by Soline Pillet
After a couple of days along Route 66, somewhere between New Mexico and Texas, I asked H if her Jeep had a name. (It is a family thing to name the cars and I naturally expect everyone to do so). The answer was no and I thought the Jeep deserved a brave groundbreaking female name. As we had already played the States capital game across the whole of Arizona, I threw a new proposal in the air: the Female Explorers game. Which female explorer was cool enough to deserve a Jeep being named after her?
We both realised that we didn’t know any female explorers, apart from Alexandra David-Néel on my side. But Alexandra is my sister-in-law so we had to find something else.
Thank God for Wikipedia: they really think of everything. They have a list of female explorers and travellers. I read the whole list out loud while H was driving.
Occasionally, those hot chicks are designated as the “first person” to have ever broken a record. But in most cases they are only the “first woman” or even the “first black woman” to have done something.
Some records were also kinda stupid, like the woman who survived being thrown down the Niagara Falls in a barrel to make fast cash and avoid going to a home. Some stories were thrilling at first and then disappointing in the sense that the women did amazing things all their life but ended up dying falling off their bike or bitten by a dog.
After a couple of hours, we narrowed down our choice to 5 names, based on the name itself, the relevance of the record and the extraordinariness of the life history.
Jean as Jean Batten: New Zealand aviator. First PERSON to fly between England and New Zealand solo, sleeping with rich men to get airplanes. Died alone bitten by a dog in Majorca.
Sophia as Sophia Danenberg: American mountain climber. First black woman to reach summit of Mount Everest.
Lady Hay as Lady Hay Drummond-Hay: British journalist. First woman to travel around in a Zeppelin. She wasn’t an aviator, she was just hanging out with aviators and writing about it.
Mae as Mae Jemison: American astronaut. First black woman in space.
Annemarie as Annemarie Schwarzenbach: Swiss writer, photographer and journalist. Beautiful and boyish, she was a womanizer and even screwed the daughter of the Turkish Ambassador in Teheran. After many travels and burning adventures, she prematurely died falling off her bike. (Bummer).
Annemarie’s story was by far the most epic and inspiring despite the unexpected ending, but the name Annemarie is too connoted. It was the imaginary friend of H’s mum as well as my aunt.
So we went for Lady Hay because it’s cool to say and has this Queen of Rap twist to it.
After that exercise, we got uplifted and were looking for records to break.
What exploration niche can we find?
by Soline Pillet
Two fearless blondes in a Jeep on Route 66: H & I revived Thelma & Louise for a few days (no rape and no gun though.)
After 2 days on the road and a failed karaoke stop in Roswell, we drove east in the middle of the night. We randomly stopped along the way at 4am, woke up the owner of a motel and crashed in the same bed.
In the morning, we learned that we were in Tucumcari, New Mexico, a quaint Route 66 town straight from a movie set, perfectly vintage, outdated and pinupy.
After breakfast, we went seeking for morning adventures. Is it the vintage flair that gave H the idea to improvise a photo shoot in a disaffected petrol station, with me and my glittery bikini?
I don’t clearly remember how this occured. She suggested that I strip on the side of the road and handed me cow boy boots: “You can wear this!” I hypnotically said yes to everything. H is a movie director and therefore has the power of making people adopt her ideas with no discussion as if they came from God.
(I am crazy and kinda good material for that type of stuff, too.)
There we were, soon finding ourselves taking/shooting glamour-butt poses with curious glances from car drivers passing by.
All of a sudden, a biker spurted out of nowhere and stopped a few steps away from us. After the first wave of shock, I was praying super hard that he didn’t really park there because of our impromptu photo shoot. When he shouted“This is what you need!”, all my hopes vanished and I started freaking out, smelling a potential Thelma & Louise not funny moment. My panic only got worse when biker man said: “My name is Scouter, but they call me Nightmare!”
He got off his bike and helped me up on the darling. I opposed no resistance. Nightmare then started showing me the moves to play it like a Playmate. “See, you can pose like this, put your arms there, your feet up.” Cheap truck driver calendar type. “Bien sûr, Monsieur” I thought, and I let him manipulate me like a doll. I couldn’t possibly be serious so I did it full out, laid on my back, spread my legs open, arched my waist, whilst H was documenting this surreal outdoors modelling lecture.
After a moment, he got his old flip phone out and asked us: “Can I please take one for myself, so that people believe me? Give me that, please!”
Nightmare happened to be on the board of the Route 66 magazine, and he promised us to get the pictures published. This is how my belated Playmate career got launched.
I finally put some clothes back on and we hugged Nightmare good bye.
I don’t know how long we laughed at what had just happened.
No photo shoot will ever possibly equal this one.