Asheville, NC-ATL,GA Day 4/5


Whilst lagging around in Asheville to coordinate a visit with my Aunt later this week, I was able to line up some volunteer dates. Volunteering is something I mentioned doing last year. I studied non profit administration in school and have done a lot of volunteer work. For those of you who are new to this site, last year I rode 11,000 miles with just 40 days of planning-to secure the scooter, create a website, get the gear, raise some funds, etc.

With ample planning time this time I can work with organizations who focus is on community, peace and environmentalism. I have work arranged with Habitat for Humanity, the Nature Conservancy and a food kitchen. This is a good time to mention that Matua is traveling around also, focusing on volunteering. His mission inspires me often as I’m traveling and I hope we get to meet up. I celebrate the additional people traveling on scooters for good causes!

Monday was Cinco de Mayo so after “work” I went about town with my friends Hannah and Jaymii. Somehow I still didn’t get to sleep until late, and was up early for the ride to ATL. Bags packed, coffee consumed and then I was off. It was an idea day of riding until I reached the outskirts of ATL and faced traffic. I zoomed up and down the Appalachian Highway, with Blue Ridge Mountain crests surrounding me and curves seducing me. There weren’t as many as I might like, but it was fun nonetheless.

Even with all the gear, the scoot is handling impressively. The route, US 23/US 441 is worth driving if in the area. It is scoot friendly, 125cc and up. There appears to be a lot of camping available and the scenery is spectacular. It could be a good day jaunt, as a second choice to the Blue Ridge Parkway, which runs the other direction, north and east. I made great time, since it was a straight shot, speed limit 55-65.

Memories were flashing through my head since I went this way last year, however I was a very “green” rider. I enjoyed the ride much more this time, not tensing up whenever a truck loomed in my mirror. ATL is notorious for their traffic since experiencing a population boom since 1992. Once actually moving, not gridlocked, the pace is fast and furious. Glad to have on my gear and glad to be in the Sunny, Warm South-but those two aren’t the best combination. Arriving in town I was dehydrated and couldn’t wait to strip off the long johns I had needed in the morning and wrestle off the leg armor.

I’m being hosted by two fabulous, kind and interesting people. The location really couldn’t be better, in Little Five Points, just down the street from my favorite piece of street mural art. I’m looking forward to hanging out with them tonight, as last night we all had plans. I found them through, an international database for travelers who need lodging. It’s a community in and of itself, with an unofficial moral code that you be good to one another. It’s my first experience and so far really amazing-the house is one of the best set-ups I’ve ever seen and I have a lot of respect for my hosts.

I met a great guy last night, Dave, who approached me about the scooter. DaveWe chatted it up excitedly for 40 minutes; art, activism, war, greed, photography, and the Flaming Lips. I was euphoric from the Alice Walker event and happy to meet a random stranger with such high hopes for the world. Peace does matter, and the more people I talk to not only confirm this, but are working towards it in their own small way. Dave decided last night to do a photography series based on how he defines Peace. I look forward to seeing it and hearing from him.

I wearily made my bed and slept a delicious seven hours. Had a horrible dream about my dog getting hurt but otherwise the best sleep I’ve had in awhile.  Today I’m off to explore ATL.


Alice Walker blesses the P.E.A.C.E Scoot

Alix and Alice Walker

I visited Atlanta last year and some parts of the route will be re-traced to make this 20,000 mile Peace sign. I almost went around it this year though until I noticed that the WAND chapter here was hosting a Mother’s Day for Peace event with keynote speaker Alice Walker. Atlanta WAND is the local chapter of a national organization that” seeks to channel women’s voices into a powerful movement for change.” I was finally able to contact someone over the phone and they offered me a $10 activist ticket. It felt great to be acknowledged as an activist, even when I realized that means I am broke…..

It was a powerful setting- from the second I rode onto campus. Spelman in a historically black, four year womens liberal arts college. (that’s a mouthful). Howard Zinn, one of my favorite authors and activists, was a teacher there, actually teaching Alice Walker, one of my other favorite authors.

