Tag Archives: chicks on bikes

Day 24: Ferry to Cape May, NJ – Kindred Spirits

Meet Margo Pellegrino, my Spirit Animal. No, she’s not the bird, that little f*%ker attacked me. Margo is the amazing and awesome woman who inspires me to do amazing and awesome things. If you think my solo adventure where I learned to ride a motorcycle, flew off to California, bought a motorcycle then rode across the continent in a span of less than 6 months sounds a bit nutty, then you can look no further than Margo as my inspiration for such solo adventure feats.

In 2007, Margo took her first solo adventure from Maimi to Maine. She didn’t do that on wheels though, she did that on water, along on a 25-foot long fiberglass outrigger canoe. Since 2007, she’s completed solo adventures from Seattle to San Diego, Long Beach Island to Washington, DC, Maimi to New Orleans, Cape May to Montauk, New York to Chicago,  and Chicago to New Orleans.  Next, she will paddle from her backyard dock to DC to lobby congress to protect one of humanity’s most precious resources – clean water.

She has paddled solo on the Pacific, on the Atlantic, up the Intracoastal Waterway, in the Gulf of Mexico, up the Hudson River, up the Erie Canal, across the Great Lakes . She moved alone among vast expanses of water, some polluted, in sweltering heat, and hypothermic cold, over crashing waves, through crushing chop and along raging surf. She’s paddle in downpours, sunshine and everything in-between. Alone. Solo. One Woman.

Along the way, she raises money and awareness about the importance of one of humanity’s most precious resources – water.  Some of her causes include the National Resources Defense CouncilGulf Restoration Network, NJ Clean Ocean Action. Along each of her solo adventures. . . neigh, each of her solo one-woman-on-a-mission missions, Margo spends time with coastal communities giving talks, advocating for action and recruiting communities to take action. For each of her trips, she relies on a network of hosts recruited through the Surfrider Foundation, and The Blue Frontier Campaign to support her along the way and provide places to stay.

In my telling of my own solo adventure crossing the continent, if I told you I encountered a few hairy situations, rest assured, they pale in comparison to what Margo has encountered. There was the landing in Northern California that nearly snapped her tiny craft in half. There was paddling up the Hudson wondering about the rainbow sheen on the surface of the water. There was the encounter with a certain ex-president out on a motorboat in Maine. Shout out to another bad ass lady and solo adventurer, June Bernard (Salty Blue Designs) who drove a van supporting Margo’s whole West Coast Trip and helped with some of those crazy beach landings.

If I sound like I have a bit of a girl crush on this amazing woman, well, it is because I do.

While I met some shady characters with questionable judgement and unguarded not-so-witty commentary who made me feel uncomfortable on the road, I rarely felt the danger that comes with being isolated, on a vast puddle of water and totally vulnerable. Not in the way rendezvousing with your next support host in open water to find out it is a guy on a pontoon boat already several beers in. Then, although everything turns out for the better, your first encounter with said host sets your neck hairs on end as he greets you, who is sitting perched on a tiny fiberglass boat in the vast, vast ocean, from his pontoon with a freak you the fuck out  “Well, you got pretty blue eyes.” Seriously guys, shit like this is not cool.

Given all that, I found it laughable that when I arrived at her doorstep in New Jersey, she proclaims my self-indulgent motorcycle ride of self discovery to be a crazy adventure.

Despite my morning crossing the Cheasepeake Bay into an insane head wind, then cruising the entire Atlantic coastline of Maryland and Deleware and catching the Ferry from Lewes to Cape May where a captive audience queried me on my own adventure, it was really the compliment from a queen of adventure that made my day.

Happy Cooking and Happy Solo Adventure!

Day 23 (+12 Day Intermission): Swansboro to Virginia Beach- Hurricane Maria

Real life with all its ‘To do’ lists and responsibilities and messes to tidy up and people to talk to and calendars and stuff is a fickle character. I’ve been back in Medford for 25 days and real life is trying to drown me.  Way back at the start of this year, I had a way of characterizing this feeling. It is like treading water in rough seas. Your hands and legs work furiously, but you keep gulping salt water all the while the waves bounce you up and down and up and down offering only glimpses of the steady land in the distance. That safe place where you can breath and take survey of your situation.

