Monthly Archives: May 2018
The ride, and the road not taken
I “stole” this from Facebook this morning because it prompted me to think about where I’d be if I hadn’t agreed to go with Ralph to the Grand Canyon on a motorcycle in 2010.
I’ve never been a daredevil. I never learned to ski or waterski and I can barely move around on ice or rollerskates. I was 57 then (go ahead, do the math), and I didn’t have much experience riding on the back of a motorcycle, much less riding one for days on end. The Grand Canyon is a long way from Minnesota. What if something happened to us on the road?
I started talking to myself. When I was 77, did I want to be able to look back and say, “I’m glad I did that”, or would I be saying, “I wish I had done that”? I decided to put my trust in Ralph (after all, he did get us through several canoe trips in the Boundary Waters during the early days of our marriage) and get on the bike.
The first week, we cruised along Route 66. Oklahoma has more of the original road than other states, but we had fun getting off I-40 to snake off to little towns along the way. Some of them have begun to promote their location along the old route, but others are ghost towns, with shells of gas stations and old motels slowly crumbling into dust.
There were a lot of “ifs” on this trip. If we hadn’t gone to Amarillo, Texas, we wouldn’t have known about Palo Duro Canyon, the second largest canyon in the U.S. Unlike the largest, you can ride your motorcycle into it. If all the rooms in the Holiday Inn at Kayenta, Arizona, hadn’t been taken, we wouldn’t have had the fun of staying in an old trailer with sagebrush growing over the windows and eating freshly-made Navajo fry bread. Nor would we have ended up on Colorado’s Million Dollar Highway. What splendor to see the clouds below us and the golden aspens beside us!
It ended up being one of the best, most restful vacations we have ever taken, despite putting more than 4,400 miles on our Victory.
As Robert Frost wrote:
Stay safe out there!
I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been passed by dudes on crotch rockets who must have a crystal ball mounted to their windshields.
Why do “crotch rocket” riders have such a sense of entitlement and immortality? Their need for speed so often overrules common sense, it’s a wonder more of them aren’t scraped off the pavement each summer.
I edit a neighborhood newspaper. Last night was absolutely beautiful, the kind of evening Minnesotans store in their memory banks for cold winter nights. The air was balmy, and the sweet scent of apple blossoms and lilacs filled the air. I had a neighborhood meeting to cover for the paper. It was only six blocks from home, so I decided to walk.
There was one busy thoroughfare on my walk. It’s T-shaped. Normally, I hate to wait for the “walk” button to change the lights, but last night I pushed it. Good thing. Just as I stepped from the curb, three screeching crotch rockets came roaring down the long leg of the T. The light was red for them. One of them checked for oncoming traffic to his right, but no one checked for the pedestrian on the left. As they roared through the light, I jumped back onto the sidewalk and yelled, “Assholes!” One of them turned back toward me and flipped me off. I silently wished he’d lose control of his bike, but it didn’t happen.
The previous day, I was sitting in a meeting at the newspaper office, which has a big window overlooking a very busy street. Suddenly two sport bikes came up close behind a car in front of them. They veered, one to the left, the other to the right, and passed the car. My kingdom for a patrol car at that minute!
On more than one occasion, Ralph and I have ridden the Great River Road on the Wisconsin side. There are some blind curves, especially on the lower end near the southern Wisconsin border. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been passed by dudes on crotch rockets who must have a crystal ball mounted to their windshields. They’re a menace!
Motorcyclists have enough to worry about with semis, people who change lanes without signaling and drivers who don’t “see” motorcycles, much less fellow bikers who don’t give a damn about anyone but themselves.
When I went to bed last night, I could hear the whiny, mosquito-like windup of a crotch rocket shifting gears on I-35. Stay safe.