Live to Fly to Ride

I love living. Really, really living. I wish I could live everyone’s life twice. I wish I had four hundred years and ten of me to all go out and do everything we could think of. I love fresh, cared for food. Food well prepared and well raised or grown. I love to stalk, catch, clean, prepare, serve and eat this abundance, it is a visceral way to live. I eat like I’ve been starving…and maybe I have been. I always feel like I’m starving for new and beautiful experiences. I consume life voraciously.

I like women. I can find something beautiful or compelling about nearly every woman I meet. I love their ways, I love their psychoses, their big emotion, their tenderness towards things that don’t deserve it, their concern for silly details about themselves that no one else ever seems to notice, and most of all, the way we communicate, although not always successfully, but in ways that men find trivial and exhausting.

I don’t watch TV…I don’t have one.

I haven’t been diagnosed as touched, but I haven’t been to the shrink either. I sometimes suspect something is amiss. The reason is simple enough, I am seldom satisfied with a single activity. Paddling just to paddle, diving just to see the ocean, riding just to ride, I need more. I love to combine any activity with another to get the most out of both. Usually, that thing is photography…or food.

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In the case of riding motorcycles, there is no argument, it is one of my  perennial favorites. But you’ll rarely, if ever, catch me going out just to roll around the countryside. I combine my scenic, adrenaline inspired adventures with normally, three things. The first two are of course, food and photos, but the third…is flight.

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Taking an inventory of the other features, it’s hard not to be instantly won over by the XD4. The neck roll is nicely shaped and made of sturdy but compliant materials for easy on and off. The chin skirt can be lowered or raised with just the touch of a finger adding to improved airflow. The underside of the peak visor is coated in a matte black material to eliminate glare, and even the snaps affixing the liner to the helmet are positioned outside of potential pressure points. If there’s a detail overlooked, I sure couldn’t find it.

 

On the road and trundling down the trail, the XD4 has exceeded all of my expectations, and for a $729 helmet with the very attractive Explore graphics, I admit my expectations were lofty. For those drawn to more conservative aesthetics, the base white color is $599. Prices like these still weaken some knees, but even a cursory evaluation of the XD4 suggests it’s a product worthy of the asking price. A study in detail and a masterful execution of design, the XD4 is the dual sport helmet by which all others are measured.

 

 

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I took up paragliding in 2007 having just returned from Iraq when I just couldn’t shake a nasty feeling. I tried everything I knew: cooking, riding motorcycles, mountain bike, hiking, and some not-so-savory things as well, but still, an air of ugliness plagued me. One afternoon while out with my dogs and bicycle, I remembered a time when I saw some paragliders in San Diego.  I decided then that I would learn to fly.

A week later, I went to Santa Barbara to learn at Elings park. When I landed my very first flight, I fell on the ground, laughing so hard I couldn’t stop. I could hear my instructor shouting, “Get up! Get up!” Lying on the ground, sides sore and face wet with tears, I knew my life had just changed.

I’ve been riding since 2003, and flying for seven years. Over the last one and a half, I’ve  been combining these two. Many times, I’ll stay overnight, rarely establishing any firm plans. I bring my ultralight camping setup in my side cases and strap the wing to the pillion seat and luggage rack. It’s an all-in-one super adventure!

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Where I’m from and where I live, is a very difficult pair of questions to answer. Since I left the Navy in 2006,  I’ve been nomadic. I live in my camper traveling from job to job as a contractor. I clean up old bombing ranges. We scrap the expended steel and blow up the unexploded ordnance when we find it. I learned how to do this in the Navy, underwater too. That’s the short story, anyway.

Navy Bomb techs, the women in that field, are a completely different species. None of us were welcomed with open arms, but being the female version of Macguyver, we are resourceful and have thick skins. We are fighters. We are big personalities. We are very, very fit, and quickly, we become an important part of our teams despite the fact, there are not many of us.

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Before that, I was an artist making money by painting murals and faux finishes. My friends thought I’d lost my mind when I told them, paintbrush in hand, “I’m going to be an explosives expert in the military!” They’d heard my declarations before…not that I had made many false claims in the past, but none quite as outlandish as this one. It was a doozie.

Since leaving the service, the need to explore my world is compulsive. I am a little afraid that I will never find a real home again, or perhaps the discovery is plainly, that I’ve already found it amongst the bright and colorful people, the landscapes and skies––of everywhere. And so I live, ride, and fly.

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