You never know what the day may bring. A story inspired by a tale my dad once told me when he and my mum were keen motorhome enthusiasts, today’s post, ‘Get Your Motor Running’ illustrates the expression ‘you never know what the day will bring.’ Truly, you don’t!
Get Your Motor Running!
A year ago, early one spring morning, I reluctantly began my lone journey north out of Auckland. Even at this hour, traffic on the northern highway was thick. I rubbed my sleep-encrusted eyes irritably and prepared myself for a tedious trip. A last-minute trip to Whangarei was not what I needed. With a smattering of frost on the lawn, the day held the promise of sunny skies, ideal for the planned gardening chores. But a family crisis – yet another ‘family crisis’ – precedes gardening intentions.
Finally, a break in the traffic. I indicated to change lanes. I glimpsed in the rear vision mirror. Far back in the line of traffic, a silvery speck swerved in and out of the line of traffic.
‘Idiot’ I mumbled, staying in my lane. I detest the way motorbikes squizzle their way through traffic, always fearful that they’ll cut in too sharp and clip a vehicle, causing an accident, inconveniencing everyone. With an explosive hungry roar, the bike, a Harley Davidson rapidly approached.
I glanced to my right as the flash of shining black and glistening chrome streaked past. Behind the leather-clad rider, a pillion passenger dressed in a pink candle-wick dressing gown and pink fluffy slippers hung on tightly. Grey curls poked out from beneath the helmet.
“Did I really see that?” My inner voice asked. “Now that is weird, more than weird. It’s sinister,” my thought dialogue continued.
Acknowledging something was amiss, I again prepared to change lanes. I needed to confirm what I’d seen, or not seen. As I checked the rear vision mirror and indicated to merge into the outside lane, another motorbike rapidly approached and whizzed past. This time, the pillion passenger wore a blue dressing gown with matching slippers!
This riddle bounced around in my head. Why would two elderly women be riding pillion on large powerful motorbikes, dressed only in night attire? Had they been dragged from their beds by those leather-clad rogues?
I twiddled with the radio knob in search for a news broadcast. The six o’clock news mentioned nothing about two missing elderly women. Had their disappearance not yet been detected?
What should I do? Pull to the side of the road and call someone? The police? And, had anyone else seen what I’d seen or was my weary mind playing tricks?
Traffic slowed to a near stop going through Warkworth. The gleaming bikes were nowhere in sight. I drove on. I entered Dome Valley, or is it Doom Valley? Think of something else, think about your day ahead, the family crisis, ignore the voices in your head.
I crawled around the corners and up windy hills at a speed dictated both by the traffic and the speed limit, knowing there was no chance of ever catching up with those two slick machines with their unlikely passengers.
Should I have stopped in Warkworth, gone to the police? No, I admonished myself. There is certain to be a logical explanation, besides I have my own issues to deal with. Goodness knows how the day will unravel.
But the motorbike riddle continued to niggle. Ever since my cousin’s horrific motorbike accident several years ago, leaving him paralysed, I’ve maintained a strong dislike for all motorbikes – scooters, mopeds, dirt-bikes included.
During my recent travels through Asia, my opinion softened. In Phnom Penh, sitting at an outdoor cafe, my friend and I observed whole families being transported by the humble scooter. The highest count was nine. Mum, dad, granny and six kids, including a tiny baby, giving an entirely different meaning for a people carrier.
On other occasions, the passengers were life-stock. Crates of chickens stacked one on top of the other, strapped onto the seat of scooters. With the wobbling crates over-hanging the sides, the scooters zapped in and out of busy traffic with ease. Or, pigs and goats, their legs front and back bound together and lashed onto the seat were the being transported.
At a congested intersection in Ho Chi Min City, I witnessed a guy with a full sized fridge on the back of his bike. His body twisted around, he clung to the fridge with one arm while steering the bike with his other hand as he wove through the traffic, precariously.
As I approached the final stretch of Dome Valley, I spotted a camper-van parked at a picnic spot. A group of four men sat around the wooden table having a cuppa. I could ask them if they’d seen the two bikes with the unusual passengers. I slowed and pulled into the spot, coming to a halt alongside the table. Cautiously, I exited my car. What if I’m wrong? What if my scrambled, jumbled, sleep deprived mind had imagined the bikes? I had to ask, I had to know.
I stepped towards the table. The men looked at me quizzically. As I opened my mouth about to speak, something glistened in the sunlight. Something silvery. I blinked, rubbed my eyes. At the rear of the camper-van, two Harley Davidson bikes. My eyes darted back to the men at the table. The two younger men were dressed in leathers. I mumbled incoherently and quickly stepped backwards, preparing to jump in my car and drive off at speed. From the inside of the camper-van, came laughter. No longer dressed in bed attire, the women emerged and bounced down the steps of the van, singing.
Get your motor running, sang the first.
Head out for the highway, the second one continued.
Searching for adventure and whatever comes our way, they sang in unison.
Then men chuckled. I stood statue still, my mouth agape.
“You want to join us for a cuppa?” one of the men asked. “You look as if you need it.”
The mystery surrounding two Harley Davidson bike riders and their cheerful passengers unravelled, as I sipped a mug of lukewarm tea at a picnic spot, that morning last spring.
The two elderly couples from the camper-van had departed from their previous campsite in the early morning. The men travelled up front while the two ladies continued to snooze in the back. The men stopped to refuel at Silverdale. The women, now awake and still in their nightwear, made a quick dash to the toilet. Unaware that the women had got out of the vehicle, the men drove away. Stranded at the petrol station, the women resigned themselves to wait until their husbands eventually noticed them missing and came back for them.
“And this is where the fun begins,” chortled one of the women.
“Yes, our two knights in shining armour drove up and rescued us,” the other added.
“Well,” I said. “That explains everything. A perfectly logical explanation.”
One of the older men leant across the table, winked and asked, “Surely, you didn’t think something more sinister was afoot, did you?”
“No, yes, maybe,” I stammered. “It’s just not every day you see pillion passengers on large motor-bikes dressed in pyjama’s.”
“No, I guess not,” the man chuckled.
“While travelling through Asia, I observed numerous numbers of people and life-stock and other items transported on the humble scooter, but what I’ve witnessed today, takes the prize for implausibility. I mean, two mature, sprightly ladies in the early morning, straddling the back of shiny Harley Davidson bikes, gleefully hooning along state highway one, New Zealand. IN THEIR NIGHTWEAR!” The table shook with laughter. “Seriously, who would believe this story?”
I stood to leave, thanked them for the cup of tea, and wished them luck in their future travels.
“The camper-van crowd are staying in Paihia tonight,” one of the ladies grinned.
“And there’s to be karaoke,” the other added. “Guess what Mavis and I’ll be singing?”
Get your motor running.
Head out for the highway.