My first week back, a wave of responsibility crushed me. Who the hell schedules themselves to invent 5 new classes in one week after being checked out for 15-1/2 weeks? Apparently, the me I was 16 weeks early is who does that. I got crushed and anxious and a bit crazed. . .then I got sick. The flu. After that, I got ruthless. I looked at my calendar and asked myself “What is not serving me?” then I ejected, rejects and bailed out my boat and told myself “No treading water today.”

But, real life is a fickle, rentless, sociopathic, stalking, obsessive character. And many of my last 25 days are marked by throwing that character overboard, over and over again.

So, what is serving me today? Sitting in a coffee shop and telling you guys about my first day back on the road after spending my nephew’s first 12 days on earth with him (an the other characters in the household). How long does it take for ducklings to imprint? Fun fact, in those 12 days, I never once changed a dirty diaper. Yay, me!

I was not nearly as meticulous at planning my ride from Swansboro to Medford. I figured I would dedicate some portion of the 12 days I stayed in Swansboro to that, but, I didn’t. So, a few days before I set out, I started making reservations. A ride up the Outerbanks seemed not just awesome, but necessary. I reserved a spot on the 10:30am September 26th  ferry to Ocracoke Island. I would take an inner island ferry in the afternoon and stay in Nags Head.

Calm on Emerald Isle before Maria arrives.


Unfortunately, Hurricane Maria. . . yes, THAT Hurricane Maria of Puerto Rico devastation. . . also thought a visit to the Outerbanks on September 26th would be fun. While the storm surge sent surfers to the ocean, it sent me inland. Maria canceled my ferry on the morning of the 25th and offered up island winds in excess of 35mph for the 26th. She also put my crossing of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel into questions. Nothing like an 18 mile open ocean bridge crossing in high winds. It is closed to motorcycles when winds reach 45mph. 45 mph winds on a motorcycle- that is fucking nuts, but the alternative route to see a friend in NJ would add 4 hours to my ride on the 27th.

Real life is not the only fickle character aiming to drown my sensibility, traffic and weather of the Northeast Corridor is too.

After a quick rejiggering of my route and minus a $25 hotel cancellation fee for  cancelling within 2 weeks of the reservation for a reservation I made just 48 hours earlier, I took a deep breath, realized I Hurricane Maria flattened Puerto Rico, call my inconvenience silly compared to that of the thousands on the island and donated the remainder of what my hotel cost to Unicef.

On the morning of the 26th, I headed inland and straight for Virginia Beach.  The air was thick with high pressure to the west of the Hurricane Maria – which is what was driving her northwardly along the coast then pushing her back out to sea in the Northeast. Unfortunately, that means unlike the heat of California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona, I was riding through the relentless, humid, sticky heat of the South.  Intermittent sprinkles along the way just meant I was constantly damp and uncomfortable.

After 12 days of driving my sister’s big ol’, four wheeled SUV, my moto conditioning was a bit less than ideal for 7 hours on the road, in the heat. I can’t remember much of this ride other than the humidity, the sprinkles and trying to settle my back-on-the-road jitters. I treated myself to a a night at the Beach Spa Bead and Breakfast and a long massage on arrival. Even though my massage therapist chatted way more than I prefer, in the end, our connection around both of us one day heading off across the country to find some sanity made it all okay.

My motorcycle safely nuzzled down for the night while the rain poured down and the winds whipped around Virginia Beach; I looked at the conditions on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. It was closed to motorcycles for part of the day due to winds. I looked at the Cape May Ferry to New Jersey. Maria seemed to have spared it. I looked at the journey through New Jersey to Connecticut through what is the most heavily trafficed leg of my ride at the confluence of several major urban areas with driver known for their unpleasantness. I looked at my last day of riding home to Medford. The journey would be ending but at least I now knew I had a home to return to. And I looked to the days and weeks and months and years beyond that with a hesitation. Can’t I just stay on the road?

Finally, I settled in for the night and decided to I resist nagging voice of real life. I would face the bridge tomorrow. I would tackle New Jersey and those pesky drivers in their time. I would ride through reds, oranges, yellows and greens of New England. I would arrive at home. I would figure it out. Just not tonight.

Happy cooking and happy slaying real life!