An interview with a Scooter Affair

Scooterist and podcaster Justin Giuffre managed to put me in the hot seat for an interview. As a journalist, being interviewed is really painful. I like asking the questions. I definitely always leave an interview wishing I had said something completely different than the first thing that popped out of my mouth. I guess that is sometimes how people who I interview feel. Payback!

But if you are here because you listened to his podcast … well, thanks for the visit. Welcome to my crappy website that is in desperate need of an update. Seriously, pardon the broken picture links (here is a photo album) and terrible taxonomy. You can read the travelogues from 2007 and 2008 to get a feel for this zany trip I started over 13 years ago. It changed my life for the better. In many ways I think I found the peace I didn’t know I needed at the time.

And I couldn’t have done that without the help of so many incredible people, like activists, scooterists and just plain curious people who welcomed me to their part of the U.S. or cheered me on through the internet. There were so many who made the trip possible.

I don’t know if I got that point across in my interview with Justin. I hope I did. If not, maybe it’s just time for me to write the book and tell you all about what it’s like to travel mostly alone for 22,000 miles on a scooter and depend solely on the kindness of strangers.

You can check out his podcast here, in case you missed it. I also wrote up an article this summer for Scooter Zine, which you can read here.

The P.E.A.C.E Scooter ride started 13 years ago!

This article was written in June 2020 for Scooter Zine. The publisher reached out to me for an interview, found out I was a journalist and asked me to write it myself.

Thirteen years ago, I wrangled gear onto a small motor scooter, started up the engine and vroomed off to create the largest peace sign in history.

My scooter, named Audre in honor of activist Audre Lorde, is a 125 cubic centimeter engine Genuine Buddy capable of steady travel around 55 mph – though I hit top speed at 72 mph. 

Thirty miles was the longest distance I had traveled prior to this journey, and I was only bitten by the two-wheel travel bug two months earlier when I bought a 50 cc Honda Metropolitan. The route ahead would stretch coast to coast and north to south, through the backroads and byways of 32 U.S. states.

It took 189 days and approximately $1,000 in gasoline, but at the end my route traced a 22,000 mile peace sign onto the map. I was inspired by a quote I saw at the traveling art exhibit “Come Together” of Beatle John Lennon: “If a billion people were thinking about peace, there would be peace in the world.” I set out to ask people how they define peace, feeling that it must be more than merely the opposite of “war.”

Continue reading “The P.E.A.C.E Scooter ride started 13 years ago!”


Yesterday the P.E.A.C.E. SCOOTER was stolen outside the place where I was housesitting. I sent out a tweet and a Facebook post, and what happened next was really quite astounding. Hundreds of people both ReTweeted and Facebooked my post about the scooter’s theft. The photo I posted to identify my scooter has been viewed almost a 1,000 times.

When I walked out the door and realized that my scooter had not been towed for street cleaning, I promptly sat down and cried.

Yes, it makes absolute sense that I would be so attached to a scooter that I spent 189 days on–growing up, facing fears, having adventures. A couple of years has past since I did the peace ride though, and sometimes those memories are fuzzy. In a sense, it felt like identity theft. That scooter isn’t meant to be owned by anyone else. And what idiot steals such an identifiable scooter, huh?

I sent out a text to my buddy, a local reporter who I interned for last year. He is a motorcyclist and I knew he would be empathetic to the sadness I felt, and I just wanted some support.

“My scooter was stolen. I’m so sad,” I say.
“Where are you now? This is the story I am going to do tonight, if that is okay,” he responds.

Well, ok. I never imagined he would do a story on it. Crazy.

I met up with Mark and uploaded some of my trip footage for him to use in the video. Which was fantastic to look at again, and I’m all inspired to re-edit that crappy movie I made two years ago.
But I was sad looking at the scooter, thinking I might never get her back.

People said encouraging things, and sent a lot of hope my way. Their digital presence put some heat on the community, and the police–at least I like to think. I seriously am most amazed by the amount of total strangers who helped put out the word about my missing scooter.

Crazily, right before the newscast, I received a call that my scooter had been found.

A police officer picked me up and ran me over to identify it. I called the station, and they were able to do an on air update to the news story.

