Saturday, May 24, 2014

Privacy From a Motorcyclist's Perspective

motorcycle privacy
Privacy, for me, has not so much been a need to be left alone, but a need to maintain control of who I am. I don't mind society judging me as long as I can still be respected and have the freedom do as I please.

If anything, as a motorcycle rider, I find my privacy on the road.  At 80 MPH, I can still be in full view of everyone without anyone being able to see me.

The thing is that no one ever actually wants privacy. Privacy in and of itself, is a means to a solution. It's a tool we use towards achieving some other goal.

If you want to maintain a certain persona, you emphasize desired characteristics and hide the others. If you want to get a well-paying job, you delete all the negative posts from your blog and Facebook. If you don't want the government to track you, you get a prepaid phone.

But if you don't have any such goals, then privacy isn't important to you.

Otherwise, it's a burden to hide stuff, maintain facades, and suppress behaviors.

Myself personally, I've detailed my life on this blog and others. I maintain a Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  I've uploaded so many photos and made them public.  If the government wanted me in Gitmo, they would've done it by now.

But the other thing is that I don't really give a fuck anymore.  I've put all my eggs into being self-employed.  I don't even care about my credit rating, though Sash and I have fought over this.  And now that we've announced going back on the road indefinitely, I look at what possessions I have left and wonder why I still have them.

It's like me bearing my chest to the world and shouting, "Yeah, this is me, what are you going to do about it!"

So what if each of us wore Google Glasses and could see the full details of anyone we looked at? We could see their history, their current status, their illnesses and physical features. We could see their financial worth, all their photos, and know of their fetishes.

If full transparency took all value away from lying, would that be a bad thing? If we didn't have to maintain facades, could we trust each other more? If we had no ability to create illusions, would we be forced to accept accountability?

Would you still have to run and hide if there was no retribution for your actions and beliefs?

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Friday, May 16, 2014

Motorcycle Gypsies: The Road Pickle Continues

motorcycle gypsies
Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway. We're the best of friends. And I can't wait to get on the road again.

I suppose there's a little Willie Nelson in each of us.

Now that Sash has made the announcement, I suppose there's no turning back now. What's the announcement? We're giving up on trying to stay put in San Diego, and going back out on the road.

The only reason why we've been in San Diego since last October is because we weren't able to make enough money on the road last year. So we figured we needed to stay in San Diego, where we already had something of a marketing base to build on, and try to add more clients to our marketing business. And we did build on it. We got referrals from other clients and built a name for ourselves.

But after spending time at the Steel Horse Sisterhood Summit, Sash was able to make some solid connections in the motorcycling industry. We actually picked up a couple of paying clients and started relationships with a couple more. But these clients didn't come from our marketing efforts in San Diego. They came from Sash's social media efforts, her face to face relations, and more client referrals. On top of that, she met with vendors at the Summit who travel the motorcycle event circuit and build income on the road. All the above was enough to point us in a new direction and give it another go.

For one thing, it was always our intent to make San Diego a temporary hiatus from Road Pickle. We were just giving ourselves a full year before trying Road Pickle Part 2, though looks like we're cutting it short by about 4 months.

In mid-June, we'll take off again.

The first stop?

Bakersfield, CA.

"Bakersfield?" you ask.

Well, it turns out Sash's daughter is expecting her first child around that time, and she lives in Bakersfield. We're looking to spent about a month there while Sash cuddles and coddles with her new grandson. Honestly, I don't feel like a grandfather. Technically, I'll be a step-grandfather, though the relationship I have with Sash's daughter is hardly paternal. It's really more like friends. But the truth is that I have this thing in me that rejects old age, and the thought of being an ancestor leaves me wincing and scratching my head. I can't stand the idea that I'm getting closer to the big 5-0.

So why not vacate this condo in San Diego, and really try to live like motorcycle gypsies, except this time indefinitely?

Why not just eliminate the rest of our stuff and really throw ourselves to the wind, to fate, and hope that we'll die riding our motorcycles?

Why not just get naked?

