Chapter 1: The End

Days 83-94 were spent in Southern California with a half-brother and his family in Riverside, several friends in Los Angeles and Long Beach, and working the International Motorcycle Show. There were so many meals with the fine folks of SoCal, I think I gained a few pounds: matzoh ball soup with an old friend from my days in Atlanta, pho with a Moped Army compadre, brunch with a gal I met at a wedding in August and her Harley riding babes, carnitas with a fellow solo-moto adventuress, barbeque, thai and pizza with MotoQuest, and s’mores with the host of the AIMExpo. I need an alka-seltzer just thinking about it in hindsight.


 

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Some dude I met at a gas station in Alaska

The past few months of travel, work, and play circled back to my time in Alaska and foreshadowed my future while on a walk in Los Angeles. Some guy I met back in August at a gas station off the Denali Highway just happened to be getting onto his motorcycle as we recognized each other. We caught up, exchanged phone numbers, and each expressed an interest in taking moto-trips to Baja.


Baja. At the time of our conversation, I hadn’t done much research, but the idea of gravel roads, fish tacos and warm weather sounded better than cold rain and city life in Portland, OR. I could just leave my motorcycle at my brother’s home in Riverside, CA, come back and swap the tires for something more capable off pavement, add crash bars.. and take it to Baja. I could just fly back to Portland, drive a cab, pet-sit, save money, and drive back down in my truck.

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It’s been a month a half since I’ve returned to Portland, and I’m still processing my new vocabulary: generosity, gratitude, lane splitting, and chaptering.

I’ve received generosity in the past, but it never moved me as much as it did on this trip. Strangers, acquaintances, friends and family I haven’t spoken to in too long, all opened their homes, shops and hearts to me. They fed me, shared their lives with me, and helped me lift a heavy motorcycle when I needed it. Thank you all so much! I could not have accomplished this trip without every single one of you!

Gratitude is another word I was familiar with, but this experience reinforced the notion that when someone shows gratitude for what they have, and expresses a need or an interest, their community will support them. I want to radiate the kindness I’ve received and keep the positive energy flowing!

I have split lanes in California before, but never on my own motorcycle until I was coming into Riverside from Las Vegas. I distinctly recall the song which came on as I was passing stopped cars on the highway, and they moved out of my way: The The’s “This is the Day”.

 

As I was working the MotoQuest booth at the Longbeach International Motorcycle Show, a passerby asked if we provide chaptering storage. I had no idea what he was talking about, so he explained that many long-distance touring riders like to store their motorcycles at a location while they go home for a bit, and return to their bikes and continue their adventures. There’s a word for what I’m doing!

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Definition found on RiderMagazine.com

Back in Riverside on day 94, I removed the items from my touring luggage that I could need in Portland: clothes, my passport, bathroom stuff, a small make-up bag, a sleeping bag.. and my eyes welled up with tears as I separated my belongings at my brother’s house. His wife and daughters were hungry and waiting to take me to lunch before I was going to the airport.

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My favorite souvenirs.
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Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry.

Chapter 1 ends with me in Portland and waiting for my W-2 from the Alaskan cannery to arrive. After I take it to my CPA and know how much money I owe in taxes (this determines how much fun I get to have), I’ll load up my truck and continue my adventure south to Baja. Until then, I’m doing my research.

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