“The Long Road Home” Prt.2
I woke up in the morning, sore with a heavy cloak of failure pulled down upon my heart. Practically choking me. Why shouldn’t I feel like a failure? Here I was, sitting in a room at my parents’ house having cried off. Sure, you could argue that it wasn’t my fault. When I played it back in my mind, I knew that wasn’t the whole truth. I shouldn’t have had the slide in the first place. It wasn’t a bad slide…but it was enough to do in the bike…I should have tried harder to fix it. I should never have cried off. I did cry off though. Took the ride into town and the plane ticket home. Leaving the bike in the desert to be someone else’s burden…or dream. I walked out to the kitchen thinking I’d pour myself a cup of coffee. My disappointment must have bled through on my face. No sooner did I make it to the cabinet, my mom asked me what was wrong. She’s good at that. This time, for some reason I couldn’t just brush it off. I told her, “I failed. I went out there to ride a motorcycle, my motorcycle back. I didn’t even make it halfway. I couldn’t even bring the bike back! I feel like a piece of shit.” My answer must have been louder and perhaps lengthier than I intended, because it seemed to have drawn the whole house. I looked around everybody with their concerned faces. They did all they could for me to get me back home safe and sound and there I was being an ungrateful prick. I started to cry…
I awoke, the Sun had not yet peeked over the hills. I lay wedged beneath the covers and atop the bags of clothes and gear for a few minutes. In the pale light of predawn I was warm. Then I shifted a little and caught the first icy chill of the morning. I laid there, still and silent, staring east at the blue interior wall of the tent. I had no idea where I was, how I got there, or what I was doing there in the first place, and I started to panic with a longing for home beyond my every imagining. Asking myself these questions of “Where? How? What?” my memories of the last couple days started flooding back, covering the previous nights dream. The Long Road stretched itself out from me in both directions. Connecting me back to the Rivers, and Mountains I had crossed and forward it called to the unknown and finally familiar feelings of a home still far from my reach. I followed the feelings of loneliness and homesickness out to the horizons and then I let the memories retrace my path back to the place that I now was, Adel.
It was a freezing morning in Adel, but there was already enough light for me to see by. I removed myself from my sleeping bag put on a fresh pair of socks, slipped on a pair of camo-loafer-crocs I had purchased to serve as camping slippers and stepped out into the fresh morning chill. I got to packing up my things. Taking extra care to keep my waters and food accessible but away from my laptop which I wrapped in some dirty clothes to try and protect it as much as possible in transit. As I was packing up, the Sun rose and began to warm the grass and my bones. The Owner of the Adel Store had also arisen and as if expecting I might need a few more things before I set out had opened his door early to me. God bless that Man.
I plugged my phone in the electrical outlet near the front entrance and left it to charge as I grabbed a cup of coffee. I drank it as I walked around the establishment, checking out the Bric-a-bracs which had accumulated over the decades. There were all sorts of cool things there. A wood-burning stove sat against the wall. The shiny new stainless-steel handle on the door and fresh ashes in the catch told me all I needed to know about its usefulness.
There was a Monopoly set for sale, but it wasn’t like any set I’ve seen before. It was called Lake View Monopoly and was apparently made as a homage to the surrounding area.
A few stuffed heads were hung on the walls. Nothing I wouldn’t expect from an old place in this section of the country. There was a small beat up pool table off in a side room, and dining table sitting out of the way. I found it comforting how the personality and weathered age of the place completely overshadowed its purpose as a general store. I would miss this place.
I bought a second cup of coffee, which I poured into an empty drinking bottle. “One for the road,” sort of speak.
As I walked out into the sun and gathered my now charged phone I took a quick picture of the thermometer outside before climbing into the remainder of my gear and aboard my motorcycle. I rode out onto the highway and up the small hill to the east. At its crest I was greeted by a sight that erased the feelings of dread and loneliness…
The land spread out before me golden in the morning sun. A heavenly looking landscape. The two-lane road down the mountain into the valley. Now I’m about to tell you something not many people ever think about. When you’re on a motorcycle and riding downhill off a mountain, it can be difficult to keep your eyes on the road. The scenery that passes before you is only pretty glitter compared to the feeling. Surrounded by wind you can feel the air around you, beneath you. On the mountain side every breath tastes like sky. At speed heading down, gravity eases it’s lean on your shoulders. You really feel like you are flying. I mean like eagle soaring real flying. If you pay attention you’ll notice that your brain feels it too. Can you believe it? I nearly did, and it was then that I decided to gaze out again over valley. I felt like I could fly out there and just keep on flying. I felt like that. Lucky for me, my feelings have lied to me a time or two. I knew my feelings weren’t worth their weight when compared with physics. That knowledge was the only thing that kept me thinking clear enough to maintain safe speeds and correct my lines every time my subconscious started pondering the possibilities of aerial transport. I kept my eyes glued to the road, my lips tight. Reminding myself on a ten count of the facts of the situation. “I am on a motorcycle. It has two contact points. I cannot Fly. Slide equals fall, fall equals death.” Over and over again. I repeat. Do Not Get side tracked or cocky, while riding down a mountain. It can instantaneously telescope from the most beautiful and awe-inspiring moment you’ve ever known to the most terrifying, dangerous, and final venture of your life.
When I made it down into the valley and onto the plain, my body started to relax. I let out a deep breath and as I inhaled I rolled the throttle up. I was wearing my facemask this morning. I could see the road for miles in front of me as it cut the shortest distance through the valley across to another range of mountains in the east. I tried to pick the course of least elevation and the range in front of me held the 140 Warner Highway which breached at a little over 5800 feet above sea level. I stopped for a moment near the top of the pass and snapped a couple pictures of the bike at elevation.
A little Selfie for Trudie.
I continued onward. I came to Denio Junction on my reserve tank. There were gas pumps. But none of them had seen fuel since 1999. Still I felt like today was shaping up to be a good day...
To be Continued...