Tag Archives: traveler

Day 21: Asheville to Durham – Blue Ridge Parkway

Approaching the end of a long trip is bitter sweet. Anticipating the destination is exciting, but the journey is ending. I am sure there is some inspirational poster that says something about journeys and destinations, but I won’t go there. It’s a bit cliche, isn’t it?

Getting to Swansboro wasn’t so much a destination, but a layover. I timed this trip to arrive before for my nephew’s birth, but he would arrive a bit early and I, a bit late. Regardless of timing, I planned to stay for 12 days and be helpful or at least not be in the way. After that, I would head back to the place I called home back in June, which despite my feelings of heartbreak and homelessness X days and nearly 4000 miles ago, after spending the last 5 days with my husband, felt less like headed toward uncertainty and more like headed toward a something renewed or fresh or different or not so acrimonious.

At anyrate, I was closing in on some kind of terminus – the Atlantic – but that was still two days away. Today, my husband and I would ride together for a few hours then go our separate ways toward our respective destinations.

After such a long layover in Asheville while being so close to my destination, it was good to get moving again. Irma passed and left the North Carolina foothills cool, cloudy and foggy. At least I would make my new gloves and neck gaiter from the Moto shop useful for a few hours. Rather than the straight shot to Durham, we headed to the Smoky’s. Plans for riding along the Blue Ridge Parkway were quashed because the Parkway remained closed, but there were plenty of options for curvy mountain roads.

I find it calming to wind my way through mountain roads and sleepy towns on cool morning where the fog delivers a blanket of peacefulness to slide through. It’s as if the sky and the trees and the earth are snuggled down and holding each other and I am just lucky enough to float through this intimate moment.

We did manage a few miles on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was littered with leaves and branches. Then, just as suddenly as we entered, we encountered a closed gate and had to return to our Plan B or Plan C or something.

It was a cold morning, but it was a good morning.

After a quick breakfast and coffee in Boone, NC, we road on together for another 10 or so miles before parting toward our respective destinations. As we headed opposite ways at a highway intersection, the 1/4-mile range of our helmet intercoms dwindled away and we said our goodbyes. I fought the urge to turn around and catch him for several miles but then filled my helmet with loud music and focused my thoughts with my soon-to-arrive nephew.

The cold morning and calm roadways gave way to the highways around Winston-Salem and Durham. A feeling of emptiness settled into my gut and I opted to ride the big slab in the interest of reaching a Durham faster. The welcome mat of a friend’s house seemed like a much needed distraction to fill the void.

Indeed, it is always good to roll into a drive way and have a friendly and familiar face greet you there. I’ve relished in that feeling these last three weeks. No luxury hotel roo. With a view, infinite cable channels, mini shampoos, continental breakfast, or other hotel amenity can make up for that. I’ve heard lots of apologies for the state of a house and the disruption of family activities and the craziness of life, but I will definitely take that over a sterile hotel room. I say that as I lay on a hotel bed in a fluffy robe after a hot shower using fancy toiletries with cable tv prattling on in the background. This is a nice reprieve, but I’ll take the friendly household most days.

As I would finish crossing the continent the next day, my friend asked what about the most interesting thing of my trip. The question caught me off guard. I had nothing. Despite all the hoopla and perceived risk and anticipation and preparation and contemplation and blogging and miles, there was not a “most” I could articulate. I told her “the people.” It was not a cop out. The people I did meet were amazing and beautiful and awesome. But, unlike previous road trips, I didn’t meet anyone I would have a long lasting relationship with. They were all momentary meetings, fleeting. I could have just as easily said “the scenery” or “the roads” or “this city” or “that city” or something. They would have fit the bill for interesting.

But, I suppose finding a most interesting wasn’t really what this trip was about. It was about being alone with me. Doing something extraordinary for no particularly extraordinary reason. It was me escaping me, even if for a short time. I dunno, I suppose what’s most interesting will come to me with a bit of time. Or maybe this was just a little hiccup in the relentless march forward of life with nothing meaningful or interesting, just a pause. And nothing profound will result.

Hmmmm…

And with that, I leave you with a cliched quote about the journey and the destination…

Happy cooking and journeying.

Nomad Seeking Riding Buddies & Friends Along Way.

So, I finally set dates for hitting the road (I will get to that later). I was a bit ambitious with an early August departure. So, I thought to myself, “Why am I rushing?” This road trip culminates in landing back in Massachusetts to a whole bunch of unknowns. I am basically a nomad. So, I didn’t need to rush back.

The synonyms ‘itinerant traveler’ or ‘wanderer’ or ‘roamer’ might sound more romantic than nomad, which is defined as one with “no permanent abode, and who travel[s] from place to place to find fresh pasture.” Its only romantic when the circumstances that make you a nomad are romantic.

