Fog is strong medicine -- it's stimulative power capable of pulling a comatose body from fantastic dreamworlds into a real world shrouded is gaseous water and mystery. Forsaking plans and conceptions, no destination in mind, far from home in the dawn mist, I could feel the energy whispering through me, urging me on.
Into the darkness. Fine water droplets transform the view through the visor into a translucent white luster framing the road as it winds through the forest, subduing detail not already lost to the fog. A finger drags across the outside of the visor, then inside, a vain ritual to navigate into the morning nebula. Make no mistake – fog increases risk in the riding world and demands careful consideration before choosing to explore.
Empty dirt and gravel roads in Rothrock State Forest changes scanning for vehicles to a search for sudden changes in the road surface, meandering black bears, fallen limbs, and the ever present white-tailed deer.
Bear Meadows. This place retains the same lure today as it did when I first visited in an orange VW beetle 40 years ago. I see my dog Essa loping along the path, or remember falling through the ice on a New Year’s Day hike. Sight and vision are sharpened by memory.
Kim and I used to come here before sunrise, hours before having to be at work to sit and write and experience the world. And always when there was fog…
Free to explore. That’s the secret power of a Vespa – far from discussions of fuel economy, hipster lifestyle or scooter culture. It has power to move me into an altered state. I’ve ridden a lot of fine motorcycles and scooters – this Vespa remains the perfect companion in my riding world.
The Vespa doesn't say no. It just goes without complaint or demand as if just as driven to experience as its rider. Through rain and snow, mud, ice, wind and darkness, the Vespa is up to the challenge. In videos of the Dakar and pictures of them rigged for water crossings, it is a hearty machine.
In a culture of bigger, faster, stronger a scooter isn’t a comfortable fit. After tens of thousands of miles on a Vespa I’ve come to see the difference between my choice and the choice others would make for me should I give them the chance.
Reflection. Miles from home, standing in a stand of hemlocks listening to a small brook babble along on its way to the Chesapeake Bay, a mind is free to wander and wonder and reflect on whatever is important at that moment. This doesn’t happen standing at the water fountain down the hall from my office…
The spell is broken. I’ve read there are no wild places in the lower 48 states. Certainly none in central Pennsylvania. Still, in the fog a mind can wander and pretend. Nothing breaks that wilderness bubble faster than the intrusion of runners into a fantasy. Serious ones no doubt – the loop they were taking has 15 miles of mountain running ahead before returning to civilization.
Down the mountain. A steep grade on mud and loose gravel challenge the scooter’s descent and highlights the need for careful braking and the technical limitation of the Vespa’s automatic transmission. The Heidenau winter tires provide enough grip and bite to make for a reasonable ride.
Return to civilization. Rides can’t last forever, especially ones made without boundaries measured in hours. The departure from one world to another is softened on a foggy day, each mile unfolding with it’s own secret personality.
Sharpened vision. The Vespa bears witness to the landscape shaped and twisted by fog driven light as its small wheels turn through mud then gravel and back onto the security of pavement. There’s a pull back to the forest and another on into the day. I’m glad I can feel it.
Fully medicated. Mentally. Emotionally, Physically. How better to start a day than a ride in the fog. A few hours investment for a valuable return – it’s strong medicine and requires no prescription. A simple choice to ride.