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Free Range: Happy New Year

By Felicia Morgan

It’s that time of year again: the season of those dreaded New Year resolutions. It’s the time when we take stock of our lives and make promises to ourselves to become better human beings. We vow to stop smoking, lay off the sweets and buy that gym membership we’ve been thinking about. We swear we’ll clean out the closets and be nicer to our in-laws, start eating healthy right after that last piece of pie is gone and we admonish ourselves to take the time to smell the roses and enjoy our family more. And we reflect.

For me, January is when I typically look back over the miles I’ve covered in months past and bask in the warmth of the memories made while visiting with friends across the country. I like to look at the lessons I’ve learned along the road and see how they factor into the miles before me. With that I look to the months ahead to figure out what adventures I’d like to experience next, what roads to ride, or sights to see and map out how all the puzzle pieces fit into the breadth of each season. I spent a good deal of time being wet this year, so avoiding more of that has become a serious goal. There’s a radar app on the new smart phone and I’m considering using the radio on the Beast to check out the broadband reports. Of all the lessons I’ve learned of late, the fact that electronics are my friends could be the most important.

This year included more time spent with loved ones than usual. I stayed a little longer in some places than I normally do because I didn’t leave the country and had a bit more time to linger. Still, I rode through 23 states, seven of which were new to me. In the fall I had the ride of a lifetime while traveling with a group of riders from 10 different countries on a 4,000-mile ride, so I got to extend the biker brand of hospitality to honored guests from abroad. While answering questions about our agriculture, customs and culture, I learned some of the same from riders as far away as Spain, Italy and Germany. There have been amazing adventures and I realize it will be tough to top the experiences of 2014.

There’s been lots of love and laughter along the way as new friendships have taken shape. And there have been some friendships lost this year, too. Whether their passing from my life was as they moved along to a different dimension or just because they chose a different direction, the absence of loved ones has left a large void in my heart. I learned about trust and that the truth isn’t nearly as important to everyone as it is to me. I figured out that I get to choose whether to keep someone with different values in my life or cut them loose, but trying to live by anyone else’s yardstick doesn’t work. Still, I remain grateful for the opportunity to have shared some miles and smiles before we parted ways. Learning to let go is important for a nomad since the next sunrise typically includes the word “goodbye.”

As for 2015, new horizons have included a discussion about a trip to Ireland. If it all pans out, I’m pretty sure I’ll heed friends’ advice and take the sport bike rental this time, since the ride through the Alps last time I went abroad included a very cumbersome Heritage that proved much too heavy for the terrain and was far from nimble. There could also be a ride into Canada for the Beast and I to visit folks there after watching South Dakota friends renew their wedding vows during the Sturgis Rally in August. The party will be memorable because of that in addition to the fact that the rally will be celebrating its 75th anniversary and you just know the place will be packed with bikers from around the world. It’s going to be a guaranteed blowout.

I’d like to ride the Million Dollar highway, visit friends in Colorado, and maybe ride the Tail of the Dragon on my own bike, rather than as a passenger. I’ll show my work at the art show during the David Mann Chopperfest in Ventura next December and I’d really enjoy getting to spend some time with my grandkids up in NorCal since I’m not sure they even know who I am anymore. I’d like another trip through Texas, minus the crabby riding partner, and there are some sunsets I’d like to watch from the beach as the Beast kicks back nearby. I’m pretty sure my list will see fruition. How about yours?

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