There is no place like Home, they say, and I have to agree. I think my definition of home might be different than most. I’ve discovered over the past two years of expat adventuring that every place is different but in many ways the same. So, did I just negate the phrase? I think not, because no matter how far I roam I cannot replace that feeling I get when I return home. And I’ve realized it is true that home is not a place, but rather being with the people I love and participating in our favorite activities together.

On Sunday we did just that, we enjoyed HOME in one of my favorite ways. We climbed on our Harley’s, fired them up and took off for a ramble through the North Carolina countryside. There is not much I enjoy more than following my husband on a surprise adventure. He picks the route and I happily follow, leaning into the curves and accelerating through the straights and slowing down to yell hello to the cows. 

Sunday was just as perfect day at HOME (see definition above….). A few miles after we began, I was transported to that old familiar blissful state. The wind pressed against my chest and whistled around in my helmet. Small bugs pelted my cheeks, cheeks which had already began to ache from my huge grin. My jaw was relaxed loosely to prevent my teeth from knocking against each other. My hands, wrapped in my favorite black Mechanix gloves, loosely held the handlebars, ready to operate the clutch and the throttle smoothly. My brain told my shoulders, normally a bit tight at the beginning, to loosen up as I settled in to the saddle for my first ride in about 3 months. I was thrilled to recognize that I was as comfortable as ever. Hopping on to Smokey (my softail slim) is always one of the best parts of coming HOME.

After about an hour of riding, my eyes rested upon a familiar site -the Harnett County water-tower. Soon after we flew past yellow tobacco fields – the bottom leaves stripped off as harvest was half complete. To the right, a cotton fields decorated with a smattering of white blooms. A few miles later, my eyes rested briefly on a field of tall corn, drying down and slowly being overcome by morning glory vines invading the from the turn rows. Lush green soybean and peanut fields appeared and disappeared to the left and right. A hawk took flight, legs stretched out. Herds of horses and cattle leisurely munching on grass in the pastures.

We stopped in Angier for a mid-morning refuel. Coincidentally, the place we found was a biker hangout. We received a hearty welcome from the owners, who walked outside to, as they put it, “drool over” our bikes. It was a strange feeling to be able to casually and freely converse with the waitress, in English! But I found myself wanting to say Bitte and Danke and order my food in Deutsche. We enjoyed cobbler with ice cream and a coffee for my husband and a half and half tea for me (half sweet, half unsweet – that way I can have 2!).

As we finished our coffee and tea, we picked our route back home, part of the path would take us on the backside of Ravens Rock state park. I was delighted when the pavement ended and we continued on a gravel road through the woods. Definitely a place to return for a hike with our Hund.

The next surprise came when we accelerated up a windy hill and saw some bicycling friends racing down the hill going the opposite direction. We honked and waved. It’s a nice feeling to unexpectedly run in to a friend in a unlikely place!

We pulled up just as big rain drops began to fall from the sky and I was relaxed, sleepy and content after our adventure at HOME.

Today is a rainy day, so no HOME adventure, instead I’m off to a lunchtime hot yoga class. Staycations rock!!!


Look where you want to go

Look where you want to go

This is the universal mantra of mountain bikers and motorcyclists. On a bike this is done to avoid a crash, on a motorcycle it’s necessary to avoid death. Mistakes have much bigger consequences on a motorized two wheel vehicle. The mantra flowed through my mind as I rode the steeply banked trails at the Bike Park in Winterburg, Germany.

While biking I often apply this principle when I deliberately look away from a tricky root, or a line I don’t want to follow, and focus my attention on the line where I want to go. It surprises me every time it works, but it’s really true, if you’re looking at that rock in the middle of the trail, your tire will go directly over it and you’ll probably crash. But, if you purposefully look away from the obstacle and focus your eyes on the tiny sliver of clean path just to the left, that’s where your tire will go.

On the drive back from Winterburg, I got to thinking about this phenomenon and how it’s also true in life. It’s important to consciously decide where you want to go. Once you do this, I can say from experience, everything in the universe will line up around your goal. I’m not saying it will easy. Heck no, sometimes you have to fight hard to refocus your attention away from some shiny object that suddenly appears and back on to the durable, although still exciting, object you’re focused on pursuing.

Sometimes the goal becomes less intriguing and exciting over time and this is when you should reassess – do I want to take the known, safe route, or should I try an experiment and do something totally different. Such as, maybe I’ll learn how to ride over that rock instead of taking the safe track to the left around it. Interestingly, to make this happen, you’ll need to refocus your attention on the Rock and then balance your body correctly over the bike to make it to the other side without a spill. And, you know what, it you crash, odds are you’ll be ok, or you might be laid up for a while recovering, which can be a great time to reassess your goals.

In the end, it comes back to looking where you want to go. The truth is you’ll be doing it subconsciously, or consciously, so why not take control of your thoughts, and deliberately choose the path and accomplish your goal?

Oxford to South Boston

Back home in the US one of my favorite pastimes is to travel the back roads on my Harley following the lead of my husband on his bike. We took a trip in October 2014 and here is what I wrote.

Fingers gripping the clutch, throttle twisted open, tears run from the corners of my burning eyes.

Ears assaulted by the thunder of exhaust.

Eyes scan the horizon and fall upon “The Honey Hole” – delapidated, boarded-up windows – a relic from the past.

Tobacco leaves, yellowed but soft, flutter in the road.

Buzzards circle overhead, casting dark shadows.

Walls of pine trees shelter homes from the assault of exhaust.

Blue sky above, dotted with billowy clouds.

Fatback, biscuits and grits washed down with scalding hot coffee.

The road calls, we answer, rumbling along to the next town.