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 ~

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Anytime Review

How’s my life going? Am I the kind of person I want to be? Doing what I’ve set out to do? How can I make life better?

Many of us wait for a milestone, like the beginning of a new year to ask these questions. Some of us begin to think in terms of a life review as we reach a certain age. Others wait for a crisis to heave us into contemplation.  The truth is that ANYTIME is a good time to take an honest look at what course we’ve taken. From there, we can decide if this is the route we intended to take or whether it’s a path that is beneficial or not, in light of our desires, skills, and values.

Doing an Anytime Review* has its advantages.
  • ·         We can get our bearings.  (Where am I right now?)
  • ·         We become aware and have the opportunity to make changes or shifts.  (What next?)
  • ·         We validate what we’ve done and how far we’ve come. (I’m right on track. I’ve done a good job. Or:  I need to make some adjustments.)

In order to lend a structure to the Anytime Review, it helps to have a few guidelines and points to think about. The over-arching question is:  Where am I right now on my journey in life? Finish a few sentence beginnings in your head and jot the sentences down.  This helps narrow  the focus.
  • ·         On my journey, I think . . .
  • ·         On my journey, I am grateful . . .
  • ·         On my journey, I regret . . .
  • ·         On my journey, I feel proud . . .
  • ·         On my journey, I am determined . . .
  • ·         As I continue my journey, I need . . .

When working with the Anytime Review, I choose one or more of the finished sentences from above and write about them in my Journal. I set those aside for a day or so, then return with “new eyes” to read what I thought and wrote.  

This process has led me to forgive myself for actions I regretted from my younger days, something that I didn’t know still bothered me. From the Anytime Review, I’ve been able to express gratitude and visualize where I wanted to go next and what I needed to help me get there.

With life being so unpredictable, it helps to check up on ourselves in an honest, tangible way. We don’t have to wait for a milestone or a landmark occasion. We can do it anytime. How about now?

Wishing you a happy, healthful New Year on your journey.

~ xoA ~

*Adapted from Abe Arkoff. “The Illuminated Life.”

Friday, December 12, 2014

Z is for Zero Hour

Zero hour came Monday, November 24, 2014, when I looked in my car’s rear view mirror and saw my friend Carla Bryan ride Big Red across the intersection of Truxtun and Oak. We’d just left the AAA office, where we had taken care of the California DMV requirements, and Carla was leaving town, riding Big Red to her home in Las Vegas.

A bittersweet event, it was, surprisingly, more sweet than bitter. The hard stuff had occurred months before when I’d anguished over the big decision to give up motorcycling and sell Big Red. I’d spent restless nights and did a fair amount of bawling whenever I talked about it. Big Red had become a huge part of my identity. Who would I be now?

From the first time I put the words out into the Universe that it was time for Big Red to go, Carla was interested. She visioned the bike as hers and stayed positive. She kept in touch with me on Facebook and worked hard to earn the money to own Big Red. 
Laurie, TJ, Carla, me, and Sylvia
We had ridden together with the Sunblazers years ago before she moved to Las Vegas. Carla knew me and the bike, which she said were big factors in her decision to purchase Big Red.

Knowing my bike was going to someone who wanted her so much, would take good care of her, and would ride her on to new places -- and knowing Carla -- made it so much easier for me to pass Big Red along.

So in the wee hours of Sunday, November 23, Carla boarded a Greyhound Bus in Las Vegas, headed for Bakersfield, to pick up her “new” bike. We spent the afternoon getting reacquainted and orienting Carla to Big Red’s many features. She went for a spin and returned grinning from ear to ear. I felt better and better about Big Red’s new home.
Before we left the house Monday morning, I showed Carla the faded woven thread friendship bracelet that encircled Big Red’s left handle bar. “That’s been on there since 1996.”

She looked me in the eye and said, “And, it’ll stay there.” 

Blessings and safe travels to Carla and Big Red as they traverse the highways and byways of this great land, embarking on new adventures and seeing new vistas. It's comforting to know that a part of me will still ride in the wind with Big Red.

~ xoA ~

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Y is for Yesterdays

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve
Astride Big Red, the USA was my playground with the back roads and highways reminiscent of the Game of Life, a board game in which players travel life’s roads, dealing with whatever befalls them. The time I spent cycling through life was extraordinary, even the occasional disconcerting or difficult times when the unexpected happened.
Honda mechanic in Greeley, CO, who got me back on the road.
He took the Gold Wing manual home so he could study it
and get me going the next morning.
For 25 years, I biked those roads, sometimes retracing and becoming familiar with them.  I knew to expect high winds on Hwy 40 coming through Amarillo. I learned, when on my way to Oregon at the end of May, I’d feel the sweet relief of coolness just north of Redding, California.

