Day 4

Denver, CO 10569.4
Burlington, CO 10736.0
166.6 miles
Tow to McCook, NE (148 miles)

I tried to prepare myself for the big long nothing of Kansas. But Kansas wasn’t coming. I kept waiting to cross the border, but Colorado just wouldn’t fucking end. It was already boring as hell, and I hadn’t even gotten to the vastness of Kansas.      The landscape is quite beautiful—abandoned farmhouses, rolling hills of green and brown, the simple, minimalist lines of road, horizon, and sky, the sun filtering through the clouds in rays of darkness against the day—but the wonder is short-lived. It’s a fifteen-second loop that ceases to hold interest once you realize you’re seeing the same thing over again.
     For a ten- or fifteen-mile stretch I saw no traffic going my direction. Lacking turns in the road, I gently weaved across both lanes, letting the sounds in my head, good and painful, fill the gray blue of the wind noise.

I filled up in Limon, 89 miles out, had a talk with a Harley rider who admired my bike. He said the Shadow, in his opinion, was the best bike ever designed. They’re bulletproof, can ride ‘em to shit and back and they’ll keep going.
     I kept on. Knowing my options were limited on this route—interstate travel wasn’t really designed with 100-mile tanks in mind—I stopped for gas at 80 miles in Burlington, CO, still wondering where the damn border was.
     I finished filling up, and…nothing. The bike didn’t start.
     The starter button stuck in and did nothing. Cursing the phasing-out of kick-starts, I wheeled into a parking spot. The electrics were on, thankfully, except for the starter and headlight, unfortunately. I took apart the starter, figured I was out of my depth, and asked the clerk if there were any motorcycle mechanics in town. No, but he suggested one place (one of the mechanics has a motorcycle…).
     Mile and a half down the road, no, try this other place. Another half-mile. Got a broken bike. Bike? …motorcycle. No. Back to the bike in the heat, call for a tow, to the nearest Honda dealership. Which is in Nebraska. So, change of plans, apparently: I’m getting towed from Nowhere, Colorado to Nowhere, Nebraska.

Get the tow, get the bike into the shop, get on-the-road priority, get a ride to a shitty motel, throw my gear down, make coffee, chain-smoke, call a few friends.
     I call my Dad for directions for tomorrow for a revised route, and go to the bar.
     I talked to a friend before the tow arrived—he raised the question, “Are all adventures only adventures in retrospect? Aren’t they all just a pain in the ass while they’re happening?”
     Breakdowns, dive bars, Nebraska, struggling to understand anything, accept or crazy, fuck. New York maybe Friday, plans, good, hope.
     It’s a cheesy, pop-psych line of thought, but thinking that the trip is bad will only make it worse. But my problem with pop-psychology was always that it conflicts with reality (and it relies on self-conditioning: 100,000 repetions equal one truth). Such long hard riding is not that enjoyable—maybe I’m better for shorter rides, why deny my nature?—boredom, adversity...Adversity makes us stronger? Maybe more tolerant, but if I already know and like what kind of a life I prefer, why test it? Why do I test myself? The only reason I can think I’m doing this is…just to do it? To push and test myself? I don’t know. For fun. When I think about how emotionally masochistic I am, a great deal more makes sense.
     I briefly talked to my brother—If you already knew what was going to happen, why would you go? His suggestion, go to a dive bar, have a shot and a beer, and try to experience something.
     What would it take for me to experience something anymore? I get my enjoyment from being torn apart by music, from conversation with people I care about, from creating—manifesting the contents of my mind—and, apparently, from emotional pain.
     Hope. I will continue to praise and curse Hope.
     Beauty. My utmost enjoyment comes from Beauty.
     Anything else, I feel I have to continue to push myself, my limits, and—most dangerously—my circumstances.
     But what the hell happened to me? I used to say I thrive on change. I think I believed it. I think I still believe that. But I get into difficulty, under various circumstances, and all I want is to be home, alone, in my bed, gathering what little comfort there is in my house. I live simply, spartanly. I live in my head, not in my house. So why would traveling have become difficult for me? It’s as though I actually became the introverted hermit loner homebody I always thought I was (and still do) and made myself out to be, and any deviation is taken as an affront.

I sometimes struggle to remember why I used to like what I did.

The Harley rider in Limon—this guy was on his way from Fairbanks, Alaska, back home to Alabama, and I got the impression that he made trips like that at least once a year: “The first day, I’m tired. The second day, I’m angry. The third day, I’m horny, daydreaming about my bed at home. The fourth day is okay, the fifth day I don’t care, and after that it’s fun.”

Seriously though—what the fuck am I doing here?

No comments: