Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Second Life of Motorcycling


Christmas Eve 2008 I went to the hospital with chest pains. I had been seeing a cardiologist for months who was trying to diagnose my cardiac issues, but to no avail. The trip to the hospital led to my death. I was on the other side for 2 1/2 minutes, but it seemed like much longer. The nurses ran the crash cart into the room and in front of my screaming 18-year-old daughter Olivia and my then husband Mark, I was paddled and brought back to life.

I've previously written about what I found on the other side.

At that time in my life I was very miserable. I was 100 lbs overweight, my then-husband was terribly unhappy every single day, and my daughter was having a very rough year. She had turned 18 in April, quit school and moved in with my mother, moved back home, then decided she wanted to meet the boy she had been talking to online. In October she bounced a check to Southwest Airlines and flew to Florida to meet him with only a packed rolling ice chest and a backpack. She had very little money and had told no one that she was leaving and where he lived.

When I got the call from her that she was somewhere in Florida, I was terrified. I didn't hear back from her for 2 weeks. Those weeks were the hardest of my life.

Along with missing my daughter terribly, my then husband became angrier than ever. All I wanted was my baby to come home safely. He just shouted and slammed doors. Perhaps that is how he was dealing with his emotions, but we had virtually no communication by that point of our marriage, so I simply kept my mouth shut and tolerated him.

On December 15th, Olivia came home after being beaten by that young man. She was sickly, tired and hurt inside and my heart broke just at the sight of her. Eight days later I died in that hospital bed.

In hindsight it makes so much sense.

Six years later I realize my life has changed entirely.

Now I celebrate my Second Life rather than Christmas. I embrace the changes I've consciously brought about in my world and am filled with gratitude for all that has come my way.

Motorcycling seems to be the vehicle of change in my life. It transforms me from dependent to independent, allowing me to choose my roads, grasping the controls, leaving me entirely responsible for my choices. On a motorcycle I can blame no one for where I go, how quickly I get there, or for any mistakes I make along the way. The entire world is in my two hands.

Things happen along the way that I don't expect while motorcycling too. There are the dangers, such as potholes, wet roads and cagers who don't see me and swerve into my lane. There are also the unexpected beauties such as pink sunsets against purple mountains, deer and elk in golden fields, and sweet, green alfalfa fields roadside.

Motorcycling is the metaphor for my life, as well as a way to live that life. When the road is cracked and rotting, I focus on the good road to find my way. When I start out on a ride I can't see my destination, but I have faith that I will get there. If I am seeing with only tunnel vision, I will miss out on something wonderful. If I'm rushing to my destination I will not enjoy the journey.

Today, instead of slamming doors, yelling and heartbreak, my road is filled with laughter, delicious meals and bright horizons. Sure, we hit some storms from time to time, but even in those I find joy in the smell of rain, the beauty of the cloudscape and the amazing sense of accomplishment I receive from enduring a harsh, wet ride.

On this, the 6th Anniversary of my Second Life, I wish you all safe riding, open roads and happy trails.

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Indian Scout in San Diego

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Riding Scout and trying to refrain from giggling!

The 2015 Indian Motorcycle Scout is a huge kick in the pants! I'm loving the ride, albeit temporary. Usually I would name a bike I ride, but I have refrained as this one will break my heart when I turn her back in. I may shed a few tears. . .

My Daddy really wanted a Scout. It was the only motorcycle he ever discussed with me before he died. It may have been his only regret. He never discussed anything else with me that he wished he could have done other than own an Indian Scout.

So tomorrow, I'm taking Scout to the cemetery to my father's graveside, just for a visit. I usually go visit him this time of year anyway, so I'm pleased to have this opportunity to take Scout along.

OK, so I named her Scout. It seems a little less personal than a real name. This is the "Factory Name" anyway.

Riding in San Diego is ideal for this motorcycle because of the way she handles the quick stops, the tight turns, the invasive traffic and the lightening fast freeways. Being such a quick bike, I can easily get away from the knucklehead cagers who are texting behind the wheel.

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One of the perks of having Scout is the opportunity to go hang out at San Diego Indian Motorcycles and just chat with the staff. Since they are only a mile or so away, it's been a pleasure to visit them when I'm out and about. I've really connected with Geri Buan Hernandez of Marketing and Finance. We seem to have a great deal in common. The entire staff is always welcoming and friendly and I love just bursting in and starting a little trouble just to brighten my day.

Steve and I decided to start an Indian Scout website dedicated to this little beauty and my travels with her. Take a look and follow along during the two months we have with her as part of our lives as motorcycle bloggers.

And forgive me if I'm lackluster in posting on my blog for awhile. I'm a little busy riding Scout.
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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

I Got an Indian Scout

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The 2015 Indian Motorcycle Scout really stole my heart when I rode it at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August. I was able to keep the bike for two days to ride it and write a review, but unfortunately those two days were rather rain filled, limiting the amount of riding I could do. Not just rain, but outright flooding in some places. I did manage some time with the Scout though and I was asked to write a review for Women Riders Now. This was an astounding opportunity granted to me by Genevieve Schmitt, publisher of the online magazine dedicated to women who ride and the men who ride with them.