A story book ending. Interestingly enough, my co-workers at the news station learned a little about me. Many of them do not know I rode my scooter 22,000 miles for Peace. They just know I have a beat-up looking scooter with signatures all over it–a scooter only a Mom could love.

The bad news–my windscreen is broken, the brake is bent and the scooter won’t start.
The good news; I have an awesome scooter shop right down the street, Scoot Richmond, run by Chelsea Lahmers and crew.

To consider in the future; a better lock. Also, seeing as nothing can replace the scooter I rode 22,000 miles on, maybe I should keep it in storage and buy a used scooter for town?

As gas prices rise, scooter theft increases. Heck, as scooter popularity increases, so do thefts. Make sure to lock them up. Check out this awesome manifesto with tips to lock it up right.

And THANK YOU to the ANONYMOUS CALLER. They allegedly heard some noise, which was the scooter being stashed in a dark, long, tiny alley–one block away from where it was originally stolen. Realizing that the scooter didn’t belong to anyone in the building, the person called the police.

I do not know what the person who stole my scooter intended to do with it. I will never know. I do know that it came back home within 12 hours, and I am so thankful to have it back.


The by-ways, highways, routes, lanes, and country roads of America reflect a regions culture;  offer up stories to the traveler that can not be found on the interstates. Sure if you need to zoom along from point A to point B, jump on the slab. You will notice that in America, we share an overarching culture, consumerism. If you want guarantees, take the Interstate.

Familiarity is guaranteed. Off the Interstate’s spine clings all the big box stores, fast food joints and commercial hotels where Pakistani clerks name Joey hand you registration cards. Sometimes these consumerist landmarks are a blessing, when all you want is what you already know;  especially after a 400, 11 hour, scooter ride. On the other roads, people will wave to you from their front porch.

Today, tucked away in my road journal I found this (unused??) sheet of directions. I cringed. Note how I highlighted every other line, to make visibility easier. My poor Richards version of a GPS, secured by a donated map clip. Needless to say, I had a lot of patience with this system. Then Chad gave me his GPS in Seattle, but with only 3,000 miles of the trip left, out of 22,000.

However, in retrospect, the perpetual excitement to discover our country, with it’s many geographical and cultural surprises, far outweighed the irritation of always scribbling (or printing) 34+ lines of directions–just to complete a 150 mile drive.


Reunited and it feels so good

So where has my scooter been for 6 weeks? Did anything happen to it?
Nope. Something happened to my sanity without having it to ride for 6 weeks, but that’s another story. Today I was reunited with Audre.
As a flashback for y’all, my trip started and ended in Washington D.C. and my family and friends were still in VA. That meant I was still 1,000 miles from Maine, where I moved before the trip.

My partner and the kid met me at the finish line and wanted me to ride home with them. Understood. That and I was exhausted. I felt pretty lucky I just covered 22,683 miles without incident. I didn’t want to push my luck–I started imagining a crappy ending to the whole thing. I was told to ship it home and so I did.

That said, today J showed up at the house, heard the situation and got N to loan me his truck. 3 hours later I was in Boston. They loaded the crate into the truck. 3 hours later we were back home and dove into the crate.

MAD PROPS TO SCOOT RICHMOND. They are heroic. They built a crate to withstand a hurricane. They said I would need a crowbar–but really it took a drill. After popping off one side, there she was–Audre.

And she was nestled in so snug, with brilliant reinforcement at every compromising point. Really, the thought that went into the crate was obvious–topped off with two huge spray painted Peace signs.

On top of it, I find a glove compartment organizer decked out with Peace signs, a surprise from Rob Taylor. THANKS ROB!!!

The four of us realized that even if we tossed the crate out of the truckbed–the contents would be fine. But, of course, we just gingerly slid the back end off, and then drove the truck forward for the remaining part to slide off. Easy Peasey.

20 minutes later, after sawing through the reinforcements and releasing the tires–Audre was free.

I checked the oil, poured in some gas. Tried to start her–no diggity.
I checked the fuel valve and it was undone. Put it together, tightened the clamps. Attempted start again, no luck.

For some reason, after loosening the nut above the fuel valve, she started.

And the back tire spun like a caged Kentucky Derby horse pawing the ground. After a 10 minute warm up–the jacket, gloves, and helmet were on and we were off.

