I PROMISE you'll see some cool stuff!

And don't forget about my book, Rude Biker Chick, Lessons From My Daddy. Click below for more information.


*I gathered data and worked extensively with a statistician to determine these figures. These statistics are from 2014.
Total population of Americans - 318.9 million.
Total registered motorcycles riders in the U.S. - 9,200,000.
This means 2.89% of Americans ride motorcycles.

4,295 American motorcycle riders died in a motorcycle related accidents, according to Motorcycle Industry Council.

610,000 Americans died of heart disease.
2.89% of Americans who died of heart disease averages 17,629.

In theory, approximately 17,629 American motorcycle riders died of heart disease.

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Friday, June 2, 2017

Motorcycle Skills

Kern River Brewing is one of our favorite destinations in this part of California. There's great ride to reach it from any direction, along with rapidly crisp craft beer and satisfying grub waiting to be devoured, this rustic brewery has it all. 

The Kern River is overflowing it's banks this summer due to the heavy rainfall and deep snowpack in the Sierras. The water rages white over hidden obstacles drowning on the banks. The dramatic scene consists of towering cliffs carved over the years, the furious river, and the narrow road the winds beside it.CA 178 takes travelers from the Bakersfield basin up to Lake Isabella, a favorite destination for outdoorsy types.

Steve and I decided to take a ride to scout out dry camping locations for our new RV. The ATC toy hauler is 32' long and 8.5' wide, so it's important to be certain of the roads we choose to take before we get stuck somewhere. The motorcycles are the perfect scouting vehicles, not only because riding is more fuel efficient, but because it's far more fun than driving a cage, even Steve's new Chevy Silverado.

As we rode through the bright green groves flourishing in the 95 degrees outside of Bakersfield, we hoped to reach cooler temperatures at the higher elevations, but unfortunately, we did not. The ride through the canyon was not unbearably hot, but it would have been nice if it were cooler.

Nearing the end of the canyon the twisties turned tight, with a number of 15 mph signs among the curves. Back and forth, back and forth, weaving through blind corners on tilted asphalt, my V Star labored.

"The guardrails along the highway are sporadic, so losing one's focus could result not only in flying over a cliff onto rocks that will assuredly break bones, but landing in the rapids to drown in a matter of moments."

When we reached the Kern River Brewing Company for lunch, Steve carried himself with ease, wearing a bright smile.

"Did you enjoy riding?" I asked him.

It has been quite awhile since Steve had done much riding.

"Yeah, it was great. How about you?"

"I struggled. I had become so accustomed to riding the Victory Octane for the past year it seems I've forgotten how awkward my V Star can feel. I was fighting with the motorcycle, struggling to find the sweet spot in the balance, and couldn't let myself to trust her in the turns."

"I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it."

I felt bad as I could see the disappointment come over his face.

"I wasn't bad. It was just hard. I'll get used to it again. It's just going to take me some time."

He smiled and we ordered some food.

When we headed back down the canyon I was determined to diagnose my problem and fix it. I was frustrated with myself. On the ride up the canyon I had just surpassed my 60,000 lifetime mile mark, which may not seem like much to some riders, but it's quite an achievement to me for only 4 years of riding.

I changed my posture on the bike, relaxed my arms and wrists, consciously breathed deeper (I tend to hold my breath when I'm stressed), and loosened my grip on the handlebars. Right away I found my groove and relaxed into the familiar rhythm of my bike. Before I knew it I was flying through the twisties with confidence and control, as I've done hundreds of times before.

I took a deep sigh and smiled in my helmet.

"There it is! That's it!"

Even though the beauty of the canyon was stunning, I focused on the road ahead. I kept Steve far enough ahead of me to see him in my peripheral vision and still look through the turns. I don't like to follow too closely because I may come around a blind corner into a surprise.

As I rolled down the canyon, I was wondering why it seems that the decreasing radius turns are always hidden behind the blind corners and if you're going to run into gravel, it's always right after the apex of the turn.

The road straightened and I took a few glances over at the statuesque canyon walls shading the turbulent, white water. The guardrails along the highway are sporadic, so losing one's focus could result not only in flying over a cliff onto rocks that will assuredly break bones, but landing in the rapids to drown in a matter of moments. I turned my attention back to the road ahead and kept my focus on the road and my partner ahead of me.

Just as Steve glided into a shaded "S" turn I noticed beyond him an SUV speeding towards us in the oncoming lane. As I came into the turn and leaned to the right my back tire jumped up out from under me and skipped. I had hit either a bump or a pothole. I don't know which because I didn't see it in the changing light. I corrected myself as I changed the turn to the left, but instantly realized I had over-corrected. My front tire skimmed the double yellow and I knew that speeding SUV was just around the bend.


I corrected again, leaning hard to the right towards the center of my lane, throttling hard so as to keep myself from low-siding, squeezing the clutch slightly. (I've learned that covering and/or squeezing my clutch slightly in a troubled turn I have more control of the speed and throttle. I'm not certain that this is "proper" riding technique but it works for me.)

By the time the SUV appeared I was entirely back in my lane and had control again. When I caught my breath I considered what had just happened.

There are times we simply can't see what's coming. It's just part of life. When we're stressed, losing our confidence, and holding on too tightly, we become dangerous, to ourselves and others. But when we relax, find the groove, and focus on the task at hand, we can deal the bumps in the road. Had I been manhandling the bike and hit that bump, someone might be fishing my mangled body out of the Kern River today.

I believe my riding experience helped me greatly today, although I'm not so arrogant to think I had it all under control. Control is really an illusion. Experience has taught me that as well.

We're on another Road Pickle! We hope to find great breweries, tacos, steak and biscuits with gravy, as well as some roadside oddities along the way. If you don't want to miss a thing, join us by subscribing to our vlog on YouTube. I PROMISE you'll see some cool stuff!

And don't forget about my book, Rude Biker Chick, Lessons From My Daddy. Click below for more information.


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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Hitting the Road in the New Pickle Rig

At the gas station in Vija, AZ. This place is quiet and desolate, but takes cash only and restroom reeks like a pit toilet. Thank goodness I have my own toilet everywhere I go!
The journey from San Diego, CA to Napannee, IN to pick up our new ATC Toy Hauler has been a whirlwind of chaos. Over the last 6 weeks we've struggled with one issue after the other.

Steve's pickup has had a couple of mechanical issues that have caused some setbacks. We've encountered some difficult weather, illness, exhaustion, and a couple of small repairs on the toy hauler. It seems with an endeavor such as this, things always cost more than one expects.

We've been struggling to keep our work caught up on our business, packing, unpacking, digging through our storage, unpacking, putting things in cabinets, buying furniture. . .

Our list of "RV Needs" never gets shorter. We no sooner buy one item then we realize we need something else. I've heard this is never-ending. For every item we've purchased we've donated, sold or thrown out 10 times more.

It's been a huge transition. But it's been well worth it.

This morning we are parked at Sweetwater Summit RV Campground, a park run by the County of San Diego. We are finishing up the last of our business in the area and then moving on. We finally have everything out of storage and in the RV, we have both motorcycles and all of the doctor appointments are completed. From here it looks like we'll be heading to Bakersfield to see our kids.

Take a look at the video below of our toy hauler on the day we took delivery. You can follow our daily journey on Road Pickle or you can follow us on Instagram and Facebook and get more indepth adventuring on our YouTube Channel.

Travel Fun!

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About Sash

People call me "Sash" because I'm a former beauty queen in my old home town. My father used to ride in an MC which got me interested in the culture. After my last divorce I said "goodbye" to Susie Homemaker and became the rude biker chick I always felt inside. (Read more...)