By Darlene G. Snyder (find me on facebook)
Most of my faithful readers know that my husband and I ride our motorcycle every chance we get. Of course we seldom ride in the winter months.
A couple of years ago, Kentucky Monthly magazine published a story that I wrote about one of our first motorcycle trips – this go round. You see, Mike and I rode motorcycles when we dated in the early 70’s. The trip I wrote about was a real adventure and so I thought that I’d share it with you here.
Later, after you read about our Kentucky adventure, maybe you’ll want to share one of your adventure stories with me. If you do, post it in the comment section.
Ok, I’ll admit it; maybe my husband and I did temporarily lose our minds. First, before pronouncing judgment, consider our story.
When we were in our late forties, our only child blissfully married, and on his own, we went through a mid-life crisis, or maybe the empty nest syndrome; I am not sure what you would call it.
We decided to purchase a motorcycle, a Honda 400. Actually, we traded a boat for one.
Because the Honda was small and didn’t have a backrest and after a few months of riding we began our quest for a larger motorcycle. We found one and after checking it out and taking the motorcycle for a spin, we bought the Yamaha 1300. Eventually we ended up purchasing a third motorcycle, a 750 Honda. I wish I could offer a logical explanation of why we felt we needed three motorcycles, but I can’t.
This was about the time we noticed a minor change in our children, Eric and April. April is actually our daughter-in-law, but I refer to both as our children. They took on the role of concerned parents; mocking the manner in which we grilled them when they left to go anywhere.
“Where are you going? When will you return? Be careful, call us when you stop so we will know you are all right. Let us know when you get there.”
Thus was the routine before we left to go riding. If we failed to phone, there were explanations and excuses to make later.
When we were younger, we rode motorcycles. However, there are a few things different from when we rode as teenagers. First, getting on and off the motorcycle is certainly not the same. My arthritic, paunch body does not afford me an opportunity for a graceful exit. I can step up, swing my leg over, and get on ok, but practically every time I get off, I just about break my neck. I struggle with raising my leg high enough to be graceful and generally will hop as I try to extract my leg. I am quite sure onlookers have laughed at me. In addition, how many motorcyclists do you see carrying pillows to sit on? Very few, but sometimes we do, especially when we ride the smaller motorcycles.
Another disparity between riding when I was younger and now is back then I had to have plenty of clothing on or else I would get cold, even on a sunny day. Now though the hot flashes takes care of that little problem.
One more difference is apparently our decision-making ability has flawed with age. Take this explanation as evidence.
Scheduled to go to a weekend conference in Bowling Green, which was roughly three hours away from our house, we elected to make the trip on our motorcycle. If I packed lightly, we would have ample room for our small overnight bags.
The week before our journey, we tuned in to the local weather stations periodically to track the weekend weather forecast. Our local forecasters called for stormy weather but the prediction for Western Kentucky was for storms to be of the hit and miss variety with mostly sunny skies. Remind me not to rely on weather forecasts in the future.
After promising our children, we would be fine and after accepting our expected instructions and directive to phone them when we arrived at our hotel, we were on our way.
The beginning of the excursion was nice enough, but as we proceeded on, we began to observe the formation of the menacing sky very closely. We believed we were traveling in advance of the storms when in fact we headed towards them.
The Cumberland Parkway appeared all but deserted as the winds picked up and the rain started to bounce off our helmets. Luckily, we donned water resistant jogging suits or we would have been soaked. As it was, the rainfall was not the predominant issue. Mike had to wrestle hard against the wind to hold the 1300-pound motorcycle in the highway and upright. We could occasionally see the trees bend from the force of the wind.
Mike pointed to the sign indicating we were going to take that exit. As the wind blew harder and the downpour persisted, He continued to concentrate on keeping the cycle upright.
Suddenly, I began to wave my hands and arms in front of Mike pointing to a tree, which had fallen across the parkway. He had not seen it; luckily, I had. He was able to maneuver around it. Soon, we moved toward our exit and we were able to make it to McDonalds in Columbia where we stopped to wait out the intense storm.
We took off our helmets, moved inside, and phoned our children, as good parents should. We expressed to them we were fine, excluding the graphic details of our nerve-racking journey.
We downed several cups of hot chocolate as we waited out the storm. Ultimately, we made the impending decision to get back on the highway. The rainfall halted and the wind receded. As we moved out of the parking lot, pointing to the sky I said, “The lightning concerns me practically as much as the wind did. Maybe we should stay here a little longer.” Shaking his head, indicating his answer was no, we continued toward Bowling Green. A cold rain began to fall once more. I constantly looked toward the sky, frequently seeing the lightning dance all around us. I recalled something about rubber tires keeping the lightning from striking automobiles. I sure hoped this implied motorcycles too. I felt exposed and unprotected. The only thing between the lightning and me was my helmet. That was not reassuring. Later I learned the belief concerning rubber tires being a protection from lightning was false. I’m glad I was unaware of that little truth.
The stars were out in full force; actually, it was a beautiful night. The lightning was high in the magnificent sky and did not seem to be striking anything. It was playing across the sky instead of aiming down towards the earth. That was the only consolation I had.
I previously had a relationship with the Lord, but before the evening was over, I had an intimate, up close and personal relationship with Him. I sure did a lot of praying that seemingly endless night.
Now, do you understand what I mean about us losing our minds? Is it a normal thing for almost 50-year old mature adults to behave in such a way?
Our travels across the state have not always been this dramatic. On the other hand, there were those two dogs playing in the middle of a major highway last August in Taylor County. Mike had to take evasive actions. Before that, in Casey County at the Amish Village, we dropped the motorcycle. Yes, you heard right. We pulled into a gravel parking lot, parked the motorcycle, it scooted and fell over. Nope, we were not injured. It did take the both of us to pick it up though.
That same day, we ended our trip at Green River Lake State Park in Taylor County without further incident. What a glorious place. We sat on the bank and watched the boats speed across the water. I could have sat there endlessly.
On another Sunny afternoon, we rode to Pulaski County and visited Burnside State Park. We walked through the tree-lined embankment, down to the waters edge and watched the water lapping against the rocks. Peace and contentment ruled the day.
Our travels also have taken us through Clark, and Montgomery Counties, but hand-made rock wall in Bourben County was especially exciting to see. It went on for miles and miles. Another beautiful area was the road leading to Shaker Village in Mercer County. We also visited Perryville Battlefield in Boyle County.
Of all the places we ride, I have to admit, I’ve enjoyed the local trips around Madison County the most. We discovered areas such as the Lake at Owsley Fork, the reservoir at Red Lick, the area at Big Hill overlooking the mountainside, White Hall and Boonesboro State Parks and the Kentucky River at Poosey Ridge. Speaking of Poosey Ridge, the gentle rolling hills and deep valleys located there are breathtaking. We love Kentucky. While many states claim to be beautiful, and they very well may be, no state’s beauty surpasses Kentucky.
Maybe some would agree we have lost our minds, especially my mother. However, there is something about seeing Kentucky from the wide-open space, with warm air blowing through our open helmets. If we have lost our minds, I don’t want us to find them anytime soon.