Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Riding Daddy's Trail

He was 12 feet tall, a tower of a man, larger than life itself. The resonating boom of his spoken word trembled within me, filling my heart with romance only a 5-year-old girl could know. Thick, coarse hands ingrained with grease and cigarette tar scooped me up and sat me on his grimy, crusty Levied lap. Giggling and cuddling, every ounce of my tiny body was flooded with love, because Daddy was home.

He could do no wrong. He breathed whispers of kisses in my ear, hugging me tightly in his recliner. Wiping away the soggy lip leftovers from my neck, the laughter turned to a quiet hum as I slipped into the serene calm of Daddy's embrace.

"You're my darlin' baby girl and you always will be," he murmured, sending me to my own Baby Girl Heaven.

He had that magic touch, that enormous presence, that loving tenderness that filled my heart and left me always wanting more. To say I loved him would be less than scratching the surface. To say I was deeply in love with him would be on the right track.

I ache with longing as I write these words, 42 years later. I've spent the last 22 years remembering him, reliving and basking in all the memories he left me. No truer love there ever was. No greater loss I've ever known. No greater gift I've ever received than the love he filled me with, as it will sustain me for a lifetime.

The roar of a panhead still rushes my blood, skipping my heart a beat or two. While I know it's not him riding home again, my tiny 5-year-old heart waits for the rumble of his Harley to roll into the driveway. To smell his leather jacket, pull his boots from his tired feet, crush my tender cheeks into his worn Pendleton would be all the Nirvana I could hope for.

Perhaps it is in our blood, this sense of adventure, to mount my pony and ride like the Native American people from which we descended. Perhaps it's nothing but leftover wanderlust, breathed in from his skin while cuddling him years ago. My father found something on those roads. Without knowing, he left me with a legacy to seek the trail he blazed and find my own soul on the ribbon of asphalt that lie ahead. I have no preconceived notion of what I should find, nor am I looking for anything in particular. What exists out there may be just pavement, but whatever it is I mean to find out for myself. It can't be found from a steel cage on four wheels and it can be found in my own living room. When my soul connects to my motorcycle that connects to the road that I'm intended to ride, I'll be on my way.

I'm coming Daddy, I'm coming.

My Parents, deeply in love.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Boldly Riding Life

We climbed the twisties of the Ortega Highway from Lake Elsinore to San Juan Capistrano and I felt my pulse begin to race. I could feel the heat from the pavement on my cheeks as we leaned into a deep turn, as the thrill rolled up my spine. I thought of my daughter. I wondered what would happen to her if I died today.

Another blind curve and the sports car in the opposing lane flies around towards us, crossing blatantly over the double yellow into our lane. Highway reacts, without hesitation, and we miss him by less than a foot. Blackbird winds out around the next turn as Highway drops her down a gear to grab some more power.

We roll side to side with the bends, flying at 75 mph on a road rated for 30. Fortunately, this Sunday afternoon our lane is empty heading west. It seems the traffic is heading back into the valley, away from the coast, out of our way.

Fear creeps up my groin, attempting to settle in the pit of my stomach. I force it out with thrill, envisioning a battle within me, with the excitement physically squeezing the fear down and out. There's no place for fear on the back of any motorcycle. If you can't enjoy it, you don't belong there. Exhilaration fills every pore in my body as I drink in my first breath of freedom.

I don't want to play it safe, I want to feel the thrill. I've been playing it safe for so long. I want to feel excitement, I want to tempt fate, I want to push to my limits and breathe in abandon. I have no desire to die, today or any day; on the contrary. I want to live.

The road straightens out and we momentarily catch our breath. I think about my 22-year-old daughter again and how sad she would be if I died. In that moment, I let her go. To live my own life I have to let her live her own. I know she wants me to be happy. Since the divorce, she's been so hurt and lost. I'm glad she's found comfort in her fiance and her friends. I hope that one day she'll understand that I'm suffocating under the strain of playing life safe. I pray that if I die, she'll forgive me and understand that this is how I want to live.

When my father died at the age of 50 I was furious with him. I felt cheated. I didn't understand how he felt. Not until now, in this moment, in the Ortegas.

