By Carolyn Fox
• Published in 2017
• This story took place in 1994
• 265 pages
A story of a woman who went on a life-changing journey. Carolyn Fox was a single mother and lawyer haunted with grief and secretes and facing her fiftieth birthday. So she decided to changer her life by facing her fears: she bought a Harley, packed it with a sleeping bag and tent, and set out to ride through all fifty states alone!
“Facing fear and finding redemption on a Harley”
So I thought I would approach this book differently by giving you my thoughts on each chapter. So this is an experiment and I will need your input on whether you find this helpful. Also, this book in particular speaks to me because I ride and have ridden across country albeit not alone.
Prologue: “Haunting Cries” – Luckily I read the authors note – she talks about her publishing journey and how she was ready to print but still thought the book was missing something so she had a literature service take a look and sure enough there was a suggestion to include her struggle dealing with a child she lost. So when I started reading the Prologue I thought “Do I really want to read this?” But I am a firm believer that our dreams are trying to tell us something and here she’s riding her motor cycle and reflecting on a reoccurring dream about open doors and crying presumably by a baby and guilt. It’s a short passage and I am still thinking “do I want to read this?” But I press on.
Chapter 1 – Dancing with the Wind – She’s on the open highway and a big truck is rolling past her. I know from experience this is nerve wracking and it’s this feeling that draws me in further to this story. I can feel the wet wind on my face as well as getting pelted by the road debris kicked up by the bigger vehicles. Now I am a bit awestruck because I realize she is by herself on this journey and I think “what a brave sister!” As the chapter title suggests dancing with the wind on a motorcycle is a not only nerve wracking but exciting. She found out you have to work with it not against it, it’s a control thing. Most of us have learned there isn’t much you can control and the wind blowing around an 800lb motorcycle definitely isn’t one of them. That’s the glory in riding, you find the happy place or you learn to cooperate and enjoy the ride. Now you learn she is loaded with camping gear and is sponsored by the KOA to make this trip. Although I love to ride, usually with my man leading the pack and the solitude that come with driving my own bike and riding my own ride, I can tell you now I would never do a ride such as this by myself and especially not in a tent! Now I am definitely hooked and want to read more.
Chapter 2 – Chasing elusive love – Who really trusts their GPS fully? Ha ha ha I think Ms. Fox and I could be friends! On to her next stop and she “smokes” right by the GPS turn because that didn’t look right, so an hour later she had to turn around and retrace her route. See this is why I love following me hubs; I just don’t have a good sense of direction. She moved on to relationships between men and women. She points out that women can be “hint based” conversationalists where men are the “Joe Fridays” of the world, Speak it Sister! Why don’t men see that the last thing we want to be is needy or imposing? She says “this deprives men of being chivalrous” I do love me some chivalry! She starts thinking about a previous time she went on a trip with her boyfriend and nothing can test a relationship like a road trip.
Chapter 3 – The Lone Archer – This chapter starts out with anxiety on the reader’s part, as she ventures into Yosemite national park. While she manages to survive her trip through Yosemite she overhears a man ranting about his son cutting his hair in a non-traditional way and she offers some words of encouragement. Which did not have the intended effect, but she mounts up and continues her journey. So far I like this book and author but I am very concerned for her and her lack of concentration while driving her motorcycle across country.
Chapter 4 – Ancient sentries beckoning – Lord! Now she is driving through Death Valley! Word to the wise, don’t dally when it’s hot. I can appreciate the scenery however, if you are not used to riding in heat and humidity you will or can have a heat related episode. We live in Florida so we take steps to be safe and sometimes that means you just don’t ride during the day. Who in their right mind would hike down a 1,000 foot rock formation in full biker gear complete with boots and back pack? I fear for her and just can’t stop reading. This woman has balls of steal and just doesn’t realize it!
Chapter 5 – A Death in the Family – Yikes this chapter is absolutely heart breaking. But sometimes you just need to get it all out. This trip for the author is turning out to be cleansing in so many ways.
Chapter 6 – Collecting Passengers – Vanity and being a biker chick just don’t go together. This lady surprises me with each chapter…still reading. As Ms. Fox is recuperating from a cold she meets a young woman at the camp ground who has MS. The woman used to ride but is unable to now because of her MS but she asks her to “take her with her” figuratively. This absolutely melts my heart. But it also reminds me that we carry our people with us always, not sure that’s just a mom thing but for the sake of this book and this journey that’s what I am channeling right now.
Chapter 7 – mothers worst nightmare, the biker – Ms. Fox tells her story of her maiden motorcycle ride, albeit short, and this has me remembering my first driving experience. Well it was more like an episode of Benny Hill. Ha ha ha She says after all the aggravation of teaching herself to ride, they finally got another car and she knew she’d never be on 2 wheels again…fast forward 20 years and here we are.
Chapter 8 – The woman in the mist – Asking the universe for guidance can be enlightening if you pay attention. But you “have to ask” and be open to getting an answer you may not agree with or understand fully.
