A Motorcycle Bucket List Item is Completed

Why do humans climb mountains? Why do they sail around the world or learn to fly? We have this innate drive to accomplish. Maybe it’s ego or an adrenaline rush. To go boldly where no one has before.

I’ve been motorcycling for more than 50 years, and early on, I never once thought about riding my motorcycle in all of the United States of America. But when I began to seriously tour on two wheels, I realized I was accomplishing just that.

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It was after I rode the Pony Express Trail to California in 2009, and discovered mapping software that would allow me to track the states I had visited that I became conscious of this goal.

My next tour on the Oregon Trail had me planning to ride through states I had not previously visited. And, future tours began to form. My tour to the southeast to ride through states almost caused me to quit riding. Yes, quit riding. It was the most miserable tour. It was 2,400 miles in six days with five days of rain. Miserable. Miserable. Miserable. Not to mention the bee sting in the face at 70 mph on the Interstate next to a semi-tractor and trailer, or the pit bull that charged me when I was taking a photo of entering the fine state of Georgia. Or the chain-reaction accident that occurred right in front of me as I was attempting to exit the interstate in Augusta, Georgia. Miserable.

What I was left with was the northeast. Ten states that needed some color. After that miserable southeast tour, it took me a while to actually plan the northeast ride—a couple of years in fact. But, the day finally came, and I set off to accomplish something that few motorcyclists do—to ride in all of the lower 48 states. I packed my Suzuki V-Strom 650, and headed out.

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Unlike my southeast tour, I could not have asked for better weather. Blue skies and mild temperatures were abundant as I wound my way through Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and into Connecticut. I managed to take a wrong turn or two. I took the wrong interstate in Connecticut found myself in Massachusetts unexpectedly and had to back track to cut over to Rhode Island. I didn’t want to leave that little state out of this ride. Then back north around Boston into New Hampshire and Maine—the turn towards home point. All good roads.

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Riding back across Maine and New Hampshire, I was in awe of the landscape. Beautiful country with fun twisty roads running along rivers and streams around mountains. I met up with a friend who gave me a guided tour through her part of New Hampshire. Riding a scenic byway, we headed for lunch, and then for the apex of my ride—Vermont, my 48th state.

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What was it like riding across the state line into Vermont? Was it like standing atop the mountain just climbed? Like finishing a marathon? Upon my return home, my wife asked me this: “Was it like the euphoria when you finished the Pony Express Trail or the Oregon Trail?”

In previous rides, there was something more than just the ride. I was following history attempting to imagine the experience of those travelers 150 years ago, travelling by horse and wagon. This ride was … well, just a ride to fill in states. It is an accomplishment that few do, but with a few days to think about this bucket list item being checked off, I can say it has given me some closure.

I’m ready to move on to the next adventure … whatever that might be.

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See you on the highway.

Brent

A Walk on the Little Miami Rec Trail

Spring has arrived. At least the weather finally says so.

Trees are budding out. Wild flowers are popping up. Trillium is nearly ready to bloom, and it’s all along the Little Miami Scenic River and its partner, the Little Miami Recreational Trail.

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See you on the highway.

Brent

A Reporter’s Notebook

What would we do without notebooks—the kind you actually write in?

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I often wonder if they are becoming obsolete. Everything is digital today or soon will be, and that is a detriment of our society, our culture.

The latest book I am reading is Digital Storytelling. It’s about “capturing lives and creating community.” Thousands of years ago, before there was a written language, we had oral storytelling. Even our religious books—the Bible, the Quran, etc., began as oral histories. Even what is considered the oldest story in the world, the story of Gilgamesh, from between the land of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, a thousand years older than the bible, was an oral story before it was recorded on baked clay tablets in cuneiform characters—a very ancient “notebook.”

And now? We have digital storytelling. Digital cameras. Digital audio recorders. Computers, laptops and iPads. What has happened to the good old pencil and paper?

Here’s what a notebook does for me. It slows me down to gather my thoughts, and then to put them on paper. Impulsive thoughts may come and go, but they are always self critiqued. That’s when a good eraser comes in or lining out that sentence or paragraph.

There is a drawback, a negative to good old fashioned pen and paper. The difficulty is coming back to something I wrote sometime ago and trying to decipher my hand writing! When it’s no longer fresh in my mind, that scribbling can be terribly hard to read. Maybe I should have paid more attention to penmanship in grade school.

On the other hand, the benefits of a notebook are portability and reliability. It takes up very little space. A notebook operates consistently even if the user does not. It can be easily carried in a pocket, purse camera gear bag, briefcase or backpack. It requires no electricity nor a wireless connection. And perhaps the most profound use of a pen and notebook is that it is capable or recording the deepest thoughts of the user, if the user is willing to reveal themselves.

So, how did this post come to be? I wrote it in a notebook, and then transcribed it on the computer. The notebook came first. The computer allowed me to  publish it.

A good old-fashioned notebook! Don’t leave home without it.

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See you on the highway.

Brent

End note: If you have never read the story of Gilgamesh, do yourself a favor and visit your library. It is a wonderful piece of ancient literature, full of friendship, love and tragedy. Enough so that one episode of Star Trek Next Generation was wrapped around this ancient story, “Darmok” Season 5, Episode 2. It first aired September 28, 1991.