Wherever I May Roam - One Woman Livin' on a DR650

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Feyala, Jun 26, 2012.

  1. Feyala

    Feyala Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2011
    Oddometer:
    358
    Location:
    Wandering...
    I woke up to the sound of car horns from the main gravel road. It was still chilly, and so I burrowed back into my sleeping bag for another few hours until the sun started warming up the tent. More honking. Time to get up, I suppose.

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    The nearby Organ mountains were gorgeous.

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    Our packing was rushed, as the situation was a bit sketchy. We were not supposed to be camped here, and cars were passing by every ten minutes. I may have accidentally mooned a sedan while taking care of business behind a joshua tree. Awkward. Sorry!

    Navigating the trail, as always, was easy with daylight. Someday I'll learn...

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    We headed back into Las Cruces, found a coffee shop, and I spent some much-needed internet time making plans for New Mexico. Oz was excited to have his picture taken.

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    East on highway 70 and 60 miles later, we showed up at White Sands, just after the visitor center had closed for the evening. We only had a couple of hours until the park followed suit. This is why I like having the annual pass - if I'd had to pay an entry fee for only a few hours, I likely wouldn't have stopped.

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    I couldn't get over how much the white sand looked like snow! It was spilling into the road in places. There were reduced speed limit signs and orange cones here and there. At one point I stopped to take this picture and discovered that the sand on the shoulders was VERY soft.

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    The road gave way to hard-packed, routinely plowed/scraped sandy ground.

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    The dunes looked magical in the setting sunlight. I was happy we'd stopped. The sunset turned the entire horizon shades of pink and orange.

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    The sunlight faded, and it was time to go. I wished I had a bit more time, but I can always come back.

    It's impressive how much stuff Oz manages to fit in that bungee net I gave him.

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    We stopped near the gate to the park, bundling up for the ride ahead of us. It was COLD. We continued to Oliver Lee Memorial State Park and enjoyed their nice, hot showers.

    By this point it was quite late, and we still had yet to find a good spot to camp. Looking at my map, I saw a nearby sliver of national forest, its access road leading through a military base. Unfortunately the road was closed, and, not wanting to backtrack 40 miles and further freeze our asses off, we decided to just limp back to the state park.

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    We awoke very late, the tent had grown hot from the sun beating down on it. Neither one of us had slept well - Oz was congested and his tossing had kept us both awake. We opened up the tent and shed some layers, then had a nap. A ranger arrived to collect the $10 camping fee. I guess we paid for that shower after all!

    While packing up, Oz decided he wanted to climb to a dip in the mountain not too far away. He set off and I packed up the tent. Upon returning, he said that there was a foot-deep pool of water up there, and cougar tracks.

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    We headed into town. I spent a couple of hours doing research on possible causes for the engine knocking I'd experienced the previous evening. Afterwards, we headed about ten miles west out of town, to a nice spot near Holloman Lake I'd read about. The sign was easily missed. We were rewarded with a nice campsite, and set up along the lake. We had the place to ourselves!

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    The setting sun over the lake was beautiful. The lake, however, stunk quite badly.

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    Holloman Lake is a man-made lake near Holloman Air Force Base. I'm not sure if the stench is caused by the natural soil content or some shadowy wastewater treatment history, but it was quite overpowering. It was a sharp smell, like ammonia, sulphur, or concentrated brine. Signs warned that the water was unsafe for swimming or drinking.

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    As we walked along the beach, the "crust" crunched under our feet. Sometimes, if you weren't careful, you'd sink down a good 3-4 inches.

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    These salt deposits built up on branches, rocks, and anything else that was left out. Frankly, it was kinda gross, but at least it was interesting.

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    After our stroll, we broke camp and went back to Alamogordo. This was another laid-back internet day - still trying to figure out what might be wrong with the bike. I kept coming up empty-handed. Maybe it was just bad fuel. Oh well. Either it would get worse and something would break, or it would resolve itself. We were tired of staying near the stinky lake and decided to head out the next day.

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    It was a warm night at least, with lots of cloud cover.
  2. Feyala

    Feyala Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2011
    Oddometer:
    358
    Location:
    Wandering...
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    We awoke to a windy day, with what looked like a dust storm in the distance. We watched it cautiously as we packed up.