I remember that Jimi Hendrix said, "I'm the one that has to die when it's time for me to die, so let me live my life, the way I want to." I think of my daughter one last time, smile and pray she understands as I see the next round of twisties ahead. Leaning forward I smack Highway's leg, my indication to go faster, as fast as he fucking can.

I don't want to be afraid to live anymore. I refuse to be afraid to love and be hurt, be afraid to be honest about who I am and what I think and feel. I want to ride with Highway, taking turns at breakneck speeds. If we go down, we're going down together, living the way we want to live, the way we dreamed of living. I understand my Daddy now and admire his courage to break the rules set by others and live his life for himself.

I long to drop my helmet, my gloves, my boots and armored jacket. I want to ride naked, as fast as the bike will take me. I want to swallow the air forced in my lungs at 110 mph and gasp for the laughter the erupts from my soul. It's time to take my life back, be bold, be honest, be alive.

This is the only life I get! No one, not even my daughter, has the right to take that away from me. I know she doesn't want to, not really. She's just afraid. I have to set the example to live, and live right now, for herself, as I live for myself. As for the rest of you, you have your life to live, so get busy living it, and let me live mine.

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Don't Over Think

Deep in the twisties of the San Jacinto Mountains, Highways Honda ST, lovingly named Blackbird, screams deftly in Highway's grip. We roll from side to side, leaning into the turns, gaining momentum with every bend.

We had taken a short overnighter to Palm Desert just as soon as our wedding guests went home. The drive into the desert was miserable in the excruciating 103 degree heat, crawling behind inept motorists who traveled mountain roads down to the desert floor. Now leaving the next morning, it was a biker-couple-honeymooner's dream come true. Nearly 1 hour of mountain roads virtually car-free.

I marveled at the gift of open roads prime for a good shredding. Back and forth, gripping with my legs, my light touch gracing Highway's hips, leaning forward slightly brushing my torso to his with no weight or pressure, I forced my center of gravity into the seat of the bike. My goal is to mimic his movements, exactly, without leaning into him for support. I worked my core to meet his specifications, copy every movement without draining him of any strength, as I want him to pour all he has into the ride.

DOT. The back of his helmet stares me in the face. I focus on the helmet in the tighter turns, the ones that need me to relax, feel the bike, feel the man, be the bike, be the man, don't think. We are one thing, one unit. The energy vibrates through all of us, equally, the man, the woman, the machine. DOT. Don't Over Think. Be, feel, ride.

Often times my head works on me from the backseat. I worry about things I can't change, people who I can't help, problems I'd like to solve. I catch the glance of my reminder, DOT, and remember, Don't Over Think. I'm riding! Be in the moment. Live now, not later. Put my mind here and now, feeling the wind, the sun, the ride.

During lane splitting, I lean back in the seat, sitting as still as possible. DOT. I don't think. I focus on Highway as he glides Blackbird between the semis and mindless motorists. Knowing that thinking could get us both killed, I just don't think.

I wish I could take the lesson through life, stepping off the bike and back into reality. Don't Over Think. Just live. Be myself. Don't Over Think. Don't worry. Don't fret. Don't Over Think. Enjoy the day. Just ride.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Finally Going Places

When I met him, I told Highway of the many places I wanted to go. All of the things I wanted to see seemed a million miles away, as I had been tied down for so, so long. I had little hope that he would deliver, as all of the men in my life seemed to make big promises, while none had ever followed through.

Being married for 15 years to my ex-pussy, I was miserable. When we met, on our second date, I spoke to him of places I wanted to travel. I remember distinctly discussing Seattle and the Grand Canyon. Later in our relationship, after mentioning this again, he promised we would go one day, perhaps on a family vacation. He had a son, age 7 and I had a daughter, age 6. With the children becoming fast friends, the family unit seemed to seal itself without any effort on my part. Who was I to put my desires before that of this sudden family unit? As the years passed, 15 long years, we never traveled anywhere, ever. No family vacations, unless you count 3 days one summer in Laughlin, NV with two bickering preteens. Some vacation.