First scooter
The motorcycling years were a time of nurturing the sense of adventure inside me. A time of satisfying my curiosity about this country and places I’d only read about. I became stronger in body and spirit, more knowledgeable about geography, history, and regional cultures. It was a time of exploration and growth and finding out about my skills and capacities, my limits and passions.
Monterey on the California Coast

 Now it’s time to hang up my helmet. I sensed it. I knew it. I grieved it. I’m still grieving it.

Two things have eased the pain of change.  Scanning these past 25 years through photo albums and journal entries, I’ve relived countless memories of my yesterdays as a motorcyclist. Writing this series of blogs to retell my stories and share them with you has helped in my transition to former biker.

Though it’s been a time of letting go, sprinkled with a few tears and lots of smiles, the spirit of WingWoman lives on. And, as my younger daughter said, I will “always be a motorcyclist.”
Coos Bay, Oregon

~ xoA ~

“All my best memories
Come back clearly to me
Some can even make me cry.
Just like befoe
It’s yesterday once more.”
~ The Carpenters

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

X is for X-Factor

X factor -- noun.
  a circumstance, quality, or person that has a strong but unpredictable influence

The BMW I rode in New Zealand,
driving on the LEFT side of the road
Before we set off to New Zealand’s famed Milford Sound, I heard what our guide Al said about riding through the tunnel. “Don’t wear your sunglasses.” Three of us from Women on Wheels®, Donna, Nancy and I, rode together that day. I led our little pack.

Yes, I heard Al’s words, but when we reached the mouth of the tunnel, it was too late to safely pull over and stop. Before I knew it, I was already inside, my photo gray prescription glasses, dark. My friends, right on my tail.

The thought that went through my mind -- after a peck of expletives -- was, If I go down, we all go down. In the dark. I flashed my brake lights and backed off the throttle. Daring to take my left hand off the handle bars to reach into my helmet, I pulled down my glasses and peered over the frames, willing my eyes to adjust.

The narrow tunnel pierced the mountain for 1.2 kilometers.  There were no lights inside, just red reflectors on the walls and yellow ones on the strip that divides the two lanes. The slick, uneven road’s sudden downward slope, shot the headlight’s glow out into space.  I felt like I was driving into 'nowhere'. Sweat poured inside my raingear, making me feel like I was in a too-hot sauna. This was my scariest two minutes on a motorcycle. Ever. 

At the nearest safe shoulder on the other side, the three of us stopped to breathe and regroup. The good news was we’d made it unscathed. The bad news? To return to our farm stay lodging, we had to repeat this feat at the end of the day. 

Meanwhile, Judy had opted to ride in the van with Perry, another of our guides. Little did she know that Perry drove the van just like he handled his motorcycle. It was a harrowing ride for her, as Perry drove like a wild man and, so Judy could see just how dark it was in the tunnel, he cut the van lights for several yards.

Milford Sound is actually a fiord carved by the glaciers centuries before. It’s deemed the “wettest place on earth,” because rainfall averages 28 feet per year. Endless cascading waterfalls tumble down the faces of the rocks and cliffs from thousands of feet above. 

Our two-hour cruise showed off Milford Sound’s magnificence, but that return mile through the tunnel loomed over our heads, and I became distracted from enjoying the views. This was one day on our New Zealand tour when I would be glad to park my bike.
Internet photo
Since that terrifying incident, whenever there’s a conversation about the scariest time in our lives, this ride through the tunnel immediately comes up for me. What’s been your scariest moment?
~ xoA ~

Saturday, December 6, 2014

W is for Women on Wheels®

Discovering an advertisement for Women on Wheels® in the spring of 1992 changed my motorcycling life. I’d had no idea of the power of belonging to a group of strong, competent, women who love to get out on their motorcycles and ride. In those days, we rarely saw other women riders. If a woman showed up with a helmet, she was climbing onto the passenger seat.

So the following summer, when I attended the Women on Wheels® International Ride-In near Atlanta, was a critical time -- a time of discovery, growth, pride, and of developing confidence as a rider.

My friend Sharon and I arrived on our red and white Honda Pacific Coast motorcycles at the host hotel in Dunwoody, Georgia, not knowing if we’d like this three-day event -- or this group. We’d pre-paid for our registration, but hadn’t bought the official Ride-In tee shirts. Neither had we made banquet reservations for the closing evening. What if we wanted to leave early? What if we didn’t like this group?

