Sunday, October 26, 2008

Lessons from a Motorcycle Trip

As a teenager, I once went on a motorcycle trip with my parents. My father, having grown up in rural Oklahoma on the back of a motorcycle, always remembered fondly the thrill of riding. Strangely enough about the time he hit middle age, my parents bought a Gold Wing. They promptly decided to take a trip to Yellowstone with some friends. For some reason I cannot remember, I came along on the back of their friends’ son’s bike. The trip was wonderful. And by that I mean I only remember three things about it.

First, let me explain that I have a bizarre sleeping habit. Being in a car puts me to sleep. Out. Zonkers. Drooling, snoring, nap fests. There is just something about the hum of the engine or the rhythmic undulations of potholes. Luckily I am usually not the one driving at the time.

Originally I thought this was instinctual, derived from cavemen’s nomadic lifestyle; an inborn way to prevent boredom while driving their cars from place to place. It turns out they’d yet to invent the modern wheel and driving with square wheels is way too uncomfortable for snoozing. So instead I theorize that this tendency has its roots with my childhood propensity for carsickness. After years of hearing, “just shut your eyes and try to relax,” whenever I felt sick, I eventually skipped the carsick and went straight to the sleepiness. Just call me Pavlov’s dog.

I am not one of those people who can force themselves to stay awake. I once fell asleep walking, although I promptly woke up after hitting a wall. I can sleep anywhere, anytime. Motorcycles and sleepy car drivers should never, ever mix. You would think that driving down a highway with the wind (and bugs) on my face (actually the helmet’s visor) would be enough to keep me alert. But it wasn’t. I think the poor guy had to practically hold me onto the bike. Not my brightest moment. Nowadays my husband gets annoyed when I fall asleep instead of keeping him company during road trips. At least he doesn’t have to simultaneously drive and try to keep me from falling out of the car!

Secondly, I remember our bike breaking down at the beginning of the trip. I remember having to stop at some small mechanics place to get it fixed. While there my dad decided to order a deli sandwich. I vividly remember the conversation my parents had:

“Dear, what kind of meat do I like?”

“You like the turkey.”

“What is my favorite type of cheese?”

“You want the American.”

I found this conversation hilarious until I was married a few years and my husband asked me where his socks were kept.

Last, but not least, I remember a valuable agricultural lesson. On the way home we all pulled over to rest. I think this had something to do with a sleepy lump on the back of one bike needing stimulus to keep awake (which makes calling it a “rest” kind of silly I guess). It was a gravelly ramp and, as my parents began to slow, cows began to cross the roadway. Now swerving on a bike on gravel is NOT a good idea. They didn’t have time to turn; they didn’t have time to stop. They were going to make some hamburger meat, spiced with that elusive flavor of motorcycle. An instant before they hit that cow, it JUMPED out of the way. You heard me right, it jumped.

So now you know: don’t expect witty conversation on car trips with me, husbands store all their knowledge in their wives’ brains, and, given the right circumstances, cows know how to jump.


  1. How funny! My dad had a motorcycle when we were little. I can't remember exactly how old I was, but it was before I was in third grade. Anyway, he used to take us for rides around town and to keep us from falling off, he would loop his belt through our belt loops and back through his. Nice and safe...right!

  2. So was this jumping cow was on his way to visit, his best friend, the flying pig?

  3. I didn't remember that you had been on that trip with them! That is really funny. That sounds just like a conversation mom and dad would have.

  4. I need to start being careful at what I call "middle age." I just realized Elise will be the age I was on that trip in just 6 years. Ouch!

  5. By any chance did the cow jump over a moon perhaps? Ah, nothing like bugs in your teeth. I'm glad that your story didn't include you falling off onto some freeway on the prarie.

  6. I am totally imagining you on the back of a bike with some super hot, James Dean wannabe, bad-A Harley rider, and you falling asleep, drooling on his back. lol! Excellent image.
    I've heard that story before, but I didn't know you were with them. And Barlow always does stuff like ask me what he likes- when we're at a restaurant and they ask him how he wants his meat cooked he always has to ask me how he wants it.

  7. He He He, No wonder as a mother I feel like I am getting dumber! My hubbie is using up all my available space so that he has room to store not only the score of every BYU game, but a play by play Hmmm....

    I remember you going on that trip, it is kind of random that they had you tag along, I have still never been to yellowstone, maybe this summer you guys should meet us there??

  8. I always tell Todd he would be in so much trouble if anything happaned to me. He would starve to death and be naked. But in all fareness if anything happaned to him I wouldn't know how to do a thing with my car except put gas in it. Which means when it broke down or got a flat tire I would end up starving to death also.

  9. I thought we were going to be the hamburger. It is true that at the moment I knew we were going to hit the cow I screamed and the cow really did jump out of the way. We only brush it with the saddlebags. No sleeping after that. I really thought you were going to fall off the motorcycle. It really was a great trip.