But there's another dynamic to this we haven't touched on yet. It's not just about uprooting ourselves and living from town to town. We're also testing our trust in each other. Despite how romantic and wonderful we appear to be on our blogs and our social media channels, Sash and I are still learning how to live with each other. We have more than our fair share of arguments and fights, and when our emotions boil over, it often seems like we can't take anymore and have to call it quits. But by the next day, we've come back together, feeling sorry, no matter how ugly the fights might be.

We've been through enough of them, yet still feel so strongly about each other, that I think we've convinced ourselves that nothing can break the bonds we've built. We've tested them pretty thoroughly.

Going back on the road indefinitely, will be the ultimate expression of trust.

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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Running Out Of Fuel On a Motorcycle, Day 20

honda st1300
For a moment there, Sash and I thought we would lose one of our clients after a nerve-racking 30 minutes of riding down the Interstate.

We were coming home from a long motorcycle road trip (20 days total), making our last stop in Yuma, AZ. In fact, we hadn't originally planned to stop in Yuma. The day before, we were actually trying to ride from Phoenix to San Diego in one shot, but the heat of the desert caused us to stop in Yuma.

That night in Yuma, I had set our alarm clock to 4:00 AM, so that we could get an early start and make it to San Diego. We had a client meeting that day at 11:00 AM, and needed to get home around 9:30 AM at the latest, to shower, change clothes, and make the drive north in time to see our clients.

The alarm clock rang, and after resisting getting out of bed for 45 minutes, and after a couple of hours of packing our stuff while beating each other with our emotional outbursts, we managed to mount our motorcycles and speed off across the Colorado River into California.

Except, we forgot to refuel.

Sash's motorcycle, a Yamaha V-Star 650 for those of you who might not be familiar, only seems to travel about 130 miles tops at sea level, with no head wind and fully loaded with gear, which was the case in this situation. She only had about 60 miles left on the tank, which was last filled in Dateland, AZ.

Waking up early and bickering over relationship stuff caused us to forget to get more gas.

It wasn't after I passed by the last gas station at Felicity that I realized the situation we were in. I suppose I could've exited the next off-ramp and turned around to hit the gas station, except the I-8 through the California desert doesn't have many off-ramps. I opted to keep our speed relatively modest, at 75-80 MPH,  conserving fuel while still keeping us on schedule, and try our luck.

Sash, however, seemed concerned about our time. She pulled ahead and moved at a faster speed. When I caught up to her and looked at my speedometer, we were going between 85 MPH and 90 MPH. I made a hand gesture, pointing at my fuel tank, and making the international symbol for "slow down", which I figured was probably was flattening my hand and making a downward motion.

But she didn't seem to understand.

About 10 miles later, her bike began to stall. That's when she turned the petcock to "reserve" and pointed to her gas tank.

I slowed us down to between 55 MPH and 60 MPH, and tried to nurse what reserve she had left to make it another 25 miles or so to the next gas.  The entire time, we thought about what it meant to be stranded in the middle of the desert with no gas.

At one point, we actually pulled over and bickered about who's fault it was. We were both panicked about not making our 11:00 AM appointment, on top of that, tired of having to wake up at 4:00 AM.

But we managed to stretch the last gulps of fuel in the V-Star's gas tank to make it to the next station in El Centro. We were relieved. We bickered and argued some more, and then mounted up and rode the rest of the way back home.

yamaha v-star 650

At home, we showered and changed clothes and jumped into our pickup truck to drive north another 60 miles, and managed to make it to our client meeting, albeit 30 minutes late. But they were really nice and understanding and we all had a great time.

Altogether, our 20-day motorcycle road trip traveled nearly 2,500 miles round trip, although my Honda ST1300 recorded 3,039 miles due to the riding back and forth between hotels, restaurants, friends, family, and other venues.

If we learned anything about this trip, it's that we really belong on the road. We're meant to travel on our motorcycles, meet people and see the country. I think we already knew this, but felt that we needed to spend time in San Diego to build our client base. But on this trip, Sash discovered there are already a lot of motorcycle-focused businesses that earn a living on the road.

So now, that's on our mind.

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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Heat Stroke on a Motorcycle, Day 19

i-8 arizona
Rolling down the I-8 through Arizona
Heat can be a bitch. When you're riding a motorcycle in it for prolong periods, it can wear down your emotional state, suck your energy, cause cramping, and leave you in a daze.

