Exactly one month ago, to the day - I made my 20+ years-long dream of owning a motorcycle, come true. After completing the Motorcycle Rider Safety Class at a local community college in early June, getting my M-class license from DMV soon after that, and then finally scraping together enough money to be able to pay for insurance, and purchase the bike - the tidy, black 1987 Kawasaki KZ305 became the newest member of my family, on July 21st of this year.
Now you may be wondering how that particular nugget of information could possibly be relevant to my self-portraits, the blog, and all that...well, lemme tell you. The motorcycle is small, and fairly quiet - which means that it's much easier than my car is - to hide out of sight, on private properties where I wanna take pics.. In early Spring, I realized that my peddle bike was useful for the same sorta thing - but what makes the moto even better than the bicycle for getting onto properties that are tricky to access by car - is that it'll allow me to travel to destinations that are out of bicycling range.
The shoot I did yesterday, is a perfect example...
This past March, a friend of mine told me about this bone-chillingly creepy, abandoned manse and farm that he'd seen while traversing the backroads of Kabletown, WVa.. Not long after that, I drove there myself, to take pics. with my iPhone, that I later edited and posted on Instagram. Although I'd found a reasonably well-concealed spot to park my car, where it wasn't glaringly visible from the road - I knew that from the right angle a passing motorist might notice it, as there was a patch of missing shrubbery between the front yard and the road, through which I could clearly see each vehicle that drove by - when I stood in the general vicinity of where my car was parked.
I spent an anxious 30 minutes hurriedly (but ravenously) snapping pics. of the deliciously dilapidated estate, that day - and the whole time, all I could think about was how badly I wanted to return so that I could take some selfpics there, some other time. For months and months, I talked myself out of it though - because I just wasn't convinced that no matter how well I might've thought that I'd hidden it, my car would wind up blowing my cover...and ya' know, it's one thing to worry about getting caught trespassing on private property, while taking pictures when you've got your clothes on...but it's another thing altogether, to stress out over getting busted for poaching - when you're not wearing anything at all...
With such a short period of riding time under my belt, I am far from what one would consider an "experienced rider". To be perfectly honest about it, I still feel pretty nervous each time before I go out. However, that hasn't stopped me from taking the bike out every single day except for three - since I brought the little thing home with me a month ago...but despite those ever-present, pre-ride jitters - I do settle down and feel noticeably more comfortable, the instant my tires touch the pavement.
In the beginning, I took easy roads and only went short distances - like to the post office, or the bank, or to Sheetz. But little by little I've started venturing further away from my immediate, safe surroundings, in order to log in more ride time, while also (hopefully) improving my skills by riding on roadways that are more difficult to navigate, even scary sometimes - if they're surprisingly super twisty and stuff, or if conditions are less favorable, like when it rains. And so this weekend, after an old friend and I took a ride up into West Virginia, I was able to proudly add "crossing state lines" to my short list of minor motorcycling achievements. Additionally, being in that particular part of WVa. jogged my memory of the supremely spooky farm that I wrote about earlier in this post...and those two things combined, had me wondering later, "Am I brave enough to ride my moto that far from home, but without a buddy next time? And if I do make it safely to the creepy, old farm - will I be able to relax enough to do some self-portraits? Or will I psyche myself out, for fear of getting caught..."
Well folks? I know this'll prolly come as a complete shock to you, but this story actually does have a happy ending - and it's twofold! Cuz see, the ride to and from my shoot was the perfect mix of terrifying and euphoric. There were nice, narrow straightaways (an especially scenic one was walled by 8 ft. high cornfields on both sides, felt like a tunnel) where I could open the bike up and get some speed. All the while though, I held my breath, as I prepared myself for the possibility that a procession of deer might cross my path. I also mustered the courage to take tight s-turns more quickly than I normally would've done, and I rode home in the hardest rain that I've ever been through on the bike before...and the best part is (besides the fact that I did survive it all) - I enjoyed every minute of it...immensely.
The same goes for the hour and a half during which I staged my pics. around the farm. Although I never really worried about anyone spotting my motorcycle, I did worry about someone spotting me. The swing and the statue (seen above) were both in plain view of the road out front, and for a back country road it definitely gets its fair share of steady traffic...which meant that every time I went to pose, my blood pressure shot up like mad - it literally felt like my heart was in my throat...and if you know me by now, you know that I thrive on the thrill that accompanies that sorta thing.
Long story short, it was a phenomenal afternoon...it was almost like the grown-up version of riding rides at an amusement park...and I was just as exhausted as any child would be after such an incredibly exciting day...