DEET, Feet and Karma


Before I begin, I’d to give Terry full credit for the first 2/3 of this entries title.  (The “Karma” once again came into play on our way to Logan, Utah.  More on that one later.) After spending some quality time with my boys holed up in one tent while the sky opened up with HUGE drops of condensation and a 4th of July light show, we’ve come to the conclusion that we smell, A LOT.  Jack won’t let us forget that little fun fact…dig that kid.  Between the layers of DEET we had to envelope ourselves in PLUS 3 days without a shower PLUS the stench of riding gear…yep, we be icky.  Not to worry, though, as there is one thing that becomes most valuable when in such a state – public restrooms.  Yes, we’re those people whom you might find washing our faces in the marble encased restroom of that 5 star lodge along Jackson Lake.  And we are those people you may find stuffed into a corner around the only available plugs charging our electronics and attempting a Skype call with Good Day Sacramento, attempting being the operative word.  I even went the extra mile and put on makeup!  Hey, I may camp for days and ride a motorcycle, but that gives me no reason to look like ass.  Needless to say, the Skype call never went through even after the myriad of failed attempts and calls with the producer.  They weren’t too thrilled with us.  Sorry, but I have yet to find that fairy godmother.  No worries as we’ll be hitting those guns/knives/beef jerky/fireworks/fur stores in Idaho tomorrow.  Again, my chances of finding her are good.  Poor Jack was quite disappointed at our failed attempts.  Not to worry, little man.  It’ll happen.  And now, on with the show…

Leaving Bozeman Bill’s abode was hard as it was quite a beautiful, contemporary pad.  Again, very thankful.  After leaving him with a bottle of wine and thank you card, we headed south to Wyoming to meet up with our friends, Ara and Spirit.  Spirit is Ara’s dog that rides along in his own sidecar complete with doggles and helmet.  Not kidding!  We met them earlier this year at Overland Expo in Amado, Arizona.  Ara was, and continues to be, a renowned chef and culinary expert having cooked for the rich and famous for many, many years.  He and his canine companion, Spirit, have been on the road for 5 years.  I will not expand on his story as I believe that it is not mine to tell.  If you’d like to find out more about Ara and Spirit, you can check out their journal at  I promise, it’s a good read.  Have I ever steered you wrong?  Anywho, Ara invited us to camp with him along the river outside the south entrance of Yellowstone National Park.  But getting to the park was going to be a feat in and of itself.  You see, after so much time attempting to avoid such touristy areas, we were now thrusting ourselves head first into the deep end.  All was going well until we had to stop for lunch in one of the Reno-esque traps.  I couldn’t even give this one a Vegas rating.  I spotted what looked to be the only outside patio diner without a busload of people.  After parking and getting a brief dose of this new reality, I discovered that my “find” was closed, as were ALL the outdoor restaurants.  Huh?  And the only thing open?  Dairy Queen.  Bleech.  We did attempt to stand in line and order the No. 1 Fried Greaste with a Side of Grease, but just couldn’t.  After watching the masses line up like cattle behind us, Terry and I looked at each other and exclaimed, “We’re outta here!”  And Jack?  Totally on board.  The kid honestly doesn’t like fast food.  Ah, my plan is working…  Terry remembered a grocery store sign just around the corner so off we rolled.  There was no deli to be found, so we picked up a loaf of bread, some cheese and lunch meat and planted our smelly bums on a pallet outside the store.  I swear we were quite a sight!  Terry said we should’ve put out a cup for change.  No matter as we were MUCH happier eating our simple, homeless meal than weighing ourselves down with a pre-made, pre-heated food like substance.  Sure, we got some looks as people really don’t know how to react.  No worries, though.  We don’t mind.  And Mr. J?  He digs the way we roll.  Gotta love that kid.  Should’ve had him play guitar and given him a tip jar.  College money!

Back on the bikes and rolling through Yellowstone, we had to remind ourselves that it was summer break.  Actually, the parade of rented RV’s and tour buses did that job for us.  Please don’t get me wrong here!  I LOVE that families are getting out of the house and spending time together.  That’s the message we’re out here to promote.  I just wish y’all would take the time to learn how to drive such a tank before you roll out of the driveway.  It’s a simple request and would be greatly appreciated.  As the masses slammed on the brakes to take a picture of an elk or squirrel or whatever thing popped its head out of a hole, we rolled past only to be part of nature’s parade.  Lo and behold, we found ourselves rolling alongside 3 HUGE buffalo as they made their way across the highway.  No joke!  The ranger was there with her lights flashing and made sure to yell to Terry, “Now, you be careful!”  No problem there, sista!  Fortunately for us, the motorhome in the oncoming lane had stopped allowing us to SLOWLY roll past the massive beasts.  Dude, if you have never seen a buffalo up close, I highly recommend doing so when you have some distance between you…and a fence…an electric fence.  After Terry edged by, it was my turn.  But wait!  They’re NOW deciding to break left, salami cutting towards me and the hillside on my left.  Slow, Sandy, slow…  No blips on the throttle, barely even gas, and I narrowly made my way past them.  I swear we were eye to eye for a good 50 feet.  Now that it’s over, I can see that was one of the most awesomely terrifying experiences yet on 2 wheels.  Such irony in that they’re to be protected and revered yet they’re so tasty when grilled.  Huh.

