I pull into a gas station and a giant RV is parked at the adjacent pump. A condescending and pointless remark from the man as he pumps gas: "there you are girl - we passed you ages ago." Well, here we both are, Dick. The woman looks at me wistfully from the passenger seat and tells me how brave she thinks I am, that she could never be that brave. I believe she could.
I pull into a gas station, fill my tank, clean the face shield of my helmet with the window squeegee, down some water. An older couple approaches me from the other side of the station. They're carrying a green disposable camera and ask if they can take my photo. I laugh and blush and say sure. We chat, they snap; after a few hollow clicks of their plastic camera they thank me and walk back to their car arm in arm.
I pull in to top off my gas in the middle of nowhere Nevada. It's not even a town; it's a place with a sign. I'm about ready to go and the tallest, thinnest cowboy pulls in. I smile, he looks at me and says with a slow, lyrical drawl, "You drivin' that thing across the country?" I say yes. His drawl is almost slow motion. "If it weren't impolite, I'd say that takes baaalllls."
I pull into a gas station that is swarming with Harleys. I'm fairly intimidated, riding into the mix on my sparkly little white pony. The moment I stop I am surrounded with bikers, full of smiles and questions and stories. They invite me to Sturgis. The women who ride on the backs of these Harleys fall completely in love with the Vespa. They righteously declare that if their men don't want them driving motorcycles, then damn! They are going to get Vespas!
I pull into a gas station across the street from a Senior Center. There's a carload of elders - three very old ladies in the backseat and two old men up front. I smile and wave as they drive out in front of me, staring. One of the women gives me such a smile back, it seems as if she is concentrating all her energy and willing herself into my skin, into my body, even into one of the snaps on my jacket, just to be along for the ride.