The Edge . . . There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.
—Hunter S. Thompson, Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga (1966)
A road trip from Jackson, Wyoming to Sturgis, South Dakota doesn’t take that long if you keep the truck at a steady 80 miles per hour. Which is exactly what we’re doing to make it to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally by nightfall.
“Are we idiots? Will bikers drag us off by our hair? How does one differentiate bad news from a mere investment banker in chaps?” I ask as we pull onto the road. Arnica’s been to the Rally before, but I’m a virgin.
“I’ve got a taser,” she holds up a plastic pink square that just as well could be a tampon case. “And, I’ve got a .380 in the console. There’s a box of ammo in there and more in the driver-side door if needed.”
I found us angel wing necklaces for good luck. We’re heading to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Might as well make a wish and hang some wings from your neck. When the string frays and falls, your wish will come true. Thing is, we don’t know what to wish for anymore.
We’re in our thirties. We should know what we want. Instead, we only know what we used to want.
* * *
My road trip essay, “Medicine Wings”, appears in the Spring 2016 issue of Boulevard literary magazine. It chronicles a pilgrimage to the 2014 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
Over the course of 24 hours, photographer Arnica Rae and I were stopped by the police three times for no apparent reason, befriended by an outlaw coleslaw wrestling king, adopted by a posse of bikers from the Australian Outback, harassed by the ghost of Wild Bill Hickok, and lectured on human potential and creativity by Harley-Davidson’s trademark artist and one of my favorite American painters, David Uhl.
In summary: It was the most American experience of my life, to-date.
Copies of Boulevard may be ordered online or located in select bookstores and libraries: www.boulevardmagazine.com