#6 In Roads-Texas
I’m getting brave, now. I can even leap tall buildings. And speak to strangers. Earlier today I spy a guy on his bike loaded with gear, getting gas, and without hesitation I sprint right up to him. “You’re a long way from home!” I announce as I point to his Oregon plates and, since we’re standing in a Nebraska gas station, he knows I’m looking for an explanation. He crushes out his skinny cigar and sort of snorts in my direction. He’s tall, crusty, and dirty. His skin is peeling from days in the sun and over all, he looks like he’s had a few long days lately.
I ask if he’s lost. “Yeah, guess I am,” he chuckles with a distinct Texas twang. He talks real slow in a deep voice as he says he’s been down to see his daughter in Texas and is slowly working his way back home to Portland. “On the way out I broke down in Lake Tahoe, limped on over to Reno. Was broke down for a week then made it on over to see her for a while. Trying to make South Dakota today, and I will, then try to get on back to Portland in a couple of days. Just enjoying the ride, actually.” I ask if he’s anxious to get home.
“To go back to work?” Brent asks incredulously. “No, not in a hurry, just taking my time getting back. I was in Houston for 35 years then my Mom and brother moved up to Portland so I followed them. Having a hard time with that stuff up there, dark and gloomy. This was the longest winter I ever spent in my life. Downright depressing, having no sun.” He’s been on the road for 3 weeks and looks down at his Suzuki when I ask if he’ll be in trouble with work when he gets back. “Eh,” he shrugs. “I work for my brother so it doesn’t really matter.” He shrugs again when I ask if he’ll move back to Houston. “Thinking about it. Guess I need to get that figured out.” With that he looks off into the long stretch of seemingly endless Nebraska highway and puts his helmet on. Then he is gone.