WOW!!! A lot has happened in the past three weeks and I’m finally at a point to sit and update the journey blog. Most folks were following along on FB and saw that I met a very fascinating man that has lived on his bike for 19 years. We hit it off like nothing I’ve ever experienced and to-date have been traveling together. Now Scotty considers himself retired after 19 years on the road. He’s not so much into the big adventures and constantly traveling as he’s done that many times over. He likes to find a town that suits him and setup house in the woods for many days or even a week or two at a time. As you all have seen, I rarely stay anywhere longer than 3 to 5 days unless rain or fork tubes keep me planted. Scotty has however stepped out of retirement just slightly to tour with me the past few weeks as I had goals and destinations. This pace will likely not continue for him, but as I make my way through my journey, I’ll track him down.
When we were about to leave Independence, VA, home of Fox Creek Leather, we stopped in to say goodbye to the crew and did an impromptu interview about living life on the road. I had such a great time with the folks at Fox Creek Leather and doing this interview was an added bonus. Regardless that I have loved their products since acquiring my leathers over 3 years back, the PEOPLE, the PEOPLE are really what make this company a genuine icon and I am more than proud to call them friends.
06-10-13 We pulled out of Independence, VA and headed towards Asheville, NC to see a friend of Scotty’s for a bit. The day was beautiful and sunny, perfect for motorcycling with a new friend. Much like me, Scotty likes to stop and see things that interest him, in particular abandon buildings. He has taught me a newfound respect for abandoned buildings. Often times they hold a curious history that seems to have been frozen in time. Other times they offer shelter. But they all bellow loudly one common theme… nothing lasts forever and materialistic stuff will go back to the earth from wench it came given enough time lost and forgotten.
We made it to Asheville without incident however, once we arrived and were ready to setup our camp, I have to tell you that I finally, for the first time ever, DROPPED MY BIKE. Argh!! We were going up a moderately sloped area on the ground, typically not a big deal, but with all the past rains the ground was slick as baby snot and I even said aloud moments before, “I should probably take this heavy bag off the back.” Hmmm… I should have listened to myself. Other than a little blushed and embarrassed no harm done. Our host Jody let us setup in his back yard and we spent the next couple of days relaxing and having some fun (in between a little work as well). Asheville is a beautiful area and though I’ve been twice now, there is still so much more to see and do. But as it sometimes goes, I had a special destination and I could not stay as long as I would have liked.
06-13-13 Excitement was building from the moment I woke up. I was bound for Memphis, TN to enjoy the wedding of my dear friends Cheryl and Mike. You may have seen other words from The BROAD about Cheryl and most definitely seen her in comments and on my FB. Cheryl and I became friends through others about six years ago. Last year she wanted to learn to ride motorcycles and in conjunction with her safety class and help from her man, she came to ME, yes ME to ask for help. Imagine my honor and my joy. We had a great time for those days (and a shit ton others in the past 6 years) and she was shocked that I let her ride My Girl. So in as few words as I can make clear, I LOVE THIS WOMAN and was not going to miss her wedding!! Thursday proved to be a total bust. We left way later than I would have liked and then the weather turned to crap. We didn’t get very far before deciding to make camp for the night and wait out the rest of the rain. I learned a few more things about picking a spot as Scotty led me through the motions. Friday we rose and at this point had to clear nearly 460 miles which is not my idea of a joyous ride. I don’t like to rush and I always try to give myself a cushion. When you live on your bike, it’s far different than when you have vacation time. Day in and day out can wear on the body, the mind, and the soul. I enjoy the luxury of having no time tables for the most part and rushing about brings back the unsettled nerves of city chaos. But for this day, it will have to work because some people are simply worth the extra effort, and Cheryl and Mike are a couple of those people. We finally arrived in Memphis around 9pm or so. I was exhausted and simply not up for going out.
06-15-13 For the first time in I can’t recall how long, I put on a dress and heels and we made our way to the wedding of Cheryl and Mike along the river in Memphis. It was a hot hot day but smiles were everywhere the beautiful couple had waited a long time for this joyous day. Some 3 years back I met Darla at the June Bug Boogie in TN. When Cheryl wanted me to do the photography for her wedding I made a gracious attempt to decline because not only do I feel I’m not the greatest at that sort of thing, but I really truly wanted to enjoy the wedding. Darla lives in TN and has a young boy fighting a brain tumor; I thought for sure she could use the job more so than I. As things turned out, Darla captured the wedding in true classic form and she and hubby Tom joined us all after the ceremony for celebratory drinks and shenanigans. During conversations of the day, Tom and Cheryl grew up in the same area, had school friends that were mutual, and we all talked of places in Chicago we’ve eaten, had adventures and the like thereof. It’s a small world and even smaller when you’re a biker. Cheryl and Mike’s wedding day was indeed a testament to how friendships blossom and grow stronger over the years. I was honored to have been the best man, maid of honor, and ring bearer all in the one – hehehe!
