By Dawn S.
When I was sixteen, I spent a summer in Kentucky with my grandmother, Mammajean, and worked as a cashier at a local grocery store. When we had time off together, my Uncle Dennis would pick me up on his Honda Hurricane sports bike for some fun, like going to the fair or seeing the latest James Bond movie.
Riding double on a crotch rocket is not easy. You have to ride bent over forward, and your footpegs are behind you. Despite the challenges, it was a lot of fun, and I felt really cool, plus I trusted Dennis completely, he is a very experienced and safe driver.
The Motorcycle Wave Hand Gesture
The highlight of the summer came one weekend when Dennis picked me up and said he was taking me to one of his favorite places, Red River Gorge. Some of his friends joined us, and we rode in safety formation into the mountains, leaning into the winding turns in single file.
Once at our destination, we hiked a trail that took us through rhododendron and up to a vista of the gorge with its towering cliffs.
On the way back down we stepped into the mouth of a cave to cool off. Then it happened, on the drive back to Lexington, we traded bikes with one of his friends, who drove a cruiser style motorcycle. I was able to sit up straight and lean back against the sissy bar supported on my foot pegs in comfort.
I didn’t even need to hang on (but I did!). Wow, what a difference! I could feel the wind, enjoy the scenery passing slowly by, and take in all the smells. I smiled, and I thought to myself, this is awesome; I AM HAVING myself a motorcycle one day!
I had noticed all summer that when we passed oncoming motorcycles, the riders would give hand gestures such as raising or lowering their hand as we passed by and Dennis would do the same. I finally grasped it.
They understand what it’s all about, the adventure of traveling in a way that touches all of your senses, and “The Motorcycle Wave” hand gestures they give to each other is their way of saying they get it and acknowledge the common bond because they know you do, too.
Red River Gorge is in the Daniel Boone National Forest in east/central Kentucky. Its river, sandstone arches, natural bridge, and huge cliffs make it an exciting hiking, camping, paddling, and rock climbing destination.
Fast forward fifteen years. I am living back in Florida and just finished my motorcycle safety class, and received my motorcycle endorsement on my driver’s license. I had never driven anything with two wheels and a motor until the first hour of the class.
My first bike was a 250cc Honda Rebel. It was a great bike to learn on and a perfect fit for my 5ft stature. The road through my neighborhood was one long, windy loop, and that is the only road I drove my new motorcycle on for months (new to me, thank you, Aunt Diane!).
Then one weekend, my step-mom Vicki, came to visit on her Harley. She encouraged me to leave the neighborhood and said I was ready to venture out onto the real roads, so we did. The first time I hit 45 MPH, I thought the wind was going to blow me right off of the bike. But I stayed on, and I kept riding, gaining more experience, and more confidence, little by little.
At first, when getting a hand gesture such as a wave from oncoming riders, all I could do was nod my head in their direction. Eventually, I could lift a finger or two on my left hand. Then one day it happened. I was having a blast riding around Lake Monroe and as a man and woman passed by on their motorcycle, she lifted her hand to me, and I was finally able to let go and drop my left hand down, and give her the hand gesture back, “THE WAVE”!
Florida has great weather most of the year, and motorcycles are everywhere. Most people aren’t looking for that little headlight, so please, double-check for motorcycles in traffic, especially when turning left, merging, or changing lanes. Always wear a helmet, proper boots and protective clothing, the sun, sand, and bugs can ruin a ride without it. If you ride but are traveling by campervan, you can rent a bike for the day in Daytona Beach and cruise up the coast on A1A, or do “the loop.” It’s a great scenic drive by campervan or bike.
The Friendly Jeep Hand Gesture
So, the whole reason I am sharing this is that I have learned over the years that this doesn’t just happen when riding a motorcycle. When I have my kayaks on my car, or even just my empty J-bars, I get a hand gesture with a wave from other people with kayaks, or kayak roof racks, because they are paddlers, too, we share a common bond.
When my husband had his jeep, the same thing happened; drivers of other jeeps would give him “The Jeep Wave” hand gesture.
One time I was leaving working, sitting at a light, when the driver of an oncoming car smiled and threw the peace sign to me. I couldn’t figure it out. Did I know him? No kayak rack on my car that day?
As I watched him drive away in my rearview mirror, it hit me; he was also driving a SUBARU! Back then you didn’t see very many Subaru’s in Florida, not like you did out west. That was my first “Subi Wave” hand gesture!
The Campervan Wave Hand Gesture
So, keep this story in mind when you are traveling in your Escape campervan. When you see another Escape van—and you probably will—give them a big wave hand gesture, because you have something in common, the adventure of traveling off the beaten path, to be able to linger in a special place you found along your journey, you have a common bond, you understand, you get it!
There’s no wrong way to do “The Van Wave” friendly hand gesture. Go first, wave at the same time, or wave in return.
Stick your hand out the window, or leave it in, just give it try!
John and I are fixing to hit the road for 4 weeks, so if you see someone with kayaks on top of an old dodge van named BIG BLUE trying to get your attention, it’s just us, giving you “THE WAVE” hand gesture!