How Bon Jovi, A Motorcycle And A Rainy Road In Montana Changed My Life

How Bon Jovi, A Motorcycle And A Rainy Road In Montana Changed My Life

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“I walk these streets, a loaded six string on my back
I play for keeps, ‘cause I might not make it back
I been everywhere, and I’m standing tall
I’ve seen a million faces an I’ve rocked them all

I’m a cowboy on a steel horse I ride
I’m wanted dead or alive
I’m a cowboy, I got the night on my side
I’m wanted dead or alive

And I ride, dead or alive
I still drive, dead or alive

Dead or alive

Dead or alive”

(From the song Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi /Songwriters Jon Bon Jovi, Richard Sambora. Published by Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC)

Call me crazy, but it seldom, if ever, occurs to me that I could die on the back of our motorcycle.

Jon Bon Jovi wailed into my ears while the sexy, steel string guitar licks washed over me as I hunkered down into my husband’s back, attempting to escape the fire hose strength deluge that had just broken loose from the sky.

That song is always in heavy rotation on the endless loop of music that occupies my mind on these long rides. It’s our anthem. A clarion call from the open road.

I usually murder it, loudly sharing the harmonies with Richie Sambora. “Waaaahhhh teddddd” …but not that day.

The rain came at us in sheets, slicing gray from every direction.
Somehow, it was finding its way UNDER my helmet, making it nearly impossible for me to see a thing. Racing down the two-lane highway in northern Montana at 60 miles an hour wasn’t helping.

The storm had left us no choice.
We were half way through another three hundred mile day of a 4500-mile loop.

LA to Glacier Park and back.

That day we were trying to make it through the Blackfeet Indian Reservation to St Mary’s at the base of Glacier Park. About as far north you can go and still remain inside the US.

The rain had stayed away… so far, which is why we take our longer rides in September; the weather tends to be reliable. Little did we know that this was an early start to one of the wettest, snowiest, coldest winters on record. The “Polar Vortex” winter of 2013.

I heard the weather warnings on my way back to the bathroom at the rickety little joint where we had stopped for lunch. They crackled from the ancient portable radio that wore a coat hanger as a hat and was sitting on a chair in the bar. That sinister weather alert tone followed by the robotic voice that droned on and on, full of dire predictions.

Our guys got out the maps and basically informed us that we had no choice but we still took a vote—we’re democratic that way.

The vote said GO but go NOW!

The storm had used the morning to turn into a motherfucker.
Barreling across the plains, the ominous, dark, ground level clouds and distant thunder felt like a herd of stampeding black horses rolling in behind us, giving chase.

“It’s all the same, only the names have changed…”

In my imagination, as we rode the eight to twelve hours each day, WE were part of that wild herd.

A couple straddling the back of a wild stallion.

Cherokee, Apache, Navaho, Sioux, it didn’t matter. We were feral; mad with love and wanderlust, wildly riding the Great Plains bareback, looking for the next great adventure. Our deep brown skin glistening in the sun, our long black hair whipping in the hot Montana wind. That was the spirit of who we were then….and who we are now.

“I’m a cowboy on a steel horse I ride.”

The four of us were determined to outrun it. We were convinced we could.

I’m tellin’ ya, we’re badass.

Have I mentioned yet that I’m riding on the back of my husbands BMW 1200GS Adventurer, and we are accompanied by our trusty fellow riding couple, JT and Ginger? After meeting them in Spain in 2005, we have ridden the world with them.

I’ve been writing this blog since November 2012. Almost two years.
Up until this past September, it was NOT in my own voice.
I was too timid to come out of the shadows. A spiritual coward (my own label).
It was your run of the mill, generic, spiritual wisdom.
No humor. No personal stories and definitely NO F-bombs.

I know VERY few of you were readers back then. I know that because I had 23 followers, all friends, and family who were kind enough to hit follow after I sent them the I have a blog email.

Back to Montana and that freaking storm.

I wrote what happened next in Total Loss of Control (it’s in the archives).
We narrowly escaped being killed by a passing truck.

“Dead or alive”

But this post isn’t about that, it’s about what happened afterward.

Something did die that day. The part of me that wanted to remain in hiding.

When I checked in with the Muse that night to write the blog, I suggested like an idiot, that she might want to write about the harrowing experience of earlier that day.
You know, find the message in the mess. Here’s how the conversation went:

Me: Hey, you should really write about me almost dying today, that was pretty intense.

Muse: You write about it.

Me: Well, I don’t really write this stuff in my own voice. I just kind of download the wisdom and give it my best shot…but I think there could be some really good shit in that story.

Muse: It didn’t happen to me. I happened to YOU. YOU write about it.
How you felt, your thought process.
..

Me: Uh…yeah, here’s the thing..I don’t write.

Muse: Don’t interrupt me.

Me: Sorry.

And that’s when I started writing in my own voice, with my own personal stories and my “take” on things.
I even apologized in the first few posts.
“Oh hi, sorry, it’s just me here again”

Lame.
Timid.
Living small.
As far from courageous as you can get.
Shirking all responsibility.
Impersonal.
Total lack of vulnerability.

“I play for keeps, ‘cause I might not make it back
I been everywhere, and I’m standing tall
I’ve seen a million faces an I’ve rocked them all”

I can’t see your faces….but I know you’re there. I can feel you.
There’s so many of you now, and if I look at the analytics, you all started to read from September to today. When I started to write.

Changed my life.

Thank you. You keep me pure and true and courageous.

Much love and appreciation,
Xox

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6 Comments
  • Mr David R Holmes says:

    I just watched Easy Rider with my youngest son (28 yrs old). He never saw it before. I loved it, great music and acting (if they were acting).

    • jbertolus says:

      Hi David,
      Man…I need to see that movie again, it’s been awhile. While I’d like to think we were THAT badass, sadly, it’s probably a stretch. Bon Jovi is as far as I can reach these days. 😉
      xoxJanet

      PS. No Harleys or choppers. There’ NO WAY you can put in twelve hours on those!

  • I love Bon Jovi, and I love this post!

  • Dominator says:

    It is only when you face death that you TRULY appreciate life. Motorcycling is a catalyst to experience life on the edge. Life on the edge is where courage start and you are showing courage by your choices. Kudos!

    • jbertolus says:

      Motorcycling is one of the BEST things that has happened in my life. Hands down!
      Catalyst for change and JOY.
      Thanks you.
      XoxJanet

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