60, 65, 70… Surtch Pherther could not have imagined: cruising the Cozway Island road carefree at careless speeds; smooth-spanning severe washboards; lifting over low stones like big, ancient teeth stayed in emergence; skimming shallow, gravel drifts; blurring past trashed machines and their diggings; hardly, it seemed, ever touching ground.
Almost at the tip of the land, he arrived at the point of the road, an interpretive trail turnout. Leaving Escape Artist, he went to take in the big sand and its reed patches, tamarisk among coarse boulders, the relative quiet, and in waves, the scent of Lake Termina, sometimes a stifling reek, other times a fragrance like fine spices.
On his return to pavement, he diverted, slipping unsteadily across a mud patch and bumping up a rocky two-track to a familiar low saddle. About a hundred feet farther up the mountainside lay the most prominent shoreline from a massive, prehistoric lake.
Surtch thought of his times on the island: walks along an east side trail to a glyph-decked outcrop; four-wheeling “closed” roads with his brother one warm spring night and about getting beach-stuck on the remote other side; midnight mountain biking in the frozen fall; several slogs up the snow-packed draw to the ridge; climbing in a winter solstice predawn with a high school friend and smoking cigars like pros but sipping single malt like wimps at the top where Surtch wishfully hollered his best free verse at daybreak; and countless times target shooting with his family where he now stood and stared southwest over the evaporation ponds and into a bit of the remoteness beyond, to maybe glimpse future rides, future adventures, future challenges.
Back on pavement, Surtch was soon at the head of the onramp. He throttled hard, and Escape Artist responded, its nose rising; throttled off, un-clutched, and its nose dipped; shifted to second, clutched, throttled, and its nose rose; and over and over and over and over again, to third and fourth and fifth and sixth. By 85, at the end of the ramp and onto the 65 interstate, a smile had spread wide across his face.
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