It was cooler than yesterday and harmless white puffy clouds salted a blue sky. I was riding in from the north and had what felt like a gentle tail wind. It was unusually quiet in my helmet and the comforting drone of the motor gave confidence to the approach. Like a glider coming in, the last mile of curves were smooth and graceful. I landed in the middle of Riggins alongside the Salmon River and promptly donated an hour to the Mountain Time Zone.
This was only the second day out of a thousand mile ride. Already, a dozen different worlds had rolled underneath my wheels. I passed in and out of them effortlessly like some seasoned time traveler. Through urban traffic, rolling hills, mountain passes and amber waves of grain, I was but a transient guest in each situation and soon rambled on to the next.
The river and Hwy 95 part ways at the south side of town, after having followed it since White Bird Pass. I gave a farewell nod to the waterway, its rafters and the vibrant little town and moved on, straddling the curvy spine of the 7 Devils Mountains. I finished up that day 110 miles later entering the Paddock Valley where the Weiser and Snake Rivers meld, then nudge the Oregon border.
During these 1000 miles, on different days on different roads, I saw birch trees going by like a white picket fence. I saw people towing their hobbies smiling and relaxed because they were close to their destinations. I felt the temperatures swing from chilly to hot, and saw crops near harvest. I smelled the diesel and creosote leftovers lingering above tracks still warm and shiny from a recent train. And so I rode, one mile by one, town to town, county to county line, some names known and some, until now, unacquainted.
I was passing Lupines and Prickly Pear Cactus east of Prineville. The blacktop was steaming from a two minute downpour that I had apparently just missed. Their blossoms were still wet and glistened like desert gems. The air was still moist too, and the Vintage motor absorbed it in and purred of pleasure and satisfaction. That rain cloud had wandered off and was far in the distance and inconsequential.
Just before the foothills I stopped for gas, breathed in and assessed the whole situation. Several days and several hundred miles had not jaded my appreciation for this ride. Last winter I was anticipating these panoramic views and the wind in my face. I was athirst to saddle up, eager to ride, and anxious to call the highway my home. Now, familiar roads like old friends greeted me. The Vintage had quickly forgiven the months of inattention and cooperated with my every request. New sights around every corner were just waiting to be introduced, and I was the only person in the world to meet them at that particular point in time.
By the last day out and the odometer nearing the 1000 mile mark, the line between anticipation and realization had long since blurred. There was no need to try and separate them anyway. Lonesome roads, endless skies, the smell of the forest and the sound of the breeze were all things that combined to make up this road trip. The stuff of dreams, envisioned way back when the sky was gray and drizzly, and this journey was just a gleam in my eye.