The Objective:  To organize and pack all of the clothes, shoes, and toiletries needed for a 6 night motorcycle trip that includes San Francisco, Carmel, Cambria, and Napa.

The Suitcase:  A 13″ x 20″ x 7″ saddlebag on a Honda Goldwing. Yes…just one for me.  And, it’s about 6″ bigger than this grocery bag.image

The Packing List: Since a picture is worth a thousand words, what you see below has got to fit in what you see above. Except the boots, I’m wearing them on the plane. Each time we do this, I try to be a little more Zen, a bit more ascetic. I get all “Martha Stewart” on my suitcase. But I know there’s always a tiny piece of real estate in a corner of the saddlebag, or top-box, that I can claim. (Full disclosure: We have a large suitcase to check that contains our riding jackets, rain-gear, my chaps and helmet, and his boots.)image

The Emotional Baggage:  My perfectionistic desire to pack the “right clothes” haunts me. I lie awake at night worried that I will forget something important. Or that I’m being too practical, too simple, and not feminine enough. Then I remind myself that we are going to be on motorcycles…not front row at New York Fashion Week. I also worry that I won’t get enough rest…it’s hard to keep up with this bunch!

The Mission: This ride is to celebrate a couple of Big Birthdays in our group. It’s spending time with 5 other couples who are good friends. Taking time to wine-and-dine, to ride amazing roads, and all enjoy a full-on sensory experience. We’ll be creating memories and great stories to laugh about and tell, and retell, later on.image

The Big Question Mark: Lots of people have asked me, “Don’t you worry about everyone getting along?” I’d have to say no, not really. Our “gang” has been together for 15 years. We’ve (almost) all taken turns playing the fool, but ultimately we know it’s important for us to support each other.

I’ve noticed that when something comes up, men handle it quickly – they call each other on it. Women have more trouble doing this. Our feelings get hurt. This is the only time I’d agree with Dr. Doolittle’s query, “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?”  Well, that, and when we’re out in the middle of nowhere and really need a restroom!

In less than 48 hours we will all be meeting-up in San Francisco. I have to get my packing zipped-up by tonight. If I didn’t know that I’d done this last year, I’d be really stressed out about it. But, I got this.

XO Donna

P.S. – No blog next week while I’m on the road.


California Dreaming

Flying out above fogSince I’ve been 16, California has seemed like the “Promised Land” to me. I have always dreamed of driving the Pacific Coast Highway in a convertible with the wind in my hair and a smile on my face  (kind of like an Irish Setter with her head out the window, I know).  I finally got to live this dream, but not exactly in a convertible… 

We flew to San Francisco to meet-up with our dear friends and riding partners, Randy and Denise, who live outside of Santa Fe.  We made arrangements beforehand to rent Harleys from Eagle Rider, and were to pick them up the next morning.  It was amazing to fly into SFO airport through this dense cloud-cover…as if everything was coated in a layer of whipped cream!

San FranciscoA brisk taxi ride (that’s polite for “our driver was a total maniac”) to our hotel, and a very nice receptionist said, “I upgraded your room.”  This is what greeted us!  We turned the chairs around to face the windows and had cocktails, and hors d’ouvres in our room.

 For dinner, we went to Tadich, a place know for it’s “soups.”  If you like Cioppino – this is a must go!  You can sit at a counter that seems to go on forever, or a booth. We waited (a while) for a booth, and it was worth it – pretty romantic! Cioppino

I awoke the next morning wishing I could return for breakfast.  It was time to go pick up our motorcycles.  My suitcase was down-sized to one saddlebag, and part of a top-box.  My beauty routine was My wardrobestreamlined to  a travel-sized: vitamin C cleanser, moisturizer, my CC cream (with built-in sunscreen) and a tube of mascara and tinted lip gloss.  My wardrobe- even simpler:  2 pair of jeans, thermal underwear, lingerie, 4 long-sleeved t-shirts, riding boots, and a fisherman’s sweater with a big neckscarf.  Not so sexy…but I wasn’t aiming for that…it’s all about being warm while riding! 

We rode in-and-out of fog, (which feels great to your skin – now I understand why the English have such nice complexions)Twisty redwoods alongside the Pacific Ocean, savoring the salt air. We twisted our way through forests of dappled sunlight, mossy banks, 100′ tall trees,  the smell of redwood and eucalyptus.    All so very Zen!  

Gang at Alices RestaurantAnd on the last day of riding, we came out of a redwood forest, after perhaps the most beautiful road yet, and were greeted by Alice’s Restaurant!  I like to play Arlo’s story each year before Thanksgiving dinner…kind of a loose tradition around my house.  Now I can say, “I’ve been there!” Speaking of food – we didn’t have a bad meal the whole trip!

All of this ended too soon, and it was time to return the bikes and head home.  I look forward to when I can return again, stay a little longer in each place, and wear some pretty clothes to dinner each night. Maybe a dress and a pair of dangly earrings!           

XO Donna