1 of 7
2 of 7
3 of 7
4 of 7
5 of 7
6 of 7
7 of 7
A book series a while back claimed all you need to know in life you learn in kindergarten. Remember those? I have a new one: Anything I haven't learned yet in my life I can learn on a motorcycle trip with my dad.
On a mission for Kentucky Monthly's 120 Eats to find some tasty foods in the eastern part of the state, I set out with my dad from Pulaski County early one May morning, his Honda Goldwing pointed for Harlan. We made our leisurely way along country roads, detouring at Pineville to visit Cumberland Gap. Winding our way up the switchbacks en route to the scenic lookout, he told me a story about my uncle, another rider, taking a spill into the ditch on this road. How had he managed that? I asked.
“He was looking into the ditch,” my dad answered. “Wherever you look is where you go.”
That gave me something to ponder as we rode throughout the afternoon (there's a lot of time to think on a motorcycle). It's impossible not to apply that to your own life. I know what I want out of life – getting it is a matter of keeping my eyes on the prize.
That night, happily tired from a day on the back of the bike, I holed up in my room at the Alpike Motel. After a day off the grid I was scanning Facebook and pecking away at my phone, sending emails, curtains drawn against the parking lot, sitting in semidarkness. My phone beeped. It was a text from my dad in the next room. “Come look at this sunset,” it read.
I opened my door and there he sat on the stoop, relaxing in one of the lawn chairs our rooms were furnished with. And sure enough, a spectacular sunset over the green hills of Pikeville was on show for anyone who cared to come appreciate it. I pulled up my own chair, rummaged up a little bottle of rye whiskey I'd stashed in my bag, and sat watching trucks rumble down the highway as the last of the day's light seeped away. I don't remember what we even talked about, but I remember the message just fine.
The next morning we were bound for Greenup County, my wake-up call a text summoning me for orange juice on the porch again. A little stiff from the long ride the day before, I asked my dad--who'd risen early and cleaned the bike--how many days you ride before you stop waking up excited to hop on. His brows knit at the question. “You don't,” he said.
We pulled out of the parking lot. “Do you want to eat breakfast here?” he asked over the roar of the bike, “or keep going?” I paused to consider my options for a moment—I had planned to eat at the same place where we'd had dinner.
“There's always something down the road,” he said. Sold. I found the enticingly named Biscuit World with Google map on my phone and we took a different route than we'd planned. On the best strip of asphalt on this ride, we cruised for some 30 twisting miles without coming up behind a car once, taking in the still and dewy morning that belonged only to us. I could've insisted we stick to The Plan but the philosophy of the bike rang too true to resist.
I did get to try some tasty foods on this trip. I met some interesting and colorful characters. I got some pretty photos of this gorgeous part of the state. But years from now what I'll remember is: you go where you look, remember to get outside and see the sunset, and there's always something down the road.