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    Not optimal conditions, but that's life sometimes. We aimed ourselves north on highway 54 and fought the wind which tried to blow us all over the road.

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    Tumbleweeds became an unexpected road hazard, and dozens crossed the road in front of us, occasionally crunching under our tires. We'd slowed to a crawl for a construction zone when one the size and shape of a hay bale flopped and slid into our path! We were able to stop in time, and it scuttled harmlessly onto the shoulder. Needless to say we were quite startled - it was surprisingly fast!

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    A bit outside of Carrizozo, the visibility had cleared, but the wind still tried to derail us as we chugged along to the Valley of Fires State Park. Storms were visible in the distance.

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    "Approximately 5,000 years ago, Little Black Peak erupted and flowed 44 miles into the Tularosa Basin, filling the basin with molten rock. The resulting lava flow is four to six miles wide, 160 feet thick and covers 125 square miles. The lava flow is considered to be one of the youngest lava flows in the continental United States."

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    It was good to be off the bikes and stretch our legs for a bit. The lava flow was quite impressive!

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    Although the landscape seems dead and lonely from a distance, up close we discovered that it has its own ecology. A surprising variety of life calls these harsh rocks home. Many plants seemed to grow out of the lava itself, and we saw evidence of ground squirrels.

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    This gnarled old tree had a lot of character:

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    We headed east into the mountains, in search of a campsite I'd read about. Off the highway and onto dirt, we accidentally went too far, our path curling up past the snow line.

    The correct road was located, but it grew challenging as it shot up into the mountains, an ordeal neither of us wanted to deal with. We were losing light and the clouds were beginning to spit at us, so we decided to simply camp close to the road.

    Oz did really well crossing the rocky dry washes. He got stuck in a rut once, but seemed to get the "gas it" concept pretty quickly. (It was worse than this further on, but daylight, not photos, was my priority at the time.)

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    This spot actually worked out really well for us, as there was a fire ring and a large amount of dry brush piled up nearby. We fought off the cold night with a fire, a rare treat!

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    I tried to cook dinner over that fire, and ended up spilling about half our spanish rice into the flames when my grate became unstable. Cooking over a fire is one of those skills I have yet to master.
  3. GypsyWriter

    GypsyWriter Yup, I'm a girl.

    Joined:
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  4. Feyala

    Feyala Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2011
    Oddometer:
    358
    Location:
    Wandering...
    I escaped Enterprise, and am now in Eugene, heading towards the Oregon coast. My plan is to head up to Portland and then the Olympic Peninsula, visiting friends and camping in the woods. I've got time to get this thing up to date now, no obligations or plans.

    I'm really not sure why I can't seem to write very effectively when I'm in a stable location. Too many distractions I guess? I have a lot of demands on my time and always end up working on other projects. On the up side, the Log House has a new website now, just a simple WordPress with a customized free theme, but it's leaps and bounds beyond what they had before, and hopefully easier for them to update. Brian and Margaret are lovely people and I will miss their company, but I am happy to be underway again. I spent over a month there! :eek1

    I've been having a great time and am eager to get to a point where I can start talking about current adventures instead of past ones. Replies will be forthcoming, but I really need to focus on posts until I'm a couple of states more up to date.
  5. Feyala

    Feyala Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2011
    Oddometer:
    358
    Location:
    Wandering...
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    It was really damn cold that night. By the morning, my water bottle had frozen solid, and frost had grown on every available surface. I re-stoked the fire, which roared back to life, and tried to thaw out. Needless to say, it took a while for us to get going.

    We headed east to Roswell.

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    I'd never been here, but I'd heard about the town's obsession with aliens and figured it could be a fun stop. Even the McDonalds was in on the theme, with a playplace I would have loved as a kid. I felt a bit weird taking pictures of it though.

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    The people at the tourist information center suggested we visit a free museum/art gallery next door.

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    Along with a number of interesting art pieces, they also had artifacts from the pioneer era, including traditional Native American clothing.

