Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tom Joad - Day 16, mile 4,520.3, A Japanese Angel On My Shoulder...

I've never been much of a believer of most folklore, wives tales, and hearsay, but because of the success of my ride so far, I may have to tip my hat to tradition. My sister-in-law's mother, Kay Yoshimura, (Matt and Colleen in Los Angeles), heard of my ride for employment several weeks ago, and following the tradition of many Japanese Americans, she purchased a Daruma porcelain doll to bring me luck during my travels.

The Daruma doll, or Daruma san, as Colleen calls it, is a Japanese 'wish doll' with no arms and no legs. The Daruma doll, also known as the dharma doll, is modeled after Bodhidharma, the founder and first patriarch of Zen Buddhism. The doll has a face with a mustache and beard, but its eyes only contain the color white. Using black ink, one fills in a single circular eye while thinking of a wish. Should the wish later come true, the second eye is filled in. It is traditional to fill in the left eye first; the right eye is left blank until the wish is fulfilled.

Kay Yoshimura colored in the first eye before my departure, wishing me the success in my trip and job hunt. Oddly enough, I always had a feeling of security throughout my trip, and that it would bring positive results when done. Colleen told me about the doll early during my trip while visiting them in Los Angels. I thought about my Daruma san regularly throughout the trip, wondering if my little porcelain figure was keeping a watchful eye over me while I was thousands of miles away. I like to think he was. If anything, he was my imaginary guardian angel accompanying me over the endless miles. My safe return home tomorrow, and hopefully a job offer in the near future will confirm the power of my Daruma san. He then gets his other eye colored in, confirming the wish has been fulfilled.

I departed Los Angeles this morning to a sunny and warming 53 degrees. I winded my way back up through the Grapevine pass above L.A. to a warm 64 degree day. The weather cooperated with some broken clouds, but still very comfortable riding weather as I proceeded north towards Oregon again. I pushed farther north today to try to minimize the distance I would have to ride tomorrow to finally get home. I rode another 10-hour day and burned up 534 miles to put me closer to making my final push back into Oregon and home Friday evening. I was slowed down by commuter traffic passing through Sacramento, CA, this evening. No great surprise there because most of my big-city crossing throughout this trip have been weekday crossing at the worst possible hour. Regardless, I endured the stop-and-go traffic and opened up the throttle for the final push into Redding, CA, my destined stopping place for the evening.

Tomorrow, the end. This is the funny part about rides like this. You're tired and happy that it is over and done, but a part of you is ready to throw a leg over your machine again the following day and push on for another 500+ miles. I experienced this feeling coming off of several of my past big rides. Everything comes to an end, but we both embrace it and fear it? The typical evolution of long rides is that you remember and curse the uncomfortable, long days during your trip. But as time passes, you forget the suffering and realize that you've been hardened by the experience. As more time passes, you wonder if you can still endure those hardships and push your limitations just a little bit farther. This trip was, by far, the longest motorcycle adventure I have ever experienced, and I'm not ready to duplicate the hardships any time soon. But, given a year or so, I may be sizing up another major adventure. Sorry in advance Marti.

Tomorrow, Portland, home, my own bed and a hot shower, and weeks of bragging rights about motorcycle traveling. I love going home.

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