Dave and Diane and Pat and Sam’s Excellent Adventure
©By Sam Taylor
Ever read the old science-fiction story called The Cold Equations? In it, a pilot in a scout ship is dispatched from a mother vessel with just enough fuel to fire its retro-rockets and land safely, delivering to a planet a drug which will save the disease-ravaged world. Unfortunately, a young girl stows away in order to visit her brother, a doctor, who is on the planet already. The girl doesn’t understand that fuel, speed, and trajectory have been calculated to the gram, millisecond, and millimeter, and her added mass will doom the scout ship if it fires its retros with her on board. Only the pilot can land the ship—alone...the mathematics have no feelings...there is only one solution....
Well, when you ship your bike to the other edge of a continent, fly one-way to pick it up, travel across country on a 6,000 mile journey, and have to get back to work on a specific day, you’re talking major Cold Equations. No margin for error, no room for delay. And when you’re traveling with Dave Peterson, who has never met a National Park, Monument, Forest, Stream, or Bush he didn’t like, or intend to photograph, your schedule can indeed get chilly.
The trip began easily enough when Dave, Diane, and Sam’s plane to Las Vegas (to meet a connecting flight to Boston, not to win gas money) was delayed into the year 2000. Since this would cause difficulties in getting to Boston on Friday, when we were scheduled to pick up the bikes in the warehouse, which was—of course—closed on the weekend, we did what any seasoned travelers would do. Working as a team, Dave was put in charge of screaming at the America West agent. Diane was put in charge of carrying all our luggage over to Southwest. Sam, assuming an executive role of policy and administration, scouted out the various airport bars. (In case you’re wondering, Pat—a welcome but last-minute addition to the group—was flying out of SFO and was already on her way to Boston, which was great except she didn’t know where we were going, where the bikes were, our last names, and other assorted minor details.)
Once again, nothing was broken that a judicious application of money couldn’t repair, and somehow we red-eyed our way to a drizzly Boston morning, met up with Pat, hopped a cab out to the warehouse, and found our bikes tanned, rested, and ready to launch us proudly into the
Rain. Now I remember why I left New England. In fact, Geary’s Ale, a Maine microbrew, has a slogan: “available only when the weather sucks” and, yes, it is poured year round. We slogged our way through about 20 minutes of New Hampshire—slogan “Live Free Or Die, except on our toll roads, Sucker”—and on up to visit friends in Portland. On the way we visited Kennebunkport, home of old friends George, Bar, and Millie Bush, the Portland Headlight, a classic New England lighthouse, and a Clam Shack, where the group began it’s love affair with deep-fried foods. These guys could turn the most innocent and nutritious clam into a 1000 calorie gut-bomb. Goodbye, belt!
The next day we set out for Bar Harbor, Maine, situated adjacent to lovely Acadia National Park. On the way, we made the obligatory pilgrimage to L.L. Bean, which is open 24 hours a day 365 days a year and has no locks on its doors. Even the shopping-challenged in the group managed to enjoy this unique retail experience.
The gang experienced its first thunderstorm and torrential downpour just outside of a little diner where we learned two things: one, when it rains, it’s best to go inside, suit up, and ride rather than the other way around, and two, order your fried clams crumbed not battered. At least we got the second lesson right.
What can you say about Bar Harbor? This quaint New England town boasts a fine selection of restaurants, bars, and abundant freezing cold water in which to plunge. Naked. At 11pm. You see, after a liberal application of local libation, the boys in the group decided it would be most appropriate to “dip a toe”, so to speak, in the Atlantic Ocean. One thing led to another and the next thing the girls saw were 3 pale white blurs as the men plunged into Frenchman’s Bay. At least, we think they were the men, because—not to put too fine a point on it—2 minutes of 58 degree water is sort of a universal equalizer. At least the only barnacle scrapes were on toes and shins. Arrggghh—the sea, she be a harsh mistress.
The next day we toured Acadia on a sunny, gorgeous, spectacular day, then had to leave for points west. The Cold Equations reckoned and beckoned. Since it was smack dab in the middle of the Maine riding season—July 29th and 30th—we saw many ecstatic bikers, riding mostly Harleys, Magnas, Maduras, and Viragos, waving ebulliently at us on the way. It was time, though, to leave Maine. We proceeded on.