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    The section dedicated to <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_H._Goddard">Robert Goddard</a>, an inventor and physicist, was my favorite. He was one of the pioneers of rocket flight, credited with creating the first liquid-fueled rockets. His work paved the way for further rocket research, which would eventually result in spaceflight. He was sometimes ridiculed by the press and other scientists for his revolutionary ideas. I was surprised that I'd never heard of him before.

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    He created one of the first radio frequency oscillating tubes, sold under the name Gammatron.

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    Exhibits discussed his many other patents - he had ideas for a magnetic levitation system and a jet-driven propeller system which would eventually be utilized in turboprop and turbofan engines.

    There were also copies of his failed rocket prototypes. He began building rockets in 1925, and was assisted in moving to Roswell by Charles Lindbergh after his neighbors in Massachusetts became concerned about his highly flammable experiments crashing back to earth.

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    Inside a replica of his workshop was a copy of his most successful rocket design. Built in 1938, this rocket would reach a height of 3,294 feet and would be Goddard's last successful flight test. He continued building rockets until his death, 7 years later.

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    Back on the street, we wandered downtown.

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    Cartoon aliens were everywhere! In stark contrast to the admirable reality of Goddard's work, the little green men were hawking everything from Coke...

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    ... to Mexican food...

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    ... to. Medical services? This was over the top. I don't know about you, but the last thing I want to think about when I visit a doctor is "probing". Brr.

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    It felt cheap and tacky, but I thought it was good for a laugh. Oz felt that the town was "more or less like being in a huge gift shop". He hated it.

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    Alien kokopelli? Really?

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    Oz was curious what was outside the main strip. A single block away, the town seemed run down, in a surprising contrast to the gaudy facade presented earlier. I wondered what the town's industry was like before the aliens invaded.

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    Some buildings were clearly abandoned or just crumbling.

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    Around sunset we headed out of town, heading for the Haystack OHV area. Darkness fell and it got ridiculously cold before we were able to find it, nearly getting run off the road by a speeding semi in the process. We arrived, chilled to the bone, and the wind whipping around made tent assembly difficult.

    I made dinner, and in the process almost set the tent on fire when the wind caught the flames from my alcohol stove and lit a small amount of fuel that had dripped onto the ground below. I freaked out and acted quickly (only my sleeping bag was singed), but Oz was unhelpful and disagreed with me about the potential severity of the situation. We were both irritable and argumentative when we called it a night.
  6. Rango

    Rango Phaneropter

    Joined:
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    1,203
    Location:
    Kingdom of Belgium
    I had to look up Kokopelli.
    Found that is also a music festival which is more appropriate than what appeared on your picture.
    So Roswell is truly alien... :rofl
  7. Feyala

    Feyala Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2011
    Oddometer:
    358
    Location:
    Wandering...
    The morning progressed slowly, as it was still very cold and windy. The inside of the tent was dusted with fine powder which had managed to leak through the mesh windows overnight. This likely didn't help with our congestion.

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    I know that the trails in this area were marked as difficult but yikes! I was glad we'd decided to just camp near a picnic table instead of trying to navigate them at night!

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    We packed up and headed into town, warming up in a coffee shop for a few hours while I planned our route. I eavesdropped on two nearby women, who were having a fascinating discussion about how they used to work for National Geographic, and their shared passions of travel and caving. I managed to introduce myself and mentioned a free campsite near Carlsbad Caverns called Parks Ranch which I'd been reading about, and one woman's eyes lit up.

    Parks Ranch contains a cave system, and she cautioned me to be very careful and avoid it if rain is a possibility. The caves flash flood regularly, and they are a maze-like complex with 8 miles of tunnels, easy to get lost in if you venture far inside. She turned to her companion and said that they would visit those caves later in the summer, but that it would be a through hike, wading through chest-high water. She recommended that I check out Sonora Caverns in Texas, as they are "the most beautiful caves I have ever seen, and I've been caving for over 30 years on five continents". Sold!

    After running errands, we made it to Artesia as it got dark, sneaking a free shower at Brantley Lake State Park. We didn't feel like paying to sleep again. A sign directed us westward to Lincoln National Forest, so we followed Highway 137. It was a fun, twisty road that I would love to revisit during the daytime, but we quickly came to realize that the sign was misleading, the forest was almost back to Alamogordo - and there was nowhere to camp nearby.

