When Tony and I remodeled the garage back in 2007, one of the things we put up was a large USA road map so we could trace where we had ridden across America. I've always looked forward after taking a big trip to coming home and drawing it out on the map. I did that Sunday for this last big trip and in the process realizing I'd left off Oklahoma on the list of states ridden to, so it's actually 13 states, over 4400 miles in 20 days. I'm kinda running out of marker colors too. I used green for this one -- mainly because I used green for the New England ride and it never intersected with this one. (By the way, the highway signs decorating the garage were all legitimately and legally obtained from dealers who came by them lawfully. And each one is for a road that has some meaning and that I've ridden on.)
It's an interesting perspective to sit back on the bike and look at the map -- following the routes in my mind, seeing the towns and places I rode through on the machine I'm sitting on. When you are out on the road it doesn't look like such a long trip, but when sitting back looking at a map of the US, it sure does. Out on the road, you live in the moment -- looking ahead in anticipation at what's up ahead, not thinking that by the end of it all it will be some 4400 miles. Sitting back reflecting, it's a humbling and at the same time proud moment to think that you've ridden ever inch of that squiggly green, or pink, or red or blue or orange or brown line. Through all those states that most folks have never been to, and that many dismiss as "fly-over" states, or "square shaped states out West."
And on a map, you can't see the great diversity of people, places, climates, scenery, crops, factories, roads and every other element that makes up our country. You can't see the wheat and corn fields that stretch for miles, the giant wind-turbines that gather electricity from the breeze, the sunsets and sunrises over the oceans, the miles of sage and range land, and the pine trees and rushing streams of the mountains. You don't see the people, places, and things that make life such an experience. The map helps me, as I sit on the bike reflecting, to remember it all though.
Some folks think I must be plumb crazy, and have told me to my face. Traveling the back roads by myself, through places I've never been on a motorcycle of all things. I also can't help but also think they are a little jealous too though. My wallet may be slimmer as a result, but I'm far richer for the experience.