Circle, MT

AKA Roundtown.


A lurch. Check the mirrors, good–no tractor trailers behind me. A silence. Then a loud POP.  Navigate the bike off the road.
Wind gusts around me, laughing it seems, as I forlornly turn to stare back towards the small town in the distance.

Circle, Montana. POP=600. Highway 200W.
A beautiful but lonely by-way through desolate, dry Eastern Montana. Small towns, mainly for fueling, speckle the map just about 100 miles apart. The night before,  I rode into Circle just as all traces of light disappeared from the sky. The day’s ride had clocked 353 miles.

468 miles ahead to the next vector, Missoula, MT. Half a mile back to the town I had just left.

Kick start the bike. Nothing. No tools, no parts, no sounds except a choking from Audrey. Switchboard (Daphne) tells me there is a cycle shop 65 miles east of me. The call is made and I discover there is actually a motorcycle shop closer, in Circle. Hang up, try again.

Eissenger’s answered my distress call, immediately. No sooner had I taken a seat when they pulled up-in a big truck. Then they pulled out an arc shaped ramp with rungs, about 2 foot wide. Still curious. I probably annoyed them by repeatedly asking if that thing could really work. I unloaded Audre and miraculously she went up the “ladder”.
Only 17 minutes had passed. That’s service.

Of course, I doubt there was anything else happening in Circle that day. Just kidding, well, no, I’m not.  But they got there fast because they are good people. They were also probably somewhat intrigued by the description I gave them. Turns out Jerry, the owner of Eissenger’s had seen my scooter parked outside the Traveler’s Inn early that morning. For whatever reason, probably just that “I’m far from home feeling,” and “there’s no Genuine dealership for hundreds of miles,” a bit of anxiety had kicked in.

I also knew that questions would be directed my way any minute. What am I doing 5,000 miles from Virginia on a scooter. Where am I headed?
Would they be ultra conservative? Would they think the P.E.A.C.E tour was anti-patriotic? Would this be an awkward day? Would they know how to work on the bike? I was at their mercy, basically. Pit Crew

I got a big lesson on how to keep the faith. People are treating me really well out here on the road, despite our differences. I keep finding we aren’t actually all that different, really. I keep finding good people, because I believe the world is inherently capable of good.  It is almost as though my belief, “I’m not focused on how we are different, but how we can make a difference,” provides a safety blanket.

Genuine Scooters has a guaranteed roadside assistance program. It’s solid.  It would have covered my tow up to 150 dollars. But that part was already taken care of, now I needed a good mechanic. The next certified Genuine mechanic was 468 miles down the road, in Missoula, MT.

I was a bit panicked by the ill timing and location of my breakdown. Genuine came through for me in immeasurable ways–as did the crew at Eissenger’s in Circle. In fact, everyone in Circle, MT did.  Jeremy, the mechanic strolled in from lunch about half an hour after we had arrived. Immediately he put me at ease. He is a small engines wizard. We started with a check list of possible scenarios; easy stuff first and worked our way up. Audrey began surgery. Sparkplug changed, no water in gasoline, jet alright in carb, oil levels fine. His testing ruled out many possibilities-and then it was time to test for spark.

Audrey wasn’t making any. This was unsettling. Electrical stuff meant Genuine parts, which would mean more time in Circle. It was a bad week to break down. My friend from Maine was coming out to Seattle for a visit and I had 4 days to get there, with a stop in Missoula. I got Genuine on the line and put them in touch with Jeremy. There were a couple of scenarios that could be going on-the CDI box or the stator.

It was agreed that Genuine would send a handful of parts and we would send back whatever wasn’t used. This impressed Jeremy, who said an attitude like that was unheard of. Genuine had 15 minutes to overnight the parts and triumphantly did so! Rock on! Still, none of us expected the UPS truck to arrive in Circle by the next day.

The boys seemed surprised that I had a good attitude. I told them this is part of the adventure. There was a lot of fun banter about the situation, which made it more entertaining for me. Josh kept me laughing with his wisecracking. Our conversation became heavy once, when he bust out with, “Maybe that sticker should say, Screw Peace-Give War a Chance.” I was stunned for a second and retorted with, “Josh,um, we are-we have-not so successful. Jeremy was a good conversationalist and I enjoyed him telling me so much about his life. He was also really cool about answering my bike questions. Doctor's OfficeIt was a good opportunity to fully inspect her insides, since she was wide open. He said he hardly ever has to fix a stator, and it must just be a fluke for it to happen at 5,000 miles. Genuine has never had a problem with the stator on the Buddy before, either.

It was a really random situation, perhaps some Divine sign from God that my life would be incomplete without another night in Circle. And really, who knows the mysteries of circumstances, perhaps it could have been worse ahead-maybe this was fate intervening. I tried to get them to loan me an Arctic Cat four wheeler for the night, but they weren’t road legal and offered me a car instead. I said no to the loaner and they kept insisting-maybe they think I have a problem with cars. But I just felt really past due for a long walk.

I was looking for some nightlife, so after a home cooked meal at Kay’s, I grabbed the camera and hit the main drag. The whole mile of it. Circle was really pretty. The buildings are low and the expansive Montana skies extend in every direction. The wind rages through Montana and many buildings had been worn by its force, adding character. There was a sense that the place was bustling once upon a time. Perry told me that Circle used to be a big steer town, biggest in the area. I just ambled about and talked to people. Oh, I got to meet the sheriff the night before, he was very nice. It turns out he met a 50cc cross country scooterist before, in Lake Pectin. I’m thinking this might have been Laird VanDyck, who wrote up a little bit of interesting reading about the trip. The Corner Bar had a decent crowd, so I pulled up a stool and talked to the bartender. Turns out she moved to Circle with her husband, from Chicago. And her mom, who I met the next day, drives 1 of the 4 scooters in town. I approached a fella about his snazzy Hawaiian shirt and we chatted about his days of traveling. Most conversation in the bar revolved around traveling. Some people are really interested in the trip itself, others more interested in the mission. Some people like it all.

Perry, the owner of the Traveler’s Inn showed up and bought me a drink. He also offered me the next night free if my parts didn’t come the next day-which he also didn’t think could happen. I shot some pool, by myself, and did a little electronic gambling. Then I headed back to Room 15 for some writing and a good slumber. Seeing the light on in the office, I went to tell Paula goodnight. Turns out she was online reading the blog entry on Tulsa. We talked for a bit about her life story and she let me take a cigar box from Perry’s collection-which I mailed to a friend the next day. The motel is really unique. PegasusIt’s inexpensive, clean, and the hosts are colorful. The lobby is worth the visit alone, its a small museum of interesting signs and collectables. Paula was really sweet, a couple of times she invited me to meals out with her friends.

The unexpected hiatus gave me time to catch-up. I’m forever playing catch-up with the blogs. I also did laundry at the world’s best laundromat. Around noon Jeremy called to say the parts had, by grace, actually arrived. He started working on the bike after lunch. By 4pm she was ready to pick up. The problem did turn out to be the stator and he replaced the coil inside. I asked if he rode it and what he thought. I could tell he liked the ride and he said they were really easy, logical bikes to work on. Being the great guy he is, he only rode a mile, since my odometer was getting ready to hit 5,000. When Paula and I arrived at the shop, Jerry asked if I wanted to race against a Q-Link (chinese scooter) for pink slips. I said, “No, I don’t need a Q-Link for anything, thank you.”

If I was going to break down anywhere in Montana, I’m glad it was Circle. Circle didn’t seem to offer anything until I took the time to get to know some wonderful characters. Paula seemed bothered that I was leaving so late in the afternoon, but I wanted to put at least 60 miles behind me before dark.

To everyone in Circle, thank you so much for being helpful, charming and entertaining. You are all wonderful. You gave me great memories and I wish you all the best! I do think you eat too much beef though, and it would be great if Kay’s had something green beside iceberg lettuce.

Additionally, thank you to everyone over at Genuine, for jumping in quickly and professionally. Thanks for making such a kick-ass bike that is taking me the distance around our amazing country. I always enjoy my “check-ins” with Roy or Brett over at the HQ’s. All of us made it look easy! Rock on!

Peace to Circle

Now you are up to date on why the itinerary is a bit off. It would have been impossible for me to meet my friend Daphne in Seattle by Friday, so she rented a car and drove to Missoula. We just stayed put there for the weekend, so I was in Missoula longer than originally expected. Needless to say though, there is some big love in my heart for Missoula. That’s the next update.

Banter in Circle:

Josh (he’s priceless)
Oh, you should do this trip on a Q-Link.
Circle, MT, where we’re all Square
You should have Genuine just send you another bike and call it Audrey 2.0. To which I said, “but I’m a MAC user. It would have to be Audrey 10.4.10.”

“Me and Jeremy decided we are gonna do a scooter tour too. But drink a lot of beer. We need to get sponsors”
(me) “Hmm. What’s your cause?”
(Josh) Leave our wifes at home.
(me) Great! There’s totally a demographic that will identify with you.

I lost my spark! No! It’s not a metaphor. Get a grip.

“Why does she look so happy to stay here another night?”
(me) Well, because I know I can leave eventually.” 😉

(in response to my concerns about a diet of beef and wheat) “Alix, beef and barley are MT’s cash. You can’t walk around MT and diss ’em. Besides, I’ve got a wife. I don’t have to worry about my figure.

“Democracy will never work.”
“Oh, any ideas for something better?”
“Nothing works.”
“Oh. Want a postcard?”
(btw Me and Josh)

They call this town Circle, but my bike is so broke that I can’t even drive in one.

“They call me the King Bachelor in town.”
“Oh, so ya going home alone again tonight?”

“Does anyone here find it ironic that I broke down in front of a rifle range?”

Dear Mr. President

 This letter is copied with permission from the Peace Marchers. I heard about their journey right before I left on my Peace Ride, in a Chicago Tribune article. They are reaching a very intense phase of their march. To reach Washington D.C. by September 10, they will need to march 25 miles a day. Currently they are in West Virginia. Wish them all the speed their legs can muster. At least they will be in better shape than me when finished….

Their hearts are in the right place and mine moves in honor of their march. They have been walking since May 21!  I often think of them while riding alone-and appreciate the solidarity between us, despite the distance. The letter below is a good read! Good Luck to you Peace Marchers!

Dear Mr. President,

As a representative of the March for Peace, I am requesting that you provide us with a place to sleep when we reach Washington D.C. on September 10th. We have been walking across the country from San Francisco since May 21st, and would like to share our experiences, and what we have learned from the thousands of people we have encountered along the way. Many kind folks have opened up their homes to us. We have had wonderful conversations with them about nonviolent solutions to global conflict, sustainability, and other issues important to all of us.

The people we have stayed with and talked to along the way have not necessarily been activists. We have been traveling through rural America, through small towns, past farms and factories, cornfields and feed lots. These are the parts of the country that voted for you; we have talked with and listened to them.

