Many years ago, I use to travel the world on my job. I guess I have been to every country that produces oil except for Russia and China. I n all of that traveling, I would take time to see all of the places and things I had read about, heard about and saw in movies and documentaries. Pyramids, Taj Mahal, catacombs, Eiffel Tower, Tower of London, London Bridge, the Louvre, museums like the British Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian, Invalides and many others. After several years, I still had the wish that I could have someone with me to see all of that and be able to say, “Look at that....”. Some how there was something missing....something that, in a small way, made me feel unsatisfied, kind of.
I would try to tell someone about all of that and, as we all know, few people are able to describe the feeling of seeing the Eiffel Tower and looking across the bridge at the Tower from the balcony of the Trocadero, standing where the famous picture of Hitler standing there looking at the Tower. Or trying to describe standing on the hill overlooking the battlefield of Waterloo or Hastings, Gettysburg or Antietam and imagining the unfolding of the battles, to stand before the painting of the Night Watch or the Mona Lisa or gazing at pages of Leonardo Da Vince’s notebooks. How can anyone tell of the smells and sounds of Trinidad, Bombay, Delhi, Bangkok, Port Gentil, the beautiful empty beaches of Gamba, the groups of monkeys sitting on the pipeline watching the cars and trucks passing on the road in Borneo and their allowing me to sit with them. I just don’t know how to do it.
I feel the same way when I try to describe that little giggle in the middle of my chest when I’m on the bike following a road that stretches out in front of me like a friendly, excited dog leading me to places with new sights, sounds and smells unique and different from all other places in the world.
There was that little cat that joined me under an overpass when I stopped for a break and shared my Vienna sausages and a cup of water. I gave him some raw Cajun sausage I was bringing to one of my kids. He ate that pork and Vienna sausage and walked back into the grass. There was that wedding picture under another overpass and the chrome Hudson Hornet hood badge under another. There was that little raccoon doll that someone had burned with a lighter and threw out the window. I still have him and he traveled with me on that bike for many thousands of miles and sits on the shelf with other orphaned stuffed animals I picked up on the side of the road. I guess I shouldn’t have read that story to my kids about lost stuffed animals in which one said that they weren’t real unless someone loved them. I try to make them real........
There was that bird that flew into my unzipped jacket on the Natchez Trace, that dog that use to race me on the shoulder of the road that I let win the race to the corner and watch him walk back with his tail and head held high, the javelina that wouldn’t let me pass in Arizona until the group with the piglets crossed the road, the coyote that stood in the road and walked up to within 6' of the bike begging for food in Death Valley, the baby black kitten I picked up sitting on the center stripes of the road, put in my bag and brought home and named him “Fido”, those strange birds that stole French fries off my plate at that funny truck stop in Florida, that coyote that followed me around the airport when I was on my scooter checking lights on the runways and taxi strips staying 100' away, but when I went to the next he followed right along.
Then there was that road in West Texas that ran so straight and far that when I came to a curve in the road, I wondered if the bike would turn. One time, very late in the day, me and Cissy was low on gas in New Mexico and finally came to a settlement with one closed service station. It had a credit card system. A deputy sheriff came by and in the conversation, he told us that it was the only pump within 50 miles and the credit card unit was added the day before so we would have been out of luck
Now, though, I can ride with a few friends like Carney, Mike, Cissy and a few others. I can share in their rides and have them share in mine. With those people, I can enjoy the ride: we ride the same ride in our styles, speeds and paces. I don’t have to try to describe anything to them.....they were part of it.
There is so much to say about taking rides on these bikes and I believe that all of us wish we could find a way to tell others what we gain from riding them. It’s so much more than which highway we took to where, the weather we rode through, the miles we rode or how fast we went. I think it’s about little things like getting that giggle in the middle of our chest. It’s like the times I would take out the old airplane and get above cloud base on a nice day with cumes and fly around and over them like they were hills and come down put her back in the hangar and touch her on the cowling and tell her she did good. Now, I put the bike on the center stand, plug in the Battery Doc and pat it on the tank and say, "Thanks. You did good."