Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mile 677: Something Else

I have friends with names like Spidermonkey, Dirty D, and BIGJEW. Let's just say that I travel with people who do not usually go out for what the regular crowd considers entertaining.

My good brother, Whiskey Tango--(That's whiskey with an "e," boy-o)--put up on facebook last night that he wanted to go for a ride on Sunday afternoon. Now, mind you, I did the whole Mother's Day lunch thing with the wife and kids today, and had a wonderful time. Seriously. Good times and good eats at Torchy's Tacos. Mmm, mmm. good. But I also knew that the afternoon would shortly consist of a house full of women and teenagers getting decorations ready for our end-of-the-year high school awards banquet. And at that prospect, I thought it would be better to do something else.

I feel that way on a lot of holidays to tell you the truth. Mixture of emotions. That while everyone is following the regular path, I would rather be doing something else.

So I call WT: "Hey, Brother, where you wanna ride today?"

WT: "I don't know, we'll figure something out."

And about thirty minutes later, I rolled in to a Valero station at 288 and Hwy 6 just south of Houston.

I stop, fill up the tank with gas, go inside and get a bottle of water, and do the obligatory check of my phone to make sure the world is still spinning. Only a few minutes later, WT rolls up to the pump next to mine, shuts down his bike, greets me, and proceeds to fill up his bagger.

As we stood there taking in the breathtaking scenery of gas stations, a flat side road, and a Jack-in-the-Box, WT starts listing off places we could ride. Bars, restaurants, and so forth. But when he mentions a place down on the Intercoastal Waterway in Freeport that we can sit outside, eat a cheeseburger, and watch the boats go by, that got my vote.

Off we rode.

When you ride with a brother you respect, there is something that happens that only motorcyclists understand. You are on your own machine, but you are together. It is a dynamic that is downright impossible to describe. Some things, you just have to experience.

As we made our way towards the Gulf Coast, the clouds occasionally opened up on us to cool us off with gentle sprinkles of rain. Only once did it really rain--like, rain rain--and that only for a minute. It was just enough to make you wince when the sharp little pellets of unhappiness hit any-and-every inch of exposed skin.

But it was not long before we saw Pier 30 up ahead surrounded by fog rolling from the water. (We were both grateful, by the way, that it was fog and not heavy rain. Because from a distance, we couldn't tell.)

We sat and talked, laughed, talked some more, met up with one of WT's friends. Just a couple of hours of sitting by the water watching the fish jump and the cranes fly by.

Then, when it was time to go, we left. Roared back up 288 until we parted company back at Hwy 6 where we joined up hours earlier.

And that was that.

As I rolled back into Houston, I rounded the South Loop making my way home. I crested a little hill by Reliant Stadium as the sun peeked out from behind a cloud on what turned out to be a beautiful evening. Since it is May, Houston (and many other cities I'm sure) are devoting their lighted highway signs to Motorcycle Awareness month with the display, "Share the Road - Watch for Motorcycles." People like me appreciate that more than we can say. People with names like Spidermonkey, Dirty D, BIGJEW, and Whiskey Tango.

The picture frame in my head can still see the highway sign, over which was a giant Texas flag backlit by the evening sunbeams. At that moment, one of these "10,000 Truths" really hit home. Going down the highway on my bike, I thought, I know I could be doing something else right now. But I can't for the life of me imagine what it would be.

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