Thursday, August 5, 2010

Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest places . . . .

Last year when I was on my way to the UnRally in New Hampshire, I was riding down a very nice back road in - well, let's say somewhere between Chicago and New Hampshire, for reasons I'll explain. It was after dark, it was a beautiful night, and I came around a sweeping right-hand turn and saw - WTF is that?

Off to the right off the road, there were dozens, possibly hundreds, of colored lights, seemingly hovering a few feet off the ground.

I hit the brakes, found a place to turn around, and came back to take another look. I couldn't see any structures or objects or anything in what appeared to be an open field, just a constellation of red, green, blue, pink, yellow points of light.  It was beautiful, and I absolutely couldn't register what it was. I couldn't see any structures, vehicles, signs, any buildings nearby, and it was too dark (and not advisable) to go wandering off into the field to see what it was. So I marked the location on my GPS and continued.

Later I checked the spot on Google Maps, Bing Maps, everything I could find. There was nothing interesting - an open field, a farm house, a barn. I couldn't find any business or point of interest or search engine hit for anything on that road. It was a mystery.

So this summer I had some unpaid days off work and decided to head to the BMW Riders' Association rally in Pownal, Vermont. Among the ulterior motives for the trip was that I could take a fairly short detour - only about 100 miles out of my way - and ride by whatever this was, this time in the daylight.

So coming back from the rally, I took the little detour, down a really, really awfully boring road, and down the nice little back road, and as I got to the spot, I started laughing with delight.

It's a field full of carousel horses - not the fancy antique kind, the plastic kind from the coin-op rides outside the supermarket - mounted on poles, with light globes on top of the poles.

I took a couple of photos from the road, somewhat intimidated by the signs that said NO TRESPASSING and YOU ARE NOW CROSSING THE 38TH PARALLEL. I didn't want to stumble into some North Korean  carousel-horse trap.

I noticed some people sitting around a picnic table off to the side. I waved, they waved, they didn't shoot, so I figured it was safe to approach. One of the people got up and held out a grimy hand.

"You military?" he asked. An interesting opener.

I pointed to the horses. "I have to ask - why?"

"Why not?" he replied. Which is hard to argue with.

We all chatted a bit more, and it turned out that the two guys sitting at the picnic table were responsible for the horses. It was hard to determine exactly who did what - there had been some beer consumption before I arrived - but what I gathered was, they just wanted to do something, and this seemed like a good idea, and it just kept growing as they found more and more of these horses at flea markets and yard sales.

It also turned out that they were a couple of old-time truckers and bikers (the dog-eared and duct-taped Clymers Harley service manual on the table was a good hint), and we chatted for a while about riding, bikes, life on the road.

Then guy # 2 started telling a story about the time he was riding his Harley somewhere, and he looked up on an overpass and "colored people" were fixin' to drop something on him, so he reached into the pocket of the Vetter fairing and pulled out a pistol and started shooting in the air, not at them, mind you, just up in the air to scare them. From the way he paused before he said "colored people", I had an idea what he meant to say. I also had a feeling that if I hung around much longer, I would either be invited to supper or would be supper.

So, my quest was over and my question was answered. I thought this would be a great bonus for an long distance rally, but I found the people there really, really, well, disturbing, and I don't know that having a bunch of bikers traipsing around their yard would be appreciated. This site is really, really charming in the daytime, and really, really stunning at night with the lights on, and really, really weird. So for now I won't tell you exactly where it is, but perhaps I've leave a clue.

You don't expect creative artists to be redneck bikers, and you don't expect redneck bikers to be creative artists. Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest places if you look at it right. Yes indeed.