I was also invited to attend the Scout Reveal Party, which took my breath away. The people in attendance were some heavy hitters of the moto-journalist industry. I had a conversation with Cyril Huze, got some advice from Peter Jones of Cycle World (he was so kind and helpful!) and spoke briefly with Roland Sands as well. When I saw Laura Klock I told her how overwhelmed I was and that she was the only person I knew there. She immediately took me by the arm and introduced me to some of these people who went out of their way to make me feel informed and included.

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My love affair with the Scout continues as they have been kind enough to loan a Scout to Steve and me for a few weeks to ride, write about and enjoy. We have a few long rides planned and many short ones too. I'm going to as many bike nights and group rides as I can, not only to show off this innovative, beautiful and powerful machine, but to get feedback from others on their impressions of it.

Not only will I be riding the Scout, but Steve will be as well. This gives us an opportunity to provide more insight as to how the motorcycle performs for a rider with more experience, more technical knowledge and a more intellectual opinion than mine. I usually view things from an emotional standpoint, so Steve's pragmatic approach will help balance my unbridled enthusiasm.

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The Indian Motorcycle dealerships have been offering Demo Days across the country for riders to test the 2015 lineup. December 13th and 14th San Diego Indian Motorcycle will have the demo truck at their dealership with the whole Indian 2015 line up. If you are in the area, come out and join me for some fun riding as well as free food, raffles, Toys for Tots, and a live band. I'm going to be there most of the day on Saturday talking with folks about my impressions of the Scout and meeting other riders.

Come on out and see me if you're local. If not, get your ass on an Indian! You'll be glad you did!

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Sunday, December 7, 2014

American Motorcycle Vagabond

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My family has had it's servicemen over the years and I have always considered myself a patriot, but as my understanding of politics, government and my own family history unraveled, so too has my blind sense of patriotism. Perhaps some see my questioning the motives of my government as disloyal. But my direct ancestor, our nation's first President and known fighter of an oppressive government, George Washington, was quoted to say, this:

"If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter."

Steve and I have many discussions on the topics of history, politics, and freedom. Most of my ancestors were Indians, Choctaw to be exact, and Steve's mother is Japanese. We each identify with these two races primarily because of our appearances, I believe. While we both also have Caucasian relatives, neither of us look very Caucasian, leaving us to see ourselves as outsiders for the most part. In my own immediate family, I look quite different from my mother and siblings, and I have always felt like an outsider with them.

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The Japanese and the Indians have so much in common in regards to their appearance, their cultures, their spiritual beliefs and their treatment by the U.S. Government. In these commonalities, along with many others, Steve and I have formed a deep bond. When we visited the WWII Japanese Interment Camp Manzanar a couple of years ago, I struggled with the amount of rage I felt. Just like my own ancestors, the Japanese were interred by the U.S. Government and had everything they owned stolen from them.

This is the power of our current government. Ask any detainee of Guantanamo Bay Detention Center.

This practice continues.

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So on this, Pearl Harbor Day, my inner rage rises again, reminding me that today is the day to remember the unconstitutional interment of Japanese Americans. Remember, indeed. I also remember the 25,000 Indians murdered by the U.S. Government along the Trail of Tears, the relocation of Indians. My Great-Great-Grandmother walked this at the age of 7, watching her family die along the way. I remember this proud race of Real People who were nearly wiped off the planet by the U.S. Government in many, many campaigns against my ancestors. I remember the thousands of Japanese Americans who were robbed of everything, interred and subsequently returned to poverty at the end of the war.

We remember, and many of these memories are folded into our current belief system and shape our choices today.

"Why would you get rid of everything you own and ride a motorcycle across the country?" I am asked, often.

What I rarely say, which is my truth, is that I would rather give it all away than to have it stolen from me. I would rather be unburdened so as to travel, than to be beholden to a piece of dirt, sticks, bricks or mortar, defending myself and my land. It is because I no longer believe in owning land, or property, or things; I believe these things will own me, if I allow them to. It is because I want to breathe easy with nothing rather than lie sleeplessly worrying about protecting my "stuff".

"Freedom can't be transferred from one person to another, only material things," Steve said recently.

We had been discussing someone who murdered his father and grandfather to inherit their property.

Having nothing, no home, no real property to speak of, not only leaves us unburdened, but unworried about what we may lose. To us, this is another level of freedom that few of us are able to enjoy. Perhaps this is just temporary, but isn't owning something temporary as well? Isn't all of life temporary?

Along Arizona State Hwy 80 heading north from Douglas to the New Mexico border, we rolled through a breathtaking valley in the late afternoon. At the sight of blowing golden grasses in the vast fields, I wept with wonder, my heart filled with the glory of American land at it's finest. I felt the same feeling at the sight of the plains in Kansas, crossing the Mississippi River eastward for the first time into Memphis, the noise in Times Square, the rolling hills of Minnesota, watching the Colorado Rockies actually turn purple as we rode at sunset, and the beauty of the sunflower fields of South Dakota.

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These memories will never leave me, along with many others of our travels across this country I love and call home. The most American thing I have done in my lifetime is to go and see America. In these moments, my patriotism flourishes to it's greatest degree. Perhaps remembering the atrocities of our government seems unpatriotic to some, but to me, this is part and parcel of being American; to not blindly love my country, but to love it with my eyes wide open from the seat of my motorcycle as I travel across it.

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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Life Without a Windshield

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"I don't think you're a rude biker chick," Doc said.

"Sometimes speaking about things others don't want to hear is considered rude, Doc. People find me rude because I want to talk about my feelings, and because I say what I think, instead of what is socially acceptable."

