Over the hills, but not far away…

click on photos to go to my flickr account.
IMG_1244I woke up twice today. The second time was at 7:45pm, the first at 11am. Last night’s slumber was an 11 hours session; miraculous and needed. I went to the front desk and asked for a late check out. The head honcho was hesitant but the other lady, Jennifer, said, “You should see how much stuff she has to put on that scooter.”

I’ve run across a phenomenon where nowadays most motel chains are managed by Indian families. As a result of their homeland cultures reliance and familiarity with scooters, they are often very warm and kind to me. Many times they come outside and peek at my Buddy and ask a lot of questions.

I woke up still feeling horrible, glands still swollen, throat sore. I packed up, the heat was nice, making me sweat out the virus. Like I said last night, road conditiions improved about 25 miles before Chico. The roads remained the same and the scenery too changed for the best-leaving behind rather boring rice lands and industrial landscape.

IMG_1250Chico is a gateway to some rather substantial mountains. The peak elevation was 5,300 today, quite a hike after remaining below sea level for quite some time. My carb is jet right now for 2,200 elevation, after adding the Prima performance pipe. The scoot is having a hard time “shifting” on inclines and down hills, of which there were many today and more to come. I’m hoping to pull off this trip up to Seattle. Feeling a bit like an ass for not knowing more about my scooter and being reliant on mechanics to help. Yet, I am learning a lot through this ride.

The “freeway” switched from divided four lane to regular two way. There were many logging trucks and rude, speedy drivers.

You know, California, as cool and progressive as you’re made out to be-you have horrible road manners. I’ve seen a lot of violations of the “point two fingers,” philosophy that I employ. And while I might wave at you while you flick me off, just know that in my head there are two fingers pointing at you. I just won’t specify which ones.

I could be criticized of the same driving pre 1998, when I sold off my car, but I never tailgated a motorcycle or scooter. Maybe for selfish reasons-I mean who wants a human hood ornament?

Traffic vanished once I turned onto 36E and I relaxed because I didn’t have to frantically check the mirrors. The view that welcomed me was incredible.

It’s neat to see the inland landscape here in California. The roads were full of switchbacks, some 10mph curves. I swooped around them and then suddenly came to a halt at a gravel road. I thought it worth a noble try so I accelerated to gain momentum for the hill. I started sliding out halfway and carefully turned around and coasted downhill. I stood there calmly looking into the babbling creek, this is not the first time Google maps has led me to a gravel road.

IMG_1251I could hear a large vehicle coming from about half a mile away. And then a Fed-Ex guy barrels down the dirt/gravel road, blowing dust everywhere, and he hesitantly stops. He makes a hand signal that looks like “gun?” I’m thinking, would I tell you, “yes?” He barely cracks his window and I explain that I’m riding that thing 22,000 miles and have just been led to an impasse. I explain I’m on a Peace ride so he’ll roll the window all the way down. He does, finally. I grab my directions, after saying, “I know you guys try to get places on time, but do you have one second to look?”

He gives me the scoop and says be careful, lots of tiny roads, tight curves and big logging trucks. After cruising up some sharp twisties on Wilson Road, I hit the most direct stretch of good road, gorgeous scenery and perfect conditions since probably somewhere in East Arizona. I was on the Lassen Peak Hwy, which is rich with life and color from the volcanic soil. Years ago the mountain blew. Before NASA sent the rover to the Moon, they had to test it on Earth, and so it was done here, in Lassen Park-the closest terrain to the Moon.

I stopped to get gas and realized there was no way I could go another 131 miles. My fever was still strong and I just wanted to lay on the sidewalk beside the scooter. Which I did for 5 minutes. I then called my couchsurfing host and explained the situation. She promised that if I could just get there they would heal me. This sounded tempting and needed. However, at least 3.5 more hours was in front of me, riding through forests and over mountain passes in the dark.

So here I am in Burney Falls, a grand total of 131 miles traveled today. In fact Burney was my destination last night. I would give myself a hard time but the truth is I’m sick and delirious. I’m very bummed that I’ve paid for lodging the past two nights, but at least I have free hosting in Eugene, Portland and hopefully Seattle. And besides, you try driving a scooter 300+miles with a fever. 🙂

I talked to the hotel clerks for half an hour and then collapsed on the bed. I’ve had a lot of great conversations today. Two themes have been the military and peace. I constantly make the disclaimer to most people, that, P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER in not anti-war, it is pro-peace. This statement actually lets down a lot of guards.