 Huntsville, AL 1999
As we rode up to the entrance, we couldn’t miss the huge “Welcome, Women on Wheels” sign on the hotel marquee or the array of beautiful motorcycles in the parking lot. I felt my smile broaden inside my full-face helmet.
Greenville, SC 2012
Walking into the hotel lobby, we saw clusters of women, some still wearing their riding gear, standing around, talking and greeting each other with hugs and squeals. And we heard lots of laughter. It was a scene of unbridled friendship. And, they welcomed us in.

June with her mom and riding buddy,
 Ms. Hazel at the 2012 Ride-In
The first morning, we straddled our bikes, lined up in pairs in the parking lot for the organized ride to a local motorcycle shop for a lesson and lunch. Soon, June Reeves, the ride leader zipped up and took her place at the front of the line. Her boyfriend climbed into the passenger seat, and the crowd broke out whooping and hollering, and blasting our horns.

By the time we returned from that first ride, had felt the warmth of comradeship and the joy of being with this crowd, we were hooked. Sharon and I rushed to the registration table to see if there were any banquet tickets left.   Somehow, we did manage to get two tickets, a lucky thing because I became a big winner when door prizes were awarded.

The second day, we all rode to Two-Wheels Campground in Suches, in the hills north of Atlanta. On a narrow, curvy road, it seemed like a longish ride. That’s where I learned that in Georgia, when the road sign on a curve shows 20 mph, they really mean it.

This first Women on Wheels® International Ride-In is where I met women and men who have become dear to me. They are now long-time friends who over the years have continued to inspire, reassure, teach, and befriend new riders.  Donna Brown was one of the few women Gold Wing riders at the ’92 Ride-In. She pumped me up and told me I could ride one, too. When I bought Big Red a year or so later, Donna instructed, “You need two things: floor boards and a back rest.”  I got them immediately, and on many a ride I have blessed her for that advice.
Donna in Huntsville at the 1999 Ride-In
Friendships with other riders whom I met at that Atlanta event have lasted more than 22 years. We’ve ridden together at other Ride-Ins, hosted each other in our homes, and kept up with each others’ lives.

Each year, Women on Wheels® holds the Ride-In in a different region of the country. This event is often a family event that is the central focus of many riders’ vacations. Attending it and seeing new territory have been why I, and so many of us, have ridden all over the U.S.A., multiple times.
Group Photo in Eureka Springs, AK - 1994
The mission of Women on Wheels®is “to unite all women motorcycle enthusiasts for recreation, education, mutual support, recognition, and to promote a positive image of motorcycling.” Even in the days before websites and Google and the mission statement flying across cyberspace, we knew it to be a reality. We felt it at each Ride-In. We rode a little taller in the saddle when on our own.
Cathy Davies at Eureka Springs, AK - 1994
~ xoA ~

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

U and V

Spotted Wolf Canyon, Utah
Unobstructed View

One of the most enticing phenomena about motorcycling is the unobstructed view of the countryside. For someone who relishes seeing the “big picture,” the best seat is in the saddle. My eyes sweep over snow-topped or green mountain vistas, colorful rock formations, and the open road. Besides appreciating the view, knowing that I’m heading into that distant mural excites me and makes me appreciate its vastness.

The mirrors offer a different perspective. I notice myself and Big Red emerging from the scenery of a rich, dense forest, like we are bursting forth from the trees. Or, the long road stretches out behind us. I was just there is my usual thought.

Right below my feet, the landscape rolls by. I see the texture of the earth as well as individual plants. It’s fascinating to observe the differences in the terrain as we move along.

Then, there’s the open sky with its myriad shades of blue and gray, its dappling clouds. I remember my first time riding in Montana. No wonder they call it Big Sky Country.

Motorcyclists get to take it all in.  We wonder at, and are touched by, the beauty and our unobstructed view. 

The Virtue of Visibility 

“Oh, sorry. I didn’t see you,” the automobile driver who nearly clips a motorcyclist yells out her window. In multi-vehicle accidents and fatalities involving motorcycles, not seeing the bike is the most frequent comment that comes up in police reports.

Knowing the difficulty this can present, motorcyclists do everything we can to make ourselves visible. We use reflectors and reflective tape on our bikes and helmets. I switched from a black jacket and red helmet to silver. (Though the sun hitting that red helmet looked like a police car light and folks pulled over for me a time or two.)

