I went on a fall foliage ride a short while ago, only to realize there weren’t too many colors popping out of the mountainside. But still a fun ride. Enjoy!
The residents of my hometown come together each year on Sept. 11 to offer a rolling memorial to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Each year it grows as thousands of motorcyclists from across the country join in the ride. Growing up here, it always was a special moment when community members, neighbors and visitors would gather together along the roadside and wave, cheer or salute the passing motorcyclists.
This year they hold it again (as I write this in fact), and while I wish I could be out there with them, the beauty of such a memorial is that it will continue to go on for years to come as long as people are willing to ride.
Last year I was honored to join the ride and pay tribute in my own way. Here is a video I made on that day.
What’s so interesting about Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania? It’s not the 121 total population. It’s not the $82,000 median household income. Or the fact that the majority of the population is over 60. The eclectic shops and houses aren’t even that much to write about.
So what is it? I’ve been going to Eagles Mere for as long as I can remember and I always look forward to it. Nestled in the mountains of central Pennsylvania, the little borough is similar to a hidden treasure that only people who already know its there go and find.
In a departure from previous trips into the mountain town, this time I went alone and on my 1985 Honda Nighthawk. Since acquiring the bike a couple years ago, I have been amazed how roads I once traveled with dread, stuffed in the back of my parents eight passenger burgundy van with my brothers, now roll out in front of me with ease and grace.
Now more than ever, its the journey to Eagles Mere that is as enticing at the town itself. The last leg of the trip cuts off from the interstate and heads up the rolling hills that are so prevalent in the keystone state. A steady climb, maneuvering around smooth curves and downshifting to tap into the machines “get up and go” produces a physical sense of freedom and release.
But the town itself is also a great destination. It’s a destinations of peace and silence. Something that I’m sure is coveted by most people weighed down with the pressure and noise of everyday life. I know I long for it.
I talked with a man who has lived in Eagles Mere for six years, and he described it as “different.” Much of that is due to the lake.
Aside from the journey, Eagles Mere lake is the number 1 reason I return. It’s the solitude the lake provides, so far from the drone of interstate traffic, horns honking in the city and the general business of a metropolis.
Ever since I was a kid my family and I would go to the lake and hike around it. We rarely saw other people on the path and for some brief moments it was like we were the only people on the planet.
I don’t think I will ever get tired of returning to that hidden getaway. And I hope it never changes.
The dotted yellow line flew by faster and faster. Even through the padding on my helmet I could hear the wind roaring in my ears, and soldering on beneath me the unmistakable rumble of a 1985 Honda Nighthawk motorcycle. With 650 cubic centimeters of power the beautiful red machine could give me the ride of my life every-time I grabbed the throttle.
It started when I lived in New Mexico with my brother, James. He’s probably one of my best friends and no matter how much time we spend together, I don’t seem to get tired of him. The Honda first belonged to James. It was his pride and joy, the first motorcycle he ever owned and he treated it like a gem. But when a shiny, sleek Triumph Street Triple caught his eye, I happily volunteered to take the Honda off his hands so it could stay in the family.
Those moments, riding with James, me on my Honda and he on his shrill street crotch rocket, are some of the most exciting memories I have. We flew along the country roads of New Mexico surrounded by mountains and bathed in sunlight. If paradise exists in the U.S., its roots lie in the Sandia mountain range of New Mexico.
Random friendships is an odd, but welcome, by product to riding a motorcycle. I didn’t know this until after I started riding, but when motorcyclists pass each other on the road it’s tradition to wave to the other rider. It’s a mutual sign of respect. Friendship starts after that, with a random conversation at a rest-stop, or local pub. The mutual love of the ride provides a basis for conversation, long trips through the countryside and much more. The fellow riders I have met on the journey will remain great friends of mine for years to come.
I brought my motorcycle back to the Pennsylvania roads and rolling hills. Other bikers wave their hellos and conversations are started. It’s a taste of the unity that is hidden beneath many Americans. I could say at this point that I am thankful to be an American, but that’s a bit cliche. What I am truly thankful for is a loving family, a beautiful home, the memory of summer rides with my brother, and the freedom of flying down an old country road with nothing but the wind in my face.
I didn’t go looking for a Honda as my first motorcycle. I didn’t do research or talk to someone who knew a guy who had one and loved it.
It was just the first one I had. Maybe part of the reason I love it so much is because it’s my first. But more than that, there is a sense of pride that I have in owning a 1985 craft, in good condition (considering) that is still just a red as the day it came out of the factory.
Now none of that is my doing. I’ve only had her for a year and a half. But I had never ridden a motorcycle before this one, and I didn’t even know how to drive standard yet. People were telling me I should start out smaller, or that I wouldn’t like it because the 650cc engine would be too much power for me.
But I took the leap, and I learned, and I love it, and I’m never going back.
I took my 1985 Honda Nighthawk 650 out for a ride on this beautiful fall evening to see the sunset and the changing of the leaves.