You recently said that the American people are willing to give “the surge” in Iraq a chance. This is not what we have seen and heard. The other day in Dayton, Ohio I had a conversation with a taxi driver who voted for you twice. He said that it was time for a change in Iraq and at home. We have heard the same from veterans, school teachers, correction officers, farmers and many others.

We will not be confrontational; we are a peaceful group. All that we ask for is a chance to share our experiences and enter into a dialogue. We are good guests. No one will bother the historic items, make too much noise late at night, or leave the toilet seat up. If you already have guests, we will be more than happy to camp out on the White House lawn.

Please let us know as soon as possible if we can plan on staying with you on September 10th.
I can be reached at

We look forward to sharing our experiences with you in September.


Peter Cobb
Not in Our Name, March for Peace
On Behalf of Ashley Casale, Michael Israel, Antonio Kies, Isabelle Salmon,
Art Brown and Mike Russell (Marchers)

#14, Adjustments, Zones, Eclipses


I reached the Fourteenth Vector on the Peace Map today-Spokane, WA. I propose that Coeur D’ Alene and Spokane share vector fourteen. So be it. Time was equally spent in these two places and while a state line divides them, they are only half an hour apart. Also, since Coeur D’Alene used to serve as headquarters of the Aryan Nation, it’s good to spread some peace there. Coeur D’ Alene was my rejuventation spot after traversing 262 miles from Missoula, MT. The invitation for a chiropractic alignment was extended to me by Mark, founder of Peace Coeur D’ Alene. He discovered the peace mission through a community announcement on

The day traveling Hwy 200W started and ended quite perfectly. My morning coffee and nibbles were with hostess Nancy, at the delicious Butterfly Herbs cafe in Missoula, MT. My time in Missoula will have a post of its own- I’m just letting you know where scootergirl is present day. Gary and Nancy escorted me out of town, giving me squeezes and love for the long road ahead. The 262 mile journey through desolate, high altitude mountains flew by rather quickly. My entertaining morning conversation with Nancy had slipped into the afternoon, so I was surprised to reach Idaho as the full moon rose in the sky. IMG_2151

At some points I laughed out loud at the sight of little Audrey against the backdrop of such majestic, rugged mountains. Audrey handled the 6,000 foot climbs with remarkable pep, though. My bottom speed was only 45, and briefly at that. I have now reached the furthest time zone from my hometown-West Coast time! Since this is written from Spokane, consider me on the West Coast! The odometer clocks in at 5,900 miles and I’ve been on the road almost a month and a half. Times really are changing. In the past week alone about 300 peace postcards have been distributed, the reception has been amazing, lots of friends have been made, and the available eats getting a lot better. 😉

There are also many friends offering couches and company along the West Coast. This will save me some cash, thankfully. Turns out Coeur D’ Alene is a bustling, overpriced, tourist town with ridiculous room rates. Found myself wishing I had taken Troy up on his offer to use a vacant apartment back in Clark Fork. He was a cool guy, retired military, that I met when fueling up. A proud gun owner too, but nonetheless,very supportive of my ride for Peace. He even asked me to take his phone number and let him when I finish the trip. Thankfully, forces guided me over to Days Inn and the clerk gave me a phenomenal deal-they even allowed me to check out at 1:30 pm today. The manager was very cool and asked for 15+ postcards to distribute to her circle of “strong, independent women.” Heck yea!

A dead weight slumber of 10 hours re-introduced me to the world. I did wake up at 3:30 to see the total lunar eclipse. Not sure if I have ever seen one so clearly as last night. It almost didn’t look real, but was very clear and close from right outside the hotel room-hovering directly above me. I took some time to sit and read outside a downtown coffee shop-something I haven’t done in more than a year. The “day off,” continued nicely as I met Mark. I wasn’t sure what to expect from my previous correspondence with him. Mark is a retired Marine Corps Officer, who now practices unique and gentle chiropractic health care. I visited his office, Cafe of Life, and he offered me a free adjustment. This was amazing, he had quite the healing touch. My back twitched in surprising ways from the adjustments, and afterwards I was very energized and focused. I told him his hands were not meant to hold weapons, he is definitely a healer. He agreed and said he had been through some major life changes. We took some time to walk over the Human Rights Museum and spent a bit looking around. Although there wasn’t much to look at right then, the main exhibits had just been pulled, we found a lot to talk about. It was a nice afternoon in a pretty, lakeside, wholesome town. We said goodbyes after some espresso. I asked to go to the best place in town, which was Doma’s. The barista and the coffee were not amateur. The place was great! I was especially impressed that the barista wielded her own personalized tamp, ordered online. It was clear she was not joking about her espresso-a pro indeed.
With the sun burning my retinas and making visibility horrible, I headed over to Spokane. I had no idea it was such a huge city. Most of the ride went through poor, sketchy, industrial neighborhoods with bad roads and suddenly I was in the fancy downtown area. Everyone in Spokane has been so nice. I rode around looking at the town all lit up before eating at the Satellite Diner. Locals love sushi and espresso around here, an abundance of both on each corner, but I settled for cheap, good diner offerings. Most of the night here was spent just randomly meeting the locals. Honestly, although everyone has been totally cool here, I’m just not feeling the soul around these parts. Perhaps the city is just bigger than any I’ve been in since Tulsa?? Looking forward to moving on and meeting up with friends in Seattle. Apparently, a scooterist named Chuck has orchestrated an afternoon ride and dinner on Thursday-very cool.

It’s nice to be getting some momentum back up again after a full week in one state, Montana. I really loved it there, and would consider a move over to Missoula, if it wasn’t landlocked. I need an ocean or some big body of water. The long road to Seattle awaits tomorrow and I anticipate that the Cascades are breathtaking. Hopefully, my camera starts working right by the morning. Its making a whirring noise when I turn it on and the lens won’t fully open. This is not good. I went out of my way to shop at the local electronics store back home. Almost wishing I had bought it from a big box store that you can find anywhere on “Main St., USA.” It would be easier to replace and lord knows I must take 80 pics a day!

Thanks for reading y’all. Many of you I have met on the road and I hope you know you changed my life. Yes, YOU.

“When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.” (said the ALchemist)

International Peace Garden really exists.

we two nations
dedicate this garden
and pledge ourselves
that as long as men
shall live, we will
not take up arms
against one another.

Well, P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER has gone international, not so much an intentional happening. Just a zany invisible border that declares one country separate from the other. Perhaps one day we will do away with borders and flags. We could follow the examples set by the IMF/WTO, who have already found a way for corporations to maximize profits without heed to borders. Why can’t we as peoples do this, with intent to maximize Peace, culture and the human connection?

May Peace Prevail on EarthAfter staring at North Dakota license plates the past few days, I got up the nerve to ask, “Why are you the Peace Garden state?”

“Really, we have a Peace Garden in America?”

I scooted up to the Peace Garden from Devil’s Lake, ND.  While this was about a 70 mile detour, it seemed an appropriate one to make. One can’t overlook the International Peace Garden when on a 22,000 mile ride for Peace, eh? You betcha.

Highway 2 led me over to Route 5N, which I picked up in Rugby, ND. Gas stations were limited, but frequent enough. Due to the massive chunks of farmland, there are few roads to take. Hwy 2 is a four laner, with a speed limit of 75, although traffic was sparse, so the road wasn’t stressful at all. Picking up Route 5N led me right into a fair head wind, so the going was slow. I plugged on curious to discover this garden that Americans know so little about.

The dedication of the Garden took place on July 14, 1932, with 50,000 persons present. This is interesting to me for two reasons. One, I haven’t met that many people who even know about the International Peace Garden. Two, the kick-off date for P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER was close to that, July 15.  I choose the departure date in commemoration to Jimmy Carter and his “crisis of confidence” speech in 1979, exactly three years after he accepted his party’s nomination to run for president. Here is a sample from that speech:

During the past three years I’ve spoken to you on many occasions about national concerns, the energy crisis, reorganizing the government, our nation’s economy, and issues of war and especially peace. But over those years the subjects of the speeches, the talks, and the press conferences have become increasingly narrow, focused more and more on what the isolated world of Washington thinks is important. Gradually, you’ve heard more and more about what the government thinks or what the government should be doing and less and less about our nation’s hopes, our dreams, and our vision of the future.

Sadly, our state of affairs has not changed for the better. Anyhow, I decided that my intentions for this trip mirrored his goal; to engage the American public in dialogue about our future. I also hold great respect for his willingness to delve deep into the true problems that our Nation faces, the fundamental problems, and his attempts to be inclusive. Unfortunately this resulted in his exclusion from political graces.

Entering the Garden was made easy by the gatekeeper, Sara, who overlooked the $10 entry fee after reading my postcard. I arrived around four in the afternoon , on a Saturday,  and was a bit surprised that there were not more people enjoying the beautiful gardens. Could this be related to the employees of the Garden? Perhaps to them, it’s just a job, maybe even an annoying one with pesky tourists?

The pamphlet I read discussed the Gardens creation within a historical context. Dr. Henry J. Moore conceived of the idea; a garden to commemorate and perpetuate our relationship with Canada, and to promote the value of Peace in our world. The Peace Garden made the front page of U.S. newspapers, its existence a product of the times. 20 million people lost their lives in World War 1 and President Woodrow Wilson had recently initiated the League of Nations.

The Garden opened in the middle of our Great Depression, when unemployment was high and people were desperate. The President, Franklin Roosevelt, proposed a plan to protect two resources- our land and our young men. “He proposed to recruit thousands of unemployed young men, enroll them in a peacetime army, and send them into battle against destruction and erosion of our natural resources.”

Roosevelt’s creation of the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the projects they developed, like the Peace Garden,  helped preserve national pride during the Great Depression.  The CCC left behind permanent objects in many states as markers of it projects. From inception, the CCC utilized government resources to bolster the quality of living when times were rough in America and to preserve our environmental resources.

There in the Garden, I struggled to find current examples of such community minded projects which have full support of executive and legislative branches. September 11 pops into my head as having bi-partisan support. Although now, many firefighters are left without access to the medication they need after developing health conditions from the clean up. Hurricane Katrina? Not really. Joseph Albaugh, the head of FEMA at the time, already acknowledged botching the response to Katrina. After visiting New Orleans this summer and talking with its residents, I would not say that a progressive, bi-partisan recovery action has been implemented. In fact, New Orleans teems with corruption and its civilians suffer the price. Thoughts like this were racing through my head as I perused the beautiful grounds.

Time for Peace, yo!

I was also in the Garden wondering where all the visitors were. Apparently, at one time, the Garden welcomed thousands of visitors. With 2, 339.3 acres of nature to explore, it’s easy to understand why. A slump in tourism hasn’t affected the landscaping buget. The grounds are dazzling, featuring more than 150,000 types of shrubs, grasses, trees, and flowers. Several  monuments commemorate events throughout the eras.

