Daymaker - a person who performs acts of kindness with the intention of making the world a better place.
~ David Wagner
, author of Life as a Daymaker; how to change the world by making someone's day ~

DayMaker - any thought, word, or deed that spreads happiness, compassion, or fruitful ideas.
~ Annis Cassells ~

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

20 Loves, Part 10.1: Motorcycle Road Trips

Virginia & Sylvia - Grand Tetons

The Ride-In
Heart Mountain, Wyoming
Our destination was Billings, Montana, for the 27th Annual Women on Wheels® International Ride-In. From Cody, we’d ride only 100 miles, stopping at Heart Mountain Relocation Center, where Japanese citizens were interned after Pearl Harbor. When we rode up to the Billings Hotel and Convention Center, the motorcycle-filled parking lot blazed with color and chrome.

Immediately, the things to love about this WOW® Ride-In Vto happen. We’d barely dismounted our bikes when a male support member approached and began singing the praises of the Olympia jacket that Virginia wore. While we waited in line to register, friends from summers past stepped up to greet and hug us. Squeals and laughter rang out, and small groups of women riders chatted and cooled down throughout the large lobby. 

The next three days offered seminars and other motorcycle-related activities on site, area rides, city trolley excursions, and numerous opportunities to re-connect with old friends and to make new ones.

The culminating banquet featured Women on Wheels® awards and video presentations that included a preview of next year’s Ride-In location, Monroe, LA. We also learned that the 2015 event is set for Wisconsin. With the varied regions where the Ride-In is held, attendees have ridden some of the most beautiful and daunting roads in the United States. Another thing to love about the Ride-In.

The Ride Home

Three of the Amigas eased our clutches out before 6:00 AM. Sylvia stayed behind to check out a potential electrical short before getting on the road. Assured it was not a problem that would affect her Goldwing’s running, she took off 90 minutes behind us to meet up at our destination in Pocatello, ID.

As Laurie, Virginia, and I rode along the interstate, speed limit 75, we observed the Montana Department of Transportation has a way with words. Flashing, overhead digital signs aimed to keep us safe: “205 Road Deaths in 2012 -- 75% cent unbuckled.” “Plan to live; Buckle up. Arrive Alive.”

Dimpled green-and-gold hills back-drop ranches and farms where the main houses nestle beneath stands of trees. Outbuildings may match like a Fisher-Price toy farm set. Sometimes they’re bright barn-red or paint-peeled, washed-out or bare wood. Beyond the homesteads, surrounding mountain ranges: the Absaroka, Crazy, Bear Tooth, Tobacco Root, and Pioneer, rise to meet the sky. Sandwiched between the road and the Yellowstone River, railroad tracks carry lengthy processions of boxcars east and west.

Amid nature’s beauty, we see evidence of man’s presence and less beautiful effect on the land. Wastelands of rusted-out farm and construction machinery and old cars and trucks intrude on the landscape. So do small colonies of washed-out, permanent mobile homes that have seen much better, shinier days. Abandoned farmhouses stand on their last cornerstone in overgrown, neglected fields.

In southwest Idaho, I observe a crop duster gliding through the Carolina blue sky. I enjoy the beauty of its movement over the amber fields then am pulled into reality as it swoops low and a chemical odor fills the air, overpowering the natural scents.

There’s no such thing as a curmudgeonly motorcyclist. It’s a rule in the unwritten Code of The Road. Another is to acknowledge other riders. We may extend a hand or give a wave or a nod in passing. We will chat each other up at gas stations and rest stops. “Where ya’ from? Where ya’ goin’? Where ya’ been?”

At one refueling stop in Idaho, a motorcyclist approached me. “Oh, California!” he said, checking my license plate. “We’re from Minnesota. My wife is kind of a novice and this is her first long ride. She’s doing great! I’m so proud of her.” His wife moved from the gas pumps and parked her bike. She came toward us, a broad smile on her face. 

“I hear this is your first long ride and you’re doing great!” I said, smiling back at her. She put her arms out and came in for a hug. Perfect strangers, connected by our bikes and our love of riding.