We made an attempt to ride back to San Diego from the Phoenix area but just couldn't make it. We got as far as Yuma and had to call it a day.

While the Arizona desert can be colorful and beautiful, it can also be huge. The road runs straight for dozens of miles without a single degree of turn, lulling you into a trance. You have to use your creativity to keep yourself entertained, or you have to shut off your emotions and not let external variables bother you.

The heat wasn't really that hot, the hottest I saw on the air temperature gauge on my Honda ST1300, was 93 degrees F (33.9 C), but was still hot enough after a few hours through the Arizona desert. We probably had another 60-75 minutes of riding in the heat until we climbed up the grade into San Diego County.

But it wasn't just the heat. It was the long miles down from Denver, through cold temperatures and fierce winds through New Mexico, and the rainfall inside the Gila National Forest. For someone with only a year and a half of long range motorcycle riding under her belt, Sash's body just couldn't take too much more.

The lifestyle of riding a motorcycle across the country, through all the weather elements, the geography, the backroads and twisties, and then stopping to see people, and trying to get some work done at the same time, takes its toll day after day.

But we're not complaining by any means. Sash and I would still rather do this than a "real" job.

The day started out with breakfast at the house of Arizona Harley Dude. Paul made us a combination of scrambled eggs and chorizo while his puppy dog Dexter licked the residue from our faces. After we took a group photo, we packed up our stuff and thanked him for his hospitality. Then we headed off to Whole Foods Market in Scottsdale to meet Genevieve Schmitt, founder of Women Riders Now, who happened to be in the area. Sash met Genevieve at the Steel Horse Sisterhood Summit earlier last weekend.

We finally got back on the road around 2:00pm, close to the hottest point of the day. At first I led at a pace of 75 MPH, but increased it to 80 MPH. Sash finally passed me by and led between 90-95 MPH (144-152 KPH) until we got into Yuma. By that time, she was worn out. The heat was sucking the life out of her.

One would think that sitting on a motorcycle wouldn't require much energy. But it does. Riding a motorcycle seems to burn calories, more calories that sitting in a Lazy Boy recliner. It also wears down the brain. There's an intellectual aspect of watching the road, the traffic, and your speed. It's also calculating your distance to the next gas station and how far you think you can go. You count down the exit numbers and the mile markers and run a series of math equations to determine your distance and the estimated time you'll get there. You don't think about this inside a car because you're too busy surfing channels on your satellite radio.

Add the heat and the sun shining down on you, and somehow it wears down the body.

Tonight we rest in Yuma, and tomorrow we leave early for San Diego.  We actually meet with clients at 11:00am that day.

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Arizona Harley Dude (left), Sash (middle), and me (right)
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Me with a bag of cracklins in my jacket, I can reach in for a crunchy snack every mile or so.
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We met with Genevieve Schmitt in Scottsdale, the publisher of Women Riders Now
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These sculptures sit outside of a gas station in Gila Bend, AZ
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Sash and I ride down I-8 in Arizona
Me on my Honda ST1300

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Friday, May 9, 2014

Globe, AZ and the Drift Inn, Day 18

drift inn globe az
Drift Inn Saloon, Globe, AZ
Arizona is home dozens of beautiful desert highways that meander over hills and mountains, crossing over creeks and washes, treating motorcycle riders to spectacular views of rock formations pushed upwards by tectonic forces underground.

Over time, the wind and rains smoothes over their jagged edges and sprinkles them with swashes of yellows, greens, and purples from the Spring time flora. April and May is a beautiful show of colors throughout the Grand Canyon State.

US-60 between Globe and Queen Valley is a 38 mile course up and over the Pinal Mountains taking riders down into the valley floor where the mighty Phoenix metropolis rises up from the desert heat. Saguaro, Cholla, and Prickly Pear cactus line the rocky mountain sides with bright yellowy blossoms of Palo Verdes interspersed between. The US-60 curves and winds in wide gracefuls, perfect for a novice rider to enjoy what makes highway riding so much fun.

Sash and I started the day further to the east in Safford, an agricultural town along the US-70. I hadn't ever ridden this route before and was eager to satisfy my curiosity. I found largely straight road running through farm fields, cattle ranches, and Apache reservation. Once on the other side of the "rez", we rolled into Globe.