Our current reality  often intertwines with a history forgotten. How many people who attended the opening of the Peace Garden are still alive today? Apparently, traffic on the Garden’s opening day was recorded at 57 vehicles per minute. Remember, this was a time when all aspects of traveling were much more challenging. The tiny, barely alive town of Bottineau, were I stayed that evening, was completely flooded years ago when the Peace Garden opened. All town services were closed July 14, 1932 . Would Starbucks do such a thing today for its employees? Would people want them to? I might not even want such an inconvenience like that.

The afternoon sun offered warmth and cast an amber hue onto the grounds. I had packed a stack of postcards with me, so I scurried around locating people. I was only able to distribute about 12, but I did enjoy several conversations.Garden and Visitors

One elderly gentlemen sat on a bench enjoying the view with his wife. He commented that I was young enough to be an idealist. That particularly saddened me–not the first time I’ve heardit proposed that idealism is only an attribute of the young.

Apparently,  ahead in my future, lurks a magic age when I will give up caring and believing in change for humanity. Hey, maybe in ten years I will read this blog and think, “Lord, what an idealist!” Seriously though, I listened to his perspectives–he was old enough to have visited the Garden’s opening as a child. While this gentlemen has witnessed big changes in our technologies, he has also seen multiple generations face the same problems.

Nancy, my hostess extraordinaire in Missoula, commented on meeting “war weary” adults. I realized that in my living, there have only been two wars (not counting invasions). Vietnam ended in my first year alive, so it’s not included in my tally. Two wars is still two many for me. But this gentlemen I spoke with, he has witnessed six wars, four invasions in his living. Suddenly, his curmudgeonly attitude was understandable. He’s war weary.

Our generational differences, how do we resolve them? How do we simultaneously integrate the reality of conflict while working towards a peaceful resolution of conflict? There will always be conflict, but there doesn’t not always have to be outright war to resolve it. My generation–sadly, we don’t really know War or Peace.

We live in a sterile, neon, marketed times;  chock full of product placement and seduction. We don’t even know we have a Peace Garden. We don’t know what’s its like to have every aspect of life change because of wartime. We don’t have Victory Gardens or food rations because of this Iraw war. Our generation simply hands over more at the pump to keep driving SUV’S while sipping a Frappucino, blasting Fergie, and apathetically laughing at the President.

We can not cultivate a deep national pride through consumerism gadgets. Yea, it might seem like I am pointing one finger, but I pointed it at myself a long time ago. I sold my car. I began walking and biking everywhere.  Ten years later I eventually got a scooter. I don’t shop corporate if I can avoid it, because buying local keeps more money in my state. Why waste time watching TV when there is life to be experienced?

The way I live came about after a deep examination of what I purchase, eat, believe and teach. These philosophies stem from an desire to improve our nation. It was not taught to me and I realize I am a minority group when it comes to thinking like this. I don’t however, believe it’s impossible for my generation, or any other, to change this course we are on. Shifts happen! See above;  I’m an idealist! I’ve got ideas!

Sadly, I saw no one my age, or close to it, at the Peace Garden. And I hope this changes. When I get back home, I’m going to create one. I’m gonna give Peace some roots in my hometown.

It was a lot harder to leave the Garden than it was to enter it. When I entered the Garden I did not go through Canadian customs. Apparently, since the Garden shares land with Manitoba, I had to go through a rigorous U.S. Customs search. That was pretty fun, with a heavily laden scooter, packed to a precision only I understand.

I chatted with the customs officials about my trip. All in all it was a nice enough encounter. Their line of questioning was very detective like though; very deadpan and every question seemed loaded. I felt like they were going to catch me in the act, though I had done nothing wrong. The nice official couldn’t get the compression sack back on the bike, or the SHAD case closed, but he apologized.

The rummaging through the saddlebags completely off balance. I wasn’t planning on getting very far that night anyways. The search had taken an hour and the sun was beginning its quick descent, so I decided to stay in Bottineau for the night. The next morning I set out for Montana and covered about 358 miles. There was nothing spectacular along the route, but the landscape began changing as I entered Montana. Cornfields finally gave away to rolling hills covered in grain–and thankfully, the smell of poop was gone!

Next update: Circle, MT and the beginning of my full week in the grand state of Montana.

Fargo, ND: Gateway to the West

Flip side Postcard Number 1
(Those postcards look familiar, yes I know. They were used on a previous entry. It’s encouragement to fill out the postcard I have given you along the way!)

The trip up from Sioux Falls was pretty uneventful. Traveling by way of Routes 81, to 11, to 34 to 18 to some other little roads and finally to Broadway St., it was a long drive with few towns or gas stations. From Salina, KS on, fueling stations have been sparse. I regularly questions locals as to what’s ahead in the next town-often stopping if even at three quarters a tank. Except, someone from Circle, MT just gave me a gas can yesterday-but I don’t want to get ahead of the updates….

I rode into Fargo quite cheerfully, around 6pm. It was August 17- the day being my one month on the road anniversary point. Also, I have waited patiently for about 12 years to visit Fargo. And this has nothing to do with the Coen Brothers movie Fargo-which, by the way, wasn’t even filmed there. There were only four states left for me to visit in this country-North Dakota being one and now being done!

As a gift for the P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER anniversary, Phillip gratuitously offered to pay for my lodging at his favorite hotel, the Hotel Donaldson. IMG_1576
And I graciously accepted. I suspect he had a hunch about my physical and mental condition being a bit ragged by then. Me and Audrey scooted up curiously, covered in road dust. Now this was quite a grandiose palace, and as I unsaddled Audrey, I hoped there were no highfalutin characters inside. My room was nicer than my apartment, or any apartment I might ever have. And not a pretentious nice, but a really decadent, artistically pleasant kind of nice. The artwork caught my eye and I perused an informative folder that detailed all the local artistry throughout the building. This excited me-to see that this hotel was actually a community hub. The CD’s laid out in the room, next to the BOSE stereo, were all local musicians. Fighting the urge to nest for the evening on the plush bed, I grabbed the camera and headed out for a walk. At this point, I felt a bit like a reporter from the Travel Channel, but I was grinning ear to ear to be in Fargo and have such a swell place to boot.

I had a couple hours of sunlight left to snap some shots. The first guy I ran across was parking his car, which was packed with instruments. I inquired if he was in the jazz band playing in the lounge. He was. And it turned out he had jammed/partied with some favorite local musicians of Charlottesville, VA-the Hackensaw Boys. A nice coincidence to meet someone who had a connection to my hometown-a world separated by six degrees. Don’t ever doubt how interconnected we are-and what possibilities you might share with a seemingly total stranger! Greeting strangers like friends is how I avoid being lonely on the road!

The downtown area really impressed me. I was searching for a salad somewhere and staring at a sculpture when some nice girls stopped to tell me the point of the painted buffalo. IMG_1558
It’s part of a city art project. They also told me Fargo has more restaurants and coffee shops per capita than anywhere else. But everyone says that it seems. Anyhow, people were really cordial everywhere I went. The evening walk took me well around and through the parameters of downtown. Fargo was founded in 1871 and has a lot of character. It was obvious that the area had been revitalized, but tastefully so. I was informed that private investors and city planners all work well together at long range urban planning. Hope you aren’t bored-but urban planning is exciting stuff to me! I enjoyed that the historic integrity was mostly still intact. It seemed as though many buildings were renovated versus razed. I could feel some old Western culture present amid the tasteful, shiny, modern touches and lighting. I bet early downtown Fargo saw some wild times during its heyday as a railway stop. I also suspect that the Hotel Donaldson (HODO) is a big contributing player in Fargo’s revival. Sightseeing concluded, I went back to explore inside the HODO.

I pushed open a heavy door into the packed low lit, smoky lounge. My only complaint-heavy doors. And I’m not a wimpy spring chicken either! Immediately people made eye contact with me. A classy gentleman at the bar, Tony, clad in pink shirt, introduced himself and a great conversation was born. It turns out he is involved with film making. His latest project is a docu-drama about Fargo, so he spends a lot of time there, otherwise he lives in Chicago. He told me all about the interesting characters that make up the town. It was nice to pick his brain a bit for movie advice. He and the friend he introduced me too were truly engaging fellows. They both took postcards and I hope to get a response from whomever they send ’em off to. I said goodbye and went over across the lobby, into the fancy dining room.

Kate, the server closing up for the night, took this picture of me, pretending to play the piano. We wound up talking for almost an hour. All of the employees at the HODO were so supportive and intrigued by my trip. I also enjoyed hearing their unique stories and appreciated that they all took time to be so candid. I didn’t get to meet the owner of the Hotel Donaldson, she was out of town, but everyone applauded her for creating a family at the HODO. It really shined through too. Of course-I never could have afforded a room there-but the rest of the place was pretty accessible to anyone. I went to the upper floor, also full of locals having a good time. There were some nice views of Fargo from the top.

Before hitting the sack I rolled one last time through the HODO lounge. Igor and Ted gave me big smiles and an invitation to chat-so I obliged. These locals are splendid! While chatting with them, the manager Ben came over to the table and said the HODO had heard about P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER and stood in full support. Generously, he said that the chef had been informed to prepare anything I wanted the next day for the road. I asked how he knew about the trip and he said Kate, the server had mentioned it. Kate walked up just then to return a completely filled out postcard to me! My first month anniversary and the first postcard return! Bonus! It was all very surreal. I hope to see many more postcards make it back to me!

I retired up to the room but couldn’t sleep for the sheer lavishness of it all. My pillows had been turned down-something the campground always forgets to do. I nibbled on the chocolate cookies left for me and read the weather report that had been placed by the bed. At some point I passed out-it all seemed like a dream anyways. I might have jumped up and down on the bed too……

The next morning I poked around some shops looking for a Fargo sweatshirt. It was safe to say I would need one for the road ahead through colder state and plus, I heart Fargo. I never found one though. The chef prepared me a salad and sandwich for the road and couldn’t help wishing they supported my cause enough to offer me a free room for the night.

Before leaving town I needed to pick up a box I had mailed to myself, of extra postcards and stickers. Crystal had sent me a package too, with a dazzling seat cover for Audrey. New Accessory!
It’s fleecy and cushy for my cushion and adds vivid color to my black bike. The peace signs are perfect for the tour-a deep bow to Crystal for her generosity. It was cool to have a present waiting and fortunately, the boxes were located after some searching. The pick up point was a certified Genuine dealer, but the place, Scheels, is more like a sporting goods Disney World. There is even a ferris wheel inside.
Having left the cosmopolitan area of Fargo, I wasn’t too impressed with the rest of what I experienced in Fargo. Fortunately, a kind guy led me to the road I needed to get out of town. I opened up the throttle and headed towards Devil’s Lake. A beautiful ride was waiting and my frustration with some sales people quickly dissipated.
Ferris Wheel in Sporting Goods Store
Thank you to everyone who shared in my long awaited sojourn to Fargo. It was great-you betcha!

