Black Hills Badlands Medley—Prologue
I publish many accounts of people who truly have saved up, sold everything, quit jobs, and did everything necessary to do an adventure ride of extraordinary distances and through the lands of many varied cultures. Years went by for some of them while on the road. I applaud them. They were at a time in their lives when decisions to satisfy their wanderlust could be made without directly affecting anyone else. Hell, I did the same thing back in the eighties and shoved off on a twenty-five foot sailboat pointed roughly in the direction of the Caribbean.
But lives change, people build families and futures, and can’t often take off without a care in the world except for moving forward and seeing new things. And for those who say, “You’re just making excuses. If you really want to do it, you’ll find a way,” well, I’ll have to disagree. Yes, perhaps many of us could do just that; just make it happen regardless of the cost, but for many of us that would mean disregarding our responsibilities to others who rely on us, and that is a price is too high. Yes, I and many others have made decisions earlier in our lives that put us in that position, so I cannot blame someone else. And I’m not sorry I’d made those decisions.
What this all means, to we who suffer from incurable wanderlust, means we must find adventure in other ways and when we can without sacrificing everything and everyone else we’ve worked hard for, and in my case as well, the responsibility I’ve taken on of supporting and giving a voice to those who have or are now doing adventure rides at full throttle and with full commitment and are writing about the their experiences. Reading the exploits of those RTWers can be armchair inspiration and vicarious adventure for us who cannot drop it all and leave. We can also adapt to our situations by taking snippets of adventure, riding for ourselves whenever the possible that still allow us to honor our responsibilities. For me, sometimes long journeys are still possible, but more often, shorter rides, in terms of both distance and time, are what present themselves. This is the story of one of those opportunities.
Beside writing about motorcycles and riding and publishing books on motorcycling and adventure travel, I have other jobs. My introduction to motorcycles was via a non-running example of a 1968 Honda CB350 that taught me much about working on bikes and which instilled a love of vintage motorcycles of all kinds, but especially vintage Japanese bikes. I got involved in the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club of North America (VJMC), and when they lost their club magazine editor, I was a shoe-in for the job, having worked extensively in book publishing and printing for most of my life. I also run a separate imprint of books not related to travel or motorcycles, and work as a woodworker/creative person for an individual in our small town. Besides these tasks, I often take on jobs for friends and acquaintances. During the time of this story I was building a complete set of custom kitchen cabinets. Other times I take on working on motorcycles in my little shop.
One major part of my job as editor of The Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Magazine is traveling to many club events hosted across the continent to ensure adequate photos and article would appear in the club’s magazine. On average, the riding to just VJMC events is usually around 7,000 miles. So, I keep busy. This summer the VJMC was planning their first major regional rally, Meetin’ in the Middle, being held in Atlantic, Iowa, roughly sixty miles east of Omaha, Nebraska. As the editor and a board member of the club it was important for me to be there in support of this new event, which we hope will grow and become an annual major event.
So, in July, I set off, ironically on my British Triumph Bonneville (my “modern” and more comfortable long-distance bike) for the rally. I had some time after the rally would end I would be free from magazine duties and other work responsibilities, so I thought, while I was most of the way across the country from my home in central Florida, I might as well take a few days and venture a bit further to see a little corner of the country I had bypassed on previous journeys: the Badlands and Black Hills. I’d have to make it quick, because the longer it took me to get home the longer it would take me to catch up on all the things that had been put on hold, like gathering the materials for another magazine issue and getting back to work on woodworking projects.
The ride to Atlantic was mostly through territory I had passed through before many times, so the camera stayed in the tail bag, but as I got to Iowa and the rally and beyond I photographed more of what I was passing by and through. One of my aims was to make this a little “me” time and, after having worked as photographer for so many club events, I wanted to concentrate more on the experience rather than the recording of it. So, please forgive the dearth of photos at the beginning of this story.