Category Archives: feminism

Day 11: Topeka to Pacific – Angry White Male

“Well, lookie here, a woman on a motorcycle. Bet she’s real tough.”

I was sipping coffee and snacking on a gas station breakfast that had sat under a heating lamp.

Before being verbally assaulted, my day actually started out pretty good. As I headed off, the sun rose burning orange and red into a hazy and humid morning. As it was 7am the Sunday before Labor Day, the roads and highways were empty. Foggy patches of condensed humidity hovered over low ditches, ground depressions and inside thickets of trees. The thickness of the air dampened road noise and whatever else might be stirring.

It was a serene and calm, but by the time I was having my coffee, the heat started seizing the day and the humidity was popping. Humidity and assholes with big mouths make me cranky. This guy made me cranky.

I scanned over my smarmy antagonist – white, 50s, fat, sweaty, unkempt, smoke yellowed teeth, wearing a thinning T-shirt with its arms cut off so he didn’t get armpit sweat stains, a trucker hat worn way back and unsuccessfully covering grey, balding hair in need of a cut. He, his two dopey-looking but physically imposing sons and his squat, unpleasant-looking wife had gotten out of a beaten up 80s king-kab Ford pickup truck with shot suspension and a bedful of old worn tires. The boys looked at me with something like hungry curiousity that felt slimy as they smirked at their pop’s clever statement. His wife regarded me with a glance of judgmental disgust.

Given my odds, I thought better than offering a “Tougher than you, you fat fuck.” Instead, I went for bored indifference despite the fact I managed to take in all their glory at a glance. Since he didn’t pursue it any further after exiting the gas station, I suppose it worked. But, really, I suspect he expended everything in his smart-ass remark bank account for the morning with that one statement.

My headphone battery died and I had only my thoughts to keep me company for 100 miles. So, unfortunately, I thought about that asshole and wrote part of this in my head. Except for the missing MAGA hat, this dude was that angry, white, American male who helped put Agent Orange in office.

The degree of self-entitlement one must possess to casually dole out a statement like that to a stranger at a gas station who is simply minding her own business and sipping a cup of bad coffee is galling. What the fuck is wrong with you? Don’t give me that boys will be boys shit. Sorry, I don’t accept the bullshit about needing to insult a stranger to express your manhood. This is most certainly not a means of disguising your intimidation of me. Drop the act about how you just wanted to show off for your kids. Don’t you dare believe for one second your casual misogyny made you more attractive to me or your spouse.

I’ve heard all those things before from small men who willingly act like an assholes for their own gain. I’ve listened as someone else tries to explain it away with some bs about how these flawed me do these things out of fear, intimidation, anxiety, or whatever emotion poor men must hide in this society that oppresses them so.

I’m calling bullshit.

It is not about anything more complex or psychoanalytical than the poor white, male exerting his privilege to demean and talk down to people he judges less by virtue of their gender or color. That’s all. This sad specimen of a man in all his sweaty grossness said that because he thought he could. Because society deemed it acceptable. His hulking sons got the message loud and clear. They were given permission to openly examine me and objectify me. And his wife was given permission to feel satisfied that she was better because she knew her place. She wasn’t the one leaving herself wide open for ridicule.

I probably deserved it for standing there by a motorcycle, sipping coffee in public. Shit, wasn’t I asking for it out there flaunting myself and letting my freak flag fly for all to see right there at the side of the highway?

And now, I’ve said my piece. I won’t think about that greasy asshole again because there will be a future greasy asshole to take his place soon enough.

But I don’t want to end this all submerged in anger and indignation. I am happy to say, I’ve run into far more friendly and encouraging people than guys like this. So, I’d like to commit some of them to ink too.

  • The couple in the Sierras who was busting their ass to serve a full house breakfast, but still took time to talk to me about riding motorcycles.
  • The gentleman in Austin, NV who talked my ear off about all the cool stuff to look for along my route through Nevada. I wouldn’t have stopped to snap a shot of the Joshua Trees without him telling me about them.

  • The lovely owners and staff of the Silver Cafe who marveled at my adventure and served up a mean pulled pork sandwich. Even offering me some sauce to take home (had to turn it down, no where to hold it).

  • The two men outside of Zion NP who chatted with me for an hour about motorcycle adventures and motorcycles. Who didn’t mansplain anything to me as I dripped coolant down the side of my bike while trying to fill it with a coffee cup. And the woman who rode a Harley and joined in on the conversation.

  • The guy on the Harley heading for Las Vegas who offered me a beer (no thanks I don’t drink on the road), a bottle of water (thanks, but I just downed 32 ounces) and, finally, I accepted a USB outlet because mine was acting up.
  • The woman who mailed my GPS Spot back to me.

  • The innkeeper who found me unusual, but in a good way.
  • There was the amazing innkeeper in Page, NV. A woman who I could have sat with for days and talked about her own life adventures.

