So much fun riding the 45 mins. home and to top it off......... Stormy and I clicked over the 10,000 mile mark together.
This weekend Stormy got her chain cleaned and her oil changed. I cleaned the chain myself, I like doing it. Meditative. I rode her to Battley Cycles in Gaithersburg for her oil change. I had a great time catching up with Todd Dibell and Kyle McGill, meeting new people and trading stories. I love this shop. It has expanded in the last year and now has a huge BMW and Ducati sales floor in addition to it's original Harley - Davidson floor. I love the diversity of riders it brings in. Fun way to kill the hour it took to have my oil changed. Met a retired Army lawyer who lived in Texas, he now lives in Bethesda and has decided it is time to get his bike registered in MD. He was there for a safety inspection as well as an oil change. If he had it to do over, he wishes he had become an Army helicopter pilot, more fun than being a lawyer. He has a friend that went that route. Problem is that as an officer, once you get to a certain rank, you no longer get to fly. I don't know if that is true or not. Met a retired motorcycle police woman who now works at Battley. She has a bionic leg as a result of being hit by a car on her motorcycle. Immediate connection and as we shared our stories, we both got chills. Out of the blue, she asked if I would be interested in coming to her house in a month, she had a medium coming. One that had taken a year to book. Without missing a beat, yes! absolutely came out of my mouth. The hair on the back of my neck rose. This was not a chance meeting. We both had something to say that the other one needed to hear. More and more, I find myself loving this universe.
So much fun riding the 45 mins. home and to top it off......... Stormy and I clicked over the 10,000 mile mark together.
I have been home for 12 days. I am slowly getting back into what that means. I am back on our mean, orange mowing machine, back in the barn, back in the gardens. I am trying to be back to all these things that I know so well in a new way. One that is no longer hurried. I am looking at my gardens through the eyes of Paul Strand. I am not seeing the weeds. Enjoying each day. It is working so far, we will see how that goes once I start work again. Some things I am letting go of, at least until next spring. My daylily back hill is one of them........
I have been feeling very closed in........ not personally - my husband has not only allowed me to transition in my own way -- but has done so with a sense of humor. No, physically. The shrubs around my house, that used to make me feel cozy, now make me feel closed in, like I am being strangled. I have gotten used to being exposed. The wide open spaces and the big sky. Yesterday, I pruned everything off our back porch down to the ground. Todd was funny, " glad that didn't happen on my watch". Feels wonderful, open. I stopped myself from cutting the Nandina all the way back, will wait until Oct/Nov so I can decorate with it --- then it too will have to start anew.
Need to go back to share my plane ride home. A young family was on the first plane, a small commuter from Burbank to Phoenix. They were trying to all sit together. They had a plan and had reserved their seats six months ago. However, their seats were in the very back, as was mine. One of the children was a baby and the mother planned to nurse on the flight. Everyone all settled in. Then, the flight attendant threw a wrench in the works. She couldn't sit in her particular seat because there were not enough air masks that pop down in that particular row. Who knew???? We re-arranged and as a result, I was blessed with sharing a 5 year old boy's first experience with flight. Pure joy for all of us. At lift -off, his eyes widen, his mouth drops open ---- WHOA!!!! Then look at that, look at that, can you see that........ I, of course, had tears in my eyes, as I smiled and laughed at his unbridled exuberance. I looked up and across at the gentleman sitting one row up. He had cocked his headphones, so he could hear. He too, was quietly sharing in the innocent joy of a young boy. While sharing in Lucas's experience, we were both remembering our own. Landing, while not the same level of excitement, was still fun....... more shock, than wonder.
I 'd like to share some numbers here.
Visited : 10 National Parks, 6 National Monuments, 12 National Forests, 3 National Rivers, 5 National Recreation Areas, 1 National Seashore, 1 National Battlefield, and 1 National Cemetery.
Total mileage : 5397.2 I am only 8.2 miles from clicking 10,000 on Stormy, since I bought her in Jan. of 2014.
Total fuel, oil, chain lube, coolant cost : $352.86
lowest price per gallon ( premium) -- $2.76 in Siloam Springs, AZ
highest price ---- $ 4.49 in Bakersfield, CA
Lodging : $4089.75 --- notes -- I camped much less than I had planned on. Too wet or too hot. Or I'm just getting old.
Some interesting taxes out there -- transient tax -- in Ashland, KY it was $1.29. In Petaluma.CA it was $14.40.
Restaurants ( includes tips) : $439.08
Groceries/Supplies : $228.84
Beer : $139.82
Water: $14.24 ---- I drank much more than this implies, I filled up for free where ever I could.
Ice : $20.05 -- Again, bought only when had too. Tried to fill up water bladder and little cooler via hotel ice machines. Not all of which worked.