Some paint our bikes vivid colors to increase visibility.
Beth on "Sunshine"
My friend Gil installed brake lights and headlights that flash because the movement of the light catches attention. Neon yellow and green rain gear is sensible attire for those dark-sky days.

There is an entire industry of goods that make a rider more visible.
Internet photo Conspicuity, Inc.
Companies such as Conspicuity, Inc. and Adventure Rider’s Hi Viz Store offer eye-catching vests, helmets, and other clothing. Wearing bright-colored gear, as opposed to the all-black regalia of many “cool” bikers, makes a motorcyclist more noticeable in traffic and from a distance. If drivers can see us, they are more likely to keep at a safe distance, which makes for a better chance for our survival.
Internet photo
In a 2003 New Zealand study using nearly 1,700 motorcyclists (463 cases involved hospitalization or death) , researchers found that motorcyclists wearing any reflective or fluorescent clothing had a 37% lower risk than other riders. And, wearing a white helmet, as opposed to black, was associated with 24% lower risk.

In the United States, motorcycle safety foundations and some state publications are now including greater information and more tips about the necessity for riders to be conspicuous. When there is increased awareness -- and visibility -- the roads are safer for everyone.

Riding a motorcycle is one time we need to stand out rather than blend in.
~ xoA ~

Thursday, November 27, 2014

T is for the Trek to The Bake

Cabin fever sets in during the winter months when motorcyclists can’t get out on their bikes. And, though Bakersfield is not normally a travel destination, from 2006-2008, it became the kick-off site for the California Sunblazers riding season -- The Trek to The Bake.

Beth, Laurie, & Virginia
Oregon club members Laurie and Beth would climb on their bikes around the last weekend in April and head south. Virigina would ride from Littlerock, California, and go past Bakersfield to meet Laurie and Beth on the road and escort them into town. One year, our members from Aguanga, Elaine and her Gene, joined us.

As with most events, we fell into traditional patterns. Friday we’d hold a reunion potluck. Good food, much reminiscing, games and laughter filled the evening. 
Sylvia, Debi, PattyB, & Trudy

There would be a day ride on Saturday. One year, to Porterville and the nearby iris farm. Another year, up the Kern River Canyon to Kernville, where they were having an arts and crafts fair. 

Perhaps the most stunning was our final year when we rode to the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve in Lancaster. Sunday morning was departure time for our Oregon amigas.

During the weekend, maps would be strewn over kitchen counters and on tables as we discussed summer plans, destinations, and routes. One morning Laurie, Beth, and Virginia traced the map and talked about their trip to Rapid City, SD. Beth would be going on to Kentucky to the WOW® Ride-In. It dawned on me that I could join them for a part of the way then break off on my own and head back to Coos Bay. Right then and there it was decided, and I was ready to ride.

As with all things, lives and priorities change, and the annual Trek to The Bake came to an end. But, on this Thanksgiving Day in 2014, I am grateful for the wonderful memories of our marvelous times, and for our deepened, enduring friendships.

~ xoA ~

Monday, November 24, 2014

S is for Sunblazers

Trudy 2012
I’m imagining the conversation began with Trudy pacing near her bright yellow Magna, puffing on a cigarette. It probably went like this: “I want to get out and ride!”

Then, agreement and head nodding from her friend.

“There must be some other women who want to ride, too. l’m gonna check out Women on Wheels®. Get some names of other women riders.”

More head nodding from her friend. It was hard to get a word in when Trudy was hot on a topic.
 * * * *
In early 1996, a letter arrived in the U.S. mail. It was from a woman named Trudy Albrecht. Little did I know that she and I would become great friends as a result of this letter and her desire to bring women riders together and form a Central Valley chapter of Women on Wheels®.

After the required number of meetings and memberships, and the necessary paperwork was filled out and filed, we were ready to ride as a formal group. So, on a Saturday in March of 1996, from all over the valley -- Fresno, Visalia, Corcoran, Clovis, Gustine Hanford, Coalinga, Bakersfield -- we met up at a gas station/convenience store on Highway 65 near Ducor, California. From there, we took off on our first excursion, to California Hot Springs Resort.  Mountain Road 56 climbed and wound into the central-southern Sierra Nevadas, and 25 miles later, we were at our destination.

