the blog of Shawnee Moon

Seeing America... However I Can...

I will be continuing my traveling adventure, and therefore its narration. I had such a spectacular time on my walk, but since I cannot, still, walk very far without a great deal of discomfort, I have devised another plan. I didn't like quitting halfway, and apparently permanent damage to my back has preculded me from continuing on foot. I intend to complete the journey, for my own satisfaction, for closure, for adventure, and to see America. I will be undertaking Part II this summer, though, alas, not on foot, but on a 1981 Honda CM400 motorcycle. Unless I can find a ride for me, my motorcycle and my gear to the east coast this summer, I shall be riding to Wisconsin, where I left off, and continuing on to Ocean City, Washington, my original destination, before turning east and heading home to Wyoming. As I prepare for, and embark on this trip, I shall update this blog.

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Last Day, Year 54

Tomorrow is my 54th birthday.

I read an entry from this day, in 2011. I was 49-turning-50; the “big one”. I was in Los Angeles, and in the following Spring I was embarking on my walk.    On that date, I was looking forward.

This evening I am looking back as well.

At 50, I was anxious, doubtful.  I didn’t see a lot of promise in my future, although I was elated that my dyscrasy seemed to have cleared up on its own, and was looking forward to my upcomng walk.

At 54, I am content. After three years, I finished what I started. I made a compromise, the motorcycle instead of my feet. But my trip was about the journey, and journey I did. I made my dream come true.

At 54, I feel complete.  Inside my head is much quieter now, the constant cartographical ponderings, the planning and plotting and  mental assembling of gear is gone. What my cranium lacks in ‘brain chatter’, it makes up for, now, in copius amounts of happy memories.

At 54, my heart is full.  Full of love for my wonderful boyfriend Mike, and for my children. It is full of love for the amazing people I have met, from the New Jersey cop to the Washington musician, who helped me or befriended me.  It is full of love for the landscapes of this country. I rode through the suburbs of New Jersey, over the Pocono, Appalachian, Allegheny, Rocky and Cascade mountains. Trigger carried me across great expanses of golden wheatfields and through the dense cool forests of Minnesota and Washington. I ferried across the Straits of Mackinac and Puget Sound. I stood in both oceans.

And with the love and the memories there is a peace. An enlightenment. I “get it” now. I learned who I was and I learned, for the first time, to like her.  Me. I never knew me before.  My impressions of myself were way off.

I earned a PhD on the road. I learned about people and geography and how to ride in mud and in crosswinds, and about trust, and friendship and connecting and family and friends, and love.

Most of all, I learned about me. And she ain’t so bad, for an old lady.

____

Some people dread turning older. I guess if I had nothing to look forward to, or no love or no wonder about life, I imagine I’d have some reluctance facing another year.  But at 54, I am whole and happy and very much in love, and I am looking forward to each day,. I spend them with my One, Mike, and with my chickens and garden.  The cooler weather will be arriving soon, and I intend to spend my Autumn and Winter working on the book I am writing about my adventures.

A very Happy Birthday to me. It already is, just :18 minutes into it. I am home with my lover. And I am happy. For the first time in my life, I am truly, deeply happy.

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Photos 3: Wisconsin and Minnesota

This slideshow could not be started. Try refreshing the page or viewing it in another browser.

PHOTOS * PHOTOS * PHOTOS

I took a lot of pictures, these are just some of them.  I have made seperate pages to accomodate them. Just click on the first picture and it will open up a slide show.

Here are the links: (I will add links as I add pages)

New Jersey/Pennsylvania

https://moonwalksusa.wordpress.com/photo-page/

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Ohio and Michigan

https://moonwalksusa.wordpress.com/photo-page-ohio-and-michigan/#jp-carousel-3764

Wisconsin and Minnesota

https://moonwalksusa.wordpress.com/2015/09/21/photos-3-wisconsin-and-minnesota/

HOME!

I left off in the little cabin in Ashton, Idaho.

We still had 215 miles to go, so after breakfast in Ashton, we loaded up and stopped for gas. My cigarette lighter wasn’t working, so Mike went looking for a fuse.  I took that time to walk up the road and take a few photos of the Frostop soda and ice cream shop.

I originally read it as “Fro stop”, like one was trying to get their afro from getting any bigger. Mike laughed and corrected me, it’s FROST-TOP. Oops.

We headed east on 20, to West Yellowstone, and then into Yellowstone National Park.  We both have park passes, so it doesn’t cost us each $25.

It was cooler in the park, downright chilly on the higher mountain passes.  We didn’t have to stop for any animal jams, although we did see a few cars parked haphazardly on the shoulder, the people standing and pointing at and photographing a few buffalo.