It was a chilly, short and BLISSFUL ride home. So good to finally have all my things in one place. It’s the first time I’ve ridden here in Maine, and I’m glad to have a couple weeks of decent weather left to explore.

N was also a hero today, probably because he rides a motorcycle and can empathize with my withdrawals–he helped unload tonight. Did the majority of it actually.

I think he wants me to teach his lady to ride my scooter so she can get one!!!!
Thanks Scoot Richmond. That was an impressive piece of work!
Look forward to those final posts–I’ve had writers block without the scoot!
Finally, all is good again.

I need my scooter, withdrawals kicking in

Ok, I think the recovery period has passed. I’m still incredibly sore, but those wounds should probably be licked in private. I will warn those thinking about riding 11,000 miles in 3 months-you will hurt. But, I have now slept 8 hours a night for three nights, and I feel kinda shiny again.

I’ve come home to lotsa mail, how kind. Thanks to those who sent in the postcards. Turns out that I have some left and if you would like a bunch, let me know. Scott, who helped run Birmingham Community Kitchens, wrote me a wonderful letter and included a check. Did you join the ride late in the game? Scott is in this video.

So, Maine. There was a balloon festival here this weekend. It apparently is the pinnacle of summer and now there is nothing left but a looming winter. Wow. I’m frightened and excited. Snow will be neat.

But, In the South, we still have months of mint juleps, BBQ’s and porch stooping. Last night the temperature dropped to 55 degrees. I hope the scooter gets here soon, so I can show it off in a mainly Harley Davidson town, before everyone begins hibernation.

How I wish I had just driven it home. Now that I’ve rested, this seems possible. 10 days ago,  I couldn’t have imagined another 800 miles.

I just wanted to get off the road before anything happened to me. Covering 22,000 miles without incident on a little scooter is miraculous.

Well, I’m up and at ’em. Now that I’ve spent a substantial amount of time eating, sleeping, and watching movies. My favorite thing about being home, aside from the lady and the dog, is making food whenever I want, without waiting in line for someone to sloooooowly construct my sandwich.

I’ve started research for my series of articles on the Peace movement, which will be featured at starting Saturday. Seems like there is a enough opinion that there is NO movement to help bolster my own claims.

In between blogging, the library (got my new card), the YMCA (just joined) and dog walking-I’ve got things to keep me busy until Audre arrives back home.

For photos of the Scoot Richmond Finale, click on the photo below:


(c)PJ Sykes



I must say. People in this country can not drive! After 800 miles on the interstate, we came up with a plan. There will be a cell phone lane created on the Interstates. People will pay to drive in them. Said lane will have guard rails on both sides.  The “cell phone tax” will cover the use of public servants (police, EMT’s, firetrucks) to remove the injured from the lane.

The rest of us can proceed down the road with a new relief that swerving vehicles, manned by people having meaningless conversations, will be sequestered to their own lane.

Perhaps 22,000 miles of backroad travel made me very anxious on the Interstate. Regardless, I’m so thankful to be home.

We rushed back to Maine. The plan had been to explore Washington D.C. a little more and visit longer with friends in Charlottesville, VA. We all missed my dog, Marco Polo.

img_0899.JPGThe final big bang happened at Scoot Richmond. I owe Chelsea many thanks, perhaps for many lifetimes to come. She has my unlimited devotion.

There were quite a few people there to celebrate with me; old friends of mine as well as many scooterists.  Even Matt was there, from D.C., the guy who rode the final mile with me.img_0866.JPGThe real guests of honor were Scooter and Ed, of the Genuine Love Bus fame. Chelsea thought it would be a nice surprise for me to meet Genuine’s other roadwarriors. I chuckled because there is something just so great about a company having both Peace and Love on the road.

img_0900.JPGAfter having managed to narrowly miss Ed and Scooter all summer long, it was nice to meet the legends. Ed took over as event photographer, thankfully. I think he said, “stick a fork in  her, she’s done.” Hear, hear. I was so completely beat that I don’t remember most of the party or the interviews. Thankfully, Dave Mangano’s podcast interview turned out just fine. Even after 5 celebratory beverages. I loved that my old friends finally got the chance to catch up with my scooterist friends.

img_0905.JPGAudre, my scooter, will be shipped home to Maine. I’m already itching to ride. It was a sad goodbye.

