Bushed*

* Canadian slang: mentally unbalanced as a result of prolonged residence in a sparsely inhabited region.

There was a bike parked by the ATM, and when I walked inside an old-timer in a well-used riding jacket was in front of me. After he left I picked up my cash and walked back outside, hoping to catch him before he got back on the road.

He had a French accent, and it sounded vaguely Quebecois, so I babbled something incoherent in French about Quebec and being far from home. He corrected my misconception by telling me he was Belgian. So much for my fine ear for languages and accents — but then, I don’t know any Belgians. He wasn’t insulted in the least by my assumption. He probably felt sorry for my lack of conversational French.

He was from Silverton, Colorado and was headed north to Alaska. He explained that Silverton was the kind of town that you just had to get out of when the snow melted. As isolated as Silverton is in the southwest corner of Colorado, I can understand that perfectly.

In Canada, it’s called being bushed.

We both laughed as he told me about the people in Silverton who couldn’t understand why he would want to leave the place once the snow melted and spring began. After all, they said, winter is over and now there’s no reason to want to leave.

Right.

Those long, cold winter nights, when the snow starts falling and it doesn’t end for a week. When hauling your ass out of the house to go for groceries is a drag. When all you see are the same people day after day after day. When the only topic of conversation is the spring melt. When false spring arrives and gets your hopes up, only to be dashed when the thermometer goes back down below zero and it snows again.

Now it’s summer, the roads are open, and they all lead somewhere else. That sounds to me like a perfect reason for an extended road trip on a motorcycle.

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