September 9, 2008 She never liked motorcycles, vowed shed never allow me to ride one. Her cousin had been killed back in the 30s flat track racing and she had never forgiven the machines. Still after persistent whining I finally wore her and Dad down. One night he just said, aw hell, its his life, his money, let him buy the damned motorcycle. So she found herself one day following me back home after taking me to pick up my first bike, a used and soon to be abused Honda Trail 90. Years later she confessed to me, that watching me fly down that road she could see the freedom the machine represented, she could see the joy that I felt. And she somehow got it. Over the years Id joke with her about taking her for a ride on whatever bike I had at the time, or even letting her ride it herself. This went on into her later years, these past few when she lived next door to my family here in Portland. Shed lived in my childhood home for 25 years by herself after my father died in 78. Never letting the loneliness or the fears get to her, she held onto her fierce independence as long as she could. One evening over the phone she mentioned to my wife she was considering moving into an assisted living apartment. I made some calls, the planets aligned, circumstances made it possible and soon she had condensed her lifes possessions into a Mayflower truck and moved 2500 miles away to live next door to her youngest son, his wife and her two granddaughters. She had given up her home in Arkansas and all of her independence, finally recognizing she needed some help. Now, almost four years later Im taking her home, on the bike. She wouldnt say no this time. So on a warm mid September morning I walked my youngest daughter to her 2nd grade class, gave her a hard lingering hug and tearily kissed her bye. Shes used to me sometimes going out of town for work, but never for this long. Ill be gone at least three weeks, I think, for this trip. Ill miss her and her big sister and her Mother terribly. Normally on the advent of a motorcycle trip Im giddy and buzzing with excitement. This time was different. I found myself nearly overcome with a sense of foreboding and ennui as this ride represented the end of something beautiful, rather than the beginning. I left town by way of I-84 headed east. Let me say here I hate freeways when traveling by motorcycle. I rarely use them, preferring smaller two lane routes. Its hard to have fun when youre battling trucks and cages for space. Food along freeways suck, just the same old corporate franchised frankenfood product. But this morning I opted to make some miles fast and Id ridden all the good routes east plenty of times. There was a very long way to go so it made sense at the time. I-84 A hundred miles in and I changed my mind. A type A asshole in a Subaru w/ one of those 5thousand dollar bicycles on the roof tried to cut me off and gave me the finger for no reason I can figure other than he was in a Subaru, his life sucked and Im on a motorcycle. So I diverted to a more scenic two lane that parallels the freeway, then cross the Columbia at The Dalles and take two lane WA14. I make a mental note to never ride a motorcycle on a freeway again if I can find an alternative. A more scenic alternative route, The Historic Columbia Highway near Rowena WA-14 follows the Columbia and though Ive ridden it lots and its littered with cops trying to bust me for speeding I still enjoy the expansive views of the great river. Eventually it ends and I crossed back over to take US730 US12 through Walla Walla to Lewiston and the famous Lolo Pass route over to Missoula. I picked a perfect day for it, light traffic, warm air, no wind, incredible scenery. I passed a geezer riding one of those ridiculous Bombadier three wheelers going 35 through a 45mph turn. Sorry I just dont get it, but he had a huge grin as I go by. US 730 along the Columbia I was in the flow and the flow was good. I took no photos, just was not in the mood. Hell everyone has seen the sign warning 77 miles of winding road. And though the sunlight was waning I passed offerings of riverside cabins and cold beer to keep riding, risking breaking my rule to not ride after dark. I crossed the pass at sunset and paused at the entrance to Lolo Hot Springs but decided the rooms would be overpriced and continued cautiously in near darkness, nervous of encounters with deer, moose or other animal hazards. About 15 or so miles from town I came upon a group of sportbikers helping one of their own who had crashed. just lost his front end, thank goodness he was wearing gear. No shit. Nothing I could offer in the way of help. Soon I was some 570 odd miles from home cruising through Missoula looking for a motel and food. Tomorrow would be a big day.