We exited the park and had nearly fifty miles to go before we reached Cody.  It’s such a beautiful drive, it made time go faster.  The wind is nearly always blowing on the Northfork highway, and it zigzags as it deflected off rocks and mountainsides.

Soon we came to Cody, and I stopped and got my mail from my UPS box, stashed it, and continued towards home.

I felt triumphant. I had accomplished what I had set out to do, crazy as it was on that bike, with no major problems, accidents, or much rain. It was my private victory, as it was done not for recognition, not for anything other than to finish my trek from three years ago, and to quell the gnawing in my brain about it.

I lost track of what day it was, I thought it was Thursday, so when we got to the pub we met at, we stopped for “Thursty Thursday”, two for one drinks. Turned out it was Friday, and a guy I used to date was in there, and congratulated me, and bought our drinks. I had a double shot of whisky because I had a cold, which I still have.

After our drink, we headed HOME.  It was so good to be back.  I held my cat a bit, unloaded the motorcycle, and went to see my chickens.  They had all gotten even bigger, and all had combs now.  It made them hard to identify now, but I’ll figure them out.  They started laying eggs while I was away.

Mike didn’t mess with the garden much, it was weedy but the plants were big, there were tomatoes all over the vines, and green peppers, carrots, squash and calypso beans.

Despite my cold, I was happy and glad to have completed my trip, glad to be with Mike now, everyday, glad to be able to get on with my life again. It was nice to sleep in my own bed, in my own house, and not have to eat every meal out.

The whole trip hasn’t “sunk in” yet. I didn’t acquire a lot of my benefit from my walk right away.  But inside my head is a lot quieter. I’m not planning, I’m not measuring miles and distances and writing down gear lists.  I have more peace in my brain than I’ve had in years.

I did it. 🙂

Craters of the Moon

My last blog entry ended in Bellevue, Idaho, at the High Country Motel, with Mike.

In the morning, we had breakfast and packed up our gear, and headed east.

The next stop was Craters of the Moon National Monument near Arco, Idaho. I had only seen it in Winter, which defeated the purpose, as the lava flows and weird landforms were all under a blanket of snow.

We cruised the park slowly, stopping a couple of times for short walks to see volcanic formations, photos, and we talked to a man who had ridden up from North Carolina on his bike.

Then we continued on to Ashton, where Mike had reserved an adorable little cabin for us. It has been owned by the same family for generations.

It was so nice to be in his arms.  That, combined with having finally made it to the west coast, made me feel whole and happy.

Eastbound to Idaho

My last entry ended at the Crane Hot Springs.

In the morning, I was going to take another dip in the pond, so I put my bathing suit on. But first I needed to use the bathroom.  The building that housed the bathroom and showers also had private hot mineral baths. A lady was filling them (beyond overflowing) and getting them ready for the day. I peeked in, and it wasn’t hard for her to twist my arm to use one.

So I closed the door, and sank into the very hot bath for awhile, even though I needed to hit the road, nothing like a hot soak to get the day started.

I showered and dressed and packed up Trigger and headed to the town of Crane for breakfast. I filled the tank there, too, before heading north to hook up with highway 20 again. There wasn’t much along the road, just small towns here and there, open land, and short craggy mountains.

That soon turned into the metropolis of Ontario. I then picked up Highway 30 for awhile, as 26 and 20 blended with Interstate 84. Highway 30 crossed the river, and I immediately pulled over and took my helmet off! Yay!

I continued on 30 for a ways, and then was forced onto I-85 for a bit.  I was making bad time, so Interstate wasn’t a problem.

I have always avoided them, with my small motorcycle which blows around easily, but with nearly 5000 miles ridden in the last month, through rain, strong cross and headwinds, over mountains, trough cities and forests, my confidence was up. I got this.

I took the exit for  Highway 20 and was glad to be off the interstate, despite its speed limit. 20 was the route that would take me home, but first take me to where my boyfriend awaited me, in Bellevue, Idaho.

Mike was at a motel there, and by now it was getting dark.  I followed signs for Bellevue, I didn’t realize it was still 12 miles off 20.  But I made it just at dark, so happy to be with my Love again.

I unloaded the bike, and we went to find some dinner.  It felt weird to ride on the back of his Harley, instead of driving a bike…

With nearly 400 miles left to go, I still wasn’t home, but now I had my sweetheart to ride in with me.  Couldn’t ask for a better companion to ride with!

Eastbound Oregon

I left off at a Howard Johnson’s Hotel east of Portland.

