The ride after the ride

I just learned a ton. Honing a new skill in an intensive learning environment for three weeks straight. Surrounded by Motorcycle Safety Foundation teachers, racers, tour guides, industry journalists, and other riders so seasoned they’ve been riding since before I was born. Most of them were older than me, although sometimes it was hard to tell. Motorcycles are a time machine — they keep people young.

Many of them mentioned it was “up to me” now. “Next time, you do it,” Alisa Clickenger said, after one particularly long day in Colorado Springs. Now, producing events is one thing — I do that for a living already. Who knows what’s possible on that end. But the riding part. What about when I go back to my regular life? My CAR?! Without riding every day, I will forget how to do certain things and my skills will begin to erode. Without the Sisters Centennial Ride community around me, I will have to start from scratch, solo.

Or… maybe not. I have some friends who took the MSF course with me back in November, who are intelligent, strong young women. Maybe we will build up our collective skills and ride off into the sunset together. But in order to make this happen, there are things I will need to give up in order to give this the attention it deserves. Can I do that? Will I do that? Eat, sleep, ride, repeat? Life on the edge, full of love, in the moment and prepared for anything? Track days and dirt bike school? Or should I not worry about it too much, knowing that riding and the motorcycle community is always there for me, whenever I’m ready to join it again?

Or is it fruitless to try to recapture something that, in its very essence, was fleeting? Not only is riding an exercise in temporality, the Sisters Centennial Ride itself was an assemblage of people who will likely never be in the same place at the same time ever again. And that’s why it was so special. Like the dance floor in the club space at Islington Mill on July 20, 2013 during Bill Campbell’s 40th birthday (when we as CHERYL and collaborators the Volkov Commanders and Positively Destructive created an event called Psychic Rhythm Abduction), it’s been a party on wheels that will be hard to top anywhere, ever.

So I guess I’m unsure as to what’s in store yet. I gotta pay the bills, and my job as Event Producer at Basilica Hudson is a demanding one. And I’m an artist, with a collective that I’ve been absent from for some time. And I’m part of other communities — of artists, musicians, nature lovers, weirdos — who have nothing to do with motorcycles. Actually, it’s kind of a feat in and of itself that I was able to do this ride at all, considering all the other stuff in my life that has nothing to do with riding.

At the AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, a woman posed the question to my cousin Skyler and I — did we feel obligated to do this? Or was it coming from a place of real interest and love? Sure, there was obligation there, to fulfill some sort of cosmic family legacy, I suppose. But also — to quote my good friend April F. Greene — I am an “experience junkie.” Why the heck would I turn down the opportunity to expand my realm of experience? Back in Springfield at the museum, Queena Quý mentioned she understands the burden of upholding the family legacy, as she comes from Vietnamese royalty. It can be a weird task. But in this case, at least it also meant getting acquainted with a whole new world I knew nothing about.

I’ve always loved exploring subcultures; once you’re deep in, you don’t even notice the bubble. Motorcycling is one of these things, but as you get deeper in you realize there are many disparate communities, bound only by a single thread of two- (sometimes three-) wheeled riding.

As I said above, most of the people on the ride were older than me. When I started I expected there to be more interest from people my age. I thought motorcycles were having a “moment” in popular culture again? People my age were interested in them? But upon further examination and after speaking with two female peers and seasoned riders I met on the last day (both riding Kawi Vulcan S 650s into SF with us), Joslyn Petty, PR rep for Kawasaki, and Jessica Kline, a Canadian Moto blogger, they explained that the renewed interest is more from the surface-laden, Instagram-heavy zone of millennials; young women with feathers in their hair buying vintage Hondas, riding gear-less, doing it for looks. Not riding 350+ miles in a day. Huh. Ok.

There’s gotta be room for more. I can’t be the only new rider who has fallen in love with the concept of long-distance riding. I can’t be the only one who is interested in the continued legacy of women pushing boundaries on motorcycles — women I had the pleasure to meet and ride with, like Sarah “SeCCRet” Moreau and Erin Sills.

Also weird that the motorcycle industry isn’t playing up alternative transportation more, to garner more interest from cyclists (or former cyclists like me). As I mentioned in an earlier post, Critical Mass is a successful way of alerting the general public about why bicycles are important. Why isn’t there a similar kind of thing going on with motorcycles? Could there be?

No matter what happens, I know I will keep exploring, learning from the amazing people in the motorcycling community who stopped at nothing to overcome unspeakable odds. It’s time to go home. My train stops in Hudson, NY in a few minutes. I will step out into the Northeast once more, vowing to receive what comes my way with love.

