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a dash of randomness

Bienvenidos a Panamá

It has been one year since I crossed the final border of Central America into its southern most country… Panamá.  I stayed a total of 2 nights there with most of the daylight hours spent rushing along the Pan American Highway in order to catch a boat.

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Wanderland News for November:

 There are lots of changes going on in my world… thought I might share a few. Read more →

Poll – – Which photo organizing and/or editing software do you use?

A recent conversation with a friend about digital workflow prompted this question as there seems to be more options than I give credit to. After having worked in the pro photo industry for so many years, I am a little biased.

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Letting loose in the dirt: a day at MotoVentures

The idea was to throw around some light dirt bikes, ones we weren’t afraid to fall off of nor were hard to pick up.  Here we could learn the proper stance, then apply it to our larger, heavier dual sports. Basically, we wanted to learn a new body language for riding in the dirt.  What I learned was that I was taught some bad habits from other riders, which made more proficient maneuvering difficult.  I had to override what I knew and start on the basics to get that solid foundation I never built correctly.

We lucked out and it was only two of us with Gary LaPlante, the instructor at MotoVentures.  It had rained the night before so the dirt was still moist and had lots of traction.  The perfect setting for a closed course and ability to practice prescribed maneuvers.  We set out on new Yamahas, a WR250F for me and a WR450F for my partner.  He worked with us individually, requesting repetition or progressing as seen capable.  My riding partner proved worthy of much more advanced skills, where as I had a hard time trusting myself in pushing the limits of even the basics:  Counterbalancing… key.  Throttle… ok.  Picking lines… ugh!.  Sand…forget it.  At least the bike was light to pick up all those times.

It may seem like I am being hard on myself, but the bottom line is that I had fun challenging myself and would go back for a second round if I had more time before my departure. I know in my head what I should be doing, now just to get my body to do it.  What Gary prescribed for me: to let loose a little more. Given the approaching amount of seat time (or really peg time) in my near future, I’m sure I will have many occasions to practice.

Besides, when the day ends like this… how could it be bad…

The trail of the wandering Wickershams

It was a Tuesday, the sun was playing behind the hills, not ready to set, but no longer shining bright on us.  We pulled into a nearly empty campsite and shook out our hands and legs, finally giving rest to the bikes after miles of vibrating beneath us.  As I rushed off to the restroom, I noticed the only other occupants at the campsite were also two motorcyclists. Even though the bikes were the lower profile of a cruiser, they were too small to be Harley’s.

I walked over to an enthusiastic couple who were riding 250cc metric cruisers and happen to be world travelers.  They are happily retired and only started riding two years ago. Already they have 27,000 miles under their belts – the majority ridden in the past 9 weeks touring Western US and up through Jasper National Park in Canada; and about 7,000 on little 125cc motos they bought in Thailand and toured around.  They decided to try out two wheels and a motor after traveling the world for 3-1/2 years on a tandem bicycle, including all the way to the tip of South America.  Talk about bad-asses!  This couple gets big cheers from me for their adventures!


 

 

Setting sail…

The hours passed with grace as we walked down the sidewalks of Port Townsend.  Wooden signs flipped over and neon lights dimmed as stores closed when the day turned to evening.  It was a long weekend observing the end of summer, and the holiday was used to celebrate a belated Mother’s Day. The time together was too brief as the final day of play approached.

We said our goodbyes, a quick send off for my mom to the airport and a teary-eyed departure with my sister as the realization hit that I will not see them for at least 8 months. I will miss the convenience of calling anytime.  I will miss the cackling laughter and the wise advice.  I will miss them.  Knowing I will be less available as my attention turns to the road, I savor the smiles and goofiness while we wave and set off in three separate directions.

Its a Bake Sale (ok, not really) but help fund my kickstarter project!!!

I can’t seem to get the embedded content to work, so here it is in the old fashioned way…

just a click away:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/alisonswanderland/alisons-wanderland-a-pan-american-motorcycle-adven

There are some hills I can’t climb…a.k.a. Knowing when to turn around…

Let me start off by saying, I don’t like turning around.  My first inclination is to push forward in order to find out what lay ahead, mostly since I have already been where I just came from. Occasionally, I find myself in the position, usually one where my safety would be compromised, where I must turn around.  I could read further into it and say I don’t like looking back, I don’t like admitting making mistakes, I don’t want to repeat my steps. Even though I have come to realize the return perspective is a completely different view and experience and allows us to notice things we might not have before, it’s an idea that is hard to relinquish.

