November 3, 1960.
In the morning the three of them went down to the
Hayes-Bickford for breakfast. Chuck finishes his soon and went off to collect some new handle bars he had bought. It was then that Brian found out he would be riding on a motorcycle. He was glad he was dressed for the chilly New England Autumn. It was going to be a cold ride to Cleveland.
After Chuck left Bob and Brian discussed the trip. Bob suggested he hitchhike all the way to California. Brian liked that idea. So they went back to Bob’s place to look at a map. There was a northern route and a southern route. They both thought the southern route would be better.
“How much money do you have?” asked Bob.
“About three hundred dollars.”
“Write me a check and I’ll get you another couple of hundred.”
So Brian wrote out a check, tore it off his check book and handed it to Bob. Then they went off to the bank. When they got there Bob took out some money, handed some of it to Brian and then took a slip of paper from the table at the bank and wrote something on it.
“Here” he said “this is my parents’ phone number. They live in Green’s Park. I’ll tell them you’re on the road and to expect you in a few weeks.”
“Thanks” said Brian.
On the way back Bob stopped off at a liquor store and bought a bottle of Champagne. “We’ll send you off in good spirits” he said with a smile.
Later that afternoon Chuck returned with his new handle bars. They all got into Bob’s Volkswagen beetle, along with Marion, Bob’s girl friend, and they drove out to the suburbs where Chuck’s motorcycle was parked. Chuck suggested that Brian ride with the handlebars between them so they would be safe, as he wasn’t going to install them until he got to Cleveland. Brian agreed, but it was soon going to be a bad idea.
When Chuck came out of the garage where his bike was stored, Brian got on the back with the handle bars in his lap and Bob cracked open the Champagne. He had bought some paper cups and poured out four cupfuls of the fizzing stuff. They drank while having a bit of small talk. It was as if no one was going anywhere. It was a gathering, a party in the November evening out where no one was around. It was an easy, unembarrassed chat among friends Brian thought how much it resembled a surreal film. As the days went by Brian was going to learn that a trip was not about moving on a road but of the stops along the way.
Finally, the Champagne was gone, Chuck mounted the bike, stomped down to start it and best wishes for a good journey were awarded to the travelers. “Bon Voyage” said Marion. And off they went.
Chuck was an amiable fellow who always seemed to be smiling. He told Brian that when he wanted to stop for a break to tap him on the shoulder. They left the suburbs of Boston and turned onto the Massachusetts Turnpike. The ride soon became uncomfortable for Brian because of the handlebars in his lap. The seat was hard and was hurting him. After they had passed a few truck stops, Brian tapped Chuck on the shoulder and they pulled off. Chuck pulled up to the diner and they went in for a coffee and a bite to eat.
Chuck was chatting about where he was going and told Brian about his girlfriend. She was still a student, had one more year and Chuck was going to visit her. He said she was expecting him in a few days. He hoped he would get there soon. Brian felt a little embarrassed that he had to stop so often, but he had a real problem sitting on the back of that bike.
Soon they were on there way again. As time and miles went by Brian’s butt was getting more sore and he had to stop often. When it was very late they reached a gas station which was just closing. Chuck filled up the tank with gas and then asked the owner if there was any place they could spend the night. The owner offered the floor of the station and showed them how to get out in the morning. Chuck moved the motorcycle into the station, the owner pulled down the big front doors and left. Brian and Chuck settled night. down for the night.