Category: Featured

Talking to Strangers: The Power of Vulnerability

Talking to Strangers: The Power of Vulnerability

I’ve been wondering about why people move in and out of your life. While I was on my road trip last week, I had several experiences meeting people who have stayed with me. The exchanges that we shared carved out a space in my heart where these nameless strangers now live.

It is startling how emotionally vulnerable strangers are.

On Tuesday morning as I readied to head out for the day, I went through the familiar routine of packing up my motorcycle in a hotel parking lot. While I toiled away, a woman who worked there came outside for a cigarette. From behind me as she exited the doors, I heard the words, “girl, you rode that motorcycle all the way from New York.” It wasn’t a question, it was a statement loaded with more unsaid than said.

She and I lightheartedly talked about the nature of travel and meeting people. She spoke about how when she was younger, she would get in her car and just drive. Not to anywhere in particular, she’d just go. These days though, she just doesn’t do it anymore. I could hear in her voice that this was a part of herself that she missed. But as she peripherally talked about her family it sounded like there wasn’t much room for dropping everything and running away, even if just for half a day. At least not now.

As we continued to chat, the conversation naturally drifted towards how once you get out in the world, the people you meet aren’t the terrible people you hear about on the news. They’re friendly, and interesting, and curious. When you run in to trouble their kindness can turn your day around.

As the thread weaved through the kindness of strangers, she began to spin a tale of losing her home to a tornado just a few years before. When she and her husband stepped out the front door on their way to church, she said that sky just looked “funny” and that she turned to him and said they weren’t going anywhere. Not long after as she sheltered in her bathtub, a tornado rolled through town and destroyed their home. They lost everything… but each other.

Her eyes welled up and she tried to compose herself. But the hurt and fear was still raw on her face. Her words became staggered as she tried to hold back the tears. The rims of her eyes barely held back the flood. She cleared her throat and said, “you know, when tragedy tears your life apart, it’s a surprise who helps you. We lost everything and it was complete strangers who came to help. It wasn’t the people I knew my whole life.”

When someone you don’t know bares their soul and trusts you enough to share their exposed nerves with you – it is moving. I feel blessed by that. As she continued to speak, I just kept my mouth shut and tried to hug her with my eyes.

She gave me the gift of herself.

Before I set off, she wiped a tear from her cheek and said, “Just seeing you out here, riding that motorcycle on your own, seeing the world? I’m proud of you. Really. You keep safe out there.” And with that, she walked out of my life.

Since that morning I have thought about her dozens of times. What did I learn from her by watching her trying to smile through the pain? Why did she move through my life? She gave me something but I don’t know what it is yet.

When I was looking through the notes on my phone last night, I found the following from 3/12/12. It seemed fitting for this exchange:

“Everything always matters insofar as every experience, every moment, every person who passes through your life helps to shape you.

People come and go but the lessons you learn from them can stay with you forever. So, will it matter in 5 years? Maybe. But maybe not for the reasons as you see them now.

You are responsible for creating the life you want for yourself. Sift through the hurt, the dregs, the pain and turn it into lessons for the better. Become who you want to be.

Chin up, kiddo. Be your best self.”

I’ve Returned From My October Road Trip – There’s So Much To Think About

I’ve Returned From My October Road Trip – There’s So Much To Think About

Last Thursday after tidying up the last of my pressing tasks at work, I set off on my motorcycle. With a week worth of vacation time blocked off on the calendar, I had a few things scribbled on the notebook of my mind to visit.

Sightseeing, that’s what I would be doing. But maybe not in the most traditional sense. The way I envisioned it was more like just floating in the world until it was time to come home. The idea was to see part of America that doesn’t look like where I live.

It is now Friday morning and I have returned home. A lot happened while I was away doing nothing.

  • I completed a 24-hr Motorcycle endurance Rally (The VOID 10)
  • Rode 4,000 miles through 10 states
  • Hugged people who are more important than they know
  • Rode through blinding rain and cringed watching lightning
  • Worried about unnecessary things
  • Rode in temperatures ranging from 40-85 degrees
  • Made new friends
  • Talked to strangers
  • Felt scared
  • Basked in the glow of serendipity
  • Dropped my motorcycle
  • Sang out loud in my helmet
  • Saw amazing sunrises
  • Took byways, back roads, highways, Interstates
  • Shivered
  • Watched fields roll away to the horizon
  • Felt far away from home
  • Ordered a pizza to my hotel room and ate 1/2 of it
  • Wondered why I live where I do
  • Was never more sure that I don’t know anything about anything
  • Was hypnotized by wind turbines
  • Felt my heart break for a woman who wept while talking to me
  • Didn’t know if I made the right choice
  • Saw Superman
  • Contemplated buying Underoos
  • Looked ugly
  • Came to understand that I don’t know what half of those machines on a farm do
  • Wore the same shirt for 6 days
  • Didn’t drink enough water
  • Had chapped lips
  • Took in the tremendous-ness of the landscape
  • Missed my family
  • Saw Santa Claus
  • Was surprised
  • Thought and thought and thought all day long

My trip was tremendous on a personal level. I don’t think I’ve ever been more in touch with or at least grasping at parts of myself that seem like they’re often asleep at the wheel.

Travel is a gift. It’s rewards are felt long after you’ve stopped moving.

