Notes from the Road: Paper Memories

Notes from the Road: Paper Memories

How many times have you been riding along on your motorcycle enrapt in the most brilliant, concise and clear thoughts? With each passing mile the answers to life’s questions making themselves plain. Your problems? Solved. The great novel that is your life spills through your mind with brilliant clarity.

Then as soon as you turn the key off, those strokes of genius dissipate into the ether.


In even more simple terms, I find that even remembering where I saw something, what was said, what town I passed through on a given day has become more of a challenge. Given that I have always been the type to chronicle things, writing these snippets down when I’m traveling is a natural fit.

This morning I cracked open a little notebook that was in my tankbag and found this gem written in there:

I feel beautiful when I’m riding my motorcycle.

Since I wrote it down, I guess that is something I figured I would forget.

A few years ago, in addition to having little notebooks or pads tucked away in my bag, I started to make little books out of old cardboard and sheets of paper. While I’m traveling I stick scraps of paper, postcards, pamphlets and notes in to them. I seem to make one for each big trip that I take.

Even if I just jot down the most rudimentary outline of information, like the date and a town name – that in conjunction with the photos I took help to jog my memory and keep the story straight.

euro trip notes in homemade book

Do you chronicle your trips while you’re in the middle of them?

6 Replies to “Notes from the Road: Paper Memories”

  1. I don’t write anything down until I get home but I do try to take a lot of pictures. It’s usually a mad dash for me to write a report up about the ride before I forget the details. Do you write down notes daily about the trip? It must be great to have all the details in there that you would forget otherwise.

    1. I try to do it each day, Ben. If it’s a multi-day trip there is usually a time before going to sleep when I scribble some stuff down. Sometimes if there is down time in the middle of the day, i do it then also.

      I have tons of notes that I’ve put into my iPhone while i’m killing time on the ferry or something. When i read them back – they often make me laugh especially if it is when I dictate funny conversations that i’m overhearing.

  2. Nice post. I always have a small notebook with me on the bike (and in Gina) because, as you note, riding makes us meditative and elicits deep thoughts. Often, I’m so consumed by them that I want to stop the bike just to jot them down. (I usually refrain from actually doing so, but feel the urge.)

  3. You’ve captured the way of the mind while riding better than I’ve read anywhere. I dread turning off the key.

    As far as documenting the mental part of the ride I use the camera to trigger memories and always have some blank index cards in my pocket and a little Moleskine journal.

    I’ve never made the beautiful constructions that you have though.

    Steve Williams
    Scooter in the Sticks

  4. With your simple little note to yourself you just might have established a new law of inertia, one that transcends physics and enters the realm of poetry:

    A body in motion can be beautiful.

    Usually interesting and engaging and magnetic are those immersed in activities they love. They become beautiful: to others for sure; to themselves only if they are self-aware enough and only if they are able to suppress, if just briefly, pesky self-consciousness.

  5. I always have a grease pencil in my tankbag for writing on my map case/gas tank/car than just cut me off, etc. I keep a light grey sheet of paper (doesn’t reflect sun in my eyes like bright white) in my map case when there’s no map or route sheet in there. I also carry a log book and a Space Pen (nerd-tastic) in my tankbag, but for on the fly notations the grease pencil works great.

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