Globe is an old silver mining town, started in 1875, but soon converted into copper mining. Today, it still depends on its copper smelting operations.

But it's also known for the Drift Inn Saloon, a popular biker bar located in downtown along Broad St that goes back to 1902. On a weekday, when we stopped in for a bite, it was populated by locals. But on weekends, it's packed with bikers who ride out from the Phoenix area.

"We even have our own bike week in April", the bartender told us, showing us a photo of the last event. "They close off Broad Street and the whole place is filled with bikes."

An old Navajo indian, who apparently goes by the name of Bill, was there hawking his handmade jewelry. Locals says he's there numerous times a day.

"Are you from here?" he asked Sash.

"No", she answered.

And that was apparently the wrong answer. Because those who know him know not to trust him. Sash found a bracelet of his that she liked, and he started telling her about the silver and turquoise. After she bought it from him, locals came by to inspect, confirming it was fake.

"But I just liked the way it looked!" she kept trying to tell everyone. "And I liked the fact that he's out here working instead of sitting on the rez."

After paying our tab, we headed out.

At this point, US-60 takes over for US-70, taking us up and over the Pinal Mountains. Our destination was Surprise, where Arizona Harley Dude lives. He had once offered to put us up for the night, so we decided to redeem the offer.

That evening, the three of us went out to dinner.

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Sash posing on her V-Star 650 in Safford, AZ
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Cruising down US-70 between Safford and Globe
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US-70 has some beautiful vistas in places
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Inside Drift Inn, Globe, AZ
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Front entrance of Drift Inn, Globe, AZ
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US-60, west of Globe, crossing over the Pinal Mountains
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Cool rock formations along US-60
Sash rides up front along US-60 heading into Gold Canyon
US-60 arizona
US-60 heading into Gold Canyon
Surprise az
Three of us riding through Surprise, AZ

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Gila National Forest Motorcycle Ride, Day 17

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Rain on my windshield along US-180 south of Reserve, NM
Chile Rellenos, Twisties, and Wind. That about sums it up for Day 17 on our 3-week motorcycle road trip. Of course, as luck would have it, we'd have copious amounts of the breezy stuff, ample amounts of the curvy, and not quite enough of the cheesy.

"No, we don't get any snow or rain here", the American-Indian-looking attendant told us at the Magnum Gas Station in tiny Magdalena, NM, "Just a lot of wind."

Sash and I thought that after yesterday's 304-miles of crosswinds down the I-25 through New Mexico, we'd catch a break the following day by going west over the mountains. But it wasn't to be. I tend to think that the winds were just a little more intense today than yesterday. If anything, it was more cold, and there were places where it rained and even hailed a bit.

The third day on our journey home from Denver, today was the day we planned for back roads riding, ultimately taking us to Safford, AZ for the night.

We left our hotel room in Socorro, NM at 10:00am this morning, heading west along US-60, going into the Cibola National Forest. We didn't need to see the grasses swaying horizontally to know that the winds were blowing at us hard. It seems there was a storm further ahead that would eventually dump rain on us.

We stopped in Magdalena, a tiny town that doesn't even show up on Google maps until you zoom in at a bird's eye level. We needed something to eat and drink because we had left our hotel room in haste, trying to beat the coming storm. It turns out that the gas station in town has never heard of a "low carb diet", because all they had to satisfy my requirements was a bag of pork rinds and water.

But it was enough.

Because up ahead we'd drop into the San Agustin Plains, where crosswinds blow really hard.  They blew so hard that random gusts threatened to shove me sideways into the shoulder. I moved my feet to the passenger pegs and laid down on the gas tank to minimize the profile, and it seemed to help.

In the tiny town of Datil, we stopped at Eagle Guest Ranch, a combination restaurant and gas station, to warm up and fill up with fuel. They were selling locally made elk jerky and elk sausage, so I picked up a sausage, which was a dollar cheaper than the jerky, and 3oz more in weight.

"How does this work?" a Harley rider asked me as he pulled up next to me at the pump. "I take it you're supposed to go inside and pay?"

"No", I replied. "You pump first and pay later."

