Sunday, May 31, 2015

5/31 - Return to Mad Town!

403 miles!! New record!

About 270 of those miles were overcast and unseasonably cold. Lucky me, at least the rain quit.

I'm back in Madison, WI, and it's great seeing my sister again!

Somewhere before Pearl, IL, I passed the Goldenrod Showboat on the Illinois River. Sam, who was sitting in his truck waiting for others to show up to work on the boat, gave me a bit of her story. Every month or so, the caretaker hires them to pump water out of the hull and other maintenance to keep her afloat. It had been collecting too many docking fees on the Mississippi, so it was pushed here (no engine). Nobody officially seems to own the boat, there are no restorations plans, but they're caring for it until they figure out what's next.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

5/30 - Archway Anxiety

Remember Chris, from riding around the Ozarks? He picked up a bike in Wisconsin, and was riding home, conveniently via St Louis. Due to rain, Brittany, Myke, Chris and I piled into their car to go to the Arch, and then had some amazing BBQ at Bogart's Smokehouse. A brief stroll around the farmer's market and to Civil Brewery barely put a dent in the smoked meat. Myke's scooter friend, Tom, was playing at The Venice Cafe, which appears to be a what would happen if a flea market went drinking with an antique store and then threw up. It's awesome, there's so much to look at, to the backdrop of some awesome surf rock. I heard that Tom just bought a GTS...for touring! Bwa ha ha...

Friday, May 29, 2015

Thursday, May 28, 2015

5/28 - Picnicking Pros

Apparently I spelled 'picnicking' wrong.

98 miles.

I managed to catch Elli and Rob on their scoot out to Edwardsville, IL to have her Stella looked at. In the meantime, the cool guys at Moto Italia let me test ride a sweet 1982 Moto Guzzi V50III. It was great chatting with Elli about her summer riding plans.

Passed a mystery scooterist at the intersection of IL-157 and Chain of Rocks Road.
His burgundy P series had some luggage. I don't know you or where you're going, but can I go too?

The afternoon involved gooey butter cake. Really fleshing out my St Louis experience...right around the belly area.

I enjoyed Shakespeare in Forest Park (Anthony and Cleopatra) with Myke and Brittany, they fancy up the place with a fold-out table. Add another nighttime scoot tour to Strange Donuts to the mix, and call it a night.

So awesome tearing around empty city streets at night with scootery company!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

5/27 - Post-Meeting Rides

49 miles.

Working today, and a quick stroll through the Zoo (free in St Louis!) I sat in on 30 Days Scooter Gang's rally planning meeting. Afterwards, I got to try Anna's 4-stroke Stella...why hasn't this scoot been on my radar before?

After some Plain & Fancy nitrogen-frozen ice cream (soy for me), I followed Myke and Brittany for a nighttime tour of the city.

Bonus drawing!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

5/26 - Late Night at Myke's Garage

Getting caught up at MoKaBe's, and stuffing my face with Mama Toscano's Ravioli.

Greg of the Memphis Kings introduced me to his friends in St Louis, Pat and Diane. They took me out to an excellent dinner at the Shaved Duck (oh, cheese fries with Provel...I'm taking two lactose pills for you). I wrapped up the evening hanging out with 30 Days Scooter Gang peeps in Myke's garage, talking scooter stories into the wee hours. He pulled out a Rabbit scooter, fired it up first try!

Scooter Interloper in SoCal. Feb 18-25, 2015.

Scooter Interloper in SoCal. Feb 18-25, 2015.

For once, I had a decent night's sleep in anticipation of the road. Pete and I knew this day would come, but there were still tears. I was in high-anxiety mode for an on-time departure that was never going to happen, but I managed to depart only a couple hours later than I'd hoped. The truth is, you're never going to be ready to leave.

Monday, May 25, 2015

5/25 - Splash Zone

308 miles.

I got bored on Rt-67, and took some side roads. I should have guessed that after the pavement ended and a couple "Road impassable during high water" signs appeared, I'd have to turn around. Of course, this meant backtracking over the two smaller water crossings I'd already splashed through.