The next day was spent with my best friend, Jessica, and her new hubbie Stephen. Then on to Mom’s house, so that I could get a lecture. She told me I looked like crap. My Mom is very sick and our time together right now means a lot to me, especially now that I’ve relocated to Maine.  Karen, who represents the Department of Peace, donated her Marriott rewards points to us.  This gave us good beds to catch up on sleep and a nice pool for refreshing splashes in between visits.

IMG_2601Before P.E.A.C.E Scooter I would spend once a month in costume for a ladies arm wrestling league-better known as CLAW. Proceeds raised during the two hour sports performance went to local charities. And we are talking about 2,000 buck-a-roos in 2 hours! It was cool to stand in the audience and watch the drama, while catching up with my many incredible C-ville friends. I guarantee you’ve never before seen anything like this action. Tragedy Ann won the match and proceeds went to Food not Bombs.

IMG_1852Before the match, we all got together with Team LaLaLa. I love them and feel fortunate that they are both my friends and bosses.
There is a lot of work ahead, as I rarely managed to get in 5 hours a week while on the road. Team LaLaLa wrote the code for The Second Road website, which hired me to talent scout bloggers who write about recovery. It’s a great project and I want to help them succeed. Lawrence also gave me my first real writing gig, on his website, The Art of the Possible. I will be blogging once a week about my views on the Peace movement.

On the way back to Maine, we stopped at Kings Dominion. At first this seemed like a brilliant idea, especially to help ease the burden of a 14 hour drive home. On all of us, but mostly the nine year old. It was a good time, but I woke up the next day feeling hit by a train. I felt old. The adrenalin rush from upside down, triple-helix curve, plummeting hill rollercoasters  was more than my body could stand after 98 days on a vibrating machine.

IMG_1857We arrived back in Maine just in time to see the first hot air balloons launch for the weekend festival.

IMG_1861Currently, my room is a vortex of boxes sent home, mail, gear and general chaos. There were many thoughtful letters waiting here for me-thank you to those who wrote and sent in donations. In the next week I’ve got some checks to write to the chosen non profits! I finally chose as the environmental organization recipient.

Please check them out, they seem to really comprehend the links between improving quality of life, protecting the environment and promoting social justice.

So that’s the scoop. This is a week of organization and long dog walks. I’ve got some more updates on the way, so STAY TUNED!



Last chance for raffles

Go ahead…buy a ticket. So far, the gamblin types have helped raise almost 9,000 buck- a- roos.
This is it. The one. Raffle rsults will be drawn live from Scoot Richmond, on 08/09/08, and posted the next day.
Prizes have grown throughout the week.
Much like my butt after 22k miles….

Currently there is a Nano, 2 shirts and keychains in the pot.
As well as,
Leather Corazzo gloves (your choice in size, they will ship)

HCI vintage style helmet (your choice in color/size, they will ship)

San Francisco Scooter Girls Calendar (yes, 25% new, but those pics are 100% classy)

Messenger Bag, Scooterworks

Superhot 2stroke Buzz shirt that I totally want to keep for myself.

To enter:

*so far 5,600 has been raised STRICTLY for charitable donation.*

Folks, Peace is on the map.

It occurs to me that I should officially post about the victory group ride and BBQ. Two events which can only represent one thing. I’m here in D.C.

2437549657_e575a7f257_m.jpgPeace has been put on the map.

I’m the first to admit that there is a noticeable gap in the blog-from Chicago to D.C.
Well, stay tuned. I’ll tell you all about finally meeting Philip McCaleb and the whole Genuine/Scooterworks crew, as well as the Fourth Gear rally in Detriot, Lake Eerie antics and a visit with an old friend in Pittsburgh.

I left Pittsburgh at 3:30pm on Wendsday, not sure how far I would go until stopping. D.C. was only 270 miles, but I allowed myself plenty of time, figuring if anything went wrong, it would be in this homestretch.

It was a truly surreal ride.

The Allegheny mountains were an unexpected, beautiful sight to behold. Everything was luscious, green and reminded me of home. My GPS is so wacky, and it led me to an interstate, right where the old turnpike converged with Interstate 68. But I went with it and rolled along for 60 miles, up and down steep mountains. I managed to cross into 3 states, Maryland, West Virginia, and then my home, Virginia.
D.C. only 80 miles away, I stopped for the night, driving  an hour into the evening.

