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 asked…”Yep!” 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, “I took it out on the road and pushed it to 115 mph,” after which time she said she figured that both she and the bike were ready to start her journey.
Her journey…to see America; She told me, “I’m fifty-nine and I’ve never seen America…I thought it was time to do it before it’s too late.”
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 “best of America,” 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, “But, that all depends on how many times I stop…there’s so much to see!”
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 “tough.” 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, “Visit my daughter and grandchildren and rest, but…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, “Just look for my bike to be on the cover.” You can believe, I will be looking for that book!
Also published here.