The ex-pussy was a "Promiser". He told me what I wanted to hear, always dangling the carrot just out of my reach. He did this to manipulate me, to train me, to squeeze every last bit of hope out of me until I had no fight left. It took me far too long to realize those promises would never be fulfilled. Excuses seemed plentiful, while reasons to fulfill my dreams seemed sparse. Who was I to want for anything? On the family totem pole, I was at the bottom, buried deep, deep in the land.

When his son had long stopped coming to visit and my daughter had been out of the home for two years, I woke up one day and realized that everything that came out of his mouth was a lie. Furious with myself for being fooled, it took all I had in me to admit I'd been duped and realize escape was imperative.

And escape is just what I did.

Then came Highway. Within weeks of beginning of our love affair, we began seeing the world. It began close to home, spread to outlying states, and eventually cross country to the East, and out into the Pacific to the West. In one year we had seen Manhattan, Santa Fe, Sedona, San Diego, Las Vegas, Denver, Phoenix, Waikiki, Seattle, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon. We wasted no time, learned how to travel together well, and realized we both had an insatiable thirst to see more.

Highway is a "Deliverer". If he says it will happen, it does, and quickly. Why wait to fulfill my desires? He wants to see me happy now, today. He's not interested in manipulating my behavior with promises of future rewards. And I feel the same way for him. Nothing brings me more joy than his laughter; nothing. We've grown to appreciate the wonderful feeling of seeing each other happy, and knowing we help each other fulfill our dreams.

Traveling is our dream. Not just his, not just mine, but ours.

Motorcycling is the only way to do it for us. Motorcycling together has become a dream come true, for us both. In every way, Highway delivers all that I've ever wanted, hoped for, dreamed of. Who am I to want, hope, and dream?

I'm Sash, goddammit. And I deserve to be happy.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

San Diego to Seattle - Day 11 - Return

Lone Pine, CA is an old western town where western movies from the 30's, 40's and 50's were filmed. Some of the best western stars spent time there, Roy Rogers, John Wayne, Randolph Scott, shooting scenes against the dramatic backdrop of the Alabama Hills. Just north of Lone Pine is a lost, little government installation known as the Japanese Relocation Center, Manzanar. I had first heard of Manzanar at 13 and was so filled with disillusionment and disgust I was sent home from school sobbing. At the beginning of this trip I had mentioned to Highway I'd like to go there someday. As usual, he managed to make that happen, even quicker than I'd expected.

Rolling into the facility I was already fighting my anger and tears. When Highway pulled up to the sign at the entrance to photograph his ST, I asked him to turn towards me first, and took my own shot. As we mounted up, he mentioned he had family who were here during the interment from 1942 through 1944, and his cousin was born here. My weeping rolled back to angry sobs as I pulled my helmet off in the parking lot, wiping my face with my bandana.

Touring the facility with my Japanese American husband was gut wrenching. Highway is a Nisei, a second generation Japanese American, which is confusing, because he was the first in his Japanese family born in the U.S. The idea he would be imprisoned here made me furious. It all seemed so familiar a feeling as I thought of my family's history as American Indians, and their interment as well. My Great Great Grandmother was 7 when the Army swept through their village and marched them to camp, imprisoning her family, with many others, in horse corrals for the winter. Then the tribes were marched 4 states along The Trail of Tears. She was 9 years old when she arrived. Less than half of the original tribe remained.

Leaving along the desolate Hwy 395 the anger ate away at me for miles. Had any of the prisoners escaped from Manzanar, where would they go? Out here, in this barren fucking desert, to wander, and for how long? The only town for miles was Lone Pine, and here, while American Citizens were imprisoned right up the road, western stars were being regaled as heroes. I began to seethe at the irony.

Before Highway, my life was desert stark, empty, barren and lonely. I could break away from the pitiful existence, but to where would I escape? Lonely and married seemed better than lonely and alone. Pretending to be loved seemed better than the reality of being unloved. My marriage, my family, my life, with the exception of my daughter, was my Manzanar. Buildings stood, and if you didn't look really close, you couldn't see how painful it all was. Once my daughter found something for herself, the tumbleweeds rolled in and I was standing alone, imprisoned, empty handed and empty hearted.

I had to run.