Into New Hampshire, where the woods are lovely dark, and deep. But we had promises to keep. And miles to go before we sleep. And miles to go before we sleep. I just made that up! No, actually, I stole it from Bobby Frost, and it became something of a mantra to me as the miles unfolded. After obtaining lodging in Gorham, New Hampshire, we took off the saddlebags and headed up the Mt. Washington Auto Road to the top of—you guessed it—Mt. Washington, tallest peak in New England and site of the highest recorded wind speeds in the world. That night we dined on an honest-to-God turkey dinner, which was quite good, and began what would become long experience in what to order for cocktails while on the road. Lesson one: do not expect much from a Marguerita in Gorham, NH, although why Dave ordered a Margy with his Turkey still perplexes me. Perhaps it was because of lesson two, which is best described in dialog:
Tourist (cautious): “Do you serve wine?”
Waitress (indignant): “Certainly.”
Tourist (relieved): “What do you have?”
Waitress (proud): “Oh, we carry several kinds”
Tourist (helpful): “..and they are?”
Waitress (consulting her list): “Let’s see.. We have both White and Red. And Pink.
The next day, we headed across the Connecticut River Valley into Vermont, and boarded a ferry to cross Lake Champlain from Burlington, VT to Plattsburg, NY. While on board, Sam struck up a conversation with a woman in a van with the New York license plate “VULCAN”, who chatted amiably about Star Trek, Captain Kirk, and her past love affairs with Leonard Nimoy and James Doohan, even long after Sam had quietly slipped away....
In keeping with the spacey theme, all four riders were wearing gore-tex riding suits and full face helmets (at this point), and three wore nearly identical grey Aerostiches. So when Sam pulled over near the “Welcome to New York” sign and went into the lovely, dark, and deep woods to do what even aliens have to do, he came out of the woods with his smoked visor down only to surprise and frighten 3 Quebecois teenage girls who’d stopped for a photo opportunity. Sacre Bleu! Guess they don’t see too many bikers up in Montreal. Sam's shouting after them, “Savoir Faire is Everywhere!”, didn’t help.
The group stopped at the Au Sable gorge for a quick look see and photo, where the term ausable (pronounced “awesibble”) was coined to describe anything too excellent to describe otherwise, as in “My, Diane, you’re looking ausable today”, or “Wow, Pat, that double yellow pass was ausable”.
Zipping through the Adirondacks, the group stopped only occasionally to gas up and, even more occasionally, to eat. The women soon decided to take over Food Management when they realized that, if left to the men, Slim Jims, Power Bars, and Diet Pepsi’s would be all the protein, carbohydrates, and fluids they’d be ingesting on the trip. It was thanks to their tutelage, then, that the group managed a lovely picnic lunch on the shores of Saranac Lake.
Soon the skies darkened, and still the evening’s accommodations were just in the conceptual state—no reservations, somewhere in upstate New York. As the afternoon lengthened, and Lake Ontario came into (cloudy) view, we started looking for shelter. On a whim, and somewhat out of desperation, we pulled into what appeared to be a charming Inn right on the water in Fair Haven, NY.
The place turned out to be a cross between the hotel in The Shining and Fawlty Towers. Californians will appreciate that this place made Ferndale's Victorian Village Inn look like it was managed by the staff of the Ritz. Despite lumpy mattresses and a shared bathroom (with—the irony nearly unbearable—Restaurant Management magazines lying on the floor next to the toilet), the warm summer breezes blowing off Little Sodus Bay made the stay there oddly compelling. Culinary note: avoid the Gazpacho (Campbell’s Best) and stick to the burgers.
The next morning, after a marvelously loquacious and toothless old salt wanted to take our pictures for the local Morning Geezer, or whatever the paper was called, and after several so-called locals took twenty minutes to give us some of the worst directions imaginable, we again proceeded on.
After passing by the home of Eastman Kodak, Rochester, NY, we sailed onto the Robert Moses Parkway. Fans of civil engineering (and politics at its rawest) will recall that Robert Moses conceived, designed, engineered, funded, and generally rammed through much of New York’s auto infrastructure. Dave reminded us that Moses, despite his love affair with the car, was an elitist, and built his parkways with low, narrow overpasses to discourage busses from delivering the great unwashed to his and his cronies’ favorite hideaways. The upshot today (because who, after all, takes the bus from the Bronx to Niagara Falls?) is a remarkable lack of Winebagos—and slow traffic—on the lovely, wide, wooded parkways. A perfect place, in other words, for Mr. Sneaky to be waiting in the trees.
