Day One: Falling is Easy

Day One (9/21): 187 miles

I realized this trip is going to be a balancing act. I’m engaging in two separate activities that, when done correctly, are near polar opposites.

It took me longer to leave than I expected. It had rained earlier, and was continuing to drizzle. I had needed to tie up loose ends around the house, making sure I didn’t leave my room and motorcycle workspace too messy. I also had to cut up a tree, which is my brand mark so to speak. The idea has really been a gift, and has led to many an interesting conversation. The theory is that if I meet someone (or even if we simply pass each other on the street), and they don’t remember much about me at all other than “the guy had a tree in his head”, then if I run into them years down the road, or am spoken of, I will be remembered. People don’t need my name, don’t need my face even, if their friend says “Oh man this magician was nuts, & he had a crazy tree haircut”. then that person is (probably) more likely to tip me and/or be friendlier than if I was a complete stranger.

My good Bellingham friend Mel was the very first to cut it for me, and I’m very grateful she had the courage to do it. She was drawing a beautiful tree on a sketchpad, and I sort’ve just blurted out “Wanna cut that into my head?” This was literally the first and only time we had ever hung out, just barely getting to know each other. After some convincing, the hidea turned into something beautiful. I don’t think she’d ever cut hair before then, but sure enough she carved a respectable tree into my scalp, and gave me what will likely be a permanent part of my character.

After that, the very talented artist Jess King began to take over the task, and did so wonderfully for close to two years. After a while, I started to feel bad about asking others to style my hair, and eventually began trying my hand at it. Since then, I’ve had a lot of fun experimenting. In the past it’s always been cut into the hair, but over the last month or two I’ve began experimenting with cutting away everything around the tree, to leave a whole image. This would be my fourth attempt, and this is what’s come of it so far.

I didn’t really plan on writing three paragraphs about my hair.. lol but hey, it’s part of my character. I digress

I said goodbye to my mother, and she snapped my “here I go” photo.

And there I went. Out of my home, between the little towns of Duvall and Carnation (Moovall & Cownation), off into the great big world. Right as I crossed the bridge leaving Carnation I burst into laughter and gave a solid hoot of exhilaration, startled by the idea that I had just begun to follow a dream. Not more than five minutes later, my speedometer cable vibrated loose and came off. Fortunately I caught it before it fully departed the bike and drug on the concrete. It’s nice to deposit reality checks in the memory bank. This is a learning experience.

It was a little over three hours to Vancouver, WA, but it ended up being close to six with traffic & stops. It was frustrating to go from “Alright, here I go!” straight into stop & go traffic. I stopped in Kent and bought a new helmet, as the one I had been using was about 15 year old and a little too loose for me. As I pulled out, I noticed the nuts holding my front tool tube had vibrated loose, leaving it hanging from one bracket. At 4″ wide, it’d be a big enough bump to pop the rear tire up causing me to lose traction, which, depending on the situation, could be enough to kill me.

This is what I am learning to love about motorcycle touring. The maintenance, the careful attention to detail, it’s something you want to do, because you want to stay alive. My survival instincts are tied to this machine, and it’s been pretty crazy feeling the alchemy as the bike becomes an extension of myself. The KLR is a single cylinder bike, which means they vibrate like crazy. You’ve really got to pay attention to fasteners, because if given enough time and enough neglect, the bike will eventually rattle itself apart. For all it has to offer me, I’m happy to reciprocate.

Side note: I plan on sharing as much of this trip as I possibly can. I’ll be deliberating taking time out of the experience to broadcast it. The blog has received much more attention than I anticipated, and I am super excited to share this journey with you. This will include the embarrassing parts, because in my experiences reading others’ blogs, when I peeked into others lives and saw them showing their full humanity, I really related.

So I stopped by a Safeway in Longview, because I had forgotten to coinstar the few pounds of coins I’d been carrying for 100 miles. After walking around the store, being complimented on my outfit and hair, I found no coinstar and went to leave. As I’m getting back on my bike, some guy stops me to take a photo of my head, the third one of my trip. Feeling like a rockstar, I start the bike, & begin backing up, as a pickup truck waits to take my spot, another car behind him. I rush the maneuver, & feel the 400lb bike with 100lbs of gear begin to lose balance. With an audience, I imitate grace, catch the bike at a 45 degree angle and pause for a moment before gradually setting it down on it’s side case. The pickup drives off to find another spot, and I, humbled, struggled to try & lift the bike up for a moment before a stranger came over and asked if I’d like help. We hoisted it up, and I rode off, blushing in my fluorescent orange suit. There’s a first time for everything, and I’ll definitely back up slower from now on.

I’m planning my path as I go, and this is what made me realize there is a balance to be struck.

Motorcycle touring: Me. My machine. Open road. Forests. Mountains. Ocean. Lakes. Valleys. Rivers. Nature. Solitude.

Street performing: Cities. Traffic. Concrete. Crowds. Civilization.

My profession puts me around people all the time. I’m on my way to New Orleans, where there’ll be much less opportunity to connect with nature. I plan on performing on my way there, but I think I’ll do less than I originally intended. I’m going to take the paths less trodden, and deal with the people when I have to. I’ll have plenty of time to surround myself with others in the cities. I’m on this trip to escape all of that. I spent my first night with my friend Evan & his girlfriend Erin. They let me stay in their beautiful home, fed me generously, and showed me great hospitality. I am grateful, happy, and ready to embark on day two.

Stay tuned.

Pz, <3, & =).