Day 24 (Heaven is on earth)

Miles Traveled:  287                                                                                                             Location: Butte, Montana

Least we forget: There are lots of ways to be invisible. Among the most damaging is the loss of civil liberties. The only thing a politician can see is the next election. If there are no competing special interest  groups with money and a voice in the next election then there is no reason for him or her to take them into account. The modern day ‘Jim Crow’ laws have silenced millions men and women in the electoral process. If you are invisible in the electoral process then you become invisible to those politicians that are supposed to represent you. The stronger the special interest group is the greater the laws are passed to please them. Makes you wonder how Maine can survive as a democratic state with felons voting from their cell.

Heaven is a place on earth:  On this the summer of my 69th year, I am here to tell you that heaven is on I-90 as it runs from the western side of Idaho to Butte, Montana. In all my years and travels, never has such a panorama that continued to unfold with no duplication. For sure, you are going to have to double click on these photos and even then they can not begin to do justice to the majesty of mother natures creation.

The Gray Ghost: was at its best today. Toting a heavy load and in new territory, it glided around bends, climb mountains, ran down slopes of 6 degrees and never missed a beat. On the last fifty miles we encountered a rain storm of which the leading 5 or so miles were hail. The thing about riding a motorcycle is that your view is not restricted by a widow, smells are not purified by an air cleaner and the reality of just being present is there 100 percent.

Big Sky: I have heard men and women talk of big sky and intellectually, I get it but  there is nothing like the experience of it being all around and over you. Had a hard time keeping my mind on the bends, turns and bumps in the roads with the overhead vistas being a constant distraction. Like the land, the sky was constantly unfolding in new ways, shapes and colors. For sure you don’t need a weatherman to tell you which direction the wind is blowing and if it is going to rain.

Roads and Rivers: It was a dead certainty that every time the road hit a valley bottom there would be a river on one side or the other. I am told that if you look hard enough, you could see fish in the rivers. The rivers like the land and the sky constantly unfolded in size, shape and speed. All the time complementing the surrounding land and the sky above. I was always saddened by an upturn in the road because it meant that would loose the vista  and company of the rivers.

Bees, wasps and hornets: During the ride there was a constant flow of motorcycles coming from the other direction. unlike the flow coming out of Seattle these we re in ones and twos and about half of them were paired riders on a bike. Then it hit why motorcycling was so big in the northwest. Both the rider and driver require skills and are a paired couple devoid or the drama and trauma of chitchat. In other words, there is a silence on the ride as they move in unison on the twists and turns of assents and descents as the bike moves through the unfolding vistas of heaven on earth. There is the constant close contact of bodies that speak a language all of their own. This is the power of intimacy unfettered by civilization. Can not help but think that sex at the end of day in heaven must me powerful.

Shades of the Past: From everything I can remember, Montana had a colorful past and to a certain extent there are remnants of it in every restaurant along I-90. Went into what I thought would be a nice road house for ham and eggs. Found a thin veneer of a restaurant up front and in the back was a gambling room with its own ATM and off to the side was a room with a full bar. Had to go through this obstacle course to get to the rest room. Almost got sidetrack and we are not out of Montana yet.

Least we forget: Don’t know why but on leaving the bar/restaurant, I went next door to the gift shop and bought 14 post cards. Then went across the street to get the stamps to mail the post cards. Yes, they are for those in prison that so much of this trip is all about and should not be forgotten. They are men and women who have hearts and faces, not just statistics and numbers.

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