Sunday, July 28, 2013

Need Versus Want

Plastic ziplock bags, scissors and 4 tiny bottles of essential oils.

These are the most unusual yet most effective items I brought when we packed to ride our motorcycles around America 90 days ago on our Road Pickle Motorcycle Bohemia.

The plastic bags seem to come in handy for multiple things almost every day, including keeping my jewelry in order, keeping bottles that leak in the luggage from staining everything, and storing food and leftovers. The scissors get used almost daily as well for trimming my hair, opening our packages cutting a string off a shirt now and then, sewing a button back on my shirt, and cutting my t-shirts in sexy ways. The essential oils cure headaches, add calming fragrance to my hot bath water, help with sinus issues and kill the smell of a "morning bathroom", if you get my drift.

Sometimes it's the little things that bring the comforts of home.

I've also learned what things I don't need. Out of season clothing, high heels, duplicates of most anything and any item that serves only one purpose. If I can't use it for at least three different situations, I don't buy it. If I haven't used something in the last 3 cities, most likely, I'll leave it behind or toss it. Riding a motorcycle for a few weeks really helps a woman gain perspective on the difference between need and want.

Need versus Want. Huge topic. It means something different to everyone I suppose, but for me I've come to some basic realizations. I just don't need much. To survive and earn a living I only need my phone, gear & clothing to protect me from the elements, a laptop, my medicines & glasses, access to my money, and my motorcycle. I don't even need my hubs, even though I do want to be with him. I would be heartbroken to lose him, but truly, I realize now that I don't need him. And this is a perfect example of Need versus Want. 9000 miles is a great many hours of riding to determine such things.

Other things I use are things I only need temporarily, all of which can always be purchased at my next destination. I find thrift stores, consignment shops and ordering online to be great solutions for getting clothing. Being that I tire of the few items I carry quickly, or destroy them with overuse and rough living, replacing items is easy since I use so few at a time. Clothing has really become a consumable, of sorts, for me. Buy it, wear it out, toss it or leave it behind.

I find joy in indulging in small luxuries in the form of consumables as well, such as lovely soaps, specialty chocolates and special blends of tea. I don't mind pampering myself with something that is a little more expensive if it's something I don't have to carry long term. My goal is to be comfortable, meet my needs and carry as little as possible.

I find comfort in the smallest things now; things I didn't appreciate before I left in April. I love the perfect pillow, a fragrant, hot bath, warm, dry socks, riding behind my husband, good, dark, chocolate, working a/c, and a glass of great tasting ice water. I'm really blessed to have access to these simple things and now I can really see that.

90 days, 9000 miles and 12 states has taught me so much. Some of the lessons I've learned are:

  • I'm much tougher than I thought
  • I enjoy being resourceful, creative and solving problems
  • Being comfortable doesn't stretch my limits nor build my strength
  • Pain doesn't last forever
  • Don't pee in bushes with three leaves
  • I can appreciate things without buying them
  • Real friends don't let go
  • America is a big place & we don't all see the world the same way
  • What matters in life is being happy with being still
  • Home is not a place but a state of mind
  • My husband is a very patient, tolerant, nurturing, generous and loving person and I'm incredibly lucky to know him.

While my experiences have taught me much, I can't wait to see what the next 90 days brings. I want nothing more than to be a leaf on the river of life, traveling the road as it opens before me. My hope is at some point I will be free of the desire to push the river and accept life on life's terms. For now, I'm simply content learning because everyday has something to teach me.


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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Poetry of Motorcycling

I have a new love in my life. Her name is Katie Scarlet and she's a Kawasaki Ninja 500. Having her in the shop for 4 days tore at my heart because I missed her so. I was thinking about writing some poems about my love for Katie. Being that I'm a poet, I write love poems filled with passion, as well as sad, mournful, gut-wrenching poems of broken dreams and my sad, wretched life.

You can stop laughing now, because I'm serious.