"Oh well, then if that's considered rude, that's what you are. Many people are offended by the truth, but that doesn't make it any less true."

I've known Doc for over 15 years. He had just started his own practice right after I had moved to Menifee and my daughter and I were a couple of his first patients. He was my family doctor for all of the years I had a family, and as his practice grew, so did my confidence in him. We also developed a long-lasting friendship over these years, including one falling out and recovery, which seems to be the hallmark of a real friendship. Although we are the same age, Doc's children are much younger than my daughter. He and his beautiful wife have had 4 kids in the last 8 years.

The nurses in Doc's office are some of my sweetest friends. The ladies have a certain toughness to them; an undeniable edge mixed with determination and tenderness that separates them from other women I know. I love these women and their honesty.

Visiting Doc and the nurses is just one of many stops I make on my weekly trips to Menifee from San Diego. They were excited to talk to me about the project that has been sucking up all of my time and energy recently.

"Rude Biker Chick ~ Lessons From My Daddy" is a non-fiction memoir I've been writing. This week I sent my final work off to my editor and it is in the final stages of production. Slated to be released as an E-book in January 2015, this is the story of the lessons I learned from my Daddy along the first year of our Road Pickle Motorcycle Bohemia.

Writing began last October when we arrived in San Diego, CA after riding across the country for 6 months. During that entire ride, memories of my Daddy's words were whispered in my ear along the way. His voice, whether they be recollections or new enlightenment on his prior teachings, carried me through the toughest times, as well as helped me appreciate the best of times.

In over 15,000 miles I found a part of myself that had long since been buried under years of pain and sorrow.

My goal is to have printed copies completed by March or April 2015.

Now that the grueling task of writing the book is behind me, I can get back to dedicating myself to my career and riding my motorcycle. A few nights ago I asked Steve to help me remove the windshield from my V Star.

"Why would you take your windshield off? I searched everywhere to put one on my bike!" my friend Diane asked.

"It's far more fun to ride without it! Faster, better gas mileage, lighter, easier to maneuver. I hate having a windshield, but I know it's a must for the touring."

My ride to Menifee and back to San Diego is about 160 miles of Interstate over the round trip. At 80 mph just to keep up with traffic, it's quite a workout without the windshield. By the end of the day yesterday, I was truly exhausted, but happy. Even though it is more work, riding without the heavy "sail" is worth the effort. Riding without a windshield exposes me to more of what I ride to find.

I'm finding that the more difficult the path, the greater the reward in life. Writing "Rude Biker Chick" was a tremendous amount of effort, taking time away from my business and family, as well as reducing me to a sobbing mess on a regular basis. Reliving the past proved to be overwhelming during the process, but now that I'm on the other side, I feel a tremendous freedom. A bit like riding without a windshield, writing the book exposed me to more pain and effort, but I also gained the satisfaction of achievement.

It is my goal to lighten my load and live life without a windshield to block reality.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Family and Commuting in San Diego

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I feel like I've neglected my blog lately. It's been a very busy few weeks, and the only motorcycle riding I've done is back and forth from San Diego, CA to Menifee, CA where my home is.

Last weekend my daughter and her husband came to Menifee (my daughter Olivia is beside me with my grandson Jackson, and her husband David is behind me) and Steve and I rode up to Menifee to my niece's home for a Family Football Day. Actually, it was just a reason we used to get together and spend family time, watching football, eating, drinking and singing karaoke.

My niece Shelli is our Assistant Extraordinaire, managing our business affairs and personal banking while we are on the road. She handles all of our mail, packages, banking, bookkeeping, etc. She is the one in the red holding her youngest, Sophia, age 17 mos. Her kids are Brianna age 15, Josh age 9, and Zack age 11 (he's so much like Steve it's scary!) and her husband David (yes we have 2 Davids!) is the tall guy in the back.

We had a fantastic visit and the girls got to spend some quality "Mommy Time" together.

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For Steve and I, it's good to come home, regroup, get work done, and catch up on personal stuff. I have a slew of doctor appointments over the next few weeks to manage my ever-nagging chronic pain, my pinched nerves in my shoulders (which are getting worse every day), my cardiovascular/heart issues, and my yearly physical. This is one of the main reasons we come back to San Diego each winter, as it takes time to address all of this crap. I really hate the nuisance of dealing with my health issues. I wish I could just be healthy and not have to address it all. . .

Fortunately, we have a great place to call home. San Diego has the best weather year round! We've rented a condo close to Balboa Park and we have all the amenities one could hope for; a gym, pool, spa, underground parking and washer/dryer in our condo. The only thing missing is a housekeeper, so now after being her 3 weeks, it's starting to show. One of us is going to have to break down and scrub a toilet soon. It's amazing how spoiled we've become after living in hotels for so long.

San Diego offers so many options for food and drink that we mostly walk to go out, and we go out about 4 nights a week. I love to cook, but since we work in our condo all day, it becomes imperative that we get out a few nights, just to break up the monotony of being in the same place all the time. Of course, we also walk over to Balboa Park too, just for some sunshine and fresh air.