—SVB

What’s it all mean?

So it’s official, I traversed the USA, along with my dad and cousins and a bunch of mentors and new friends. We were reminded along the way just how courageous (and maybe a tad insane) Adeline and Augusta truly had to be to do what they did 100 years ago. 2016 is a different world, and a different USA. I was worried about being bombarded with crappy news about elections and guns as we made our way west, but weirdly we were kind of immune; every time we stopped in a town, people wanted to talk about the ride. About motorcycles. About women pushing boundaries. About people doing something because they believed in it. There wasn’t a whole lot of extra time for other conversations, and there wasn’t a lot of interest in watching the 11 o’clock news.

This bubble of positivity definitely had an affect on all of us, I think. The ride was cathartic for many, for a host of reasons. And the message we carried was delivered successfully to those who may bring it farther, electing to take a risk or empower themselves because they witnessed what we did — if we can, they can.

I’ve spent so much time traveling outside the USA in the past six years on tour with CHERYL in Europe and the UK. It was very important to get a non-American perspective on the world, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. However, I’ll admit I’d kind of forgotten that yes, there are indeed some things worth seeing (and saving) here on American soil. Things are fucked in a lot of ways, of course, but maybe if we all just spent a bit more time out in the open, outside our comfort zones, we could find some more common ground.

(Aside: I will say that going through all the “I” states was kind of sobering. I cried in my helmet somewhere in Iowa, having intense thoughts about how privileged I am. Not only to be lucky enough to do the ride [or to get born in the place/time I was born], but also to be from the Northeast, to have received a great education, to have had the chance to explore the world. People from my region tend to look down on this region, which is essentially a factory for the rest of the country. The people here are “salt of the earth” types, but they’re subject to what could be interpreted as contemporary serfdom, tasked with doing our dirty work. Us in the Northeast can choose to reject the military / agricultural industrial complex, but no matter how you slice it [unless you’re a carless hermit living off the land in the Yukon], you are participating in this machine and its fallout. It’s not the fault of the people here, it’s the fault of our government. And good ole’ supply and demand, of course.)

That’s the beauty of a motorcycle — you aren’t isolated from your environment like you are in a car; you’re part of it. You are not in a padded box filled with things to make your life easy. You aren’t distracted by phones, music, food, or other people. You aren’t separated from the rider next to you by two panes of tinted glass. Your world on the road isn’t curated to fit your lifestyle; it’s received, hopefully with a large serving of humility and acceptance, knowing that there are some things we can change, and other things we cannot. And certain situations which require negotiation.

There are nice people here. In the middle of nowhere. Who don’t want to shoot you or condemn you for your beliefs. Who speak to you with respect, even if they don’t understand you. There are other sweet people here that you can ride alongside every day and get along with, despite the fact that they have different beliefs than you. And there are amazing people that you will never forget, who stand outside time as road warriors — at one with their machines — some armed with nothing more than a flip phone and a map, and will show you roads you never knew possible.

That last group have been TRUE MENTORS on this trip, and without them there’s no way I could have done this. I’ve mentioned some of them in this blog, but here’s the whole list…

Bob Van Buren (MY DAD, BVB!)

Alisa Clickenger

Diane Ortiz

Bob & Becca Cross

Pete Athanas

Sue Slate & Gin Shear

Karen Thomson

Peg Preble

Erin Sills

Porsche Taylor

Sarah “SeCCRet” Moreau

Queena Quý

Lisa Machalowsky

Robert Pandya

Sara Liberte

Holly Ralph

Joanne Donn

Marjorie White

Lisa Niner

Durga Krummer

Diane Huston

Irmalisa Jackson

Olivia Solero

Vivian Gerstetter

Mary Beth Quinn

Brittany Morrow

Zandra Charbonneau & Helen Berry

Johanne Laverne & Tina

Magda!

… and all the other riders that I was lucky to ride with, and honored to now call my friends!

Plus, my MOM RHONDA, my BROTHER ADAM, my SISTER-IN-LAW MEG, and the rest of my family (on both the Van Buren / Farrell side and the Gallagher / Ramalho side) for ALL THEIR SUPPORT.

THANK YOU ALL FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART.