"Oh, that goes to show how old this place is!" he said.

NM-12 was the highway I was actually waiting for. It started at Datil and ended at Reserve. It didn't look very twisty, it was just a road I hadn't ever ridden before. At first it was just more of the same wide open country with long straight road, but eventually it gave way into wide graceful curves which progressed into a little more tight, but still sweeping turns.

Motorcycle riding was starting to get fun.

At Reserve, we stopped for lunch.

Something inside me said that I should go to that mexican restaurant instead of the bar. But I passed it by thinking that Sash probably wanted something more American or cafe-like. When she stopped me and asked if I wanted to go to the bar, I shook my head and pointed at the mexican restaurant.

It turns out the special of the day at Carmen's Mexican Restaurant was chile rellenos. And these were some damn good chile rellenos. I asked the server if these were Hatch Green Chiles, but she didn't know. I suspected they were. These had enough heat in them to generate a light amount sweat from my scalp.

Eventually we rode down US-180, a highway I rode several years ago when my buddies and I did some camping along the Coronado Trail. It's curvy but fast, and offers great scenic views of the San Francisco Mountains.

The route into Safford, AZ would take us along Highways 78 and 191, dropping us some 3,000 feet of elevation into the Upper Gila River Valley. Highway 78 was perhaps the tightest of the twisties, giving Sash the most challenge of the entire road trip.

But the wind never stopped the entire time. Even here in Safford, at the lowest elevation of the day, it's still blowing.

Tomorrow, we head into Phoenix, which should be our last stop of the road trip.

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Sash riding along US-60 east of Socorro, NM
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Entering Magdalena, NM via US-60
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Sash posing at Magnum Gas in Magdalena, NM
eating chicharrones
Breakfast of champions: chile flavored pork rinds and bottled water, Magnum Gas, Magdalena, NM
us-60 new mexico motorcycle rider
We passed this Harley rider named "Michael", who caught up to us at Eagle Guest Ranch in Datil, NM, he's on his first day of a 2-week motorcycle road trip.
very large array new mexico
This is one of 27 radio telescopes among an observatory called, "Very Large Array" along US-60 in the San Agustin Plains.
us-60 new mexico motorcycle
The winds blew so fierce across the San Agustin Plains, that I laid down on my tank to reduce the profile.
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Eagle Guest Ranch restaurant and gas station at Datil, NM, where you pump first and pay later.
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NM-12 westbound, Horse Peak on the right.
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This hairy, dirty, highway walker seen along NM-12
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Yet another hairy, dirty highway walker along NM-12
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Carmen's Mexican Restaurant, Reserve, NM
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One of two Chile Rellenos I had at Carmen's Mexican Restaurant
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A couple of switchbacks coming up along US-180, south of Glenwood, NM
us-180 new mexico motorcycle
Riding along US-180 New Mexico
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Descending elevation along AZ-78 in Arizona

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Riding a Motorcycle in Crosswinds, Day 16

i-25 new mexico
Sand blowing across the I-25 in New Mexico
Leaned over at a 60 degree angle? I'm not sure it was quite 60 degrees, though riding a motorcycle in crosswinds often feels like it.

New Mexico along the I-25 heading southbound from Raton to Socorro was all crosswinds today, hitting at us from the west as they blew down from the mountains across the plains. My dual compound Michelin Pilot Road 2 tires must have worn down a few millimeters of that softer rubber as I rode leaned over to my right side for all of the 304 miles that Google Maps said we traveled.

The wind can blow at you from one of 360 degrees. So when it blows directly at your back, you figure you're pretty damn lucky. But it seems I've never been that lucky. Still, I'd rather take a headwind than a crosswind.

My Dianese summer riding jacket seemed to be better suited for the winds, allowing the air to pass through so that it didn't create that balloon effect you often see with some riders. My Honda ST1300 has a power windshield, allowing me to adjust the height with a push-button. I could have raised the windshield and created a comfortable little pocket, but I found that the crosswinds caused the bike to rock left and right more, so I kept the windshield down.

As for Sash, she was having a rough time on her Yamaha V-Star 650. She kept trying to keep her head down below the windshield, which seemingly exacerbated the shoulder muscle pains she gets with her fibromyalgia.