  • The small plane pilot and Lake Powell Boat owner who was more interested in my ride and ready to buy another motorcycle. I was more interested in how one gets their pilot’s license ad where one keeps a plane (asking for a friend).

  • In Navajo country, there were so many fine people who took a moment to ask about my ride, where I was going and where I was from and to wish me luck.

  • Somewhere along the Utah-Arizona border there is a selfie of me with two Navajo gentlemen at a lone trading post. They wanted a picture with this bad ass motorcycle woman they met.

  • The guy who was returning on a cross-country trip after delivering his son to college. He was so excited for my ride, I think he’s planning his own cross country trip right now.
  • The quirky waitress in Breckenridge who told my husband and I about her upcoming trip to Italy before she moves to Casper, WY.

  • The three guys who sat across the counter from me in Limon and opened the conversation with “That’s a good looking bike, what is it?”
  • My favorite motel keeper in Kansas and all the fine people there who keep my mom’s grave clean and with flowers. Especially her friend who got my last minute email and came straight over to the motel to see me.

  • All the people who treated me more like a person than an oddity to be openly stared at.
  • All the family and friends who greeted me with open arms, housed me, fed me and put up with me along this ride.

There are so many more moments that outshine that asshole. And I feel better right now remembering them.

Happy cooking and loving one another!

Gearing Up – So Much Stuff

Holy crap! I am hitting the road in less than a week; in just five days. Thursday morning, bright and early, geared up, I ride off on my motorcycle, leave my summer abode and head east into Nevada.

Holy crap!

On one hand, I’ve been talking about this trip for what feels like a long time. On the other hand, it’s a blink of the eye.

I last posted over a week ago because I am a bit frenetic about prepping. It is a lot of stuff. Mostly stuff about the just-in-case scenario that I hope I experience. For example, a gas can. I am strapping a gallon of flammable liquid onto the rear rack of my bike, just in case, I find myself in a place where gas stations are more than 180 miles apart or just in case I stupidly pass the last gas station for miles while on half a tank or just in case I am following a man in black who fled across the desert (a few of you will get that literary reference).

Also, with the country’s spasms of insanity and hate, I debated my safety as a woman riding solo on a motorcycle across the country which includes some long stretches of solace in low population areas, a few stints in states where violence recently occurred and a lot of traveling in unfamiliar country.

I bought myself with a RoadID. My brother gave me a Spot GPS tracker. I can send a select 10 people and the rest of the freaking world on Facebook personal messages with my coordinates or a help message or an SOS. If I feel like it I can send tracks automatically every 10 minutes. Follow my breadcrumbs (morning, a few times a day and when I arrive) on this website.

Then, I case I meet some unsavory characters, I armed myself with love and kindness, but also settled on a small canister of easily accessible mace and a taser. Previous solo road trips and backpacking adventures never required use of such things. Shit, backpacking, I actually thought bears were the most dangerous beasts I might encounter. So, years ago, I armed myself with bear mace. But unfortunately, this time is America in 2017.

Regression.

In the rare case of a moto-boo-boo that can be handled by a bandage, I have a little First Aid Kit. I have emergency snacks and electrolytes. I tossed in chain lube and brush, a metric tool kit, motorcycle kickstand pad, tire repair and inflator, glass wipes, anti-fog, helmet fresh, and a multi-tool.

I busted out some tools to install saddlebag stays, a rack, a power outlet, and a windshield. It made me miss my hyper-organized and over-stocked toolbox filled with very expensive and very pristine toolboxes and tool sets. But, I feel triumphant doing this work with less than perfect tools and set up. As if I were Macgyver escaping villains with a toothpick, a wire, a rubber band and some clippers. I’ll take it.

Add to that list a disk brake lock, a flashlight, a rain suit, a fleece, a head lamp, a helmet headset, high quality earplugs, charging converters and cables, medicine, camping laundry tabs, and paper maps. All that before I pack 3 weeks of clothing which consists of two shirts and two wicking shorts for riding, two post-ride shirts, packable pants, packable shorts, four pairs of underwear, three bras, four pairs of socks, packable hike/walk shoes and flip-flops. I some luxuries like toiletries, my computer, a Kindle, a journal, a compact, electric toothbrush, a GoPro camera, and a corkscrew (because, you always need a corkscrew).

Amazingly, it all fit in the motorcycle in my two saddlebags, the trunk and one dry bag. I didn’t even have to expand the saddle bags yet.

I took it on a test ride to my brother’s house. I have some adjustments to do, but it worked. Soon, Thursday morning will be here. Too soon and not soon enough altogether. Perfection won’t likely be achieved before then. Perfection won’t chase off the nervousness or settle the excitement.

So, Thursday, I ride off regardless. I leave an empty house as my hosts are out of town. As I start my bike, I will send my first little electronic breadcrumb to the world and ride off to the middle of Nevada.

Happy cooking and tracking!