Many of us were new to each other, so we spent time becoming acquainted over lunch in the resort dining area. Then someone went outside and came back yelling, “Snow!” We cleared the restaurant in no time, jumped on our bikes and carefully headed back down the mountain. This was the first of many memorable adventures with the group that became known as the California Sunblazers Chapter of Women on Wheels® -- Sunblazers, for short. 
Laurie shows off our Logo
The highways and byways of California and across the nation became ours. Excursions to the coast, the desert, and the mountains were all within reach -- sometimes on a day trip, other times, over night.  There were great weekends when we camped or rented a house at the coast. Once we were lucky enough to have a member with connections and stayed at a home overlooking the ocean at Cayucos.
Sunblazers in Redding 2001

We conducted meetings in which we learned about safe riding habits through reading, watching videos, and members’ experiences. Then, we put those behaviors into practice on the road, assuring safe journeys and fun experiences together. Basic maintenance seminars, given by our chapter director, Sylvia Thornton, enabled us to become more knowledgeable and feel more confident when out on the road.

One of the things I’ve been most proud of with the Sunblazers is our willingness and dedication in mentoring new riders. Often women have a desire to begin riding their own motorcycles but have few options for practice with seasoned, safety-conscious bikers. We have a history of helping those women gain experience and self-assurance.

The greatest gift for me is the personal connection between members, the friendships and loyalties that have developed over the years. We know we can count on each other on and off the bikes and enjoy time together over meals, in our book group, and in other travel adventures.  
Trudy, Earlene, Judy, Gil, me, & Sylvia
Kern County backroads ride
For nearly twenty years, a number of us have traveled the continent together -- to all points between both coasts, to Alaska, and even across Canada.  We can count on each other, knowing that our bikes will be road worthy, clutches will be out at the agreed-upon time, and will be considerate, law-abiding, safe riders.
3-Dam Ride - Redding 2001
From a group of strangers to a band of buddies, we are all the richer for knowing each other and bonding as Sunblazers.

Friday, November 21, 2014

R is for Ridin' the Rockies

Colorado Rockies [internet photo]

Living on the western edge of the United States, motorcyclists get to ride through some gorgeous country in our own neighborhoods. But, riding any distance to the east, we must traverse the magnificent Rocky Mountains. From Canada south to New Mexico, the Rockies inspire us and tantalize our senses.

Map from internet
Having motorcycled back and forth across the country six times, I’ve seen my share of the Rockies but have never gotten my fill. The towns of Colorado stand out -- Durango, Estes Park, Denver, and Aspen, to name a few. And, Cañon City, the scene of the 1998 Women on Wheels® Ride-In. It was at that Ride-In that I overheard one of the Motorcycle Safety Instructors in our groups coaching a brand new rider: “Chin up, stay up, as you go around those curves.” This is a phrase that I now repeat often, sometimes aloud so I can hear it as well as think it.

Ten years later, Laurie, Virginia, and I rode through the Idaho and Canadian Rockies on our way to Michigan. As we pulled in for the evening at our motel in Coleman, Alberta, Canada, the view of the sun setting on the snow-topped mountains was breathtaking. Too soon the next day we rode out of that storybook setting and began two days of travel through flat farmland.

Beartooth [internet photo]
The Rockies of Idaho and Montana treated Judy and me to some glorious vistas and twisty roads on our trip to Glacier National Park one summer. I’d heard from a fellow motorcyclist about his trip across the Going to the Sun Road at Glacier and was eager to ride it. Though we met with a lot of rain on that trip, and it didn’t feel much like we were “going to the sun,” we still had a memorable time.

Virginia & Sylvia view the Grand Tetons 2013
Most recently, the 2013 summer ride to Billings, Montana, allowed the “four amigas,” Laurie, Virginia, Sylvia and me, the pleasure once again of the Grand Tetons, Beartooth, and Yellowstone. 

Majestic in stature, fascinating to look at, and riveting to ride, I never tire of the Rockies.

~ xoA ~

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Q is for Q & A

Las Amigas in Nevada
When folks see a group of women riders, or a lone rider, they are surprised and curious. Questions, the reasonable and the ridiculous, roll out of their mouths.

“Hah! A bunch of women?”

“Where are you going?”

“How much does that motorcycle weigh?”

The first cross-country bike trip I took was with my friend Sharon in the early ‘90s. Starting out on Honda Helix scooters, we rode west to dip our toes in the Pacific Ocean. Then, we headed east to do the same in the Atlantic. I remember one question: “What are you going to do if it rains?”

Naïve, we laughed and said, “We will get a motel, sit down, and read our books.”

