Saturday, July 21, 2012

Watching the world slide by

When I was a young boy, my parents gave me one of the greatest gifts of my life. My father was a corporate VP for a Co-op poultry company, and constantly would have to travel to meet with growers and processors across the country. Every Summer, rather than fly to these destinations, he would hitch up our 23 ft. Open Road travel trailer and with my mother as navigator, they introduced my brother, sister and I, to America. 

My father loved to drive and often completed amazingly long drives in a day. My mother would read to us from 'Names on the Land' by George Stewart, giving us the history and flavor of the sights and towns we drove through. As I watched the world slide past the window of our car, my imagination ran wild. I contemplated what it was like to live there, to explore the forests, and get to eat or stop at all of the brightly lit neon signs that would lure passers by to restaurants and tourist traps. I would see chimneys, standing in the middle of plowed fields, houses sitting abandon and children playing in exciting looking playgrounds. This was when I began to draw anything that came to mind and become lost in my own imagination.

My father was always on a tight schedule, so often the only stops were to eat, gas up or see something of great historical importance. Each night after we “made camp” my brother and I would "borrow" some quarters and go to the recreation hall or the fire pit of the trailer parks we stayed at. These were our playgrounds, our social clubs. There, we gathered with other traveling kids, all of us exploring the countryside with our parents. We made fast friends, just for a night, maybe two, and learned what we had in common. We would play pool and talk about what we had seen, where else we should visit. So many wonderful places, so many nice people. 

State and National Parks were and still are my favorites, they were spectacular. They were the 'treasure' of every trip. Nature and the unspoiled beauty. The rangers were our friends, always happy to talk, explain and help us explore, help us appreciate. 

By the time I was 14, I had seen every State in the U.S. buy car and trailer, with the exception of Hawaii and Alaska. 

Edith and I headed to Laughlin River run 1994.
A change of clothes, water and lots of tools and spare parts.
While I was in college, my father retired and my parents purchased a large motorhome. My mother loved to prepare food while they drove, or catch a nap on the bed in transit. They drove from state to state, visiting my siblings and I. It was amazing to watch them fall in love all over again, like a couple of teenagers traveling the roads, exploring, and seeing America, without a schedule.

After I graduated from college and secured my first career job as an Art Director, I bought my first Harley. A beat up 72’ Shovelhead I named Edith. I rebuilt her 3 times over the course of the next 5 years and 60,000+ miles. I quickly realized this was much more than just a motorcycle. I met wonderful people I could not have met any other way, saw nooks and cranny's of the country that I had driven past in those early car bound years. I stopped when I wanted to, talked to starangers and made wonderful new friends.

My first cross country putt was to Sturgis SD. for the Motorcycle Rally. I planned to go with 15 other friends, that reduced to 5, then 3 and when the time came to leave, I ended up heading out alone. Very alone, or so I thought.

Remembering when she had
a  Harley Davidson Bicycle as a child.
It was amazing, I faced my fears, had great adventures and bonded with myself, nature and my God. You are never alone on a motorcycle, especially going to Sturgis. I met new people from all over the world, made friends that have lasted my lifetime and felt a freedom that only a motorcycle can bring. 

One evening, after coming down off the Teton pass highway from Jackson Hole, I called my parents. They were traveling in their motorhome, visiting friends in Idaho just a few hundred miles away. I excitedly told them about my adventures and the places I had re-visited from my youth. They listened with delight as I described my travels. 

At our family Ranch in Clovis CA.
My mother makes my Dad ride "bitch"

Every August I ride for 3 weeks, no real schedule, I pick a destination, some roads and go. Edith was stolen and I now have a newer FLH. My parents have both passed and often I will talk to them as I ride, sharing with them, thanking them. Traveling is in my blood, it’s part of what made me an artist. The beauty I see, drives my soul and the freedom I feel when I ride, keeps me sane. In a world of walls, signs, computers and deadlines the windowless view from my bike cleanses me of all the pressure, all the restrictions, and allows me to once again become the facinated child traveling across a landscape letting my imagination run wild.


  1. You took me away with this writing. I now know a bit more of you other than you looking for gas for me! I am very much looking forward to reading more stories, past and present. Great post! BTW: Welcome to the Blogger world

    1. Thanks Kathy, coming from someone who has done this so long and so well, I take that as a great compliment. Looking forward to seeing you in Sturgis!

  2. Enjoyed reading your Blog Steven, I hope you write more each day about your adventures.