Myself, there was sands blowing across the Interstate, blasting me with their pin-prick sprays.  At one point, a tumbleweed blew into my bike as I was riding at 80 MPH and exploded into tiny fragments.

So there we were, in the morning, leaving our hotel in Raton, so eager and happy to get back on the road and rip off another 300 miles. And there we were later in the evening in Socorro, pulling into our next hotel, exhausted and walking like ducks.

I was rather proud of Sash, however.  I guess somehow I'm not really fascinated in the uber-feminine chicky-bunny kind of woman.  I like to know that my girl can withstand the elements of a long day's ride.

Before we arrived at our hotel in Socorro, we stopped at Walking Sands Rest Stop, about 16 miles north of town along the I-25, which apparently had been voted as one of the worst rest stops in the United States by truckers.

Tomorrow, we head west, up over the mountains.

And now for the pics...

happy biker chick
Leaving Raton in the morning, Sash is all happy to take to the road.
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Sash is still happy after 15 minutes of riding down the I-25 in New Mexico
I-25 new mexico horizon
New Mexico between Raton and Las Vegas is wide open country, just like Montana and Wyoming
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Another shot of Sash along the I-25
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At this time of year, the grasslands in Northern New Mexico are awash in lavender color
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The "Sexy Six Burger" at Dick's Restaurant in Las Vegas, NM, it's six different chile peppers mixed into the ground beef.
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Parked in downtown Las Vegas, NM.  That's Dick's Restaurant across the street from us.
walking sands rest stop new mexico
Unfortunately, rattle snakes are not the only snakes hanging out at Walking Sands Rest Stop
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Walking Sands Rest Stop, just north of Socorro, NM

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Riding Home From the Steel Horse Sisterhood Summit, Day 15

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Lunch at Obie's Fillin' Station, Colorado City, CO
After being subjected to four days of love, empowerment, and "you go girl" at the Steel Horse Sisterhood Summit, Sash and I have taken to the road once again on our way back to San Diego.

And like how the 3-week road trip originally started by jumping on to the slab, we do that again by heading south on I-25, ending up in Raton, NM.

Being a guy, perhaps I can't fully describe the experience of being at the Summit. All I can see are women laughing, giggling and hugging, without really understanding what lies underneath the surface of all that.  That's why you can view Sash's photo collection of the weekend.

For the most part, I spent the time with my brother who lives in South Denver.  But it's not to say that I didn't spend any time at the Summit, I did.  I was there to sit at the bar and drink down a few beers, and while doing so I got to talk to several of the female riding attendees.  For the most part, it was about as wild as a college sorority party, complete with half-naked firefighters washing bikes, and some severe booby-squashing-hugs of the circular motion kind.

And many of the women there were over 6 feet tall, with long legs, muscles, and take-charge attitude enough to bring out the little boy in me.  If next year they have a session on how to turn a Honda rider into a sex slave, I may volunteer as the subject.

And speaking of Hondas, I didn't see many.  I saw a Goldwing, and I saw the new 2014 Valkyrie, but otherwise it was 95% Harleys.  There was a couple of sportbikes, at least one Suzuki V-Strom, and one BMW 1200 RT, and a spattering of metric cruisers.

The ride back home always feels different than the ride out.  Somehow, I find myself wanting to do more miles, wanting to ride at faster speeds.  Home is like a magnet pulling me back.  The closer I get, the more I seem focused on it.

Yeah, Home.

The whole weekend at the Summit, Sash met several other women who practically earn a living on the road, selling their wares, from one event to another.

"We can do this!" she said, referring to our marketing business, convinced that we have just as much opportunity to build a client base on the road than we've been able to do in San Diego thus far.  And how can I argue against living on the road, on our motorcycles?

So, we're heading back to San Diego now.  But how long we'll be there, I don't know.

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I-25 Southbound, south of Pueblo, CO
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Rack of ribs and Odell Porter, at Obie's Fillin' Station, Colorado City, CO
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Sash rides south on I-25 Colorado
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Sash raises her hand as she nears the New Mexico border, happy to get out of Colorado
i-25 raton pass
Whenever I ride across Raton Pass, I hear that song, "Snowing on Raton".

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About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)