Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Post 555 -- the Descent

So, the 555 came to a scattered end in the far reaches of Portland, Maine.  
We pulled in as a unified crew and left in a scattered blur of fuzzy headaches and mechanical and structural breakdowns.  Finding the inside, underground track to the lobsters and local bars where a shot of whiskey was 5 ounces in a glass, we laughed into the cool, triumphant evening.  

Waking up to out-of-place zombie strolls through a continental breakfast and indecisive confusion, everyone slurred into action of some sort or another.  With not much thought, almost like in a fit of habit, everyone started packing up their bikes.  Broken bits and pieces presented themselves in the morning sunshine after the hard push to cross the finish line over the array of the endless frost-heaved pavement of the north.  It seemed far too early to have to start thinking about another visit to a welding shop.  Thank god it wasn't me. 

I had two things on my mind...food and coffee.  With the sun shining, we packed our bags as if we were never coming back--just like how we left.  The team scattered with little communication.  Slim and I found ourselves at the dock squinting into the bright wait of an opening oyster shack that is a secret delicacy of Portland (J's).  Some others straggled in, and some meandered to a coffee shop, others to the welding shop.  One could hear the ruffled choppers roaming their ways to some spot in town.  

My decision was made.  I was going to California.  I was going one way or another...so i figured I should just ride.     

 Slim, a man of no hesitation, came with me to Syracuse, NY to visit his family and then ride back to TN solo.  The boys headed out on the long road south to Connecticut, then to Tennessee.  Two were to fly from Philly.  Along the way, the problems increased for them.  Electrical shorts, mysteries, and eventually 7 spokes broke off of Oly's bike, and that's what took the cake.  Oly had to be back in 2 days for his flight back to Australia.  So the inevitable had to occur...7 smelly dudes in 1 little minivan-- soccer moms from hell!

 Meanwhile, Slim and I bounced our hardtails down the road for a day and a half till reaching Syracuse, and I departed to hit the long road West, solo.  Luckily, from Knoxville to Maine, I had had no problems with my bike, now named "SUERTE" (Lucky), so I had some confidence that I could make it.

 I pulled the throttle on my CB500 like I had not on the entire trip to Maine since I was no longer surrounded by 350's.  I gobbled up miles and camped out in random fields, fairgrounds, farms, state parks, and anywhere I ended up.

 The corn harvest of Iowa in the fall was surprisingly beautiful, as were the people that I encountered.  Following advice from locals I spent a good night on the banks of a gorgeous reservoir where fall colors exploded, deer and elk roamed, and pelicans flocked in waves across the lake.

 I didn't get very far the next day before I broke down in some sort of field and had to go through some things.   After cleaning the carbs, I limped to a gas station where a neighboring moto mechanic said I needed to completely dismantle the engine and rebuild it spending god knows what.  So, I walked out from that little pep talk a little discouraged when all I wanted was to borrow a points file.  Not being a great or intuitive mechanic, I went a round-about way of finding out that I needed to file and re-time the electrical points.  Luckily an old-timer swooped to the rescue with his lovely wife and gave me a fingernail file that did the trick.  I noted that one, and spent another night in the park.

 Wriggling into Nebraska, I found my way to another reservoir that blew my mind.  I was expecting nothing when I stumbled onto a white sand beach for a night of star-filled peace, well, till I woke up with the tent laying on my face from a severe wind storm.  The only other person anywhere around was a retired aerospace engineer that had a truckfull of beer and food from his garden.  I woke to a beautiful morning and hit the road.

Crossing into Wyoming and into the immense sage field deserts, I at once felt at home as I reminisced of the days of desert living around the Grand Canyon.  The subtle ease of life and weather in the desert floored me as I leaned on my steed, ate food, rolled a cigarette, drank coffee, and watched the flickering fire dance with the steady light of the full moon.  There wasn't a soul around for miles except the antelope that meandered around camp in the early morning.