What is it about a giant, fiberglass peg-legged pirate that will make me ride 170 miles out of my way?
Is that the dumbest sentence you’ve ever read?
Sometimes my ‘reasons’ for riding must seem completely ridiculous. And on more than one occasion I’ve wondered: it is really the thing that I want to see - or - is just an excuse to go for a ride?
Maybe it’s a little of both?
Roadside stuff taps into the whimsical parts of life that I love. So much of my day to day life is… serious. Excursions to see giant chickens and pirates and muffler men (oh my!)offer a perfect silly escape from the same old same old. If seeing something like a humongous cauliflower doesn’t bring a smile to your face, I think you’ve got problems.
Of course, when I do have a specific destination in mind I do try to string together a great ride to get there. It becomes a win-win situation. Seeing something silly and getting in a great ride. Will ride for nonsense.
How About You?
Are you often focused on something specific when you go out for rides?
My travels during the Void Rally 8 brought me to Chester, Pennsylvania. The bonus location was a tribute to Bill Haley and the Comets who recorded at a local radio station. Though the building and its musical history have been torn down and lost to time, there are 2 black rubber musical notes embedded into the sidewalk.
…All that remains now are the anonymous inlays in the sidewalk on Crosby Street, cracked with age. Take a picture of a note inlayed in the sidewalk.
When I pulled up to 5th & Crosby I wasn’t sure off of the top of my head what I was looking for. I pulled into a parking lot and opened my topbox to read my rally book. As I stood looking at the pages of my book, I caught a glimpse of a grandfatherly man walking with a little girl of about 4 or 5. I could feel their gaze fixed on me from about 50 yards.
After reading the rally book entry for the bonus, I closed up my topbox and set off walking across the street looking for the music notes.
By the time I photographed the notes and walked back to my motorcycle, the man and the little girl were standing right in front of my motorcycle on the other side of the fence. I smiled and gave a nod as I walked back to my bike, getting myself ready to shove off again.
As I stood there momentarily, the man walked towards me and said something. I still had my helmet on with my earplugs in so I let him know and asked him to speak up.
“How you doin’ t’day?”
“Doing great! You?”
“My little friend over here wanted to come get a look at you. I told her that you were a girl but she wasn’t so sure.”
I looked toward the little girl who had her face cradled between the bars of the fence . She was holding on with both hands and swinging one leg. She stared at me curiously.
I waved to her and laughed. “Oh, I’m definitely a girl, alright.”
“Oh, I know. I told her. But she had to see for herself.”
And with that, he put his hand on my shoulder as if to say take care and walked back to the little girl smiling.
He once again took her hand and they walked back the way that they came. The little girl kept stealing glances at me . As I exited the lot, I honked and waved to her once more.
It has been over a week now since I saw that little girl and I haven’t forgotten about the inquisitive twinkle in her eye. I hope that she doesn’t forget the lady on the motorcycle or at least the idea that if they want to… girls can ride motorcycles, too.
Fifty years from now, what will my generation have left behind that tugs at the heartstrings of people who like to play the “Remember when…” game? What will our contribution to fading Americana be?
If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time then you probably know that I am completely enamored by Mail Pouch Tobacco barns and advertising. But, I’m certainly not one to turn up my nose at any of the other lovely painted barns that decorate the landscape of rural America.
There is something perfect and sweet about the life that I imagine being attached to such places. In my mind they represent an ideal, a kind of life that is fading from the fabric of America as sanitized suburbia creeps further and further.
This Ceresota Flour barn on the Limeport Pike near Coopersburg, PA has to be one of the most lovely painted barns I’ve seen. And as it turns out, this mural replaced a fading Mail Pouch ad. I thought that the blue trim around the barn edges was reminiscent of Mail Pouch.
It makes me happy to know that there are people out there in the world who are working to hang on to the shadows of our popular culture.