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Motorcycling here is some of the best riding I've ever done. We have so many canyon roads from which to choose, the beauty of PCH, desert roads that lead through rolling hills, and a web of Interstates to access for getting somewhere quick. There's also the thrill of lane splitting, which is something one can only do in California. We got stuck in dead-stop traffic last Friday night riding from Lake Forest to Long Beach. We actually started our ride in San Diego, but the minute we reached the 405, traffic was at a stand still, so we rode the entire 33 miles splitting lanes.

We went to Long Beach to see Alonzo Bodden at the Laugh Factory with a few of the folks from Indian Motorcycles. The International Motorcycle Show was going on at the Long Beach Convention Center, so many of the people from the show were heading over to see Alonzo's act. He rides too, so part of his comedy centers on riding, and he certainly catered to the motorcycling crowd that night. We had a great time, even though riding to Long Beach was a long and grueling ride. Once we arrived we showered up, dressed up a bit, and hit the town. Steve treated me with a new sparkly dress and shoes, which made me incredibly happy.

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So I'm getting plenty of miles in, albeit not always the kind of miles I want to ride. So much of it has been simply commuting back and forth, but as Steve is so fond of saying, any day riding is a good day.

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Tainted Asphalt of Hate

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So often I say, "The Road is my Home," and I mean that when I say it, but on some other level of my reality, Southern California, San Diego and the suburban valley of Menifee are home to me as well. Even though I don't stay in Menifee, I own my property there and my Assistant Extraordinaire Shelli rents it. The house is her home, for her family, and when I go there, I am a guest. But a piece of me still sees the house and knows that a part of me lives within those walls. A painful ghost of who I once was. . .

I ride my motorcycle around the town with anger, resentment and rage. I remember my exx while I'm there and I know he lurks in the fast food joints and in his miserable rental house less than a mile from the home we once shared. When we initially separated he moved in with his parents in the next little town and sulked a couple of months. When Steve got his own apartment a mile from my place, my exx moved into a rental up the street from Steve's apartment. I'm sure it was no coincidence that he could see Steve's driveway from his street and he could just "BE" around all the time, driving up and down in my neighborhood.

Being in Menifee reminds me that I still feel a deep rage for this man. It saddens me that I'm not at a point of forgiveness yet, because I would like to be. But things happen in their own time, and as long as I'm willing, it will happen at some point.

I have friends in town that I love to see, but unfortunately, every event, lunch, meeting, and office I visit is only a temporary haven for the streets and parking lots that await me. Once I see the asphalt I feel the hate welling up in me and loathe this little town.

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I hate my exx for many reasons, mostly for all of the lies he told, and I wish in my heart that I could release the anger and live happily in this city of my friends. But the asphalt taints my motorcycle tires and I ride with rage, inspite of myself.

This is why I love San Diego, and all the roads beyond. I am free from my past, my reality, my mistakes with that loser, when I am rolling beyond those years and that captivity. Staying in San Diego through the holidays, I'm close enough to visit my family without having to be in the middle of that place that fills me with such pain.

For now, we'll be spending most of our time in this sunny spot on the coast, catching up on work and enjoying all it has to offer. We love the vacation rental we've found on Bankers Hill, also referred to as Park West, within walking distance of plenty of bars, restaurants and the famed Balboa Park. The ride to and from Menifee is only an hour, which is just long enough to cleanse away the black hatred in my heart for that life-sucking-vampire and miserable waste of skin zero to whom I was once married. By the time I reach the bright rainbow of lights of Hillcrest I'm happy and free again, ready to live in my new reality.

Where do you store the mistakes of your past?

Have you really left them behind for good, or do the haunt you when things get a little too quiet?

Is that when you, like me, roll back the throttle, scream in your helmet, and pull away from the pain and misery you caused yourself with bad choices and sorrowful excuses to fill in the empty spaces of your life?

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Renting Reality

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We rent the places we stay, much like many people rent an apartment or a house. We simply rent on a shorter term basis. We rent hotel rooms and vacations rentals with stays lasting from one night to a few weeks. We just rented a vacation rental in San Diego that will last from October 28 through January 27, 2015, which will be our longest stay of the year. Then we intend to head out on the road again.

For most of the year we stay in hotels, and as you can imagine, staying in a hotel is a rather grand way to live. It's everything you want, really. Free breakfast, maid service, clean sheets, and all the amenities. If we don't like something, we call the front desk and it's fixed, immediately. If I want something special, most hotels are happy to oblige. Since we use our rewards club membership, we've reached Gold Status, and nearly Platinum this year (we would be at Platinum, but we switched hotel chains mid-season). And as one would expect, Gold Status truly does get one the a nicer level of treatment and accommodations. I haven't become bored with living this way, actually, quite the contrary. I'm terribly spoiled at this point, as is my husband.

We've nearly forgotten what it's like to mow a lawn, clean a bathtub, or wash our own sheets. We don't pay our bills because we have a bookkeeper that takes care of that. It helps that we have very few bills, which is a byproduct of living on the road. One simply doesn't accumulate debt and things while living this way. The hotel has it all, so we get one bill for not only our stay, but utilities, internet access, etc. Less to maintain, less to manage, less reality we need to be concerned with.

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This lifestyle has given us a great many hours to devote to the things we want to spend our time doing. We work many hours. We ride for a few days in a stretch. We go to the gym, count our calories, find nice restaurants and bars, socialize, and explore. We think, simply look inward and think, about our lives, our pasts, our hopes, our feelings, and ponder the things which interest us. We discuss politics, religion, society and human behavior with one another, and others we meet. We look at maps and dream of places we want to travel to, read blogs that other riders write and add things to our "Maybe Someday" lists.