Yes, a poet. My dream for many, many years was to have my poetry read in a class full of students, by a teacher, and have the students debate my intended meaning of my prose. I shared this dream with a friend who passed away many years ago, my best friend Thomas, and he was sure one day it would happen. He was my supporter, my confidant, my cheerleader and the one person who I trusted for many, many years. We became friends when I was 20 and he died when I was 31. The heartbreak of losing him fueled many a poem over the years and it was his believe in me that encouraged me to publish my first book of poetry in 2009, Finding Christ Inside. Contrary to the title, my poetic spiritual journey led me to a certain belief in myself. That belief came from my friend Thomas, who was the first person who believed in me.

I used to be a drug addict. I was strung out badly on meth, drinking to knock myself out, eating mushrooms for a trip and smoking weed to keep from beating the shit out of people. I was angry, thin, covered with acne, unpredictable, hostile and violent. After many, many bar fights, breaking noses of men, trashing my enemies cars and homes, violent outbursts and living through some very dangerous situations, I sobered up. I've been sober for 20 years, which is why you'll never see photos of my drinks at the bars we visit. I'm happy to be a sober member of society and feel the world is probably a nicer place because of it. I drank and used to deaden the pain of my abusive childhood and to run away from the emotions that screamed in me. Being sober, I've had to work through a great deal of that and most of the work came in the form of journaling through poetry.

In rehab we performed an exercise in which we mimicked giving up important things in life to drugs. We wrote our 10 most important things on paper and then gave each slip of paper to the instructor, one at a time. I was fine with most of it, but when I had to hand over the slip that said, "Poetry" I lost my marbles. I fell to the floor, begging her not to take it. The idea that I could never write again devastated me. The group held me down and pried the slip of paper from my hands. It was the most impactful and painful moment of my recovery. After all of these years, I've not forgotten that.

I realized then that my heart and soul live in my poems.

Being that I have a new love in my life, I've decided to begin work on my second book. It will be my poetic thoughts of riding my motorcycle and simply the act of riding in general. In life I find that things happen when one declares they will happen. I'm declaring this here and now. I will publish a book of motorcycle poems in the near future. It is my hope that you will encourage me in this endeavor and perhaps deign to purchase a copy when the time comes.

Read a sample of my motorcycle poetry and give me your thoughts. I look forward to this new adventure.

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Making A Life of Riding

"I didn't think we would always be going sight seeing. I thought we were just living our lives, the same way we did when we had our own apartment, working everyday and going out when we can."

This is the first time I realized that my hubs Highway and I saw Road Pickle Motorcycle Bohemia differently. I saw it as a trip, but he saw it as a way of life.

When we talked of the 6-month trip, I talked about eating food in different cities, meeting people and seeing landscape. I'm sure I never mentioned anything about seeing landmarks and historical locations, because I assumed that was something we both wanted to do. In the past, when we've traveled, that was as much a part of our trip as going to bars at night for drinks or grabbing an interesting lunch of local chow. Now that we've traveled so far, covered 10 states, I've put over 8,000 miles on Katie in less than 3 months, and we're less than 5 miles from the Atlantic Ocean (after leaving from the Pacific coast), I realize we've both had different goals all along.

But it must not have been a very big deal, because if we could come so far without either one of us realizing it, it obviously hasn't impeded on our lifestyle that much.

Because that's what Road Pickle is meant to be; our lifestyle.

We own a company, Too Much Tina Media, publishing websites, including the one you're reading right now. As Internet Publishers we create sites, create content, build readership, sell advertising and maintain active sites for years, providing good content for our readers and great opportunities for our advertisers to be seen by the customers who want their products. We are painstaking in our efforts to make certain the content is of the highest quality we can deliver to our readers and that our advertisers are getting their money's worth when buying ads from us. We've created this business for three purposes; 1. To create an income for us both; 2. To create a business that we can work from anywhere so we could travel; 3. To teach others how to do the same, which is why we have coached others to become successful Internet Publishers.

