Saturday, August 29, 2009

You Can’t Get There From Here

From motorcycle saddle to the home-life saddle has been a shock to my system. The roar of my engine and the wind in my ears has turned into the dryer buzzing, phone ringing, kids fighting, and then screaming for a referee. There’s always some sort of “jet lag” to process when you return home from any trip (there’s a life metaphor for you!). Change/adapt, change/adapt…such is life!

This road trip was unusual for me; it was truly a metaphor for the dark sides of life I’m certain we all encounter…relentless storms you can’t seem to get away from, conditions that keep you from where you want to go or detain you from getting there when you want to be there. Knowing at the core of my being that the sun will shine again and the road I need to get to where I want to be will rise up to meet me, is still a big bite to swallow when your face down in the shit. As I write this, it’s another gloomy wet day…and I know, it won’t last forever and I trust that the sun will shine again and the next road I need to travel will become evident once the clouds and haze dissipate. Life situations, like the weather, are also NOT permanent and the sun will shine once again.

Relentless dead ends…can’t go that way; road construction…not that way; bridge out; definitely not that way; lightening! “You can’t get there from here” was the message that kept repeating itself in my head. Surrendering to what is…giving up the fight. The resistance I put forth when I want what’s on the other side so bad, is an exhausting trip!

The weather was fucking with me on this trip…actually my mind was…the weather is the weather. It took 11 hours to get from Milwaukee to St. Louis…probably a record, at least for me. All was well and good until we crossed the Wisconsin state line. It started to sprinkle as we headed to Rockford to travel IL 2 along the Rock River. The sprinkles gradually turned to downpours, hampering my vision and soaking the scarf around my neck. Frequent stops became the order of the day. All the rerouting due to construction as well storm dodging, felt like I was riding in circles. Wrong turns, poor choices for alternative routes…where the fuck is St. Louis??? You can’t get there from here!

The rain cleared, gifting us a two hour smooth sail to our destination. As I crossed the Mississippi into Missouri, a beautiful eagle perched on a branch welcomed me, assuring me I did indeed get there. I felt the same sense of comfort when I stopped for the night at the home of a dear friend. Seeing a familiar face on the road is just like being home…than again, it is.

We were delayed in leaving St. Louis to wait out a thunderstorm, which gave way to a beautiful day…things aren’t always what they seem! Shortly out of St. Louis, ended up rerouting toward Lake of the Ozarks to avoid a storm coming in from the west…You can’t there from here! In route, a bug hit my upper lip, felling like I had been nailed by a pea shooter…later, one on the finger that left two digits completely numb, all aiding me in keeping focused on the present moment…snapping me out of the relentless chatter in my head. Thank you very much!

Skies slowly began to darken in the west, changed the plan again, and headed toward Springfield…You can’t get there from here! Tried to outrun it, but ended up in a driveway frantically wrestling with my rain suit. A woman ran across her front lawn motioning us to come over, yelling for us to get our bikes under their carport.

As I sat waiting out yet another storm, I pondered the life metaphor before me; no matter how bad the storms get, I have the knowledge and tools to continue my journey. And when my own resources whither or become ineffective, someone always shows up to support me….perhaps even with a towel, a cold glass of water and a freshly picked tomato…with salt!

The storm passed within an hour or so, intended destination…Wichita. Thirty miles outside of Wichita, the skies darkened once again, cranking up my adrenaline…I cranked up my throttle. My determination to make it into town dry (not to be confused with a dry town), proved futile. The rain started out light and steady. Hotel row was in sight. With no restaurants within walking distance from the hotels, we set back out down the highway, grateful to see a Holiday Inn on the opposite side of the highway with a restaurant connected to it…perfect! The rain increased as my visibility decreased…road construction kept me from making the left turn to the hotel…lightening moving in…we had to head a mile north before I could make a u-turn to head back south to get to the driveway of the Holiday Inn. A torrential downpour began as we sat waiting at the red light keeping us from the Inn. You can’t get there from here! Oh, shit…here we go again…reality and my plan once again, part ways.

The downpour I woke up to became a mere drizzle by the time we were ready to leave; first stop, air for the tires. I headed for a car dealership just off the frontage road…could not find the way to the service department…road construction, coupled with user unfriendly roads…You can’t there from here! Fuck it! We hit the road, bound for the open prairie. More rain…heavy rain…combined with gusty crosswinds, gifted me with Mother Nature’s facial and microderm abrasion. There was no way there could be any dirt left in my pores, let alone skin on my face!

A stop for gas and a much needed reprieve from the rain, I checked my oil. Needing to top it off, I went into the station to purchase a quart (of oil), only to be directed across the street to Wal-Mart. All the gear went back on. Fifteen minutes later, I threw my leg over the saddle and crossed the road in the incessant downpour…pulled in the drive next to Wally World to expedite my mission…You can’t get there from here! Back onto the highway and down to the NEXT driveway.

On the road in the rain, once again…intended destination; Manitou Springs, CO. The rain slowly dissipated as we headed west. I was elated when we finally crossed the state line into CO. I was filled with anticipation of seeing and feeling the mountains by day’s end. That was a short-lived fantasy. As we meandered through Las Animas and set out on US 50 for La Junta, blackness filled the distant canvas, the kind of darkness that has my stomach swallowing my heart. We turned back to Las Animas; my instincts telling me to wait this one out. You can’t get there from here!

I’m uncertain as to how long we waited for that storm to hit, but it was long enough to entertain thoughts of walking to the drive through liquor store just down the ally. With the lightening now behind us, we suited up once again. As I gave my rain suit zipper its final snug up tug, a pick-up pulled into the lot in which we had taken refuge and asked which way we were headed. When I replied, “west,” he urged us to stay put due to a tornado warning in effect; there were sightings just to our south. So, wait we did. You can’t get there from here!

As soon as we caught glimpse of the slightest clearing, we headed west…intended destination…the next town, La Junta, 19 miles west. Meandering through town…a left here a right there…over a bridge and onto the open road… then, bug-eyed by the blackest sky I’d ever seen! A short distance away, I saw my welcome home sign; Hampton Inn…exit, stage left! The storm hit within 15 minutes of our disembarking. Howling, wicked winds with heavy rains as their companions. I surrender! Whatever I think I should be doing, or the way I think I should be going, is not the way it is…damn it! I reached my “saturation” point. Perhaps I can’t get there from here, but I will get there when and how I’m supposed to get there!

As I walked through the lobby, the desk clerk threw her commentary at me; “We sure must have done something to piss Mother Nature off. This weather is crazy and unusual for this area, this time of year.” She informed us that three tornadoes touched down just to the south of us, a hail storm to the north requiring the plows to come out, and a small earthquake within the same area.

OK, so maybe I am on the right path after all!

Set out in the morning on dampened roads with clearing skies; the beauty of surrender... destination; Manitou Springs…a cute little cottage on the river to dump all our baggage, while we hit the back roads, under sunny skies for the rest of the day, returning for a delightful dinner. And that’s just the way it went.

The following afternoon we took a slow, scenic ride into Keystone after spending the morning dealing with a front flat tire. You can’t get there from here! Keystone was a rather quiet, subdued environment, particularly with a motorcycle conference in town. The scenery was worth the trip…the ride up Loveland pass rejuvenated my soul as the energy of the mountains restored my trust in the workings of the Universe. I no longer needed to figure out why things went the way they did. I was home and I CAN get there from here.

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