Nothing is etched in stone. Nothing binds us to any person, place or thing. We aren't really bound to one another. Each day we choose to spend this day with each other, or apart. We spend most of our time in the moment, dealing with the things that our at our fingertips, things that concern us right now, and we often forget about some of our responsibilities. This is why we have a bookkeeper/office manager and lists of things we need to do.

If we didn't run a business, we possibly would go completely off the radar, disappearing completely, and wander off down some dusty trail, never to be seen or heard from again. Both Steve and I crave independence, a lack of obligation, a lack of responsibility, and a complete absence of reality.

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Why are we this way?

Because it's a wonderful way to live.

I'm not ashamed and I make no excuses for this. Being responsible for only myself this last year has been incredible. This trip that was supposed to last only 6 months has now turned into a permanent lifestyle; well, as permanent as we get. As long as we can sustain this way of traveling and living, this is the way I want to be. This motorcycle trip has opened my eyes into a hidden world that lies somewhere within the fringe of our society, a sliver of reality in which there is no future, nor past, but only the moment. It's delicious and savory, and I want to remain here.

I'm not afraid anymore. I'm not worried about tomorrow, the government, my retirement, Ebola, my heart condition, or my finances. I'm convinced that I can handle whatever comes along. This is the freedom I sought, but had no idea it was so easily attained. When I stopped caring about my things, what others thought of me, and all of the things I can't control, suddenly life became colorful and sensational. Every day has a multitude of gifts, all mine for the taking, if I can appreciate them as they come! How can life get any better than this?

In the meantime, we still run our business, which we enjoy doing. I'm not complaining, not at all! We are so fortunate to be able to do the kind of work we like doing in the field we love. Certainly I could use a few more advertisers for our websites, so if you have a motorcycle business and want to be seen by thousands of readers each month, just contact me! How many people have been lucky enough to put the things they love doing (writing, riding motorcycles, eating good food, photography, social media, and advertising sales) and earn enough money to support their dream lifestyle? Believe me, I am thankful everyday!

As writers, I imagine Steve and I will always write. I've been writing since I was 13 years old, so I can't imagine a life without it. Steve has spent his life in a number of creative fields; music, art and now web development and writing, which he loves more than anything he's ever done. Even if we had a million dollars, we would still write the blogs.

For now, we rent our reality, as very little in our lives is permanent. We stay grounded just enough to stay connected to society without becoming indebted or obligated to anyone. My daughter has some difficulty with this, but she's trying very hard to understand and be independent. I feel free on my motorcycle, but even more so when everything I need is on that motorcycle with me, and I know that no matter what crossroads I come to, I can go wherever the wind takes me, renting just a little reality when I arrive.

I used to believe if I had more things, more money, more, more, more, I would be free. I've learned it is all quite the contrary. Eventually, it all becomes so much to carry. The less I have, the freer I am. I already have all I need and the less I have, the less I want.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Scottsdale Storm


I love that feeling of beating the weather on my motorcycle.

A couple of weeks ago, Steve texted me while we were in Scottsdale to tell me we had better hit it because a huge storm was showing on the radar. He was in a beer/burger bar and I was across the street perusing a consignment store.

"I'm on my way. Meet me at the bikes."

The weather had looked ugly all day, but for Steve to be concerned, it must be hellacious.

I walked out of the store and met him out front, seeing the same storm we'd been tracking all day.

"It is purple/red on and radar. . . " he told me as we mounted up.

Our hotel was only a few miles away and rolling into the parking lot before even a drop of rain made landfall filled me with accomplishment. As I dismounted my parked motorcycle, I pulled out my camera to shoot some video, because the thunderhead approaching was magnificent.

The next 10 amazing minutes that occurred are in this video that has been edited down to only 1 1/2 minutes. 

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Saturday, October 4, 2014

Las Vegas BikeFest Roars Into Action

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Our office for the day, the coffee shop/bar in the Ground level of our hotel, lies right along Las Vegas BikeFest Rally Central. While the vendors and events are situated at the Cashman Center about a mile away, the Downtown Grand of Las Vegas, formerly the Lady Luck Hotel, surrounds the outdoor rally happenings with her two glistening towers of steel. Shrouding the short street with cool shade most of the day and housing The Mob Bar and the commissary., the coffee shop/bar where we sit now. At night the street is flooded with leather clad men and women, the women far less clad than the men, all drinking and partying, in and out of the Hogs and Heifers Saloon in the pomp and circumstance that is BikeFest.

The roaring between the towers continues until the puny hours upon the clock, which is why the management provides earplugs in the room. We're often asked why we are working while everyone else is having fun and we politely answer, explaining our lifestyle in a sentence or two. Invariably, someone will want to hear more, and I try so hard to find the enjoyment in answering their questions, but when I'm trying to work, it can be disruptive. I patiently hand out business cards, refer them to our website, as the cards are shoved into pockets to be laundered later.

The sweet soccer mom who stands beside me with her Bermuda shorts and Dooney Bourke handbag smiles at the attractive, young bartender as she orders lunch for her family. Obviously not attending the Rally but just here to bring her teenagers to Las Vegas, I wonder if she is anything like I used to be. Miserable, trapped, serving her time as a wife and mom, desperately longing to climb on the back of one of these bikes and ride away from the obligations of her life. No more bake sales, no more PTA, no more teachers and bad grades to contend with, but the freedom of the road I enjoy in my life today. Her sweet, coy smile hides under her blond bob and she winks as the cute bartender. He doesn't bat an eye, as he's probably had every lonely Cougar who wanders in hit on him.