There were about 1,000 people at this fund raising event. It was so inspirational to be in a room of people working and believing in Peace. The event also honored local activists Jackie Adams and Alice Lovelace, older women whose actions and determination have helped to improve our world. I realized we are often unaware of all the people dedicating their lives to Peace work. There were a lot of little speeches and hurrahs before Alice came out, as there often are in these events. People in these organizations work very hard, do good work, all for little money-so I was happy to applaud them.

Alice was far more soft spoken than I imagined-for all the impact her work has had. Her presence is commanding, delivered with a Jedi’s strength and magnetism. She opened by offering several definitions of Peace, most of them personal, saying it is more than just the opposite of War, but something we can all have in our immediate lives. I’m falling off my church pew at this point, within just five minutes.

Her story is inspirational. Her first protest was at age 15 and she has worked since then for social change. Her skill as a speaker is in her truth as a human. She has not just the life experiences, but the intelligence to synthesize meaning from them and teach it to others.

When she addresses greed, war, Peace, and the collective consciousness, it is with such authenticity that even naysayers would be in agreement. She navigates difficult terrain that often divide us politically, by focusing on simple truths. She quickly isolates the truths and reminds us what to work towards and how to do so.

For instance, saying that, “while war may be old, it is not wise,” and reminding us of the percentage of children and innocents who die in each war. She asked that world leaders be the ones to take the losses of children, innocents and animals into consideration. It is a good point, and why the Peace Alliance is working towards legislation for the Department of Peace, to have a dep’t that presents this information to the Dept of Defense. Like I said earlier, this something even Thomas Jefferson thought fit for the Constitution.

Alice also compared the same greed her parents had to the greed that motivates leaders to start wars. It was an interesting conclusion and an appeal for accountability, which can only start by recognizing there are no shades of grey to something like greed.

Her personal story is an amazing one, as are her many books. Since no one had even charged me the $10 to get in, not sure how that happened, I purchased a book and joined my place in line for her signature. Once I was face to face with her, I asked for a picture. The person behind me then jumped up and began confessing her adoration. I stood there, with a piece of paper in my hand, with this website on it. Her  bodyguard noticed this and nudged Alice. “She has something for you.”

Alice turns to me to accept the paper. I tell her what an honor it would be for her to leave her definition here on the Wall of Beliefs. Her eyes are staring into me and everyone around us has disappeared, she is a powerful woman with incredible presence. She asks what this is all about and I say that I am driving 20,000 miles to make a Peace sign on the U.S. map and to hopefully inspire Americans to articulate what Peace means to them, as this is the only way they/we can acquire it.

I say I believe Peace is like health, something we must work at daily, not just wait until we are sick. She nods, as does her bodyguard. The three of us are having a counsel it feels. I tell her how exciting it was that she opened by defining Peace. She looks deeply into me again and bows, saying something like, I hope you complete this ride with mindfulness and be good to yourself too. Her bodyguard bows, we all bow, and say Namaste.

Namaste means the light in me bows to the light in you. It is a way of thanking another for an exchange. I first heard it in yoga class.

She had concluded her speech by reading from her latest children’s book, Why War is never a good idea. Sometimes the strongest messages are heard when conveyed simply.

I will conclude this entry with an excerpt of her interview about the book. And by saying that I am so glad I am visiting Atlanta. More on that and the incredible hosts I have here. This passage is profound because it addresses the questions we should ask before agreeing to go to war. I don’t feel like I have been taught to think about war in the way that is reflected below. I’m posting it because whether or not we go to war, we should think about these things.

“However, seen from the perspective of my children’s book, there is no such thing as a “good” war, because war of any kind is immoral in its behavior. War lands heavily on the good and the not good with equal impact. It kills humans and other animals and destroys crops. It ignites and decimates forests and it pollutes rivers. It obliterates beauty, whether in landscape, species, or field. It leaves poison in its wake. Grief. Suffering. When war enters the scene, no clean water anywhere is safe. No fresh air can survive. War attacks not just people, “the other,” or “enemy,” it attacks Life itself: everything that humans and other species hold sacred and dear. A war on a people anywhere is a war on the Life of the planet everywhere. It doesn’t matter what the politics are, because though politics might divide us, the air and the water do not. We are all equally connected to the life-support system of planet Earth, and war is notorious for destroying this fragile system.”

