Saturday, January 31, 2015

Whispering Giants

Each year before the riding season starts in earnest, I spend my time cooped up indoors by imagining where I will be riding when the weather is finally more favorable.  I was thinking of putting a bigger dent in those 400 waterfalls and cascades in New England, when an interesting email arrived in my inbox telling me about the Whispering Giants Grand Tour.

I have only done one other Grand Tour and that was to chase BBQ joints. I had hoped my good buddy Dave was going to join us on these adventures, (since he loves BBQ) but alas, it didn’t happen that way. I never “finished” the tour by Grand Tour standards, but I put a big enough dent, and gained extra points to get a great certificate that reads “Almost Finished”. I chuckle still but you have to believe I treasure that certificate.

This year, as I read about the Grand Tour I became more intrigued, mostly because I had been staring at a Whispering Giant for years and never knew its full significance. What is a Whispering Giant? Here is the quote from the email message:

A Whispering Giant is a giant wood carving honoring Native Americans created by the artist Peter Wolf Toth.  These giant wood carvings are in all 50 states and parts of Canada.  Each carving honors the Native American’s who reside or once resided in the area.

For years our family has stopped at the exit 5 rest area in Plymouth MA and walked by the towering Giant never knowing its full significance. Understanding from the email that there is one in every state, I looked up NH. Sure enough, one stands tall in Laconia. Now how many times have I been to Laconia? More than I can count. And yet I have never seen this magnificent sculpture.

  Enisketomp Plymouth MA #45

Keewakwa Abenaki Keenahbeh, Laconia #48

I decided to do some Google research on the artist Peter Wolf Toth. What fascinated me most was learning how he comes to carve each one. Typically, he asks for the giant log to be donated by the town/city or tribe where the Giant will stand, along with room and board. Then he meets with the tribe to gain a full understanding of this tribe and to recreate a likeness that symbolizes them. He creates his masterpieces with mallet and chisel and has only used a chain saw in a few instances. When done, the Giants are donated back to the city/town or tribe where it now stands. Peter Wolf Toth’s Whispering Giants have been valued at a quarter of a million dollars each.

In reviewing the locations of all the Giants, I figure I can visit 10 of them easily.  Two are in Florida which God willing I will visit in March. I can get additional points if I visit Peter Wolf Toth’s studio in Edgewater Florida too. What I have to do next is to discover if any of the Giants are easily accessible along the route from my home in the North East to Daytona Florida. The rules don’t exclude a bike on a trailer, only that the bike be in the photo. (Hey, I’m a middle child after all!) 

If there is anything to be learned here is that there are treasures right under our noses and all we have to do is pay attention. Do a little research of your own to find out where the Whispering Giants are located in your area. I’d love for you to take a photo and share with me. Or visit my Motorcycle Touring Community Group on Facebook and post it up there or tell us what you will be chasing this year.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Time to Refocus

Life has a way of diverting our attention.  One of my Dad’s favorite quotes, which he had me print for him many years ago when life tossed him a curveball reads “Life Happens When You’re Making Plans.” How true! Sometimes the curveballs aren’t too bad. Then again sometimes they can feel like a screwball, or maybe even a knuckleball.  My life has been more like a detour (thank goodness) to change the analogy from baseball back to riding. The holiday season along with other pressing issues can divert out attention. Yet, as January starts to slip past me I’m pulling myself up by the proverbial boot straps and taking a look ahead.  And despite Dad’s printed quote I’m making plans.

            This year is especially important to me. I feel I need to do all I’ve ever wanted to do before time runs out. You see, this year I face a milestone birthday. Sometimes I think it doesn’t bother me. I announce it to people in a way woman don’t typically divulge. Other times I look in the mirror and wonder what happened to all that lay behind me.  I recall what a girlfriend said to me 10 years ago at another milestone birthday. The day AFTER my birthday, she put her hand over her open mouth in mock shock, eyes wide open. Then she declared that I didn’t look any different than yesterday. There’s a pretty good lesson there. I won’t magically transform on my birthday.

            While I don’t think one day to the next makes much difference, the accumulation of days might. So this year, if life doesn’t happen while I’m making plans, I’ll be heading to Daytona Bike Week. It’s been on my list.  Things are serendipitously happening. There’s chatter in the background. Family will be in Orlando, and room is being offered so we have a place to stay.  Keeping the driveway clear of snow and ice, the trailer ready, the van in running order are all part of the plan. God willing, I will finally add Daytona Bike Week to my list of Motorcycle Rallies I’ve had the pleasure of attending. Will I be different when I get back? For sure! While there, the milestone will happen. Yet it’s not the milestone birthday that will change me. What change each one of us are the experiences of our lives. Our experiences are unique to each of us and what matters is the depth of our inquiry into what we make of what happens to us. So instead of feeling old or older, I will think of myself as a beautiful quilt. On that quilt are scraps of fabric that represents all the accumulated experiences of my life. A beautiful  and colorful quilt it is too.