Saturday, August 13, 2011


New Orleans, LA (duh)

So I'm in New Orleans right now... in a hotel room. NOLA couchsurfing community, I am disappoint. I sent out 10 requests to different people, asking if I could stay at least one of the two nights I'd be in town, and a few days before arriving I posted on the "Last minute request" board asking for the same thing. Three of the people I requested said no, and no one else responded, and from the last minute board I got one response from a guy who lived 45 minutes away. If past experience serves as any indicator, I'll get a bunch of "no" responses the day after I asked to stay, so they can keep their response rate at 100%.

Nonetheless, here I am in New Orleans. And I'm staying in the same hotel that I stayed in the last two times I came to New Orleans - but at least I've got someone to split it with, because Mark has joined me on the trip now.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How to Not Kill Me

And other useful tips for driving near motorcycles

Memphis, TN

In light of yesterday's horrible, horrible driving I had to deal with, here's a post on how to drive when there's a motorcycle around.  A few helpful hints.

Leave more room than you would for a car
Regardless of where you are in relation to it, but especially if you're behind them.  On dry pavement, a motorcycle can usually stop faster than a car - depending on the car, the bike, and how they're each loaded down, of course.  But the bike is light and has good brakes, so if the tires have a large contact area with the ground - like a crotch rocket or cruiser with fat tires - it can stop pretty quickly.  (On wet pavement, ABS wins out pretty handily, but some bikes to have ABS too.)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Driving for Two

Hot Springs, AR

When you're riding a motorcycle, you don't get the luxury of just keeping track of yourself. If there's anyone else around, you can't zone out or coast along thinking about something else. I occasionally listen to music while I'm riding, but I turn it off anytime I'm in a place with crossroads or more than two lanes each direction, because you can't afford to lose that amount of focus and attention.

When you're riding a motorcycle you have to drive for you, and for everyone else. You have to expect that the car on the side road is going to try to shoot the gap between you and the car in front of you, or worse, pull out in front of you like you're not there. You have to expect that the car in front of you in the left turn lane is going to turn just as you're getting to the intersection. You have to expect that the guy in the pickup truck is going to change lanes right on top of you, even when there's empty space in front of you and behind you. You have to expect that the girl blasting through traffic at 25 over the speed limit isn't going to notice that you started to change lanes and is going to cruise right through you.

Every single one of those things has happened to me on this trip. And today, that expectation saved... well, at least the bike. Maybe more.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Crazy, Part 3 - Cult Lady

McAlester, OK

See also: Crazy, Part 1 and Crazy, Part 2

Many of you have probably already heard this story - I've told it at least 20 times in the past few weeks, and it's usually the first one I tell people if they ask about interesting people I've met.

As I pulled into Ft. Bragg, CA I spotted North Coast brewery on the side of the road. I'd stopped at a brewery for lunch, but North Coast makes a few beers that I'm a pretty big fan of, so it's probably worth stopping, even if that means I'm not making it any farther tonight.

After dinner and a sampler of beers, I decided to head to Starbucks to charge my phone for a bit since it was almost dead, and I needed to find a place to camp. I got there at 8:30 - the sign said they closed at 9, but that should be long enough to look up a few places to go, and hopefully keep it going until I make it to a place to camp. I grabbed a hot chocolate, sat down, and started looking up places to camp.

While I was sitting there, a woman walked in. She had blond, greasy hair that didn't reach her shoulders, slicked back over her head. There wasn't much else of note about her, other than the fact that after she got her drink, she did a sort of half-nod at me - you know, the kind where your head just goes up, a sign of acknowledgment or greeting. I did the same back, and went back to my phone.

Apparently she took that as a signal to come talk to me.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Just Do It

Dallas, TX

The other night, I surfed with some people in Katy, TX just west of Houston. It was a family - Mom, two brothers and a sister, and the girlfriend of one of the brothers - all in the house for the summer (there were two other brothers who were off other places). They were hosting three other surfers that night, and the mom had one of her friends over, so we had a straight up party going on.

I gave rides on my motorcycle to five different people, we sat around and talked about various things, we sat on the porch and smoked pipes together, we played ping pong, we learned to salsa dance (Thanks Holly!), we shared youtube videos... it was a complete blast. Definitely up there as one of my favorite couchsurfing experiences.

One of the guys I was hanging out with was talking about his travels - he's been to Australia, lived in France for a while, traveled through Southeast Asia, and quite a bit of other travels as well. In fact, the trip to Australia was when he was 16, and he's only 24 now.

I have to admit, I was pretty jealous.