Out into the desert I went, rolling along Hwy 395 angrily. I hated the other drivers in cars with passengers and air conditioning, because I wanted those comforts, but was met with only sand and sun. Tears exploded from my eyes until I found the machine between my legs, delivering me from my past. Expertly maneuvered by Highway, my deliverer, we swiftly weaved between the cars and semis, taking danger at every curve, to escape the prison that had been our homes.

San Diego was beautiful when we arrived that evening, a stark contrast from the desert roads. Bustling streets lined with high rises, horns beeping, folks yelling, music blaring, I wrapped my arms tightly around Highway and was so grateful to be home.

Wherever I roam, if I'm with Highway, I'm always home.

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Angry Highway 395

Highway 395 California
Hwy 395 through the Mojave Desert is not the worst place to be. . . I guess. Any day riding is a good day. Truly. Topping out at 100 degrees was a mild day, so I was grateful we were cruising through in early September. Piling up behind 3 semis and 3 cars, the dreaded sign approaches; No Passing Zone - Next 15 Miles. You've got to be fucking me right now.

Because of the numerous dips in the road, passing would be tricky, damn near impossible, along this stretch. Not to say that we never pass on a double yellow. We have, and we will again, when Highway can see far enough ahead to gauge the distance along with the power of the ST. But today, in this particular stretch, the dips made it unsafe.

We tooled along in the desert sun at 40-fucking-5 mph. No shit. 40-fucking-5. I could spit nails. The heat was beginning to irritate me as my wet vest was not feeling so wet anymore. Stuck between Boron and Adelanto, with nothing to look at but lonesome tumbleweeds and this asshole's bumper, I began to seethe.

California Highway 395
Then came the promise of freedom. A short passing lane, about a mile long, appeared before us. The semis all moved over, graciously, and I sighed with relief. Then the white-shoe-looking-motherfucking-car stayed in the #1 lane, hugging the double yellow. He miserably passes semi #1, barely passes semi #2, then falls in behind semi #3 as the passing lane disappears.

You fucking cocksucker. You stupid cocksucker! If you couldn't pass them all in your god damned shoe car, why did you stay in the #1 lane?

I was furious! We rode another 10-hot-fucking miles behind this cocksucker as I planned my revenge. I had decided his (and my) fate. As soon as we passed him, as I'm sure we eventually would, I would leap from the bike and plant myself of his windshield, hopefully destroying it, like a crash test dummy. Then, when he stopped his car, I would beat him to death.

Hwy 395 California
My temper flared as the vulgarities spewed from my bright, red lips. My heart pumped, until finally a second lane opened, then the beating became so loud I couldn't even hear my own screaming.

We passed him, swiftly, as Highway anticipated my hostile explosion. I waved both fingers, leaning off the side of the bike furiously, screaming out of my raised visor. Beating my arm in the "Up your ass!" motion, I cussed as we passed Ugly-shoe-car. The guy behind the wheel looked startled, then terrified, as his pasty white face grew even whiter with my rage. His wife clutched her chest as I heaved vulgarities towards them with venom.

Before I knew it, the moment was over. Highway had pulled the throttle, and off we flew up the road, weaving in and out of traffic for the next 20 miles. When we stopped at the next light, Highway opened his visor, leaning back, patting my leg and smiling at me.

"I figured if that cocksucker couldn't ball up enough to press the fucking accelerator, he wouldn't ball up to get out of the car to get an ass kicking from a woman!" I screamed.

Highway continued to pat my leg and smile. All in the day of the life of being my guy.

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Friday, September 7, 2012

San Diego to Seattle - Day 10 - Returning

I knew three things about our ride leaving Murphys. The first was our destination, Lone Pine. I had no idea where Lone Pine was, nor had I ever been through this part of California. The second thing I knew was that we would go through Yosemite National Park. I've never been anywhere near Yosemite, so I had no idea what was ahead. Nor did I care. I didn't need to look at a map, because I assumed Highway knew where we were headed. Having heard of Yosemite, I had a few ideas about the park; beautiful, bears, Half Dome, trees. . . that's really about it. Third, I knew it was about 320 miles. At this point, that sounded excellent to me!

