Remember when summer vacations lasted 3 months, instead of just 9 piddling little days? Well, I could have taken more than 9 days (actually I only used 4 vacation days), but I certainly couldn't have taken anything close to 3 months. Not if I wanted to keep earning a paycheck! *sigh* Taking care of myself is such a bother sometimes.
So anyway, I took Tuesday thru Friday off (Monday was a holiday anyway). I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do with the time; I was just sure I didn't want to be working. I wanted to go away from the world for awhile, get away from the normalcy of my daily life, be by myself for a bit.
I'd thought about traveling -- maybe flying to California or New York, maybe driving to Chicago, or Saugatuck, or Point Pelee, or maybe all of those things! But then I thought about the hassle and stress of flying, and it just didn't sound appealing. So late last week, I made a decision. I wouldn't fly anywhere. In fact, I probably wouldn't go anywhere at all. I would just enjoy a mental retreat in my own home. Why do I need to go somewhere else to retreat from the world, after all?
Then on Saturday morning, F called me. "I have two days off," he told me. "You have two days (and more) off. Would you like to go on a motorcycle trip with me? We could leave Sunday morning, and come back Monday night."
I paused. I'd just decided to spend my vacation time alone, after all. I'd just decided not to travel. But I've been wanting to be more spontaneous, and I've been wanting to try a motorcycle trip for quite some time. Also, I justified to myself: my actual vacation didn't start until Tuesday, when I'd taken time off of work. So I didn't need to retreat from the world until then.
So I said yes. He didn't tell me where we were going, only that it was about 3 hours away. I spent Saturday mowing my lawn and then painting my parents' garage, taking care of my various obligations so that the rest of the week could be just mine. Saturday night I went to a little party at S&D's place.
Sunday morning, July Fourth, I woke up, threw a few random things in to a bag, and went out to breakfast. I thought of a couple of things I'd forgotten, so we made one final stop at my place -- then we hit the road, off into the unknown on the back of a motorcycle.
At first it was kinda scary. For one thing, it wasn't the best day, weather-wise. It had rained while we were breakfasting, and it was wet and drizzley. Maybe a half hour into the ride, it began raining again in earnest. F had brought rain gear for both of us to wear, so we didn't really get wet. But it was cold and kinda scary. I'd never gone for more than short rides on a motorcycle before, and never in the rain.
For another thing, F is a self-professed "gear slut". He is constantly buying new padded and armored clothing, and talking about the various stuff out there. He won't go anywhere without full-body protection. I found that all the gear-talk made me very conscious of how vulnerable I was out there, and all of the things that might go wrong. F had loaned me a nice thick leather jacket and a helmet, but underneath that all I had was jeans and some very thin skin. I have a friend who was in a very serious motorcycle accident when she was young, and I thought about her. I felt out of control, fragile, and paranoid.
Eventually though, I had to let it go. I gave myself a stern talking to: "You chose to go on a motorcycle trip. You have to either decide not to do it, or stop being afraid. Either get off the bike, or trust that F will most likely get us there okay. No matter what happens, worrying about the potential won't do anything but decrease your enjoyment of the actual." I decided that I wanted to do this, so I accepted the consequences and let go of my fears. I relaxed and enjoyed the ride.
The rain was off-and-on the whole ride there. I'd say it was only heavy rain at the beginning of the trip though. Probably not the best way to experience my very first motorcycle trip, but I consider it a "trial by fire (and rain)". F told me that if I could make it through that, I could make it through anything. And I did.
A few hours later, we arrived at our secret destination: Muskegon. We dropped some stuff off in the hotel room F had gotten for us, then we headed to the lake. There was a festival going on, with games and rides and carnival goodies. We had pizza, a corn dog, and an elephant ear. We walked around, played some games, and people-watched. The rain continued to come and go, and we spent 20 minutes during the worst of it huddled on the dock, under a tree, under a ridiculous pink blanket. Watching the rain come down into the lake so hard that all the boats disappeared, and we couldn't see more than a few yards past the rail. It was actually really pretty...though very wet.
We had brought our rain gear along from the hotel, but then we left it on the bike, (foolishly) thinking that the rain had finally passed. As we sheltered under our less-than-adaquate pink blanket, F remarked, "Well, at least the rain gear is nice and dry!"
Eventually we exhausted the fair's possibilities, and we decided to get some dinner before night fell and the fireworks began. In a weird "small world" twist of fate, we ran into somebody F had met 7 years ago. He helped us find a great little diner, then he got us amazingly good seats for the fireworks display, right on the dock! Luckily the rain had finally stopped by then. The show was really wonderful, and I also had fun attempting to take pictures with my phone. (The fireworks were far better than my pictures.)
Riding back to the hotel afterward, we passed a van just as it was going over a puddle only slightly smaller than the lake we'd just ridden away from. On the back of the bike, I didn't see anything coming. All I knew was that suddenly I was being soaked by a huge sheet of water! I ducked uselessly, and all I could think was, "Where is this coming from, and how much more is there?" Then we had passed the van, the deluge was over, I could see again, and I was able to figure out what had just happened.
The driver apologized when we both stopped at a red light afterward. All we could do was shrug it off and laugh, really! Stuff just happens sometimes. At least we were practically "home", when it happened. When I climbed off the bike at the hotel, one leg of my jeans was completely soaked while the other was dry. Also half of my hoodie's hood was soaked -- the rest of me had been covered by a jacket and helmet.
Fortunately, we had a hot-tub to relax in! Quite a relief, because I was really cold by that time. The bubbles felt great on cold, tired, and sore muscles. It was the perfect way to end a damp but strangely lovely day.