VIRGINIA! How beautiful to return home and see the land for the first time. Never in my 34 years have I tooled around those roads! Simply gorgeous! With GOOD ROADS TO BOOT! A dank, earthy night smell, mixed with honeysuckle, filled my senses,

I could barely unpack my bags. It was late afternoon before I could even get out of bed. I’m whupped, but ecstatic.

I’ve done it! What was a dream 14 months ago is now real! We can all rest well knowing that a 22,000 mile Peace sign is on the map. It looks like a four year old scribbled it there, but the stories are wise. I still have so much to tell you!

But, wow, stop and think about it! 22,600 miles later, traveling roads that aren’t fit for a scooter, I’ve done it, carved a huge Peace sign onto the map!

IMG_2595Right now I’m at Union Station. Daphne is coming into town, with Lil C. I had a quiet moment alone at the White House, arriving at 5pm. Just the same as July 15, 2007. At this moment in my life, the White House is only symbol. The fate of our nation depends on the desires in our hearts and the demands we voice. I started here in D.C. as a declaration that our fate depends on us, not just those in charge.

Tomorrow will be a much louder day. At noon, a group will leave from Vespa Arlington, to join me in a victory lap. On Saturday, I will be in my hometown, Richmond. Scoot Richmond is hosting a victory BBQ and celebration.

There is a Mom to deal with, who has crossed her fingers anxiously for the past 195 days. After that, I’m off to Maine. Philip McCaleb was the first person I called today, once I reached the White House. He told me to step away from the scooter and let him ship it home. Sounds good to me, and a lot cheaper than riding the remaining 800 miles home.

On Saturday, I will film the final raffle drawing. That will go up by Sunday. I want to thank everyone for the tremendous support and encouragement which has kept me going. No one has done this before. Not on a 125cc scooter.

I could have gone around the world by now. Truly, while it makes me laugh to think of all the odds I’ve faced and overcome-I’m humbled. Humbled thinking about the people who are a part of this historical event-who’ve simeoultaneusly taught me and opened their minds.

picture-2.pngThe collective conscious is a powerful thing. Just yesterday I found out that a Japanese man is riding his bicycle around the U.S. He started, with a partner, on April 19, 2008. His goal? To write the word PEACE onto the U.S. map. If you understand Japanese, please, tell me what is happening in his blog!

It’s clear. Peace isn’t just back by popular demand, it never left, but it deserves the spotlight now more than ever.

Really, stay tuned. I’ll recap some spectacular events. The blog will be up for a long time. After all, I started the whole trip to find out how Americans define Peace-and I want to host a million definitions here.

Much Love to you

Vespa Arlington, ride leaves around 12pm on 08/08/08

3206 10th St N
Arlington, VA 22201
(703) 243-7700

BBQ and shenanigans, Scoot Richmond, 08/09/08 at 5pm  

217 W 7th St
Richmond, VA 23224
(804) 230-1000

Day 94

Today I am headed out of Cleveland, towards Pittsburgh. But not without paying a visit to Kent State.

Friday, May 1At Kent State, a massive demonstration was held on May 1 on the Commons (a grassy knoll in the center of campus traditionally used as a gathering place for rallies or protests), and another had been planned for May 4. There was widespread anger, and many protesters issued a call to “bring the war home.” As a symbolic protest to Nixon’s decision to send troops, a group of about five hundred students watched a graduate student at Kent State burying a copy of the U.S. Constitution.

Trouble erupted in town at around midnight when intoxicated bikers[citation needed] left a bar and began throwing beer bottles at cars and breaking downtown store fronts. In the process they broke a bank window which set off an alarm. The news spread quickly and it resulted in several bars closing early to avoid trouble. Before long more people had joined the vandalism and looting, while others remained bystanders.

By the time police arrived, a crowd of about 100 had already gathered. Some people from the crowd had already lit a small bonfire in the street. The crowd appeared to be a mix of bikers, students, and out-of town youths who regularly came to Kent’s bars. A few members of the crowd began to throw beer bottles at the police, and then started yelling obscenities at them. The disturbance lasted for about an hour before the police restored order. By that time most of the bars were closed in the downtown area of Kent.

