Tag Archives: Life Reimagined

Day 18: Telico Plains to Asheville – Cherohala Skyway

When you are riding the long swooping curves of the Cherohala Skyway it feels like floating through an endless 360. They are interminably graceful spirals that are just tight enough to keep you engaged, taut and on high alert. On any other day, this ride is an exhilarating thrill, but today, I was riding it after two days playing in the Tennessee mountains and on the Tail of the Dragon. Those big ol’ curves felt lighter and easier than they would have three days ago. They were just lazy enough to allow me take in the big sweeping views and to let my mind into relax into a feeling akin to flying.

Despite a mega-hurricane turned tropical storm working it’s way northwesterly toward Tennessee, the morning promised a day of perfect riding weather. We rolled out of the Farmhouse Inn in crisp cool air that left condensation overnight. It was a great day for a ride.

Tellico Plains, Tennessee, which served the best fried chicken I had in Tennessee at the Tellicafe, anchors the of the highway and Robbinsville, North Carolina is at the other end. After 90-minutes of swishing through the mountains, entering Robbinsville is a bit of a shock to the senses. Unfortunately, my senses didn’t respond this morning. My husband finds it impossible to take verbal directions from Google maps (don’t get me started), so we missed the turn onto Junaluka Road.

As soon as I looked along the detour on Morphew Road, I knew I was in trouble. If you recall, I have problems stopping on a steep inclined with my bike fully loaded.

Well, Morphew was a narrow road with a temporary speed bump in the middle – probably meant to discourage the detouring cars and riders from speeding along. It was capped with a steep ramp that ended abruptly onto the tee-ed into the busier roadway where I needed to turn left. It wasn’t a big hill, or a ridiculously steep one. In fact, most people wouldn’t consider it all that tough. But for those who’ve driven a clutch with some play, you know the delicate balance of brake, throttle, clutch and catch to get forward momentum from a stop on a hill. Not to mention, the rear end was loaded up leaving little traction in this inclined position under the front wheel.

I would have liked to gun it, stop sign be damned, and launch myself into the cross street hoping for a nicely times break in traffic as I took a left into the roadway.. Good thing my brain’s self-preservation instinct didn’t quit. My husband was ahead of me and was able to land his front wheel on the intersection shoulder giving him view of road and a bit of positional advantage.

Me? I stopped mid-hill behind him. Not a great view of the road and not a great position for traction. Before I knew it, I was stranded in the incline, engine stalled, all the luggage making my bike ass heavy and my brain stuck in an “Oh shit” stutter.

Right hand does what? Oh shit. Left hand, huh? Oh shit. Is the engine on? Oh shit. What gear? Oh shit. Brake? Oh shit. Other brake? Oh shit. Foot, no, other foot. Oh shit. Fuck. Oh shit. Fuck it. Oh Shit. I am abandoning ship. Oh shit…leg…hand…oh shit…foot…oh shit…oh shit…oh shit….Help.

Yes, my inner dialog cusses that much…maybe more…likely more. I probably show some restraint out loud than my inner dialog.

That brain chatter roughly translated into my husband watching me spasm through some motions, cursing into the intercom and then slowly, sadly, laying the bike down with my leg stuck on my luggage mid swing in ejecting. Unfortunately, this graceful spasm did not go unwitnessed. Fortunately, the two fine residents of Robbinsville knew this scene well. I was not the first motorcycle to miss the turn and I was not the only one of them to drop a bike there and, thankfully, I was not one of those who ran it into the ditch, or hit the barrier or actually launched into the street and traffic. Four of us pushed the bike across the street to a safely flat spot.

After some deep yogic belly breaths and mental mantras, we were on our way again. I am glad I am writing this down and remembering how awesome the Cherahala Highway was since it sorta got lost in my memory of the drop. Despite my luggage being the culprit for bringing me down on hills, it also keeps my bike from damage when I go down. Chicken or egg?

After the Cherohala Highway, there’s a slight reprieve from those dreamy, swooping swirls to fill the gap before reaching the Cherokee, NC, the gateway to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Our quick lunch in Cherokee, NC found us among Hurricane Irma refugees from Florida.

