Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Destination in Time

Every couple of weeks or six, I'll pop down to Team Oregon headquarters on my day off to interrupt the girls in the office to chat, preventing them from getting any work done. I figure that if I'm not working on a Friday, neither should they.

During one impromptu visit, I was chatting with Rhonda at the reception desk and we got on the subject of covered bridges. I mentioned to her that Brandy and I were trying to get photos of our bikes in front of every covered bridge in Oregon. I told her how we would map out a route, pack a lunch and ride to the bridges to take photos. She thought this was a great idea and asked if I would write an article for the Team Oregon newsletter...

Destination in Time

Bradley and Brandy LawrieIn the motorcycling community we often hear an adaptation of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote “Life is a journey, not a destination” more so as “It’s not the destination, but the ride.” This holds true for many, and it is a great mantra when applied to riding solo. But what happens when our riding partner, whether a friend or spouse, poses the question “Where do you want to go”?
Where to go? But I thought it was about the ride? Ironically, I am guilty of asking that very question, putting the focus of the ride on the destination. For the answer, we check our calendar for any local events; many of us participate in motorcycle shows, charity rides or poker runs. Some of us live to ride and ride to eat, visiting quaint little cafes, delis or tiny eateries in neighboring counties, possibly hinting at an excuse to ride out to the coast.
But what if the journey was back in time, and the destination was 1928?
Oregon boasts the largest collection of covered bridges in the West. There are fifty covered bridges throughout the Willamette Valley, Southern Oregon and the Coast, including one in Portland and another in Central Oregon.
BridgeBridgeBrad and Brandy
To travel back in time I unfold a paper map, and with pencil in hand, stitch together a route consisting of two or three covered bridges while my wife packs a tasty picnic lunch. Then, with our time machines fueled, we set off.  We’re not in a hurry; we leave the GPS at home, our cell phones are shut off and stowed down deep in our saddlebags, as not to upset or perhaps change the delicate time-space continuum. 
Arriving at our first destination, we slowly ride across the bridge, listening to the large timbers creak, feeling the planks ever so slightly stress beneath our tires. We ride out the other end of the bridge to park under a shade tree and shut off our bikes. There is a hush as we remove our helmets, and without talking we acknowledge that we are indeed back in time. No one is around, there isn’t any traffic, our bike engines “tink, tink, tink” as they cool in the shade of the trees. The birds are chirping over the burble of the creek below. Listen carefully, a horse in the distance responds to our presence. The rustling of leaves beneath our feet transports both of us to our younger days as kids playing in the woods. 
Holding hands, we stroll back under the privacy of the sheltered trusses to steal a kiss, as is customary during our visits. You see, not only were covered bridges known for protecting travelers from storms, as well as used to hold dances, parties and town hall meetings, they also protected lovers from sight and became known as "kissing bridges.”
They were built to preserve the bridge decks and trusses from the rain, preventing slippery bridge decks and lasting much longer than standard open wooden bridges. They were even designed and painted to look like barns, so as not to scare horses as they pulled wagons across.
We tote our picnic lunch down to the water, then sit and enjoy quiet conversation. Before leaving to visit the next stop on our route, we take a photo of our bikes in front of the bridge. Eventually, we hope to get photos of our bikes in front of all fifty covered bridges in Oregon.
More detail for where to find these tranquil spots can be found on my blog, Troubadour on a Tiger. And if you see our bikes parked near a covered bridge, remember to mind the paradoxes of time travel.

We still have several bridges to get, now that the weather is starting to cool off, we shall.
Hope you enjoyed the article, I certainly enjoyed writing it.