-Alice Walker

Nothing runs like a….

P.E.A.C.E Deere

Have I mentioned yet that I want to mow at least one yard in each state into a Peace sign?
I need your help! I haven’t mowed a single lawn yet. I’m passing tons of John Deere’s on these country roads and just longing…..

Run fast to tell your friends, family, co-workers-what have you. Help me get some grass,to mow. Here is the idea. I’ve approached Black and Decker to donate a 24V Electric, Cordless mower to raffle among those who let me mow their lawns. I haven’t heard back yet. Their mower is the better alternative to gas powered mowers, which likely contributes to 5% of our air pollution.

You can reach me about a lawn to mow, or even a place to stay, by using this sweet contact form.

Day 2/3, Eden, NC-Asheville, NC

I had requested the cheapest groundfloor room available in Eden. The motel clerks were very generous and friendly, we talked for awhile. The trade-off for the room placed me near the highly trafficked ice maker and housekeeping laundry room. The first day excitement had me totally amped and I finally drifted off around 2am, only to sleep lightly. At 7am I was awoken by a bunch of hullaboo.

40wThe weather forecast called for intense thunderstorms, but miraculously as soon as a couple of drops fell, I donned my rain suit and the sky cleared. This makes the Sentinel rainsuit truly water, if not storm, repellant! This fortune however was a trade off for what turned into a frustrating day of riding. The ride quickly turned into a horrible series of misdirection and searching for non-existent roads. I traveled on roads that not just took me of course, but roads mislabeled and with the mileage horribly miscalculated. I called the day itself a bad blow job-I was blown around by storm winds and blown off by a disgruntled mean shop clerk. One man kept referring to me as “the boy”. ” The boy needs directions, it sounds to me like the boy can’t follow directions.” I tried big smiles on him, but he wasn’t responsive.

I’m not exaggerating about the re-routing. The predicted mileage, 8 hours before the ride ended, was 200 miles. At the end of the day it was 275. I try to enjoy every moment of the ride, including getting lost; it’s an interesting feeling how everything looks familiar once you’ve circled around and have no bearings. And I was in the middle of North Cackalacky nowhere. Blue Moose BaristasI try to avoid slamming the throttle and get frustrated, despite the fact that it takes 2x as long to reroute. More than halfway through the day I stopped for coffee and conversation with the baristas at the Blue Moose drivethru. I didn’t stay long, as the sky kept changing from sunny to overcast and I was in riding mode. I became lost again when the directions led to a fictional fork in the road. The kinder locals I met at the intersection confirmed that the directions were bunk. Eventually I jumped on Interstate 40, only because 70W dumped right into it. Apparently this was the only way into Asheville or a dirt road over Black Mountain-which I NEVER found.

The scooter hauled up and over the this part of the Eastern Continental Divide, the view was gorgeous and the storm winds had ceased by this point. Suppa TimeI was on the interstate for 25 miles, breaking the law but appreciating the direct route for once in the day. My friend Jaymii gave me the most specific directions to her house. I worked with her and Hannah at Omega and they both greeted me outside. The bags were unpacked and I had some food after a long day. Jaymii and Hannah are both talented ladies; there seems to be no food or item that they can’t craft with expert care. We went out on the town for a burlesque show and then to a bluegrass band at the local brewery. Brew, burlesque and bluegrass- a wonderful conclusion to the day.

It feels like home here, Asheville is often compared to my hometown in Charlottesville; both are the progressive oasis in conservative Southern states. And the Blue Ridge Mountains surround the towns. But, She-ville, as Asheville is called, has NO Ladies Arm Wrasslin League! Saturday was a late night.

