On the road again … “Just can’t wait to get out on the road again, Goin’ places that I’ve never been, Seein” things that I may never see again, And I can’t wait to get on the road again.” Thanks, Willie Nelson, your words capture the anticipation of this forthcoming, last adventure.
Whoa, what’s that “last adventure” stuff all about? Well, yeah, probably. These three-week motorcycling trips always include camping, sleeping under the stars, spending evenings by a campfire after eating my freeze-dried dinners, and writing my day’s journal. Gad, I love it! Meeting fellow campers, snuggling in a sleeping bag in the crisp night air, and drinking morning coffee as the sun peaks over the horizon. It just doesn’t get any better than that!
But you know what? Erecting a tent, crawling around on the ground on hands and knees, and bending over my Jetboil camp stove, is just not as easy for an 80-year-old as it used to be. Stay in a motel, my sympathetic wife advises. Naw, it’s not the same. That’s not an adventure.
So, here’s a new awareness to contemplate. Death! Wow, shocking word. At some point, you realize the newspaper’s obituary includes folks much younger than yourself. There’s a good chance you may never buy another new car. You’re never going to make that exotic trip you always talked about. Never going to write that next book floating around in your imagination. So here I am teetering on the edge of that awareness.
I’m healthy. Exercise regularly. Still buy green bananas. And I know several 80+ friends doing just fine. I’m convinced I have at least one more trip in me … I think. I’ve been on eight of these extended multi-week motorcycle adventures. Rode thru the southeast one time spending a week in a hang-gliding school and visiting Civil War battlefields. Went east taking the ferry to Nova Scotia. Went north into Canada visiting Montreal and Quebec. And traveled west to Yellowstone, Glacier and the state of Colorado several times.
I travel alone. What, isn’t that dangerous? Well, maybe, but I’ve got my cell phone, I tell my wife. You see, my purpose for being out there is the see the sights, meet the people, and learn their stories. I’m a frustrated writer looking for stories to tell. That’s what I do at my campground every night, share the stories with 200 VIPs (virtual Invisible Passengers) via email and blog (jimstarknavy.com/jimstark/blog). Yep, 200 family and friends who seem to enjoy my communications. So, my challenge every day is to discover interesting stories to tell my virtual fellow travelers. The promise I make myself is this, if I fly by something eye-catching at 70 mph, I’m to stop, turn around, and check it out. You can’t do that if you’re riding with a companion or group of riders.
So, I’m hitting the road again. The destination this time is Utah and its National Parks. I’ve been to Arches Nation Park once before, but there are four others. I plan to camp in three of them for two nights each. En route, I always try to find at least one tourist attraction to visit to break up the day’s travels.
So here I go. My Honda Goldwing motorcycle–“Rosie” I call it after Don Quixote’s horse Rocinante–has been tuned up and serviced. It’s loaded down with camping gear, cameras, computer, freeze-dried foods, and lightweight, quick-dry underwear. “Just can’t wait to get on the road again.”