I'm not a fan of Las Vegas because I am overwhelmed by the distinct odor of desperation at every turn. Gamblers down on their luck, drunken bachelors drooling over their bar tacos, lonely women objectified for a dollar, vendors frustrated with low sales, hardworking waitstaff miserable with the tourists; folks in every walk of life running away from everything all under the guise of "having such a good time". The stench of cigarette smokers, hot and sweaty tourists, and boozed up 20-somethings bumping into elevators in the mid-afternoon remind me that I am in the center of the unholy Gods of Excess and Money Worship.

It's not all bad though, just different than most of our destinations. Prior to attending Sturgis, I had never been to a rally, so I wasn't sure what all the fuss was about. Now that I know, I find I enjoy the open road and regular city visits much more. Much like the Sturgis Rally, only a much smaller event in nicer hotels, the BikeFest is probably the stereotypical rally. The tourist spots and rallies aren't really my speed, as I would rather spend my day in an art museum or restored, historic hotels, churches or civic buildings, eating where the locals eat and sitting barside in their watering holes. Steve and I have found what works for us, what feeds our interests, and we are fortunate that we enjoy the same things, like most couples.

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The loud pipes are roaring here in Vegas this weekend, saving lives and terrifying tourists and locals. The coffee shop girls confided they are frightened of the burly bikers and their tough wives, afraid they'll mess up an order and get yelled at, or worse. It's hard to convince these part-time-employed-college-students that these men and women are regular, nice folks when they are sporting vests that are covered in profanity and roaring their engines like lions vying for territory. For many riders the image of toughness is a badge they wear proudly, so perhaps they don't want me telling these girls they are really just a bunch of teddy bears.

Come Monday the motorcycles will be gone and the riders back to their regular 8-5 day jobs, the hotel will return to it's normal routine of gamblers and show-goers, and another BikeFest will be in the books. Come Monday you'll still find Steve and me here at the bar, typing away on our laptops, drinking craft beer and Sashtastics, and dreaming of the next stretch of road that calls out to us.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Road is My Home

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With Joe and Diane for Steve's Birthday Pub Crawl 
Living the life of a motorcycle bohemian is wonderful, except I hate saying goodbye. I've never really done it well and simply avoided situations my entire life where I must say it.

Last night we told the Grumpy, Biggus and his wife Kim goodbye and I wept as we rolled away. They had been teasing me a bit about being so sad when I left Pagosa Springs after saying goodbye to Taryn and Jared. When we left there, I wept all the way to Durango, choking out a few hard sobs along the way.

It's not one person, it's everyone. All the people I've connected with over these last few years, the relationships that have developed into friendships I really cherish. I often stay in touch with people on social media to lessen the pain, but it's not the same. I miss my friends.

"You're taking it too personal!"

Grumpy, Biggus and Steve were trying to talk me out of it last week.

"I never feel that way when I travel."

"You just need to detach a little. . . "

As they spoke I did little to defend myself, because what they did was unimportant. I have just reached a point in my life where I truly care about others in a deep way. There's nothing wrong with that, and to be honest, I'm grateful I can feel so strongly for others.

Living as a motorcycle bohemian has taught me so many lessons, and this is just another. Perhaps it is that I should take no one for granted, and remember to treat every parting with serious regard. Love when you can, for perhaps there isn't a next time.

When I told my Father goodbye in August of 1990, I had no idea there wouldn't be a next time. I spent years wishing I would have stayed longer. . .

These lessons of travel have been so powerful for me that last year I started writing a book. I intended it to be a handbook of short lessons, but once an editor saw what I'd written, it became more. I've sent back my rewrites and now we are in the editing process again. My goal is to have it published by December 2014.

I don't know the title yet, but I know it's in there somewhere. These road lessons that become life lessons has been a consistent theme. I'll keep you all posted.

Now more than ever, I feel I have no home. The people I love are spread from California to Pennsylvania, Montana to New Mexico, Florida to Missouri to Colorado to South Dakota to Washington. My home lies withing their embrace, in those quiet moments of understanding, in the laughter over meals and the solitude of rides. I wonder now if I'm destined to wander forever, because it is certain for me in this moment that the road is my home.
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My daughter Olivia, 9 months pregnant

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Our friend and client, Betty Owen

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Gabriele, Charleyn and Asphalt Annie in Colorado

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My Uncle Reggie in Pennsylvania

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Our friend Rania in Philly

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Oktoberfest with my longtime friend and former classmate Becky

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Hugging Margaret DreamCatcher in Starbucks

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My former classmate and long time friend Kelly and her daughter Kassie

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Joan and me in Sturgis

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Excess and Victory in Scottsdale

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Scottsdale is a bit like Texas in that all things are excessive here. Our visit has been a time of visiting friends and getting work done in our hotel room, mostly. It seems so easy to indulge here! I've been shopping far too much, had 3 massages, and every visit with friends involves food and drink in large amounts. Not only that, but our hotel offers breakfast every morning and dinner 4 nights a week. I'm certainly feeling the effects and not doing enough to mitigate it

Being on the road has it's pitfalls, one of which is overdoing it from time to time.

