Newfoundland/Labrador Day 30: Home Again (for now)
30 days. 7159 miles. Innumerable smiles. This ride is in the books (or will be when I get back to Florida where my book publishing program resides on my home computer). Like the Alaska ride of last year and the Colorado ride of two years past, this was a great experience, though clearly different because of its solo nature. On a rating scale of 1-5, this ride gets a 6.
Rather than recap the adventures along the way, which can be done by re-reading all the posts, I think this final blog will be about the benefits of this kind of ride. Why is it important, for me at least, to go off for a month or two, away from the routine and away from the routine scenery?
At the risk of sounding like a paperback philosopher, these adventures are a renewable resource. And I’m a subject that needs renewing. Even if you love your life, your job and your family, a little solitude is a healthy thing. Some choose Walden Pond and some choose the open road. For me, riding a motorcycle on a trip like this is solitude enhanced by an order of magnitude. As a long ride begins, I turn loose of quotidian worries, chores and apprehensions. It’s almost as if the wind rushing past the bike helps clear the air between my ears. When the old is gone, dissipated in the rush of the ride, there’s space for new things, new people, new thoughts. And I don’t have to work hard to seek them out. I’m constantly seeing new things (e.g. pink elephants and icebergs and blue lobsters and churches with missiles), making new friends and listening to the always-interesting stories of their lives, and trying to find my place in a constantly changing universe. I know I was supposed to do the latter when I was in college and in my 20s, but I never quite seemed to get around to it. I’m still on an incredible, exciting, meaningful journey of discovery and these trips are crucial to that journey.
When I chance upon prehistoric human sites almost 10,000 years old or consider the powerful, literally world-changing geologic upheavals that occurred hundreds of millions of years ago as the rock that is Newfoundland crashed inevitably into North America, I’m forced to try to put my own sense of “speckness” into some greater, clarifying perspective. The fact that I’m so small in a universal time-scale is humbling; the fact that I’m aware of that smallness is empowering. These trips help me sort through the nature of being human in a universe that mostly doesn’t care about humans.
Riding along on a motorcycle surrounded by beautiful scenery (and all scenery seems beautiful when I straddle the saddle), even when I seem to be pre-occupied dodging potholes and broken pavement, provides plenty of time for mostly uninterrupted thought where I can process what I’ve seen and learned. I’m not looking for an “answer” or a “solution.” I’m content at the end of a ride if I somehow feel that I’ve grown, that my mind-trunk is filled with memories I can call on later. I don’t want to or need to change the world; I’m happy when the world changes me.
And in those terms, this ride was a success. I came back refreshed, albeit a little tired after 30 days on the road and 30 nights in strange beds and the occasional reclining chair. Fortunately, this renewal process is not a one-time thing; I’ll need to go again. And again. And again. Sometimes solo. Sometimes with others. But I will go as long as I’m able.
Where to next year? I think maybe the Rockies. Anywhere from Pueblo, Colorado, to Jasper, Alberta, or maybe all of it. I love the soaring, snow-covered Rocky Mountains and the roads that wind through them. Maybe it’s because I was born in the Rockies. Or maybe it’s just because they are what they are.
I arrived to a joyful welcome from all my neighbors in Maggie Valley and it’s good to be back. A day or two to rest and clean some of Canada off my bike and I’ll be ready to ride again.
One final thought: A big “THANKS” to everyone who followed along, reading the blog and looking at my pictures. It meant a lot to know that friends and family cared where I was and what I was doing. If my feeble efforts encourage you to go off on your own adventures, the time spent sharing is time well spent.
Continue to seek adventure in your lives. I’ll do the same.