After what seemed like several lifetimes just to get through the park (SQUIRREL!), we made our way down a gravel trail to find our friends Ara and Spirit ready for our arrival.  Well, at least Ara was ready.  Poor Spirit was not very happy to be on a leash as well as not used to having people camp with him.  Ara informed us that in all of his 5 years of travel, he’s never had anyone camp with him…never!  We felt quite honored to be the first.  And we understand, Spirit.  Jack wanted nothing more than to get in a little dog time. After some time and a walk, Jack and Spirit would find themselves to be friends.  Ara greeted all of us with a huge hug and smile, grateful to have some company to share his latest experiences.  Never at a loss for words or an ear for listening, we all swapped stories of travel and life, taking in what the other had to say like it was the last drop of water on earth.  Without betraying the experience, just know that all of us share a common belief in our faith in humanity as well as how blessed we are to have family, related or not.  Ara was more than willing to hang with Jack and hear what he had to say.  He also helped remind us that Jack is a special kid and very fortunate to be part of such a great adventure.  The older Jack gets, the more he understands that.

We found ourselves in survivor mode as we hunted for firewood while sporting the latest in mosquito headwear.  Donning our netted hats was the evenings (and soon to be mornings) attire.  And DEET was to be the scent of choice while camped alongside the river in the middle of Wyoming.  When you find yourself in a swarm of tiny blood-thirsty vampires, science wins.  The earth friendly, lemon-eucalyptus spray acted as more of a marinade than anything else.  Terry and Jack STILL came out looking like a dot-to-dot puzzle.  Those little buggers work quickly.  As always when hanging with Ara, food and conversation go hand in hand.  We swapped cooking techniques and recipe ideas, he so proud of himself when I couldn’t identify the powdery mystery spice.  And I’m not going to let you in on it as you have to taste it to believe it.  And after almost choking on the sad little balsamic I could fit in my kitchen, he promised to send me a link to some true travelers vinegar.

A restful night turned into a 9AM ride to Jenny Lake and the Tetons.  As we rolled, we got a little taste of how Ara and Spirit are greeted by the public.  It’s not often you see a dog riding in a sidecar with doggles and a tiny helmet.  But that certainly is not an invitation for you to request that you ‘please have your dog turn to me so I can take a picture’.  Can you even fathom how rude that is?  Seriously?  His travels are not yours to manipulate so you can have that cool picture to show all your friends when you get home.  Terry even had to step in and answer questions directed at Ara from yet another rude individual when he insisted on interrupting the boys during a private conversation.  I urge all to think before you act next time, not just for our friend but for anyone who is obviously enjoying some down time with another individual.  But I digress.  Our final down spot for the morning was along a dirt road that skirted the bottom of the Tetons.  Stunning.  It gave all of us time to sit and take it in as well as Spirit time to run and roll around on his back.  After a take-out lunch from the Jackson Lodge that was eaten on the front lawn instead of the crowded diner, we rolled back to camp to once again be greeted by our blood loving welcoming committee.  But what about that evening sky?  Looks a tad ominous, doesn’t it?  Hmmm…  Yep, thunderstorms were bearing down on us and we had just enough time to pack it all in.  And I mean BARELY enough time.  Ara and I threw the last of the bags into our respective tents as the drops came barreling down.  Just then, Terry and Jack rolled in from their fishing attempt.  No fish, no problem.  Get in the tent!  It was the 4th of July and mother nature took it upon herself to give us a lightning show like no other we’d seen.  Jack…not a fan!  No worries, buddy, we’ll be just fine.  We all finally drifted off to sleep as the sky continued its dance of light and sound.

It’s always bittersweet when having to part ways with a friend.  Ara insisted that we visit him at his oasis while we offered our home for any future visits.  It’s what you do when you meet a new member of your family.  And that’s what it’s about, isn’t it?  With strong hugs and handshakes, we parted ways.  Not for too long, our friend.

