One More Day

Road trips can change you. The more time you sit in the saddle watching the miles go by, the horizon change and the sun move from one spot to another, you realize you are getting closer to something as you move further away from where you started. As the scenery changes so does our frame of mind, and as we stop and mingle with the locals, we realize we are all the same no matter where we’re from, and they are just as curious about us as we are of them. “Where are you from” is the universal question, but it really means “I wish I had a motorcycle like you.” We know deep down we will probably never meet again, so we say our goodbyes until the next gas stop where we start a new conversation about our origination and destination.

Reflections about days gone by and past trips come to mind, as well as images of people we’ve known our whole life and those we’ve met along the way. They become clear as the sky above us. Who we are and who we want to be is a constant knot in our head but it all seems to untangle on the road and sort itself out. The greater the distance we ride, the longer we have to sort the dirty laundry we call our life. It’s easy to say that when every trip ends we are neatly folded, with a clean and fresh outlook on each and every day. At least until the clothes hamper gets full again.

” The greater the distance we ride, the longer we have to sort the dirty laundry we call our life.”

We are determined to make each mile count because as all trips start, they too will end. “If only I had one more day” or something along those lines always seem to escape from our lips. No one hears it so it just seems to get lost somewhere on the way home. Where does the time go? A week at work lasts what seems like two weeks in non-motorcycle time, but a week’s vacation is like a weekend off. Every road trip takes us through a time warp where clocks stop and days disappear right before our eyes, only to reappear during the work week. Ah, so that’s where they go.

So as we get closer to whatever it is that is pulling us away from the everyday life we live, we know, that at some point that everyday life will win. We return to a normalcy we so tried to outrun; to a place where time didn’t matter and the water tasted different. Boy, do I need to do laundry.

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The Big Picture

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There are some things in life that give us the sense of how small we are and how short a lifetime really is. Small in comparison to the power and forces of nature and all things we take for granted in the world around us. How many years have the rivers flowed and the mountains stood before our very eyes along with all those who saw them before us? Quiet, patient and without fail they continue to do what they do best while life around us goes on. We take these moments to stop and snap a picture but then we move on about our daily lives, while the mountains and rivers wait for the next photo opportunity to come along. Long before the camera, let alone the smart phone, explorers drew pictures and painted their likenesses on canvas just to capture the moment. They too were in awe of the beauty – the only difference, they had to enjoy the view a lot longer to get it down on paper or canvas.

As a motorcyclist, we will go out of our way to find such picturesque places, but we soon turn our backs to move on to whatever comes around the next curve or bend in the road. What took an eternity to make, becomes a moment in time, a memory to some, but to others it becomes an attitude. A chance to take it in and become a better person, and to be humbled with realization that I am not everything I think I am, but rather I’m brought to this place to appreciate its beauty and to allow it to change me from the inside out. It’s telling me to be quiet, patient and to be without fail.

We sometimes measure our lives in birthdays or decades, but the big picture tells us that no matter how long our life is, it’s the impact we have on those that pass by us leaving them with memories and impressions that withstand time. The moments we share with others, no matter how small or insignificant, can leave those we know and love with an everlasting snapshot of who we are and what they mean to us. So while we continue to take a lot of pictures to remember the moments and beauty that we behold, there will also be those taking their own mental pictures of how they want to remember us. Let’s leave them with some great pictures.

Bits of Memories

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Have I ridden down this road before? It looks familiar, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Some of the scenery looks the same and it just feels like I’ve been down it before, but who knows? Maybe I’ve been on this road before and the reason it’s not quite familiar is I came from the other direction. Yeah, that’s it. Or is it?

Riding a motorcycle puts us in these places all the time and even driving around with your window down can have the same effect on you. People, places, sounds, sights and smells – pretty amazing isn’t it? A quick whiff of a certain smell can bring back a flood of memories. In the blink of an eye you are transported to a place back in time with thoughts and conversations as clear as if it just happened yesterday. It could be a word or phrase a friend always said to remind us of tall tales and laughter that would never end. It’s crazy to think that a trigger like that can be so powerful – but it’s only if you are paying attention. It happens all the time I’m sure, but with the daily distractions, we don’t have time to process it or recognize it when it presents itself. How great would it be to catch each and every one as it happened and for that brief moment remember “the good times.”

It can be as simple as passing an alfalfa field that is ready to cut. You pass by this field of alfalfa for days on end, and then all of a sudden you see the bluish purple hue and realize it is ready to bail. When I see something like that, as insignificant as it may seem, it takes me back to a time when living in the moment was so very important and my eyes and ears were open. It has always stayed with me and for that I’m grateful, because the connection between that moment in time and an alfalfa field today means a lot to me. The smell of a skunk takes me back to being a kid laying in bed late at night during the summer with my head next to the open window in my room. For those that can’t remember, there wasn’t always air-conditioning. The clear bottle of Miller High Life Beer takes me to 1982 and hanging out with friends Mark, Tim and Randy from around the Flush, Kansas area. Good times with good friends and good beer. The “event” or memory is one thing, but there is always something within the memory that starts you thinking back to when, where or who was there. There was a time when Valentino’s Pizza in Manhattan Kansas had gum stuck to their sign twenty feet in the air. Who knew it would stick when I threw it? Every time I think of Valentino’s, it reminds me of that night.

Maybe it’s the taste of homemade ice cream or the smell of the aftermath when a firecracker goes off. The sound of rain and thunder, a train whistle or the wind blowing through the trees. And of course anything your grandmother made in the kitchen can put you right back there standing on the chair next to her. I’m sure slamming your finger in a car door won’t take you there, but the song on the radio that was playing just before you got out will. You would think living in the same small town I grew up in would be sensory overload and yes, there are plenty of things that can stop you in your tracks and cause you to reflect on a memory, but in some instances, it becomes the normal and those memories become engrained in you to the point of seeing things in the light in which they were originally cast. My mind’s eye still sees things the way they were when it comes to White City, and not knowing if that’s a good or bad thing, but it is what it is. If the light is just right, and you squint with your good eye, this small town hasn’t changed a bit. From what I’m told, White City has a train go by every hour or so, blowing its whistle. I’m sure it does, but I don’t hear the whistle any more. It must be my mind’s ear is not listening.

So wait for it. It will happen today as it happened yesterday. Those triggers that bring back even the smallest bits of memories. Good or bad memories for sure, but either way memories all the same.