I arrived at the home of scooterists Myke and Brittany, where they set me up in a vacant apartment (indoor camping!). We had a walking tour of the neighborhood, a scooter tour, and then Myke fixed an excellent dinner from local farmers market goodies. I feel lucky to know such awesome, kind people.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

5/24 - Accidental Scooter Storm Chasers

A bit of work at Republic Coffee, followed by the highly recommended Central BBQ (some of the best I've ever had!).

And then we got caught in a thunderstorm. The clouds were low and black, rain came in sheets, and wind was blowing me sideways across intersections – I can't imagine how Cassi handled the smaller scoot.

Thankfully, we had hot soup and bloody mary supplies. I set up a fan to dry out my jacket and boots...again.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

5/23 - The Whole Gang's Here

38 miles.

It seems like there's always something to do in Memphis. I met up with scooter folks for the Roundhouse Revival at the Coliseum. There were food trucks, vendors, and wrasslin' with Jerry "The King" Lawler!

To complete our Memphis As Fuck tour, the MKSC was headed to Jerry's Sno Cones. But first, we needed to make a Pink Diva Cupcakery delivery. Yup, all five of us, on scooters.

Friday, May 22, 2015

5/22 - Steak Night with Memphis Kings Scooter Club

220 miles.

Around 5pm I rolled into Memphis and met up with Cassi, my host. We immediately accomplished several things: watching the ducks at the Peabody (with a drink and snack at Huey's while waiting), walking to Beale St (the Bourbon St of Memphis, so I'm told) and A Schwab ( before the internet). It was straight to Cafe Eclectic to meet up with other Memphis Kings Scooter Club peeps. I was beginning to wonder if they were out to ditch me in the woods on the winding goaty roads, when we finally pulled up to Shelby Forest General Store. It's bluegrass and steak Friday!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

5/21 - Dry Counties...BAH

It's been great resting and catching up with Amy in quiet Conway. I've been foiled by dry counties before in Arkansas, but I spotted beer at Eat My Catfish. Perfect compliment to fried food, if you ask me.

Also of note about Conway: they really like their roundabouts here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

5/20 - Work-Life/Coffee-Tacos Balance

Maybe it's the colleges, but Conway has some surprisingly cool little neighborhoods. I think the staff at Blue Sail Coffee knows me by name already. Amy had an extended dinner break, so we took a leisurely walk through campus to Tacos 4 Life Grill, and caught up with life.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

5/19 - Trans American Trail goes through Scotland?

144 miles.

After a couple days of riding together, Chris was required to return to Tulsa. It's always hard to part ways with a road buddy, and never seems to get easier. It was great getting to know him over the past few days. Maybe I'll follow him on his epic trip to Alaska next year, bwa ha ha.

I never would have guessed I'd run into Amy in Arkansas, where she's directing a play for the upcoming Shakespeare festival (among many other things, she's the kind of person who is always juggling many fascinating projects). It's fantastic to catch her in Conway, AR! We ended up both working most of the evening, and when she returned from work her suitemate, Shana, and I were still working. She just joined on her laptop. Ha. I love how Amy gets me.

This is what happens when you come back to cell phone coverage after several days of no-man's-land.
All the text messages at once.

Monday, May 18, 2015

5/18 - Waterproof Boots

166 miles.

It's true, you can't go wrong with any of the roads around here.

Chris has an interest in defunct amusement parks. The day before, we explored the Dogpatch. Today, we went to see the dinosaurs of Land of Kong.

Other stops include Beaver Bridge, the Arkansas Adventure Rider store (they have one of everything!), a burger at the Cathouse Lounge, and finally setting up camp at Steel Creek. All in a day's ridin'.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

5/17 - R&R at Cliff House

137 miles.

Rain showers put a dampener on the morning, (get it?) but Chris had made a reservation at the Cliff House Inn where a soft bed and hot shower was waiting. Thank you Chris! Bonus, he's patient enough to follow me on his Triumph Tiger around the hills of the Ozarks. A lovely, low key recovery day. We ate a takeout dinner with a fantastic view, and fell asleep to American Pickers. I slept so well.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

5/16 - Don't Flood Here!