Fish tacos and homemade Raspberry Parfaits with Grumpy Mike and his family, Prime Tenderloin Steaks and Roasted Asparagus with Biggus and Kim, Chicken Fried Steak with Biscuits and Gravy with Paul, and an Angus Burger with French Fries with Kelly, have all added up to spell waistline disaster.

Since we are going to be riding away from Scottsdale on Tuesday, I've been trying to make the most of the hotel gym this last week. Amid struggles with Fibromyalgia pain and busy with work, I've not worked out as much as I should and I'm noticing the pounds appearing back on my midsection.

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By this evening I was tired, but not terribly so, after spending the day out with my friend Kelly and her daughter Kassie. When Steve headed out the door to the gym, guilt crept over me. He hadn't said a word, but I knew I needed to go. I donned my gear and pouted the short stroll of shame to the elliptical that called my name.

This machine seemed to know I had been cursing it, because it performed oddly. The settings were stuck on the highest level of resistance and the heart rate monitor wouldn't work. I struggled for 5 minutes trying to get it to lessen the level, loudly groaning in pain. After 10 minutes it allowed me to adjust the level down a few notches, but the heart rate monitor never worked.

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I wanted to quit so damn badly, but I wouldn't allow myself to make excuses. I pushed onward, struggling and groaning, feeling more and more lightheaded and nauseous. But I would prevail or die, as I was not going to give in to my own weakness. Can you just imagine?

"My machine is broken. I'm quitting. . . "

No. Not today, not ever.

When my cardio routine was over I had completed 25 minutes of heart-crunching exercise, so much so that I nearly fainted upon my dismount.

After catching my breath, I meandered proudly back to our room and vomited my dinner thusly. I have never barfed after a workout, but this must be an added bonus of calories undigested, adding to the overall point of working out in the first place.

The spoils of victory are mine!

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I Need To Ride

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Do you know your true self?

Ever since I was very young, I've had conversations with myself in a deep, meaningful way. They aren't long conversations, nor are they out loud. These aren't those mutterings of, "Where did I leave my keys. . . " ramblings. I'm talking about getting serious, looking deep inside, and getting real.

I have no idea when I did this for the first time, but I've somehow developed a habit of occasionally taking a few moments, listening to my heart, and touching deep down into my true self. Not my outside persona. Just that private person that knows who and what I am on the most intimate level. It was a conversation with her that got me to rehab over 20 years ago. It was a conversation with her that got me to leave my abusive, unhappy husband. It was a conversation with her that led me to end my relationship with my abusive mother. And it was a conversation with her that led me to this life on the road.

Now that I ride a motorcycle, the way I come face-to-face with myself is somewhere between me and some golden splashes on a bed of shattered grey sparkles.

It is a matter of exploring landscape, within and without.

Perhaps it's my upcoming birthday that has me feeling introspective and getting serious. Lately I haven't had enough time riding, as I've been working more than I normally do, as well as coping with some crappy weather here and there. I probably need about 600 miles to work out some cobwebs building in my psyche right now. There's an ache, an itch, an uncomfortable urge to look at something I'm ignoring about myself. Of course, I can't put my finger on it just yet, which is why I need to ride.

I need to sort some broken pieces in my heart and the only place that makes sense is on my motorcycle, moving swiftly, roaring motor, eating wind. I need to feel my heart pounding, roll my throttle, own my personal chunk of road. I need to take ahold of my handlebars and let go of every thing else that is and ever will be. I need to turn myself over to the Universe and just be.

Just be. Be with my motorcycle, be on the road, be real, be me.

Now in my life, my true self exists at all times, but thrives on two wheels. Wind infused asphalt is the best fuel for my creative, authentic self. I'm starving for a big slice right now.

I need to ride.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Motorcycle Blogger Bob Skoot Dead


Bob Skoot and Mrs. Skoot, Yvonne, in his last post on his blog Riding the Wet Coast 

Steve and I just got word that our Motorcycle Blogging friend Bob Skoot has died. I don't have all of the details, but it is my understanding that he passed away last night in his sleep in Nashville. He was with his wife Yvonne on a trip across the U.S. in their Corvette. So Steve and I have done what we always do in times of sorrow, and we are at our laptops writing. This is how we process many emotions and sort out our thoughts and pain.

Rather than tell you about Bob as I knew him, I would prefer to share with you some excerpts from his emails to me.

"Glad to meet you. I have been following Steve for a while, he is also on my sidebar as a blog I follow.

I think we come from similar backgrounds. Myself from a broken home, and then forced to live with step relatives until I had to leave home (sort of runaway), lived in rooming houses so I know what it is like not to have family.

Until my current family, I have always been alone though not by choice. I am not sure I am as brave as Steve to post the details, but I may get the nerve. It is who I am and why I crave to have friends and seek out the family life I never had when I was younger as I have always had to work for my money, so I grew up the hard way.

I am so thankful for my blogging friends. I think all of us are just normal people with the same desires and have the same urge to ride motorcycles. Some of us have more time than others, and some more comfortable to ride solo, and some with friends. 


 You are lucky to have found each other. I do not have the luxury of having a riding buddy. Mrs Skoot, Yvonne has a hip problem which prevents her from riding or even being a passenger as sitting on a bike hurts her hips. I don’t post all of this stuff but basically she can’t ride. She is waiting for a hip replacement operation but then she broke her wrists so we had to decline her place when a spot became available."