    While turning around, Oz had his first "parking lot" drop, we had pulled over on large, loose rocks and his bike slipped out from under him. We got it back upright pretty quickly, and dodged a few deer on our way back to the highway.

    After an unpleasant, slow, cold ride, I found the turn off for Parks Ranch, which was not signed, and did not have an entrance from the southbound direction.

    "That rut isn't the road is it?"
    "Yep, it sure is..."

    Oz did well. It was a bit tricky, lumpy and bumpy, with some large rocks to avoid but not a lot of loose debris. I thought it was fun!

    After playing Marco Polo with the GPS, we found the campsite. It was peaceful and quiet, except for a nearby pack of coyotes. We howled back and forth with them for a bit, and I really enjoyed that they answered us. Coyotes are awesome.

    <center><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/nm13/parksranch.jpg"><img src="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/cache/1351__320x240_parksranch.jpg" /></a></center>
    Today was Oz's birthday! I mostly napped, as I was very congested and felt sick. Oz went into town in search of cold drinks, returning hours later. He'd gotten lost trying to find the unsigned road, but had a good time exploring without the burden of his luggage.

    I figured it was time for some spelunking! The caves were right in the campground, fenced off so children and animals didn't accidentally wander in.

    <center><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/nm13/parksfence.jpg"><img src="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/cache/1350__320x240_parksfence.jpg" /></a></center>
    The sign repeated the warnings I was given earlier - don't drown in the cave!

    <center><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/nm13/dontdie.jpg"><img src="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/cache/1340__320x240_dontdie.jpg" /></a></center>
    Oz was feeling uneasy so he elected to stay outside. Oh well! I wasn't going to let that stop me. I love caves!

    <center><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/nm13/parkscaveentrance.jpg"><img src="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/cache/1349__320x240_parkscaveentrance.jpg" /></a></center>
    The walls, ceiling, and some of the floor had this great scaly rippled texture. These caves were formed when hydrogen sulfide gas slowly leached through stress fractures in the rock, helping the water to erode it. The gypsum sparkled in the dim light.

    <center><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/nm13/parkscave1.jpg"><img src="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/cache/1343__320x240_parkscave1.jpg" /></a></center>
    Cave crickets were everywhere!

    <center><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/nm13/cavecricket.jpg"><img src="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/cache/1339__320x240_cavecricket.jpg" /></a></center>
    Most of my pictures turned out poorly, due to the small sensor in both cameras. The exception seemed to be macro photos, made possible with flash.

    <center><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/nm13/parkscave2.jpg"><img src="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/cache/1344__320x240_parkscave2.jpg" /></a></center>
    I found some tiny, hairlike crystals. They were soft to the touch and very fragile.

    <center><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/nm13/parkscave6.jpg"><img src="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/cache/1348__320x240_parkscave6.jpg" /></a></center>
    The gypsum was carved into some fascinating designs. One piece was so thin that I could thump it and it would reverberate, like a drum, the echo going deep into the cave.

    <center><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/nm13/parkscave5.jpg"><img src="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/cache/1347__320x240_parkscave5.jpg" /></a></center>
    Encountering a muddy puddle, I doubled back, having no interest in fighting mud and water in order to see more sparkly rocks. After taking a quick break, I decided to duck into the second, lower cave below the first.

    Near the entrance, the gypsum was streaked with this green mineral.

    <center><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/nm13/parkscave3.jpg"><img src="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/cache/1345__320x240_parkscave3.jpg" /></a></center>
    I spent far less time in this cave. Near the exit, the tunnel's smooth walls made me think of a creature boring through the rock, like a gigantic earthworm.

    <center><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/nm13/parkscave4.jpg"><img src="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/cache/1346__320x240_parkscave4.jpg" /></a></center>
    We made dinner and enjoyed a fantastic sunset.

