A Cold, Healing, Heartful Ride

At dusk, riding home on Big Red, the alluring scent of the purple wisteria, mingling with the aroma of the wood fires almost made me dizzy. The skyline wore a peach-apricot glow with cloudless brilliant blue above. The sun chased alongside me through the trees. A train passed under the evening rising mist. It was cold but I didn’t care. The sunlight was retreating and cool shadows and fog had started to claim the road. The cars had their lights on as they hurried toward the future. I was fine riding through the present.

I’d left home this morning not quite realizing how cold it was. It was 41 degrees (5 Celsius). I’d forgotten to charge the batteries on my heated gloves so my hands were freezing. I had to hunker down at the Hardees in Adairsville and warm my hands and soul with some coffee. My heart was already warmed from the friction of gratitude rushing through me. Away from the music and news reports, enveloped by nature and especially the newly blooming dogwoods, it’s really hard for a boy not to feel grateful on a motorcycle. Even if it’s cold.

Last Rides. When Will Yours Be? Alaska Trip Planning

Last Rides. When Will Yours Be? Alaska Road Trip Planning.

Just in the last week there have been 4 motorcycle wrecks in this area, caused by drivers not paying attention. No one died, yet, but one fellow lost a leg and things are not looking well for another.

Whenever I ride I do think that this might be my last one. I’m not morbid about things, if anything it helps me to practice gratitude and stay in the here and now. I pray for folks and give thanks as I ride through the beautiful countrysides.

It’s 46 days until I head off on my trip to Alaska. I’m starting to get more excited and more nervous.

You can see my rough trip plan mapped out here: http://www.travellerspoint.com/member_map.cfm?user=kierk1&tripid=861555

I’ve started gathering up the things I want and will need. Too early to start collecting bags of peanuts, sticks of beef jerky and granola bars though. I’m working on the bigger items now.

I’m waiting on my passport. It needed to be renewed and I sent it off in February only to have them send me back my photo and tell me it wasn’t correct. I had my glasses on.

Bought a new tent. Picked a Marmot Tungsten 1person Tent. Got good reviews and looked light and easy to set up, with extra space to throw my pack in. I’d been using a 3 person tent for a few years. Big enough to accommodate my stuff and any girlfriend’s. But the girlfriend’s gone, bless her heart, and I need to travel as light as I can.

Urban Survival Gear X-6 Tactical Flashlight, a great flashlight, waterproof and has self-defense aspects. You can blind someone, strobe light them or wop them over the head (Japanese kubotan) if they won’t leave you alone. Oh, and you can see things really well with it.

I also got a new knife, a Victorinox Swiss Army Swiss Champ with an SOS kit. It’s the biggest knife they make and has 33 functions on it, though I’m not sure I’ll need the fish scaler. The SOS kit has everything you need including, matches, a mirror, and an international distress signal guide. It’s even got a compass in case I get lost and the odds of that are high! (Remember on my last cross country trip I crossed the Mississippi River 5 times just on the way to California?)

I also treated myself to a Saddleback laptop bag. It can hold my tablet (Asus) and keyboard and fits nicely into my saddlebag.

I’m working on my route. Interstates are allowed on this trip. So far my rough plans include heading to Nashville, then Champaign, Illinois, Bloomington-Utica-Rockford, then Madison, Wisconsin, then Minneapolis, Minnesota and Fargo, North Dakota. Even I can’t miss North Dakota!  That will be about 1300 miles and should take an easy 4 days. But I’m open to alternatives. Might want to see Fond du Lac, Wisconsin again, where I taught for 4 years and see the house for the homeless where I used to volunteer.

No GPS for me. I like the adventures that come with getting lost. And getting lost I most assuredly will.

Spring Tune-ups; Getting Ready for Alaska

Both Big Red and I have had check-ups and tune-ups lately. Big Red is running beautifully and is all ready for the trip to Alaska. Me, not so much. The doc has a few things he has yet to figure out about me before I’ll be ready to go. (And this isn’t the psychiatrist, although…) But I’m still going. And it’s also looking good that my old college buddy, Kevin Grigsby, will be meeting me in Fargo, North Dakota and riding with me (he, in a car) the rest of the way up to Alaska. I plan to spend some time in Fargo tracking down old friends and visiting the Dorothy Day House in Moorhead, where I volunteered. I lived and taught at a college there for two years.
It’s hard to explain to people that have never ridden a motorcycle, how exhilarating it is when you get out on the open road. I have to take I-75 to work each week and it’s so tempting to just skip the exit and keep on going. Especially when Spring welcomes you with its sudden warmth and beauty. Here, in Georgia, temperatures have been in the 60-80’s the last few weeks. The roadsides are glowing with the lavender/purple flowers of the rosebuds, the brilliant white of the pear trees, the yellow glowing forsythia, the merlot colored red maples, and the snowy pink of the cherry trees.
When I was down in Savannah, Georgia recently, the beautiful scarlet, lilac and fuscia colored azaleas were blooming, along with the camellias. The ride from Savannah to Tybee, along the palm tree lined road, through the tidal marsh and wetlands, filled with green and copper marsh grass, feeling the sun on my face, was actually thrilling.
Traveling alone, off the beaten track, you meet a lot of people. This time I met a real estate tycoon, a man traveling around the country building gas stations, a red headed nurse, a Japanese woman recovering from a stroke, and a lively, fascinating woman who had a live macaw on her shoulder. I was lucky that they shared with me their stories. Certainly enriches me.
Right now I’m sitting down by the Oostanaula River in Rome, watching it flow. In the last few days I finished up the first draft of my latest novel so I can now take a break from it, come back to this blog and the planning for the Alaska trip. I missed this blog!
Winter is a season when deep in the soul a voice can whisper: Maybe I’d better not. The eruption of warmth and life in Spring signals to us: Maybe I can. I believe you will. I hope Spring is treating you kindly wherever you are and that beautiful, sacred flowers are blooming in your heart.
Ride safely.