We stayed up talking about politics and the importance of one creating the change they want to see in the world instead of hoping the government can do it for you. We discussed what we want in leadership, the odds that we will get it and the general pessimism that surrounds politics these days. Sunday was an early morning, made earlier by the late night. Our destination was Sunny Point cafe, the most scrumptious local spot for brunch. After a true Southern meal of fried green tomatoes and grits we came home to craft, sitting on the lawn in the radiant warmth of the sun. I finally sewed on patches that I’ve been carrying around for a year, in addition to the cool, bright pink sQream patch that came in the mail right before I left town.

I will stay here in Asheville another night. My Aunt lives in Birmingham, AL but she will not be home from the beach until Thursday. Tomorrow finds me in Atlanta, GA, for two nights. I’m excited about my first experience. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s an international network that helps travelers find free lodging. My two hosts seem to be about the coolest you could possibly find in ATL. I will arrive Tuesday night and attend an Alice Walker speech at Spelman College. I hope to attend in exchange for volunteering, but have not heard back from the two emails I’ve sent out.

Thanks for reading, thanks for the words of support and offers for lodging. The new raffle started today, they will run every week. You don’t have to dig deep to help P.E.A.C.E SCOOT fund raise, entry is only $5. ROCK ON!

Eden, Day 1

There was no need for an alarm today. I leapt from the bed, showered and was packing the scoot within 15 minutes. Birds were chirping, the air smelled like spring, felt like spring. A smile broke out behind my coffee cup. Day 1 was here. My friend and boss lady Laura came by to snap some photos, while the scoot was being packed. At 1o am I was beeping goodbye to her and my roomie Wendy.

Bon Voyage

Off I sped, 40 miles down the road to meet my mom for a quick hug and lecture. Which actually never came. Mom handled the bon voyage with grace, although she declined a test drive of the scooter. The sun was higher in the sky and I felt a bit overdressed. This year a nice lady from offered me her Alpinestar knee/leg armor. Today is the first run with it on. It’s a completely necessary item, although I waddle a bit with it on, it’s hot and my knees are kinda chafed right now. Still, mere jeans don’t provide adequate protection.

The packing went rather quickly this morning, something I could do in my sleep by now. Compression sacks work magic on gear. Packed in a sack no bigger than a sleeping bag is my sleeping bag, jacket/pants rain gear, tarp, and towel. This is bungied onto the front rack. Later in the day, the weight felt like it was creating a wobble in the scooter, so some stuff was switched to the saddlebags.

When I stopped to adjust the gear, I felt a pressure to go, go, go, hurry, hurry, hurry. I’m torn about punctuality and its place. Punctuality on an epic ride like this seems to defeat the point, even though in every other situation, I try to avoid tardiness. I’m also still learning how to wrap up a candid, interesting conversation with strangers-that’s the Southern Girl in me.

Today I met and talked to 5 total strangers, all wonderful people and on most travel days, I meet more than that. I know I won’t break my back or compromise my health and safety to maintain the illusion of a schedule. It would be hypocritical of me to ask how we can improve our quality of life while compromising my own.

Dave Mangano was at Scoot Richmond when I arrived on time, at noon. It was nice to meet the man in person, having been interviewed by him for He is an intelligent man with great style and humor. Another Dave showed up to see me off and the three of us, plus Chelsea, hung around the showroom. We were lounging around on scoots and the fancy shop sofa, chatting away.

The Dave who rides a Buddy asked some questions about gear so we went outside for a tutorial. He’s a new scooterist, and we talked about his shift from driving a truck to scooter. He was a real solid guy, very generous, and he brought up some good references to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. We agreed that while in a car, everything is so insulated, framed whereas on a scooter you are part of the landscape. We talked the senses, and how they are used more. I joked this must be what makes me so hungry when scootering-shocking when all I’m doing is sitting on my rear 8 hours a day.

Dave M. asked me some questions for his podcast and shared some tech knowledge with me. Then it was time to sc00t sc00t. Time had slipped away, two hours. Chelsea thought the media might come out in addition to Sctrcst, but alas, it was NASCAR weekend in Richmond. Sadly, more interesting. It was a proper send off though and I took a moment to appreciate the absence of any stress.After hugs, I was off down Hull Street. But not before thanking Chelsea profusely for the scooter charity she has kicked my way-an amazing woman. And we worked out a fund raising idea that I will hold her to-just you wait….