We had no time and no desire to contemplate the fast we we’re riding into the aftermath of Irma ourselves. The ride ahead was too promising and the rain ahead of us was ahead of us and there was no point in worrying about what’s a day or more ahead when the Blue Ridge was there, now, today. So, we headed to Asheville, NC via the a roadway that was only slightly less amazing than our morning ride. Or maybe it’s more amazing. No, matter, it was all amazing.

Yeah, it was a tough day of riding across two of the most scenic and fun roadways in the country.

Happy cooking and happy amazing!

Banish The Pixie Dream Girl

I was going to write a post seeking riding buddies and new friends on the road, but then I got sidetracked by a recent episode of the podcast Modern Love.

At first blush ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl‘ seemed like it was going to be a cheesy love story, but you know, that’s not really Modern Love style. There must be some insight. There is always a lesson.

As the narrator talked about his love of the genre of manic pixie dream girl romance. He told a story of how he once found his very own manic pixie dream girl. Describing the exciting but damaged personality that makes up the manic pixie dream girl, I wondered if I envisioned myself as a manic pixie dream girl too.

No, I don’t envision myself as a Natalie Portman from Garden State. I lack the physique and eating discipline to actually be pixie-like (note: photo is nothing like Natalie Portman) But that old trope of the fun, interesting, quirky and intriguing girl who is also emotionally and mentally damaged from whatever ghosts haunt her and she needs fixing by a stable, strong, infinitely patient protagonist. The storyline goes that the stable protagonist finds himself a manic pixie dream girl. She, through her wild antics, she draws him out of his shell and introduces him to an exotic new world of new experiences and, of course, sex.

They fall in love. But the heroine can’t escape her mental defects. The sexy intrigue becomes unbearably eccentric. The wild excitement turns into fear-inducing volatility. The fun quirkiness becomes mental instability. The sass becomes mean.

We worry about what she will do to him. Or what she will do to the relationship. And we are certain she will ultimately hurt herself. Naturally, love overcomes all and our strong and stable protagonist is able to fix her; thus saving her from herself.

My favorite of this genre is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It doesn’t follow this exact formula and our manic pixie dream girl, Clementine, is less hapless and cutesy pixie and more self-assured and decisive woman. I hesitate to add manic, because that would imply she actually has a mental health disorder that the audience thinks she needs fixing. She doesn’t need fixing.

As I declared myself an atheist at age twelve, I am not so into the idea of fate nor star-crossed lovers nor soulmates nor one true loves. So, it’s odd that I love this movie so much. It relies entirely on fate – our two soulmates, despite erasing each other from their minds, they find each other again because they are destined to be together.

The movie abruptly ends after they find out they erased each other from their respective brains. They learn about their previously volitile relationship that ended in heartbreak.

Roll credits.

We are left to believe Joel and Clementine are fated to be together. Armed with the knowledge of how their relationship failed, perhaps they avoid all the mistakes of the past and live happily ever after.

Or maybe they are the same people, the same personalities and the same relationship they were the first time. Perhaps, they are destined to just repeat the same heartbreak again and again and again. Groundhogs Day.

Okay, that was a fun recap of my favorite movie. So, why, you might ask, would I envision myself some sort of manic pixie dream girl? I don’t want to, really. In fact, it’s not even specifically the manic pixie dream girl that is the problem.

She is just the embodiment of that tired old mentality that most of those smart, intriguing and fun girls we love are flawed. They need to be fixed. The “I like all these things about you and you would be perfect if you could just fix all these things about you.” Your amazing, but totally screwed up. I’ll take all the good stuff, but let me help you identify and eliminate all this shit that stinks and offends me. Your great, but broken.

Here is the problem. We are all flawed. No, not flawed. We are all different. With the good weirdness comes the bad strangeness. With the exciting and exotic comes the scary and different. With the wild and fun come the unpredictable and volatile. It is all matter of degrees and increments, compromises and acceptance. It is not flaws in need of fixes.

I fell for the romantic construct of the manic pixie dream girl. We all do at some point, don’t we? We envision ourselves as some gauzy, doe-eyed creature who is wonderfully and tragically imperfect. We are broken and we need someone to fix us and save us from ourselves. And it’s not just any anyone – it is only the fated one.

No doubt, I can be improved. But let’s banish the manic pixie dream girl and all her incarnations. The concept of her is broken. I am not.

Happy cooking and dreaming!