The best things in life are free goes the old song. Sleep, laughter, love, friends and good memories — examples of the things money can’t buy.
Of all my rides and Vespa meanderings, the picture of the scooter on a winding road near Hyner View State Park, not far from Renovo, Pennsylvania, on my way home from a camping trip, shines in my memory. What surprises me now is how much the planning and anticipation stayed with me — as if it were a riding event all it’s own.
I’ve been turning another event over in my head, a short trip of five and a half hundred miles, to visit my father, departed now for some years. And like the camping trip, the mental planning and imagining has proved just as exciting.
Perhaps you find satisfaction in the same way?
I imagine myself on the road before dawn, easing into the dark to extend the riding day to allow for choices of coincidence encountered on the road. I know how many miles I need to travel on a direct route — 250 miles to my destination. Miles and miles of winding, at least until I hit the flat grids of Ohio, roads. But between here and there I’ll be presented with endless opportunities to turn left or right away from the plan. Depending on the choices I make I could easily ride 600 miles or more before returning home.
Lying in bed with a map before falling asleep fires the nighttime imagination.
Imagination is always assaulted by the demands of reality — there are things I must do which always seem to try and generate a list. The riding checklist.
There’s a lot of things to do before departing on a trip. The less attractive tasks spin around maintenance, something with which I have a love/hate relationship. Oil and filter change, spark plug change, hub oil change, air filter change, tire change. I usually look forward to change. Hopefully I’ll get the tools out on a lovely day.
I don’t make checklists. At least not for riding. Ideas and needs float around in my head and I try and attend to them. My resistance to organization in regard to riding is a conscious stand against regimentation and the robbery of fun. Just as I enjoy being lost there is a dark pleasure in finding myself scrambling because I forgot something. As long as it’s not my wallet I’m in good shape.
The mental checklist:
- Choice of routes — what general path will I follow? Are there areas I haven’t been to?
- Time constraints — how many daylight hours will I have to ride?
- Stops along the way — any places I want to see or visit?
- Photography — how complicated am I going to make this. Please God, remove video from my mind.
The choice of routes consumes most of my thinking but when I actually get on the road I often follow a remarkably general, unplanned route toward my destination. There’s a fine measure of serendipity to that sort of travel.
My father has been drawing me toward this trip. I hear his voice from time to time, that familiar “hey boy” when I would answer the phone when he called. Our talks were usually focused on details of a project lest the conversations lag and end. This time he wants to talk more. In a few weeks it will be 13 years since he died. It’s time to pay a visit to his resting place.
I’m seldom superstitious but open to the unknown — a lesson I credit my wife Kim for teaching me. There are mysteries in life worth exploring, considering. She’s shown me magic and the shimmering of life. But that’s something for another post.
It’s time for a trip, I’m looking forward to the event and the memories it will nurture. Once the snow and cold are gone for a few days.
I try to remember, the best things in life are free.