287 miles.

Woke to news reports of tornado warnings. Somehow, I managed to miss the rain on the way to Byrd's Adventure Center for SLAP.

Huge thank you to Chris (-Chris-) for inviting me to the ADV rally, and to Ralph for sponsoring my ticket! It was fantastic meeting everyone, and I'm also extremely happy we didn't get flooded out. I'm done with floods.

Friday, May 15, 2015

5/15 - Wayne & Cheryl's Favorite Spot

336 miles.

As always, it feels good to be on the road again. At the 2RideTheWorld presentation, Simon mentioned, "When I sit on my bike, I know who I am." That pretty much sums it up for me as well.

I took some back roads into Arkansas, muddy unpainted paths with boggy water on both sides. Trees poked out from the rivers and creeks, which were high from all the rain. I stayed with Debbie's friend, Wayne and Cheryl (and their three rolypoly pugs!). Sweetest people ever. They took me to dinner at their favorite spot, Pop's Place – a chill diner with a huge deck and string lights, tucked amongst the green.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

5/14 - Embracing the Unknown

A more metaphorical drawing today.
That, or I found some crazy Alice in Wonderland type potions.

68 miles.

On packing and planning: When embarking on a trip from a place of security, I tend to go crazy trying to predict and plan for every possibility. I wish I could flip a switch to just let go and embrace the unknown, but sometimes it isn't until I'm on the road, already neck deep and in the moment, that I can finally let things take shape as they will.

I'm much more laid back than when I started, but even after a year on the road, leaving a nice soft bed still doesn't come easily.

Took a short joyride to the Texas City Dike. Testing out a new luggage configuration, including this awesome spare fuel bottle from Biltwell (thanks, Otto!). Nearly all packed up to hit the road again.

As I'm about to depart Texas, I can't say thank you enough to everyone who has helped even a little along the way. It's hard not to sound like a broken record, but I can't be grateful enough. Traveling like this wouldn't be possible without the stability and kindness of others. Whether it's a garage, a couch, some mechanical expertise, a shipping address, a meal along the way, or just someone interested enough to have a conversation with a stranger, thank you. The truth is even though I travel solo, I could never do this sort of trip without the support from everyone I've met along the way. I'll never be able to express the amount of gratitude I have.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

5/13 - Here's to Flood Friends

Spent the morning drying out as much as I could on my scooter, and starting her up again. Thanks immensely for consulting via text: Larry, and Tom via Pete. It was an anxious morning, but the scoot seems unharmed.

I met up with Lisa, stranded under the same awning during the flood, and her friend Lauren, for dinner and drinks. Also, I have not had a very long time. Thanks, Texas dudes, for the sendoff.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

5/12 - Not Amphibious

87 miles.

HUGE thank you, Larry and MPH, for letting me borrow your shop to work on my bike today!

Of course, after I did maintenance service on the scoot, I hit a violent storm with only 3 miles till home. Cars were stuck in floodwaters, hazard lights blinked through the downpour. I had just decided to pull into a parking lot to wait, and the scoot stalled in the large puddle between me and higher ground. Fritz, from Euro Riders night, came to rescue me and my ride with his mega truck (thank you!), and deliver us back to base around 3am.

Beware the bayou.

Monday, May 11, 2015

5/11 - Tour of Rice University

The house is pretty large and empty with just me in it, I've been spoiled by family meals. Trying to focus and get some paying work done.

Finally caught up with Troy (troyfromtexas on ADV) before he's off on a bicycle trip in Cuba! Fantastic time talking travel and motorbikes with this guy. We did a car tour of Houston, since it was rainy and I haven't actually spent much time in the city.

Long ago, I went to a summer program at Rice University. I don't remember these sculptures, but they look very similar to one I saw in the sculpture park in Des Moines.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

5/10 - Family Facetime

While my uncle and aunt were packing for their trip, I was unpacking the multiple packages that arrived with supplies and parts from San Francisco (thanks, Pete!) and Providence (thanks, Tim!).

