Category: Motorcycle

Blog posts about motorcycles.

The Inner Monologue of one Motorcycle Blogger

The Inner Monologue of one Motorcycle Blogger

It’s been a few months now since I set off on a road trip through the Virginias. In the time that has passed, I’ve struggled to put together posts to talk about what I saw. And that isn’t because I didn’t see anything worth writing about. It’s something different that I wrestle with episodically.

As my mindset fluctuates, the way that I approach writing about my time does too. But, I find that I’m often stuck in the same old pattern of trying to write about life in the “old way.” My robotic response is to work linearly on a timeline in medium-sized chunks. But, thoughts don’t always happen that way, do they?

For a while, I was especially rigid about timing. If I’d ridden somewhere 2 months ago and didn’t write about it then? Well, it was too late. There was some imaginary freshness calendar that had to be adhered to otherwise I wasn’t allowed to write about it. Isn’t that strange that I could be so particular about something like that? I’ve gotten over that, mostly.

What I’m learning is that trying to make my thoughts fit into a predefined size or shape is a recipe for disaster. Instead of an easy-to-follow formula that allows me to just plug in the pictures and words, I end up with a cramp. The result? Nothing.

My thoughts are scattered like dandelion seeds and are constantly floating away from me. Why can’t I share them here in that way? Little idea whisps that sail on a current – their barbs getting stuck on the people that want to read them. That’s how things like Instagram work. Everything is shared in snack-sized bites.

Why do I resign myself to thinking that I have to make blog posts lengthy? Why do I feel the pressure to write about my time in a particular way, as if there is some correct method to blogging? Why do I censor sharing my interests because I think other people are sick of reading about them? Why would I care if someone else thinks I post too much or too little? Why can’t a picture be worth a thousand words when I do it here? So many rules. But why?

We each develop a personal process to produce the things that matter to us. I feel that when I doodle in my sketchbook, too. When I deviate from my natural process, things feel off. To the viewer, the end result probably doesn’t look any different but I know something isn’t right. But how does the process grow when you’re so busy following the old rules?

I’ve always maintained that I write my blog first and foremost for myself. It is my system of record for thoughts and feelings about moving through the world on a motorcycle. But that must be a lie I tell myself. There is a nagging undercurrent of the need to please others or fitting into preconceived notions about what they want from me. Approaching this blog from the outside in is when things go wrong. You’d think I’d have fully understood and embraced that by now. I mean, I know that so why does the need for a reminder keep bubbling up to the surface?

 

The Old Burke’s Garden Virginia Post Office

The Old Burke’s Garden Virginia Post Office

Following the very wiggly VA 623, will drop you into the upland valley of Burke’s Garden, Virginia. When there, something about it feels like you’re in a place cut off from the rest of the world.

The local whitepages:

My travels brought me to Burke’s Garden because of a photo I’d seen online of an old post office with a Pepsi ghost ad on the side. I was surprised to see what nice shape the mural is in. By the looks of things, that Pepsi ad is pretty well cared for.

I gingerly stepped up onto the front stoop to take a look inside. My chances of either falling through the step or being stung by bees seemed to be about 50-50. It made me chuckle to myself to think that if I was really lucky, maybe I’d be able to pull off both.

The sign above the door reads: “Burkes Garden, Va – God’s Land”

 

Cruising Along Route 3 – West Virginia

Cruising Along Route 3 – West Virginia

After passing through Rhodell, I spent the night in Beckley, West Virginia. That evening I sat drinking a beer alone in a restaurant, thinking about everything I’d seen along the way. Spilling my observations and secrets into my little pink notebook was cathartic.

When taking in so much input all day long, it can be hard to keep track of everything. Little vignettes that feel monumental as they pass can be so touching at the time that it is hard to imagine you could ever forget the details. But, you do. Or at least, I do. As a trip goes on the intake-then-forget process compounds as I absorb more new things and more new things and more…

Each evening during this trip after hanging up my keys for the night, I would start writing a basic outline of the places that I passed through for the day. Just a very loose timeline. From there, tracing my steps I found that I was often able to jog my memory and hang on to little snippets that might’ve otherwise been tucked away in my mental filing cabinet.