The town of Jackson was our destination for 2 nights of R&R only our version of R&R was laundry, showers and a pool.  Even while hoteling it, I cook most of our meals as restaurants in touristy towns tend to be overpriced and slim on healthy choices.  The Alberson’s in town was just the ticket for fresh seafood and veggies.  But the real hero of the night was a lady name Jean who selflessly gave me her phone number to use for the store discounts.  Had she not, that wild salmon would’ve been an extra $5 a pound.  The “Faith in Humanity” tour continues to be a roaring success.  Cheers to Jean!  Amazing what can happen when you strike up a conversation with a local, isn’t it?  Stellular.

When I returned laundry duty, I presented Terry with a brochure on local airplane rides.  We had been saving up to surprise Jack with a plane ride on his birthday.  Why not do it early in a place that has WAY more scenery that stomping grounds?  When Terry let him in on our plans for the next day, Jack just beamed, grinning a grin only the Cheshire Cat could match.  Terry made sure that Jack was going to be able to take right seat with the possibility of steering a time or two.  No problem said the pilot.  So, the next day we were off to Driggs, Idaho to meet the pilot, Lisa, and her Cessna.  I wanted to stay on the ground to take pics and also wanted Terry and Jack to have a cool father/son moment.  After all it was originally Terry’s idea in the first place.  As they taxied by, Jack waved the giant wave that only an elated 9 year old can pull off.  Off they climbed into the atmosphere, dotted with pure white clouds and minimal breeze.  It was pretty cool to watch.  Jack lives and breathes for flying and he was finally getting his first taste of his future.  Looks like we need to save up for lessons and Jack needs to get a J-O-B.  Once back on the ground, a cool Jack chatted it up like he’d been flying for years.  The kid was unfazed with any of the turbulence and ready for more.  Yep, a J-O-B for Jack.  Sounds like the kid needs to get himself that tip cup.

Back in Jackson, a dinner of salmon and veggies cooked while the boys hung by the pool.  Seems Jack was making a friend with a cute little 12-year-old girl.  Remember those times, making friends with other kids during your travels with parents?  I sure do!  They were cool.  And remember writing hand-written letters (Gasp!) back and forth?  We’ll see if they stay in touch.  The next morning brought a grumpy cloud over the scene as we contemplated our route.  Trying to avoid Nevada is tricky when trying to return to California with a time schedule.  But being summertime, it’s necessary!  The heat is unbearable and even worse for little man.  Not fair to expect a kid to ride cupcake 6 hours in miserable heat.  We eventually decided to go the Idaho route ending up in Logan, Utah for one night and Boise, Idaho for hopefully 2 nights.  Terry has an old friend that he’s known since preschool that we wanted to visit with who lives just outside of Boise.  Gabe and his wife, Amber, have two cute little squirts and offered to let us stay in their guest room.  Wait, a toddler and a baby?  Thanks for the offer, kids, but we’ve done those stages!  Time for a quiet hotel room.  With bikes packed and just under 300 to cover, we set the GPS for west and rolled out just after 10AM.  The skies had cleared and the rush of the holiday weekend was over.

The ride along Highway 89 from Jackson is another visually stunning route.  It skirts along the Snake River, which was full beyond capacity making it impossible to swim.  One foot in that rushing water and you would’ve had to change your name to Buoy.  Even the fisherman were having a tough time keeping their lines from getting tangled.  We stopped in a small town along the way to have our usual quick inexpensive lunch – Subway.  After slamming the sandwich down, we stepped outside to notice that the skies were once again building up steam for yet another light and sound show.  This did NOT please Jack in the least.  It was already humid and we were going to have to layer up with rain liners for the rest of the journey.  Well, those of us who have rain liners.  We held out as long as possible before having to gear up.  Now, I know what the road is going to do as I tend to study to memorize the route before each take-off.  But when you’re headed straight for impending doom, you start to doubt your memorization skills.  Remember that picture I posted from our camping trip in Wyoming?  You get the picture.  With fingers crossed for that right turn, we FINALLY made the turn away from satan’s fury.  All it takes is for Jack to spot a bolt of lightning and the ride turns ugly.  Crossing into Utah, we found ourselves unable to avoid the rain.  As a steady stream of precip showered upon us, my boots slowly filled with water.  Awesome.  Should’ve used some of that duct tape!

