4.26.2007,4:55 PM
A Road Trip with Bad Mojo: Part III
Road Warrior Meets Bad Mojo

The shuffle hike instilled some spirit back into me and I returned to the cabin with a renewed sense of purpose. And with a growling stomach.

To conserve on gas, I had decided to stay put until leaving the next morning. Remembering I had packed a zip bag of pancake mix, I added water and cooked a stack of pancakes to eat now and to carry in the tank bag for nibbling during the ride the next day.

Before leaving home, I threw in an envelope of dehydrated meal: Chicken with Jamaican BBQ Sauce. I picked it up last fall more from curiosity than need: ‘Jamaican BBQ’?? I pulled that out, added two cups of boiling water and let it sit for fifteen minutes (the instructions suggested 10-12 minutes) while I sat at the table and planned a ride of attack towards home.

After mapping out a route, estimating fuel consumption and cost, and arranging maps inside my tank bag map holder, I dished out half of the strange brew while nearly salivating in the bowl.

A warning should be added to the package: Eat under duress.

I ate the camouflaged Styrofoam shreds trying to suppress a grimace; I was too hungry to care. My ‘meal’ was chased down with a pancake and a bottle of water while I prepared to pack and load the bike once again.

Everything loaded, traveling clothes laid out to don the next morning, I planned to wake by 6 am and get on the road by 7. Since there were no phones or even clocks in the cabins, I would have to rely on my own internal clock to wake me. Regardless, I laid my watch on the table beside the bed. After talking with Bill on the phone again and trading information and plans, I found myself groggy with sleep and laid down for a nap on the bed about 4 pm.

The next thing I knew I was fully awake, sensing that I had overslept and glanced at my watch: 6:30. Oh crap…….. I overslept till the next morning, but not too badly.

Jumping out of bed and pulling clothes on, brushing teeth and gathering odds and ends, I felt the Road Warrior surface: I was eager and ready to roll.

I immediately took stock of the weather outside: still gray and somewhat dark, but enough light to get things together and rolling. After a last look around the cabin, I closed and locked the door, warmed up Whee and rode up the steep driveway to the cabin and on to the park headquarters to drop my keys into the office box.

Everything was still quiet and all I heard was the comforting whine and purr of my bike as we rode out onto the park road. Retracing my way to the park and turning the opposite direction, I enjoyed the lack of traffic on the country roads and through the small towns. The Road Warrior inside smiled a little and it felt good to be back on the road.

Heading south towards I-40, I kept an eye out for the entrance to the highway. I discovered quickly in the countryside out there that warning and directional signs are sometimes non-existent or hidden behind trees and shrubs.

Knowing I was getting close, I reduced my speed but still nearly missed the entrance to I-40 south. I nearly passed it. At the last moment, I made a judgment call and made a hard lean right to enter the circular on-ramp. Then I realized I had to lean more or I was going to go off the road and crash.

Lean I did, rolling on the throttle to increase centrifugal force but maintaining the turn. The last thing I wanted was to let go of the throttle and lose speed: I would drop sideways. Suddenly I felt and heard my right peg and boot gouging the tarmac under me. I’ve scraped pegs before but this was more than a scrape; it was gouging. And I felt the edge of my boot scraping the tarmac with it.

Suddenly sweating and my eyes big, I kept that throttle grip steady and waited until I saw I could safely upright the bike in a straight line. As I approached the main arterial my heart was pounding: “Holy Crap!!”

As I rode I noticed the sky was getting increasingly dark; I moaned to myself: more showers rolling in. I rode about 30 miles or so and pulled off an exit to get gas. After filling my tank and now feeling fully awake, I noticed the lack of light.


What time is it?

I looked at the clock on the bike and saw that it was 8:00. It was then I realized that is was 8:00 pm…….not am.

Feeling quite stupid, I realized I was more disoriented that I thought. I had woken at 6:30 pm, thinking it was in the morning. And left.

There was no turning back now; I had no choice but to continue on. So I rode on for several miles and realized I needed some coffee in me. I was not going to make it through riding a night on the road without caffeine in me.

There was a Flying J up ahead at the next exit. I pulled into the station, backed the bike into a spot in front of the store and contemplated what to do next. I walked in and asked if there was a Western Union there. No, but there was one at the Pilot the next exit down. I must have looked desperate: they gave me a tall coffee with two refills.

I sat on the sidewalk behind Whee, sipping on coffee and turned on my cell phone. There was a message from Bill: “Call me when you get this.”

I called and told him that the Pilot stations had Western Union, which he had already discovered during an Internet search. Over the next half hour we set up a money transfer at the Pilot station in Dickson, TN.

He wondered what I was doing on the road at that time of night and I confessed my earlier brain fart. I had to laugh along with him at that, but I knew I could not ride the whole night through. He suggested a few places along the way to pull off and camp. It was then that I confessed that for the first time ever on a road trip, all I wanted to do was go home. Like Dorothy, all I wanted to do was click my riding boot heels and go home. This trip had lost all its heart.

By the time I was on the road again heading to the Pilot station, some calm had returned to me. But there was still a sense of foreboding. And with good reason.

Barely five miles back on the highway, a deer jumped onto the tarmac in front of me. With quick reflexes, I applied both rear and front brakes gently but firmly to avoid locking the wheels at 70 mph, and readied myself for a crash into furry warm body.

In spaces between split seconds, I watched as the deer’s eyes got big and its hooves scattered on the mist-covered tarmac. I saw the white flag of its rear end just at the corner of my left vision as it miraculously skid past in front of me and to the other side of the highway.

Thankfully there was no other vehicle close behind me, but I heard and saw in my mirror the car behind me apply the brakes and veer into the lane on my left to avoid hitting me.

That was a close call. I knew then I needed to get off the highway. My nerves were shot.


posted by Macrobe
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