The Last Ride

Carson City was a bit crazy as we had suddenly multiplied. Day riders and friends were joining on to do the final push with us. One of the day riders was my MSF instructor Roy Denny, instrumental in getting me ready for this trip. He gave me a couple extra lessons which really helped my headspace in the weeks leading up to the trip, when I was filled with dread and anxiety. He was originally going to meet us in Springfield as well, but he hit a deer one morning on his bike, got banged up, had to get surgery, and just recovered with enough time to blitz out west in four days to meet us. As Roy likes to say, “ride, eat sleep, repeat!”

Back with the Mighty Wood Ducks (MWD for short), our numbers had doubled. As he was donating booze from his bar, Kilowatt, over in the Mission for the closing party, Pete had gone up ahead. Bob was leading us, Diane was the tail, and Bob’s lovely wife Becca had joined on as well. We dodged rush hour traffic headed north into Reno. I gave a motorist the finger when they cut me off and then had to remind myself to calm down — I was already freaked out about the day. Not good to flip off people off on the highway!

Highway 80 got twistier and was filled with more and more traffic. We were plunged into shadows, evergreens growing around us as we crossed over the border into California, riding near Donner Pass. My teeth chattered, my hands almost numb. I had forgotten how cold northern California could be. We stopped in Truckee and everyone hopped around, soaking in the growing warmth of the new sun.

Back on 80 and a jerk in a pickup truck swerved, almost hitting Holly. She can’t use her back brake due to limited mobility in her ankle, so her only choice was swerving out into the next lane. Luckily she was unscathed, albeit rattled. A bit further down the road and a black SUV (douchemobile) almost cut me off as i passed through its blind spot for mere seconds. Sheesh. We were indeed headed towards civilization again, warts and all.

Up ahead we were rewarded with lengthy traffic jams, the now unbearable and punishing sun shining down relentlessly. I wondered how thirsty was too thirsty. We crawled over bridges and under highway overpasses. We watched solo riders split lanes as we fought with the friction zone, clutches flickering. Up over another ridge, it appeared we were in the Marin Headlands. But how long would it take?!

We traveled over a steep bridge and suddenly there was water and wind. The temperature began to drop. After an indeterminate amount of time, we zoomed around a corner AND THERE IT WAS. The Golden Gate looming below. Holy shit. I sucked in air, gasping, a half-sob.

Quick through a tunnel, much like the longer one we took to exit Brooklyn so many days earlier. Tunnel book-ends. Turning down into Fort Powers, at the base of the bridge, for photos. They were waiting for us. Folks from the San Francisco Motorcycle Club (SFMC) were on site to direct us, pointing the way and cheering us on. Bikes everywhere. I see Robert Pandya ahead, he shouts for me to drive straight. To my right are all the riders, screaming and “woo!”-ing and clapping. Ahead and to my left were many many cameras, telephoto lenses in gear, invisible “snap!” of digital shutters.

BUT WAIT! We weren’t there yet! People wanted to hug and cry and celebrate, but I kept thinking… we still need to go over that big bridge! Ever-anxious, I was obsessing about the hairpin turns we’d have to travel back up to get out of the park. My brain had to stay in travel-mode, as odd as that seemed, for self-preservation purposes.

We queue up, me with the Indian riders so I could be next to my parents, behind them and Sarah “SeCCRet” Moreau (SeCCRet about the break Bessie Stringfield’s record for most cross country trips — completing her EIGHTEENTH, which seems impossible.) We wait for the rest of the cross country riders to pass. I know them all, send love direct to each of their hearts as they climb up the turn. We fall in after, before the day riders. We climb. Around the bend. SFMC riders here and there, zooming up to hold the cars back, blocking the intersections.

We approach and enter onto the bridge. IT’S ALL HAPPENING. This is REAL. We so many (150+) that we take up one entire lane, beginning to end. And then the crying starts, of course. Orange pillars pushing up the fog-laden air. It’s a moment outside time, although crossing probably couldn’t have taken more than three minutes. I look to my left and see my brother Adam, his wife Meg, and our good family friend Bob standing and cheering at the last pillar, holding up a sign which read, “CONGRATULATIONS VB SISTERS RIDERS!” I shoot my arm up, high five with the sky, before entering San Francisco proper.

We veer around the corner, sea breeze to my right. I look over and two big white/orange hawks are flying with us, cresting on air currents. I like to take birds as signs, and this was as good a sign as any — Augusta and Adeline, there with us, bearing witness.