    <center><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/nm13/parkssunset.jpg"><img src="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/cache/1352__320x240_parkssunset.jpg" /></a></center>
  8. smash81

    smash81 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2007
    Oddometer:
    724
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    :clap

    Born and raised in Albuquerque, thanks for confirming I've made the right decision to not visit Roswell! :rofl

    I do miss coyotes. We live too close to the city to hear them. They used to come in our yard all the time as kids. LOL about the tumbleweeds! Whenever friends from the east coast would visit NM, they would seem to be baffled by tumbleweeds and road runners. "I thought those were just in movies and cartoons!" Ha.

    Glad you're back on the road, looking forward to more updates. :ear
  9. Pampero

    Pampero Verbose Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2012
    Oddometer:
    756
    Location:
    Seattle WA and Nashville TN
    Very late to this but my favorite ride report. You have a gift as a traveler and a writer. Thank you for sharing it.
  10. GAGirlMissingMyRide

    GAGirlMissingMyRide Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2013
    Oddometer:
    12
    Location:
    Georgia
    Enjoy your reports ! Admire you for taking to the road. Thanks for writing about the adventure so the rest of us can share in it .
  11. NomadGal

    NomadGal Esther

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,133
    Location:
    Everywhere and Nowhere
    Hey Fey, where are yo hiding girl?
    Hope you are well, looking forward to the rest of your report once you can get to it.
    It's starting to cool down already here in Fairbanks, amazing! :eek1
  12. Feyala

    Feyala Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2011
    Oddometer:
    358
    Location:
    Wandering...
    Things have been crazy busy for me, I landed in Portland and an opportunity to do art full time kinda popped up and slapped me in the face, so I'm going to be here for the next few months at least. My living situation is super unstable, I'm not as used to being homeless (home-free?) inside a city, so it's been interesting trying to get everything in motion and teaching somebody else these ropes. Things are looking good though, we're on track to have things sorted out in the next week or two. I'm excited to see what we can come up with.

    Not an end to the journey yet, there's still way more to explore, but my bankroll is getting pretty slim. I'll still probably take a trip up to the olympic peninsula in the near future, and possibly a road trip down to socal and phoenix to pick up some stuff for our project. Worst comes to worst I can get a real job or day labor or something. Our projected costs are pretty low.

    The RR will resume once things are just a teensy bit less chaotic, right now I've been running around like a chicken with my head cut off!

    I've been keeping up with your report, kudos for wanting to brave out an Alaskan winter! Too chilly for me though, yikes. Good luck getting your ducks in a row and stay toasty! :clap :raabia
  13. FloorPoor

    FloorPoor Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2010
    Oddometer:
    712
    Location:
    Spudville, Idaho
    It's gonna cool down A LOT more here soon. I was there in November a few years back and it was -40:vardy. The cold didn't bother me as much as the dark though, the lack of sunshine started to get me a bit depressed:cry

    The norther lights were AMAZING though. I have been following your thread and this one as well, both very inspiring.
  14. smash81

    smash81 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2007
    Oddometer:
    724
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Been almost two months.... Did Fey get sucked back into a "normal" life? :ear
  15. viper770

    viper770 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2011
    Oddometer:
    600
    Location:
    Wellington ,Kansas
    god I hope not
  16. GypsyWriter

    GypsyWriter Yup, I'm a girl.

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2009
    Oddometer:
    2,117
    Location:
    Visalia CA
    Sounds to me like she's just trying to hunker down for a little while and make some money. Plus, art sounded like something she's interested in and if she was given an opportunity to do something she loves, I say go for it! :freaky

    Still, I very much hope this ride report will continue on, I love her enthusiasm. Subscribed and lurking as always! :lurk
  17. viper770

    viper770 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2011
    Oddometer:
    600
    Location:
    Wellington ,Kansas
    true if she finds something that makes her happy by all means go for it
  18. ben2go

    ben2go Moto Flunky

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2011
    Oddometer:
    4,707
    Location:
    Upstate SC USA
    If I am not mistaken,Lisa Kelly just posted on FB that they have snow piling up.
  19. Warin

    Warin Retired

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2012
    Oddometer:
    3,414
    ? Don't think anyone around here leads a 'normal' life... why be 'normal' when you can be 'interesting'? :evil
  20. 8lives

    8lives Dharma Bum

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2012
    Oddometer:
    2,027
    Location:
    Shasta County,Calif
    Ya I wanna see more good stories!