Subject: Wanderlust 2000.7 - south of Solitude, Indiana
Date: Wed, 05 Apr 2000 22:12:27 -0700
Those are the words that come to mind as I ride away from spending a day visiting f2f with an Internet friend - making reality of a virtual friendship. (For those who don't know, f2f is net-speak for "face to face".) Tranquil turmoil is what the Internet is doing to our society. It is changing us in ways eagerly sought but not yet understood. Its tranquility is the peaceable exchange of ideas with anyone willing to listen. Its turmoil is the immediate availability of everyone's ideas anywhere anytime. The Internet is the worst nightmare of a totalitarian mind, and yet it is the dream of a free mind.
I left Monica and her business partner Marcello to the tranquil turmoil of their web design business in her riparian manse on the Flat Rock River, a viable company with international reach, yet situated miles from 'civilization', virtually (and in reality) hidden from the world it serves. Commerce amongst utopia. I wish them well, but they already have it.
Tranquil turmoil is the descriptive state of travel, too. While moving, there is a tranquility of constant change. The process of making movement and the processing of the information flow it produces becomes a frozen moment that continually repeats itself. Once we get up on the wave, we remain stationary in relation to the wave as it moves beneath us - and moves us. Hanging ten over the motorcycle pegs is the riders version of the surfer's endless summer.
While moving, there is also a turmoil of constant change. Every bit of information in the flow of movement is a threat to be ameliorated, or a pleasure to be absorbed. Continually deciding which is which hones the rider's perceptual filter until it becomes instinct, riding the same wave of tranquility but just below the surface of that sea of conscious.
Being of a binary nature, I appreciate the duality of riding.
After being stationary for a day, I noticed my "road
sense" was not as acute. The tranquility of being ensconced in the trip
had been assuaged. The hone of the turmoil filter had dulled by disuse.
I was nearly run into, head on, by a driver on the wrong side of the road.
The two lane Indiana backroads through farming valleys mostly follow the edge of a field in a straight line, then curve around a hill and resume straight to edge the next field. It is a predictable straight, curve, straight, curve. Predictability leads to diminished awareness if you don't concentrate, and I was still thinking about other things.
I started a straight which was a mile or more long. A car came around the far curve onto the straight. Nothing registered. We approached each other. Something registered. We approached, now maybe 3/4 mile apart. It registered! The car was entirely in my lane and coming head on. I flashed my headlight rapidly, and of course began to slow. We approached. I flashed some more and put on my hazard blinkers. We approached. There was no shoulder to pull off, and the drop to the field was two or three feet - not an option to 'ditch' without great discomfort, yet stopping in the road would present a target. What to do? If I merely rode to the left and the driver suddenly corrected, then I would be in the same position. What to do? Is the driver in control of his faculties? Does he realize what he's doing? Because he came around the corner already in my lane and could not have known I was there somehow I didn't think it was intentional toward me. What to do?
Now with us about 1/2 mile apart, I slowed to maybe 10 mph (but I wasn't giving much attention to the speedometer, so let's call it a guess). I began weaving back and forth across the entire space of both lanes of the road, like going through a slalom. My intent was twofold: first, to give the driver an unexpected visual movement, maybe get him to focus, and second, to give me a sense of whether he would stay in lane or switch as I moved. It worked. He suddenly snapped upright and keelhauled his car into the right lane. From the force of his movement I decided he realized he had been wrong and would probably stay right. Or so I hoped.
As the car shot past, I saw it was a British car with right hand drive. The driver apparently momentarily forgot where he was driving.
Tranquility and turmoil. Let's just say my perception filter was honed razor sharp after that.
Stepping back a day, the trip from Tennessee to Indiana
more or less gets credit as a rain day to break my dry streak. It didn't
rain much, but I stayed in my suit the entire day. There was a burst or
two around Louisville (pronounced Luu-vul by the natives), but nothing
significant. I got a kick out of the looks on children's faces as we slowly
passed on the Interstate. They were intrigued by the motorcycle in the
rain. Getting an unsolicited wave from the rider usually set off a flurry
of activity in the car.
The bright purple Redbud trees were flaming splashes of color on an otherwise gray landscape in Kentucky. They are the color of "Santa Barbara Purple" bougainvillea and seem out of place here. If they are heralding spring, the horn is ahead of the parade. The ridge crest of the Ohio River Valley may as well be the Russian Front. It is still winter in Indiana (and it snowed yesterday morning!). But spring is not far behind. Finally off the Interstate for the last 30 miles to Monica's, I could smell the wetness of the fields and a ripe rich aroma of green onion. There is a wild chive that romps across the awakening untilled fields and pools on slopes near streams. Very appetizing.
Goodlettsville I65 US31 IN9 Flat Rock
After my two lane wrong lane excitement, the rest of the day was unremarkable. Towns passed by with amusing names, such as Stoney Lonesome, Gnaw Bone, and Loogootee, on pleasant two lane roads that were tight enough to be called "4th gear roads" ... no need for high speed. I began to notice the relationship between road numbers and rideability. Christening a "Rideability Index Digital Equation", I decided if the number of digits in the route number divided by the number of lanes in the road was between 1 and 2, the road has a high R.I.D.E. factor. Below 1 or over 2, it falls off either extreme of being over engineered highway or ungraded cow trail. A truly worthless metric, it was nonetheless enjoyable doing the research and field work for the theorem.
The town of New Harmony was the location of two successive and unsuccessful attempts (in the 1820s) at communal living long before Karl Marx or the hippies. It is open to speculation what really was the cause of their failure, but certainly the next town founded just down the road says what may have been on the minds of the Harmonites: Solitude, Indiana. So here I am, alone, south of Solitude.
Flat Rock IN252 I65 IN46 IN135 IN58
IN450 US50 IN57 IN68 IN69 Mt. Vernon
Sam Lepore, San Francisco