Day 94, a goodnight

I haven’t really been maintaining the blog recently. There is so much to tell, that sometimes, at the end of the day, if I don’t offer precise detail, I feel that I can’t do the day justice. Details can be difficult. I say-buy the book. I can promise LOTS of detail in that!

So where to start tonight?


Peace is a strange thing in our country. I would love to offer you a global perspective, but I can only best relay to you what I have experience inour country.

This trip is amazing. First, I’ve talked about something relatively new to me. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone. I haven’t gone around preaching. I’ve just started the conversation with thousands of Americans,by asking. “What does Peace MEAN to you?”

You know, Peace was something I’ve always proclaimed to want, but not something I had defined. Once I defined it, I had more of an awareness of how to work towards it. How to make deliberate actions.

I’ve experienced really warm moments with both believers and resistors. For the most part, I’ve noticed that those who earn a living and spend a lifetime working in the Peace or anti-war groups, have been relatively absent in this mission.

I think this trip rocks the boat. In fact, I know it does. I can’t begin to name off the long list of groups who have ignored my letters. And my requests have been simple.

Can we cross promote? Can you put a link to this project on your website? Can you tell your members so that they can leave their definiton fo Peace on the website? Can we do Peace demonstrations around the country?

Why the absence? I guess there is an equation, and it’s followed by corporations, non profits, social structures, and activists alike.

Said equation:

There is a chain of command. You have to follow it. People have worked hard to get where they are, and don’t want to be challenged. It’s threatening.

Often, people are more comfortable defining themselves by what they are NOT. Like anti war groups. They are working against the war. I prefer to say I am working for Peace.

There is a rampant US and THEM mentality that cripples people. However, many people are entrenched by the operating rules of the very system that they fight against.

If you combine those very basic treatises, the results yield groups whose internal rule structures prevent true progressive action.

This trip is maverick. It’s not really like anything else that’s ever been done. Sadly, most groups that I would have loved to coordinate with just don’t get it. What’s she on?

A scooter. Oh that’s easy.

What’s she doing?

Complaining about the war? Or the President?

NO. Oh, well, where is the controversy??

A group puts on a demonstration and people attend. The group often protests against something. A protest is recognized as successful by how many people attend and how much attention it generates. The most successful demonstrations are those that

A) Have a famous keynote speaker

B) Have a massive attendance

C) Get attention because there was a destructive element

D) Involve some sort of long, epic, Frodo type quest. LIke walking across the country. The March for Peace last year received A TON of support from liberals and the press.

When I set out to complete my dream, I believed in it so much that I thought we could escape these shallow, binary forms of thinking. Believed enough to sacrifice safety and comfort.

I’ve discovered the most important truth-at least I don’t have to remain beholden to that type of thinking. My own philosophies have been put to the test. I now know, with strong reassurances that I haven’t asked anyone to do anything more than I can do.

I have learned so much in my time on the road, from others. From people who will not wind up at a protest, who do not usually eat vegetarian or vegan, who do willingly shop at Wal-Mart, who think homosexuality is a sin, or who classically avoid conversation involving Peace. But they all in their hearts know and admit, that something JUST ain’t right in our country.

The responses are varied.

Some people think it’s a fine system, but people themselves are slovenly.

Some people think it’s a flawed system, but you just have to look out for yourself, enjoy the fruits of your labor and life goes on. Survival of the fittest. Totally detached.

Some people think it’s a corrupt system and judge others who don’t feel the same way as inferior.

I’ve had SO many conversations with people. But almost 95% of the time, the conversation GETS TO HAPPEN. I’ve come along way from holding a sign at a protest, loosing my voice-just desperately hoping to convince someone of the cause. Hmm. By yelling?

Allowing the conversations to happen. NO JUDGEMENT. NO PREACHING. Authenticity. Showing, by example.

I guess to the people of America, they see one girl riding hard, really hard, hoping to raise awareness.

Those Peace groups that haven’t supported me-SHAME ON YOU.

I’ve reached the people- and that’s who you need. The ones scattered all over the country.

Because they are the ones who enable the real critical mass we need to move our country forward.

I’m not sure what’s after the P.E.A.C.E ride. Because I’m still on it. I wish I had more time to write-but I’m sleepy.

