August 2nd, 2008

PA Barns

Almost Forgetting the Prime Directive

I've posted before about how Highway signs have a special meaning for me, especially when they connect me to places I've been, places I want to go, and knowing that if I want to, if I follow that sign, I can get back to someplace special.   They also can be a literal crossroads in life at times.   This one is very special to me.  US-89 is the main street of where I grew up in Salt Lake City -- my hometown.  US-12 leads back to Seattle, my home now.  Somewhere in the middle of Montana I can make that decision -- go home or go home.

Mile marker numbers start at 0 on the west and south ends of states, and get larger as you go north or east.  When one is traveling across a state, east to west like we are, you can see how far you have to go just by reading the mile markers.  Montana is a freakingly large state.  When we got onto 1-90 yesterday at Cow Agency, MT, southeast of Billings, after coming up from Sturgis,  the mile markers on I-90 were in the 500s.  And although we didn’t travel much of the Interstate on Friday, we are still in the 100s in Missoula when we got back to I-90.  This state just never ends.
Wile we were sitting at lunch earlier in the day I was contemplating our route and what to do.  We still had many hundreds of miles to get out of Montana, and we had wanted to complete the ride on Sunday.  The more I looked at the map, the more I saw how far we had to go, and more importantly the distance between towns with hotels.  We had a couple of options at this point, neither of which we really liked.  We could stay on I-90 and blast to Idaho and  maybe as far as Spokane, or we could take US-12 and try to get to Lewiston, ID.  Both of those options would involve almost 600 mile days, and we were just barely at 250 miles at that point so we would be riding well into the evening.  We had to make our minds up at Missoula where the roads diverged.
We rode West out of Helena and US-12 merged with I-90 again for 70 miles into Missoula.  As we merged onto the freeway it was hot, and we faced into a strong head wind.  In addition there were lots of trucks, and truck ruts on the road, and more than a few hundred bikers headed east.  Getting buffeted by high winds, dodging 75 mph traffic on an Interstate, and realizing we’d be on this for some time was not a pleasant thought. I remembered as well what has become my “Prime Directive” if you will.  We ride on the road to HAVE a good time, not to MAKE good time.  Yes, we wanted to get Neah Bay on the other corner on Sunday.  But in order to do that we’d have to sacrifice the enjoyment of the road trip itself – which is why we are on it.  I realized then that we could call the kennel, have the dogs stay another day, and finish the ride on Monday since Tony doesn't have to be back at work until Tuesday, and I don't have to be back at work until...well until I want to.  We could stop in Missoula for the night having done 356 miles. We’ll do another 300-400 on Saturday, taking US-12 which we haven’t done and ending up in Washington somewhere, then another 300-400 on Sunday, getting us to the Washington coast  That way on Monday we finish it by riding up to Neah Bay, and then back to Seattle.
I will not have compromised my reason for being on the road, and will have completed -- truly completed -- the Corner To Corner odyseey.
  • Current Mood
    calm calm
PA Barns

The Long And Lonely Road

One of the things I actually like most about riding is the solitude.  When you are on the bike, you are alone with your thoughts, and while you might be traveling with someone or a group, you are all by yourself on the bike, and isolated from your traveling companions for hours at a time -- especially if you choose to ride without communications gear as I do.  Out in the far West the towns are far apart, and the traffic sparse, and at times the sky dominates the horizon and you literally can get lost in time and space -- just enjoying the solitude for it's own sake. 

Like this picture -- riding west on US-12 in the high prairie of eastern Washington.  The sun is shining, the fresh wheat fields just harvested, and the road is my own. 

Got to love it!  Although I'm almost home,  I have to confess as well that as we pulled into Lewiston, Idaho, and passed a junction for US-93 South – which goes south through Idaho, and into Nevada and Arizona, and a road I took back in May on a solo bike trip, I thought, Hmmm, maybe we don’t need to go home after all.
  • Current Mood
    contemplative contemplative