IS IT OK IF WE SIT HERE?

“Good afternoon gentlemen” was my opening line, as three bikers walked through the front door of Lees Ferry Lodge. As they approached the bar, “DICE” enquired as to where his boys should sit for lunch.

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You can sit anywhere you want my friend, wherever you feel comfortable was my response from the other side of the counter.  Without hesitation Coach, Dice and Bullet sat down at the bar.

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After taking their lunch orders and engaging in some small talk, Coach mentioned that sitting at the bar was something of a luxury and privilege. I guess the surprised look on my face prompted a warranted explanation from Bullet.

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Bullet explained how their biker image often caused them to be seated in the far corner of eating establishments. Coach asked if I was afraid of bikers. My reply was rather instant, not in the slightest!

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Contrary to the biker images of outlaw gangs, tattoos, and hard face stares; I felt my experience with bikers had been one of regular men and women who simply enjoy riding and belonging to a club.

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Over lunch, we talked about their road trip, politics and social issues. It seemed the one social issue they wore on their heart, sleeve, and vest, was their support of child abuse survivors. Bikers Against Child Abuse is an international non-profit organization of motorcycle riders that works to create a safer environment for abused kids.

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Dice was quick to point out that BACA members are not vigilantes. BACA works in conjunction with police and social workers. Local authorities will refer a child to a BACA chapter. Upon referral, the chapter “adopts” the identified child. The child instantly gains an extended family of brothers and sisters they can call anytime.

I can only imagine how empowered and protected a child would feel from an entire chapter visit, not to mention being assigned a road name with a biker’s vest.

For a moment consider a child’s reality of testifying in court? Would you feel safe having your abuser present in the courtroom? Would it help if your extended family of bikers escorted you into the courtroom?

As Dice told me, “The kids feel less alone and protected by their presence.” Coach said, “The chapter is available to the child 24/7 regardless of the reason.” I wondered why I had never heard of BACA prior to meeting these guys. I found it somewhat ironic that these protectors were seen as problematic and considered a social eyesore in some restaurants.

Bullet asked me if I had ever spent time with bikers or been on a bike before. The answer was no on both accounts; however, I did tell them bikers and hikers have a few things in common. Hikers have trail names, bikers have road names. Perhaps hikers have better memories though as we do not patch our name on our clothing.

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Hikers and bikers offer a community of connection and common interest. We are not defined or separated in status by our profession or income; it’s the love of the road or being on trail.
Hikers and bikers love to meet strangers; we really are very social loving creatures. At times society considers bikers to be loud troublemakers while hikers are perceived as dirt friendly granola eating earthlings.
Hikers and Bikers both appreciate simplicity. We travel light, pack small, and LIVE big. The road binds a biker’s brother and sisterhood, yet they still maintain their individuality by riding their own ride. Hikers share the same trail, we break bread with strangers, yet we still hike our own hike. I feel this is where we share the same defining factor, our sense of FREEDOM. For it seems we seek, find and experience FREEDOM on the road and trail.

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As the gentlemen paid their tab, Bullet succumbed to some peer pressure and belted out some Bob Seger tunes. Earlier at lunch, Dice had mentioned how amazing Bullet’s voice was. I asked Bullet who his favorite artist was. Without hesitation, he said Bob Seger. Bullet admitted he loves to cover Bob Seger, yet but we both agreed no one should ever try to replicate “Turn the Page”.

As the Bikers Against Child Abuse headed out onto the 89A; all I could think of was Bob Seger’s lyric line. “Here I am, on the road again.”

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I felt honored to have served these gentlemen and blessed that they were willing to share part of their lives with me. And YES, it’s ok if you sit here!

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HOME IS WHERE YOUR CAR IS

From the Kaibab Plateau, we dropped over 3000 feet onto the desert floor. This stretch of 89A would be my new driveway, it’s the only road in and out of Vermilion Cliffs.

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Within a few miles of my new home, it was clearly visible that I was now living remotely.