People are everywhere, taking note, taking photos. Some of them ignoring, somehow. We continue. SFMC takes us on an outlaw-style tour of the city. There’s only about five of them riding with us, but they have it down to a science. One guy zooms ahead at full speed, stopping at the next intersection. He puts his hand out, and that’s all it takes for motorists to stop — they’re confused or scared or interested; at any rate, they obey the hand of the motorcycle rider; this hand could just as easily stop floods or move mountains in this moment. We parade through. Next guy is already past us at the next intersection, and then the next. The first guy zooms past again to the next spot. They hop-scotch through the city, taking us up and down 60-degree-grade hills, pushing traffic aside.

Eventually there are just too many intersections and not enough SFMC members… which means we just blow through the intersections, horns blaring. Not a cop in sight. Surprisingly, we do this with minor issues, save a few huffy hipsters and impatient Saturday drivers. (Of note is the fact that I hadn’t seen hipsters in three weeks, until entering San Fran!) People regard us with the full spectrum of facial expressions. We demand attention. They don’t even know what the whole thing is about; they just see a line of bikes as far as their eyes will strain in the afternoon sun. It reminds me of Critical Mass in NYC, the radical cyclist event which forces other street users to pay attention. WE ARE HERE. But instead of a “share the road or fuck off” intention, we were filled with joy and tears, happy to meet the city, lucky to traverse their beautiful streets.

SFMC takes us along the best route we could have asked for, a real victory lap. This group has heart. And balls. I found out later that this was completely outlaw-style, unsanctioned. No permits filed, no permission asked. “We do this all the time,” they said. Makes sense — I’m always surprised when I get to SF, forgetting how much more like the Wild West it is than NYC, which seems uptight and regulation-heavy in comparison.

But there was another reason SFMC gave us such a welcome. 100 years ago they weren’t where they said they’d be. The plan was they’d meet the sisters as they rolled into the city, but they flaked. Augusta and Adeline arrived to absolutely no fanfare and nobody, tired and annoyed. They quickly said “screw this” and left for LA, where they got a warm reception from some Hollywood types.

At our closing party later that night, the historian from SFMC issued a formal apology for their 1916 gaff. They certainly made up for it! SFMC 4-EVA! (And their clubhouse is totally amazing, filled with old photos and memorabilia; they’re the second oldest motorcycle club in the world behind the one in Yonkers, NY. If you ever have a chance to visit them, DO IT!)

—SVB

Western Wilds

Bryce canyon was mystical. I did a full moon hike with my friend Sara Kinney (who is also a videographer / editor, currently working on a documentary project about the sisters) and my new friends Tom and Joyce, both of whom joined Sara to help with shooting. Didn’t know what to expect, as I didn’t have an image in my mind. It’s the best way to approach something — like going into a movie without seeing the trailer.

We crept towards the lip of the canyon guided by a young ranger, and were greeted by spires of wonderment. It was somber and otherworldly, alien and beautiful. You just have to go to fully get the vibe. Lit by the moon, our eyes adjusted, we saw depth and cold color. A thunderhead mushroomed in the distance, the lightning zapping from the inside, setting the whole cloud aglow. We heard and saw a rattlesnake (my first!). We learned about the Native people’s beliefs – the canyon was a sort of hell, filled with souls who had done wrong, turned to pillars of stone forever. It felt vaguely like a cemetery.

The next day, July 20, was BVB’s 70th birthday. Pretty important. Aside from some small bickering, it was a nice day, ha ha. We spent a chunk of it in Bryce, walking the rim trail slowly, viewing the spires from all angles. A raven floated by, croaking. We smelled the butterscotch of the Ponderosa Pines. We bought trinkets. Dad was content, I think, albeit slightly tired after this seemingly unending journey.

The following morning, the moon was still full, sitting low in the blue sky, amongst gauzy clouds. We took off for the “Loneliest Highway” into Nevada, which is Route 50 and also the Lincoln Highway – we were reconnecting with the sisters’ original route after the cool detour. Once we crossed into Nevada, the heat bore down. The afternoon stretched; the winds on the flat lands between the ridges blowing harder. I spied a dust devil off to my left, and calculated that it would reach the road just as I was riding by. I made a decision to ride through it. Oh god, never again. A personal two-second hurricane. A tiny tornado. In case you were wondering, dust devils pack a punch. I was able to stay on my bike, on the road, but just barely.

Since I’ve lived to tell the tale, I suppose I’ve crossed over into some sort of Old West mentality.  Nevada oozes it. Sometimes it’s a bit gross — anything and everything could be a brothel. Cigarette smoke wafts through the air. Hotels are casinos. Hell, gas stations are casinos. Best not to make eye contact with some folks… like the disheveled old gold prospector-type eyeing our luggage at Hotel Nevada. But there’s also warmth in places — the cute soda fountain in Ely; the mayor named Melody we met at the thrift store who welcomed us. The lady who was attending the spelunking conference who looked like Mrs. Potato Head.