Except for those who are militantly anti-war. But, hey, those are the same ones who never respond to my emails about promoting the peace ride. Guess I’m not angry enough…

On my way out of the motel, Jennifer asked about my next stop and where I came from. I told her all about the ride and we talked about the Dep’t of Peace. Which she agreed sounds like a great idea. It turns out that she had served in the military and she said that her experience there helped her grow.

She said, “I grew up in a town of 400 people. Before I joined the military, I had never seen a black person. I got to travel the world and so did my kids.”

Well, I don’t think that’s enough of a reason to keep sinking trillions of dollars into Defense, but that’s not the point.
She understands Peace and does agree that the word itself means more than the absence of war.

She did mention that we must have a military to exercise our freedoms and I mentioned that we might need protection but look at Canada.
She says, “yes, many nations have a military.”
And I say,”Right, and they don’t go starting wars.”

Imagine if our military was paid to keep Peace. Think that’s weird? During Roosevelt’s term he engineered something brilliant. The CCC, which was more of a work relief program during the Depression Era. The CCC took care of domestic things until war disbanded the Corp.

IMG_1245Basically, the military here is an industry. People have always profited from it, and some good things have come from it. For one, women finally getting work in WW2 and then emerging into the workforce. But in present times, not only is this war costing taxpayers trillions of dollars, we are paying even more at the pump than ever before and it is clearly documented that big business is in bed with our administration.

Jennifer agreed that the reasons for this war are less than savory. In fact, 80% of the people I meet are of the opinion that this war serves the interest of oil companies.

In fact, after our conversation, I went to Starbucks for a coffee and picked up the New York Times. (I go to Starbucks when I’m on the road. They’re easy to find, they fill up my CamelBak for free-with filtered water, and often they give me stuff for free. Otherwise-support your local coffeeshop-the coffee and the atmosphere will be better.)

So in the headlines today is an article that negotiations are close to return four Western Oil companies to Iraq. Not just returning, but with no-bid contracts, which is very unusual.

And there, near the top of the article;

“There was suspicion among many in the Arab world and among parts of the American public that the United States had gone to war in Iraq precisely to secure the oil wealth these contracts seek to extract.”

Hmm, what are the odds? I don’t know? Small oil rich country, resistant to Americans, with some Islamic extremists??? Sounds ripe for the picking.

“The Bush administration has said that the war was necessary to combat terrorism. “

This article complemented the one I read last night, which I ripped out of the paper, but in order to avoid ripping it off, I urge you to read it. It’s one of the best articles I’ve read in a long time.

It explores the idea of the word, ENEMY, and how our current Administration has capitalized on its use. It mentions that Enemy has classically applied to someone we are at war with, but now you can find this word being applied to nations who don’t agree with us, or who sell arms to another country.

“In other words, a country can supply weapons to your enemy without becoming your enemy. Which, considering that the U.S. is the world’s largest arms merchant, is a good thing. The last thing we need is more enemies! (Not that we have any now.)

Within this propaganda, an idea is shaped concerning our Patriotism.

Which affects me greatly, like when I travel through states that are conservative, or areas that send a lot of their kids off to fight. I worry about my safety in some places, as my riding jacket is decorated with Peace signs.

And if the public mentality has been recently shaped by the “for us or against us” crap then I must not support the troops. Which is a lie and also a terrible social mentality. Tonight I spoke with the hotel clerk, who protested in the 60’s.

He said, “we made a terrible mistake to be so angry and associate peace with war.”

“I know, that’s why I’m out here asking people how they define it-because Peace needs an upgrade.”

“I don’t know what motivated so many of us. But people seemed more compelled to act.”

“I think it was the draft. You interfere with people’s destiny and their pocketbooks and their voices get loud.”

I guess what I’m asking you tonight, is can how can we avoid all of this?

Can we avoid see things that are different from us as bad? Can we be motivated to improve the world before the point where our pocketbooks get hit?

I noticed today that Starbucks has something called Coffee for Soldiers. You can buy a bag and personalize it, Starbucks sends it out to Iraq. If you decide to buy one, I urge you to put www.peacescooter.com on it. SInce I’m hosting one million definitions for Peace, we sure could use some soliders’ perspectives.

Well, that’s all from me, back to sleep. I didn’t even bother to unpack.


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