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I love the Blue Ridge Parkway for so many reasons. One is that you get to meet so many interesting people, and recently, I met the most interesting, and fascinating person to date; meet Sandy Miller.
Sandy lives in Washington State just north of Seattle. I saw her bike first-photo op-and thought it was military surplus at first, and then here come Sandy exiting a trail near the overlook where she was parked.
Right from the first word we spoke it was like talking with an old friend. Is that your bike I askedâ€¦â€Yep!â€ and then she proceeded to tell me about it.
She told me she designed it herself and had a mechanic she knew build it for her. It has a modern Volkswagen engine in it, four forward gears and reverse, and a Harley front-end. She did the leather work herself. She said when it was finished she took it for a test drive-she had been a passenger on a bike but had never driven one herself. She said, â€œI took it out on the road and pushed it to 115 mph,â€ after which time she said she figured that both she and the bike were ready to start her journey.
Her journeyâ€¦to see America; She told me, â€œIâ€™m fifty-nine and Iâ€™ve never seen Americaâ€¦I thought it was time to do it before itâ€™s too late.â€
Sandy left Washington in April, 2007 and headed south to see the Redwoods; where she said it rained the whole time. In Arizona, while sitting at a stoplight, a woman talking on a cell phone hit her left rear finder and broke the bikes axel. She was having it repaired when she looked out the window and it was snowing; that night it went down to 19 degrees. She told me things got better after that.
Taking the back roads as much as she could to see the â€œbest of America,â€ she said some kind folks in West Virginia had told her about the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway. So she decided to take the Parkway to Tennessee.
I asked her how much longer she planned to be on the road and she said she had told her daughter that she would be home by Thanksgiving, â€œBut, that all depends on how many times I stopâ€¦thereâ€™s so much to see!â€
Now, you have to be tough to make a journey like Sandy is on; especially at fifty-nine years of age. However, Sandy is no stranger to â€œtough.â€ She told me she started her working life as a commercial fisherman and then became the third woman to enter the Pile Drivers Union in Oregon. She divorced at thirty-five and raised her own children while doing this kind of work.
When I asked her what she was going to do after this trip she said, â€œVisit my daughter and grandchildren and rest, butâ€¦this is my first trip. She said with a wink.
When she gets home she will be putting together a book about her adventure-she already has a publisher. She said, â€œJust look for my bike to be on the cover.â€ You can believe, I will be looking for that book!
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