I’m sitting here at work idly contemplating the fact that in a few short days, I will be embarking on the last leg of my cross-country meanderings… the first of what I hope will be many long distance summer excursions on the motorcycle. Sure, I’ve been on trips before, but they’ve all been under 1000 miles each way. This summer, I’ve got 9k down and 4k or so to go. My typical saturday ride, usually 5-6 hours or a few hundred miles… replaced by 12, 14, and 16 hour riding days; my 300’s replaced by legs that would, if I cared about the liscence plate, qualify me for an IBA cert had I not stopped so frequently for pictures from the saddle.
For the previous 3 months, I’ve led a dual life. For two weeks out of the month, I’ve been your more or less typical systems administrator…. I drive my car to work, spend time with my girlfriend, do my time in the office, and live a relatively mundane life. For the other two weeks, it’s been a world of winding roads, farms, mountains, valleys, elk, bison, and wolves. Half my time is sleeping under the stars, the other in hotels in town after town strung out along the highways and byways of this…. incredible… land the majority of us call home. It is as if there were two of me, the me of the body, and the me of the soul…. one trapped in the cage, one released from it to roam at will. The wolf runs fast and far…
In 5 days time, I meet the beginning of the end. I cross west over North Dakota, wind my way down through the Rockies, spend a few days wandering the parks in southern Utah, then after the Rush concert at Red Rocks, I’ll ride my last ride through -real- mountains for what may be another year… or more, if Tanzania comes calling.
What have I learned? What have I survived? How has my life been enriched by my travels? She asks me this frequently, but I have no answer. If there can be an answer to such a question. The answer I keep coming to is that when the time comes to summon the strength I gained, the peace I acheived, then the answer will be obvious.
Yet…. yet. In this downtime, this calm before the final storm, I know what is down the road. Monday morning, Aug 12th, I ride my GS back to work. a measly 75 minutes in the saddle. An empty, unladenned bike. Will I even have time to get comfortable? Will my engine even be warmed up? Will I even notice the passage of minutes instead of hours? Time will tell. Time… that thing which we all think we have, that we spend in our lives like it were pennies… a boring, day to day existence in which the only freedom you can really achieve is the choice of which toilet to use in which building.
So many hours, so many days, I listenned to the full, rich sound of my engine pulling myself and my gear up and down hills. The only truly boring days I have had were crossing the plains. Even then, the silence of one’s soul can be measured in revolutions per minute. The Soul’s salvation at the throttle’s twist.
Beware the Ides of Mark.
Will I be able to handle the return to Mundania, and re-integrate that other half of myself into normal life again? I can’t help but recall a line from Tombstone… “There is no normal life Wyatt, There’s just life.”
If only it didn’t have to end…