Meet Natalie and Gary. Two students on their way back to Indiana University of Pennsylvania. — just 90 miles to the west. They were on the last leg of a one week adventure that took them from Indiana to Niagra Falls, across New England to Acadia National Park in Maine and back home. Over 1500 miles of two-up riding, camping and constructing memories. I couldn’t help but think they were experiencing something that would gently haunt them for the rest of their lives.
Our paths crossed at the motorcycle parking spaces across from Schlow Library in State College, Pennsylvania as they secured their gear and made sure everything was ready for departure. Normally I wouldn’t say anything to strangers, riders or otherwise, but in this case, as I watched them while I was locking up the Vespa, their adventure mystic moved me to say hello and ask a few questions.
“After such a long trip are you ready for your own motorcycle?” I asked Natalie. Gary said he’s suggested that very thing but Natalie expressed her contentment as the pillion passenger. As they checked straps and cords it was obvious they had developed a working routine forged through miles and miles on the road together. And they were both still smiling.
The journey was made more impressive by their choice to sleep on the ground. Camping sounds romantic but my body’s incessant reminders of how hard the earth can be and the lack of hot showers would soon wear me out.
Still, I couldn’t help admire their pluck at undertaking such a trip.
A final inquiry about the motorcycle and it’s performance — a 1987 BMW K75 performing flawlessly — and they were ready to roll after I made a quick portrait and offered them my email address should they want to share a picture or two of their trip.
And off they went.
I can only assume they arrived home safe and their motorcycle adventure is shifting to memory. How many travelers do this same thing, traverse the world on two wheels, one behind the other, living, experiencing, squeezing the marrow from their time on the earth?
Here are two.