Banter that occurred while in Fargo or around the area:

ME: “Do you have any Fargo sweatshirts?”
THEM:”Could you be more specific?”
ME: ” A sweatshirt that says Fargo…”

HIM: “You drive that thing on roads?”
ME: “(as scooter is by a highway, gassing up) No sir, sidewalks only, if its not raining. ”
*note, scooter has VIRGINIA license plates*

Wayne, NE towards Sioux Falls, SD

The Daily Double

Wayne, NE was a resting point en route to Sioux Falls, SD. The lights of Wayne twinkled in the distance and this was it-there wouldn’t be any other stops ahead for a nights slumber. Earlier that day I had been in Seward, met a reporter for an interview, and done some blogging at a coffee shop. The shop had just opened that day and even had a wireless signal available, but from a local business. All day I was still sweating and laboring with the bike and gear. All said, the day had been long, hot and very introspective. I was drained but had a particular feeling a contentment, heightened by the thoughts I had worked through earlier on death, justice, peace, community and war.

Sunset, NEThe sublime sunset that carried me into Wayne accented a feeling that I am learning and growing out here on the road. That night the motel gave me a spectacular deal and room 108-my favorite number. After tearing through my pack and doing some grimy sweat stained laundry I rested hard, but brief.

Sioux Falls was still many miles down the road, but I was slow moving in the morning. All of the ladies at the motel were friendly and curious about the trip. Divas of the 8
While I was packing up one of them called the local paper and the next thing I knew, an interview materialized. The reporter tried to maneuver me over to the hotel sign and they joked that it would be great press for the chain. To which I said no, unless they wanted to offer me free stays at their other motels along the way. It happened very quickly and hopefully, I wasn’t seen as rude. The reporter was very nice and asked better questions than most people have on such short notice. That was two interviews in two days-hopefully the project will keep getting press like that!

The heat seemed to be breaking, temperature only in the 80’s. The skies were rather dark, and soon enough a massive thunderstorm rolled in. At first it didn’t seem like much and that most of it would be avoided once I headed north. However, my call was wrong and led me down a road in the middle of the plains-no shelter and intense lightening striking everywhere around me. All I could do was scoot on, marveling at the beauty of the lightening and pondering how bad it would hurt if I got hit. I think my fear of lightening has just about diminished. Not enough to stop and take photos of it….
I didn’t break out the rain gear since the drops weren’t too heavy, nor did it rain too long. Soon the skies were sunny on one side of the road while totally darkened on the other. The Other Side of the Street
Knock, Knock, knockin'

I reached the South Dakota state sign and the sun completely broke through. The past six days had been relatively free of obnoxious, menacing traffic and still I scooted down empty country roads. South Dakota is an absolutely beautiful state, with three main regions- the Central Plains, where the Badlands are; the western part that house the Black Hills; and the Eastern Prairie. The Peace route has me in the eastern prairie-not as scenic as the other two regions, but the crops and colors of the landscape had changed slightly from Nebraska. There were lots of low growing soybean crops instead of cornfields, opening the horizon up nicely. Honestly though, at this point I was getting slightly sick of smelling fertilizer, day after day. That smell doesn’t go away easily. And the road kill is really wearing on me. Some roads have been bloodstained.

I always pay attention to the time line of a town when cruising in from the rural roads, through outlying areas of town, suburbs and then to the epicenter of downtown. The first impression of Sioux Falls was a bunch of newish middle-class housing developments that all mimicked one another. Next, the streets took me past hordes of casinos, gas stations, liquor stores and other sundry shops. I was looking for a health food store that popped up on a google search and found it really easily.

The Natural Foods Co-op was a welcome sight and a real surprise. The Natural Foods CO-OPOut in the Plains, I have found little health food to consume, most options derived from something that once moved. There were bulk goodies galore so I refilled the Dr. Bronners soap, grabbed seeds for sprouting, quick oats, cous cous, beans and such. I could tell this place was a real oasis to the community. I chatted with locals for awhile about the stores history and the P.E.A.CE. project. They encourage me to hang up some postcards on the bulletin board. I gave away two stickers to some young girls who were goofing off while waiting on their parents. While stuffing all my goodies into the cooler, their parents came looking for me. They were super excited about the trip and generously donated $20. That covered my food expenses!

The next person I met was really interesting. I’m not quite sure how we got into such a deep conversation, and its hard to convey this, but she started telling me some really intense stories. The sun was beginning to set behind her and she took on the look of the Oracle-from the Matrix. It was a bit surreal-I just kept listening to her speak. Her stories were a bit complicated to follow in some places. There were long pauses but no prompt or appropriate place for me to ask a question. So, I just hung on and after a long story that wove throughout a thirty year span, she brought it back. To her original point? Not sure?? What she was trying to convey to me related to experiencing peace, or in her words-love and protection. She talked about having a near death experience in her youth, during WW2, from an influenza. Apparently, the odds were against her living, but she did, and recalled the presence of a “friend,” sitting by her bed. This “friend,” was a spirit watching and protecting her and she suddenly leaned in and said she willed it for that spirit to travel this journey with me. I guess I was tapped by the Oracle, eh? This nice lady then led me down the street so I could buy a new USB cord for the camera, which I had left back in NE. Doh!

The sun had almost sunk on the horizon as I pulled into my next stop, the Black Sheep Coffee House.
Sunset, SD
There was no salad on the menu, but the barista offered to make me one. My body was so happy to finally have greens. The shop is also a community oasis and felt like a comfy living room. Not pretentious in its presentation; just good local artwork hanging, cool bicycles propped up here and there, and a huge roaster taking up one section of the shop. After devouring my salad I had some espresso and was uploading photos when I heard two people discussing the bike. Todd, the proprietor, as he introduced himself, was quite the character. Such a fantastic guy! He was totally amped, maybe the espresso, but genuinely excited about the trip. He was really moved by the work of the Peace Pilgrim and recommended that I read her book-something I will do after the trip. He asked for some postcards and then offered me some fresh roasted beans. That’s definitely Pit Crew support right there, keeping me on the road with organic Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. He also warned me NOT to take rides in flat bed trucks-as thats how the Peace Pilgrim met her unfortunate demise. She never accepted rides-and the one time she did ended in death. So sad. Our conversation was engaging, rapid, and covered many things; coffee, music, peace, scooters, politics, local history. I wish we had longer to talk, but the KOA Kampground had told me to be there by 10pm or the gates closed.
Todd and Hannah

I had not camped in awhile. After driving in 102 degree heat, it wasn’t tempting to sweat all night too. Since the temperature was bearable, I decided to save some cash and enjoy nature. Well, I saved cash, but the space was right along a major traffic thoroughfare and it was quite loud.
The campground hosts were friendly, charming folk and they put a lot of nice touches into the grounds. It was nice to see them enjoy retirement by hosting travelers. Internet was a suprising extra- surprised to find out most campgrounds offer this amenity. However, it ultimately was a restless night from the noise and heavy thunderstorm that hit in the night. I was sleeping under a tree and just didn’t care to move the tent, even in the lightning. I was also too damn sleep deprived to move when the rain came in the tent. It was like sleeping and showering at the same time! Bonus. IMG_1439

Feeling groggy and grumpy, I headed out to see the Sioux Falls that run through town. My conversation with Todd had delved into the native history of the land. At a particular moment in our conversation it hit me that many of the places on the Peace map have experienced some form of intense conflict. I did not specifically research this type of history before picking my route, but I now have this perspective for the trip. I will be writing in more detail, possibly in a book, about the effects of such historical conflict in creating community and peace. The Sioux Falls were once sacred grounds to the bison hunting Dakota and Lakota Indians. IMG_1476The Falls were seized in 1856 by two groups, who saw a promising townsite in its beauty and water power. The grooved, pinkish brown quartzite stones and rushing water are still beautiful, though the suds from farm run-off probably weren’t there when the Native Americans lived off the land. There were some pretty ducks who came by to share my trail mix.

I watched them fight for nuts and raisins a bit and then Robert came over to talk. He had been painting by the falls for awhile and commented on the fun I was having feeding the ducks. I joked that from my enthusiasm for playing with ducks, it must be obvious I’ve been alone on the road awhile. Robert had served most of his life in the military, though I never would have guessed. I told him that I am traveling the country to understand the different definitions people have of peace, what their vision for our future is, and to experience the many communities across America. He was really fun, wired and zany-though I worry about the amount he was chain smoking. His appearance reminded me a bit of Jack Nicholson, but a bohemian painter version. RobertHe jumped right into a story about how he has experienced peace in his life, so I asked to film him. Several themes from the day were tying into together; community, diversity, peace, rankism, local history, sacred spots.

Sadly, there did not seem to be much diversity in Sioux Falls. It’s a mainly white, middle-class, corporate employed town. Many credit institutions and banks are headquartered in Sioux Falls to take advantage of relaxed usury laws. That contributed to the boom in the 90’s, the award for best place to live in America and the homogenized housing I saw coming into town. Robert told me about pursuing his interest in art after an injury and release from the military. He offers all of the money earned from art sales into Native American cultural preservation. He was speaking a lot about the need for community and diversity. It was a great time with Robert and he told me it was a good thing I wasn’t sticking around town or he might have to fall in love with me. He also offered me a huge Prayer Flag that had just been painted. The prayer flag from RobertI accepted, and told myself to mail some stuff home soon, as the packs were fully loaded. My mood wasn’t quite so grumpy anymore after visiting this beautiful, powerful spot centered right in the middle of town. I snapped some pictures of the industry right around the Falls. One is the John Morrell meat packing plant, its building filling the skyline from a view at the Falls. Apparently, it has brought diversity and prosperity into town. And also pollution, as it dumps into the Sioux River, only to be slapped on the wrist. At least, that’s what Robert told me, who had conducted river sampling at points above and below the plant.

On my way out of town towards Fargo, I stopped for another salad at the Black Sheep. As I was finishing up, Todd rolled in, moving with his charming frenetic pace. I could talk to him for hours! My time in Sioux Falls was brief, less than 24 hours, though well spent. He threw some more goodies my way for the trip. Apparently he had been talking to his morning customers about the project. I met Mike, who donated $20 and promised to stay up on the travelogue. Todd walked me out and we talked about his business and its stronghold as a community spot. It reminded me a lot of my last employer, the Mudhouse. It’s a place where everyone congregates, where the goods and knowledge are just as important as the service. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to come back-but you would be foolish not to. I chided Todd for not having a website, but he’s pretty Maverick about the whole business. He knows his beans, was the first high test coffee spot in town-and not going anywhere. People try his coffee once on the way through town and wind up doing mail order! He gave me a squeeze goodbye and I scooted off towards Fargo, ND. On the way out of town I ran across this mural, and did a turnabout to snap it.
Future so bright....
It was a good decision to put Sioux Falls on the P.E.A.C.E Map, even though it was 25 miles off course. I wish everyone that I met there all the best….

