Monday, August 16, 2010

Notes From The Road, Part II

Aloha from Sleepy Eye, MN...though I apologize for the mixing of regional, umm...dialects. I stopped in Sleepy Eye to use a library computer because I liked the name; sounds cooler than Rochester where I'll be later today. Happened to roll up to the library just as it opened...providence.

It's Day 11 of the trip, I've driven 3269 miles through seven states on too many roads to count. I've managed to stay off Interstates for the most part, though I do have about 175 miles on various I-routes. Because the bike is so loud, and the batteries on my phone really aren't designed for prolonged music-listening without constant recharging, I haven't been listening to music along the way. Just me and my thoughts. I'm not bored with myself yet, but I have found my solitary riding has made me more gregarious when I do stop. I'm more likely to chat with people.

Highlights follow:

--I stopped in Meridian, ID at the Sierra Trading Post outlet. One of my (many) failings as a traveler is a distinct and decided reluctance to go backwards. I *hate* turning around. But I turned around for the STP outlet. I've been shopping from their catalog and online stores for nearly 20 years now, and have always dreamed about being able to visit one of their stores. So when I saw the store from I-84, I went down to the next exit, and flipped a U-ey. It was a cool store, and the only reason I didn't spend nearly $1000 there was that I cannot carry anything more than I already have on the bike. But the real point of this story is that, while I was in the parking lot, I happened to take a close look at my rear tire, and found a nail in it. I have no idea where I picked it up. And I've been pretty diligent with daily safety checks (oil, tire pressure, etc) before I start out for the day, but I consider myself very lucky that I saw that nail at all. And one of the places I passed on my u-turn was the local Harley dealership, High Desert Harley Davidson. It was about 5:05 pm by now, so I was worried that they might not still be open. They were, though they were wrapping it up for the day. Thankfully, the technician agreed to stay a little late, after he heard my sob story about being on the road cross-country, and replace the tire. AND...the warranty that came with the bike covered tire repairs, so the whole thing cost me the $40 I gave the two guys who stayed late. High Desert HD ROCKS! And going backwards might not always be so bad.

--Yellowstone National Park was incredible. And that doesn't really do it justice. I want to go back when I have more than a day to explore; maybe more like a week or a month, maybe a whole year. I saw elk, deer, and bison, including one that was rolling around in the dirt on a hillside dusting himself. The views were gorgeous. I felt like if I saw one more amazing vista, my eyes just might pop out of my head. One day was not enough. However, the one fly in the ointment was my bike. It's loud. Normally, that doesn't bother me at all. It helps keep me safer in traffic, 'cause other drivers hear me coming; it annoys the high-brow people in posh neighborhoods that take themselves *way* too seriously. But in the Park, I regretted all the noise it made. It was like a belch in long 150-mile belch. It seemed sacrilegious to disturb the peace in that wilderness sanctuary. Funny how I don't mind annoying people, but I don't want to bother the wildlife.

--The people I've met have all been incredibly nice, interested and interesting. I met Mr and Mrs Rankin at Aro Restaurant in Sundance, WY. Mr Rankin was wearing a Coast Guard sweatshirt, and not having seen much CG propaganda, I stopped by their table and asked about his relation to the CG. Their son, SN Daniel Rankin is on USCGC KANKAKEE in Memphis, TN, and they are so proud of him. He wants to be an AST. I met Smiley at the Thelma & Louise Restaurant & Bar in Tracy, MN last night...he bought dinner for me. When the waitress told me my tab had been picked up, I almost told her that I'd pay for his dinner in reciprocation, kinda like buying the next round, but then realized that Smiley might not have understood, and possibly have been offended at that new women's lib thing. So I just said thank you instead. And I met a dairy farmer who retired after 47 years milking this morning. He told me about getting kicked so hard by one of his fractious cows that his leg took 10 days before it even bruised up. Everyone has wished me a safe trip...which usually brings to my mind the Helen Keller quote at the top of the blog.

--Peripherally related to meeting nice people, I've been getting random Facebook friend requests; people I have no idea who they are, asking to be my friend. Is this normal? Is it blog-related? I gotta say, I usually "Ignore" them, 'cause otherwise it's a little weird, being friends with someone who is a complete stranger to me. I'm not famous; I don't have fans. If you have submitted a friend request to me on FB, or are gonna, just add a little note to it, saying you read my blog. I guess I need context.

--Bugs...after seeing how many bugs have been splattered on my full-face helmet, I don't know why anyone would ever ride without a helmet. I've taken some hits that knock my head back, even with the helmet on. And my nice, beautiful leather jacket has so much bug guts on it, it squeaks now, and is a little sticky in some places. Guess I should wipe it down.

--And the cosmic comedy for the trip: last post I mentioned stopping by my friend Rickey's place in Big Sur, CA. He lives in a rustic camper about 500 yds from the closest restroom. So the easiest thing to do is to pee in the bushes, which I did that evening. But I forgot that poison oak is rather common in that area, and squatted without looking first. Well, let's just say that I understand how I got a few splotches of poison oak in the obvious spot on my bum, but how on earth did it end up on my belly and arm? All the little bits of it are no more than a baseball in diameter total, but jeez it itches!

I'm sure there was other stuff I meant to write about, things I've been thinking about along the way. Most are just random thoughts, like making sure to tell Mom to take the mango slicer out of the bag of stuff she's going to ship to me because I'm not likely to have as much use for a mango slicer in MD as she is in HI. And a lot of my time is spent thinking that I'm so incredibly lucky to live in this beautiful country, full of wonderful people (as long as we don't get into politics or religion), and with the time and flexibility to travel across it. I still can't believe this is my life sometimes!


Anonymous said...

You never had any problem bothering the "wild life" in the office next to yours.

Looks like you're making good progress...I start my own 2400 mile road trip on Thursday. Enjoy the cruise :)

Just a Girl said...

I remembered two other contemplations:

--I spend a lot of time wondering about opposing traffic air displacement dynamics. I know it must have something to do with the interactions of my speed, their speed, ambient wind, the geometry and solidity if their load, but why can I pass some trucks/RVs and only get hit with a marshmallow, while others hit me with a wall of air?

--Before I left CA, my sister and I had a brief discussion about personal "branding." I think she was referring to an article she had read. She asked me if I had a "personal brand," and I said yes, "irreverent empowerment" (at least I think it was empowerment). She laughed a little, allowed as how that was pretty accurate, and then wondered if she had one. I said yes again; hers is "stylish compassion." Do you have a personal brand?

And lastly, Hey Little Rock Star, you are *hardly* the type of wild life I'm concerned with bothering :) Hope you have fun on your adventure too.

(Typed on my phone from Dodge Center, MN...what a pain in the poison oaked-ass.)

Sassenach said...

Wait...wasn't Sleepy Eye the "big city" that Pa went to in Little House on the Prairie?

I'm so embarassed that this is the sum total of my contribution to your comments today....

Just a Girl said...

Sass, I'm pretty sure you're right...I've been on the Laura Ingles Wilder scenic byway for most of the day. Great comment :)