I want to leave you with a thanks. Thanks for those who are supporting this. To those who say you never thought of yourself as a Peace maker-but who took the time to define Peace. To those who said-how can I help you complete this trip. To those who have challenged me. To those who joined me on the road.

It’s our Peace sign on the map. Let’s keep it there.

Racine, Wisconsin

Cool elevatorPete contacted me last year to offer compliment on the “Hell A to Joshua Tree” blog. He also agreed that my host in Pasadena, Mike Frankovich of NOHO scooters, is a great guy. They scooted Route 66 together awhile ago and called it Scoot 66. A writing compliment from Pete is an honor, he’s a retired journalist, publisher, editor. Check out his article on PEACE SCOOTER, here. After meeting him, I want to resume my long ago abandoned dream of professional journalist.

I heard from him again in January, as people began sending me random pictures of Peace signs. This one was especially moving, as it involved a group uniting to form a Peace sign in Racine, to address violence sweeping the city.

He then told me about his solo Vespa tour from London to Athens and back. We went back and forth sporadically over the months. His emails were always perfunctory and witty. He had the feel of a newsman. I expected him to be a wise cracking chain smoker. I got half of it right.

It just so happened that this year’s final round included Racine, and Pete agreed to host me. The trip over to Racine took a leisurely hour. A warm welcome was extended by him, the wife, and the puppy. The house smelled tantalizing. Lasagna was in the oven. People were coming over.

alixandmatadors.jpgSome of the Matadors scooter club members showed up and we talked for a couple of hours. I enjoyed the company and the cozy bed that took me prisoner for 10 hours.

Hmmm. I woke up with hesitation about packing and leaving immediately for Chicago. These two were interesting folk and my schedule is holding up. The morning danish and delicious food that Louise kept providing also made it hard to go.

The SC Johnson headquartersPete and I saddled up for a tour of town. As I mentioned, Frank Lloyd Wright is from Wisconsin. Racine hosts some of his experiments. Really, he is an aesthetic visionary, although some of the engineering is flawed.  The door to the SC Johnson building was open, so we tentatively peeked in. Definitely a masterpiece.

There was a mini vintage car show in the town square. Fridge doorI walked around and ogled these cool, strange contraptions. Pete is a local celebrity, so I met some folks. I had to assure people I’m ok in the head. Most people think it’s crazy to make this kind of trip.

It’s hard, but not crazy. Why in America is such commitment to anything but the dollar seen as weird?

alix3.jpgI met Paulette Garin, a Democrat running for the congressional district. We shook hands. It was neat to feel caught in a photo-op with a politician. Literally caught. I suppose the savvy politicians hold a long handshake for a number of reasons, one being photo ops. We chatted awhile and she generously donated some gas money.

After we arrived back home and enjoyed a long, chatty lunch, I had no choice but to stay. Once I power napped off my food coma, I set out to do some work at a coffee shop. I accomplished a little, but spent a good while talking to George, a Harley biker.

When the shop closed at 9, I headed back to the house. We sat around together casually, all immersed in our own projects, making occasional banter.

Their guest bed is the best yet on this tour. Thanks Pete and Louise.

*Note, I just took a moment to read the post from last year, the one mentioned at the top. Wow, I used to blog A LOT. It was a little easier to add detail last year, as I stayed in more hotels. Thankfully, many kind people have hosted me this year. So, my time is spent experiencing, and I’ll capture it in more detail at the end. When, you know, I write the book.*

Milwaukee, WI

I have Milwaukee on the mind because I just watched the Brewers suffer a major loss to the Cubs. Just five days before the game, I was riding around the Miller stadium with my host Dave. Who I kept wanting to call Mike, although never did out loud. For some reason I was under the impression the Brewer’s weren’t a good team. But they’re almost evenly matched with the Cubs.

Thursday was decreed a play day, all day. I showed up at the house and spotted it immediately; with a black Stella out front and a nice man drinking coffee and waving at me. Cool.

RIDE WITH THE SHIELDDave was remarkably laid back for a man whose wife was expecting a baby at any minute. We had a full house. His Mom was also visiting. Dave contacted me back in April. I’ve been really excited about exploring all of Wisconsin. After chit chatting for awhile, we zoomed off to see the town. Before leaving, he showed me his Corazzo jacket-only a little hole after a 100ft slide! Amazing!

