End of Intermission
1 February ’20
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”
Astute folks who care about such things will note the gap in time between the last post and this one. So often creative projects can languish, only to reappear with a post saying “gosh, look how long it’s been! I promise it won’t be this long again!” Such a cliche, and yet, here I am. I think such promises are hogwash, a paean to our culture’s need to take every hobby, every pastime, and monetize it, to Instagram it, to use it to somehow become an influencer. Why not do something simply for the sheer joy of doing the thing.. and do it badly?
Three words you never want to hear on an international call - “emergency brain surgery” - and I was on the road home from Dust2Dawson, ripping home nearly 1900 miles in 3 days, pushing myself dangerously hard to make it home in case I needed to fly back east.. Mom had been battling a not-great-but-not-the-worst form of lung cancer for 8 or 9 months, and seemed to be responding to treatment and on the road to recovery last summer, aside from some mild vertigo… and then I got the call while in Dawson City - they’d found the source of her balance issues, a pair of tumors that had snuck into her brain and begun to swell.
In the end, I didn’t need to rush home, not then. She underwent the surgery and recovered much of her health, but we all knew it would be a temporary reprieve. In October, her health worsened rapidly, the cancer attacking her spine now, causing horrible pain and misery. She insisted that I not come visit, pointing out that there was nothing I could do to fix the situation. I called her every few days, and finally she stopped protesting my visiting, so I made plans to fly out 5-6 days later, once I had closed on my condo. On October 24 I got the keys to my new home, and got the call that she had slipped away overnight.
I am still, 4 months later, not able to talk about the death of my mother outside of a therapist’s office. Mom always disapproved of my riding motorcycles; my father had been in an accident on his shortly before I was born, and I think that fear stayed with her the rest of her life. My taking to motorcycling so readily, jumping in with both feet, I know she had concerns and fears.. and thus this blog. I wrote these entries for myself, certainly, to help remember the adventures and experiences, but I also wrote them as letters to my mother, so that she would know I was alive and well, having joyous misadventures, that despite going down a course she would never have chosen for me, my life was one of delight and happiness, that I was not simply wasting away the dull hours.. of that she was proud, and of that she approved.
So you’ll forgive me then, that I haven’t written much about my adventures and travels these past several months; my heart simply hasn’t been in it.. but I haven’t stopped riding!
Took the long, winding dirt Brooklyn Road across southwestern Washington!
Rode my first Saddle Sore 1000! 1,000 miles in less than 24 hours!
Went moto camping with my friend Gabby out on the Washington Coast, and she taught me valuable lessons about the virtues of eating well while camping.
I finally made it out to Rocky Mountain Roll, an event put on by the fabulous Amanda Zito on her family’s property in Montana.
Flew home to see mom for a couple weeks and borrowed dad’s 2009 1200GS. Rode around Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, experiencing the country I grew up in on two-wheels.
Back in Washington state, I rode over Highway 20 through North Cascades National Park doing the “big loop.”
Found an afternoon to ride the Mountain Loop Highway with Gabby. The highlights included 20-something miles of remote gravel road, several deer, and a stop at the locally infamous Hamburger Shack in Darrington.
Did some long rides around Mt Rainier, exploring some seasonal forest service roads, as well as circumnavigating the mountain.
Rode down to San Francisco and crashed at my friend Michelle’s (who I did the Death Valley trip with last April.) From there we went to Babes Ride Out, where I slept on brambles and froze my ass off with 800 other crazy ladies.
Did another SS1k on the way home, by accident! Amanda joined me for the ride north, and I figured we’d stop whenever she got tired, but at some point it turned into “well.. we’re pretty much almost there anyways…”
Rode back to SF, crashing again at Michelle’s (who gets a gold star for her hospitality, putting up vagabond travelers such as myself!) Gabby rode down a few days later, and together we all rode to Rawhyde, for a women-focused off-road class. Gabby and I both ride Tigers, so we had to represent the brand as well as we could. Of course, at the end of the final day, I had a get-off and dislocated my shoulder, yet still graduated.
Finally healed after 2 months of not riding and avoiding doing anything stressful with my right arm, I flew back down to Los Angeles and caught a lift to Rawhyde to pick up the bike. On the way home I got rear-ended in Oakland — I must be cursed. I was uninjured, and was able to ride the bike home, but the accident did ~$4300 of damage to the bike, which I’m still finalizing repairs of.
…which catches us up to now, where I’m about to depart for a 10-day motorcycle tour from Los Angeles south into Mexico and down the length of the Baja Peninsula, all the way to Cabo San Lucas