For the last ten days I’ve been motorcycling around the Northeast and the Midwest. Through the rolling mountains of New York, the Catskills and the Allegheny mountains touted small towns, luscious forests and hidden restaurant gems that serve farm-to-table foods together with local brews.
The Allegheny mountains through Pennsylvania seemed more rough and rowdy than the somewhat civilized backwoods of New York, but they too served up ready brews and food from local farmers. The stars of the trip, no doubt, but the winding road through West Virginia and the amazing nature that goes along with such twisting scenery soothes the soul, even at 65 mph around 35 mph corners.
The Midwest’s flat lands were a welcomed respite from from the work of the winding roads that flattened out in Ohio, Indiana and Missouri. The food changed too. Now the long single-lane roads were dotted with small towns and more fast-food. The roads were beautiful in themselves and offered thoughts that were often recited out loud in the helmet while the wind whistled constantly.
I love motorcycles because they allow the riders willing to search an experience that is lost on those that scale the highways in their air-conditioned automobiles. The experience is sensory in all its forms: from the smells to the tastes of coming rains. The motorcyclist recognizes the differences between the small back roads and the long reigning highways.
The small roads offer smells of pine and forest, of food and farms, of the dank and dusky smells of animal life to the warm and inviting smells of people cooking for others. The highways offer time but at a price: the experiences are limited to oil in fryers to oil at the gas stations. Everything is fast, from the food to the freeways.
I have lived on the highways for long enough, but the small back roads take getting used to. Perhaps I will slow those corners to their posted speed limits one day.