Memorial in Nebraska

A Day of Remembrance.

Odometer Reading at departure: 3,563.0
Memorial Stopping Point: 3,690.0
General Douglas Macarthur
That is 127 miles spent contemplating the value of life and the measure of man, holding many questions in my thoughts. The day’s journey was dedicated to all lives lost in war.

I departed Fairbury, Nebraska, heading toward the 11th vector on the Peace map- Sioux Falls, South Dakota. My first stop was in Seward, NE, for breakfast/lunch and coffee. I pulled in to a very Norman Rockwell small town and went to the local grocery store. The locals had all congregated for lunch and raised eyebrows at me. I made myself invisible and listened to the banter about politics and the heat, chewing on a starchy, greasy grilled cheese and tomato.

It had become obvious to me that these areas in the Plains had sent many youth off to fight-in many wars.
For hundreds of miles past and to come- I have seen memorials and signs in support of our soldiers. IMG_1330

I am riding for Peace. I would like those who also support the soldiers to understand that means I want to see an end to war so that our soldiers don’t keep dying. Which is pretty supportive, I think. Let’s refer back to that “for us or against us”, mentality that so endangers our ability to problem solve and communicate effectively. I do not stand in support of this war but I pay tribute to those who lost their lives in this complicated mess.

I feel the measure of loss from it-on all sides.

Of course I don’t want our soldiers, or ANY SOLDIERS, to die. How could I say I want this? Are not our hands bloodied indirectly- though soldiers face immediate death-through allowing this war? How can I say “I am willing for there to be death for there to be Peace?” Perhaps in our past history, this was the only way. But have any of these wars created Peace? Or just more oppression?

When you take the time to converse with someone seemingly different from yourself, you realize you have the similar needs. Our strategies for acquiring them are different. Basic needs are protection, food, medicine, shelter. Our cultural, religious, and political views separate us because those indicate the different routes we take to acquire our basic needs. And said systems often perpetuate such inequity or oppression that we inhibit people from acquiring the basic needs. Which usually creates war, fighting or revolutions. History shows it.

This evolution everyone talks about-where? when? how? I can boot up the computer and play an online game of chess with someone in Russia. The scooter I ride was made in Taiwan. Do you shop at Walmart? All that stuff was made in China. Where did your jeans come from? Your underwear? Your food? Your stocks-how many countries are you invested in? Our lives are interconnected-at the very least-from a monetary perspective. The point being, we have access to other cultures in a way we never did before-other cultures are becoming embedded in our lives-and ours in theirs. We are building global bridges.

How can we continue this attitude that we will send our youth off to kill, or to die as a way to resolve conflict? Why is it not just as patriotic to be a visionary statesman/woman and brainstorm new ways of conflict resolution as it is to bury our youth and spend billions of American money?

In war, people die-lives, families and towns are forever altered through the decision to declare and fight a war. I don’t want war. I want us to accept that conflict is inevitable, I experience it in some form at least every other day. How we choose to resolve it and create viable decisions for our precious youth is the new paradigm. I guess it comes down to power. And power over is something our country has always had. Maybe its time to set the bar and create institutions that resolve conflict by developing power with. The more we exert power over, the more conflict will continue to fester. Conflict hasn’t been removed-just shifted-in that type of relationship. If someone’s spouse beats them into submission because they are complaining about something, they can only shut them up for a bit, they haven’t solved the problem. They are ruling their partner by fear only. Beating your partner for dominance isn’t a last resort tactic-it’s plain wrong. No matter what the situation is. What if we applied that mentality to our global tactics? Sure, it’s complicated. You don’t have to tell me that, or think this snippet is my only synopsis of international relations, thank you. But our tactics in the Mid-East aren’t developing sustainable futures. And our youth and their youth are dying-at rapid rates.

The day’s journey was dedicated to all those lives lost in war. At a protest I attended in September 2006  the death count was at 2703. DSCN0764Today, when the odometer hit 3670, I called my friend for the latest death count. Unfortunately, it had gone up one since the morning-and there were probably more unrecorded. That last twenty miles was very solemn for me. I had spent all day relating my living to the deaths these soldiers experienced-giving thanks I have it. I thought about what I would do if Death came to me and said I had the day to spend as I wished. A tractor trailer came hauling up behind me at 3689, so that last mile countdown was a hectic. I maneuvered over to the side of the road and settled in for a little memorial.

There I was, surround by nothing but corn, twenty miles past the town of Schuyler, NE, begging the universe that we learn from these tragedies we invent. I read passages on Non Violence from Martin Luther King and held a prayer for us. A mailbox (?) stood across the way, so I put a postcard in it. MemorialThe explanation on the card said that I was traveling through on a ride for Peace and that my odometer just reached the number of dead U.S. Soldiers. I asked that they take a moment of silence and help to envision a better world, then fill out the postcard and send it to a friend-or the President.

Then I prepared a geo-cache package and placed it in a ziplock baggie under some loose chunks of asphalt by a “School Bus Stop Ahead,” sign. So, if you are traveling Hwy 15 through Nebraska-there is a package hidden there. It’s GPS coordinates are +41° 38′ 10.50″, -97° 3′ 33.96″ (41.636250, -97.059433)

The mileage of the Peace Scooter tour 2007 will never be equal to the amount of total casualties; a reminder that war is lose-lose proposition and Peace is not solely a political endeavor. It’s personal and it’s fundamental that we envision new ways to resolve conflict.

That night as I headed towards Sioux Falls, the sunset was the most breathtaking one I have ever seen. It lasted about half an hour at least, the longest sunset I have ever seen, I swear. My route kept shifting, east, then north. Every bend I came around presented a new exhilarating angle. Miles Davis was playing on the iPod, my heart was soaring, and my mind reeling from the intoxication of being human. There are a lot of prospects ahead in our future-let’s not forget the interconnectedness we share on this Earth. Thanks for reading and being there at the memorial with me for a moment…..

Sunset in NE

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. -Mother Theresa (1910-1997)

Tulsa is OK by me


I know this post is a little behind the times, as I left Tulsa 7 days ago, so, thanks for your patience. I really enjoyed my brief visit there-it was the most fun I’ve actually had all trip. And that’s hard to put up against New Orleans. Of course, New Orleans is a seductive, warm town where the music and conversation flow easily. But, it was a very solemn time. I did a lot of exploring and visiting organizations that opened my eyes to Katrina’s devastation. In Tulsa, I unwound, had some fun and was treated really properly by my hosts.

I arrived into Tulsa a bit wind fatigued. The summer winds blow South in the Plains and that particular day where gusting around 20 mph. I was heavily blown while heading West on US-64 and leaning most of my body weight to the left of the bike.
As of the day I decided to make this trip, the longest distance I had scooted was 30 miles. I started “training,” by riding my Metropolitan to Richmond, about 60 miles each way. I did that trip 3 times, once driving my Buddy back. As far as traveling, in general, I am a road veteran! I have been cross country seven times, by cage, so I know the “road rules.” However, I am learning about scooting now and all the variables involved. The odometer reads 4,600-and I’ve come through most elements. Needless to say, my fear of lightening has almost dissipated. Nothing confronts that fear like being stuck in the Plains during a massive mid afternoon storm. No where to run baby, just keep on scooting. Just drop the speed a bit until something unfamiliar becomes familiar.
The wind was frightening at first, but I adjusted-literally, I moved some stuff around to make the bike handle better. I am a little girl on a mainly plastic bike, so wind factors in heavily to my overall speed. The thing is, this is the course that made the most sense- Gusts or No Gusts- I scoot on. If you are coming these routes by scooter, I do suggest making adjustments in your planning. Winds can blow through the Plains at 80 mph sometimes. Get that wind at your back to conserve gas and energy!

Since fatigue had tapped my reserves, I took a few minutes to recollect before contacting the Tulsa Scooter family-David, Carol, Sacha and Peter. After consuming some granola and espresso, and rapping with a local barista, ( who donated $10) I put in the call. David Wycoff, the father of the family, scooted out to my location to bring me into town. I thought that was a classy, polite move and so was everything else that followed.

Cold showers are quintessential for survival in the hot weather, so after a shower revival and quick tasty dinner we all donned our helmets and went scooting around Tulsa. The Wycoffs’ own and run Tulsa Scooters. Awhile back, David revived scooter interest in town and steadily the shop built up quite a community. We swung by the local indie theater in town, which was showing Twin Peaks episodes (how cool is that?) to pick up Sacha. That evening the five of us took a nice tour of Tulsa. The air was still heavy and warm, but it was enjoyable to set aside the heavy gear and see the town all lit up. Even though I didn’t get many photos, I was able to plot some rides for the next day. We cruised to through many neighborhoods, over to the “Center of The Universe,” and Cains-a famous music venue. Later, after David and his wife headed home, me, Peter and Sacha hit her favorite watering hole in town-the Cellar Dweller. While I felt just barely alive, it was great to sit in the hip little basement bar and enjoy the banter of others. Sacha left to take care of her two beautiful children and Peter eventually led me back over to his parents house where I would sleep the next two nights. Thankfully they offered up their house as a B&B-especially great since the PGA was in town and room prices were probably ridiculous-and without the character this one had. The house was tucked away in a great neighborhood where everyone had green lawns and pretty flowers.

After a great rest and morning chat with Carol, I headed over to the shop for Audrey’s check-up. I spent the next three hours at Tulsa Scooters marveling over their collection of Scoot magazines, bike displays, and family rapport. Sacha’s two girls were also around, so the shop had loud laid back family feel, much needed after a few solitary weeks on the bike. I really appreciate their willingness to help me out with anything the bike needed, and for throwing in some cool memorabilia to boot. The mechanics, Ray and Brad, treated Audrey to an oil change, sparkle shine cleaning and they spliced the wiring to make my “dummy,” turn signals work-now I am much more visible on the road.

The architecture in Tulsa had really caught my eye and so I cruised aimlessly about after having the bike fixed up. IMG_1084Tulsa has a centennial time capsule, which I LOVE, so I enthusiastically went over to inspect its contents. Disappointingly, they included a car-and a Plymouth at that. When its opened in 2050, it will be interesting to see the technology comparison. Earlier that day, Carol had spoken to me about mediation, and I reminded myself how nice it is to just sit peacefully. So, there, in Centennial Park, in some sparse shade, I meditated. There was a farmers market happening on the outskirts of the park and some families strolling about the fountains-it all made for a relaxing hour. It was something I needed desperately, to leave the scooter and laptop aside and force myself to just be still.

