I feel like I’ve left y’all out of the journeys. I knew this trip would be different, and though I wasn’t quite sure how, the only way to know was to see for myself.
In the first two tours, I felt completely free. No time restraints, the bike was running great, and any monetary limitations I faced were countered by an unshakeable confidence that I could make money wherever I went.
But on this tour I felt like I was on borrowed time. A month before leaving Seattle, I made the mistake of spending most of my savings on upgrades for the machine, thinking that my income would remain somewhat stable and I’d easily be able to put together gas money for the ride. As the season suddenly dried up, I ended up borrowing funds to acquire protective pants, boots, and gloves, as well as a few hundred bucks for gas money. All together, this was no small sum, and though I absolutely could not have done the tour without the help from my family, borrowing money completely changed my attitude about throughout the trip.
I felt like I’d lost something that was so very important to me, on a personal level and as a larger part of the M.o.a.M. project: my independence. Up until that point, I had completely supported myself through the art of magic. I was a starving artist, but I was making it, living a dream funded by living a dream. Working the West coast in October didn’t inspire confidence in my ability to survive on the road, rusty as I was.
The season in New Orleans started early October. I didn’t leave Seattle until Oct. 21st, and throughout the whole trip I kept thinking about the work I was missing out on. The Horizons Unlimited motorcycle meeting in California was the only recreational stop I had planned; the rest of the trip was almost exclusively serving the purpose of getting myself and my machine to the other side of the country in one piece. There are many ways to travel across the country. If you are trying to make good time, I do not recommend you attempt to do so on a dual-sport motorcycle.
The motorcycle meeting was an eye opener to say the least. On one level, I felt included in the in-group of adventure motorcyclists; on another, I felt excluded because (I’m pretty sure) I was the youngest one there on my own steed, I probably had been riding the least amount of time (16 months), and almost all of these guys (and girls) worked at something else full-time, and rode in their spare time. Since getting the motorcycle, I’ve lived off the back of it for almost four months, a quarter of the time I’ve owned it. I dove headfirst and full-speed into the touring entertainer lifestyle — that’s been my profession — but since I slipped up on my seasonal timing, my confidence in the career choice had come down several notches.
I also felt a bit weird because I was a magician. My goal was to show up at the meeting and start entertaining all of these folks, hopefully charming my way into some of the social circles of riders. What I hadn’t considered was how difficult it would be to initiate something like a magic show at a motorcycle meeting full of mostly grown motorcycle-riding men. Looking back, I should have started small and just entertained a few people in more intimate settings, but since the season dried up in Seattle it had been a month since I was last in a performing groove. Nerves got the best of me, and I ended up never performing for anyone as I watched an opportunity to connect disappear in a cloud of dust.
I was quite surprised to see so many female riders there. One of the most inspiring talks was by Carla King, on the topic of adventure writing. I’m now totally set on putting together a book reviewing the first two years of the Magician on a Motorcycle project. Throughout the weekend I learned a ton, saw a bunch of great custom adventure machines, listened to a bunch of great lectures, and got myself a hefty dose of inspiration. The main lesson I took away from the meeting was that to have a “proper” adventure, I probably ought to spend a little more time preparing. Just going after it right out the gate like I have has me feeling like a kid that’s ate a ton of sweets and spoiled his appetite for a sustainable dinner.
Overall, I learned several lessons about busking and adventure riding, lessons that take a year or two for the learning conditions to come together. I now know exactly when the NW season ends, and when New Orleans’ begins. A buddy in Seattle put it this way: Instead of chasing summer, it’s better to have summer chasing you.
I’ll segment this now, just wanted to get a start on recapping the SEA2NO ’13 tour. It feels great to be back in New Orleans, but with practically a month’s worth of dust on me, it’s taken quite some readjusting to get back in the flow of things. The next post will be about all that went wrong on the tour, stay tuned!