Here’s my own contribution to “the girl” travel theme on the buzz this week. Yes, the girl is in the Middle East; but the girl’s mom was in the middle of Biker Week at Myrtle Beach–the big “cool” annual event sponsored by Jack Daniels and Harley Davidson, not Schwinn.
The beach usually feeds my soul with a kind of inspiration that I don’t get anywhere else. Although I prefer the coast during the winter months more than the summer, the last two weeks have certainly given me plenty to think and write about. I don’t think it’s the authentic inspiration I usually respond to; I think, instead, it’s the strangeness of feeling like I’m the one and only uncool woman at the beach (“uncool” meaning without a tat and a leather thong).
A lot of the beachcombers who live at the coast during the summer months leave when the bikers come rolling in. Who could blame them? The heavy traffic is horribly twentyfourseven; there’s the constant roaring and revving of imposing bike motors; all the restaurants and shops are crammed full of people who look questionable at best; and the general environment is uneasy–sort of like a cityful of Peter Fondas, Dennis Hoppers, and other outlaws. Moreover, there’s a whole lot of drinkin’, a whole lot of nekidness (as opposed to nakedness), and a whole lot of cuss words that I, for one, have never learned before this week (believe it or not!). Yes, it’s all that and more!
If I thought I could have pulled it off, I would have tried to get myself into the Marshall Tucker Band concert at the House of Blues. That would have been sweet. But it took me twenty minutes to go two miles down Ocean Blvd just to pick up a carton of milk, then twenty minutes back to the condo. I did not have the fortitude to voluntarily go through that again (multiplied by god knows how much more) for anything. I love MTB, but not quite enough to go to that length.
Before leaving the b’ch, I shoveled over $57 for a tank of fuel at the cheap price of $3.06 per gallon. The biker at the pump beside me spent only a fraction of what I did and probably traveled a whole lot further on his tank to boot. Actually, my fuel probably added up to more than all the bikers lined up along side of me at the convenience mart combined. While I pumped and pumped and pumped, I had time to reasonably figure out that what the bikers saved on fuel probably contributed to a comfort level of chrome-armored bikes, Tommy Hilfiger jeans, oceanfront accommodations, and Marshall Tucker Band concert tickets. At that point, I became downright annoyed with myself and admittedly jealous of them.
My dad was a passionate biker. He rode a gorgeous red cadillac-sized Honda Gold Wing and wore a matching red helmet, Italian leather riding gloves, and a Gold Wing windbreaker. He was the most handsome biker I’ve ever seen. His bike was very quiet and it had a killer sound system that he kept tuned to NPR most of the time. Daddy never went to Biker Week at the beach that I know of, but he did take one or two trips every year with his biker buddies, mostly across the US and Canada. He loved to ride fast and he taught me to be fearless when leaning into the curve as we rode together on his bike. I loved those feelings of quiet rides, leaning against the curves, the wind in my face, and sitting behind my daddy. I think if he was still here, I’d call him in the morning and ask him to come pick me up on his bike for a long ride.
When I compare my experiences on Daddy’s bike with what I saw at the b’ch, it erases whatever envy I summoned up at the gas pump and about the Tommy jeans, resort hotels, and the MTB concert. I suspect that Daddy would have had very little use for biker week at the b’ch because, to him, his Gold Wing was all about having respect for the ride–not just the rider. Maybe that’s why he loved it so much and why the open highway charmed him more than being way cool.
So on the drive home from the b’ch, it was the more humble thoughts of what I knew about bikes and rides that kept my wits from ending, especially as herds of roaring motorcycles and shirtless, tattooed riders passed me on I-95. I just shook my head a little bit and wondered what Daddy would have said about it if he’d been there. And that, friends, is way cool.