Today was the last ~ It started off in a cloud ~ Ended with regrets

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Today, my last day, started off about a third of the way across New York in Arkport and found me riding through another cloud. This one was just enough to shorten visibility and mist up your visor. Not like the one in Wyoming which left everything dripping. After a while I made my way past the hills that bounded it and found bright blue skies with sunlight streaming down.

I was excited. “I’m going home!” I thought, but the closer I got to home, the more I didn’t want to arrive. Even taking the Mohawk Trail on the way back through Massachusetts didn’t lift my spirits. In the end, it just didn’t feel like a homecoming. I love seeing Boston’s skyline come up over the horizon after being away. It’s always made me think “ahh, home” before. Today though, I just thought… “Maybe I should have kept going to California…“, and “I don’t want this to end.”

I found a new home out on the road. You hear adventure riders talk about wanting to get back “home” to their bike after they’ve been off it for a day or two. I’d always thought that to be a sort of joke, in that, you don’t have anywhere else to go but your bike, so it is “home” by default. But on this ride I learned the truth of it. Your bike really does become your home. Everywhere else is unknown and a little shaky, but your saddle… Your saddle is the place you go to feel safe and comforted in the way that any good home does. I’d find myself looking out at it from some random restaurant windows, just wanting to be done with my meal so I could climb back on.

A motorcycle is so much more than a “home” though. It is part of the adventure, with a personality all its own, and calling it a “steel horse” isn’t just poetic license. It is a metaphor that lies very close to truth. It eats, it breathes, it has things it likes and doesn’t like that aren’t necessarily shared by others of its breed. I really think that a motorcycle adventure isn’t that different from a horse adventure, except that a motorcycle is so much better at devouring the miles.

I imagine that once upon a time there were men who set out west on their horses, not so much for the promise of gold or new land to call their own, but because they could. Because there were new things to be seen, new places to go.

For a while I was like them: seeing new things, exploring new places, sleeping on ground that wasn’t always soft, starting each day by packing your saddlebags and throwing your sleeping gear over your horses back. Now I’m back at my house with it’s big plasma TV screen and soft cushions, and I’m not convinced it’s an improvement. I look at shelves of books, video games, electronic boxes and wonder “why do I need all this?”

I was riding through clouds in Wyoming, and New York. I saw tumbleweeds crossing before me, and windmills bringing water for cows. I watched the lush beauty of the Black Hills turn to the bleak death of the Badlands in a matter of hours. I drove past two miles of abandoned boxcars, and made my bed to the sound of cicadas instead of Chevrolets. I watched my black gloves bleach a yellow-grey in the sun. And I am not at all convinced that this soft couch is an improvement…

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