PROLOGUE (Pictures may or may not be forthcoming) (See my fathers pictures/side of the story at: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=265019) ‘Cack’ may sound like an odd name for my dad’s motorcycle, and, admittedly, it is. Cack is a 1990 Honda Pacific Coast. That won’t help any reader who has never seen one of these fine machines, I guess. It was at one time red, but is now covered in high-visibility orange paint. This only serves as a base for multiple bumper stickers. Most of these boast the names of country music singers, western towns, etc. On the back, a plastic chest (that cost nineteen dollars at the hardware store) is attached with the handle from a barbecue grill. The turn signals of a school bus are also attached. It is a fitting name, as you can see, and my father, Vermin, is nearly as odd as the bike. I say this lovingly, however. My dad is six feet, four inches tall, and his life is much like that of a Christmas tree ornament. By that, I mean that he sits in a box (or cubicle) for fifty weeks of every year. He is allowed out of the box for only two weeks. For these fourteen days, both the ornament and my dad serve their main purpose in life; for and ornament, it is to hang from a tree, and for my dad it is to take motorcycle trips. Motorcycle Trips. I hate that term. It is too plain, too un-glorifying. From now on, I will refer to these excursions as they should be—Excellent Adventures. Anyways, dad always leaves home on these excellent adventures and returns home, refreshed and revitalized. His morale is raised greatly (raised enough, at least, to last him fifty weeks in the box.) For over thirteen years I have aspired to accompany him on an excellent adventure. One day, after it had been decided that he would, in fact, blow my mind with and excellent adventure (or attempt to), he came home from the cubicle and began to speak. I could tell by the tone of his voice, and by his vague hand gestures, that he had an amazing idea that day. “The way I see it, motorcycle trips are only half fun. You will spend one week leaving the house, and that is the most fun a human can possibly have. The return journey, however, is just a weeklong commute back to work. What if we left home for two weeks, and returned home in a few hours.” “I don’t follow.” “What if we take Cack out to San Diego and leave it on the side of the road? We could take our time getting out there, and fly home.” “That sounds great.” DAY ONE I had, until this point, spent a lot of energy trying not to get my hopes up about this trip. I am sure that everybody, at one time or another, has been told that a parent would do something and been let down. Excellent adventures, particularly those of my father, have a high tendency to fail before they even begin. I knew that I would be wrecked emotionally if I had great expectations from this trip and they were not met. So, can you imagine the surprise I felt when I realized that I was really riding through the town of Stockbridge on Cack, with my dad sitting in front of me? I was just realizing that I was leaving the house, really leaving the house, when my dad pulled over to the side of the road. “Why did we stop?” I asked. I would be lying if I told you that I wasn’t slightly angry about the fact that we were no longer moving away from the life I had become accustomed to. “Rain.” My dad pointed towards the horizon. A thick, gray line was gathering, and I knew it was too broad to simply ‘miss us’. I also knew that the phrase ‘wait it out’ has never come across my dad’s lips. We both hopped off Cack, and my dad went to the plastic trunk I told you about. He reached inside of the duffel bag we had attached to it (with bungee cords), and withdrew a nylon bundle. I grabbed this, and it unrolled almost at once. Two things, which I now knew were waterproof pants and a matching shirt, went flying out to either side of me. I collected them and noticed with embarrassment that all three adults were done suiting up. I put on my pants (getting extremely pissed off when they stuck to my boots) and threw on the coat. We all hopped back on our motorcycles and rode along. The storm cloud ahead, now much larger, made me wonder: was this just another dream, like the ones I had been having for the last several days? I preformed a quick ‘reality test,’(by plugging my nose and attempting to breath in), and knew that this was definitely real. The needles of pain on my bare hands, caused by the rain and hail that had started up only a moment ago, were real. The nervous feeling in my stomach that I had been feeling since we left home was real, and the lightning that would periodically crack the sky was real. The most tangible of all things, however, was the wind. Cack was acting like the canvas sail of a ship. We had loaded it up with over one thousand pounds of crap . On top of this, the winds were moving at over thirty miles per hour. A single gust could (and did, several times) send us dangerously close to a semi truck. After this happened twice, I noticed that my dad’s head, (or the back of his helmet, rather), was turning from left to right quickly. I knew he was searching for a place to stop, even if it was just an awning or overhanging rooftop. There was none, and we continued to ride for almost ten minutes, until we found a gas station. During those ten minutes, I enjoyed seeing the shocked expressions of automobile drivers. What are you doing on a freaking motorcycle in this weather? Heck, there were four-wheel drive S.U.V.’s pulled over on the side of the road. I knew what that several nervous females were wondering the same thing, sitting on the couch with a Bible in hand (yes, I’m talking about you, Mom and Grandma). Eventually, however, I knew they would stop worrying, even if that was after I arrived home. That would not be for quite a while, though. For the moment, I would let them worry. I was perfectly confident in my dad’s driving abilities. (I know I probably shouldn’t have been. But, I’m an eight-grader. What do you expect?) We pulled off into the parking lot of a gas staion, and, as we sat under the protective metal canopy above the gas pumps, a semi truck came rolling into the parking lot. I nearly fell off my feet in amazement when it rode through a puddle and the water came up to the axles! Almost immediately after the truck found it’s parking spot, the rain stopped. Not completely, but to the point where we felt safe riding. My dad told me that he has never—and this is no exaggeration—exited Michigan by passing under the lake with the same name, without some complication. This time, for example, we were nearly out of the state when I swore VERY loudly in my head. The freeway was clogged up with cars like our toilet on Thanksgiving. Even worse, there were more than forty Asphlundt trucks lined up. After a very short wait, we wormed our way through the crowd and cruised along the shoulder. Now, I stink at any form of rebellion whatsoever. Even riding along the shoulder was enough to make me wet myself with excitement. Several people honked their horns at us, but by then I was too deeply into the rebellious mindset to care. In fact, I didn’t even start wondering about the ‘morals’ of the situation, like I normally would. Here is an example of what I DID think whenever anyone honked: HAHA! CAN’T CATCH ME NOW, CAN YOU (swear word) (swear word) (swear word) (slightly bad, but not horrible word)! We made it to a hotel in Joliet, Illinois, a little while later. I heard Chip’s conversation with his girlfriend (the fourth ‘excellent adventure rule #1 my dad had told me was to ‘call the nervous femmes’. After swearing loudly several times, he told us that the storm we rode through destroyed every house but his in his neighborhood!