I was open. My mind, my heart, my expectations were all as open as the road.

The roads were pretty open and we jumped on Hwy 4 to Angel's Camp, then Hwy 49 to Hwy 120, near the Don Pedro Reservoir. The 120 is usually pretty crowded with cars, but going through right after school has started minimized the tourists significantly.
Iron Horse Saloon
We stopped in Groveland for lunch at Iron Door Saloon, the oldest saloon in California. Such a cool place, with dollar bills and mining implements hanging from the ceiling, stuffed coyotes, a huge bison head mounted on the wall and the best split pea soup I've ever had. It seems everything is better when I'm riding.

Another 20 miles and we reached the entrance to Yosemite. We pulled into the rest area for a quick photo, meeting fellow riders Jim and Barb at the stop. We talked bikes and rides and adventures like old friends. One of the beautiful things about the biking community is that most riders treat other riders like this. Old friends, kinsmen, in a way, as we all see the world through special bug-splattered glasses. The road is clogged with cars, but it is truly owned by the riders, who appreciate all that it has to offer.

Yosemite National Park
Saying our goodbyes, we rolled into Yosemite and I started Bear Patrol. I was so enthused about the chances of seeing a bear and being on a vehicle that would get me away from danger at the same time!

I announced to Highway that I would be on Bear Patrol and if I yelled "BEAR" he was to gun it. He simply laughed at me, finding my humor intoxicating. We giggled through the park making jokes about pranks we could play wearing a bear suit around these parts.

Reaching the stony area of the park, I began to see landscape I've never been privy to. So stark and beautiful, so cold, yet so intriguing one must gasp with awe. We found a turnout crowded with folks, all donning high-end SLR cameras with tripods, so we turned in.

Removing my helmet, the rush of cold wind blew past me and I felt on top of the world. Being nearly 10,000 feet in elevation, and being such a different terrain, this area of the park had a certain unearthly feeling.

Half Dome Yosemite Highway Sash
We saw Half Dome in the distance and a rush came over me instantly. Highway had brought me to another place that was on my "To See" list, this time without even knowing. I've shared with him some destinations I'd like to go to, but this is one I've kept inside. Yet, he seems to know my heart and take me all of the places I've ever dreamed of seeing. Traveling with Highway, I don't need to plan. I just need to sit back and enjoy, because the world is such an amazing place, one only needs to get out and see it.

As we rolled out of the park toward Mono Lake, I thought of all of the roads I still have to travel. As we started down the 395 to Lone Pine, I took in the sights of today's road, and dreamed of the many roads still to come for Highway and me.
Half Dome Yosemite
Yosemite National Park, Half Dome in the distance

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

San Diego to Seattle - Day 9 - Returning

Leaving Medford, sunny skies and tolerable temperatures appeared to be on the horizon. Shortly before crossing the border into California a large mountain range required crossing. Climbing to over 4,200 feet, the ride down the other side was a breeze. Winding around light traffic, hugging the turns, I sat back to enjoy the scenery. Highway seemed in the zone; focused and adeptly maneuvering the machine up the road.

Once we crossed into California, another mountain range lie before us. Pleased to be back in our home state, I relaxed on the back seat, nibbling almonds, sipping water and taking photos on our pleasant ride. Running into a bit of roadwork, with the lanes narrowing into one, Highway worked to maintain a safe posture, slowly following semis up the range. Frustration began to build inside of me, yet once the road opened up, Highway expertly maneuvered around the obstacles the day provided.

The northernmost part of California holds vast valleys of farmland, open pastures of roaming cattle and horses, with skies so big I nearly felt insignificant. Passing the tiny towns, we blew along the Interstate as a tumbleweed in a breeze. Noticing the engine beginning to labor again, I realized that open pastures lie behind us as we entered into the Shasta-Trinity mountains.

I was filled with anticipation to reach Lake Shasta for an opportunity to take extraordinary photos. As we passed Mt. Shasta, I was disappointed with the haze, blocking my view just enough to ruin a good shot. My anticipation grew, longing for breathtaking photos to show my friends of the lake that lie ahead.