Sylvia, 6 AM in Pocatello
At Pocatello, the four Amigas split and go two by two. Virginia and Sylvia head south on I-15 toward Salt Lake City to travel through Las Vegas and home to southern California. They meet up with monsoon rains that pull them off the road to wait out the downpour. What follows is debilitating heat coupled with humidity.
Laurie, 6:05 AM in Pocatello
Laurie and I go west into central Oregon to get to the south coast. We ride comfortably, a 500-mile day through the mountains on US 26 through John Day and on to Prineville for the night. For our final chilly morning departure, we layer up, knowing that we will wear most of these clothes all day.

Everyone arrives home safely. The southern California women are welcomed home by blistering heat. We Oregon women refuel at home in high winds that make it difficult to stand erect. 

The Amigas at Jackson Hole, WY
The roads, the places, the people, the hardships, the beauty, the memories are all part of the riding experience and adventure. Now that we're home, it’s time to start thinking about the next big ride.

~ xoA ~

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

20 Loves, Part 10: Motorcycle Road Trips

It's How We Roll

There's nothing like a motorcycling road trip with trusted, compatible, good friends. I'm writing this blog from The Road with my buddies. Life is good.

The Four Amigas: Laurie, from North Bend, OR; Virginia, of Litttlerock, CA; and Sylvia and me, from Bakersfield, CA. We have clocked hundreds of hours and thousands of miles in the saddle over the years, riding nearly every region of the USA and across Canada.
We all can be assured of these things: "Clutches out at 7:00" means right then or a few minutes earlier. Our bikes will be road-worthy, in the best riding condition possible. We will ride as a unit, safely and within the law. We will look out for each other. There will be copious laughter and bushels of fun and community laundry.

Last spring when we began planning this summer's ride to Billings, MT, excitement and anticipation of another trip together began building. The emails flew as the route through Yellowstone and Cody, WY, and accommodations along the way were decided. July, when we'd depart for the Women on Wheels(R) International Ride-In, sure seemed a long way off.
As with all long-awaited events, the day finally arrived. Clutches out and we were rolling at 6:53 a.m. on July 5.
Over the next few days the passing scenery filled, and mostly delighted, our senses. A golden strobe light effect through the early morning sunlit trees along the Umpqua River. Scorched, leafless stalks with ashen branches like otter whiskers stood tall on the fire-blackened roadside. As we rode through farmland, distant cathedrals became granaries surounded by silos, and man-made rainbows sprang from irrigation pipe spray. Cattle, with reddish-brown rumps and spines huddled around mounds of fodder. Real cowboys, sleek horses, and mighty buffalo in pastures. The majesty of the Grand Tetons and the wonder of Yellowstone.
Fresh-cut hay, rain-dampened earth, feedlots, smoke, rivers and stagnant ponds, and the sweetness of flowers took turns assaulting and soothing our noses.
We passed through towns with unfamiliar names: Brogan, Vale, Hammett, Chubbuck, Rainey, and Waipiti.
And, we met the friendliest people at every stop. There was the young Latino family of five from Houston who were in line in front of us at The Bunnery in Jackson Hole. The woman from Madison, Wisconsin, who struck up a conversation as she left our motel this morning. Travis from Ohio, who was sent to Idaho Falls to liquidate the stock of a car dealership that was going out of business.
We talked with the owner of the combination gas station, market, and cafe in Hammett. He apologized when we couldn't get breakfast there. The cafe had been closed because of slow business since irrigation equipment had replaced the 50 laborers who'd moved the pipes by hand and the men and their families had left the area to look for work. The weather had been a factor, too, with the high winds making it impossible for fishing enthusiasts to get their boats out onto the nearby reservoir. Times were tough in Hammett, but it hadn't seemed to break his spirit.
Yellow, diamond-shaped road signs warned us of hazards. We needed to watch out for wildlife crossing, frequent high winds, icy roads and falling (and fallen) rocks, as well as vehicles towing trailers. You can bet money that a pick-up or large SUV in this part of the country will be pulling a trailer loaded with a boat, ATVs, or farming equipment. All this is important knowledge for motorcyclists, traveling on four-inch-wide tires
All across Idaho and into Wyoming, our constant friend, the Snake River, showed up no matter which direction we turned. Its branches and forks crossed our path and surrounded us. I had a sense of being on the river itself as the high winding road that we followed alongside the water mimicked the sweeping ribbon of the Snake.
Three riding days gone. The ride, the road, the countryside, the sights and smells, the destinations, the four amigas. It's the best.
~ xoA ~