I studied the map, and realized I was in Oregon Trail territory. I posted a question on my OCTA list (Oregon-California Trail Association) asking if there was anything neat to see in the area.

Stafford Hazelett responded with very good directions to a pioneer woman’s grave.  It only a half mile detour, so I planned for that.

In the same parking lot with the hotel was a restaurant called Elmer’s.  I walked over and had very good French Toast and some coffee, before packing my bike back up.

I checked out and climbed on Trigger. The area was still suburban for a while, but as I got further out, it became forest again.  Highway 26 curved under Mt. Hood.  I could see glimpses of it here and there, its snowy peak rising above the trees.

Soon I came to the exit for the pioneer grave. I followed the signs, and Stafford’s directions, and pulled the bike off the roadway to park.  I removed my helmet and walked back to read the plaques and signs posted.  It told a sad story of a woman who died there; her grieving husband buried her in a wagon box.  No one knows her name, it’s a “tomb of the unknown pioneer”.  Stafford had told me how to find a trail there in the woods.  He said, “Once you cross over the fork of the river,…” ..I saw a sign for the river, but no water, so I wasn’t exactly sure where to look.  I could see some clearings in the forest, but I needed to get moving, so I hopped back on the bike and rode east.

I had called a campground outside of Burns, Oregon, to inquire about prices and tent camping. They had room, and it was $20 a night.  Burns was pretty far, nearly 300 miles from the hotel I’d stayed at, so I needed to not linger.

When I arrived in Burns, I bought a Subway sandwich and a couple Cokes and a cookie, and went outside to my bike, thinking… “where the hell are you going to PUT this?” I managed to bungee the sandwich and drinks down on the big bag.

The camp was not on the main highway.  I had to ride 25 miles down the 78 to get to it. When I arrived I saw a few tents sitting in the grass, no campsites, just a tenting area.  That would have been fine, if there had been trees.

I knew my back couldn’t take another night on the ground.  I walked in and asked if there was a place to hang a hammock…. there wasn’t. So, since I had a sandwich getting cold, it was getting late and I was tired, I asked what other accommodations they had.  I ended up in a small cabin sitting right along the pond.  Several motorcycles were parked outside the other cabins.  The bikers walked over and greeted me, aghast that I just rode across the country on that little 400.

The pond was hot spring fed, and open all night for the campers.  Day use people had to leave by nine.

I checked into my cabin and ate, talked to Mike on the phone, and, since I ended up paying more than twice what I had intended to pay, I was going to take advantage of what it had to offer.

I unzipped my pack and pulled out the ten gallon Ziplock bag full of clothes, and pulled my swimsuit out. I walked out to the pond, draped my towel over some round metal pipe, kicked my moccasins off, and gingerly walked to the edge.  I didn’t see a particular place for entering, so I just walked in.

The water was pleasantly warm. I carefully walked on the stone-covered bottom, towards the pump house, where the hottest water was coming out of pipes. Aaaah, a hot tub. I floated on my back and watched the stars overhead. A shooting star, which looked just like it started from the bottom left star of the Big Dipper, streaked across the black sky.  Nice.  I was the only person in the pond.  I floated around, but mainly stayed where the hottest water was. I thought, “This would be a good place for stargazing and setting up a telescope, if they’d just shut those two light off… and if that town out there wasn’t so bright.

After a few minutes, I realized that it wasn’t a town making the glow beyond the hills, it was the moon.  Just the top edge of it showed, and I paddled out to watch it rise.

Slowly the golden moon rose, bathing the ground in copper light.  Higher, and now I could see it all. It wasn’t full, but it was more than half. It reflected onto the dark pond as golden ripples and shimmers.  Beautiful, absolutely beautiful to watch and experience.  Such a lovely evening.

As I floated, I thought of how wonderful my life turned out. Just a few years ago I was practically suicidal, and was seeing a therapist three times a week for bad depression.  I was drinking too much, I was lost.

And then I took the walk, and it changed me.  I became very happy, but the unfinished trek was eating away at me.

Finally, now, I was done.  I had completed my coast to coast journey, I had met up with friends I’d made on that journey, I’d walked in the waters of Ocean City, Washington, at long last.

And here I was, content and happy and in love and fulfilled and at peace, drifting about in a mineral pool, watching the stars twinkle and the moon glow.  Life doesn’t get better.

After a bit, a young couple walked into the pond.  I moved and sat along the edge, still watching the moon.  From hearing the moans and groans, I’m pretty sure they had sex out there, standing in the pond, under the golden moonlight.

Even that was beautiful. I wrapped my towel around me and walked back to my cabin. I gave them the solitude they wanted, I’m sure, out there under the stars.