Day 24: Yesterday – Eureka to San Jose. More coincidences; Pliny the Elder; Tough Ride; Was that the Golden Gate Bridge?
When I left McDonalds yesterday after writing my last entry I ran into a young man who I could tell was also struggling with life. He didn’t have much but he was excited and wanted to talk. So we chatted about motorcycle rides and microbreweries. “Ah man,” He said, “You’ve got to stop at the Russian River Brewery in Santa Rosa. Have a Pliny the elder! The place is off 4th street.”
I studied philosophy as an undergraduate at the University of Georgia and had frequently read about Pliny the Elder. I take signs and portents seriously and so the die was cast. I would be stopping at the Russian River Brewery and Pliny and I were going to meet.
I managed to go the 50 miles down the road and exited into Santa Rosa. Amazingly for me, I immediately found 4th street. Eventually, I found the brewery and did as I had noticed a couple of other motorcyclists had done, I parked up on the sidewalk.
I went into the packed bar and finally got the attention of a bartender and ordered a Pliny the Elder. I sat outside so I could keep an eye on Big Red.
I Googled Pliny to remind myself of what he had been about. He had been a Roman writer, philosopher and naval commander who had lived between CE 23-79. I thought this quote from his nephew Pliny the Younger was interesting.
For my part I deem those blessed to whom, by favour of the gods, it has been granted either to do what is worth writing of, or to write what is worth reading; above measure blessed those on whom both gifts have been conferred. In the latter number will be my uncle, by virtue of his own and of your compositions. (This was in a letter to the historian Tacitus.)
I thought: Yeah, that’s what I want to do with my life – do what is worth writing of – or write what is worth reading. Both, if I’m lucky.
A couple were standing across from me talking. I decided to try and engage them in conversation so I asked if I could ask them a question. They said “sure” and so I asked: “Do you believe in love at first sight?” Well, that got the ball rolling with all of us and we shared a few of our love stories. I learned that they were both out her having a vacation and hailed from Lawrence, Kansas. They had a 4 year old at home, being watched by grandparents and this was their first time away from the child. They were an absolutely delightful couple and told me about all the weird things that had happened that had brought them together. I talked a little about the Chinese concept of Yuanfen which has a lot to do with Fate. I asked them about their jobs and I knew what the woman was going to say and she did: “I worked as a social worker.” What has happened to me that I can now spot a social worker in a crowd of strangers?
I couldn’t finish my Pliny the Elder so I left it and said goodbye. Great couple. Pliny was a bit too hoppy for me and its alcohol was 8% but the taste was good. I noticed the bar also had a Pliny the Younger but that was enough Pliny for me today.
So I hopped back on Big Red, just hoping to get to the other side of San Francisco so I wouldn’t have to face the traffic in the morning.
The next two hours of riding were harrowing. The road became rough and bumpy, the temperature dropped drastically, fog moved in and it started to rain. I had a hard time seeing anything. The wind came in gusts from all angles. A sign said the Golden Gate bridge and while I must have ridden over it I couldn’t see a damn thing. My eyes were fixed on the uneven road. I almost hit a damn toll booth and laughed.
The road went through San Francisco and there were a lot of traffic lights so I got to see the people, the stores and restaurants like Mel’s Diner. It had a nice feel to the place. But I had been there years before and wasn’t into sightseeing so I bustled through. I kept going south on 101 and the traffic was heavy and fast. Finally, I saw a Motel 6, pulled off and got a room. I was in San Jose. The room was the most expensive one I had encountered on this trip: $125. By the time I hit the sack it was after midnight.
Today, I packed quickly. It was over 350 miles to LA and seeing my daughter, son and son-in-law. I couldn’t wait! But I was going to take my time and enjoy, as much as possible, today’s ride, though it scared me somewhat. I had taken the Pacific Coast Highway 3 years ago on Big Red and the scenery was amazing but riding along the ocean often at great heights and dealing with the gusting crosswinds had scared the hell out of me. I remember writing in my blog back then that it had been my best and worst ride. But today, we were going to conquer that. Big Red and I will prevail! Or, I’ll make myself drink another Pliny the Elder.