Again, I leaned back, nibbling my almonds, awaiting the lake. Then I smelled it. Smoke. Smoke certainly from a forest fire. Leaning forward to look over Highway's shoulder, I saw the plume from the far-off blaze wafting through the mountain range.

"This better not ruin my photos of the lake," I muttered to myself selfishly.

More roadwork slowed us down, and then again, even more. The dangers of roadwork are not just slow vehicles and distracted drivers. The road itself becomes highly dangerous for the motorcyclist. Grooves in the road will send the bike off balance with the tiniest flick of the wheel, gravel will send it sailing uncontrollable, and unavoidable road debris will topple even an experiences rider. All rides require skill, but traveling at high speeds among all of these challenges requires real expertise. But riding with Highway, I never worry.

An enormous amount of trust is required by a passenger. When I ride in the backseat, I can only see the road before us if Highway leans the bike or if I lean forward to look over his shoulder, as his helmet always blocks my view. Technically, I ride completely blind. This requires a great deal of body awareness, to feel his lean, to feel him tighten his core with concern, to sense which way he will turn next. If I let fear grip me, ever, I may make a mistake that will cost both of our lives. While I have no ability to protect us, I have every opportunity to harm us, with a jerk, a scream, a simple lean the wrong way at the wrong time. My job on the back is to trust, feel him, be still and hold on, every mile, every minute, every time.

Highway maneuvered beautifully, yet again, through the treacherous conditions created by roadwork and circumstance. To my surprise, the smoke thickened and I began to notice the great amount of fire crews we passed.

"How big is that fire?" I wondered.

Coming closer to the lake, I saw singed trees on the side of the road. I tapped Highway, motioning to the trees. He nodded. I had forgotten he can see better than I can, and he could see what lie ahead.

Horrified, my eyes set upon the charred remains of the recent fire. Peering over Highway's shoulder, the thickness of the smoke began to frighten me.

"Where is that fire? Are we safe?"

The fear began to grip my heart as tightly as I gripped my husband. I could not tell him I was scared, but he knew. Tears filled my eyes as we passed thousands of acres of burnt forest. Sad and afraid, I did my best to click photos while gripping his waist.

The trust that I have for Highway settled in my heart, reminding me that no matter what lies ahead, he's taking good care of me. I know that with him I'm always safe. He won't let anyone, or anything hurt me. He would do whatever is required to protect me, and I'm never alone.

My heart eased as we made our way through the rest of the forest. Delivering us to Redding safely, we gorged ourselves on crispy tacos to fuel up for the remaining ride.

As much as I try to be fearless, sometimes I lose my nerve. Just touching Highway always reminds me I'm safe, because of him.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

San Diego to Seattle - Day 8 - Returning

"This will be the last time I see my Dad," Highway said as he straddled the bike in front of his father's home. He had just said his final goodbyes to his cancer-ridden Dad.

Leaving Seattle under moist, gray skies, the 50 degrees painfully cut through my layers of clothing, leaving me feeling naked and raw. Knowing the pain my husband was feeling, I sobbed uncontrollably in the privacy of my helmet, behind my bandana-covered face, until somewhere south of Tacoma. Choking on my sobs, I felt my heart break for these two men, torn apart by the selfishness of others years ago, kept apart by the selfishness of others now.

Now it was clear. The chasm has become too far to bridge.

Highway rode stoically, like the machine we were mounted upon, for over 75 miles. He didn't make one unnecessary movement, look up from the road, relax his shoulders, nor gaze about. He was a machine, doing what had to be done. He had decided that this would be his last trip here. Leaving meant the end of the relationship he had always longed for. Leaving meant the end of trying to retrieve what had been stolen from him so long ago.

The clouds would not relent to the sun. The cold cut through my layers of jacket, hoodie, bandana, helmet, Tshirt, scarf, leggings, jeans, gloves, socks and boots. The gray road and the gray skies stretched out before us, unyielding to our suffering, with no end in sight.

I didn't want Highway to know I had been crying, so I kept my body from his as much as I could until I was done. The motorcycle is so intimate. Words are not needed to show feelings between rider and passenger. There are so many other ways to share oneself.

