motorcycle diaries

August 24th 5:35PM
Somewhere in California


Time doesn’t pass on the motorcycle. That’s the first thing I learned. I just had my first real ride, with all of our gear tagged onto the bike and I’ve never felt more alive in my life. It’s as if, I realized, I’ve spent this last year fast asleep and now suddenly I’m learning what it is to be awake again.

I’ve never heard silence before like I did on the mountains of California. I thought there was something wrong with my ears because it was almost deafening. I could practically hear my blood rushing and my heart thumped and told me I was alive, and what a good thing that was. It was entirely overwhelming and yet the most beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced.

August 25th 1:03AM

It’s hot as hell. It’s so hot. Oh god. It’s so hot. It’s the middle of the night and it’s so hot. I have nothing else to say. It’s so hot.

August 25th 9:45AM

It’s still hot but it’s honestly the greatest thing I’ve ever experienced. That’s a lie, I hate it and I can’t breathe but I still feel like this is amazing and I am so grateful to have experienced it.

I have never ever, not even in Napanee, seen stars the way I did last night. The whole sky was covered in them and I wish I hadn’t been so exhausted so that maybe I could have stared a little while longer. I feel like–and I’m sure you already know–but the one common theme throughout all of this has just been my sheer exhaustion. But it’s good.

I don’t know how else to explain it, and Andrew keeps asking if I’m alright because my exhaustion from the last couple of days reads on me so easily. I’m dirty, too. Sweaty and grimy and gross. And hot, like 46 degrees hot. But it’s all piling together into something I’m not able to put into words. Like my body needed to be beaten down. How sometimes getting a massage hurts only to feel yourself relax the hell out afterwards.

There was an interesting man who was the caretaker of the free campground. Your stereotypical, “I’ll tell you what,” kind yet incredibly talkative man. He’s got the grit, as they say. His name was Rocky. I don’t think it gets much better than that.

But there was someone else, too. A person there for similar reasons to me. To experience the heat. He was a real classic modern day hippie, and as we all sat there sipping ice cold Coke (me not saying much because the heat was killing me) I thought to myself how unbelievable it was that I was alive.

August 26th 12:21PM
Somewhere in Nevada

We’ve decided to negate the motorcycle. By which I mean, Andrew’s decided the motorcycle is done and we are to do our best to get our hands on a car.

Let me rewind.

Last night was the worst night on the bike. Exhaustion dragged on me, and we had only really been on the road for what felt like 15 minutes (it had been forty five). We had plans to
make it to a small town in Nevada–Fernley, specifically–where Andrew’s best friend’s parents lived. We would spend the night there. But the day wore on and we weren’t getting any closer. I was asking to stop every half hour, and we would stop for another forty five. Yet each time I would insist on cutting it shorter and shorter, on staying on the bike longer, to the point where Andrew began to clue in and guess when the pain in my knee was bad enough that we needed to stop.

My stubbornness persisted until Andrew decided to stop, just forty odd minutes out from our destination. We would find a motel, I would get proper rest, and we’d visit this couple in the morning for breakfast.

Do you know what’s big in small towns? Volleyball tournaments, apparently. Every single motel was booked, and the same for the next town over. Though Andrew said that was more for burning man than volleyball but I have my own ideas, honestly.

It turned out we would have to make the ride all the way out.

My entire body ached and screamed in protest. Against everything it wanted, against the look of concern in Andrew’s face, I threw my leg over (okay, with the help of Andrew) I hiked myself back on the bike.

I found myself thinking: “there is absolutely nothing enjoyable about this.” And yet as the bike took off, the sound deafening in my ears, my body relaxed despite the pain. This was how contradictory my existence was. I was petrified–yes, even after I had promised Andrew that I was no longer scared–and at night I was blind, which did not help my fear in the slightest. I was scared, yes, the kind that you only read about in books–the perpetual shaking and the onslaught of body pain from all the tension you’re placing on your body–and yet when exhaustion hit I found my eyes shutting.

My body was caught between two desires. My mind was desperate: let the fear continue, stay on guard, danger is around the corner. But my body knew better, my body had seen and experienced what the bike was like and had decided it was no different than anything else I’d ever done, if not a little bit painful. As much as my mind wanted to keep going on it’s tirade against my enjoyment of any things, exhaustion won over. I could no longer have the strength enough to be afraid.

As much as we both knew I could push through it, I had to be in BC in 3 day’s time. We had already lost out on Yosemite. We weren’t going to lose Banff. I had to relent, eventually. Truthfully I wasn’t given a choice. Between the three of them I easily felt like the one jerk who insisted on staying even though it was killing me. We would ride to Andrew’s home town and we would borrow his sister’s car.

August 27th 1:35PM
Somewhere in California

Good god I am glad to be rid of the motorcycle. It’s hotter in Andrew’s hometown than it was in Death Valley, which is apparently standard here. Death Valley is more consistently hot, but his hometown hits hotter temperatures. Literally I’m stopped at the side of the road in my sports bra and my pants around my ankles (I wear shorts underneath) and I feel like my skin is on fire.

Last night got late and we still had several hours (okay, like 1 and a half) until we would get to his place. So we stopped at a bonafide saloon in the mountains and befriended some people who let us stay at their cabin for free, since the motel was out of my budget by about 100$ Canadian.

It was so cool. They were so wasted and in the morning they were so much cooler, as if that was possible. Free board and breakfast? Remind me to send you the videos of the broom that would not fall.

I went to a volcano today. Well, I tried. Depression won. I couldn’t make it up the mountain which is weird because I hike quite often when I travel, and I have been this trip. I’m so disappointed in myself and Andrew was so excited for me to see it since it’s his favourite place. So just keep in mind I wrote the postcard first and therefore lied to you within it.

I honestly still feel okay. Exhaustion drags me but the trip is almost over and I feel ready to be home. I feel old and new and different yet the same. I feel like I have finally begun to escape the valley.

I’m coming home in more ways than one.


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