Coffee : $20.82 -- made my own most of the time with my camping french press and little stove.
Shipping home, Stormy and Tom's Ducati : $900
Plane ride for me plus 2 bags: $260
My original estimates were pretty accurate. If I had kept to mostly camping.
I still have not even looked at all the photographs I took on my D90. Once I do, I will add some galleries to this website. Probably, a month.
Once again, Thanks is insufficient for the support I have gotten from family, friends and strangers during this incredible life experience. I have indeed found so much peace, not only within myself, but in everyone I have met, everything I have seen. I thank God, every morning.
There is a saying, " the third one's the charm". That was indeed the case for my whale watching trips. I booked my first whale watching trip in December of 2012, out of Ventura Harbor in California. Tommy and I were going to go. It had been scheduled for 2 days before I was going to fly back to MD, just before New Year's. I re-scheduled it for the day before I was to fly back, in order to make a last therapy app. with Tommy. The seas were too rough and it was cancelled.
I scheduled another trip with the same co. Island Packers, for Feb.of this year. Was going to take my Cali kids with me on this trip. We were locked and loaded, broken leg and all, when I got a phone call. Cancelled. It had been good to go when I checked their recorded message at 5:30 am. Damn. We re-grouped and re-planned our day. Turned out to be a great day, we went to the harbor anyway, explored and flew a really cool orange butterfly kite.
While in Monterey, I finally went out. Humpbacks!!! So beautiful, no close encounters, but plenty close enough to want to go back out sometime. I enjoyed seeing the Risso's Dolphins, the snub nose, white color and all the scars -- really amazing. Our guide was a marine biologist named Ismael. Very knowledgeable, friendly, and cute. Plus he had a dog named Willow. She curled up next to me on the way back in, I was sitting, she was lying on the little walkway on the port side.
While in Monterey, I started working on shipping Stormy home. I had also decided, somewhere along the way, that I was going to ship Tommy's bike home, as well. I came out here in June of 2013 to bring my son home. I was unable to do that. He had to be mailed. Although, his bike will be shipped, I still need to bring it home. I called Daily Direct and spoke with a woman named Sharon. Never got a confirmation e-mail, so I called back the next morning. This time spoke with a woman named Dana. I cannot tell you how many times I have called this woman, she has answered and helped me. She filled out all my paperwork for me as I am sobbing on the other end of the phone. Total meltdown.....I didn't know what the VIN # for Tommy's bike was, hell, I didn't even know what year it was. She was kind, understanding and professional. I eventually figured out that I had the VIN # on his title in a shoebox in my office at home. Thank you to my very understanding husband, who went through everything to find it for me. I need to also thank my ex-brother in law, Larry Pizzi, of Currie Tech. Not only has he kept Tommy's bike in a safe corner of his warehouse for the last two years, but he allowed me to leave Stormy there to be picked up. More on that in a minute.
I finished coordinating with Larry and the shipping co., at least as much as I could coordinate until the shipping order was in the system, and headed S on the Pacific Coast Highway. CA 1. No words, really, just something that needs to be on everyones bucket list. It is especially powerful, being on a motorcycle. Smelling, feeling every curve, every temp. change, I can imagine, that the same would be true if riding a bicycle. Although, I like the speed of a motorcycle, also the stability. There were lots of both. I was able to have the road to myself for about an hour. Not sure how I managed that, but with nothing in front of me and nothing behind me, Stormy and I were able to find an incredible rhythm. Not only on the road but with the universe.
Once in San Simeon, I could not drive past the sign for Hearst Castle again. I went in. So glad I did. Love the Mediterranean influence, the art, the tapestries, the three guest houses, the history, the landscaping -- which is kept up with reservoirs and springs on the property. He built this castle on his family ranch at 56 yrs. of age because he felt he was getting too old for tents. He also had to wait for his mother to die, because she did not want anything built on the hill.
Spent the night in San Simeon. Took three attempts to find a vacancy. Walked across the road to a beach access, walked the beach and watched the sun set. Had the best time watching pelicans fish. They are incredible dive bombers. I had no idea. Met some australians back at the hotel, they had "hired" their bikes in LA and would be leaving them in Las Vegas. Second set of Australians, met a family on the whaling boat.
Saturday -- today, I will make it to Calabasas. That is when I can finally say, I did it!