The shrill scream of my radar detector nearly burst an eardrum. Instant On Radar (no one ahead to have warned me) and reaction time: insufficient. As I decelerated by the Speed Limit 55 sign, I glanced at my speedometer to see the needle significantly north of 65. Dave in front and Pat behind were doing even better. We were fish in a barrel, and the officer made short work of the 3 of us.
First, kudos to the skilled and well-trained blondes on the trip. Both Pat and Diane exquisitely timed the removal of their helmets, and subsequent shaking of their lovely flaxen trestles, to coincide precisely with the officer’s arrogant arrival. I could tell he was dazzled, even behind his mirrored Ray Bans. I even began to feel a glimmer of hope.
Then, when he walked by my bike, he glanced at the front tire and grumbled, “That’s in unsafe condition”, which was true enough—my RS chews through fronts about every 3-4000 miles, and this one had an increasingly hard 7000 on it. I mumbled something lame about intending to get it replaced at the next dealer (which I knew to be in nearby Mandan, North Dakota).
After checking all our papers, the officer, taking another long stare at the blondes, informed us we were all going to get Unsafe Tire tickets (about as serious as a parking ticket). Dave, whose tires were just fine, immediately protested such. The officer glowered, and said, “oh, so you’d prefer a speeding ticket?”, whereby Dave wisely replied, “Oh. No. Of course not. (pause) But my tire is perfectly safe”, at which point all three of us wrestled him to the ground.
I had lived in the East for years but had never seen Niagara Falls—and I really figured it was no loss. My image was of a tacky, touristy, over-moteled industrial city surrounding a little wooden overlook crammed with Germans and Hoosiers peering over into some pit of water.
So, when we crossed the Canadian border and headed toward the Falls, it was with some surprise that I first felt the mist in the air. I glanced up. Was it raining? When I returned my gaze to the road ahead, I was shocked to see a white mountain of water extending the width of the view permitted by my visor, a mountain churning and thundering in front of me. Wow. Suffice to say that Niagara was a worthy stop, and deserves it’s reputation as a wonder of the world. We proceeded on.
It’s a Long Way to Tobermory
Perhaps the mist of the Falls was an omen. Continuing into Ontario, the skies darkened past even the shade of grey typical of that part of Canada. Like neighbor cities to the south, the outskirts of Toronto are semi-industrial, older suburban, and generally bleak. For us, the next 200 miles may have been the worst of the entire trip. It didn’t help that half of Lake Huron had evaporated into one enormous raincloud that hung over, and poured on, us the rest of that day.
As we soggily pressed north-westward, and the Bruce peninsula (no relation to Pat) became narrower, with Lake Huron to the west and Georgian Bay to the east, we seemed to go through some neat little towns, but I really couldn’t tell. Once, when we stopped for gas in a city with the unlikely name of Guelph, a policeman (was that a Mountie?) pulled up alongside to ask if we had seen anybody suspicious hitchhiking along the road we’d just traversed. I made some crack about Snidely Whiplash, which he didn’t get. The rain intensified.
At the northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula lies the little town of Tobermory, “Scuba Capital of Canada”. No, I am not making this up. There are over 200 shipwrecks just off the shores of this quaint and relatively undiscovered town. If you ever go there, do so in the summer months, and make reservations. Although there are no Americans within 200 miles, and only a handful of Canadian natives, the Germans think Tobermory is zer goot. Also, you must eat at the Grandview Motel, which—though just average as motels go—sports an outstanding restaurant. Actually, I shouldn’t knock the motel, because it had a powerful heater and several huge, wool blankets in which I wrapped my naked hypothermic body upon arrival. As my eyes rolled back in my head, my last thought was of enjoying a stiff Manhattan (rocks) and a decent meal. I was lucky. We arguably had the best dinner of the trip there, and I relished in the fresh lake whitefish and the best wine list we’d seen since San Francisco.
Refreshed, we arose early the next morning to catch the 6:50 am ferry to Manitoulin Island, which is connected to the Canadian north shore by bridge. Due to the sometime fierce conditions on the Lake, we were advised by the deckhands to lash our bikes to the deck. So. T hey tossed us a couple of ropes and got back to their business of coffee and doughnut consumption. I, once and Eagle Scout and always an Eagle Scout, found within skills enabling me to tie down the bike—just as we pulled into Manitoulin.
