Watch each card you play and play it slow

I re- read the previous blog post, about the Bavarian village escapades. I still don’t feel like the moment was captured.
There I was, totally a zombie, when two really cool individuals appear. I spoke slowly. I could barely speak actually. And somehow, when I didn’t think I could even muster a conversation, the next three hours wound up touching my soul.
It was just the experience that makes me urge people to travel. There were no egos or roles being played. We said things that impacted one another and took moments to say, “hey, let that sink in for a second.” The words flowed and hit places that I know have changed me.

DockingI was very sad to leave these ladies but we had tentative plans to meet in the morning. Becky called to invite me out onto the river. I was sick and wanted to lay in bed, changing my mind to spend two days in Coeur D’ Alene, to two in Leavenworth. I caught Shaun’s cold, the second time on this trip. That’s more than I’ve been sick in years.
They promised to call and have dinner with me. And they did, but events had transpired. By the time their call came through at 4pm, I was driving a Jeep to Seattle, with Audre loaded in the back and two guys sitting in the front.
Going back to Seattle was a hard decision to make. My front end was and still is vibrating much more than it ever has. I was worried it might have something to do with the recent fork change. There was oil on the front tire, weird. I took a photo of it and sent it to Ducati. I talked to Philip McCaleb and even Trey; another really helpful person at Genuine.

Shaun and Chad felt like it was no accident they had made an impromptu decision to come visit me in Leavenworth. Pit CrewBasically, if there was a problem with the front end, I still had 400 miles fast miles to travel, over the mountains before reaching another dealership. Shaun was very sweet to say, “I will do anything I can to make sure nothing bad happens to you.”

I looked over at my KOA neighbors and caught Faith’s eye. They seemed pretty interested in our deliberations. I didn’t believe that Audre would fit in the back of a Jeep Wrangler. Faith encouraged me to solicit Tony’s help. He was already standing up.
“He loves figuring things out. He tinkers, builds, and perfects.”

Well, welcome to the Pit Crew. Turns out he had four tie-downs that would keep Audre’s front end securely hanging out. Adding to the comedy was Shaun’s soon departing flight. We had to load up fast. The five of us broke camp, loaded and secured the scooter, got my refund and we were off. Faith and Tony offered to take Chad’s seat and spare tire to Everett, a closer drive for him than Leavenworth. They have already left their definition of Peace on the Wall of Beliefs. Many thanks to you both!

IMG_1505I didn’t think the dealership had done anything to my scooter, I thought they would be the ones to fix it if something had gone wrong. It turns out the oil on the tire was from the grease used to make the tire change. It had melted at highway heats and collected in the rim. They remounted the tire and checked all the bearings. Everything was stripped off the scooter; mirrors, windscreen and topcase. It didn’t vibrate as much, but still more than it did the previous 18,000 miles. We test drove it in rounds.

“Maybe it’s your gear.”
“Nah, I’ve got the gear down to a science.”

They didn’t find a single problem. It’s still vibrating, but I don’t feel like it was a wasted trip. The scooter has been vibrating like this since my idle was changed and valves done, in San Fran. I thought it would go away with a suspension change. It must be coming from the engine. Ultimately, the handling is fine. Ducati put my conscience at ease-now it’s good vibrations I guess.  At least I know my wheel isn’t gonna fly off.

IMG_1511The other difficult thing about traveling backwards is saying the goodbyes all over again. I really like all these people. And the Pacific North West will be missed. Chad says, “Hey, call me if you need anything. You’ll be SOL though.”
Thanks bud.
At 2pm I zoomed off, heading home for the 2nd time-and hoping to reach Coeur D’ Alene but knowing I wouldn’t. The campground is still charging me for the reservation. IMG_1516Totally unreasonable jerks. Stephen’s Pass welcomed me again. The wind wasn’t as gusty as Monday, but still strong once I passed over. The curves were more fun now that I knew Audre was fit. The GPS is a blessing, but my stats at the end of the day show some sorry news. My average speed over 200 miles was 48mph. Most of the miles have been mountain terrain. But 48 mph?

The reality of what I’m doing is really starting to sink in. This is hardcore. I’m traveling America at average speeds of 48-60 mph, for 22,000 miles. I could have gone around the world by now. Or to Taiwan, where the scooter is manufactured AND BACK. And these roads that most people never travel lead to time capsules of culture. The roads lead to front porches were people wave at the P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER.  The roads curve through towns that only seem to exist because of the road itself. Because those 6 curves of the road bring in travelers with their gas, food and lodging money. It’s a mystery sometimes how people are surviving out here. And how they define Peace.

I find welcoming in unexpected places. I trod up in my orange safety vest with reflective Peace signs and buy water. Conversations get started and laughter exchanged. I go to the next town; fueling up frequently keeps me from blowing past these small dandelions with population 750.IMG_2262

It almost seemed like I could arrive in Coeur D’Alene, if I had been willing to drive two hours in the dark. I was a focused 48 mph bullet through the desolate Highway 2. Up and over hills and seriously-Amber waves of grain. I passed back through the familiar Bavarian village, catching quick, awkward glances of recognition. Then through the Apple Capitol of Washington, a valley oasis hydrated by a beautiful river. Traffic disappeared as I cut through canyons reminiscent of Arizona. Suddenly I was in farmland.  Eastern Washington is very different.
Big transformers clarified how far away the sky is, and contrasted the fields of grain. Today has been hazy, a thick sky-relunctant to  allow the pinks through at sunset.

IMG_2265Ala Cozy sit nexts to the Shell Station, in Coulee, WA.  I can gas up and push on or unsaddle for the night. Dale and his wife (sorry, I’m so bad at names) run a surprisingly cozy establishment out yonder. A Barack Obama 08 sign seems to be the most current thing I glimpse walking into the time capsule. This is the kind of motel before advertising, marketing and pastel sterilization took over the industry. It is a shelter run by people with stories, who love other peoples stories. And it’s just where I want to be tonight.

Earlier it had crossed my mind that Peace might not be a welcomed sentiment as I travel through conservative places during a Patriotic holiday. The story, however, came spilling out. Dale asked a bunch of questions.
“How come?”
“How many more miles?”
“All alone?”
“Are you independently wealthy?”
“Who are you raising money for?”

And the next, very awesome question,”Honey, why don’t we give her the room for free?”

IMG_1526So, here I am, graced once again by the generosity of strangers AND saving more money to donate to charitable organizations. Incredible. Perhaps it’s because I choose to find the beauty in our world that I keep finding it! And tomorrow, I will find more, hopefully docking after a long ride in the very welcoming town of Missoula.

VIDEOS! Of the riding! Warning! Turn your volume down because the wind is obnoxious! Videos are in order of most recent!

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