Lewis and Clark, I Presume…

After an 80-mile run through the Virgin River Canyon in Arizona and Mesquite, Nevada, we pulled off I-15 at the junction of Route 93 in the Mojave Desert and were standing between the two Road Stars, drinking water and speculating whether the thermometer would climb over 100 as the exhaust pipes crackled, contracting in the relatively cool air.

Tim nodded his head at something behind me as I took another pull at the water bottle. I turned to see a nondescript dun-colored rental car. The car’s driver was saying something to Tim through the open window past his wife in the rider’s seat. I pulled out my right earplug to hear what he was saying.

“Does this 93 go to Arizona?” He said, pointing north up the road.

“No.” Tim said. “That’s 93 North.”

The driver looked confused. His wife said something to him and held out her “smart” phone so he could see it. “Is there another 93?” He asked.

After a couple minutes of stumbling, dead-ending questions and answers, we finally determined that they were on their way to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. The tiny display screens of the wife’s smart phone and his GPS device were doing them little good. The problem was the on-the-map disappearance of Route 93 between Garnet and Henderson, a distance of over forty miles. The tiny display screens of their digital devices only compounded the problem.

I looked at the devices in their hands, then retrieved a paper map of Nevada from my luggage. We showed them where 93 suddenly reappeared on the map at the southern outskirts of Henderson, then ran southeast over the Hoover Dam into Arizona. It was obvious that they were still a little confused. I retrieved a paper map of Arizona and we showed them how Route 93 continues southeast into Arizona to join up with Interstate 40 at Kingman, then where I-40 intersects with the road to the Grand Canyon at Williams.

It took a few moments to assure them that they should take the maps. It was all they needed and we had no particular use for them, though I habitually carry maps of states I might go through on a long ride.

We watched their car make a U-turn toward the onramp of the Interstate.

“Where do you think?”

“Italy, maybe.” Tim said. “Accent sounded Italian.”

After over forty years of (legally) riding motorcycles on the blacktop roads, I’m still amused at how often I’m asked for directions by people in automobiles. It nearly always happens when I’m a few hundred miles from home. Oddly, I’ve always been able to at least point people in the right direction, and usually show them a map.

The photograph at the top of this post is not just trees, rock formations, road, and parked motorcycles. The parked motorcycles also provide the following symbolic information: Motorcyclist(s) nearby. Accurate directions available.

It is an unwritten rule that if you’re lost or unsure how to get to some destination, ask a motorcyclist for directions…

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