Happy mother's day!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

5/9 - Beery Break

279 miles.

That stretch between Austin/San Antonio and Houston kills me. A beer tasting helped my mood (just a taste!).

I was sad to leave Debbie's Home For Wayward Two-Wheelers after a weeklong stay, but I wanted to see my uncle and aunt again before they leave for Hong Kong for two months.

Friday, May 8, 2015

5/8 - Debbie's Motorcycle Library

Kristen and I rode back to San Antonio from Austin in the wee hours. I wouldn't have attempted it on my own, but having a good riding partner can really make little things awesome, and even increase my endurance. We arrived back in town around 4am.

There was an amazing talk held at the Alamo BMW, by Simon and Lisa Thomas of 2RideTheWorld. They've been riding around the world for 12 years and counting. Even in my relatively short experience on the road, I could relate to many of the points they brought up. They have a fantastic sense of humor, and they're so easy to talk to!

Aside from that, the storms kept me indoors. Sometimes it's hard to rest when I need it, and rain makes a good excuse to stay in. And having a safe, comfortable place to stay makes such a huge difference (thanks, Debbie!).

Thursday, May 7, 2015

5/7 - Lake Austin

225 miles.

Made it up to Austin for a hot second, for a scooterist birthday gathering. When the party dispersed, I swapped bikes with Josh. His GTS is tricked out with all manner of performance upgrades, what a beast!

Along the way, Debbie, Ozzy and I got to meet traveler, Thomas, while he was waiting for service at AF1. He's riding to from Philly to Patagonia on the new Zero bike, on an Electric Powered Odyssey.

Also, more barbeque happened, at the Salt Lick. Pounds upon pounds of shiny smokey meat, in a giant smoking pit. BBQ heaven.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

5/6 - Ride to BBQ

86 miles.

Cooper's BBQ is a palace to smoked meat. At the self-serve sides station, I wasn't sure if the pot of orange-red substance was soup or sauce. It's a delicious, tangy BBQ sauce, so tasty that I could drink it. So I've taken to calling it Texas Tomato Basil.

Kristen, Debbie and I stopped by the Euro Riders night back in San Antonio, but I was too full to eat for the rest of the night.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

5/5 - Breaking in the New Front Tire

It had been threatening to storm all week, and I finally got caught in it pretty bad. After a chill day spent with Kristen while the Motorcycle Shop put on my new front tire and checked the valves, the sky opened up. I was soaked by the time I arrived at Godai for sushi with Debbie and her friends from the motorcycle club. The nice thing about everyone at dinner being a rider is that they totally understand when I walk in looking like a wet cat.

As of today, I've been on the road an entire year! So much for my original plans...

Monday, May 4, 2015

5/4 - Mooooove

266 miles.

Armed with a Butler map annotated by post-its from Debbie, Kristen met me to ride around hill country. We rode two of the three sisters, and our only company on the road were cows. It drizzled on and off, but seriously? I could do this all day.

She's planning a cross country trip on her Vespa GTS too! It was great getting to know her, and I can't wait to hear about her adventures when she sets off.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

5/3 - Gotta Gymkhana

83 miles.

Lovely slow rides on the back roads around San Antonio. The Spring Fling held by the Motorcycle Shop had all the activities of a rally – a group ride, games, live music, food, drink, raffle, and hanging out with scootery types – crammed into a single day. Fun fun.

Admittedly though, this post was nearly about the best oyster and drinks happy hour Debbie took me to, at Luke.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

5/2 - Riverwalk

280 miles.

Met up with Oog (DOUBLE-O G) and Gwenda in San Antonio for dinner and drinks and a spin on their Mexican Super Cubs! Eventually found my way to Debbie's, gracious overnight host and all around cool person.

Friday, May 1, 2015

5/1 - Boardwalk Bullet

Uncle Bun, Auntie Chloris and I went to Kemah for his birthday. I couldn't ignore the wooden roller coaster dominating the amusement park skyline, though they were content to sit at sea level.