After waking up to gorgeous ridge-side views above a fogged in coastline, I took a  drive along a one-lane dirt road: the South Coast Ridge in the Los Padres National Forest off Nacimiento-Ferguson Rd.  The guidebook said it was an easy road… I think I should check the publication date.  I found myself attempting a hill climb that was really meant for 4WD (which, even though I have a 4runner, it’s only 2WD) but I didn’t know it until I was half way up, wheels spinning beneath me, kicking out loose chunks of rock and smaller debris.  The acrid scent of rubber heated to it limit replaced freshness that was in the air.  I was not going to make it up the hill.  I have made it up terrain like these on my KLR, but I was not going to be taking this route to Highway 1 in my 4runner.  The coast was going to have to wait.

My hands were shaking with heightened nerves and my heart was thumping in my throat as I put my truck in reverse, backing down the steep incline, hoping to make it around the bend in a controlled slide in the provided path and not beyond it over the banked gravel and down the side of the mountain. Even though I had jumped out of a plane days prior, I was more fearful now, with fate in my hands on the wheel, hoping my skills and the brakes were good enough to get me and the heavy beast of a SUV out of this mess.   Alas, they did; I found a spot where the road widened barely enough to turn the vehicle around, and then retraced my tire tracks back to the main paved road.  I was happy to see asphalt, but not nearly as excited to see the road from the reverse view.

The reality is that turning around isn’t that big of a deal, sometimes it’s the smarter choice, sometimes it’s the only choice.  I have to embrace the idea that it will give a different perspective and opportunity for experience.  If anything, I appreciate the fact that I am around for another day to ride, to explore, to play.

Taking time for love… (2 Cheers)

Part I:

As I find myself tangled in the madness of trip planning, motorcycle preparation and how to file my daily life as I know it away for 6 months, I have to remember to stop and take time for the things in my life that I love…

Amidst the activities I found to bring me the most happiness – motorcycling, exploring, writing and photographing – I recognize that it wouldn’t be much of anything without the people who make the day to day worthwhile.

So, this is a big cheers to the wonderful people in my life: be they close friends, even closer friends, my family, those I have worked beside, and those I have met on the road… Thank you for all those moments which make life just that much sweeter… xo

Part II:

When talking with a friend the other day, I laughed at listening to her say, “I don’t remember what you were like before you were an adventurer,” and, really, I can’t either.  It is such a fitting way of life; I can’t believe I wasn’t always this way.  Recently, in a book I was reading, The Happiness Project, one line in particular stuck with me: you can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do.  An amusing realization, since at times I have watched other people do things and wanted to have the same fun doing those things, but in reality, it just isn’t as much fun for me.  However, this is all part of the love of life: going through the discovery phase of what brings us joy. Even at 32, I am still coming into my own.  So, cheers to figuring out the things in life we love, the people we love and doing what makes us happy.

Taking chances – an Adventure Announcement:

As we stood beside racks of worn leather jackets and rows of broken-in boots, we found ourselves on the topic of taking chances.  We agreed that we would not be where we are today if we hadn’t.  Chatting with Jessica at Yellow Devil was a reminder that when it all starts to line up, it’s the right time to take chances. I might not know exactly where I am headed, it might be time to step out of my comfort zone, but at the risk of greater happiness, it is worth doing.

I have struggled with how to present the matter, all the while quietly and stealthily working toward the goal.  There is some sense of hesitation because of all the what-ifs and how-tos and how-nots and all the obstacles that jumble my head on occasion.  I feel like it’s a coming out party more than an announcement, somewhat because this decision affects more than just me.  The trickle-down aftermath is what I grow cautious of… my family is proving to be supportive, most of my friends already know of the idea, and now know when, and soon I will find out how this affects my work as the months unfold.  Yet, even with some uncertainty, I kept coming around to one main question:  why wait a year?  So, I’m not.

This Fall 2012, I am leaving (that’s right, everything packed up in little boxes or sold) Los Angeles, CA and motorcycling (on my trusty KLR through pavement and dirt) south to Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina a.k.a “The end of the earth.”

I have 4 months to make arrangements… I invite you to watch the ticker count down the days and share in all my excitement and anticipation and trepidation.   Already, this adventure is like no other I have taken.

I include this picture from spring 2010 of my first ride taking the KLR on a dirt trail.  I didn’t know what to expect that day. I just listened to suggestions and tried my best.  Had I not thrown the bike down where I stood, I would have headed over the edge with the 400lb beast. But without taking a chance and testing my abilities with something I had never tried, or setting out to meeting people I had never spoken to, I wouldn’t have learned to trust in what opportunities lay ahead.  It opened my world.  I never imagined that day was the beginning of preparation for this next adventure.