Monday, August 11, 2014

A Memory of Mile 5,007: To the Devil and Back

Dorothy took the lion, the scarecrow, and the tin man with her to Oz. And when she returned home, they were there waiting for her. But while they had not changed, her eyes to see them had.

I hit the button marked "TRIP" at my left thumb while we were riding out of South Dakota into Wyoming on a beautiful little road outside Belle Fourche where John Wayne once drove fictional cattle. ("Belle Fourche" means "beautiful fork." Deep meaning, indeed.) My trip meter read "5007." Halfway to 10,000. There has to be a truth in there somewhere.

I had already spent the previous two days exploring Wyoming, but not this particular road. Plus, I was riding beside my brother, Goldfinger, along with a host of other Gypsys going out to what would be one of our farthest points from home. (Yes, in our MC that's the proper plural of "Gypsy.")

Devil's Tower is about 1,500 miles from my house, although it was much longer according to the backroads that landed me there gawking at something that truly deserves to be called a "natural wonder." But the number that got my attention was 5007.

This monstrosity of rock that you begin to see from miles away stands where many different lands converge. From Devil's Tower in Wyoming, you are not far from Montana or either of the Dakotas. It feels like a place where things come together, which was certainly true for this adventurer. But little did I know when I began this 10,000 mile project that the halfway point would wind up being an "out-and-back" journey.

It's what Bilbo Baggins experienced on his "there and back again" quest. (The book, by the way; not the awful movie.) And it's what Dorothy experienced when she reached her farthest point in Oz. The simple truth that when you take out on an epic journey, you reach a point when you long for home.

As I rode handlebar-to-handlebar with Goldfinger at the back of the pack out to Devil's Tower, it suddenly occurred to me that I had taken a piece of home with me. Most of us who converged on Sturgis all live within an hour of one another. But there we were on the there-and-back-again journey far from where any of us call home.

That's when everything came together for me. Everything converged. I had reached the farthest point, and now it was time to start making my way back. And when we all finally got home, it was with different eyes.

"Home" means many things. For many of us wayward children, it does not mean the place where you grew up. That's actually the last place I would ever want to return. No, "home" is where you feel safest and most secure.

In some ways, every time I get on Rocinante and start the motor, I'm home. But I also know deep down that the stable where she sleeps most nights is the place where my family also sleeps, where my chair that I'm sitting in now on my typical Monday day off is always waiting, where my grumpy tomcat sleeps by the window when he's not hollering for food. It's where a cup of ice water is readily available. And it's where I can bask in the memory of an epic journey that still has a few more miles to go.

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