"Three days ago I left Sacramento where I said goodbye to someone for what I knew would be the last time.
I've driven thirteen hundred miles, but that's nothing on the distance that my friend traveled yesterday, in the blink of an eye."
Its a very beautiful and moving song in many ways -- but I was struck by that line on Monday as I flew across the country at 30,000 feet and I covered in five hours the distance we traveled in the Corner To Corner trip over the course of 16 days. The pilot noted we were flying over Mt. Rushmore, South Dakota, and I looked down and could see the highway I'd ridden a few weeks ago on the bike far below me.
Here I was, traveling the country in the blink of an eye compared to the pace of a few weeks ago. I hated every minute of that flight. I'd had to take care of some very ugly and stressful personal business that I didn't want to do earlier last week and had been exorcising some demons in my life, so I had treated myself to a few days of R&R after that and was on my way home. My days in the sun had thoroughly relaxed me, yet being cooped up in a flying toothpaste tube had given me such a headache that by the time we'd landed I could do litttle but stumble my way off the plane. I never get that way on the bike.
Time is a precious gift, but being in an airplane is not the kind of time I'd like to spend. As I stared down at US-12 winding through the Montana prairie I longed to be down there rather than flying above it. It was in a way like looking at the map in the garage -- I could "see" where I had been, but I couldn't get there. So I closed my eyes, and imagined the ride back -- the blacktop running underneath me, the wind in my face, the smell of the fields, the sun on my bare arms. While it made the airplane ride pass a bit quicker, it saddened me as well.
So for two days I've been in my office catching up on the mundane and the trivial that piled up, and working on pulling together things for my pending IRS audit, and wondering what my life is going to be like down the road. When I feel my headache coming back, I scroll through my motorcycle ride pictures and imagine a stretch of highway with me riding off down it...until the phone rings, or the e-mail alert tones or the dogs bark.....