Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Disaster Tourism

Saturday morning, we rode to the same little place for breakfast, because damn, we've never had homefries like that before.  And, it's half the price of the buffet at the Holiday Inn.  Our timing was perfect; we got there just as the V-Max club was saddling up to leave.  Always loved those things since Yamaha introduced them in '85.  They're some badass hot rods - the original musclebike in many eyes.

The forecast was a little better, but you'd never know it sitting there.  Our agenda for today was the Quecreek Mine rescue site, a ride to the highest point in PA, and a stop at the Flight 93 Memorial .  I had wanted to visit Fallingwater and maybe Kentuck Knob, two neat Frank Lloyd Wright-designed houses, but decided they had to wait for another day.

The mine rescue site was really neat, and the farmers who own the site have a ton of artifacts and stuff, which they're happy to describe in as much detail as you'd like.  Nice people.  Leaving Quecreek, I realized I needed not only my leather jacket, but the sweater I'd left behind in the room.  No lie.  I had to stop at Wal-Mart and buy one, which isn't a simple thing to do the week of the summer solstice.  We got to the top of Mount Davis, and at the base of the lookout tower I could see my breath.  June 25.  Seeing my breath.  What.  The.  ????

We endured the day's ride wondering when the cold, gray sky would spritz on us again, and it continued to answer us periodically.  We visited the Flight 93 temporary memorial, and then, chilled and tired, we headed back toward Johnstown.

It was then that each of us came to a realization.

I love nothing more than strapping that pack on the ol' girl and riding off into parts unknown.  Now I am doing it with my princess right alongside, and I just can't describe how good that feels to me.  I can honestly say that I have everything I want. I can also say that I don't mind a rainy day now and then; and in fact sometimes it's actually kind of neat all nestled in my little cocoon with the rain pinging off me and the windshield as people look at us like we're crazy.  (Crazy?  Us?)

But honestly, right then I was just plain sick and freaking tired of riding my motorcycle in and out of rain.  Even when it's not actually raining, you're looking up wondering.  It's on your mind.  When it starts, do you pull over and suit up, or will it be brief?  I never feel as dumb as I do after guessing wrong and putting a rainsuit over soaking wet clothes.... Or, in places where you just missed the rain, your boots and legs are soaked from the wet roads.  The bike has been cleaned 4 times in the last month and is filthy again.  I'm freezing.  I had had enough.  For the first time that I can ever remember, I just wanted to park the damned thing and do something, anything, else.  For this reason, I cannot entitle a blog entry a "Flood of Good Times."

Donna's realization, which she shared later on, was that we'd basically spent two days in the area looking at historical sites that are based upon some kind of disaster or other.  And, she's right.  Kind of weird for the vacation bureau to have to say, "Come visit us and see all the calamity for which we're famous!"  And of course, there's so much more beauty and legacy there, but what's the first thing everybody goes to look at?

Just outside town, the sky got lighter and we stopped at a genuine bikers-in-a-field party with all kinds of freaks and hairies doing all the freaky things that happen at those sorts of things.  We were too late to sign up for the bike games that I love to do, so we watched the slow race and keg roll, etc. and left in the middle of the weenie bite.  Saturday night was pretty lively in town, and we spent our last night finishing up the booze and watching all the action.

Sunday morning, we hit the road (after our daily breakfast at the Corner Coffee Shoppe,) and never did a mostly-cloudy day look so good.  On the way home, I thought again about how cool it is to be able to do this stuff with my parents, and how good a set of traveling companions we all are - which you're probably sick of reading about by now.  But if you could have seen Mom and Donna laughing and carrying on like a couple teenagers that first night, soaked from the knees down from splashing around in a water puddle in front of the stage, you'd probably have to agree.

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