The Long Ride Home

Tuesday, August 9—Idaho Falls, ID to Novato, CA

I arose at 5:45 am, needing to get Lisa to the airport to catch her flight to Kansas City. Since I was already up, I decided to head out early at 6:40 am. When driving from Idaho Falls to Novato, I would typically drive 445 miles and stop for the night in Winnemucca. But I wasn’t sure I wanted to end this day that soon. So while I had booked a room there, I booked a second room in Reno, 610 miles away, thinking I could gut out that distance and position myself for a leisurely ride home through the Lake Tahoe area the following day. My previous record distance in one day was 495 miles, so 611 would set a new record!

The sun had nearly risen when I left Idaho Falls. The temperature was relatively warm, and the sky clear. I reminisced about experiences in this part of the country over the past three decades as I rode past familiar landmarks along the way to the south, then west. I stopped 160 miles down the road in Twin Falls for fuel, and decided to cancel the motel in Winnemucca. I knew I’d make it to Reno.

Robert Piersig, in In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, transitioned in his writing in chapter 11 from the high country visible from Beartooth Pass to describe the “Zen” of high country.

“I want to talk about another kind of high country now in the world of thought, which in some ways, for me at least, seems to parallel or produce feelings similar to this, and call it the high country of the mind.

If all of human knowledge, everything that’s known, is believed to be an enormous hierarchic structure, then the high country of the mind is found at the uppermost reaches of this structure in the most general, the most abstract considerations of all.

Few people travel here. There’s no real profit to be made from wandering through it, yet like this high country of the material world all around us, it has its own austere beauty that to some people make the hardships of traveling through it seem worthwhile.

In the high country of the mind one has to become adjusted to the thinner air of uncertainty, and to the enormous magnitude of questions asked, and to the answers proposed to these questions. The sweep goes on and on and on so obviously much further than the mind can grasp one hesitates even to go near for fear of getting lost in them and never finding one’s way out…”

Lisa knows that I journey in this high country of the mind frequently. She captured the essence of it in a three-foot sign she bought and lovingly placed on the top of the hutch over my desk:

Walk a day in my head and you won’t ask why

I consider this high country of the mind to be an important place to visit. It used to be a somewhat dark place for me, pre-salvation. Now I travel there with the Holy Spirit, God as emissary, at my side. The view is much better from the perspective of His high country.

There’s plenty of time to spend in the high country of the mind when riding long, relatively straight stretches of road. I thought about the current political scene, and a recent exchange on Facebook where I attempted to provide what I perceived to be a truthful perspective on a situation the media had distorted beyond recognition. Several of my good friends and family on the liberal side of the scale were quick to take exception to what I wrote. It’s difficult to find the truth when we are so polarized by current events, largely, I believe, by slanted, inaccurate, biased politicking by the media.

I reflected on what Lisa and I had been through the past nine months…moving my mother into an assisted living facility and preparing her house for and selling it…then moving Lisa’s parents into assisted living near us as her father was dying and her mother too frail to care for herself. We fixed up and sold their house, too. It’s still hard to believe how much got done in a relatively short amount of time.

I stopped in Elko, NV for lunch at a Jack In The Box. When I finished a Jack Taco, I called the motel in Reno and cancelled that room, too.

2016-08-09-14-35-30I whizzed by Winnemucca, then barely made it to Lovelock, NV for a fuel stop, a little tired from the desolation in this stretch of I80 through Nevada. I met this man at the gas station, who was returning from the motorcycle rally in Sturgis, SD. He and his crew go there a week before the big event when the hotel room rates aren’t all jacked up. He has a beautiful, customized Road Glide. We exchanged stories about our Harleys, talked about the pros and cons of the Road Glide shark face faring, and he gave me some good references for motorcycle customization in the Bay Area. I left invigorated having talked with yet another avid rider…

The sun was beginning to drop into my vision, making this last stretch across the Nevada desert more exhausting. My heart and thoughts went out to Lisa, flying in the opposite direction of my ride to be with our son. He had become ill, and she needed to be there to help care for his family as he began to recover. So many families are disconnected. We are committed to being there for ours, no matter what, knowing full well that love exists in the midst of pain and suffering.

And I thought about the love of God, our creator who watches over us, who guides us, who forgives us for abusing the free will He so graciously provides—and I felt tremendous joy.

I80 ascends from Reno into California and the Tahoe/Truckee area. It is a majestic part of the state that I’ve been fortunate to visit often. From this high country I could almost see my way to the finish line, nearly 840 miles in total from Idaho Falls back to home. It was the longest ride of my life.

This has been a great journey over the past 19 days, giving me time to relax and reflect, take in God’s magnificent creation, and refresh emotionally and spiritually. That’s what long-distance riding is all about.

Ride safe!

Route:                    I15, I86, H93, I80, H37
Miles Today:         838
Time Today:         13:55
Total Trip Miles: 5,042
Weather:               high of 85
Lunch:                   Jack In-The-Box, Elko
Lodging:                Home!

Trip Summary:

Days Miles Time (Hours)
Riding:  14
Total:    19
Total:    5,042
Ave/Day: 336
Projected Rolling:    85:10
Ave/Day:                   5:19
On the Road:         117:00
Ave/Day:                   6:09


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