Bob and I wrote upwards of 30 emails over the last 2 years trying to meet up on the road, but had never been successful. I thought we had finally figured something out, as we were to meet in next week as he traveled the Million Dollar Highway. I hadn't even told Steve yet that I was trying to firm up plans with Bob as to where and when so we could ride up from Phoenix to meet him and Mrs. Skoot. Now that's not going to happen.

The sense of loss I feel is odd and yet somehow profound. Although we hadn't met, I felt a kinship with Bob; the same kinship I feel with most riders. I know he was a lonely man in many ways, but his friendships are what fulfilled him. To those of you who made a point of meeting up with him, kudos to you. I'm sure he took great pleasure in meeting each of you.

Bob never hesitated to give me advice about riding. He consistently reminded me to be careful, wear proper gear, and gave me tips upon tips about safety. Embracing this kindness and concern he had, I always thanked him, as I was truly grateful. I may not have always heeded his warnings, but I adored that he was so concerned.

Tomorrow, or even later tonight, I intend to get on my motorcycle and ride in memory of Bob. I shall roll back the throttle and feel the wind, and think of my departed friend. I hope that on the other side he feels the loving embrace of those who will miss him, be aware of the lasting, loving imprint he left upon us all, and know serenity.

Rest in Peace Bob Skoot.

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Bell Custom 500 Helmet: Product Review

My Bell Custom 500 helmet after 11,000 miles, just like new!
Recently I received the Bell Custom 500 helmet from Helmet City to try while riding across the western states. I fell in love with it from the moment I put it on.

It's so lightweight that it feels nearly weightless on my head. This has been wonderful since I've had so much trouble in the past with my Fibromyalgia pain in my neck and shoulders. This helmet fits my head snugly and seems to be part of me when I put it on. Often I find myself walking into a store or restaurant with it still on, forgetting it's even there.

The retro styling reminds me of the first helmet I wore in 1980, a Bell. My high school boyfriend had a motorcycle, a typical UJM, a 1978 Yamaha 600, and we went everywhere on that bike. I only wore my helmet occasionally because as a 16 year old girl, with no helmet law in California at the time, I usually just wore it when my Mom saw me getting on the motorcycle. Fortunately I had that helmet on the day we wrecked in Lytle Creek, CA, just north of our hometown of Fontana. I remember landing on my head and left shoulder, and the sound of that pavement grinding in my helmet. Fortunately we weren't hurt worse, and I have spent the rest of my life being grateful for the Bell helmet. My lower back and tailbone was broken and he broke his collarbone, but being young and healthy, we both healed relatively well.

The truth is I hadn't been wearing my helmet full time since getting my motorcycle endorsement. When reaching states where a helmet wasn't required, I found myself leaving it behind from time to time. But since I've received this Bell Custom 500, I reach for it more and more often. In fact, I would say I wear my helmet 95% of the time now! If owning a comfortable helmet means wearing it more often and perhaps saving my life one day, then isn't that worth the investment? If you don't love your helmet, really LOVE your helmet, you won't wear it if you don't have to. Especially if you're prone to riding without gear.

I opted for the flat black, having had some rather flashy helmets in the past. I've considered putting stickers on it, or painting it, but now I really love the plain styling.

Bell Helmets also sent me two face shields to try. The 3-Snap Bubble Shield also has that cool, retro styling I love. My friend Madhavi has this style with her bright orange Bell Custom 500 and she looks so sexy in it! I wanted to try this shield because I loved the look. It looked easy to attach, but I had some trouble getting it attached firmly. I asked my husband to help me make sure the snaps were all connected properly, and sure enough, one was loose. The shield really protects well and once attached properly, a great addition to the helmet.

Bell also sent their Flip Visor for me to try. Unfortunately, the first time I wore it I didn't have my husband check the snaps. When I looked over my shoulder to check my blind spot and change lanes, it caught some wind and off it went, at 70 mph. I only wore it for around 20 minutes, and I feel terrible that possibly I hadn't secured it properly, thus losing it on the side of the road. It seemed to struggle in the wind due to the windshield on my motorcycle. I'm not sure if that played a part in losing it, but it wasn't a good fit for me all around.

My helmet now has over 11,000 miles on it, still looks almost brand new and fits just as snugly as it did the first day. It has seen some serious wind and rain with no issues. It blocks some wind noise, but not much. It keeps me completely dry, even in fierce rain. It doesn't seem to be well vented, or vented at all, so in hot temperatures, it's really hot. If you live in an area that is terribly hot, for example Phoenix, you may want to try a lighter color that reflects light instead of absorbing it.

Overall, I love this helmet and plan to wear it a good, long time. One thing I like is the versatility of the face shields, so I'm going to try another face shield in the future. But for now, I mostly wear it without one. The Bell Custom 500 is perfect for riders who want a helmet that is lightweight, simple, and comfortable with retro styling.
Wearing my helmet when it was brand new to Bike Night in Bakersfield

Trying out the Flip Shield 

Wearing the bubble shield while riding in South Dakota


Learn more about my life growing up as the daughter of a 1%'er and my travels across the U.S. My ebook, "Rude Biker Chick: Lessons From My Daddy" is available for purchase here. Thanks!

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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...)