Road Pickle Motorcycle Bohemia was a trip designed to be an example of the freedom one could have as an Internet Publishing Professional. We feel it has been highly successful and easier to manage than actually having a permanent residence. We employ an assistant who manages our mail, bookkeeping and some of our personal items while we minimize our lives to make them Road-Manageable. Having taken so many trips together we assumed that if we could manage a week, we could manage a month. If we could manage a month, we could manage 6 months. And we were right.

But actually doing this has been amazingly enlightening. The fears I had going into this have all but vanished and everyday I wake excited to be alive and be living my life. I love my company, my work, my husband, my motorcycle and my lifestyle. So if it's going so well, why would I want that to change?

I've decided Road Pickle Motorcycle Bohemia needn't end in the Fall, as we had originally planned. The truth is neither of us want to stop living our lives this way, so we have decided we will ride indefinitely. We will return to San Diego for a few weeks in the Fall to visit our friends and family and take care of some "housekeeping" items. Once our tasks are completed and visits are all made, we plan to set out again for warm country to wait out the winter, staying a month at a time in different places. Then, as soon as it's warm enough, travel as the weather allows.

Road Pickle Motorcycle Bohemia fit us so well, we've decided to make it more than a once-in-a-lifetime-trip, but a life.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Virginia Road Kill


In the distance I thought I could hear Highway shouting. The logging truck was inches from my motorcycle, the roar of his diesel engine clogged my ears and I found myself nearly paralyzed. I couldn't figure out where to go.


I muttered to myself in my helmet, "He's going to crush me if I pull forward. . ."

Five minutes earlier we had stopped at the three way intersection about 60 miles into Virginia along Route 661. We expected to find Route 58 at this spot, but the road dead-ended into another road, with no indication of Route 58 being anywhere near.

"I have to check the map," Highway shared as we pulled up to the stop sign.

As we sat on our bikes in the still of the empty road, I noticed the enormous tobacco field lay to my left, highlighted by the setting sun. The aromatic trees all around filled my helmet with a sense of peace as I take in the beauty of yet another new-to-me countryside. Each state seems to have it's own style of roads, bridges, flowers, and dead animals on the side of the road. From the dead rabbits of Arizona, dead snakes of New Mexico, dead skunks of Kansas, dead armadillos of Oklahoma, dead possums of Tennessee and now to dead beavers in Virginia, it has taken my eyes time to identify the splattered remains in each new place. I stared at the dead beaver, swollen, half-squished, bloody and slung on the roadside before me, as I waited for Highway to indicate whether we turn right, left or turn around. For a long, peaceful moment I took in the surroundings and breathed in the gratitude to be alive today and not be that road kill.

While Highway pulled out his phone and struggled to see the screen under the bright sky, I waited patiently, wondering where we were. I saw the logging truck coming behind me, so I started backing my bike up out of the lane as best I could on the tiny, two lane road. I thought for sure he could get around us in the intersection if I just pulled back a little farther.

The faceless trucker pulled beside my left side and started his right turn as I crammed backwards on the deeply slanted pavement. I hadn't realized how much the tiny road sloped into the muddy embankment until I tried to walk Katie back into it. My left foot was doing all of the work, trying to keep her upright, while my right foot was dangling precariously. If I tried to lower my right foot to the ground, I would lose my balance for certain and slide under the oncoming wheels of the logging truck.

Halfway through the turn, blocking all of the lanes on both roads, the truck slowed forward to a stop. His engine roared and blood began to fill my head. Confusion mixed with fear took over as I tried to determine what to do. I knew Highway was behind me, so I felt a sense of security as the truck stopped in the intersection to wait for me to move.


Nothing seemed like a good option. Backing up was only getting me closer to the truck. Pulling forward seemed like I would only be in front of his front wheels or his bumper. Finally, Highway's words began to register above the fear.


I whimpered as I pulled Katie forward and around the corner to the right, the same direction the truck was going. It wasn't until I got about 20 feet from the intersection that I realized I was clear of the truck's path and he could move on. The 2 minutes of terror was over and the frustrated truck rolled by as quickly as he could spraying broken limbs and bark on me.

