The Ents are watching. My good friend Robin Bacsfalvi wrote that in the beginning of my road journal. She used the quote from the second book of “Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien. She described Ents as ancient trees watchingEnts the earthborn, old as mountains. I had no idea at the time, but later I would think that the words held a certain poetic justice. Magic. Wasnt that what it was all about? Robin and I were going on our first big road trip together. For me, road trips are like oxygen, essential for my survival. I charge up my batteries and come back to the city a new person.
We started our journey in Vancouver, British Columbia, with no real agenda except we were heading south. Two girls. Two bikes. Two weeks. Too perfect. We crossed the U.S. border and burned south down the I-5. Our first gas stop lurched us into reality. We knew we were officially on the road when this good ol boy in a pickup truck asked us, where our old men were. Robin and I just smiled. We couldnt be bothered. This was our trip and nothing was going to spoil the groove. He had no idea about magic.
We headed east towards Yakima, Washington, and stopped in the mountain town of Cle Elum. It was dinnertime and we devoured some great Mexican food plus a couple of lime margaritas. On a side note, Robin and I were on a very limited budget. Were talking between the both of us about $40 a day. Ha! Good luck. Our motorcycles alone with my big six cylinders and Robins inverted four were gobbling more than half of that a day. Despite the restrictions, we both decided creative financing was the way to go. No problem. However, this delicious Mexican meal had already wreaked havoc on our daily budget. Sigh. We shrugged it off, promised to do better tomorrow and took off into the night heading towards the Yakima Valley.
The full moon had just started to rise and the valley was blowing a sweet warm wind that coated us in the moonlight. At one point, in the brilliant blue light, we had to stop smiling. Both of us were catching too many bugs in our teeth. What an incredible start to our journey. We pulled up into the sleepy little town of Sunnyside,Washington. Population: 1,500. Churches: 15. One of my good friends was the local surgeon in the valley and had told me to drop by whenever I was in the hood. Well, it was after midnight and we were officially dropping by.
This little town was very conservative and my friends house was in a neighborhood that resembled a Christian suburban dream. So, here we are, two strange girls on motorcycles riding over to the Cleavers house on a full moon. HmmmI could visualize the crosses coming out. Even worse, my doctor friend was not home. There was no way Robin and I were going to ride anymore. We had already ridden 500 miles and were exhausted. We pulled out our tent and started to pitch it right in the front yard. The backyard was overgrown with berry bushes and I knew my friend, in his wonderful bachelor ways, still hadnt hired a gardener since the last time I came to visit. Robin and I had no problem falling asleep. I didnt care if half the neighborhood was peeking at us through closed curtains; we had ridden hard today and deserved this sleep.
The morning came with those sweet, special sounds of a lawnmower engine starting up. Well! Obviously, my friend had hired a gardener! To the boys surprise, two sleepy, rather cat-like creatures yawned and stretched their way from within a blue tent. Almost simultaneously, Robin and I realized we were on display for half the neighborhood. We continued to stumble out and gave ourselves a rinse with the gardening hose, brushed our teeth with our fingers and with a quick wave to the gardener and the nosey neighbors, we were off.
We headed southwest, climbing up into the Cascade Mountains, down towards the Columbia River Gorge and into Hood River, Oregon. Leaving the morning warmth of the fertile valley, we passed beautiful pyramids of hops plants growing into the sky, acres and acres of mint and berry bushes, hills sketched with vineyards and fields full of yellow mustard flowers. Riding side by side, we smiled at one another, laughed out loud and blasted towards the Cascades.
Read part two and find out they braved the wind over the Columbia Gorge bridge hanging on to their motorcycles for dear life.