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Love to Ride
 
MotorcyckeThe motorcycle gleamed in the warm sunshine as he prepared to depart. It gave him a sense of pride - for a man gains a certain sense of confidence and satisfaction from taking proper care of his equipment. And she was beautiful, he thought. The combination of black and chrome had caught his eye more than a year ago and he had not seen another since which turned his head in quite the same way.

Where would she take him today? He did not know. Sometimes it is good to have a plan, he thought. Other times - well he knew that destiny and his sense of adventure would take him where he needed to go.

The day was more than gorgeous, and as he cruised along the highway the overwhelming sense of freedom made him smile. For a little while, at least, he had nothing to worry about but the upcoming adventure and the sheer enjoyment he received from riding. It was something he had missed dearly during those long, lonely, married years.

As so often happened, the warm breeze and feeling of happiness reminded him of the unique, fascinating, mysterious woman he had met so far away in another place of warm breezes and tropical sunsets. She had left this world too soon.

winding roadHe hadn't planned to turn off into the canyon. It merely appeared and he knew instinctively it was the path chosen for him this day. He had only explored it once before, but not very far. As he rode the twisting mountain road, there was no difference between man-and-machine. The two were one. He did not think: "fast, slow, turn, brake". None of these thoughts occurred to him. He merely moved like the wind along the chosen path - the habits of control too deeply ingrained in him to require conscious thought.

But as he rode, he became acutely aware of every detail of his surroundings; cool moist pockets of air along the winding creeks which followed or crossed the road; warm dry desert air as he circled the peaks and crossed the desert-facing slopes. Everything reminded him of her. The cooler areas reminded him of her lively spirit and refreshing candor. And the warm, sunny spots were so much like her warm smile - and the comforting feeling that always accompanied the thought of her.

ridge Road"Santa Clarita Divide Road", the sign said as he rode past. It beckoned him. "Come. This is the way." And so he turned around and entered the seldom-traveled road. "Caution: road width varies next 44 miles", the sign said. Vegetation encroached upon the sides of the single-lane road and grew through cracks in the aged pavement. It smelled of mystery. And so it led him on past grand vistas from peak to peak. Something whispered "Here. This is the place.", and so he stopped and climbed a peak. She was still on his mind as he surveyed his surroundings.

To the east, a series of pine-covered peaks climbed higher and higher toward Mount Wilson, home of the legendary observatory. South lay the sprawling City of Angels, the metropolis extending through Orange County and San Diego all the way to the Mexican border one hundred fifty miles away. To the north the great Angeles Forest stretched far and desolate. But it was to the west that his attention turned as the sun began to approach the horizon. Already the high, wispy clouds had turned a delicate shade of peach from horizon to horizon. She was still on his mind, and he hoped that he could send her some small part of the magnificence that was his privilege to witness. Yet he knew this was not the final spot that would do justice to the memory of her. And so he climbed back down to venture forth once more.

He found it. Bear Divide Vista. It was deserted, but he knew the road must lead to the spot that would culminate the day's adventure. As he turned in and negotiated the twisting, climbing roadway he wondered: "Why do I think of her so? Do I infer upon her all the beauty and magnificence and tenderness that is the essence of womanhood?" Well, no matter. For on that day and in that time and place, she and the magnificent dream were one and the same.

sunsetHe turned to take in the view. "Yes, she would like this", he thought. The twinkle of city lights stretched 20 miles or more to the Pacific Ocean. He could see Catalina Island and there - nearly ninety miles offshore - the hills of remote San Nicholas. From east to west, north to south, the sky was ablaze with color. From the yellow-orange ball of the setting sun to the brilliant orange and fiery red clouds of the western horizon, to the light pinks and deep purples of the high wind-blown cirrus clouds that stretched across the sky - gradually replacing the crystal daytime skies that were now fading to velvet midnight blue.

As the sunlight faded and the gentle breeze brushed his arms, he hoped that he had been able to send some small part of that splendor to her. It was perhaps the only gift that he could give to her.

He turned to go, and knew that the ride home would be a chilly one. The sun had set and dark shadows lay across the canyons. Yet he imagined that the thought of her would keep him warm along the way.

And so it did.


Lee A. Shurie
January 12, 2002


Lee Shurie