We rode clean across Nevada in one day, from Ely to Carson City, breaking away from the group to ride, just me, my folks, and Sara, Tom and Joyce following in the Prius. Peaks and valleys rising and falling. Climbing through small mountain passes with names like Pancake and Pinto, and then dumping back out into long stretches of straight road, The road ahead, straight for 50 miles until it tucks back up into the hills again, is filled with illusions, reflections. A lake pools in the middle, hulking shapes moving through it. As we draw nearer the water evaporates into nothingness, the shapes morph into a cow or a car.

This is the road wherein I go the fastest I’ve ever gone. 85, 95, 100. At first it feels daring, but then it becomes the new normal. Slowing back down to 75 mph feels like I could walk faster. I keep checking my rearview to make sure BVB is still following, Mom on the back. Slow down. They’re near now; speed up. The road lays out before me like a submissive lover. I am moving through a golden shimmering tunnel, my eyes fixed on the point where road meets horizon. I feel a wave of calm sweep over me, inexplicable. Trance-inducing. Reminded of when I performed with a butoh dance company. We walked, each step a thousand years. Fred Hatt, one of the accomplished dancers, coached me. You are walking slowly, fixed on the horizon, looking through the wall of the building out onto the landscape beyond. Eight golden buddhas spin around me, hovering in light. Walking the ages, aeons falling away like autumn leaves.

Bouncing over frost heaves, hurtling along. Om dum durgayei namaha.

This road is indeed the same the sisters travelled, but they didn’t have the privilege of speed during their journey. I’d imagine they still fixed their eyes on the horizon, the landscape wavering in the heat of high noon. Dehydration and hallucinations. God knows how they did it; it would have taken them a few days to get through what we did in an afternoon.

Detour into 722, passing an old tramp seated on the side of the road, shirtless and sunburned. Our first sandy salt flat, a cloud of brown in the air above it. The smell of campfire. We move closer and now it’s evident the brown cloud is not dust but smoke. We are headed into another mountain pass, towards a wildfire. It’s seated on the top of the mountain, but we thankfully skirt around it through a charred landscape. Dead trees with grotesque reach of black limbs. Black ground. We come ‘round the corner, farther from the fallout. I look in my rearview and see the side of three consecutive mountains aflame.

We stop at Middlegate Station, an extremely old timey lunch spot that harkens back to the Pony Express days, about a half mile down the road from a tree covered in old shoes. Back on the road, I flash the “two wheels” hand sign at a leather and brain bucket-clad one-percenter next to his hog on the side of the road. He gives me the sign of the beast.

Getting closer, mid afternoon heat almost too much to bare. Military jet planes circle in the near distance, rumbling. Where’s Area 51 anyway? In Nevada you truly feel most alone, but are likely being watched. Heck, we were likely being watched in Colorado Springs too, staying near the antennae-laden peak of NORAD. But more about that later.

We were getting close. Arriving in Carson City, it was our last stop before San Francisco. In the parking lot was Monique Filips, the cool mom who has been traveling with sidecar containing her two kids, Spencer and Makayla, her husband Frank following on his own bike. Makayla cheered as they arrived, her little fist punching into the air as she yelled, “Carson CITAYYY!” We laughed.

—SVB

Changing gears

Sitting in the room at the Chief Motel in McCook, Nebraska. I can hear everyone outside as it’s essentially a motor inn with pool that was covered over later with a giant metal roof. So everywhere you go, it smells like pool, you can hear people splashing about from the room, and if you peer over the balcony rail, you’ll see carpet adorned with patio furniture. Mini Truman Showvibes, if Truman’s entire reality was a cheaply updated midwest motel. And the soundtrack is 1940s era crooning. Or at least that’s what it sounds like from inside this room.

We’ve been going mostly straight ahead, barreling through the midwest, since Saturday. It’s now Wednesday, July 13, and the midwest will soon be to our east. Tomorrow we head to Colorado Springs – twisty mountain roads, trees, and most of all, a bit of rest. Staying in Colorado Springs until Sunday morning. With, of course, some riding in between, including a jaunt up Pike’s Peak. Which is more than a jaunt for most. I will likely take the cog train up instead, and take that time to shoot some 35 mm film, relax, take in the views (my first time in Colorado, weirdly), and not be in crazy stress mode while trying to ascent a 14K foot high mountain. Looking forward to that.