A friend posted a Guardian piece titled “The closest feeling to homelessness is having a broken heart.” The headline was a bit of a bait and switch. Other than the quick analogy in the opening hook of the piece, the author’s motive was to talk about homelessness, society and social welfare. Interesting and compelling topics in their own right, but that hook really hit home.

“The closest feeling to having nowhere to stay for the night is that of a broken heart. It is a feeling of abandonment, of rejection and loneliness. When you are homeless you feel rejected by all, not just by another.”

—David West

That’s me – the heartbroken homeless. I took off to California to lick my wounds and examine my broken heart. I still don’t know if my heart’s been crushed, but it’s wounded. Since I got to California on June 23rd, I spent the bulk of my nights in a comfy spare bedroom at my brother’s very generous in-laws’ house (35 nights). Intermittently, I also spent 1 night in a hotel, 1 night on a twin bed, 2 nights on an air mattress and 9 nights in various friend’s spares rooms from California to Colorado.

I had my mail temporarily forwarded to my most frequent short-term digs from my last permanent dwelling that I don’t know if I will return to. Which reminds me, I need to extend that forwarding for my new travel schedule. But, first, I need to decide if it should revert to the original address or if I should do another temporary forwarding to my sister’s place where I will crash for several weeks after the birth of her second child. I will make a temporary home on either her couch, an air mattress on the living room floor, or share a room with my 3-year-old nephew. It could be a hotel too, I dunno.

I even had problems deciding what address to use for my. It is wristband I will wear to identify me, my birth year, emergency contacts, and a website to find out pertinent information about be in case something bad happens in the road. I settle for home as my former permanent address and the place I am crashing for my “summer” address.

I am scheduled to return to Massachusetts at the end of September. I go to the house of my last permanent residence where many of my possessions reside in boxes. The same address I probably will ship the two big pieces of luggage I brought with me to California, but can’t transport on a motorcycle. They will go there because I don’t know where else to send them. I am contemplating sending a portion of the clothes to my sister’s place because, although I could manage, I probably don’t want to live with just two t-shirts, a pair of shorts and a pair of jeans along with my moto gear for two or three weeks.

I don’t have a place to live in Massachusetts. I have places to crash, but the reality is, in about 7-weeks, I am basically homeless. . . or heart broken. . . or both.

I mentioned feeling untethered in a previous post. Untethered is far too light, airy and free for something that feels so heavy, daunting and uncertain.

It is a lot to think about. So, perhaps the best strategy is to stay in the now and focus on the things that are not unknowns. . .the things that are tethered.

Despite the heavy start to this post, this nomad is seeking riding buddies and new friends in my wandering adventure across this continent. I may not know what’s at the end of this trip, but I do roughly know what is along the way. I am looking for people who might share in legs of my journey.

I admit, I am nervous about making this public appeal on a forum with few filters or protections, but we established, I am irresponsible, so this goes with the territory.

I mapped my intended journey on this map. Unfortunately, GoogleMaps isn’t cooperating with letting me tweak my route to stay off interstates, so I am resorting to paper maps and a marker to refine this trip and dial in my distances and routes and stops.

I hit the road on August 24th. I make 14-16 stops along the way over 19 days. If it goes according to this plan, I continue the journey from North Carolina to Massachusetts at the end of September.

Here is a rough schedule for my trip. Now accepting riding buddies, friends and suggestions.

  • August 24: Pollock Pines, CA to Austin, NV
  • August 25: Austin, NV to Panaca, NV
  • August 26: Panaca, NV to Page, AZ
  • August 27: Page, AZ to Dolores, CO (stay with friend)
  • August 28: Dolores, CO to Buena Vista, CO
    • August 28 – 30: Buena Vista, CO
  • August 30: Buena Vista, CO to Aurora, CO
    • August 30 – Sept 1: Aurora, CO (stay with family)
  • September 1: Aurora, CO to Stockton, KS
  • September 2: Stockton, KS to Topeka, KS (stay with friends)
  • September 3: Topeka, KS to St. Louis, MO
    • September 3-5: St. Louis, MO (stay with family)
  • September 5: St. Louis, MO to Memphis, TN
  • September 6: Memphis, TN to Nashville, TN
    • September 6-8: Nashville, TN
  • September 8: Memphis TN to Telico Plains, TN
  • September 9: Telico Plains, TN to Asheville, NC
    • Ride the Tail of the Dragon
  • September 10: Asheville, NC to Durham, NC via Blue Ridge Parkway (stay with friends)
  • September 11: Durham, NC to Swansboro, NC (stay with family)

Come, ride with me.

Happy cooking and wandering! Hope to see you on the road.