Carrying on with my exploring I wound up sneaking into a graveyard for a photo opportunity. I rolled under the gate to snap the picture of a white skyscraper in the distance, framing the tombstones. Tulsa was a photogenic city, very Art Deco from the big oil money in the 20’s. It was also very clean and even the new developments had good construction-I saw few condos or vinyl siding when I was there. The business district was worth some shots too. Its apparent that Tulsa is an affluent city, but many people were very friendly and there was lot of culture. It’s also an oasis for coffee snobs like myself. Almost every shop I went to had a Marzocco espresso machine and quality, locally roasted beans. They also rocked the rosettas and latte design-a first in my time on the road. I dropped off some postcards and chatted with the barista at the Coffeehouse on Cherry Street. Overall, this would be my favorite shop-brew strong and savory, ambience perfect and staff friendly.

What next? An early evening ride with local scooters.
About 12 people were at the shop when I returned. So far, that evenings ride was the largest formation I’ve ridden in. Really exciting on that note, and there were lots of good looking bikes, good attitudes. and very good scenery.IMG_1108
After riding for an hour we stopped for dinner and David was very generous to treat me to a tasty Boca Burger. The remaining ten of us chatted for awhile and then Peter,Emily and myself headed over to McNellies Irish Pub-one of Peter’s favorite places. The pub offered 70+beers on tap and variety of 100+bottles-as well as good ambiance. There’s a game room in the back with foozball, pool and darts. A really talented band of various local musicians was jamming-all for no cover charge. The talk was flowing between the three of us and it was nice to get to know Emily and Peter a little better. I’m really glad he suggested McNellies.

That being a pretty complete day, they dropped me off and I packed up the gear for an early Friday morning start. Well, at least I tried.

By 9am I was up and ready for coffee with David. Him and Carol thought I needed to try out the Doubleshot Coffee shop. Which, indeed, had high test coffee. The owner/barista was offended by my request for 2 shots of espresso in a cup of coffee. He refused. I found this amusing-I don’t mind coffee snobs. David is a very interesting man to listen to-I wish there had been more time to hear his stories. After caffenation we cruised to the shop for goodbyes.

Right down the street from Tulsa Scooters was a little head shop that sold stickers. I picked up a couple to remember Tulsa and interviewed the store manager. She offered me a nice Peace pin and some beautiful green adventurine stones for the journey. I loved that the place was called OZ- appropriate for my jaunt up to Kansas. Chelle was another of many kind Tulsans. She was actually the only interview I did the whole time. There were a lot of post cards given out-so hopefully people will write there comments on the Wall of Beliefs. But the Tulsans gave me what I needed most right then-laughter, company, lounging and music.What’s Peace without those things? Many thanks to you all!

From the Devil’s Lake to the Garden of Peace

Ah, stretchin, sippin, typin away at the Liquid Bean in Devil’s Hill, ND. Moments ago I just got to play with some kids who offered me their little snappers that pop when you throw ’em at the ground. The day is opening up nicely. Topper’s Motel provided that 8 hour type of slumber where you just don’t move an inch, nor dream a bit. New Orleans was the last place I made myself forget about the alarm clock and enjoy a nice reprieve. Of course this motel had none of the decadence of Hotel Donaldson, but I did experience a similar warm greeting from the owner as I did at the HODO-and I also got in some z’s. Glenn and I chatted about numerous things, he offered me a $20 room, and even cleaned the air filter out on the scooter this morning. Keep in mind Audrey’s been driving through farmland for more than a week and her air filter showed the proof-I was giving her asthma! I also dressed Audrey up this morning with her new scooter seat cover, that Crystal shipped to me in Fargo. It has bright peace signs all over it and is a yummy fleece texture for extra bum lovin’! I arrived here in the dark last night, after a chilly but beautiful 180 mile ride. The beauty of the sunset far surpassed the raining bugs. The ipod was cranked on a live show from Pembrokes Pines, FL, don’t know what year, but, Ohia, thanks man, the music accented the setting sun/rising crescent moon perfectly! I traveled 12th Ave over to Route 18N, to Route 15w, to Route 1N, picking up Highway 2W on in to Devil’s Lake. The movie Jesus Camp put Devil’s Lake on the map for many. The movie provoked some controversy, and as a result the camp has been shut down. I realized it was on my way over to Missoula, so I made it a vector-for purposes of healing work. I would like to see more people of faith welcome the diversity of peacemakers out here in the fields. I have noticed numerous war memorials and military statues (built in childrens parks nonetheless) throughout this part of the country. Also, many pro-life advertisements. It’s a highly conservative area, and many from this area have patriotically served in the military-so I thought it would serve to deliver an inclusive peace message. Afterall, P.E.A.C.E SCOOT is Fundamental-not political or religious.

Today I am headed up towards the Canadian border to visit the Peace Garden. I noticed that the North Dakota license plates said, “The Peace Garden State,” and discovered that, nestled on the Manitoba and North Dakota borders is an International Peace Garden. Seems worth going a bit out of the way to put it on the Peace Map. Ya, you betcha! Then I will start the long tour of Montana, eventually winding up in Missoula for a peace potluck with the Jeanetter Rankin Peace Center and scooterists of Missoula.

Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9


Hey all! I know its about due time for some posts…many things have happened that I want to tell you about! You will have the scoop soon. This traveler needs to rest, on a decadent bed in the most fabulous worldly hotel…a treat from Philip after ONE MONTH on the road. And in full ceremonious serendipity, I also received back the first filled out postcard.
Postcard Number 1 Flip side

Tonight finds me in Fargo, ND, with 4, 292 miles on Audrey. Check out this map link to see how the Peace sign is taking shape.,+Washington,+DC+20006&daddr=130+Goodman+St,+Charlottesville,+VA+22902+to:danville,+va+to:Blue+Ridge+Pkwy,+Virginia,+United+States+to:asheville,+nc+to:atlanta,+ga+to:600+Dexter+Ave,+Montgomery,+AL+36104+to:Selma,+AL+to:Mobile,+AL+to:new+orleans,+la+to:shreveport,+la+to:Texarkana,+Miller,+Arkansas,+United+States+to:Broken+Bow,+OK+to:Tulsa,+OK+to:Newton,+KS+to:I-70+E+%4038.907080,+-97.475690+to:Salina,+KS+to:Clay+Center,+KS+to:Seward,+NE+to:Wayne,+NE+to:Sioux+Falls,+SD+to:Salem,+SD+to:Watertown,+SD+to:Fargo,+ND&mrcr=22&mra=pi&dirflg=h&sll=40.044438,-93.823242&sspn=17.10047,37.880859&ie=UTF8&ll=37.822802,-97.119141&spn=2.208488,4.735107&z=8&om=1

Stay tuned y’all. I’ll throw some good news your way….

Weather Report

Mailbox Award

Ah, looks like I surfed the heat wave into shore…

I arrive in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in a few hours. High temperature today of 86. Thats 17 degrees cooler than what I have become accustomed to-hope I don’t get chilly. Fargo is perched at the top of the third trip leg. I arrive there within two days, extremely excited to visit this town. If you live there or are in the know on some Fargo happenings-email me! Only three states left to see in the U.S. after crossing North Dakota off the list-Maine, Alaska, New Hampshire.

I spent some time with the maps last night, plotting the course over to Missoula. 998 miles from Fargo to Missoula, an 18 hour drive according to google. For the first time, the non highway routes get me there faster-sweet scooter victory. My mind is still reeling at the thought. Time to get a gas can, put on the long johns, charge up the camera and learn the language of deer-since that’s about all I will see out yonder. Too bad those Scoot Stars won’t be riding along to keep me company, although their 50cc’s would only chug up the mountains ahead.

Oh, if you are in the Missoula vicinity (maybe Spokane, Butte, Billings, Helena) apparently there is a Mass Peace Ride in the planning, so I hope to meet you. More details about that coming soon!

Ride on!

heat waves, two complete sections, and another state.

Big Heart Oklahoma

I left Newton, KS early Sunday morning, scooting off into the cooler air around 9 am. Crystal, avid scooterist and blogger of girlbike had put me in contact with a Salina, KS host. However, my long day in the small town of Newton ran into nightfall and I didn’t want to traverse Kansas backroads at night-so I never got to meet up with Jerry. Hopefully, I will catch him on the return trip! Ultimately, my decision was sound, as the roads I traveled had many patches of gravel and were even missing asphalt in some sections!

After a restless night in Newton I was up early with excitement to hit the center of the Peace sign. I will revisit Salina, KS as I approach the last leg of the trip, so I didn’t fret about staying there long. The ride was a delicious complement to my mood. The skies have been so sunny and blue lately, and I prefer the heat that comes along with that over wet, rainy roads. My route was also North bound, so the gusty Plains winds were finally behind me, versus battering the bike from the South West, as has been the case since I hit Oklahoma. There literally were no other travelers out, so I had the freedom of stopping in the middle of the road to snap photos. Since I entered Arkansas, most of the roads have been without shoulders for easy on/off picture taking. Like I mentioned in an earlier post, this terrain has rules of its own and scooting around requires a lot of attentiveness.

I arrived in Salina around 11 am and spent some time cruising around the city. I stopped at a hotel to use their free internet and the clerk was nice to print out some documents for me. That done, I headed into the downtown area of Salina to find some morning percolation and grub. Salina is the closest city to the geographic and geodetic centers of the United States-truly the bellybutton of it all! I suppose this is why Steve Fosset chose to start his solo, nonstop aerial trip around the world from here. The suburbs of Salina were very Steven Spielburgesque, think E.T., low skyline buildings, mainly ranchers all nestled together in cul-de-sac formation. Closer to the downtown center I began to see more of the town’s timeline. I found it simple and quaint-as opposed to a pretentious and fussy renaissance you often witness older small towns going through. I ran across a brunch buffet and talked the manager into giving me half price. My point was that I didn’t need unlimited trips to the buffet, one would do me right. The deal was done and after my double shot I was ready to crank out some miles. Before starting the jaunt towards Nebraska, I took a moment to reflect on the miles I have traveled so far and entertained some ideas for the rest of the trip. I decided I am going to incorporate a daily Peace visualization/meditation into every morning. I invite you to join me. My goal is to do this every morning at 9am. Email me if you have any questions about meditation. I suspect that days spent contemplating in these wide open spaces of the Plains have influenced my decision to meditate.

It was noon at that moment and the bank thermometer flashed 98 degrees-probably an underestimate. The heartland of America has been pulsing with a heat wave the past week; temperatures reaching 103 degrees. I did some annoying backtracking and finally found my direction towards the back roads of KS. I was jarred by how quick the fields erased all trace of a bustling town. Major highways around the area diverts traffic from these roads, so they were very enjoyable-quiet and scenic. Also, they were well marked and have been ever since I left Louisiana.

