26 May 2008

June 1, 1992 Happy Memorial Day

I've kept a personal journal for years. This weekend while at my Mothers house taking care of the place while she is in Ireland, I found one of my old notebooks. Faded and weather worn, this thing must have traveled thousands of miles with me in my saddlebags. I found a lot of entries in here that are motorcycle related that I'll have to share in the future, that red notebook must have ridden everywhere with me.

This one was dated June 1, 1992. Right around Memorial day weekend. I was off on one of my endless rides out in Montana in the middle of nowhere and in the middle of the night. I thought I'd share it with you all here. I laughed out loud when I read about my comment in the entry at turning 22 years old. I didn't feel old then, fortunately I don't now either, maybe the bikes have something to do with that.

Ride Well
E.T.

1:28 a.m. That’s what the face on my watch displays as I refill my tank. I’m at a truck stop just east of Billings, Montana. There is a middle aged man on the other side of the gas pump driving a Toyota Corolla with South Dakota plates. I can feel him staring, I try to remain oblivious but I wonder what he is thinking. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice him look at my helmet sitting on the concrete island, and then back at me and my gear. He doesn’t pay any attention to his gas pump. His tank fills up before mine; he cradles the lever and walks inside to pay, leaving me alone underneath the glowing fluorescent lights of the fuel pumps awning. As I top off my tank, I can’t get the last six cents worth of gas in there to make an even $5.00. Damn. I grab my helmet and walk into the building. Halfway there, the South Dakota man and I cross paths again, this time making eye contact. I give him a nod, and he returns a pleasant smirk, good enough. As I get closer to the doors of the truck stop, I see his reflection in the glass doors stop momentarily and take one more look at my GS850 and then back at me. Once again, I pretend that I don’t notice. He gets in his car and drives east.

After paying, I walk back to the bike and start to put my gear back on. I’ve been riding since 3:00 yesterday afternoon and my butt is starting to feel it. It’s time to turn around and start back home. Even though my butt is kind of angry at me right now, the saddle feels inviting, something that I recognize in a foreign place, my own little sanctuary here on my bike. As I get back on the Interstate the wind starts nibbling at my neck again. Montana is cold in the middle of the night this time of the year. I’m guessing 32-35 degrees?

I can’t believe that I am going to be 22 years old next month, I don’t feel old. Alone on the dark Interstate, I’m wondering how many other guys my age choose to ride alone in the middle of nowhere. Most of my friends are probably passed out at some party by now......boring, I'm not bored; I hope they don’t drive home.

The sky is starting to lighten as I descend into Bozeman. I’m cold, can’t feel my hands anymore and I’m hungry. I stop at a Denny’s to warm up and get a bite. There is only one other group of people in the restaurant right now.


Two booths over, a family with a little boy and girl are eating their breakfast. The boy seems fascinated by me. I’m sitting here writing all of this down in my notebook right now as I wait for my eggs. The Mom just told Alex (the boy) to turn around. He does for a second; he looks to be about 5 years old.

I must seem like an oddity, sharing my booth with my cold weather gear sitting on the opposite bench and my helmet on the table. Just as I write this, I notice how filthy the inside of my helmet is, the visor is caked with 600 miles of “Stuff” that has been flying off of the tip of my nose and onto the faceshield. I decide to take the helmet off the table and put it on the bench by my side. My omelet arrives, I put down my pen and pick up the fork, my Suzuki is just outside the window of my booth, out there in the cold, he sits there patiently watching me eat, it looks like he’s begging. Oh yeah, bikes don’t like eggs.

About an hour later, I decide to get back on the road. God it’s hard leaving the warmth of that booth.

495 miles have passed on the Odometer since this morning as I ride through Post Falls, Idaho. The day is almost over. Both of my arms are numb from 24 hours in the saddle. My left boot is resting up on the engine block, and my throttle lock is on, giving my right wrist a break.


A brown Mini-van slowly passes me, in the back seat I can feel somebody watching me, its little Alex from the restaurant! I can’t help but wonder what odyssey his family has been on, while I’ve been off on mine. The parents don’t recognize me, but I’m positive Alex does. I wave with my free throttle hand, and he smiles devilishly, that look tells me he remembers. As they overtake me, I notice that they have Washington plates.

1120 miles down, 30 more to go.


As I proof read the entry on the blog, it struck me that little Alex must be about the same age now that I was then.......Time Flies.

I wonder if Alex rides?

4 comments:

Desert MotoRat said...

I wish I would have had the foresight when I was that age to journal. Most of my escapades from those days are nothing but a blur now.

Earl Thomas said...

Desert motorat; It's always entertaining for me to read my old entries. Some, I don't recall at all and others, like this one, I'm back in the saddle of my Suzuki riding through the cold Montana night.

The more I read my old entries the more motivated I become to write new ones. They become time capsules of a sort. To be read and shared in the future.

irondad said...

Really like the writing style. I, too,thought I was the ultimate man at that age. Decades later, I look at these young men and realize what babies they really are. Which means me, too, by extension. Passing time surely changes perspective, doesn't it?

Earl Thomas said...

Irondad; I've always kind of written my journals extemporaneously, observing the way that it reads on the blog, perhaps I should post more often in this style.

Looking back on my teens and twenties, I'm amazed at how driven I was. Sometimes I wonder if I ever had a kid, whether or not I would let him wander off and do everything that I used to do. I'd be a hypocrite not to let him, but man I was fearless (also read "ignorant") at times.