I’ve been taking some online classes as I am working on my bachelor’s degree, a time consuming endeavor. I’ve also been talking to my old friend in Ohio, who is in the middle of working on the condo he and his wife live in. He’s just about had all the painting and remodeling he can stand for the moment and I’ve just about reached my limit of how much time I can study on the laptop. Survey says it’s time for a motorcycle trip.
We are talking about a few days, nothing too extreme, maybe just a long week-end to the Carolina mountains or a quick hop to Florida’s Gulf coast. Neither of us want to abandon our families, but we both need to get lost in the hum of the open road, and the sights and smells of some back road we haven’t been on before. The winter months that kept my friend off of his bike and the time required for me to keep up with these classes have us both itching to get away. What are we getting away from? I don’t really know. I do know that the day-to-day grind can take its toll. I am starting to feel a little bit like a robot: I get up make coffee and spend the better part of each morning sitting in front of the laptop answering questions, expressing my opinions or commenting on someone else’s opinion. I walk away from the laptop for an hour or so, mow the grass, tinker with one of the bikes out in garage, but my mind is on the uncompleted work waiting for me on that hi-tech monster called the computer. The school I’m taking classes with is located in New Hampshire and I’ve considered riding up there just to see if it exists beyond the computer screen. I don’t think I will though, it’s only April, and that part of the country got snow last week.
The more I think about it, North Carolina sounds like the place. It’s about the halfway point between my buddy and me, and the twisting roads around Cherokee, North Carolina are some of the best around. The Dragon’s Tail is nearby and I want to ride that before I lose my nerve and while I’ve still got tread on my BMW’s back tire.
I told my wife that Bob and I were talking about a little ride, and in typical fashion she started checking to see if she had enough reward points built up so we could stay in “decent” hotels. She is a little more particular than I am when it comes to where she stays. I am not that particular, my requirements for a hotel when I am on the bike limited to clean, dry, hot shower and a well-lit parking lot. Deb has earned three free nights in hotels, and I need to do is tell her where and when.
Then she asked me a question.
“What do you and Bob talk about after a day on the bikes?” I mumbled something and changed the subject. I think I did that because I don’t know what we talk about. Oh sure, we hand signal and nod when we need a break or are getting low on gas. When it’s time for lunch we question each other on what sounds better, pizza or a burger, and when we stop for the night we either make jokes about how crappy the room is or how nice it is. Bob is a better photographer than I am, and he takes more pictures than I do. I wish I could remember to bring the camera or at least get it out of the saddlebags, but I seldom do. Whatever I’m looking at, I get caught up in the moment and just soak it in. Bob shows the good sense to snap a picture or two, he captures whatever we are looking at so twenty years from now he can bring them out and share the adventures with who ever will look at them. Maybe the pictures are proof, maybe they will serve as a record of where we were and what we saw. Maybe in these times of information overload and instant gratification they are a necessity. But I can’t help but wonder what kind of picture would be taken to share the relief you feel when you see a light on at a gas station when you’ve been on reserve for the last fifty miles, or the feeling you get when you see the city limit sign for your home town when you’ve been on the bike for 14 or 15 hours and your rear end feels like raw hamburger and you’re not sure your knees still work. What kind of picture could you take to express how you feel after you’ve been riding in the rain for three hours and up ahead you see the sun breaking out just past a rainbow. I have never seen a picture that conveys the relief on my wife’s face when I’ve been gone for a day or two and forgot to charge my cell phone so I could let her know where I am. No picture could show the joy and exhilaration someone feels after that first ride on a motorcycle. I don’t think a picture could do justice to the feeling of the sun on your back and the landscape sliding by as you careen down some two lane road that gently curves and meanders towards someplace you’ve never been.
Bob and I will take a trip, and I will pack my cell phone and charger. I’m going to take the camera and the charger for it, too. I’ll try to remember to take some pictures of what we see and where we go, maybe I’ll take a picture or two of some of the people I meet at those out of the way places that sell bottled water and gas. Maybe I’ll catch a rainbow or rainstorm in the distance. Maybe. But I’m enough of a realist to know that it is best to leave the record of our little journeys where they belong, in my head. I’ll leave most of the photographs to those who do it better than I do.