We soon found our way to Martinsville, realizing Route 58 was only 1/2 mile away down the same road the logging truck had taken. While this may seem like another close call on our Road Pickle trip, I see it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Yes, it scared the shit out of me, but thankfully I had escaped being part of the landscape of Virginia Road Kill and I live to ride another day.

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Time Heals

It is said that time heals all wounds. I can't fully agree with that but time does help with perspective. After some wet riding left me swollen with severe pain, I laid in bed at my friend's home wrapped in warm blankets and self pity. I guess we all fall into that pit from time to time. This was my time.

I'm still in a great deal of pain after two days. But I've pulled my head out of my ass and got my ass out of the bed and hobbled about today, which is better than yesterday. Waiting patiently in the North Carolina rain for my healing to progress my Katie sits and mounting her to ride again is a few days away.

Highway and I have had a few long talks and plan to make a few changes in our journey going forward. Avoiding this type of pain has become my first priority. We've determined that being wet and high humidity work against my fibromyalgia. Also, for the first time in my life, I can feel the barometric pressure change with extreme aches in my joints. I have spent my entire life on the West Coast so I had no idea that my body would react this way, but I can feel the rain two hours before it hits.

We are looking at staying closer to the East Coast, hugging the coastline, and shooting across Pennsylvania over a couple days inland to Ohio, doing our best to avoid the wetness of Humidity Hell. I am so grateful to be with a husband and riding partner who is as piaent and understanding as Highway. Most men would grow tired of a wife who needs to rest so often, needs time to heal, and pouts like a fool when overcome with pity.

We are having a nice time resting in Hays, NC and being well fed by my friend's wife Ashley, a truly gifted Southern chef. I guess I can think of worse places to recover.

I am doing my best to take care of myself without being too much of a pain around here as my Katie waits. She is my whole life, it seems. Riding Katie is my solace, my therapy, my church and my home. Being behind Highway, following his tail lights, being in his tire path is all I want in life.

In a couple days I can get back to my life of riding. In the meantime, I will enjoy this fine food and company, catching up on old times and creating new memories.

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Saturday, July 6, 2013

It Doesn't Look Good

motorcycle-painAgainst my better judgement I rode in the rain yesterday. After our friend Jack dumped his bike ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway we had to back track for miles. His accident was not terrible, so he manned up and rode home. Overall we rode 7 damp hours, with the last 2 in and out of rain.
Sadly we only covered about 210 miles. But there were mostly challenging roads, each one complicated by the wet conditions and the "need" to push forward.

When the rain exploded we pulled into a station in Lenoir to wait. 45 minutes sitting on a damp sidewalk watching my gear get soaked only served to swell every joint in my body with fluid. I insisted Jack ride on ahead because I knew he was in pain from his tumble. But he wouldn't hear of it. I wanted to check into the motel next to the gas station where we waited.

"I'm done. I'm so done. I can't go on anymore."

My words just lay there unaddressed. I insisted again that Jack go on ahead because he was really feeling the pain of his accident and we would catch up the next day. He just kept explaining we would all wait together.

"It is only 30 miles. We'll be there in 45 minutes."

I asked time and again if we could just go, but Jack wanted to wait, fearing for my safety in the rain. So we waited and I could feel my joints beginning go from ache to just downright pain.

It is not just riding in rain that hurts. It is being in damp, humid, wet conditions that hurts. All I wanted was a warm, dry bed. The motel beside the gas station looked ideal. But I had become so beaten down by the pain I had no fight left in me.

After waiting 45 mins we remounted and rode on. The rain came and went but for me the damage was done. I wept, then sobbed, the last 20 miles. Pulling into his driveway I knew I was in trouble. Everything hurt from my lips to my toes. I simple sat on my bike weeping until I could get inside to the bed with Highway's help.

I've been in bed now 12 hours. Getting up to the bathroom and change clothing is a nightmare from the swollen joint. But it gets worse.

