snippets and a few more A's

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!


LEISEL said...

Thank you for this, Shreve! You had a remarkable journey! For someone like me, that can't remember what I had for breakfast - I stand amazed at the details you remember! All of it so treasured by your readers! THANKS!

Alice Parry said...

If there's a book coming, I can't wait to read it!

Anonymous said...

Please know, Shreve, that I have ALWAYS appreciated and valued my cupholders. The ones in my 2003 Neon are awesome (along with the sound system)!

Dana said...

Ohh I can agree with the horse!!! I would love to ride a horse across country, but realize I could probably never afford it. Have you ever read the wagonteamsters blog. I would love to do what he has done. His website is www.wagonteamster.com.

Stark said...
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Maranda said...

Wait a second... a CHEETAH? In Ohio? I need to know more! (Maybe there's photos, too?) I love cheetahs. :)

Anonymous said...

from one traveler to another you must read zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance. I read it while hitchhiking across the US and it influenced a lot of my thinking, even now, after your journey I think you would be able to relate more than the average person. It is considered one of the greatest philosophical fictions of our time.

Scotty said...

Yes, even when you get into the scooter touring lifestyle, you are then part of one the most awesome communities in America and that is bikers, who watch out for each other out there! Sure there is a fringe element but you would be amazed to find that most are outdoor living nature loving peeps. It's rough being a biker! lol. Regardless of brand or size or design..if you are runnin on two wheels..you're a biker. k what I'm sayin is, Shreve is a biker chick. BAAHAAAa woo wooo ok ok but I guess y'all get that.

carol said...

Surely, someone has come up with a cup holder for horseback travel.

Kathleen said...

Thank you for the response :) I have a couple of good cheetah stories too, but not that good! I can't wait for the Vespa book if it comes to fruition, and I think an animal/farmily/nature book should be in your future as well. You "see" things others take for granted (besides cup holders, LOL) and I bet you could fill a book with chapters on different experiences, like the cheetah.

Sue said...

You should check out "Ende of the Trail" website. Bernice Ende has been traveling all over the country by horseback for several years now and posts her tales on her site. It is just inspiring to read about and follow her travels.

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

As Billy Goat (who hikes the PCT 11 months of the year) says, "A house is nothing but a cage."

Unknown said...

Write that book-- it will be fascinating- need to know about the Cheetah encounter.

vespa said...

thank you for this

WoodHugger said...

Oh, yes, you should totally ride cross country! Either wear leather and pack a thin, plastic rain suit, or wear cordura, a nylon weave, that is water and crash resistant, so you don't have to pull over when it starts to rain.

If your scoot has a chain, use WD-40 on it every day, at the end of the ride, or immediately after a rain storm. I do it every 200 miles if it's hot and fast (interstate) or constantly wet. A "Scottoiler" is the cats meow.

Pack water and paper towels to clean visors and lights. Pack WD-40, paper towels and rubber gloves to lube chains, shift levers and such. Ask to burn it in someone's campfire to help them start a fire.

Pull over to watch which way thunderstorm are going, and try to ride around them. I pack the big Rand McNally map of the US and a few AAA campground booklets that cover the states I'll cross. I usually change the route anyway, thanks to awe inspiring places that require an extra day's photography.

I've crossed the country (and back) 5 times by motorcycle (and about 20 times by van), taking rural highways and picking campgrounds at various distances. It's the location of campgrounds that determine how many miles to go each day in any consecutive string of days.

When in a hurry, I spend 10 days to 2 weeks to go about 3000 miles. But, that's like 150 to 250 miles a day out west, and 500 to 600 miles a day crossing the great plains or the eastern states. Appalachian routes are like those out west, scenic, curvy, photogenic... IOW slow going.

I pack a little kit for plugging tires, and a hand pump for bicycles. Some folks pack 12 volt pumps. I have a cigarette lighter adaptor connected to my battery for my cell phone, sonic toothbrush and such. Honestly, I've never needed to inflate a tire, and I've gone 3000 miles on 5 different tires with the cords showing (3 rear, 2 fronts). But these are Z rated racing tires, not sure if scooter tires would survive that kind of treatment.

One time I ran out of time and roads and energy, and set up camp without buying groceries at the nearest town. This was when the high calories trail mix came in handy. And spare water! Always refill your water bottle at the gas stations. Have a juice drink there, too, to save time. Chew gum to prevent cavities.

Ear plugs, ear plugs, ear plugs!!!

In summer I wear my clothes in the shower in the morning, and ride wet to stat cool. But in cool weather I strap my clothes to the bike to dry. I even made a net-like device with bunjee hooks to contain the clothes, prevent wind damage and grime from traffic.

I know carry little, wind-up LED flashlights instead of any other kind. Knives come in super handy, especially the kind you can operate with one hand. Often they are illegal, but they're for plastic packages, not crime, jeez.

Hat for sunny hikes. Sunglasses. I use a washcloth as a chamois to dry after a shower. Shampoo doubles as soap and laundry detergent. Thin, polyester socks, t-shirts and underwear will grow mildew faster than cotton, so I leave those at home now.

I once packed a NASA blanket, a thin platic-metal thermal insulator. It works well, but it and the sheet I had under it was soaked with condensation from my sweat and breath. Now it's just cotton sheet, thin air mattress, and my riding jacket/pants for sleeping. It's good for maybe 60 degrees, but have survived 20 degrees several times. Keep your drinks in bed with you on those nights.

A rain fly for the tent would be nice, but I would rather pack a rain suit for riding, because that makes a much bigger difference in rain protection.

I once carried a roll of TP for 11,500 miles, but never used it. However, I needed it a few years later AFTER I decided to stop packing it. What my friend always told me: "Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it."

Good luck, and remember, it'll be fun!

WoodHugger said...

Oh, and a smoked visor is nice, so you don't have to take sun glasses off and on every time you stop. But this means you have to pack a clear visor, and stop at dusk to change it. Your call.

I forgot to mention that the Rand McNally map of the US has little numbers for the mileage. Those are very accurate. They were once off by a couple miles after a 2000 mile ride. Usually more like 20 miles off, but even that is nice.

Oh, and tools! I ride old race bikes that should be put out to pasture, so I made myself a kit with every hand tool (wrenches and screw drivers and such) tool I use to do maintenance at home. With the 1 inch thick service manual, It weighs over 5 pounds. I rarely use it, though. And if you never do maintenance at home, you might as well stick with the OEM tool kit.

What's more handy is the voltmeter, duct tape, zip ties (wire ties), electrical wire, fuses, exacto knife to trim wire, rubber gloves to change oil, paper towels, WD-40 for chains and levers, and stop-leak for the radiator. (Again, thee are bikes with a couple thousand race miles, equivalent to a couple HUNDRED thousand street miles, in my opinion.)

When I finally rode a low-miles, never-raced bike cross country and back, twice... never touched the tool kit!

Remember to pack a digital camera and a 1 gig chip,'at least. Kodak moments are everywhere!

WoodHugger said...

And don't forget to pack a few light bulbs for turn signals and brakes.

vintage vespa said...

Great post!! ")

Vintage Vespa

vespa fan said...

Thanky four your post. I would love to take such trip some day.

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