Walt Whitman, Wild Hog

Song of the Open Road
Walt Whitman 1892
(condensed* 2013)


Wild Hog and Poet

Strong and content I travel the open road,
The long path before me leading wherever I choose.
You road, I enter upon and look around, I believe you are not all that is here.
You are latent with unseen existences.

The earth expanding right hand and left hand,
The picture alive, every part in its best light.
From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,
Going where I list, my own master total and absolute.

Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.
I inhale great draughts of space,
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.

My impulse to feature Walt Whitman came from the essay: “Emerson and Whitman Were Wild Hogs”, by Charles Johnson, PhD, Valdosta State University.  This and other quirky articles of interest to bikers are found on the scholarly International Journal of Motorcycle Studies.


A Radio Telescope, Manure and the Public Purse


Highway of Mystery

“This road is weird!” I thought.  I’d gotten a little lost on my first day out of Washington DC.  My touring style encourages this.  I spurred the rented Harley Davidson ‘Road King’ down a stretch of freeway that my West Virginia roadmap curiously omitted.  The oppressive July heat began to break as the road climbed and the sun descended.   I wasn’t sure where I was headed except in the right general direction.  I saw no signs.  I saw no cars.  I passed exits that connected to unidentified dirt roads.  No evidence of normal activity appeared for 5 miles…for 10 miles.  After putting 18 weird miles behind me, barricades appeared and the mysterious highway simply ended.  A final exit served no other purpose than to let me turn me around.

So I admired the same beautiful, empty superhighway from the other direction.  Twin ribbons of fresh concrete flanked by generous shoulders swept grandly, conqueror-fashion, through a virginal mountain landscape.   I glided over magnificent bridges wondering, “Why is this here?  Where does it go?  Why is there no traffic?”  When I’d fully backtracked, I saw a sign that I’d missed saying, the “Robert C. Byrd Highway”.


San Juan…Diego


San Luis Rey de Francia

Curiously smooth and uniform clouds slid by like migrating flatworms 10,000 feet below my window seat.  Rosalie and I were flying up the coast to San Juan Island after two busy weeks in San Diego.  We’d reflected on these names after a visit to Mission San Luis Ray in Oceanside.  Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaíno named the area that’s now San Diego for the Catholic Saint San Diego de Alcalá in 1602.  Francisco de Eliza named the San Juan Islands, Isla y Archiepelago de San Juan to honor his patron sponsor a bit less than two centuries later.   

Spaniards were good at finding nice places…but they never produced much of a motorcycle.



Feel Like a Kid Again!


Kids are easily excited.  Kids do stuff with no thought beyond the current thing.  Kids have no ‘to do’ lists.  Kids don’t worry much.

Riding makes me feel like a kid again.