Monday, April 5, 2010

Wow, Exciting! Control Tower: France

Image from

I just had my first voice-to-voice conversation with Paul Starmer. Paul has a company that organizes trips across the Alps. I contacted him because his great attitude impressed me. I loved how he talked about making sure that the rides he arranges were within each person's ability so s/he would have a great time. He will assist me in creating a route across France that meets my challenge and safety levels. But, to my delight, he will also take me through the beauty of France's landscapes with stops to discover all the precious art, history and music that is tucked away outside of Paris. I had so many feelings as we were talking, my mind was racing. Let me share with you some of my notes:

Image from
I wound up learning French terms for different kinds of roads, like Route Nationale, which are like our one lane highways that are 55mph.

The Alps temp is 1 degree at the top and 18 at the bottom (he didn't mean Fahrenheit, so I have to look that one up; but I know that's cold). I know there are heated jackets and pants, but the cold is my Achilles Heel. If I get really cold, I'm stripped of all my energy in a very severe way. I could end up in bed for 2–3 days. I need to figure out what temperatures I can handle before departure in order to determine the final route.

To begin to figure out if I can do any of the Alps, I have to go to an open area and practice my 90-degree turns. Go 20 meters and do it again and then again and again. Essentially, I need to learn how to ride this scooter first. My turns are still too wide. I'm a long way from 90-degree turns.

Fuel costs, at present, $8.21USD per gallon for regular unleaded. My bratty little scooter needs Premium. The tank holds 3 gals. I'm not yet sure how far it goes on a tank.

We talked about where I would stay. I don't think it is a good idea to stay at a place where there is no one there to help at all, so we are planning on most of the overnights to be at an Association of Logis DeFrance, which sounds like they are usually family-owned affordable lodging.

I will be using a combination of my motorcycle-friendly Zumo Nav and paper maps. Paul is going to send me the maps that I will need for the regions that I will be visiting.

Two days ago, when Michael and I were driving up and down a hilly road near our home, I said to him, "I wish Teasdale was still alive." Wayne Teasdale was a Christian monk I met in the '90s. At that time, I was opening my fine art gallery (more on this another time), and he told me that I was making a mistake. He said I should be making my own artwork, telling my own story in a creative way. He forced me to watch a very boring video of a Japanese artist as he tried to make his point. I just wasn't able to hear him at that time.

Then, this past year when I created We Vow, I thought I had stopped Teasdale from "haunting me," so to speak. But I didn't. We Vow was a mission. It was something I had to do and I have no regrets. I still feel passionately about the We Vow project, but this—what I am doing now—is what Teasdale was talking about.

This is it. This is what I am supposed to be doing. It feels awkward to say, because I realize it sounds like I'm going on some kind of extended holiday, and of course many people wish their circumstances would allow a similar adventure. But there is undeniably something about this particular adventure that is exactly what I'm supposed to be doing right now in my life. If you will forgive me for how hokey this sounds, I feel like the stars have aligned. I think some of it is fulfilling childhood wishes, but it feels like something more, something that hasn't yet been revealed to me. It is yet only a vague knowing, but this is what Teasdale meant. And I met Teasdale before the whole ICU mess even happened! Anyway, I wish now, more than ten years later, I could tell him that I was listening, and that the time has come.
(Image of Wayne Teasdale from Wayne Teasdale's Interspirituality)


  1. There's something to be said about activity helping you figure out how you need to accommodate yourself. I know for me, simple things like walking make my symptoms worse: this confrontation between my body and my desires is a frustrating one, but in a sense it helps me enjoy walking all the more -- on a good symptom day of course! I'm sure you would love riding even if you didn't have health issues, of course.

    I hope sometime soon the reason for this feeling of star alignment becomes clear to you. Maybe Teasdale knew something you that still have to figure out. Does riding help you think about everything you need to think about, or is it more of a distraction from your difficulties?

  2. When I moved to San Francisco in the early nineties and saw so many people riding scooters up and down those hills, it looked so fun. I prayed that circumstances would allow me to ride a scooter across Europe someday. Now, I've had to scale that vision back to a single country and modify the kind of scooter I'm riding and countless other ways that I am going about this trip due to my disabilities.

    Also, I'm very much an interactive person, so for me to decide to take a solo trip and have all that time alone on the bike is a big challenge in and of itself. I've decided to think of it as a sort of moving monastery. I want to take the opportunity to expand myself in this way.

    Now this came about when I decided to go it alone. If I took someone with me to help me out every moment that I needed it, I wouldn't have to be very clear about the kind of help I need (I have a husband that helps me with so many things in my daily life at home) and in doing so, it would be an opportunity to consider the kinds of help other people with hidden disabilities need. I'm just going to share my experiences and hopefully the blog will be a place for us all to talk about the kinds of experiences we have trying to navigate in our daily lives.