Feb. 12th, 2006

Ah, the things we can dream about after shoveling 18+ inches of snow off the sidewalk -- on a corner lot. The neighborhood kid-with-a-shovel (doesn't every neighborhood have a few?) looked at the length of my sidewalk and shook his head. "I dunno, lady -- I usually get $20 for a driveway. Nobody's ever asked me to shovel a whole street before."

Well, I've tried to be good by signing up for a half-marathon, hoping that planning for that would get me into the gym more and into the fast-food places less. But what I find myself day-dreaming about isn't the Flying Pig, it's the motorcycle ride. (Maybe if I had an icon with running shoes... hmm...)

But as my friend C. pointed out, it looked like I was planning my summer-daydream-trip around the ride, not the destination. I do think the journey is the more important thing. I don't want to pick one or two spots on the map and say, "I want to go there," and miss the feel of how the terrain changes from one place to another. But it meant that in order for me to come up with a sufficiently brag-worthy goal, I'd be riding so far that I wouldn't have time to stop anywhere, visit friends, or see the sights.

I like collecting "merit badges," and would love to qualify to be an Iron Butt Association member. That's a group for people who spend more time than is good for them on their motorcycles. I like doing something that I can brag about later -- that's how the idea of making it to the Arctic Circle got started. (There are a few paved roads in Alaska that go that far!) But most of the Iron Butt qualifying rides involve doing things that slam against either sleep deprivation or scenery deprivation: it's easy enough (well, sort of easy enough, I suppose, in a masochistic bragging sort of way) to do 1000 miles on a motorcycle in 24 hours if you stick to the interstates and don't actually see anything. A thousand interesting miles takes enough time that I'd be riding way too tired for safety.

And then I found it: The Iron Butt National Parks Tour. All you need to do is get proof of visiting 50 National Parks in 25 states in one year. Actually, it's easier than that: "Visit at least 50 National Parks, National Monuments, National Historic Sites, National Recreation Areas or any other site or park listed in the Passport book in at least 25 states/provinces within 1 year."

Where was I hoping to ride before I found out about this? The Blue Ridge Parkway -- that's a National Park. Glacier National Park. Banff and Jasper.

And, I'll got a year to do it. I do my "fantasy" ride, and if I'm short on stamps when I'm done, I get to explore areas closer to home - the Pinelands, Morristown, Sandy Hook -- they're all qualifiers! (Yes, folks, I can get Iron Butt credit for going to Gunnison Beach!)

And it's sure easier than the other year-long Iron Butt qualifier: 100,000 miles.



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