While I was renewing my Knots Merit Badge, the others spent the hour and a half pleasantly enough in the cafeteria, observing the incredibly calm crossing and looking out the windows for the Edmund Fitzgerald, or some such.
Manitoulin was a pretty little spot, and pretty deserted, too, so we continued on to Espanola (a whacky name for a Canadian town, if you ask me) and picked up the Trans-Canada Highway. The Trans-Canada is Canada's big east-west road, their I-80, and although it may look more like a rural US highway (say, 101 near Healdsburg) it contains all the fine places to eat you might find in Battle Mountain, Nevada. Think Stuckey’s North. Our dining experience in Bruce Mines was enhanced only by the road re-grading process being conducted for the next 40 miles. What’s with the grooves, Canada, eh? The three bikes tank-slapped their way along at an annoying pace.
Back into the states (specifically, Michigan) at Sault Ste. Marie, we continued into the Upper Peninsula (or UP) of Michigan. Though the woods are again, lovely dark and deep, the road is straight, patrolled, and uninteresting, and we were happy to stop in Munising for a good night’s rest. Here we took a break from the rigors of fine dining every night and ordered out for a Pizza. Ever the Californian, and worrying over my ever-expanding bread-basket, I requested a vegetarian pizza. I suspect this caused some panic in Munising, for what I got was a pizza lovingly topped with a jar of green olives. I guess, since they left the pimentos in the olives, they could charge me for the two-item special.
Helmets and Suits
A change was upon the team. Up to this point, we’d been traveling together, eating together, sleeping together and basically telling the same jokes together for 6 days. Out of necessity, and perhaps even a growing fondness, the group was bonding well. I, though, had made plans to go visit an old college buddy in Ely, MN for that night and rejoin the group the following evening in Hibbing, MN. So at this point our tales diverge for about 48 hours.
I left my friends early Thursday morning with the goal of being in Ely by mid-afternoon. On the way I met up with a group of bikers from Georgia. I don’t know what image that may conjure up for most people. In reality, they were a father, 3 sons, a daughter, and a friend, all pilots in their other lives, all on bikes who, every year, left their wives, husbands, sons, daughters, and troubles behind to ride as a family throughout America. I get all misty just thinking about it. They invited me to join them for biscuits and gravy and we traded favorite road tales for over an hour. Marvelous people, a marvelous breakfast.
I continued into Duluth where I intended to stop at the Aerostich factory just to see what I could see. I got a bit turned around and ended up seeing quite a bit of Duluth, which on that glorious summer day near Lake Superior was reminiscent of San Francisco, thanks to some serious hills and a pleasant waterfront. The Aerostich Factory appeared to be closed up, so I headed up the lake shore road and treated myself to a delicious smoked fish plate at one of the numerous places advertising smoked fish. After stretching out on a nearby picnic table for 15 minutes or so of serious thought, I rode on.
It dawned on me that the freedom loving peoples of Minnesota had never passed a helmet law. Those who know me understand that I prefer helmets almost as much as I prefer the freedom to choose. Since I was allowed a choice, I chose to bungee my Arai to the back of the bike and feel the wind in my hair for the last 80 miles or so up a deserted little two-laner on the way to Ely. It was nearly a religious experience.
Religion had nothing to do with what I said when I got off the bike in Ely to discover a busted bungee and no sign of my helmet. After a due diligence mission of about 10 miles back and forth, I rationalized that a get-off at about 60mph had probably done the helmet no good anyway. Somewhere near Birch Lake (one of 10,000) Minnesota lies a nearly new—but probably scarred—Arai Quantum/S. I hope it found a good home.
I had arrived in Ely early and had several hours to kill waiting for my friend. I whiled away the time buying underwear at a surplus store, drinking beer, writing postcards, and—as is my custom—chatting up the local fauna. Ely is an interesting town, on the edge of the Superior National Forest, near Voyageurs National Park, and basically—in winter—one of the coldest places in the United States. In the summer, it serves as an outfitting post for wilderness canoe trips, and as such is a mix of prosperous big-city adventurers and pleasant town-folk happy to take their money. In winter, I’m told, there’s no mix, and the town hunkers down to more than occasional 60 below nights. All told, the folks I met were amiable and helpful (as was true of northern Minnesotans in general) and I enjoyed rendezvousing with my old friend, my liquid dinner in the Portage Bar, and my night’s sleep in an outfitter’s bunkhouse.
