Is there anything you didn't bring that you wish you had?
Well, I often wished for jeans; I missed wearing them along the ride, but jeans are too bulky to have rationalized packing a pair, especially as I spent most of my time in leather pants. But that was more of a whim-wish rather than something I really needed or would have benefited from.
Before leaving, I debated at length over whether or not to bring a tent, GPS, and mace/weapon. Finally, I realized the debate in my head was really about "shoulds" versus "self." I "should" have brought a tent, a GPS, and mace. But I didn't want to, and I went with my feeling and did not bring any of those things. I never needed them, never wished for them. They would have just taken up space.
Do you have a photo journal of your trek?
Yes, of course! But this was back when I was shooting 100% film. I did not own a digital camera. Strapped to the seat behind me was an insulated cooler bag with my camera and rolls and rolls of film! Some of it was color, some black and white, and I dutifully kept it all cool with refreezeable ice packs.
When I got to NYC, I developed all my film and rented darkroom space to make contact sheets. I had time to scan some of my negs, and those images are scattered throughout this blog. I might have a few more on my hard drive. But the bulk of the images are sitting in a old steamer chest under my desk, waiting for time in a darkroom...
Is there anything that you did while on the trip that you wish you'd done differently? And as a follow up, anything you didn't do that you wish you did?
Nothing comes to mind...
How did you average less than 5 bucks a night on lodging???
I stayed in a handful of motels. I camped. Mostly, though, I spent nights with strangers. Some of these people were friends of friends who generously opened their homes to me ~ in Chicago, I stayed with an awesome med student named Maureen who was the girlfriend of my sister's best friend's boyfriend's roommate.
Other times, I stayed with really wonderful people I met on the road. In Fairmount, Indiana, the hometown of James Dean, I was planning to camp but stopped for a milkshake first (priorities! and this happened to be the best milkshake along my route), and met two brothers at the milkshake shop; they were on motorcycles and we started talking, and I went home with them! (not in THAT way :)
Weren't you scared? Any tense moments?
I was scared for a few days directly before leaving. But I feel that way before I do anything ~ it wasn't like an informative fear, it was nervousness about doing something new. It's a very familiar feeling.
Crossing the Diablo Range on the way to Sacramento was extremely scary - legitimate, real, animal fear. But that lasted maybe twenty minutes and I got through it and it informed the way I traveled from then on, in a good way. That's it. I honestly never felt scared from the second day onward.
What was your most interesting animal encounter while on your Vespa journey?
A full-grown cheetah licked all the sweat off my arm in Ohio, and he was purring.
Did you get lonely?
Not really. I felt really alone on the shores of Lake Erie where I had a total meltdown in a gas station parking lot, but that was exhaustion more than anything else. (I got viciously jealous of the people I saw driving by in their cars and their minivans with their CUPHOLDERS. As I sulked around the asphalt, I swore that no one realized the luxury of a cupholder; damn them for taking their cupholders for granted!)
Because I spent so many nights with people, I really enjoyed having the days to myself. Sometimes, I got a motel room just to be alone, because I had SO much interaction with people, even when camping.
Do you still have your Vespa?
Yes! But I can't find the key right at the moment....
Had you read 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' before you took this trip? Are you familiar with Peter S. Beagle's book "I See By My Outfit"?
I have both books, they were given to me by different people, but have not read either one...
What comforts of home did you miss the most while on the road? Which aspect of life on the road did you miss the most once you settled in one spot?
As mentioned above, I really missed my jeans! When I stopped, it was really hard to for me to be inside. It was weird and uncomfortable to sleep in a bed every night. It was hard to travel in cars - I had to have all the windows down. It was hard to spend more than an hour indoors without loosing my mind. I spent a lot of time sitting on the curb in Brooklyn, because I had to be outside.
Would you do it again if the opportunity arose?
Yah! But maybe on a horse like Kit.e suggested. I think that would be so fun in a group....
Did you learn anything from the trip?
Tons and tons. This question deserves a book (winkwink!)
OK, I'll finish up the rest next time!