Covid came for Christmas, making my time with NancyJean an impossibility. Even after the worst of it had subsided, it would be weeks before the brain fog lifted enough to safely ride. After a month, we took little rides, 10 miles up the coast for espresso, 12 miles down the coast to visit our favorite motorcycle shop.
Yesterday we planned to go to Malibu, but when we pulled onto PCH at 8 am, the cars were already lined up to get in the parking lot. We have this crazy weather in Southern California, and without fail we will have a heatwave in January or February… a few days of summer to remind us why we put up with the insane taxes and traffic. Plus, Sunday was Super Bowl Sunday. Our LA Rams would be playing at the brand new Sofi Stadium in Inglewood, and Monday was Valentine’s day. But let’s face it, no one wants to celebrate Valentine’s day on a Monday. So Saturday was the only romantic beach day option for most of California. We went to our espresso bar, LUV in Sunset Beach, to contemplate.
“Hi, can we get…” my husband started to order.
“I know what you want,” the barista answered. It feels good to be known. LUV serves double espresso shots with a bubbly water chaser. It makes my mouth feel clean and awake while the caffeine does the same to the rest of me. We watch hoards of cars head for the beach. If things were this crowded in Orange County, it would be tenfold in Malibu.
We changed our destination three times before heading south, then when we passed our tract, my husband jumped in the left turn lane. “What are you doing?” I asked from two lanes over, “I thought we were going to Cooks Corner?”
“I’m just not feeling it today,” he said. “Can you get over here?”
“No,” I answered, and I didn’t really want to. I was enjoying the cruise. I told him I would turn around up ahead and meet him at home. We don’t ride solo too often. Our headsets keep the conversation lively as we zig zag through traffic and nature. I passed a turn lane, then another, NancyJean just wasn’t ready to take me home yet. I rode down to Superior. A right turn would take me into the heart of Newport’s beachy bungalow community. A left turn goes up the hill, on a curvy incline that’s fun to ride. I go left.
I passed the KTM dealer where I bought my first motorcycle ever. I was such a new rider I didn’t even ride it home. It was a sassy, bright orange little thing named Poppy. I turned left on 16th Street, through an eclectic mixture of businesses and older Costa Mesa homes. Trader Joes was on 17th, and I did not want to contend with their Saturday shoppers. Next was Placentia, then Victoria where ahhh, the downhill view of my city and sea, then home.
Sunday morning came early and we sailed through Corona del Mar with ease just after 7am. By 9am it would be packed, but at 7 we just had to avoid the right lane, where under-caffeinated people were lined up to get their fix. Laguna wasn’t too bad, Dana Point, again, avoiding the right lane, San Clemente was just waking up. We stopped at our favorite donut shop, Surfin Donuts.
“I recognize you,” the man behind us said. We got to chatting. He rides too, but he did his big ride the day before and was in his truck. That is to say I may have recognized him by his bike, but without it I needed the reminder. His name is Todd from Dana Point. The motorcycle community is so friendly.
We fueled up and jumped on the autobahn… the stretch of I-5 that goes through the military base of Camp Pendleton. There are no on/off ramps for miles and cars go FAST! We get off on hwy 76, and head inland. Our mission is loosely centered around getting honey from one of the roadside stands just past Pala Casino. We pass the honey and head towards Lake Henshaw. The cars dissipate, it’s just my hubby and me. He likes to take the curves faster than I do and I tell him I will meet him at the overlook.
NJ carries me gently, leaning into the road, the farmland gives way to the lake and birds of prey soar alongside us. A few motorcycles are racing down, then something crazy, a guy on a skateboard with a video camera! Then a few more motorcycles, and another skateboarder goes by…. and people think riding a motorcycle is dangerous! I want to call their mothers.
While my thoughts are blending together, I am also thinking about Joseph. I write a daily blog to walk alongside people reading the bible. It’s easy to get lost, especially in the Old Testament. Anyway, we are moving into the chapter on Joseph and he’s so remarkable. Terrible things happen to him, and he just rides it out, betrayal, false accusations, imprisonment, but he never gets lost in self-pity or despair. I have been trapped by those emotions a time or two, and I have a few family members who get stuck there as well… one of which was NJ’s namesake, my mom, and I long for her on this ride.
Riding gives me the ability to share life with her on a cosmic level. She loved to make people smile. NJ makes me smile, the road, the soaring birds, the crazy skateboarders with their friends, the air is so fresh it tastes good… the synching of the physical requirements of riding with the ebb and flow of life all around me is perfect. And, like Joseph, all sorrows, all regrets simply do not exist. I know my mom knows this freedom now too, and I smile, knowing her peace and joy are as full and complete as mine in this moment.