The next morning was cold, colder than it had a right to be on August 2nd. I and my newly-freed head rode slowly down to Hibbing, stopping occasionally along the way to pick the icicles out of my nose hair. I rode into the Iron Range, where so much of the US’s iron ore was strip-and-pit mined to be railed down to Duluth, shipped out to the steel factories of the cities along Lake Michigan and beyond.
Along the way, I kept looking for a motorcycle store where I could purchase a new lid. Fact: motorcycling is not as big a sport in northern Minnesota as, say, curling. Consequently, the pickens in the helmet department were mighty slim. I was forced to calculate a route home that would take me through states with no helmet laws (not as hard as you might think), but, no matter how I planned it, I’d need one before I crossed into California.
I arrived in Hibbing, got to know it extremely well, and checked into the Hibbing Days Inn. Time to do the laundry. Normally, I actually enjoy going to a Laundromat on an extended motorcycle trip. Laundromats are strange yet unthreatening places to hang out in little more than your underwear with other people doing the same. This time, sadly, was not the usual rave because the St. Louis County fair was in town and all the carnies had picked that afternoon to wash their one pair of jeans (I should talk). The ensuing conversations revolved around alcohol, money, and whether or not I had any of either to spare. I used the opportunity to unload some Canadian currency I’d accumulated, which lightened my pockets but confused my newfound friends.
Afterwards, I returned to the motel and rewarded myself with an hour of watching a Wild Wild West rerun, a nap, and a half hour of The Three Stooges. Who says motorcycle touring is grueling? It was not long before I heard, outside my window, the welcome rumble, er, buzz and burble, of an ST1100 and an R100. My friends and I were reunited.
Our plan was to stay 2 nights in Hibbing, the first extended stay of the trip. At this point, 8 days out, it was a well-needed break. Dave and Diane had some old friends in town, who were kind enough to invite us over for dinner Friday and Saturday.
Well, as I said, the Carnival was in town. Mmmmmm, cotton candy, corn dogs, cheese curds, and pasties (the latter two being peculiar delicacies of the north woods, the latter one rhyming with patsy, you.). Yessiree, it was a gastronomic extravaganza that Saturday night.
After stuffing ourselves with all the good food on this warm Midwestern evening, we returned to our childhood first in the Bumper Cars and then in the best Carnival ride we’d ever been on, the Bumper Boats. You get in this big tank, and climb aboard a large inner tube fitted with a small outboard, and go to it. The ride operator sort of forgot we were out there, and there we stayed, for nearly 20 minutes. Our base personalities showed through: Diane had it in for this poor kid and kept swamping him with her tube, Pat kept up full ramming speed the entire time, Dave chased his wife around, and I got my thrills spinning around and around as fast as I could. Here are 4 bikers who, not three days before, had been thoroughly drenched, and that’s is exactly how we ended up that highly enjoyable night.
Time to wobble down the road. I neglected to mention that during Saturday day, Pat and I had located a competent Honda dealer who sold me a snowmobile helmet (Snell95, DOT) and both of us a new tire, although it was the first time this dealer had ever seen a BMW rim before. He reassured us both by opining that "Bridgestones come from the factory really well balanced so we didn’t need to balance the tires anyway”. Yeah—that’s it—that’s the ticket.
On our way out of Minnesota we stopped at Itasca State Park, site of the Headwaters of the Mississippi River. The word Itasca, found in the name of this state park, on Winnebago knockoffs, on bottled water, and probably elsewhere, was coined by the discoverer of the headwaters from the Latin, VerITAS CAput, meaning “True Head”. At least that’s what the park signs said, and I'll leave it at that.
The weather became a bit Ingpou as we crossed over into North Dakota. Ingpou is a word I coined meaning “FuckING POUring”, just to prove that the erudition and refinement we continental explorers exude has not changed over the centuries. According to our maps, we passed the tallest man-made structure in North America—a radio tower—but you know, it was so Ingpou that I could barely see it. Stopping in Mayville for lunch, we wolfed down gallons of hot soup, ladle-fuls of gravy, and various meaty concoctions before wringing out our wet stuff and proceeding on.
By this time we were in the High Plains. You could tell by the speedometers, which suddenly read 95, whereas—in New England, for example—they had read 65. We still had miles to go before we slept, but there were no woods, lovely, dark, deep—or otherwise.
