We’re All on the Road Somewhere

We’re All on the Road Somewhere

(Three weeks before departure on solo cross country trip.)

“Once you realize that the road is the goal,
and that you are always on the road,
not to reach a goal but to
enjoy its beauty and its wisdom,
life ceases to be a task and
becomes natural and simple.
In itself an ecstasy.”

~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
It was beautiful riding Big Red to work this week. It’s a 100 mile round trip but a pleasant one. It helps get me in the mood for my upcoming trip. Today the sky was aqua colored with vibrant white, charcoal and purple clouds. Dogwoods were still in bloom and I passed a field that was just like one in Ireland I used to see. Bright green grass, buttercups and dandelions and brown horses. So beautiful. I was thankful, and giving thanks when three trucks hauling logs came past me on the two lane Highway 140, outside of Adairsville. I ducked behind the windscreen as dirt and bark and small stones flying like shrapnel hit the bike and my leg. I tensed up, but as I pulled away I started repeating the words of Thích Nhất Hạnh: “Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile.” I repeated them like a mantra until I got to a roadside oasis-Hardees restaurant. I’ve written about the wonders of this place in previous posts.
Still grinning I went in. “What you having honey?’ The woman behind the counter asked. I got my usual-steak and egg biscuit with coffee for my thermos.
As I waited I heard them laughing and teasing each other and joking with the customers.
“Ma’am, I want that burger with mustard and no ketchup.”
“I put the no ketchup on it.”
The stammtisch, the regulars, were gathered in the back and across from me were two guys wearing Harley baseball caps. I’m sitting at a spot where I can watch the bike. My black Shoei helmet is on the table and I’m eating, still wearing my fingerless gloves. It’s peaceful and folks are friendly; all on the road to somewhere.
I make it to work and attend meetings all day. You’ve been there. You know what that feels like. Then, back on the bike and heading home. The interstate is buzzing and I set the cruise control for 70 mph and relax. Until. Until I start to see strips of rubber tires on the highway and realize that the truck in front of me is throwing live road gators (shreds of tires) at me. I figure the tire was about to blow so I opened up the throttle to 85 mph and barreled around the truck.
No other mishaps on the way home. I passed Character’s restaurant and smelled the barbecue in the air. If the scent of that don’t cause you to give thanks to the good Lord I don’t know what will. I passed a traffic accident and said a prayer. Flew past two men fishing in a small lake by the road, houses with chairs on the porch and coming in to Rome I saw blooming purple irises. If we take the time to look there are so many things to give thanks for while we’re on our road.
When I got to Rome I stopped at Old Havana Cigar Bar to chew the fat with Ronnie and JJ.
Riding a motorcycle is a physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual adventure. I wish I’d said it but the quote goes: “I’d rather be riding my motorcycle thinking about God than being in church thinking about my motorcycle.”
Good luck on your road and ride safe.

Solo Cross Country Trip – 2014!

The pear trees are blooming white, the redbuds, a dark magenta and festive. Crosses are adorned with purple cloth. My buddy Pat Kelly is off alcohol for 40 days and in some corners people are wishing each other Chag Sameach (Joyous Festival). Sure signs that Spring, Lent and Passover are here. I wish that these are indeed joyous occasions for you all. And after the glorious dust from these settles (as dust must) it will again be time to spend some serious time planning my next motorcycle trip. I need to regain that mental peacefulness, the Zen mind that the road provides.
I’ve already begun to give it some thought. This year’s trip is going to be different. First of all, much to my regret, my buddy Jeff can’t go this year. Now sure if that’s a punishment for him or not; I knowed I ain’t the easiest riding partner. But Jeff’s got a great reason for wanting to stay. His daughter is expecting their first grandchild. It ain’t much of an excuse but I’ll let him back out anyway. I’ll be going on this trip alone.
Secondly, I’m not going to take any interstates on the way out, if I can avoid them. I want to take the old blue highways, named that from their color on the old maps. “On the old highway maps of America, the main routes were red and the back roads blue. Now even the colors are changing. But in those brevities just before dawn and a little after dusk—times neither day nor night—the old roads return to the sky some of its color. Then, in truth, they carry a mysterious cast of blue, and it’s that time when the pull of the blue highway is strongest, when the open road is beckoning, a strangeness, a place where a man can lose himself.” William Least Heat-Moon
Thirdly, the only destination that I have that is firm is that I need to be out in LA by the 12th of June, when my youngest boy Colin flies in for a visit with my daughter Hannah and son-in –law Bill. So, by the time I’m finished teaching around the 10th of May, I’ll have plenty of time to wander a good bit before I head over there. Right now I’m thinking of following the Mississippi River up from Memphis to Davenport, Iowa. Then, maybe head over to South Dakota. But I’m going to make up my mind each day depending on the stories I hear along the road, the omens I encounter and, basically, however I feel.
I hope that you will follow me on my adventures this year. Stay tuned.