Today was an easy day, for the most part. We’ve covered quite a bit of ground, albeit the flat stuff. But flat doesn’t mean easy, necessarily– we skirted a large rainstorm this morning, the wind howling around us. I was getting pushed into the other lane on the highway until I figured out how to angle my body, riding like an Egyptian wall relief, my shoulders stacked one behind the other.

We stopped in Hastings for lunch. Turns out Kool-Aid was invented there. Unclear if Kool-Aid Man was invented there. Something tells me that happened later. The topography began to change as we passed through towns with names like Friend and Funk (yes, real towns in Nebraska). Little hints of the desert, evergreens here and there, tweaks in the landscape. I was reminded of my time in Kansas a few years back, during an artist residency in Salina. Found a book about the massive sea that once sat atop the earth there, leaving behind an abundance of fossils preserved in deep layers of limestone and chalk. Assuming Nebraska is the same, if you were to fly over this landscape you would see how the hills were actually shaped by wave movements. Undulations eons before. 

To keep my brain busy on these long stretches of lonely roads, I’ve ticked through my invisible song catalog, singing at the top of my lungs as we hurtle down the highway. Keep finding my way back to Captain Beefheart and Beck, which is no surprise really, as we are locked and loaded on their zone. What do I mean by that? Don Van Vliet and Beck Hansen were/are true American weirdos. Their music encapsulates the American West – all it was and all it is. Roadside kitch, lawlessness, cultural mish-mash, hicksville. A jalopy bouncing down a dusty street at sunset, pulling over to take a bong rip. That’s what it’s like. We passed tattered, faded, falling-down hand-painted billboards for a place called Pioneer Village. We didn’t stop, to my chagrin, because it essentially looked like the fictitious downtrodden Civilwarland in the namesake George Saunders novel. Ah, next time. Nevada will be even more hardcore Van Vliet / Hansen psychedelic, what with the ghost towns and legalized vice and all. Carson City, here we come.

—SVB

The Marmot

You know you’re in foreign territory when you see roadkill you don’t recognize. The Mohawk Valley of Schoharie County in NY cuts down and bumps and widens to create the Allegheny Mountains of PA. Similar topography but slightly different vegetation; different smells. Yesterday we sliced through much of Pennsylvania, going through Nowheresville towns with names like Coudersport and yes, Punxsutawney. 

The latter town was our last stop before the hotel in Greensburg, where we had a surreal rendezvous with Phil, that groundhog. Strange mythology cooked up over the last century has lead to a club where old white guys wear stovepipe hats and keep a marmot (yes, they called him a marmot) in a clear plexiglass cylinder. Apparently he’s 103 years old and he drinks their secret Elixir of Life once per year. But his special lady (or goddamn lady friend, whatever label you want to put on their relationship) who lives down at the zoo is denied said Elixir of Life. It’s still all about the patriarchy down in ole’ Punxy, I guess.

Pennsylvania has always sort of baffled me. What is it? Northeast or Midwest? It kind of inhabits a world of its own, a giant weird melange of Amish culture, rolling hills, rust belt decay, and two cool cities-as-bookends where people are fairly worldly and progressive. When I think of Pennsylvania though, what immediately comes to mind are those awful frilly dresses and bonnets that Pollyanna would wear in that Disney movie from the seventies. 

And I think of a trip that my art collective CHERYL took a few months back, a self-imposed “retreat” so we could brainstorm and get on the same page again. The three of us rented a small cottage on Airbnb which appeared rural from the photos, but was actually at a busy intersection skirted by trees on a street called “Tom X Road.” We hiked a mountain crowded by frat dudes blasting Skrillex, we went to a popcorn shop full of obese people, and we shared a PB&J from a PB&J-only restaurant. And we learned of the legend of Tom X, from the proprietor of the Tom X Pub (it’s hazy). We got out of there as quickly as we could, thankful for our lives.

Next up!  I need to tell you about the folks in my riding group, “The Wood Ducks.” More soon….!

—SVB

The Sisters Hit the Small Screen

Many of you have already seen the Travel Channel spot on the sisters as shown in the 'Mysteries at the Museum' series. If not, check out the link below.  The show is called "Greatest Mysteries: Sturgis". In 2003 Adeline and Augusta were inducted into the Sturgis Hall of Fame. 

The show runs for about an hour with 15 minute segments on the Sturgis rally, the history of the area and its founder Pappy Hoel, Deadwood, and the sisters. The sisters segment starts at minute 29 if you are pressed for time, but I suggest you watch the entire show.