Since Friday…

July 18, 2010

New York state

Friday I left Hagerstown around 10 AM. I set out on route 11 with the intention of covering a lot of miles. North East. I went all day, going steady, feeling really good. I was amazed to feel so good as I only had 4 hours of sleep. I knew it was going to catch up at some point but for the moment all was good.

It was blistering hot and humid. I kept my jacket on as my arms and back were pretty deeply burned from waiting for hours in the sun the previous day. Found breakfast and gas in a very small town near the PA Turnpike. There I met this other rider, don’t know his name, I had asked the waitress about roads and she then asked a customer at the counter and he then proceeded to get his atlas and write down all the roads for me to take…

It was an interesting exchange. We did not really talk but he got this whole route figured out and when I was ready to leave, he offered to guide me to the road in question as he was going in that direction. I said sure and he got on his Harley and I followed him for a good hour through incredibly scenic back roads in Pennsylvania. At one crossroads we said goodbye, ride safe and went our separate ways.

Hours later I finally stopped for coffee. I was so hot by then, thunderstorms were threatening and the humidity was way high. I sat down to write in another Starbucks I think this was in Bloomsville, but honestly I am not sure. There has been so many names… some of the places just do not stick in my mind…

As I was sitting there the thunderstorm exploded and I was sure glad to be indoors… dry and able to watch all that water come down without being in it.

A little girl came by, maybe 7 or 8 and she said with a big smile : “ I love your tattoo!”. Then I met the most amazing couple.. Patty and Jim Slagle. I was looking at maps on the laptop so they started tell me about roads and places to see. It was as if I had known them forever. I told them about my trip, the breakdown episode in Hagerstown and a bunch more. They told me of their trips, the fact that Jim’s nickname is “a friend a minute” as he meets people everywhere and Patty’s fight and victory over cancer. They’ve been married 40 years…. They were like family.

With the Slagles

They left after a while and when I walked to the bike they had tucked a bottle of flavored water on the bike, a nice, sweet last goodbye.

I headed back on the road.

At one point I pulled into a Sheetz store to fill up. There I met Tom. He had a 1974 green Honda motorcycle, a 500 CC (don’t know which model) I had noticed the bikeit when I pulled in.

He was standing not far from my bike and said : Nice rig. We chatted some. He was taciturn. Quiet, almost smoldering in a quiet way. “People around here..” his voice trails off. He looks in the distance as he speaks. I guess he is in his mid-twenties but he seemed disillusioned like a man in his fifties. He works at a plastics factory. Supervisor.

I noticed this thing in the South or in the country, many speak in a slow sort of way. As if they don’t really want to speak or give too much away. They don’t want to be rushed. So you wait. You be patient and then they will reward you with the showing of their hearts, colors, then give you the information you were looking for and more. But it takes time. You must make time. Stop it, then allow it to bloom.

We talked bikes for a while then I headed back out. A few miles down the road I saw him on my tail. His bike was his rebellion. It was old, not running too good he had told me. The back wheel wobbled, out of balance. He had no helmet, a pair of black goggles and the wind was almost taking his T-shirt off his back. At one point he sped past me, flooring it, defiantly. I caught up, easily. He had mentioned something to the effect that his bike could probably not compete with mine. He had to prove it.

We rode together for about 10 miles. Then he waved, turned off and I gave him a peace sign and continued on.

I got into the town of Wisconsin. I was starved, I had no idea what time it was, I saw a joint with a motorbike in the front and some of the usual neon beer signs. I pulled over.

I took a seat at the bar. There was a pretty blonde behind the counter and a woman who looked like Calamity Jane in the TV series Deadwood. She had the same voice, same drunk intonation. It was uncanny. The same questions, where are you from where are you going, how long have you been gone. The women were tickled pink. The owner showed up, we talked roads and he brought out a map, we’re all laughing, having a great time. I am amazed to see that I have actually almost crossed the whole state today on my 4 hr sleep.

Peggy, (Calamity Jane) paid for my dinner “Put it on my tab!” she said to the barmaid. incredible… they sent me on my way with emails and phone numbers “ and call us if you get lost or if you need anything!” as they had sent me on the road to Tunkhannock where I should be able to find an affordable hotel.

It’s almost night. I made my way to Tunkhannock, there are fireflies out. I never sped up past a firefly before and that is like passing shooting stars, their speed and my speed combined. I love it.

The Prince Hotel, oldest Hotel still standing on the East Coast

I am in the middle of mountains, blue and pink skies and a river meanders to my right. It’s so beautiful. I think of my blessings. I pass homes and they all have these candle like lights in the windows. I wonder what that means?

When I make it to Tunkhannock as the last light just disappears from the sky. I park in the back of the Prince Hotel. The old town looks magical somehow. Maybe it’s the lack of sleep, but I feel like I’ve landed in some sort of ethereal place.

I walk in, ask how much for the room, it’s affordable, I say yes. The lady there tells me this is the oldest hotel on the East Coast, lots of history. Even stories of a home that was built for Marie Antoinette nearby. Of course she never made it as she lost her head first but I can almost feel ghost walking about the place.

Doing laundry. How old is this sign?

The next day besides doing my laundry I spent my day sleeping. The fatigue had caught up. I went to the Di Caprio movie “Inception” a film about dreams and reality, parallel lives into dream worlds all of our own. Strangely appropriate as these days nothing is as solid and “real” as it should be.

Reality, what we create, agree to, what we play, what we are. Meaning. Trajectory. Intentions and fate. I still question what it is that I will do when this is all over.

I am asked why this trip. I say: I wanted to ride. Just ride. Be and ride. Shed the ties, my lies, and leave the endless circle that my life had become. I wanted to go South, I was called south. So I went. It made me see the connection with my childhood dream of walking to the Far West of riding a motorcycle.

Now I’ve come all the way east. When I get back to the West that will make a full circle. Yes, ironically, another circle.

Gotta go.

Tunkhannock street

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3 Responses to “Since Friday…”

  1. Mike Says:

    I’m honored to have been a part of your story and your journey, and I’ll follow along from afar as long as you keep going. My name’s not “Tom” though; my wife says I’m prone to mumbling at times so we’ll chalk it up to that. 🙂

    Godspeed Danielle – and I promise to get that rear wheel straightened out!


    • Hi Mike,

      sorry for the name mix up! in the best of times I forget name and here with all the miles and the rain and the town names, states and all the rest I messed up again!

      Thanks for writing, I wish you many wild rides so you can feel the wind, take care and all my love to you.

  2. angelina Says:

    nice place! glad to hear the plan’s to head back west again, though. ride safe. @xx


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