I'm certain I've somehow injured my left knee and both wrists. I'll be heading to the hospital today. When I'm in so much pain from being swollen it is hard to feel an injury occurs. I just know I'm pretty fucked right now. I may have to end the trip, which simply kills my heart.

This is all my fault. One day I will learn to stop trying to appease others and DEMAND what I need. Until then I'll let others make decisions for me. When will I learn?

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Thursday, July 4, 2013

I Hate The Rain

Before we left on this trip I told everyone, including Highway, that I don't want to ride in the rain.

"There are times you can't avoid it. What are you going to do? Wait on the side of the road? You might be waiting a long time; maybe days."

I knew what he meant. He has explained to me about weather patterns in the Midwest and the North where a storm with blow in and there's nowhere to go. We would just be stuck in it. This was the case in Cimarron, NM. We saw the storm on the horizon for hours and finally we met it in the middle. It was our choice to push through and I'm proud that I did it. But I really didn't want to ride in the rain if I could avoid it.

We've been in Asheville, NC for a few days and it's rained here on and off the entire time. The day we rolled in we expected rain, but it never came to fruition. The next day it came with a vengeance and hasn't let up yet. We're talking 5 inches in 2 days; real storms. Flash flood watches keep popping up on my cell phone warning us of danger. Oh, there will be moments of dry, but it doesn't last long. This storm is expected to continue for days.

My high school friend Jack rode the rain from his place in Hays, NC to meet us here in Asheville. It was our intent to all ride The Tail of the Dragon together. That plan has since been abandoned due to the monsoon that is blowing through here for the next few days. The locals say it's been raining a great deal for weeks and everything is saturated, causing flooding, which we've noticed. We rode a little in town yesterday and I had a little fun in it at first, but once I was thoroughly soaked standing in the cold pub for hours, completely soaked, no dry clothing, and with nothing warm to drink, it just wasn't fun anymore.

I awoke in the middle of the night last night screaming in pain. Riding in these conditions stressed me terribly causing me to clench my shoulders, arms and hands. This aggravates my fibromyalgia terribly, causing severe inflammation. I can only take just so many pills, rub so many creams on my skin, and lay on ice packs and heat packs for just so long. At some point, the pain is too much for me. Lying in bed wailing last night I was filled with not only stabbing pain, but fear. I can't explain why I feel so panicked when I hurt this way, but do. I know my body needs help and I can't see to get what it needs quickly enough. Fortunately, with Highway's help, I was able to get back to sleep and make it until morning.

Today we ended up riding more rain around town. After only 10 minutes I become flustered, frightened and filled with pain. My hands go numb from squeezing the handlebars too tight, my neck hurts from shrugging my shoulders up from fear, and then the tension in my back starts. I wish I could will it away, be confident, be tough, but when my back tire is skipping around lanes and I'm hydroplaning at 45 mph, it's hard to feel confident. The truth is, I'm still waiting for my front tire to match the rear I had replaced in Denver. I was told they don't work well together and it affects my ability to ride in the rain. All of this consumes me with fear that I cannot seem to overcome, resulting in pain.

Tomorrow we are supposed to leave to head to Jack's, just over 2 1/2 hours away. We have the option to take the Blue Ridge Parkway or the Interstate. Both take the same amount of time, but we are guaranteed rain. Frankly, I don't want to do it. I feel bad because Jack gave up vacation time to come and visit here with us and to ride with us. He's heading back tomorrow and even though we won't be able to ride the Dragon (he thinks it's probably closed from all the flooding), if I chose to stay we won't be riding together because he has to head home. This rain isn't supposed to let up until Sunday, at the earliest. So my only options are ride the rain tomorrow or wait until Sunday, maybe Monday, for a real break. But we must leave on the 10th to head up to see a client, so if we waiting until then, we would not get the time with Jack I had promised him. He also has to go back to work Monday, so it wouldn't be much of a visit afterall.