Beth and I coming home in the rain
The reality is this: When the rains come, you slow down and keep going as long as you can see well enough. You’re watchful that the water on the road doesn’t make your bike hydroplane and that no hazards are below the water’s surface. If the water rises high, swirls around you, or becomes so murky you can’t see, it’s time to pull over. On my Baja trip, our leaders cautioned us particularly about running through rain-filled vados, big dips in the road since we couldn’t see to the bottom.

Always, my first response is, “Strangers have jumped out of their vehicles and off their porches to help me pick it up!” And that’s true. It’s happened more than once. I could take you through the alphabet with names of places where folks have come to my aid. But, at almost every women’s motorcycle rally, there are demonstrations and opportunities to practice picking up a downed bike. Even a Gold Wing.

“Can you change your own oil or work on your bike?” 

I have to quote and agree with one motorcycle buddy from years ago who said, “That’s why I have a job. So I can pay a mechanic to do that.”

I can check tire pressure and put air in, check the oil, and, thanks to my friend Sylvia, refill the coolant reservoir. Once I even changed the battery, with Judy beside me reading the directions.

Getting TJ's bike started; Sylvia in the saddle
A lot of women riders have the knowledge and skills to do their own motorcycle repair and maintenance. If anything goes wrong with a bike, Sylvia, can figure out the problem and most often fix it. There have been times when Sylvia’s just laid hands on an unresponsive Big Red and she starts! The women I ride with, Laurie, Virginia, and Sylvia, amaze me with their skill, determination, and guts when tackling the mechanics of motorcycles.
PattyB in Glenwood Springs, CO

“Did you ride that thing all the way here?”

This question is one that is tempting to answer with sarcasm. Believe me, those kinds of retorts flash through most women’s minds. But, we refrain from speaking them aloud out of decency toward the speaker and as a matter of insuring our own safety. But, when we gather over dinner and a beer, the comebacks and laughter flow. “Well, I rode it half-way and pushed it half-way.”

Every motorcyclist I know welcomes the opportunity to talk about his or her bike. So, go ahead. Just ask your question. What is it that you’ve always wondered?
~ xoA ~

Friday, November 14, 2014

P is for Pocatello

One of Idaho's many beautiful waterfalls 

The summer of 1999, the year I retired from teaching, Big Red and I tore up the roads. For more than 10,000 miles, covering 21 states, it was a summer of riding and seeing this great land. Toward summer’s end, the Spud Rally in Pocatello, Idaho, came along to divert my attention from the fact that school was about to start.
“I don’t see any reason why we can’t go,” Judy said when I showed her the Wing World magazine containing the advertisement for this Gold Wing Road Riders Association (GWRRA) event. “You’re retired.”

And, within a day or so, we had travel plans and reservations in place. Even with limited space in the trunk and saddlebag compartments, packing for two would be simple. Unhurried, we could stop for sight-seeing along the way.

This was our first time to attend the Spud Rally. But I’d seen photos and heard stories of other big Gold Wing gatherings so I expected hundreds of decked-out bikes and a huge number and variety of vendors peddling motorcycle gear. Both those expectations came true. Gazing at the motorcycles all over the fairgrounds, we marveled at the creativity and liberal use of lights and chrome and the customized paint jobs, many with stunning murals. We also shopped for items that would make our cycling adventures even more comfortable.

I changed out the windshield for a taller one that would better protect Judy from the wind current as she perched in her elevated passenger seat and had armrests installed for her. 

Air wings, like plastic paddles, were added to Big Red’s fairing, just below the handle bars. They would deflect the wind from my legs and arms, or direct it onto them, depending on how I positioned the blades. Judy bought a striking set of brown leathers -- chaps and a matching vest -- for warmth and protection. We were set to go anywhere. 

An unfamiliar, long-held tradition of this group became evident from reading the program and seeing posters and signs. They announced events such as meetings, a luncheon, and a dance for the “COY”. We wondered, what the heck is the COY? Finally, we asked someone and learned that “COY” stood for Couple of the Year. We knew we’d never become the COY in this organization. But we had a good laugh figuring out what we might be called.  I counted four other women riders, but we were the only two women riding two-up. However, we weren’t keen with the acronym for a Couple of Women.

The jaunt to Pocatello for the Spud Rally was an interesting experience, though a bit over-the-top for us. When we’d seen enough and had made all the purchases we wanted, it was time to head home. Idaho’s farmland scenery and eastern Oregon’s desert rolled by and gave way to the coastal forest lands on our quiet ride west. Just a couple of women and Big Red.

~ xoA ~