December 10, 2005

It's a Wonderful Life

George Bailey learned a lot from Clarence the Angel. He learned that life, no matter how complex, is good. He learned that friends and family are worth more than all the gold in the world.

Watching Clarence work with George tonight, I was struck with nostalgia for the Summer of 1973 when my brother Mark and I crossed our wonderful continent. We spent a couple of weeks heading west through Quebec and Ontario, before deciding to head back south into the US via Thunder Bay.

Tonight, sitting here with a foot of snow having fallen yesterday, I'm reminiscing about Mark's enthusiasm for the unknown. "When do you think we'll get to California," I'd ask each night as we tented down. He would smile, the way older brothers with more knowledge of the world can smile, and say things like, "That all depends on what happens tomorrow and which direction we decide to ride."

So true.

There were days that we headed north because the early July days were growing hot. Then we'd be in North Dakota, and it was cold. We'd cruise south the next day. It didn't seem to matter then that we were supposed to get to San Francisco before August came around.

Looking back, I think we meandered perhaps the least direct approach to San Francisco possible. It didn't seem to matter at the time. We got up each morning, ate some pie, drank some coffee, and then looked at a map to decide the day's agenda. "Hey," I'd comment, "I always wanted to see Arizona." Mark would laugh and comment "Let's make sure that happens soon."

I guess the best recipe for motorcyle adventure is a big brother, a couple of bikes, and the opportunity to spend an entire summer just cruising to nowhere and everywhere.

Tolkien wrote that "The Road Goes Ever On." It does indeed. I wish only that its travelers did not pass so soon. I miss them.