As the sun began its decent into the Hudson, my sense of restlessness became unbearable. I found myself standing on First Avenue in Manhattan watching hundreds of cars putter past. I needed to escape.
Motorcycles afford their owners to act on any whim. For me there was no planning, no route, and no baggage. A simple thought to abandon this island and three minutes later I was chasing the sunset.
I crossed the George Washington Bridge and looked South along the Hudson. A warm haze seemed to envelope Manhattan. The sun danced across the skyline, almost taunting New Jersey with its golden aura.
I spent the next hour and a half zig-zagging through small towns in New Jersey. I saw couples kissing, families going to the movies, and men smoking cigars. Deputies patrolled, pizza makers tossed dough, and kids screamed. In those ninety minutes I was privy to a sliver of Americana- a sliver that whet my appetite for an American Summer.
With this newfound desire, I made my way to a highway, which one I couldn’t tell you, and made my way to Philadelphia. I figured, the former temporary capital of the United States of America is pretty American.
As the miles of asphalt ran beneath my feet, the heavy air of a storm blew past my face. Ahead of me was the unmistakable flash of lightning. Adventure won out against better judgment and the subtle flick of my wrist brought me that much closer. To what, I’m not sure.
I passed through Camden as the lightning struck and the thunder bellowed only a few miles ahead. As my BMW ascended the bridge into Philadelphia, the most remarkable thing happened.
Fireworks detonated to my left, at eye level, no more than fifty yards away. It was as if the tourism bureau anticipated my arrival. Brilliant colors illuminated my course. The explosions of gunpowder thundered over the boxer engine. I looked down to the shore and saw the intricate stage lighting of an outdoor concert. Strobes, colors, patterns against a sea of black.
The Philadelphia skyline stood before me, proud, as it sufficiently took my breath away.
As soon as my tires reached the shore, the crash course I was on with the storm rang true with a crack of thunder and an onslaught of rain. May 10, 2013 was not the day I was to explore Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I merged back onto the highway, raised the windshield, and gunned it.
Within five minutes I was ahead of the storm. The lighting in my mirrors flickered like a patrolmen’s cruiser. Instead of Johnny Law it was Mother Nature chased me out of Philadelphia.
For the next hour and twenty-eight minutes, the dotted lines on the asphalt dashed past my feet. I watched the onboard computer update fuel consumption and range date as I beelined back to New York City.
The road was desolate as the minute hand swept past 12:05am.
As I reentered New York City over the George Washington Bridge, I couldn’t help but look down at the World Trade Center. For the first night in history, its spire stood 1,776 feet tall.
That’s pretty American.