Now, here’s the karma story.  The last 40 miles heading into Logan is purely nature at its most glorious; a two-lane highway that rolls along with the canyon, a steady stream of water rolling along with you.  A thin mist hung over the stream like a creamy frosting, never veering from its watery course.  I so wanted to find a safe spot to pull over for a picture, but a white Utah-plated Subaru sucked all the enthusiasm right outta me.  Seems the person behind me wanted nothing more than to pass us at the expense of everyone on the road.  Have we not covered this topic before?  I thought so!  You know I’m going to pull over for you, but you have to give me a chance to find a safe spot for EVERYONE, not just you.  Unwilling to wait for safety’s sake, this driver pulled out over a double-yellow line ON A BLIND LEFT TURN AROUND A BOULDER!  WHAT?!?  I veered right and stuck my hand out as if to say, “Are you KIDDING me?”  I stood up on the pegs and gave her the nastiest of looks, piercing her with my laser vision.  She crept back into her lane and backed off the gas.  When Terry spotted a safe location, we pulled right, ADV salutes all around.  Idiot.  Off she sped, not even looking our way.  What, you’re going to be a bully but run when you get called out?  I hoped she learned her lesson.  She didn’t.  Okay, another bit of advice for new moto riders who are uneasy riding in the rain…PULL OVER!  We now found ourselves in a line of cars 20 deep behind two newby Harley riders REFUSING to pull over and let everyone go.  In this situation, it’s not about speed as much as safety.  When you don’t pull over, you are now putting others in harms way as drivers get ansy, lose patience and begin to boil over.  Oh ya, and they tend to start lumping all motorcycle riders in the same category as you.  We’re not and it’s not cool.  More than once, cars in front and behind almost collided as their focus had now turned to the bikes leading the pack and how to get around them.  When the dude in the Chrysler behind me began to lose patience, I had to stand on the pegs and stomp on the rear brake to wake him up.  As always, I had my exit plan.  The whole point of doing these wake-up calls is to either – 1.  Get the driver so embarrassed for driving like such a dink that they lay off your back tire OR 2.  Get the passengers in the car so angry at the driver for being such a dink that to avoid more tongue lashing from said passengers, they lay off the gas until further notice.  I accomplished the latter of the two.  It was quite a sight to see in my side mirrors.  Mission complete.  Now, about those 2 bikes leading the pack…  The lady in the white car was two back from the bikes and decided to take it upon herself to pass YET AGAIN OVER A DOUBLE-YELLOW IN A BLIND LEFT HAND TURN!  Terry and I were on the radio to each other yelling, “SHE’S PASSING!  I CAN’T BELIEVE SHE’S PASSING!”  Sure enough as Terry and slowed down, standing on the pegs to watch the show, this idiot stomps on the gas, narrowly misses the car in front of her and the bikes, and SLAMS fender first right into the concrete rail.  “SHE WRECKED! SHE WRECKED! SHE TOTALLY ATE IT!” I yelled into the radio.  All traffic came to a stop, most cars pulling over to check out the scene.  As we slowly rolled upon the wreck, this woman comes barrelling out of the driver’s side completely dazed as to what she just caused.  But here’s the kicker, folks…HER TWO TEENAGE KIDS WERE IN THE CAR WITH HER!  Yes, ladies and gentleman, not ONLY did she endanger the lives of the people on both sides of the road but SHE ENDANGERED THE LIVES OF HER OWN CHILDREN!  I was ENRAGED!  Seeing that the kids were okay (I could give two hoots about the driver, honestly), we slowly rolled past the scene knowing that if we had stopped, we would’ve taken the driver out.  There were enough people stopped, including the 2 Harley’s, that would make sure and let her know how much she put everyone else in harms way.  The scene was becoming one of rage and we didn’t need to be a part of it.  Bad juju, kids, bad juju.

So for those of you keeping score, that’s 2 for 2.  All the people we have let pass us on the highway have been the cause of accidents that didn’t need to occur, all because of impatience.  Remember, that extra 5 minutes is NOT worth the price of admission.  Do I really have to keep going over this?  Have we not learned our karma lesson?  It doesn’t buy you a pass to create unsafe situations just to fit your needs.  Because I feel the need to review, your challenge today will be one of self-evaluation.  In daily life, do you find yourself more or less optimistic than a year ago?  Do you feel that you’re owed something OR that it’s up to you to choose your direction in life?  None of us are owed anything, NONE OF US!  We have become such a society of “Need it”, “Deserve it” and “I’m owed something”.  The only things we truly need/deserve/are owed are food, shelter and a loving support system.  Trust me, I totally understand the love for a new pair of shoes.  But if that’s all that makes you glow, it’s time to reevaluate your situation.  Success in life does not come to those who wait for someone else to create it for them.  I know far too many people who are waiting for that magic pill to make them wealthy, happy, skinny, whatever it is that you may seek.  And isn’t that a waste of time?  Live a life with few or no regrets.  You don’t want to find yourself at 65 saying, “I wish I would’ve done more with my life.”  Not in a situation to do so at this time?  Then take it slow.  Just like with anything else, true change takes time.  Remember… patience.  And with patience and change come the understanding of karma, giving as well as receiving.  Don’t understand it yet?  You will, but you have to want it.  Cheers.