Soon potholes, stoplights and urban buildings gave way to sprawling countryside. Traffic was friendly, thankfully, as I dropped my speed to handle the strong wind gusts. I was getting hit hard and had some serious wobbles that were made scarier with tractor trailers going past. The route today was a long open road, through sparsely populated countryside; couldn’t even tell it was rush hour on a Friday, somewhere at least.

Stopping for my third tank of gas, I lingered for a few minutes, making sure to hydrate. Ricky MartiinThis is the most I’ve been out in the sun for awhile and I wanted to avoid dehydration. The break led to an encounter with Ricky Martin. Not the salsa dancing, pop sensation but the North Carolina raised truck driver. He had a friendly Southern drawl and asked a lot about the scooter, but never asked “Why?”

Why the heck are you doing this? So I volunteered the information and asked him how he defines Peace. He said, “I’ve never really had to answer that question.” Exactly. We talked some more and I discovered he has 2 kids and a grandaughter. We talked about how he would describe Peace to her if she asked.

His answer that Peace had something to do with freedom led us deeper into discussion. He said I could definitely make it to the North Carolina border by sunset, but not the original stopping point I had in mind. Around sunset I pulled into Eden. Knowing that I have free places to stay the next week made the motel room an acceptable splurge.
Approaching Eden
So here I am in Eden, North Carolina, traveling 235 miles my first action packed day out. As I pulled into town, the odometer switched over to 12,000 miles. Mostly all miles ridden on P.E.A.C.E Scooter, minus about 350.


I choose not to drive late into the night, at dark, as I find that foolish and not necessary. Did it enough last year and I know the force that is Southern bugs at night. They literally cover your coat and helmet, making visibility poor. Tomorrow is an early start to Asheville, NC, just under 200 miles away, where I have good friends to visit.


Thanks for reading and thank you to all those who sent me well wishes today!

On the road again


You can imagine my excitement over the past two weeks-presenting two wheel journeys to you while preparing for my own. I’m exhausted yet in a very calm state of mind. The work that I’ve put into preparations for the past couple of months taken shape. Thank you to every kind person who has helped thus far, you are helping launch this dream. It is a joyful experience to know you are reading along and supporting me in the ways you can. Your letters of encouragement are fuel….

And so the day is here. It is the day, and somehow, I even have time to rest well before the journey begins in 8 hours. I will awaken, have some coffee, pack the scooter up, meet my mom at the crossroads for a hug. Then “officially” leave from Scoot Richmond, at noon, today, May 2, to complete the 9,000 miles remaining in a 20,000 mile ride.. The floss is packed, the sleeping bag is stuffed, and my helmet is covered in reflective tape. I am ready to complete the largest Peace sign yet. To put Peace on the map and hopefully inspire people to define Peace, to help their community and to be better landlords of our planet Earth. (a fancy way of saying be environmentally conscious) OH, and to have a grand ol’ adventure while doing so.

Adventure? Not without YOU. If you are in RVA, feel free to come out at noon and marvel at the amount of crap I have fit onto the scooter. Or just say HI, high five or even ride down Hull Street with me.

Tomorrow is International Women’s Ride Day, so ladies, giddy-up.

Peace and love y’all, I can’t wait to be ON THE ROAD AGAIN.

For more great reading (but make some time for your OWN scooting)the final three long distance scooterist stories are below:

Tom Smith: In the Long Run: A Hopeful World Odyssey. Ok, so Tom is only the second guy I’ve found who has done the distance Matua plans to ride. In 1986, he began a 34,000 mile scooter journey around the world. His answer to “Why?”

“Finally, I came up with this project: to go around the world promoting friendship and international communication, to use and develop my skills as a writer and photographer, and to grow as an individual in the process.”

3 months, 11,000 miles, on a moped! The year is 1978, I was playing with Hot Wheels, age 4.

Second Chance Tour: 2 gents retrace the same route they had taken 50 years before, on scooters, through Europe.