I was cruising along really amped to have completed two major legs of the Peace sign. I can see the vectors taking the shape and now have a real confidence about what I am doing. That makes a difference in how I respond to inquiries and also how I accept donations! Now when people offer, I have no problems saying, “YES and THANK YOU, whereas I was a bit shy before. The end of this leg is Fargo, ND, although the plan for the day was just to reach Nebraska.
Even in the heat I felt excited and energetic. Summer time in the Plains feels like God is standing over you with a massive hairdryer and there is no where to run. In fact, scooting faster just brings about hot, burning gusts of air-no reprieve. Since I was meandering alone on backroads, I took off the riding jacket, otherwise I was going to pass out. The landscape was beautiful, but surreal. There was absolutely no shade anywhere, and I couldn’t fathom how crops were growing under the scorching sun. Everything in the horizon was shimmering from the heat and sun. Everything was also bleached out. I don’t think the photos turned out as good as I would have liked because of the blinding sun. My favorite photo was of the gravel road I wound up on. I suspected that would happen at some point, but the gravel was well combed and soft and I only needed that road for seven miles, so I proceeded carefully.

I was about 70 miles from Salina when I ran out of gas. I also knew that would inevitably happen. I haven’t needed to carry a gas can as of yet, and might only do so when I get to Montana. Running out of gas doesn’t really phase me. After all, I am in farm country, people keep extra gas for their lawnmowers. The bike didn’t actually run dry, she was just sipping from fumes when a farmer behind me at the stop sign told me the closest fuel station was still twenty miles away. John, the farmer, went to his house a mile back and grabbed some gas. Farmer John
After we fueled Audrey up we talked for about an hour. His first thought was my safety and he asked if I was ever scared. I guess I could have been scared that I was trapped on a back road with some guy I don’t know from Bill. Through this trip I am finding the world is not the scary one projected onto our TV screens. Personally, I am more frightened by what I wouldn’t discover if I were to stay at home, baking cookies and making lemonade. My mom always gives me a spiel (love you mom) about the dangers that lurk in the world, and fears that I will run into the bad, greedy, scandalous people who litter this world. Problem is, those people are also infiltrated into every level of our government and religious institutions. So no, I’m not really scared to ride alone as a female-although I do practice safety and I check in with “switchboard operator,” about twice a day. John was such a great guy for helping me out, he showed up at the perfect time and I thought he was very polite. Our opinions are very different, and he would always preface his viewpoint with, “I don’t want to upset you.” However, we found a common ground and thats what its all about, transcending political and religious frameworks, to at least listen to someone else’s opinion. I don’t agree with him, nor him me. It was quite a political conversation. His belief is that we need to win the war in Iraq to eliminate the future possibility of terrorist invasion. I said we need to stop giving them weapons to fight us with and that we have given enough money and our civil rights toward Homeland Security that it should prevent a future terrorist attack. The banter went back and forth. I brought up Hurricane Katrina, saying that it I am hesitant to think we can rebuild another country when we have such a mess in our own. He said that was a destruction of God. When it comes down to it, though, the government could have made the levees better. And mind you, that’s a blog entry of its own, which I will do when I can catch up, but I would like to refer you to the August 2007 entry of National Geographic. It’s informative and objective.
It was great to speak with someone so friendly and honest about their opinions, no matter how different from mine. I asked him to define Peace for me and his response was that feeling that he used to get watching his kids play ball, or being out at the lake. Hopefully, we can find a way in this world for everyone to touch that feeling. Since we were already talking so politically, I asked him how we can make policy shifts that incorporate diversity, don’t reflect imperialistic values, and how we can avoid going to war in times of conflict. We rapped about holding leaders accountable and what it means to be Patriots. Remember, our founding fathers were dissenters.

It was nearing four pm and my water reserves had been tapped for awhile, so I pushed on through the cornfields. Thirty minutes later I came across a store and bought a gallon of water, using the money saved from FREE gas. Maybe this should be my new strategy to save some cash! Soaking a bandanna in cool water helps to regulate body temperature, as does pouring it over your head. I was cooling down in the shade when three bikers pulled up and started rapping with me. Laurie and BillWalt

I spent the next half an hour with Laurie, Bill and Walt-telling dirty jokes and answering questions about the trip. They each offered me some money and took postcards. I have already been contacted by some people they know, so many thanks you three-for everything-wasting time together, cash, and promotion!

I only had about 60 miles to the border of Nebraska, so I cruised on to find a hotel in Fairbury. The days trip clocked in at 200 miles. Originally I had planned to travel US-81, nice and convenient for its North-South run along the 6th Meridian, until I found out its mainly four lane trucker traffic. Highway 15 North was in good shape, little traffic still but scenic with average speed of 60. I will take this all the way up to South Dakota.
Capri MotelJohn the farmer had told me Fairbury had nice, cheap hotels. My friend called ahead for me and reserved one for only $30! I must say, the Capri Hotel is a traveler’s gem.It was nicer than any hotel than I have stayed at yet, for a fraction of the price. They offered clean rooms, hi speed internet, actual glasses in the rooms, refrigerator and a large, deep bathtub. I don’t need the perks like swimming pool or crappy continental breakfast for an extra $30. The town itself was small, pop. 4, 235, but it had all the essentials. I took a walk at sunset, something I need to do to reacquaint myself with land legs!

I noticed that Nebraska was greener than Kansas and went to sleep hopeful the heat wave would be breaking soon, or at least the trees would offer some cool shade spots. I smiled a lot, the day had that essence which defines travel. And a certain someone keeps the smile beaming…. IMG_1299

“In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us. ”

Thank you from Nebraska

I’ve checked into a hotel in Fairbury, Nebraska, finally making it out of Kansas. Temperatures held steady at 106 degrees today. I’m parched, shaky and totally fried–sunburnt because I shed all my safety gear in the heat of the day. Still, I engaged with the hotel clerk, for about an hour. They don’t really see scooters out here, much less one loaded down with enough gear for three months. I had many questions to field and to ask.  I have some interview footage to upload and compress into video when I’m done blogging.  Tomorrow will be much of the same scenery; nothing but corn and soybeans, with the pungent aroma of pesticides and cow manure choking my nose.  Only the people I meet will make the day different. I had the vision to create this peace sign that spans 22,000 miles and now I’m here in the middle of it. I realized today, as I interviewed the people I met, and learned about their culture, their perspectives, that this is what I want to do with the rest of my life. Not here in Nebraska, mind you, and I don’t know where, when, or how. What I do know is that today it became clear to me that I want to spend my life finding stories and giving them a voice.

Musings from the Bellybutton


Has the heat gone to my head?

Here in the plains, what I thought would be the boring, loneliest stretches of road, I am having a blast! Tulsa was one of my favorite stops, which I will write about, but for now, here is the stuff going on inside…

I just want to share with you what its like a day in my head and heart. I haven’t really spoken that much about the people I am meeting and the conversations I have about Peace. I usually post about the road and adventures and then hit the sack. Oh, and I upload hundreds of photos into my Flickr stream to keep the photo blogging alive and interesting.

The past few days of traveling I have experienced something-and its every bit as exhausting as it is joyful. In the past, Kansas or Oklahoma were places I went through to get to other places. Most everyone I know says the same thing. I grew up in urban/suburban areas were buildings, light, and population density comforted me. Today, its the sight of terrain stretching for miles to meet blue sky that comforts me. A place where soil fights a scorching sun to yield the most harvest of grain and wheat out of any other state. It’s a place of sustenance and survival. I appreciate it differently now, maybe because I am at Peace. I don’t need require the same distraction and stimulus that used to seemingly comfort me. And I am surely learning how to entertain myself for hundreds of miles. I am feeding myself. And when I pull into a place, others feed me. I have a feeling of both fullness and emptiness and I contemplate cycles like this. Like having Peace even in times of conflict.

So, after three weeks on the road, I am gonna break it to you: people often have a hard time defining Peace when I ask them. Which brings me back to why I set out on this journey. Having understanding and ownership of a word, an idea, or a metaphor is empowering. If we can’t define it, how do we embody it? If we don’t understand vocabulary, we use a word out of context. I find that people often assume Peace is only the opposite of conflict. It’s one or the other. I discuss conflict a lot with people. It’s dangerous to define Peace only as the absence of conflict-we couldn’t really ever obtain it, right? How do we create room for integral thinking? Are Peace and Conflict really two entirely separate cycles? Or is Peace the mind set that allows us to navigate conflict, that creates viable solutions despite differing opinions?

I met Ben Hutchinson today in Newton, KS. Ben Hutchinson
I came here via a tip about the Mennonite Church, who are known for their stance on peace. Ben asked about my scooter, I told him about the trip and then interviewed him. He defines Peace as the opposite of war, but not the opposite of conflict. We agreed that conflict is inevitable. But war is not. He believes that conflicts can help us grow and that Peace is the strategy you use to foster the growth. He sees War as total dominance and that it establishes power over another; there is a victor and therefore a subordinate. How would War (or dominance) possibly create Peace? That would be like beating your wife or child for obedience-it doesn’t resolve the difference of opinion-it just ends the conversation. Whereas resolving conflict is oriented towards creating power with, resolving something together. Isn’t that what you would want to see at all levels of living, personally and societally? And is it impossible to accomplish a shift in thinking? Or is the majority of our culture just doomed to be stuck in a paradigm of binary thinking? Dominance/Subordinance. Boss/Peon. Christian/Non Christian. Gay/Straight. Female/Male. Alpha/Beta. Rich/Poor. Republican/Democrat. Bad/Good.

This black or white thinking, in every day living, does it truly reflect reality? A team might lose a game and still win the championship. Lover’s quarrel. What is it that keeps them in love through the conflict? A dialog? The working through of differences to see similarities, to find common ground? Why must we only trust our lovers and family to have this type of thinking? How can a Christian scorn me because I don’t have the same lifestyle? And how can a Christian believe in War? Or racism? But, they do.

The second person I interviewed today was Don. Don Goger

Basically, I have been at this coffee shop for four hours now. By the way, I wrote a whole entry already, only to have it deleted (holy crow). It was a lot better than this one, because I do it really well once, not twice. Anyways, this entry is just a tiny viewfinder into how I spend my days; I think, I drive, I listen to amazing personal stories. Don told me a lot, we talked for about an hour, about many personal things. He thinks peace can be used like a verb in the same way that love can. Love starts as an inner feeling and then you show it to another; you love them. While I might not ever use the expression, “I peace you,” I get what he means. It starts inside and you offer it outward. Like the seeds here in the fields, from sowing to reaping, from Kansas to your table. But you can share it, despite differences, despite rough times, despite sadness, or conflict-you keep your eyes on something better and work towards it.

That’s what Peace means to a few people…..