Whispering Giants Motorcycle Grand Tour: Northeastern Round-up, So Far

Whispering Giants Motorcycle Grand Tour: Northeastern Round-up, So Far

While I was wandering through Pennsylvania in July, I was able to stop and visit some Whispering Giants for the Grand Tour. Though bummed to find the Giant in Williamsport, Pa. had been removed I did strike gold in Akron, Oh., Dunkirk, Ny., and Sharon, Pa.

Sharon, Pa.:

whispering giant - sharon, pa

Unfortunately, the Sharon giant has a significant amount of rot. There has already been extensive repair work to keep him standing.

whispering giant - sharon pa

The whole underside of his nostrils is rotted out and you can see a gap in the tooth area as well. Hang in there, buddy. 🙁

Dunkirk, Ny:

whispering giant - dunkirk, ny

Rotaynah – Akron, Oh:

whispering giant - Rotaynah - Akron, Ohio

Of this Giants that I’ve seen so far, Rotaynah has made the biggest impression on me. He’s been my favorite.

whispering giant rotaynah akron ohio

He’s huge and has a very striking appearance. There has been some repair work on him, so I hope that helps his longevity.


Wouldn’t you know it? Hammy’s Titan Quest Rally in August used Whispering Giants as bonus locations. During the rally I visited 3 more Giants: Maryland, Delaware and Virginia.

Chief Little Owl – Bethany Beach, De:

whispering giant - chief little owl - bethany beach, md

Nanticoke – Ocean City, Md:

Whispering Giant - Nanticoke - Ocean City, Maryland

Virginia Beach, Va:

whispering giant - virginia beach va


Some of the Giants that I’ve previously posted about:

Enisketomp in Plymouth, Ma:

This was by far the tallest of the Giants that I’ve visited. I loved his long braids. Read more about my Enisketomp visit.

whispering giant plymouth ma

Enishkeetompauog in Narragansett, Rhode Island:

whispering giant ENISHKEETOMPAUOG Narragansett rhode island

Omiskanoagwiak – Springfield, Ma:

My very first stop on the Grand Tour.

whispering giant - Omiskanoagwiak - Springfield, Massachusetts


This brings up my total Whispering Giants visited for the Grand Tour to 9. That’s already better than I thought I would do. I’ve got 2 more that I would like to see (Vermont and New Hampshire) before the Grand Tour ends. I hope I can make it!

Other Posts about Whispering Giants

Lunch with 3 Kick-ass Motorcycle Women

Lunch with 3 Kick-ass Motorcycle Women

While I struggle to find the thread of a full blog post, I just have to share Leslie’s photo from Facebook and Madeline’s from Instagram of our lunch meeting on Sunday.

I’ve talked before about searching for women motorcyclists and bloggers that speak to me, that I can identify with. Well, I’m finding my tribe. One amazing broad at a time.

 

Do You Believe in Luck? Fate? Angels?

Do You Believe in Luck? Fate? Angels?

Do you believe in luck? Fate? Coincidence? Are there angels looking out for you?

Sometimes I wonder.

Yesterday evening after dinner, I set out on the Tiger in the last of the day’s golden light. My route took me down Nicolls Road which is a 4 lane highway with an exit that merges on to the Long Island Expressway – a big 8 laner.

Exiting Nicolls onto the LIE eastbound involves a long sweeping ramp which would be lots of fun if the end of it didn’t mean exchanging places with fast-moving traffic that has just exited the LIE which now has to shlamonzeebrakes and move right to take the Nicolls ramp north.

While on the LIE east ramp, I was the third vehicle in the line moving towards the service road.  I could see in the distance that there were no cars to alternate with at the merge. As I came through the turn, straightened my bike up, I put my left signal on, left hand out, one eye on the two cars in front of me – waiting for them to make their move, and then a quick glance in my mirror.

That quick look in the mirror revealed a car coming hot and heavy off of the LIE towards us. Within a matter of seconds, their grill was next to my saddlebag in the next lane and they stayed right there.

My first thought? “ASSHOLE!”

If they were going to take the exit – given the traffic flow and placement in the lane – their natural place to merge was behind me. If they were going to continue straight – they should’ve kept going right by. Instead? They were blocking me out.

Though the exchange only lasted about 3 seconds, my blood pressure rose in the way it does when someone in traffic pisses you off. You know how it is. Someone has WRONGED YOU! You swirl in the downward spiral of all-consuming righteous indignation. What the fuckity fuck is wrong with you, you fuckin’ fuck?!?  (It’s not just me is it?)

And then, just like that… they dropped back and opened the lane clear for me to move left.

*grumble*grumble*merge*

“WHAT… THE HELL?!”

In the time that it took me to look away from my mirror, process that I was now safe to merge left and began the motion – the spare tire mounted underneath the van two cars ahead of me released and fell onto the roadway. When the tire hit the road it shot left across the lane like a 50lb. hockey puck. The car directly in front of me missed hitting it as did I.

As I collected my thoughts it became clear to me that if that person hadn’t zipped up and boxed me out, I might’ve been taken out by that tire. It was like… they saved me.

A wash of guilt came over me. I need to get a hold of myself. So someone didn’t wait their turn? I need to take a deep breath and just let it go.

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