“What makes you smile?”
This is the question that I set out with on June 6th, 2010.
A heavy pattern of rain finally passed through the Puget Sound and the window of opportunity opened for me to set out on a cross-country motorcycle journey. The primary purpose was to deliver a 2001 Kawasaki ZRX 1200R to its rightful owner in D.C.
From Snohomish, WA, (20 miles northeast of Seattle), the most direct route would be I-90 through the northern states and the Midwest. With news of severe flooding and electrical storms in the Midwest, it was no difficult decision to take a southern route down the West Coast, through Texas, and up the East Coast, making one HUGE ‘smile’ across America.
With saddle bags packed and rain gear on, I embarked on what I considered to be the trip of a lifetime. There was five-thousand-six-hundred miles in front of me. The days and miles ahead were as a blank page begging to be filled with life from the road . . .
Come with me as I tell the story of the places and faces that make “S-Miles Across America” . . .
DAY 1 – Pacific Northwest
I allowed the throttle to idle down the long gravel driveway of Mike and Diana’s property. A distinct emotion returned to me for only the second time of my forty-two years on God’s Green Earth. The first time I’d felt this way, my seat was on the edge of an open door at ten thousand feet above my landing zone. Skydiving has a thrill of its own, but the first true step of this great journey felt the same as I rode away. A gazillion thoughts and pictures flashed through my mind to create a mosaic of life past and an uncertain, yet thrilling anticipation of the near future. The distinction of vivid memories combined with uncertainty of the road ahead made a brilliant collage of excited emotion when the adrenaline and throttle accelerate away from the familiar.
Over the hills and through the woods, a slight shower became a downpour. As I traveled south, away from Seattle, the test for my rain gear passed with flying colors. Three and a half hours later, I made my first stop Grandma’s house. I treasure these rare moments that I get with my grandmother because of the rich wisdom that she consistently shares. As I told her about my opportunity to deliver this motorcycle across the country with the route that I was looking forward to, I asked her not to mention this to my folks. I knew from experience that my family would worry too much about me while on such a solo trip as this.
“It’s better to share and let worry, than withhold and exclude family. Call your Mother!” . . . Once again, Gramma gives good advice. She sent me off with food for thought and insisted on slipping in a few bucks for food on the road . . . . Thanks Gramma!
After grabbing a bite at Carl’s Jr. in Vancouver, WA, I was stepping into my rain gear as a young man pushed and pulled waste barrels through the back door of the restaurant. “Rain or shine, huh?”, he commented. “Yeah, I’m riding down the West Coast, through Texas and up the East Coast, making a big smile across America… So, let me ask you, ‘What makes YOU smile’?”.