It’s Halloween Eve, which is to say the eve of All Hallows’ Eve, and everyone and their brother with a creative outlet is doing a Halloween-themed entry. I’d like to tell you I’m better than all that. I would love to say I’m going against the grain, blazing my own trail, and taking the path least taken. But I have a confession to make. A deep dark secret.
I love Halloween.
Halloween is without a doubt my favorite holiday of the year. Since I was just a wee shaver, I felt drawn to monsters, horror films, and the macabre. October was the one month of the year everyone else seemed to immerse themselves in this world with me. Horror films, dark humor, and the celebration of all things that go bump in the night took over for one whole month. It was glorious.
And it still is. I never lost my enthusiasm for the spooky things and places of the world, and I want to spend some time in this blog talking about the scarier moments from our trip. They’re likely not the moments you would think.
A few films have informed public opinion about rural America: Deliverance, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and The Hills Have Eyes all come to mind. The plots share some similarities; namely, a group of city folks are terrorized by disturbed individuals who live beyond the edges of civilization. As a city boy myself, you would think that I’d carry some residual fears with me across the country.
In all honesty however, I never felt unsafe in rural America. The people we met were warm, and the locations we rode through and stopped in were, at times, weather worn and depressed, but never intimidating.
Was it the Winchester Mystery House then? Amazing, yes. Scary? Not for me. The Winchester House was a blast to walk through and we were given a wonderful tour, but it wasn’t the scariest part of the trip. It could have been the fact that we toured during a beautiful day or maybe I was too absorbed with the bizarre and interesting architecture, but alas, I was not filled with dread.
Was it riding at 90+ mph in the rain? We’re getting closer, but that was more nerve-wracking than anything else. Besides, it was a sunshower and visibility was decent.
Was it that creepy semi-abandoned hotel we stayed at? Ah, now we’re getting somewhere. Video exists of this place and our explorations through its many darkened halls and rooms, but the light of day showed us our concerns were exaggerated. The sun reveals all, and in this case it merely revealed a hotel that had seen better days and was in bad need of a renovation.
OK, enough teasing it out. For me, the scariest part of the trip was riding at night. Man up you say? Don’t be a crybaby you say? Well, let me explain.
These necessary miles were torture for me. I wasn’t afraid of monsters or madmen, but of the real dangers these rides entailed. Pitch black roads, sheets of rain, hailstones and an oppressive wall of darkness on either side hid hazardous conditions that could unseat even the most skilled rider. Potholes, which can often sneak up on you to begin with, became nearly impossible to see or avoid. While driving side by side with Jeremy for the extra light, swerving wasn’t even an option. The best you can do is grit your teeth and white knuckle it to the next destination. Muscles tight, expression tense, I’d hope the adrenaline would last me as many miles as I needed.
When it didn’t, eyes grew heavy, focus decreased, and the rhythm of white lines dulled the senses. It was dangerous. It was scary. And in my next contract, I want time and a half for it…. or a masseur… or better headlights…