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Hence my blog and Facebook name, REMOTELEIGH!

https://www.facebook.com/remoteleigh?ref=tn_tnmn

For urbanites, the idea of living in a remote location might conjure up ideas of going without and giving up on some of life’s luxuries. A colleague of mine suggested this desert outpost looks more like a place that harbors outlaws as opposed to an Aussie girl looking for simplicity. A close friend expressed concern that living remotely could cement my feet in the land of hermitville.

Based on the opinions shared by my social media community I have learned that being adventurous is when you visit a remote area. Hermitting is when you decide to live there. Does living in an isolated area qualify one as a hermit, or is hermitting more a social isolation from the world, people, and relationships?

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I do not consider myself a hermit, perhaps more a non-conformist!

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Conformity truly feels like a foreign concept in my world. I think I came out of the womb with a passport stamp on my forehead that read- non-conformer. Non-conformists historically speaking tend to be seen as social deviants. Social deviants tend to judged by the mainstream for living outside the box. Living outside the box means the only person who will truly approve of my choices and decisions is myself.

When did we start believing we needed someone’s or society’s permission to seek and live the life we want?

Is it possible that many of us have made decisions over the years that were more approval seeking instead of life changing?

Is it disloyal to family and friends to live differently?

Does living differently put mainstreamers on the defensive or more the offensive?

Sometimes I feel intentional living is like being a nondrinker in a social setting. By not drinking, I have found some drinkers will automatically defend their alcohol consumption, or target my lack of. I understand that alcohol can be the social glue to community interaction. Call me a nerd; I would rather share a stimulating or heartfelt conversation that does not need alcohol as a catalyst.

Regardless, it does seem if you are the minority in group thought, you somehow always find yourself being targeted in one way or another. The reality is; a visible step outside the conformity box generates comments and opinions from people you have never met. I think John F Kennedy was rather wise and accurate when he said, “conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth”

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I feel living in an outpost town might be similar to life on trail, with some additional creature comforts like electricity and a somewhat dependable water supply. Being on trail for an extended time changed my priorities last year, not to mention my outlook on life. Trail time over the years has permitted me to LISTEN and entertain my own THOUGHTS.

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Last year while on the John Muir Trail, I decided to turn my thoughts into an effective immediately action plan.

https://remoteleigh.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/by-living-more-i-needed-less/

I wonder what thoughts I will entertain while living in Vermilion Cliffs, and how many will become an action plan.

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Before pulling into Vermilion Cliffs, I decided to drive an additional three miles south into the town of Marble Canyon.

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Marble Canyon marks the western boundary for the Navajo Nation.

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What legitimizes a town in America?

Is it the all in one gas station, that offers a post office, and a laundromat?

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Or is it the private airstrip?

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It seems in the city, strip malls, fast food restaurants, and a Wal-Mart legitimizes a town. I think what legitimizes a rural town or outpost is the sense of community.

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My new home and community was Vermilion Cliffs. I would be working at Lees Ferry Lodge. Three miles to the south is Marble Canyon, and 6 miles to the north is another outpost known as Cliff Dwellers. Many of the residents living within this ten-mile stretch are seasonal workers. I am told in peak season no more than 50 people live between the three lodges. Hopefully, I get to meet all 50 residents during my stay here.

As I pulled into the Lodge I was greeted by the owner Maggie. This business woman hired me over the phone, not even knowing my last name. I had no background in the hospitality industry, and yet she was willing to take a chance with me. She had never met my dog Shadow, yet she still made us all feel very much at home.

As the sun set I opted to unload the car in the morning. I was tired, and just wanted a hot shower and a twelve-hour nap.

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Home was now a rustic 2 bedroom trailer, with a partially enclosed porch.

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It had been a journey just getting here. I think Shadow was ready to be in one place for an extended period of time.

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He survived his first road trip, and I was about to begin a 9-month assignment.

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It was now official; my new address is Mile post 541.5, Highway 89A, Marble Canyon. I have lived in Australia, Japan and on both coasts of the USA. Oddly enough, I never expected I would be living roadside along a desert highway.

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