I spend my time riding, thinking, and meeting strangers. Today I came up with some alternative names for P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER: Blowin’ in the Wind, Blown in Kansas, The Tightest Mulhabanda that Ever Was, I came close to Climax, KS-but just missed it, I am working on Good Posture by Scooting 10,000 miles Tour, etc.

Seriously though, I have never been this far from home, for this long, alone. But, surprisingly enough, it’s not loneliness I feel…it’s a combination of contentment and trepidation that everything is happening both par for the course and yet totally derailed. Today I am at the center of the Peace sign in Salina, KS. I have come 3,333,9 miles (you bet) and I have feel more welcomed here than I could have possibly imagined.

This is Alix, reporting live from the field(s)

Crazy 8’s

Love Will Save Us
Today, on the eighth day of the eighth month, I reach the eighth vector on the Peace sign! Totally random by the way-just beautiful serendipity.

Yesterday I went in and out of four states, calm not being one of them. That’s not entirely true, my iPod was all charged up and the random shuffle really synched in with the events, helping me to remain calm. I get total joy from a good random shuffle….

I left Shreveport, Louisiana early, headed for Tulsa, about a 10 hour drive. The route wove in and out of both Arkansas and Texas. Mostly I plan my routes using a combination of google and an inadequate atlas-but a good friend just sent me a birthday package with individual states maps. Score! Usually google is pretty decent, but the detail can be convoluted and too much information to retain on a ten hour drive. I enjoy seeing the route right in front of me, old school navigation-atlas and compass. Excited about using my new maps, I ignored the route google suggested. There are several things I have to keep in mind when I plotting my course-back roads and keeping the Peace sign shape-which can be unwieldy.

Route 71 out of Shreveport looked advantageous-it was a straight shot up and over to Tulsa and would keep the first “Peace spoke” of the circle pretty defined. I was expecting to lose the usual city traffic about 10 miles out of Shreveport, but it turns out that many big rigs use the road. In these parts, scooters are an anomaly-people drive trucks-probably for farming purposes and to deal with the lackluster road conditions. They also haul more than farm equipment-they haul ass down the road. Making the best of it though, I choose to enjoy tuffing it out with the big boys, cruising along with the Peace flag flying and trying to stay off of people’s grills. Speed limit was unexpected for what had appeared to be small by-ways, anywhere from 55-70 mph, MINIMUM. Mostly 71N was a two lane road with passing allowed, so I had ridiculous scenarios with people zooming past me, tractor trailers close ahead coming towards us. I had to see it through though, unless I wanted to backtrack 50+ miles, until I could cut over to 70W to Broken Bow, OK, where 259N would take me to Tulsa. Even 259N, a curvy mountain route cutting through beautiful OK forests had a speed limit of 65 mph. I just don’t think this can be avoided, and that’s also what I have been told. My scooter can handle high speeds and if you are going cross country on roads like these, I don’t recommend anything less than 125cc. Safety is crucial! I find myself pulling over a good amount, just to relax and keep a positive mindset when facing hectic traveling. The main obstacles I face are the poor roads in certain parts-made riskier with high speeds, tractor trailers, heavy gear, and high wind across the plains. It’s relatively unpaved territory to take a scooter on these roads, so I hope the info I am offering helps other scooterists-and I welcome any travel tips. I choose to ride Audrey for this mission because she is environmentally friendlier-on roads and the fuel supply. Also, what better way to reach people than travel right through the veins of America? I get to notice all the little details of each town’s culture. And the road signs/attractions are just better along these routes!

I definitely observe a huge difference in culture, especially after leaving New Orleans and the charming southern hospitality attitude. People all along the East Coast were generally curious and engaging. That gives me an immediate opportunity to talk about the project and find common ground with people. With the exception of my host, Doug, in Shreveport and the lovely people he works with, my welcoming in these parts has been chilly. The past couple of days I have had to make the first moves and break the ice. Long stares and silences usually welcome me so I just smile a lot, use polite addresses and tell people up front what I am doing. Despite our differences, there is usually a way to dissolve a stranger’s skepticism. Part of them warming up to me could just be the sheer craziness of driving a scooter 9,000 miles. I do find it ironic that this heartland of America is very faith oriented, yet not friendly or loving to strangers. There are abundance of signs, “God Bless America,” etc. and yesterday I found myself wishing Christ had ridden a scooter and not a cross-maybe drivers would give me some room.

I am also a bit nostalgic for those bayous of Southern LA but am now surrounded by the plains and farmland. Of course I enjoy the scenery contrast, but I didn’t really get to take many pictures, since the driving was pretty hectic. The air had a smell to it that reminded me of summer camp back in Virginia, it must have been the pine trees. Southern and central Louisiana was so fragrant, to my surprise. The bayous released a salty smell, the earth there is very fertile, and at night, some particularly intoxicating flower opens up. Texas and Arkansas didnt really offer me any olfactory reprieve. State maintenance was cruising the other side of the road, headed my direction, spraying chemicals, which means that part of the route was saturated with an unpleasant toxic, smell. Bad timing for me. The raging heat amplified the smells of factories and I spent most of the day without the helmet shield even cracked. Times are a changing for sure, heading North and through the main artery of our country.

I will reach Tulsa in a few hours. I stopped last night at sunset in a town called Poteau-whose mascot seems to be Pirates. Poteau rhymes with Tae-Kwon-Do, just so ya know. Salina, KS is the middle of the Peace sign and I will arrive there Friday. Traveling is going really well overall, at every level, and I hope to see some Critical Mass rides happening soon. There is a heat wave happening, which is tolerable for me, although I am loosing lots of electrolytes and even get wicked charley horses at night-there is a correlation I think. So, even though I swear off Walmart, I utterly despise them, I am heading over right now to buy some Emergen-C. Thats a great powder you dissolve in H20 to consume mass electrolytes and vitamins at once. I have been fighting making a stop at Wal Mart, they are littered throughout the country and would make shopping easy, but my health is important. I have been able to reduce my shopping there to a once a year event-and usually thats just to take advantage of the “Wal Mart rental program.” 🙂

Stay tuned for the updates about NOLA and the ride to Shreveport. I have to scram now….

Have a wonderful day!

Per The Question of Faith

Here’s a response offered today about that staircase MLK JR. speaks of, “Faith is taking that first step when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

“You know that staircase I haven’t ever seen? I’m still blindfolded and still willing to do a double flip, ninja kick off the landing. “ (Daphne on life and living)

Check out the flicker stream for pictures of the most eccentric place I have stayed, to date at least. It’s called Well Necessities and it’s an amalgamation of different enterprises. Scooters, coffee, aromatherapy candles, sleep apnea research facility, big fluffy beds….come to think of it, all the necessities I need to be peaceful! Right now I am going out on the town for a ride with Doug, whose passion here is scooters! I will update later!


. New shades

Tonight finds me in Shreveport, LA, which is nestled alongside Arkansas and Texas. Hence the title. The night has been spent uploading photos, so have a look-see.
I am working on titling/captioning photos as well as posting updates on the past 4 days. I left NOLA Saturday evening after enjoying the SATCHMO free jazz festival. IMG_0827

If I hadn’t beat it out of town I would probably have rented an apartment by now! What a great city!

2134 Napoleon Avenue

The power of our human network is strong-and information technology only helps us coalesce. Everyone knows about the “six degrees of separation,” right? Once you live in certain town, work for certain institutions/causes or just travel enough- I think that rule becomes, “three degrees of separation.” Between my friends, scooter boards, and the “P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER PIT CREW” I am winding up with some great places to stay and wonderful hosts. My friend Jaymii from Asheville, NC contacted her friend in New Orleans, who also used to work at Omega, but not when I was there. Rebecca is my lovely hostess this week-and because of this, my visit has actually stretched a few days longer than originally planned. She is relatively new in town, having moved here for her own anthropology research project and we have fun exploring together.
The conversation has flowed from the very beginning, as I keep pleasantly discovering it does with most New Orleanians. We both get to support one anothers projects and offer suggestions. The documentary aspect of this project is becoming clearer and I feel more comfortable with my role behind/in front of the camera. Rebecca also has a lot of information and opinions about the travesty here and the reconstruction process. I am telling you, there are so many levels of daily life affected here-no one could be prepared for the resulting circumstances. This means a strong community solidarity must demand its government, all branches, serve the people. Today I want to offer this photo to you, as a tribute to the loss my host’s family experienced. I didn’t snap it, the photo was actually taken by Thomas Dworzak and published in Time Magazine-Rebecca’s family didn’t know about it until they saw the cover. Imagine the survivors and evacuee of NOLA, people stuck in attics or rooftops four days and longer-with helicopters passing them by- all totally in the dark about their future.

I am now headed out to Common Ground, a bit of a haul over to the Ninth Ward. I finally found a route that will take me on a scenic drive through the city, versus stuck in traffic inhaling exhaust for 45 min and leading to a big drawbridge! I filled up when I came into town on Tuesday and am already on “E.” Thats 150 miles!

Later on today, the Satchmo jazz festival starts, so I will experience some free music tonight and tomorrow before heading towards Shreveport tomorrow afternoon. New Orleans, ah me.

I conclude with these two other infamous pictures below, that capture someone coping through the trauma, a bit of dark humor that symbolized the attitude of recovery here, they are reposted with permisson.


At the end of the day….

Ah me. New Orleans.
I took a long drive today, originally headed out to the Common Grounds compound in the Ninth Ward, a district hit the hardest.  As I drove further out Claiborne Street, signs of hurricane destruction became more and more apparent, until I was surrounded by nothing but devastation-except for the new shiny blue Burger King. I began to cry, there in my helmet, under the watching hot sun. I didn’t care that I was in what people tell me is a “bad area,” I had to stop and process what I was witnessing. Yes, I am a traveler here and I did not experience this suffering first hand, but I recognize the pain and injustice I see. I offer my respects and strength to the peoples of New Orleans. May you experience solidarity as a community, continue to rise up and face the big questions.

I will not be taking photos of all these destroyed houses and buildings. It is not my place to snap pictures in these neighborhoods. If you want to see them, come see yourself-make a pilgrimage and witness the biggest natural disaster to ever happen on American soil.

Instead, I am taking photos of the community and its peoples;  their beauty, resilience and weariness. Hopefully, their new chapters will wax brightly here in the Crescent City.

I have been greeted properly-welcomed into the vibrant culture that pulses through New Orleans. Today I experienced many personal shifts and have engaged in many powerful discussions. Eyes and heart ever open, I thank all those along my path today.

And, I got to see a free Brass Band-Soul Rebel!

“At the end of the day, peace is looking at that guy in the mirror and knowing he is a good guy.”

Gulu, she interviewed me for the college radio-and then I interviewed her. But, I left my book at her house, so I will quote her later.

Goodnight. Thank you for continuing to stop by and read this blog. Drop me a line if you