Doing memory keeping by hand requires a deliberate concentration and a general slowing down in order to make the words happen. That slow savoring is something that I never get when typing. It felt good.

The morning that I left Beckley, my plan was just to follow along route 3 to head towards Ohio. I would let the day unfold on its own while passing through coal country.

There is no telling what will move or disturb me along the road. As I’m traveling, raw nerves that I didn’t know were there become exposed. When the layers of day to day living fall away and I stop being my get up, kid to school, go to work, dinner, bedtime, repeat, robot-self, I rediscover who I am. My me. My private me.

Something about seeing this tiny shuttered library, overgrown with weeds made me feel like weeping. It felt so symbolic of everything I’d seen in the past few days. It felt like cause and effect all rolled into one.

Passing through Whitesville:

You can see the three-story brick building in the photo below. Everything changes, everything stays the same.


Photo source

Paulverizer – The Cyborg Muffler Man of Buena Vista, Virginia

Paulverizer – The Cyborg Muffler Man of Buena Vista, Virginia

This ain’t your mama’s muffler man. No, this? This is somethin’ else! You’ve got that familiar sturdy jaw and that manly mug but that’s about it.

And a nice little hat tip to the motorcycle.

Unfortunately, with the sky so hazy and the crazy backlighting, I didn’t snap very many good pictures. I should probably learn how to use a camera. Since I bungled this, you should probably take a ride along the Blue Ridge Parkway and pop off in the town of Buena Vista, Virginia to have a look for yourself.

Paulverizer on Roadside America

Just Passing Through – Small Town, West Virginia

Just Passing Through – Small Town, West Virginia

Rhodell, West Virginia – a place I’d never heard of prior to standing in front of the alternating colors of the post office’s awning. Why would I have? It isn’t a pass-through on a way to a bigger town. It isn’t famous for anything. No, it’s just a little tucked away place where normal people live their lives.

Normal people, doing normal things.

While I was taking a photo, a young woman came out of the house to receive a little boy getting off of the school bus. When the bus pulled up, a young man also came out of the house to see that same little boy off the bus.

Instantaneously, I’d made a judgment as to why two young adults were home in the middle of the afternoon based on the realities of my own existence.

But – maybe one was a stay at home parent and maybe the other had time off work. Or maybe one was on vacation, on sick leave, worked nights, cared for a sick relative, or it was their regular day off. Maybe one of them hadn’t started their shift yet. After all, I myself was there in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon. The reasons two parents were home in the middle of the day, during what you’d call 9-5 work hours were myriad.

And yet… based on what I’d passed on my way through that burned out and vacant town, I assumed something else. At least one of them might be out of work.

Out of work. That was a real possibility. Where would they work, anyway? Where are the jobs in that little pocket of the world? Of course, I have no idea what the truth of their lives is. I was just some opinionated asshole passing through town, making assumptions.

Later that evening I wrote some notes in my travel journal about what I’d seen throughout the day. “Poverty isn’t a tourist attraction, and yet I feel as if I cannot tear my eyes away.” I feel this so strongly.

Seeing poverty firsthand leaves me with a sense of helplessness. There is a chaos that stirs inside of me and it’s like I just want to “fix” everything, help everyone, give them a place to work… and I can’t.

I look at my life and my surroundings and become desensitized to them. This place where I live becomes reality. Everyone, everywhere lives in this comfort, right? Wrong. And in the wide arc of my own life from childhood to now, I should know this. But, how quickly we forget when lulled by our own good fortune.

Rhodell, West Virginia
2000 census
The median income for a household in the town was $17,143, and the median income for a family was $19,167. Males had a median income of $17,750 versus $18,750 for females. The per capita income for the town was $7,582.
– Source: Wikipedia

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