Skip to main content

The Night Road

The sun flees behind me, sullen, as I pass it by. Night slowly smothers my world, until all that exists is a shrunken cone of light, a feeble token of my unwillingness to fully surrender to the darkness. The smooth dark curves of the mountain road reveal themselves by this light, tantalizing glimpses of yellow and white paint keeping me within the night road’s embrace.

Each curve is a new mystery to explore, the road leaning away from the light and refusing to reveal itself. They must be felt, intimately, each meter of the curves coyly unfolding itself under my touch as I slide along it. The sharpness often stabbing, forcing an unexpected response, rapid deceleration followed by careful, thoughtful exploration.

Mysterious shapes slide by, tugging at my mind, familiar yet completely foreign. The road consumes my attention, even to consider what lies beyond, in the darkness, is a risk not worth taking. Somewhere above lights in the sky beg to be revealed, but the curves before me refuse to allow it. There is nothing but the road for me – even time holds itself at bay, a forgotten measure of little import on the night road.

Sometimes, in times like this, the night brings a companion. I can feel her caresses on my skin, sinking into my bones… the cold comes gently at first, a welcome companion to the night. Spurned and hated during the day, somehow in the darkness she feels true. No resentment at first, only acceptance. This is what the night road means.

Quivering, shaking, I explore the curves without motion. It’s there, touching the edges of my mind, the understanding that somehow, in this place, I do not move upon this road. My hand controls not my speed, but in some strange way the movement of the road underneath me. The night road’s curves fly beneath me in my stillness.

The cold is unhappy with my distracted acceptance, my concentration upon the night road. She begins to claw at my face, my fingers, my arms. I fend her off as best I can but she will not be denied. An ultimatum is clearly put before me, I must choose: forsake the embrace of the night road, or suffer cold’s wrath.

I will not be denied the night road! I fight against the cold, blowing warmth into my gloves and pumping hot blood through my muscles however I can. At first the cold recedes, shocked at my vehement resistance. Insidious, she returns, bringing another with her, one she knows I cannot fight: fatigue.

Nervously at first, she sits with me, talking to me of her sister, sleep, and the comforts to be had in her embrace. Cold slowly drapes herself around me, seeping into me once again as fatigue distracts me. Jealous, the night road veers away in front of me, a sharp reminder of her disdain for my lack of attention – a near miss, a broken shape fumbling out of the dark within inches of my face.

Remorsefully, I give in. For tonight, I leave the night road and flee the spurned cold, seeking the warm and soft embrace of sleep. When I wake, the night road will be gone, replaced with something lacking in mystery, an open world spread before me – but only for a time.

I will return to the night road before long, and begin again the careful dance with her sisters. It is inevitable.

(edit Mon @ 9AM: I wrote this in my tent last night around 1AM. Reading it this morning I’m not sure whether to laugh at the silliness of it or cry at the remembered emotion I felt riding last night. I’ll leave it to you to decide…)


Liana said…
This is the single most beautiful thing you have written, Peter.

Popular posts from this blog

Gear Review: Sea to Summit Big River Dry Sacks

In the past couple months on the road I think I’ve spent more time riding my scooter through rain than I have in the dry – this is clearly reflected in the fact that as time has gone by I’ve invested more and more money in things to keep my stuff dry, since wet gear sucks. One of my favorite purchases for this trip is the pair of Sea to Summit Big River Dry Sacks I picked up just before leaving, in 13L and 20L sizes. They cost me around $20 each and are one of the best pieces of gear I’ve purchased in years – extremely durable, effective, and simple to use.

5 Things that Suck about Traveling Solo

I find it telling that it seems a majority of the interesting travel blogs I run across are written by solo travelers, most often women. I think there’s a reason why we write more than people who travel with friends or in groups and that it’s pretty self evident: it’s an outlet for our loneliness. In the last year and a half, the vast majority of my time has been spent away from home, alone. As I write this, it’s been over a month since I’ve conversed with anyone in my native language, and I can remember every single conversation in English for the month before that. The truth is, I don’t think I could have done this without the internet – without a blog to share my thoughts, without Facebook to see what my friends are up to, without the occasional e-mail to provide a fa├žade of normalcy… without these things I’d likely have driven myself insane with my internal dialogue. Now, I grant, there’s a reason I travel alone and I do love it, but lately it seems all I run across in the blogosp

Jury Duty: Not Like TV (or: Longest Post EVER)

Prepare yourself for by far the longest blog post ever – if you’re at all curious about real life jury duty or enjoy all those cop & lawyer shows then give it a go - this recount of the trial and details given for evidence will blow your mind, make you think twice about the effectiveness of our police officers and the impartiality of our juries… Shortly before leaving on my trip in January, I was summoned for DC Grand Jury Duty .  I was able to have it rescheduled to begin on June 7 and made it back to the US only a few days before it was due to start.  After thinking about it I really felt that I would not be comfortable spending 27 days of 8:30AM to 5PM in an “office” for $30 a day, especially with the changes to the economy going on right now – I’d rather enjoy that time. Upon arriving at the courtroom for Grand Jury Duty, I quickly noted that there were over 40 people in the room, considerably more than the number required for the Grand Jury.  Once we were checked in, the c