The Rainy, Dark Highway That Brought Me Back
I felt like it was time to get back in the blogging saddle after an adventure in riding that I had last night. Sometimes you need a little nudge to get you moving in the right direction...
My family and I rolled out of town on sunny Wednesday to spend a few days on the beach at Kalaloch, about 100 miles from our doorstep. Since I was in need of a long ride, I loaded up the Big Ruckus and enjoyed the hot August putt to our yearly camping destination. Being that the weather usually doesn't play by the rules in a rainforest region, I packed my raingear just in case. Lately I've taken to wearing my Fieldsheer touring jacket with body armor. I totally abandonded the old school "mod" staple fishtail parka in favor of some serious new school ride-wear technology. I also wear an orange safety vest now too. Like my boss says, "Better to be seen, then flat."
My rainpants are basic fisherman's heavy duty pants, and I keep a light weight hooded hikers rain jacket in my tour pack for when the need arises. Well, the need arose at about 6:00 p.m. yesterday.
After having a real nice dinner, the mist off the Pacific Ocean started getting a little heavy. Not wanting to pull the rug out from anyone's good time, I was hesitant about pushing the issue of maybe bailing out and heading for home a day or two early. Then it started really getting wet.
I tossed the idea about pulling up stakes (literally) to my wife, and she agreed that the fun factor was pretty much gone. In an attempt to keep the trip alive, I went out to build a fire, and the rain said no. I was done. I asked my wife if she would help take the tent down, and in record time, we were packed. I ducked for cover to strip out of my wet clothes and change into dry duds and my raingear, and after pulling the cover off the scoot and saddling up, we were off. It was now 7:45 p.m.
Full-on darkness is about 9:00 p.m., and my goal was to be at Lake Crescent at dark. A bit like a cowboy's trust in his horse, I now feel like I have a riders relationship with my scooter. I trusted my steed to get me home. With my wife in the family mini-van with dozing kids in back, I lead us out of the campground, and headed toward home.
I think we rolled all the way to Forks, (approx. 40 miles) with no traffic behind us. I hung out at around 60 mph in the straight stretches, and backed off a bit in the sweepers. We made Forks in good time, and I stopped to check for any concerns from my wife. She asked why she couldn't see my brake light on the road. I told her that I wasn't using it. I tapped it so she could see that it does work. Now it was my mission to make the lake by dark.
There are sections of highway that run straight and long between Forks and Lake Crescent, and when the rain wasn't drumming down, I was able to roll at around 68 mph. The one thing that I wasn't prepared for though, was the moths and flying bugs made out of glue that live on this stretch. I remembered the saying that I used to use at the service station when washing the bug collection off tourist's windshields, "It won't have the guts to do that again." The whole front of the scooter, the windshield, my helmet and goggles, everything, was covered in a layer of bug guts. I started wishing for the hard rain again to wash some of this stuff off. Soon enough, we had made it to the lake.
Lake Crescent is a beautiful lake that resides in the Olympic National Park, and Highway 101 winds for 21 miles in a twisty path around its shores. It was now dark, and the drenching rains had returned. "Huh... visibility sucks," I thought to myself. I found a wide pull-off at around the halfway point, and stopped to let some traffic go by. I asked my bride to wipe off my goggles for me. I was having a hard time seeing through the water, guts and road grime that covered the lenses. My vision is bad as it is, I needed to see for the home stretch.
I wicked it up and headed for the ranch. The last few miles flew by in familiar territory, and I was thinking as we wound down our quick trip, that I really enjoyed this ride. I was tested in conditions that I don't usually ride in any more, and I did it off-the-cuff. No planning, no worrying, no nothing. I saddled up and rode the way I used to so many years ago. I was happy riding in the rain and darkness. My wife asked if I was stressed out at all. I told her that I was "far from stressed." "I was having a good time out there." It was this thought that compelled me to sit back down at this keyboard.
I've been working my rear-end off to achieve the highest levels of success in so many areas of my life, and having to be "on" so much of the time. Happiness is achieved and cherished, but I have to work for it as well. I didn't expect to gain so much joy in tearing a soggy camp down and hauling balls for home in the rain and darkness, but I did. Absolute flippin' joy. And I got to share it with my wife and kids. That made it even better.
I don't think I would have been back here anytime soon had I not had this experience, but I think I need to do this now. It feels right again...