What an adventure! Our close family friend here in Mesa was moving to Wilmington, NC to take care of her aged parents. I offered to drive the Penske Rental truck full of her household items. Her dad wanted to bring along his Buick so a car trailer was added to the largest rental truck to make a rig that was nearly 50 feet long.
I had the idea of KLX650 with Sidecar into the truck, and taking the “long” road back to Mesa. My 60th birthday would pass, during this time and I felt this was a great challenge for me, and my age. I have been riding cycles for over 40 years. I would also have to accommodate Maggie my Diabetes, PTSD Service dog.
My route home would first take me north to Chesapeake, VA. Maggie, my trusted Labrador Service, Diabetes dog could visit her Mom and Dad at Bay Breeze Labrador Kennels. After all this was only an additional 500 miles. Then we would take only “Forgotten Highways,” rural roads for over 3,000 miles back to Mesa, AZ. The detailed plan was to take us through over 200 main streets of small town America.
April 26th was the day of departure. Maggie was an excellent co-pilot for the five day truck trip and 2,360 miles to Wilmington, NC. The household items were unloaded, then the Motorcycle and Sidecar was wheeled off, ready for phase 2 of my plan.
Well, the adventure kicked off on May 3rd at 0530. A cold rain was falling. Hindsight is indeed 20:20 I would not have spent countless, I mean countless hours working on route sheets had I known that during the first 15 minutes of the trip they would all blow out into the rain from my forgotten to be zipped tank bag! Wow, good thing I was not Christopher Columbus’s navigator! I would have turned around to try to retrieve what I could, but my hands were frozen to the handlebars. As I proceeded in anguish, I looked over at Maggie for at least a little pity or support. None to be found, Maggie was curled up in the sidecar snoring. I was curled up in the fetal position holding on for dear life. From memory, and just following any road that had “North” after its number we made it to Chesapeake. The rain turned to sleet, my rheumatoid hands swelled to such an immense point that the knuckles produced large blisters from being bent around a throttle. As I happily pulled into Bay Breeze Labrador Kennels for our arranged meeting, I sensed a problem. Yes, I had confirmed the meeting for Saturday, this was Friday, (It is so easy to loose track of days when you’re retired.
Saturday was cold and rainy, Maggie and I had an enjoyable visit, then headed west through Virginia. Sunday morning was very cold. 46 degrees driving 55 MPH produced some ice on Maggie. We made our way back to Wilmington, NC to wait out the storm until Wednesday.
Well I will tell you we made it! 3,116 miles and 7 days later we pulled into Mesa. Mostly I just asked Maggie which way to go. We took mostly whatever road we fancied and tried to stay west. NC, SC, GA, MS, AL, LA, TX, NM, AZ. Through countless small towns that most of us have forgotten. Past Old folks on porches, beeping, waving, and occasionally stopping for a conversation. Past hopeful and hopeless children’s eyes, as we waved at each other, each of us wondering about the other.
Backloads that got me lost, and made me feel found again. Backloads that ended in dirt. . Those roads all have one thing in common; people live along them, people with their own lives, their own countless stories. I can’t help think of how each road has its story, many dedicated to some obscure soldier, diplomat, or local folk hero. I am convinced, that if you want to find yourself, get lost! Loosing my maps was the best part of the trip.
I will tell you that from one that is not all that healthy, the trip delivered excruciating pain to most of my body. Forty six hours on the seat, every minute hurting. It was tough, painful, and took its toll. It was wonderful, exciting, and I can’t wait to do it again. (Maybe when I am 70)