I feel obligated to ride tomorrow. I know the rain doesn't bother the men. I also know they don't want me to be miserable. But I hate riding in the rain because of the pain I am in afterwards. I don't feel confident riding on tires that don't match or having my back tire skipping around if I go over 40, even in a straight line. And taking the turns simply scare the fucking shit right out of me. If I ride tomorrow and it rains like today, as is forcast, I foresee a few long days of being in serious pain and simply miserable.

I can't ask the others to wait. I'm just not that selfish, I guess. But I am miserable and really, really hate this fucking rain. I have rain gear. It's not about being wet and cold. I hate that too, but the issue is the incredible pain. I didn't want to ride in the rain if I could avoid it and I clearly voiced that at the beginning of the trip. But I still feel like being part of a team one must do selfless things from time to time.


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Monday, July 1, 2013

Stranger in Town

"You have purple hair!" screamed the pretty little red-headed girl in the restaurant. "Mommy! She has purple hair! And pink!!"

New chick walks into a local joint. How do they know she's new? Because she is wearing knee-high leather boots, her cleavage is a mile long, she smells like road grime and has purple/pink hair. Certainly she would be remembered if she had been in this place before.

The further east we go on this Road Pickle trip, the more I seem to stand out.

Highway blends seamlessly into almost every environment. Only when we stopped in the swamp town in east Arkansas did he stand out. But anyone who wasn't grimy, wearing overalls or baggy shorts and a wife beater stood out there. After 200 miles of humid, bug-infested, hot road, Highway in his dirty riding gear was far cleaner than the dregs who were lingering at the convenience store in that town. I kept my bandanna on my head to hide the hair, since I was already such an oddity already, being a female on a motorcycle. The fact that I was wearing shorts and my half chaps didn't help either. The parking lot dregs were running their fingers along my bike seat as I came out of the store, as if they were touching my motorcycle to see if it were real. I feared they would start touching me next.

Before we left I hadn't done too much traveling. I had been to a few major cities in the U.S., but didn't realize how sedate rural living could be in America. I admire the beautiful settings, the scenery, the tenderness and generosity of the locals, and the innocence of the small town ways. I love that when making eye contact people feel compelled to say, "How you doing?" even if they don't expect an answer. It's a greeting, not really a question. In San Diego, Seattle or Manhattan, if I make eye contact with a stranger they either ask me for money or scowl for breaking the "No Eye Contact Rule" set forth in most major cities. In these small towns people are kinder, even if they are not necessarily genuine. Their manners kick in and they feel compelled to be more polite, even if they don't mean it.

But the pink hair only deters the hospitality. Many women are mesmerized by it and early on in the trip I was complimented a few times in a day. But the further we travel into the Southeast, the less of that I get. I am asked almost daily if I am a hairstylist, where did I learn to do that or how I got it this color. But occasionally a brave soul will ask, "Why did you do that to your head?" I tell them I like it this color, that I like the way it makes my skin look, and then watch their eyes glaze over as they walk away, muttering.

"Uh huh. . ." they mumble.

When we arrived in Knoxville after 7pm I was in pain and very tired. I showered and then threw some clothes on without considering where I was going. I jumped on my bike and ran to the local market to grab a local beer for Highway and for something to eat. Unconsciously carrying my helmet in the store, I started shopping for the few items I needed. Then I looked down at myself. Skulls on my helmet, hot pink jeans, black motorcycle boots, and a black T-shirt that reads, "It Ain't Gonna Lick Itself". Typically I save this shirt for biker bars, but I just grabbed a damn shirt! My pink hair was standing on end, springing up to life after being washed, dried and then mashed by the helmet. Finding the items I needed I got in the checkout line behind a lady about my age and her teen daughter. The mother took one look at me, took her daughter's hand and moved to another checkout.


The truth is I've always been a little different and I'm OK with that. I love the travel so much because I love seeing new things, meeting new people and growing as a person. I'm not going to change myself to suit others because I wouldn't like myself anymore if I did. I don't mind being a stranger in town, but I don't think I'll ever get used to the notion that I'm considered strange.


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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...)