Go West Young Man!

32 Days and 5,536 Miles On My Vintage Motorcycle

So the Kern County kid finally comes home. I was born in Bakersfield, son of an oil field laborer, who himself was the son of an oil field laborer. But I haven't lived here in over twenty years and the air of mystery that hangs over the southern tip of the San Joaquin Valley is almost as thick as the smog. Both my mom and my dad spent the entirety of their youth crusing Chester and Union, hanging out at the Valley Plaza Mall, sun tanning next to swimming pools tucked away in the suburban sprawl and, at the same age I am now, raising two babies.

The mystery of course is what kind of life I would have had here. For the sake of my sanity I assume my mother's sudden and perplexing move east almost twenty years ago kept me out of the oil fields, and from a shared fate with so many young men who weren't lucky enough to walk away safely from those oil rigs, my father included.

My grandfather still lives here though. The man lived harder and faster than anyone and now over the tip of eighty years old he's the only Ware left besides me and my brother. He's a master welder, self taught mechanic and all around old-school dude. His welcome was warm, and for Justin, brief. Within twenty minutes he was back out into the night to have his own unshared journey south. No need for goodbyes with Justin, they're never permanent.

I spent two days wrenching on my poor old Honda and visiting with family. I paid my respects to the ones that couldn't be there and then, as my grandpa later said, "left outta here like a cannonball".


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