Sunday was spent on a little bit of work and catch up until Cheryl and Mike returned from a family visit. We had a few drinks and laughs before saying our good byes. On Monday we loaded up the bikes and tried to outrun the rain as we slowly made our way to Illinois.
06-17-13 I am typically a ball of energy and once I’m awake I am going at top speed. I have learned to take that down a notch or two but sometimes I get antsy sitting around waiting for others. In fact, this is partly why I love to travel alone. As I’ve said before: my pace, my schedule, and my rules. Scotty and I got a later start than anticipated and once again we missed a few hours of clear riding. No sooner had we loaded the bikes than the rains began, so we sat in a café outside the hotel and waited for a break. As the day progressed, we stopped several times to get out of the rain and again, with only about 60 miles completed, we made camp at an abandoned church. The church was set back from the road and had a porch that provided rain cover and wind cover for the most part. Once we setup the rain avoided us for a few hours until it was time for bed. Murphy’s Law seems to always catch me/us sooner or later.
Over the next couple of days, we leisurely made our way north where I was returning home for a visit and another wedding. We enjoyed random stops for food, site seeing, and chatting with locals. Our campsites each provided me with more and more knowledge that will arm me when I head west with far less connections than I had in the southeast.
We took Rt. 1 most of the way up the east side of Illinois and I had never traveled this path. I have to say that for as long as I’ve lived in IL, some of the beauty has escaped me. The spent a couple of hours in The Garden of the Gods in southern Illinois and did a bit of rock climbing. Despite the extreme heat, I loved the scenery.
After leaving the Garden of the Gods, we continued on our way and ran across an abandon house that looked interesting. From the best we can gather, it appears that the dwellers may have left in the mid to late 80’s. From the items and setup of the home, I am guessing that there were two parents with two young girls; one I believe may have been preteen and the other much younger. When you see an abandon home that is still fully furnished, you just have to ask yourself, “What happened to these people?” Left behind were nearly all of their belongings: clothes, furniture, children’s games, food, holiday decor, old mail, school year books, and so much more. We don’t molest and pillage these properties, but rather find intrigue in the manner in which time stopped at these places and how mother nature is reclaiming her territory. I find a great deal of relief and sadness in this situation. You see, I had the chance to liquidate all my stuff prior to becoming homeless and so that is a relief. The people that lived here for some reason, never took the things they worked so hard to acquire and that is sad. Yet all in all, the fact remains that stuff is just stuff and is not meant to last forever, nor will it ever be that which makes your life complete or secure.
We found a few great campsites and even got to visit with Paul in Hoopeston, IL. Paul is a fascinating machinist. I learned a great deal about boring and he even concurred with Jody in NC that I can convert my 883 to a 1200 without as much trouble and cost as I originally thought. Not that I can do it now, but it was great to learn a few things from this master.
06-21-13 We waited out some nasty wind and rain at Paul’s until late afternoon. Finally on the leg to get home, we enjoyed a bit of evening riding. With the prior hot days, this ride was a bit of a treat. I had been having some headlight issues so I wasn’t as “bright” as I would have liked. Thankfully for this piece of the journey, I was travelling with a friend and sharing the road and the light. Now despite the fact that I was returning to see my son, my grand daughter and some amazing people that have supported endlessly, I have to be honest here and tell you; the second I arrived to my town, I was ready to leave. I don’t often post a lot of negative crap, because who really wants to hear that? But the fact remains that Illinois has never really been my home. I was imported here and did the best I could to make a good life here. I’m not really sure if any place is my home but that’s beside the point. As I came up Bell Rd., to McCarthy, and down Archer, etc. to hit the Taco Bell in Lemont; the entire time I felt as if my chest had tightened and my stress returned. I knew the crazy schedule that lay ahead with those activities that would be certainly fun but also some of the personal business I had to tend to. I felt as if my dream and my journey had stopped before I had even parked the bike. I know that is not the case, and I knew then that there was a GREAT DEAL OF LOVE in this state for ME. But if I did not tell you these things, you would not really get to know my journey.
The coming days will prove to be both fun and challenging. Stay tuned for more shenanigans…
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