He’s good to ride with, at stops he lays out the immediate route ahead, turn by turn, punctuated with snippets about the area. He knew when and where I might want to pull over for some photos, which is nice. We wound up at the Ale House for lunch. Wisconsin is known for beer, brats, and cheese. I indulged with all three.

Conversation was thoughtful, playful, political, philosophical and rapid. I’ve been really lucky to meet great people all around the country and lucky that they open up to me right away. When Dave was a kid, he met John Lennon. He actually went to lunch with John and Yoko. I was so excited to hear that, because that one quote by John Lennon inspired my whole trip. “If a billion people were thinking about Peace, there would be Peace in our world.”

IMG_2493We scooted around the city some more. I enjoyed the cream colored buildings; they made nice contrast to the heavy industrial feel of the city. I know that industry is a hot topic there, but I wasn’t too fond of it. I get really freaked out when I think about the by products of industry and how the ground and rivers soak it up, and its impact lingers for decades.

Dave took me to Milwaukee Art Museum; really amazing building both inside and out.

We stopped for coffee at the independent spot in town, Alterras. I tipped the barista a post card and she came outside to find me. Rather shyly, she explained that she is working on a book of collective definitions for Love. Really cool! IMG_2492

I’ll leave her my definition when she leaves me hers….just kidding….maybe.

The rest of the night went rather fast. We cooked up some quesadillas, ate in a rush and headed over to the local Vespa shop. We hung out with the Reina family for awhile. They are from Sicily and signed my scooter in Italian. Wisconsin delightsChris decided to join us for a twilight ride to meet the family for custard. I’ve never seen a state have such gusto for custard. The line was out the door. Websites update flavors that each shop is serving, through the state of Wisconsin. You don’t get 10 choices of flavors. You get three. 2 standard, one daily special. I had a small cup of turtle-I don’t usually do dairy.

Crazy Chris and his P2We scooted back home to sit on the porch and talk for a couple of hours. Chris asked me a lot of questions. He’s a legend in his own right, having gone the distance. He said, “I don’t disagree with anything you’ve just said,” when I told him why I’m riding for Peace. Apparently, he came by to check me out and thought I was just a hippy and wound up approving, but more importantly, understanding the trip. He rode off to meet his ladyfriend and I crashed for 9 hours.

The next day was laid back around the house and Dave made the long anticipated stuffed peppers. We went to the Post Office so I could mail home a BUNCH of stuff. Bags are SO much lighter now, what a blessing!
It was a brief, but well done visit. Three hours after I left, Jen began contracting. I think she had a championship labor of 15 hours and then birthed Levi into the world- where the coolest big brother ever waiting to meet him on the other side!

Here’s the family photo, minus two cats.
Fam #3

Day 88 on the road, with a birthday

Today’s photo content will be live from Scooterworks and Genuine Scooter Company. And of course, there is always the unexpected.
If you want to see the actual galleries on fragmob then you might have to get an account. Warning, it’s addictive. That out of the way, COME ON. What’s one more FREE account. Besides, I’m doing this for two more weeks.

What do I want for my birthday? For you to leave your definition of Peace.

Birthday present

Jennie is cool. She mowed her lawn into a Peace sign, knowing I wouldn’t be able to make it out there to see her. Which is a bummer, but let’s focus on how great that Peace sign is!  Thanks for the Birthday present Jennie!

The peace sign turned 50 years old this year. Happy Birthday to it too!

That makes my day!  Can we get 5 more today? Or am I being greedy? Nah. Maybe 1 a day until 08/08/08.102_09812.JPG

Houston, let’s try something new

Ok, I’m going to *try* and present a photo an hour to you, for 15 hours out of the day.

This way you can experience the trip in small frames. How could I do such a thing? Fragmob. A website with live updates of photos! Yea. Technology can be cool. So, let’s say a reasonable goal is 15 photos a day. I’ll have to get used to it though and make sure my cellphone is always charged.
I started the first one with my laptop. Because right now, that’s what I’m doing. Using the laptop. Got it? Cool! Here’s to traveling along with the P.E.A.C.E ride! Yea!