After regaining myself I placed my hands on his hips and wondered how he was feeling. It hit me then; he was only wearing his vented, summer jacket. He had not donned his hoodie underneath! He must be freezing!

I motioned for him to pull over at the rest stop.

"Will you please put your hoodie on for me?" I asked him sweetly.

"Yes," he quietly replied.

I didn't want to push him, assuming he was doing his best to contain his feelings. Going into the Ladie's Room I was greeted with a hand dryer, which I embraced for a few minutes to warm my frozen body.

Heading back to the bike, Highway and I enjoyed a brief, meaningless conversation about the weather and places to eat in Portland.

"I just want to get to Portland," I told myself. "Once we get to Portland, this will all be behind us."

The skies relented just north of Portland, becoming virtually cloudless in moments as we crossed the Columbia River.

"Fuck you Washington!" I shouted as we approached the bridge. "Fuck you!"

Crossing the bridge, we both left it all behind. Happily in love, we chowed on Indian food-truck grub and rolled about Portland a bit, before reentering Interstate 5 southbound.

Being together, we were already home.

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Sunday, September 2, 2012

San Diego to Seattle - Day 4

From Medford to Seattle, the last leg of our trip, was really a pretty boring ride, all things given. But it was the most miles we covered in one day. 446 miles to travel in one day was a big hunk of highway to bite off. And that's just what it was; all highway. I5 leading out of Medford heads due north on a wide stretch that only bottlenecks in one place, Portland. So for the most part, the ride was smooth sailing, except for Portland.

When we approached the south end of the city, traffic was stopped. We actually lifted our visors, spoke for awhile, as my sweet husband Highway nearly walked the bike for miles, inching forward in the miserable traffic. It turned out to be ana accident, so I assumed the traffic would lessen as we passed. I was wrong.

For over an hour he never complained as we hit one traffic jam after another, bridge after bridge, until we hit Washington. Lane splitting is illegal in Oregon, so the regular procedure I've come to love of riding between cars and blowing through a traffic jam in minutes was out of the question.

We sat, like all of the drivers, while Highway maneuvered a foot at a time along the asphalt. All I could do was sit as still as possible, rub his back when we were stopped, and be patient. I began to gag on the exhaust fumes, barfing off the side of the bike a few times, enduring the sun and poisonous gas.

It was when we hit the border and Highway pushed the motorcycle to it's limits that my admiration for him stretched the limits of my heart. We flew like a bat out of Hell towards our final destination; a hotel bed, a dinner, his father, a 4-day respite. I felt the both of us lean forward for nearly 50 miles as he squeezed back the throttle, chewing up the miles, filled with anticipation.

Just over 170 miles to go from the Oregon/Washington border and we both knew it. We wanted the same thing; to just get there. It was 3:45pm when we arrived in Portland. It was 5pm when we crossed that final bridge, and the desperation filled us both.

I was hungry, tired, and longed to just be still and move no more. But I knew the answer to all of these needs for both of us lie in Seattle. I counted down the miles, refusing to ask to stop again. I sunk myself in and was completely determined to see this thing through. Only a few miles to go.

Highway stopped for at a gas station about 60 miles into Washington.

"Why did you stop? I didn't ask to stop! I'm being so good! Why did you stop?" I pleaded.

"I figured we could both use a break. You need to use the restroom don't you? You haven't asked for hours. I'll get some gas and call my Dad."

He smiled at me. My heart began to overflow.

"You're being so good," he praised, as he patted my arm. "I'm so proud of you."

Beaming, I stumbled to the station like the Tin Man, my legs aching and my knees so stiff, they were nearly unbendable. I'm sure I needed an oil can.

When we rolled into Seattle at 8pm, my relief was only overwhelmed by my pride. I had made it! We had done it! If not for Highway, I wouldn't have even tried. His belief in me and his encouragement and patience brought me to another milestone in my life.

The total 4-day ride was 1,531 miles. I hadn't simply arrived in Seattle. As a long distance passenger, I had arrived.

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About Sash

People call me "Sash" because I'm a former beauty queen in my old home town. My father used to ride in an MC which got me interested in the culture. After my last divorce I said "goodbye" to Susie Homemaker and became the rude biker chick I always felt inside. (Read more...)