Riding that far on a bike, you realize that
you see stuff in a completely different way
than in a car. You see lizards on the side of the
road. Deer run in front of you. On our toughest
days, it was really hot. We would get up super
early and be on the road from the moment
you could see because you were simply dying
by 11 a.m. But the even tougher days for
me were when we were climbing the Rocky
Mountains. It was so steep and so hard that I
sat down on the side of the road and cried. But
then you just get up and keep going.
We crossed into Canada through Sault
Ste. Marie and then rode in Canada until
we dropped back down into the U.S. on the
Q: How did you come up with that route?
A: We wanted to see something in Canada.
What you did then is you walked into your
AAA office and they created something
called a Trip Tik for you. They had maps in
every part of the United States and they
would pull the maps that covered your entire
trip and get a heavy marker and say, “Here’s
your route.” That’s how we navigated.
There were times when we rode on
interstate freeways, which sounds kind of
scary, but when you’re on them, there’s a
huge shoulder. I do remember—I think it was
in Montana—we rode through an area that
was infested with grasshoppers. There were
something like a thousand grasshoppers per
square yard. They horrified me. Of course, a
grasshopper got into the slat of my helmet
and I had this grasshopper trying to get
toward my head because it couldn’t go back
out. That was pretty bad.
Q: What about the people you met?
A: They were all nice except for a truck that
tried to run us off a state highway. It was
so unlike the behavior of every other single
person that we encountered. Everybody
wanted to be helpful.
Q: Some people are bicoastal but
you’re uni-coastal—just different parts
of it. You work in San Diego and in
Bainbridge Island, Washington. How
did that come about?
A: When I met my husband, I was working in
San Diego and he was the managing partner
of the Seattle office of DLA Piper Gray Cary.
Both of us had recently gotten divorced. We
met and fell completely head over heels
in love. I knew I had a shot at being able to
move my children here, and working here,
and he couldn’t [move]. So that’s what I did.
Q: You opened your own practice.
A: Yes. It was a fearful time. “Will the
phone ring?” You don’t know if it will.
Q: When did this happen?
A: I started my own practice on January 1,
Q: What steps are involved in hanging a
A: I did all the housekeeping things you
do: get malpractice insurance, change your
address and phone number on the Bar
website. I live in a huge house. It’s three
stories and over 6,000 square feet, and
my office has always been on the top floor.
Then I arranged for an office in San Diego.
Clearly the challenge for me was keeping
up the San Diego presence even though I
don’t live there.
Q: How often are you in San Diego?
A: Once or twice a month. For the first
several years, I was hardly going but I was
still getting work, so everything was fine. But
I started worrying. People don’t see you, they
may forget. So a couple of years ago I got
involved in the Appellate Practice Section of
the San Diego County Bar Association. I had
chaired it back in, I think, 2000. But I landed
[back] there and said, “Hey, I’m happy to
do whatever job you need done.” And I was
immediately on track to chair the committee
again, which I will be doing this year.
Q: How would you differentiate the
skills necessary for being a trial attorney
versus being an appellate lawyer?
A: A lot of people think they want to do
appellate law because they think of it as
glamorous, but they have to be willing to
personally read the record and that can be
incredibly tedious: days and days and days
of long blocks of tedium. That separates
one type of lawyer from another.
After graduating from law school in
the late 1980s, Karcher celebrated by
biking across the country with her then-boyfriend. They survived the heat, the
Rocky Mountains, a nasty truck driver
that tried to run them off the road, and a
plague of Montana grasshoppers.