First, though, Pat had to run out of gas. Being a Sunday, gas stations in that part of the world—already few and far between—tended to close. The combination of high speeds, high winds, and no gas stations created another set of cold equations. I, however, was delighted. I’d been carrying around a siphon tube for just such an emergency, and was at this point insufferably pleased with my foresight, since the siphon had taken the space normally reserved for a 5th pair of underwear. Oh, they laughed, they called me Krusty—but who was laughing now?
Anyway, I gave Pat a few pints (after she quizzed me on Octane Rating (research or pump?), brand, and HIV status. A beggar, but still a chooser. We all piled into the only open station in that part of the galaxy about 20 miles later and made the owner’s day by buying the most expensive gas we’d yet bought on the trip. Of course, we had yet to return to California.
The day was growing rather long when we pulled into Mandan, North Dakota. That night we consumed one or several gin & tonics (pretty hard to screw them up), the absolute worst Chinese food ever concocted, and proceeded to pass out. See, when you grow up, you can have this much fun, too.
The crew got a late start the next day as Dave had gotten a line (several thousand miles back) on a used OEM Avon front tire. Ever parsimonious, he was bound and determined to bag this pearl of great price. Curious readers can view this rare beauty currently on (traveling) display at 1024 Arlington Rd, El Cerrito CA.
Here, for the first time, we succumbed to another cold equation—there are no Blue Highways in parts of this country that are any better than the superslab. Since we needed to make a little time, we bent—hell, no, we broke—one of our cardinal rules: no interstates. So we droned on out I-90. I can bring myself to say nothing further on this topic.
Suddenly, a miracle: interesting landscape. Near the Theodore Roosevelt National Park (South unit), the ground becomes a series of rather impressive canyons, lightly covered with pale green vegetation, carved into rocks and strata of various hues. We were energized. As we pulled into the park, I instantly became interested in TR, whose presence is felt in this, and each and every National Park, one visits. Allow me the bully pulpit for one moment.
The National Parks of the United States are its crown jewels. Nothing is more valuable, more precious, or more taken for granted than the Parks. Americans also tend to undervalue the political guts it took to establish them, and the Park Service it takes to maintain and protect them. The Parks draw hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world, and though they can become commensurately crowded, there is a reason 10 million Germans have visited Yellowstone: there are no other spots like it on the planet. To say it makes plain business sense to do anything possible to conserve these wonders is as compelling to some as it crass to others, but the fact is that the Parks exploit, in a relatively benign and harmless way, one of the best features of America: its natural, grandiose beauty.
After reflecting upon history in a wonderful, sylvan setting, it was time once again to hit the road. The miles ahead seemed suddenly daunting; not the least because we were forced to backtrack east, on the interstate, for 40 or 50 miles before we could continue south. The flat, dry plains appeared again—perhaps that was it. But no, there was more, and it had to do with the rhythm of the road.
You see, until now, our little band of four had become just that, a band. We knew each other’s pace, our penchants, our peccadilloes. It’s surprising what can happen to individual motorcyclists in just one week. Perhaps it has something to do with the peculiar mix of individualism and just that tiny concern for your fellow biker. No matter, things were to change.
Our next stop was Sturgis, South Dakota, at the time one of the Meccas of Motorcyledom during the Black Hills Rally (more commonly referred to simply as “Sturgis”). Here, each year over 100,000 bikers gather to enjoy their concept of what motorcycling is all about. I could easily digress on a treatise on just what that is, but suffice to say that it is somewhat unique to each person, though it may appear stereotypical to the outsider. For us, seasoned riders who had chosen not to ride Harleys, it was an anthropological mission of sorts.
Here, amongst the 100,000, we were to meet 8 of our friends from the Bay Area who had ridden there more directly, though in separate groups. Wonderful people, all, but their mission was different from ours. Sturgis was their goal; it was just another stop in our journey.
Whither this trip? As I write this, it’s about 3 weeks after our return, and I wistfully realize that the adventure is truly over now. The cadence, the rhythms, the non-routine routines, are only memories, no longer feelings. I am saddened by the loss of that which makes you want to get up early every morning, attack the day, attack the night, consume everything you see (no, I’m not talking about the corn dogs here, though, aw, what the hell?), and I fear how much more I might lose in the days ahead. Like a drug, the effects wear off and leave me wanting another fix real bad, man.