Chapter 9 – A gun or an attitude – I am seeing her evolve as a rider here, showing more caution. She is riding some good “hills” by the sound of it. Hmm, might have to put Kansas on our radar. She been on the road “only a couple weeks” and has started to settle down as she is driving through Oklahoma. She reflects on a few instances that made her uncomfortable. Although she is armed, she is approached by a few sketchy people that she gets weird vibes from; luckily she trusts her gut and gets the hell outta there. But this brings up a valid concern for anyone that is traveling alone. Keeping yourself safe is something you have to actively must do and the best thing and the first thing “I think” you should do is removed yourself from the situation Quick, fast and in a Hurry!
Chapter 10 – The Burned man – (A Very Prolific Chapter) – As the latest “jerk” moves on she talks about how the American people have been duped by the news outlets (by their scare tactics) that the only thing going on in our world is nothing but negative and hateful. But by traveling rural roads she discovers that the majority of people are great, helpful and hardworking. A hand up means more than a handout! She really hits that nail on the head in this chapter about how riding a motorcycle “incites the senses and demands” that you participate in life. I have said this repeatedly, that motorcycle riding requires you to put all that stuff you have rolling around your head aside, in order to be safe and the benefit is incredibly cleansing to your soul.
Quote pg 111 “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain” by Emerson
Chapter 11 – Reality Check – One of the main worries she hopes to find an answer to is her fear of being alone. She is about to be 50 years old and she thinks she has to have an answer to what bugs her. She is a busy person with so much on her mind. So to her I would say at this point you’ve just got to stop carrying all this crap on your back. Put it down and walk away from it. Deal with what is in front of you because that’s all you can do.
Chapter 12 – Taming the Heinous Beast – Well the title of this chapter had me very curious; she tells her story of taking the motorcycle driver course. Holy smokes! You’ll really want to read this one. Now of course this has me thinking of when I took this class. A few days before my class, my hubs wanted to show me a few things and let me take it for a spin. Well in short I did a Benny Hill impression in the middle of my street which in short means I fell over!
Chapter 13 – Deaths Premonition – Riding in bad weather is never a good idea, but sometimes it’s unavoidable and you just have to “suck it up buttercup”! She’s been on the road for 18 days at this point and has experienced just about every danger possible. She is just realizing that she needs to think differently and be more alert. Also, I am just realizing that in 1994 when this trip took place, you just couldn’t map quest your route. So bless her heart she’s doing it “real” old school with a real honest to God map!
Chapter 14 – A conversation of substance – Well she’s made it to my neck of the woods in Florida. Let me remind you she started out in Oregon. A friend try’s to be match maker and although they are a good verbal match he isn’t the one. But she did get to swim with manatees.
Chapter 15 – “Do the Thing you fear” – Turning 50! Reflections…my dad always said when you ert in your 30s you will begin to philosophize about your life. When you turn 50 you really begin to take a look at the trajectory of your life. Where did you start or what did you want to do with yourself versus where did you end up? But the cool things about looking at your life, you can really appreciate the journey. Oh the possibilities are endless.
Chapter 16 – 50 and alone – Although life can beat you up and leave lots of scars, I learned you really have to find the optimism. Life can always be worse; someone always has it worse than you. I leaned you absolutely cannot keep carrying all that shit on your back.
Chapter 17 – People are like Frogs – As much as I hate to admit it, people are like frogs (Note: I am not a fan of Frogs) we go through many changes, physically and mentally and you just can’t rush that process.
Chapter 18 – Elizabeth – Forgiveness & Redemption – This chapter is so heart wrenching. When a person is so deeply hurt and cannot forgive themselves for circumstances that are just beyond your capacity at the time, it’s just gut twisting awful. But this is what this whole journey is for, it’s liberating and cleansing. It’s not that you can forget the circumstances or feelings but you can move on. Use this whole experience as a stepping stone to get out of the hole you’ve wallowed in for so long.
Chapter 19 – The Predator – The trials of traveling alone brought her to the attention of a very seedy character. This reminds me of a saying “if you look like a victim you will be a victim”. This chapter had me on the edge of my seat.
Chapter 20 – Cousin Shirley’s old dog – Lord, if you think chapter 18 was tough on your feels, get a box of tissues for this one. The situations are totally different but…this one took aim at my heart and hit its mark.
Chapter 21 – Breaking Free – This whole trip she has been worrying herself sick about being alone. Her boys are living their life, her BF broke up with her while she was on this trip and to make matters worse she sent all her warm clothes and extra jacket back to Oregon. Now she’s in the UP of Michigan and headed to Minnesota! Yikes, I tell you I have never met someone so hell bent on doing things the hard way!
Chapter 22 – Winds of Change – Dear me she drove off into a damn storm again! But she swears she won’t do it again. She found this quote at Mount Rushmore by Theodore Roosevelt “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”…Here she goes again!
Chapter 23 – Deadly storm on the high plains – Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ on a cracker!!! Holy Hell, that was the scariest yet! I doubt anyone can really know how bad a storm is on a bike unless you have been there. I personally have been there and it’s utterly frightening. You reason with yourself, remind yourself to breathe and to just survive. It is exhausting.
Chapter 24 – My Solitary Shadow – Boy isn’t that the truth “…it is important to remember my roots. I believe it is the mixture of our past and present experiences that makes us who we are today.” (pg 260) You have to come to terms with being comfortable in your own skin.
Epilogue – Turning 50, you can make it a happy occasion or a depressing one. Ms. Fox turned it into a happy one because she was able to resolve issues that she needed to come to terms with.