|LOST BUT NOT LEAST: Not knowing where you are doesn't matter
if you don't care where you're going.
That is a conservative estimate of how many times my daughter Ev and I have had to ask strangers for directions over the past three days.
She and I are on a five-day motorcycle adventure around New York State and we're not done yet, so I'm sure that number will get bigger before we're home.
I counted last night. And those are only the ones I remember.
First day out--and the first time we needed directional help, I asked a border guard in Niagara Falls, NY, the best way to get to the parkway. But we were crossing the American border, for Pete's sake. I was paranoid. Not for any good reason, I just was. So I didn't hear a word he said so the second time we found ourselves asking for directions, we were about three minutes past the border.
Ev and I are the Josh Donaldson and Serena Williams of not knowing where we are. But the thing is, mostly we didn't care.
Yesterday, we spent 90 minutes and change exploring a series of paved deer trails near the western edge of the Catskill mountains in Southern New York. We really did, for about five seconds, have two baby deer running along beside us closer than I'd ever been to a deer before, and although they couldn't hear me, I literally yelled "Run Bambi Run!"
Before seeing the fawns, we had come to a dead end but shortly after turning around, we saw a chap in a road-maintenance vehicle sitting on the side of the road.
I switched my engine off and rolled up beside his machine in silence. Before I could remove my helmet so he could see my face, the grader operator --who would if you emailed central casting with a request for a "Catskills back-woods grader operator" be the guy they send over--said, "Lemme guess. You need directions."
So adept at not knowing where we are, Ev and I have begun to emit signals.
About an hour after the grader-operator meet-and-greet, and during one of the few times we had pulled over NOT lost--a local gentleman in straw cap and bowtie stopped his pickup truck in the middle of the right lane and asked through his open passenger-door window if we needed assistance.
That reminds me. I think the next edition of "Finding your Way Around the Backroads of New York State" should contain the sentence, "Don't worry about getting lost. There's going to be a guy or couple of guys wearing baseball caps in a pick-up truck at the next crossroads. They'll help you out."
Which reminds me of another ask.
Thursday afternoon I think it was, we'd stopped for waffle-cone ice-cream cones and sat at a picnic-table studying our map. (Commented one direction-giver when he saw the map duct-taped to my gas tank: "That's some old-school GPS system you got there." But I digress.)
We weren't quite sure what town the waffle-cone joint was in, so we asked the woman at next table. She wasn't sure either, but then her husband walked around the corner and on to the patio and she asked him. He, too, was sporting a baseball cap. His said "Cornell."
He said "Interlaken" and then asked what our destination was.
"We don't have one," was our answer.
|ESCHEWING UP THE SCENERY: When you're on a trip like this,
nature is for passing through.
Turns out, he was a math prof at the nearby and very prestigious Cornell University. He very generously started offering advice on where we should stop next; specifically, he said, some hiking trails at the nearby park. He mentioned added, "You really should go to Cornell."
I looked at his partner and and said, "Go to Cornell? I couldn't even get into community college in Ontario." (True fact: in my one and only effort to get into Ryerson University's journalism school, back before it was Ryerson U. I failed.)
As kindhearted and as smart as they were, no way that couple could have known that getting off our bikes to hike up some hills or wander around a university were the last things Ev and I wanted to do.
Even though we're passing historic site after historic site and never mind that the scenery has been, at times, as Ev put it, "so beautiful I could cry," when you're on an adventure like this; it's the moving on that counts.
One more thing.
Professor Math's car was parked right beside my bike.
I was climbing on as he was stepping in. I looked at him and said "my wish for any man is that he gets a chance to take a trip like this with his daughter."
Sometimes I think God put scenery on earth to be driven through, and that he created other people so I could say things to them and could quote myself.