All was going well, until....... the 101....... Traffic started crawling. I was probably 30 miles N of Santa Barbara. I pulled off at a "Vista View". Started talking with some people who had also pulled off. Accident. There was no shade, but a beautiful ocean view. I set up my rain umbrella over Stormy and decided to give it an hr. One couple was in a camper. He pulled the awning out, set up chairs and invited me up. Was really tempted to pull out a couple of beers, but wanted to get back on the road sooner rather than later. Sally and Lee were their names, a nice couple who had lived in Santa Clarita for 30 years and were now in Simi Valley. Santa Clarita was where I'd had my broken leg repaired in Feb. and Simi Valley was where Stormy and I would be parting ways for up to a month. It is remarkable, the human spirit, our stories. As tends to happen, we began sharing. This couple has a 33 yr. old son who is brain damaged and in a wheel chair. They don't know exactly what happened, but it happened in front of their house. Their son and a friend had road bikes. They bought a dirt bike to fix up and sell. The friend was riding it, the son heard him come down the road and said something didn't sound right. He hopped on just to see. No helmet, no gear, just a quick ride. They found him in the road, the front brake locked up. Nothing around. He had a wife who was 3 months pregnant at the time it happened.
We discussed what was harder, losing a son right away, or having one that is now dependent on them. There is hope, brain injuries can improve, but it takes a long time. I have had this conversation before, with other parents, who have a child that is brain dead. If one can be happy about the death of a child, this is an example of when that would be.
We changed the subject and talked of travels, work, whales. After a while, I thought I noticed the traffic flowing a tad faster. I was anxious to get to Calabasas. We said our goodbyes, I thanked them for their hospitality.
I kept hearing motorcycles go by. I knew they were lane-splitting. I had to move. Geared up and headed out. Traffic was not moving, but the shoulder was not bad. Hmmmmm.
I just was not comfortable lane-spliting. I organized my story in my mind, if I got pulled over for riding the shoulder and off I went. Stayed in first and second gear for 60 miles on the shoulder, looking for any debris that might mess up my tires. I rode on my pegs the whole way, so cars would see me. Other drivers were very nice, when I had to move back into traffic to get around cones of something, I would look over,nod, the driver would nod back and I was able to seamlessly maneuver in and around.
Finally, Las Virgenes exit off 101. My heart was in my throat, I felt sick to my stomach. I have been by this exit before, back in Feb. But this is the first time I am taking it. It all came back, I knew exactly where I was, like it was yesterday. Stormy and I slowly went down Las Virgenes Rd. All the way to the end, I turned into Tommy's entrance and drove down to where he parked, then I went to the beginning of the Santa Monica Mtns NRA. Tommy had ridden his Ducati up this dirt path, when he first got it. I was tempted, very tempted. But it was close to 7 pm, I was tired, and I really didn't have a $1000 to spend if I needed a tow out. I must be almost 60 ---- jeez. I turned around and went up Mureau Rd. to the top of Calabasas, to my home away from home. I shook, I cried, I drank a couple of beers, and I went to sleep. Now, I can say, I DID IT!!!!
Met my Cali kids at Sagebrush Cantina for brunch. It's in old town Calabasas and only a mile walk from my hotel. Mimosas and Stormy do not mix, so I left her parked. Great time, as always. I cried again, hugging everyone. Drank, ate, talked, laughed, danced....... such good medicine. Spent hrs there. Then went back to Nick and Tori's for swimming and an impromptu cook out. More of everything. Caleigh, Weston, and Zada drove a tired Marmie back to her hotel and a very comfortable bed.
Monday -- today is the day I must leave Stormy. Tried not to think about it, as I made my way to the UPS store in Calabasas. I love this store, this is the third time I have been here. They are FUN...... positive, get er done. Shipped much misc. gear and stuff home. Cheaper than putting it on the plane.
Short ride to Simi Valley. Saw a sign for the Reagan Presidential Library - but what really grabbed my attention was Air Force One. The signs kept matching the exits I was taking. It was, literally, on the way. I had an hr. to kill, so I went. Wish I had had 3 hrs to kill. I walked through Air Force One....... never even thought much about Presidential Libraries, my first one was an exciting, albeit quick visit.
My GPS was not taking me where I needed to go, I called Tracy. She walked out to the road, so I could see her. Just waved me past and said, around back --- The back door to the warehouse was open, I just rode Stormy in, to this huge area, I felt like I was a secret agent and the doors would close behind me...... Seriously, it was really cool. I stopped, parked, introduced myself, Tracy came in....... WOW..... everyone so welcoming and helpful. I, of course, wanted to see Tommy's bike. I, of course, started crying as I saw it, touched the last thing that my son had touched. I unloaded the gear I needed, locked the boxes, parked her out of the way, zip-tied her key to her handlebars and said goodbye and thank you to my girl. Thank You, Larry and Tracy........ Not sure how I will ever re-pay your kindness.
I am in a hotel in Simi Valley, will fly home tomorrow. I hate looking out my window and seeing a gray rental car. I miss Stormy.
I am excited about going home. Maybe Todd was right, I should have ridden both ways.