Out of all the ways that I have wandered around North America -- sailing, hiking, motorcycling -- motorcycling is my favorite (or maybe it is just the easiest!). I have traveled through seven of the ten Canadian provinces and all of the USA except Hawaii and Louisiana on a motorcycle. This is the story of one of those rides.
While driving along Highway One, in California, I came to an area called Big Sur -- a very beautiful spot indeed. I took a detour up a dirt road to a cheap camping spot ($3.00/night). It was very small and isolated with only five tent sites, a hand pump, and a sign telling you how to shit in the woods. There was no one else around. After setting up my tent and cooking some dinner, I decided to go for a walk. I found an area at the top of the mountain that a forest fire had cleared. Since it was getting dark on a clear moonless night I could see all those billions and billions of stars that Carl Sagen used to talk about. Without any lights from nearby towns this was a very dark and starry spot.
There was just one problem: it was getting very cold, and so I went back to the tent to put on my cold weather gear. Traveling on a motorcycle really limits the amount of gear you can bring. Cold weather gear meant wearing all the clothing I had with me—the outside layer being black leather boots, chaps, jacket, gloves and a black full face helmet. Having put all this stuff on I went back up the hill to lay down and look up at the amazing sky.
I was there for quite a while lost in the stars, when a family with a young daughter about 10 years old wandered into the clearing. They must have lived locally and knew of this spot for stargazing. So there I am lying flat on the ground with my body totally encased in black leather and full-face helmet. I decided to stay still and see if they would spot me. They stood about 10 feet away absorbed in the night sky talking amongst themselves, also getting lost in this dark starry night. This went on for about 10 minutes, when the young girl, getting bored with the star stuff looked in my direction. She pointed towards me, asking, "Mommy what’s that over there?" They still couldn’t tell what that lump was, just ten feet away. I didn’t want to scare them-but I did stand up, to introduce myself, and commented on what a beautiful night it was. The young girl screamed and Dad jumped in front of the mom and little girl. Trying to be polite, I pulled off my helmet and made small talk. This didn’t work—they never spoke a word-just retreated backwards like I was a bear to run away from. They made their way back down the path in a real hurry.
I just lay back down and got lost in the stars again, thinking about first impressions. Too often we judge or are judged on our first appearances, sometimes we are right, sometimes we are wrong. This experience and others like it, on my adventures, has taught me to withhold judgment. In many cases, I have had the opportunity to meet some amazing people while wandering this amazing continent of ours. I’m sure that family learned a lesson too—I’d love to hear the story they are telling people about that night.
Come on in to Captain Pizza and tell me your adventure stories while enjoying some delicious pizza.