Rolling Thunder Day 4

Day 4 actually started on the evening on day 3 when I pulled into the motel I decided to stay at. In cruising the 5 motels at the I-95 exit there was one that had 7 motorcycles parked in the registration drive through. All of them had Arizona or New Mexico tags and sporting stickers from the 101st Airborne Division.

This was as much an endorsement of the place as I needed for the evening and just pulled into the empty spot as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Also, knew I would be meeting these guys in the morning. The motel came at a higher price than I wanted but knew the next day was going to be a challenge with the storm and wanted as much good sleep as I could get.

Was watching the TV as I was cooking dinner (Top Ramon on a camp stove in the bathroom). Know that for the last five years there has been no TV in my life and was amazed at the idiocy and quantity of the commercials. Also, it seemed as if every commercial interruption included one from the pharmaceutical industry. About half of each of the pharmaceutical commercial was mind candy and the rest was all the possible side effects of the mind candy. For the life of me, don’t know how they stay in business.

Switched to the weather channel to see what was waiting for me the next day. Tropical storm Beryl was the main feature. As I was watching the radar over and over to see if there were any trends, themes or patterns to the storm I could use for the timing to ride through it.

It reminded me of days gone by when I used to watch the waves looking for the break in the wave patterns to take a rubber boat through them and into the ocean. Decided to leave at 0800 and hope to hit the tail of the storm as it crossed into South Carolina and Georgia.

As I was packing the bike for the day’s run, meet the guys I had parked with. Their stature was small and they came from a mixture of Tex-Mex, Indian and Caucasian. They started in Arizona went down the Florida Keys and were headed up to the Wall on Memorial day and then on to Chicago and back to Arizona. They had a quiet but deadly competency that reminded me of the Warrior Brotherhood and were definitely no one to pick a fight with. Yet they were friendly and made the point they were a small group that belong to no one much less follow anyone’s else’s time schedule. Got to say I enjoyed their company.

If the day had to be characterized, it would a vision of the power and splendor of mother nature at her most powerful and beautiful vistas. There was a constant transformation of the overhead vistas of clouds that gave an entirely new meaning to Zen Master Seung Sahn’s poem ‘The Human Route.’

Knew the winds were going to be a problem but they were steady and strong headwinds which made the ride a lot safer than with gusting and unpredictable cross winds. Don’t know how fast they were blowing but it was the strongest winds I have ever encountered on the road.

At times, there was a sensation that I was traveling through a sureal world that was neither a part of the earth or the sky yet there were parts of both in the vision. No sooner that I took my eyes off the sky than it changed. It was almost as if I had one eye on the TV picture of weather bands of the last who knows how many hours and the other eye was watching the weather bands cross in the sky above.

What was clear was when the rain was waiting for me like a weather ambush. There is a gray wall that is clearly visible in an intense rain and riding to it is like being part of paranormal movie. You know that as you enter everything is going to be very wet. As I look at the photos, am reminded there was not a heck of a lot of traffic on the Interstate that day.

It was not a steady rain but it seemed as if I was passing through a series of weather bands that would be intense rain and them periods of open blue sky’s. Were as the clouds were constantly changing in ways I have never seen, the best indicator of what was ahead were lights and windshield wipers of oncoming traffic.

The other problem at times like these were white cars. There were periods when visibility was  limited but it seemed as if no one in white cars had their tail lights on. As I passed them I realized that their headlights were on. It occurred to me that maybe the manufactures designed the car for headlights to be turned on automatically but the rest of the lights required a manual action. Not good because it seemed at times like this cars would appear out of a haze of intense rain with about 50 meters notice. Would have made for great photos but needed both hands on the bars. Nevertheless, they are clearly imprinted on my mind.

Got wet and the ride at highway speeds dried me out only to get wet again and again. Foggy face mask has always been a problem for me and for the first time did not have the problem. Only because a kind woman at an auto parts store said to coat the inside of the face mask with Barbesol shaving cream, let it set for a couple of minutes and then wipe it off. This I did and the only problem was the rain would get too intense at times to really see much.

It was good to get home and as I unloaded the Dragon Princes had the feeling that I was unloading a horse. She just sat their still as if time stoped while I took the bags into the robe room. No sooner than all the bags were in than the bottom fell out of sky as if to wash all the road grime off and set the stage for the next run. She seemed to enjoy the rain as it cooled her pipes.

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