AWAI Writing Challenge Winning Entry:
“Two Wheels to Adventure”
The road in front of me is an arrow-straight path, dissolving into the slate-grey horizon miles distant.
Off to the left and far ahead I can just make out some buildings. And to the right, some seriously big storage tanks begin forming out of the flat, prairie landscape. A light wave of snow sweeps across the gravel roadway just ahead of me, although the term “road” is a bit of a stretch.
It’s more like someone came along and laid down a fresh layer of crushed, jagged-edged rocks. Then they filled in the cracks with something similar to dirt, added a powdery binder and left it all for the huge tractor trailer “trains” to pack everything down.
One of those trains, three tractor-trailers chained together, comes barreling down on me from the other direction and I plunge into their dust cloud as they pass. Forward visibility drops to zero in a heartbeat and I slowly grope about, feeling for the road beneath my tires.
The dust eventually dissipates, thanks to the raw, biting wind to my left. Of course, it always seems colder when the wind is filled with blowing snow. like now.
Ten minutes later the bumps on the horizon have morphed into buildings, sheds and industrial facilities. Monster-sized trucks, drilling equipment and dirty, snow-covered pickup trucks line the parking lots.
And modular construction trailers are everywhere. One of them will be my accommodations for the night, and I pull into their parking lot whooping and hollering.
Even though it’s 37 degrees outside. Even though it’s 11:30 at night and yet “nighttime” is nowhere to be found. Even though every muscle and joint in my body is screaming for a Jacuzzi hot tub.
I’m still grinning ear-to-ear.
Because according to the blue & white sign above the doorway, I’ve reached my final destination, Prudhoe Bay Hotel.
As in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle and a mere 1,200 miles from the North Pole.
Which explains why I’m seeing snow drifts in the middle of July. It also explains why I can still see them clear as day at 11:30 at night. Because it is still daylight up here.
And according to my GPS, I’m 5,837.3 miles and 24 days beyond the start of my journey, a lifetime ago back in Key West, FL.
That’s a heck of a long way to ride a motorcycle.
And what boss in their right mind would approve of 24 days vacation in one block, right?
All the more reason to smile like I’ve won the lottery. Because in a way, I have.
I’ve won my freedom.
Freedom from the chains of a wage slave.
Freedom from the regiment of repetitive tasks that slowly drive us insane with boredom.
Freedom to be, do and have anything I choose. And I choose to express that freedom on a motorcycle.
And the beauty of this “writing lifestyle” is that I’ve been “working” my way north from the beginning of this trip, way back in Florida.
You see, my helmet is wired with a microphone which feeds into a digital recorder. Every day while riding the road, I “write” by speaking into my microphone and recording the words.
I come up with the framework of a story, think of my tie-ins to relevant points, then I let go and free-flow, speaking just like I’d be sharing a story with a friend at Starbucks.
Depending on the scenery and road conditions, I can knock out a 7-email auto-responder series
before stopping for my mid-morning stretch.
Every night after dinner I fire up the laptop in the hotel room, download the audio files into my handy dandy voice recognition software, and presto … in 5 minutes out rolls 3500+ words of my “speaking”. After an hour of edits, the draft gets emailed to my client and I line up tomorrow’s “assignment”.
Maybe I’ll take a couple of days off and just soak up the scenery.
But then again, it’s such a blast knowing I’m earning money while talking to myself riding my motorcycle, that sometimes I just want to go on and on – what an incredible feeling!
That’s how this $3,450 road trip will pay for itself by the 3rd day!
And that’s how I will create my version of the writer’s lifestyle, “Two Wheels to Adventure.”