Hondas in the Hills

The calendar says we've already closed out the first full week of September. The temperature hereabouts is dipping into the 40s and low 50s at night with very pleasant 70ish temps for highs. Actually very nice conditions, but every year I feel the same blues and a powerful longing for summer to last just a little longer. It's been that way all of my life.
As a kid I wanted to wander the fields, ride my bicycle, and play baseball just a little longer. School was low on the list of my favorite things. The end of summer meant the end of many things I loved, and the beginning of some that I didn't. (Working on a farm in the winter is hard, cold, downright miserable work.)
Makes me think of a Beach Boys song - All Summer Long (Hondas in the hills; We've been having fun all summer long; Won't be long til summer is through; and other typically light and cheerful lyrics of Beach Boys B-side songs.) Come to think of it, all the Beach Boys songs are about the joys of youthful summers; their memories are still powerful stuff.
Maybe Bob Seger's Night Moves and his "Autumn closing in" line are more appropo for the end of summer blues at this point in my long and full life. Except that, unlike my favorite Motown sage, I feel that I have just as much to live for now as I did decades ago when the volume on my transistor radio was turned as loud as it would go to hear Brian Wilson and those surfing beach bums harmonize about our beloved summers.
So, you're beginning to wonder, what has all this got to do with motorcycling, travel, exploring, and so on?
A lot, actually. It's a chance to think about the details of this just completed summer of travel and adventure, to think about next year, and ponder all those heavy and serious things that also make up the fabric of our lives.
Like another funeral last week for a soldier killed in Afghanistan as a member of the Michigan Patriot Guard. It's so powerfully sad that ten years after 9/11 young Americans are still dying as a direct result of that terrible day. I read an amazing article today that listed 100 changes in America due to the 9/11 attacks. One of them was the formation of the Patriot Guard by Vietnam veterans, and the concept that American veterans would never allow another generation of servicemen and women to arrive home knowing that nobody gives a damn, or to have a family grieve alone because their son or daughter died for their country. Returning service members would be honored, not ignored, and casualties of war will be given the honor and respect they earned by doing what the rest of us can't or won't.

The end of this summer also allows me to consider what it now means to me personally having fulfilled two goals in my travel life.  I have now traveled through all fifty U.S. states! In so doing I have been constantly reminded what a large and incredibly beautiful country we have the good fortune to live in. I have also now motorcycled throughout all the 'lower 48' states, having only Hawaii and Alaska to motorcycle in before I complete that additional layer of travel.
Hmmmm - maybe I could ride all the way to Alaska next summer!! Something to seriously consider and start saving for!

I have decided that I won't be riding to the southwest any more. Too hot, dry, dusty, windy, and far. I've done it all by bike and car and though we will likely make car trips there, I doubt that I will do any more long trips on two wheels in that direction. I plan to now focus north, northwest and perhaps mostly, northeast. Spending more time in New England, the Canadian Maritimes, and Quebec's Gaspe' Peninsula are high on my latest priority list.
That area is beautiful, unique, cool, scenic in the extreme, different than much of the continent, and it is green! I love the verdant Midwest and northeastern part of our country because of the forests and fields. I have just never developed an affection for hot and dry. I love the majestic scenery of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, but I need water and chlorophyll-bearing plants.

I've also been toying with the thought of purchasing an antique bike to work on and show, and hopefully ride a bit. Not a basket bike really, because I lack the skill to fully restore a basket case. But rather one that needs some work that I'm able to do to bring it to a running condition, and looking nice, with original parts. Maybe a 1970s Japanese bike - one of the kind that I rode all over this part of the country back in the '70s. I'm familiar with them, they are fairly plentiful and much less expensive than old European or American iron, and parts are more available.  If only I had a shed to work in!
I have read many an article or book that describes how an antique motorcycle graces the foyer or living room of a house. This makes perfect sense to me, but it's a losing argument so I won't even go there. I have seen meticulously restored antique bikes that are nothing short of beautiful works of art, worthy of being displayed as such. (In fact, the Guggenheim Museum has done shows based on the art of the motorcycle, where the entire show was comprised of beautiful antique bikes)

Glancing at my last post, I noticed that two paragraphs were somehow deleted. The entire description of my travels through the forests and plains of northeastern Oregon, and the sudden presence of endless wheat fields of southeastern Washington, was AWOL. Perhaps someone from the Walla Walla area is responsible. I did have some somewhat unflattering words for the area around Walla Walla, and the stretch of road from WW over to Yakima. But in any event, I did spend time exploring that part of the country - I did not simply beam myself from Hell's Canyon, Oregon to Mount Rainier National Park in western Washington. (Mental image coming into focus - I can't imagine two more different geographic areas than Hell's Canyon with its complete lack of green and cool, and Mount Rainier with its snow and towering forests!)

I've been doing some reading about a fascinating man & wife motorcycling adventure team from Nebraska. From about 1960 to 1965 they went from the Arctic Circle to the tip of South America, experiencing some amazing and downright dangerous encounters along the way. To top this off the duo then rode from the northern tip of Norway down to Cape Town at the southern tip of Africa; again going places that nobody had done before on a motorcycle. Their stories, published in a magazine and later in a book, make for fascinating reading.

So, to complete the literary circle, the end of yet another summer is approaching; autumn is closing in. But I apply this line of thought only to the year 2011, not to life in general. I expect that 2012 will dawn just like every year before it, with a promise of all that life throws at us; the good, the bad; and the downright ugly. I'll appreciate the good and ride over the ugly. With luck and God willing I plan to have many more summers in which to explore and satisfy my curiosity about this grand planet we live on.
In the coming months I have some questions to ponder: should I buy an old bike to restore? Should I plan a trip to Alaska or be reasonable and head to the Maritimes? Or be even more reasonable and stay closer to home?
The bike that started it all. A 1969 Kawasaki Samurai 250cc two-stroke.
Yes, that's a kick starter, and yes, those are drum brakes, capable of gradually slowing the bike down after
the passage of significant time and distance.
Many 2-wheelers have followed this one and the joy of riding hasn't been reduced by the passage of time and distance.