I am not a brave or adventurous person -- just ask my husband and son. I nearly divorced my husband on our honeymoon after he dragged me on Space Mountain at Disney World, telling me it was a "nice ride through the star-lit skies."
Three seat belts and a warning of "blast-off in 5 seconds" confirmed my initial suspicion I was about to die. I repeated over and over to myself, "Walt Disney wouldn't kill me, Walt Disney wouldn't kill me, Walt Disney wouldn't kill me ..."
Guy pulled a similar stunt two days later at Busch Gardens, when he wheedled me onto the log flume ride, telling me it was only one hill. Once down the hill, as I was collecting my things to get out of the log car, it hit me we were climbing again -- up another, higher hill.
So whatever possessed me to go on a motorcycle ride with one of our friends last Sunday? One minute I was sitting peacefully on our deck, the next I was screaming on the back of a Harley.
There were a few snags to actually getting in motion. The strap on the helmet (That's a helmet? Where's the rest of it?) had to be snug -- so snug my gag reflex kicked in. I also have a bad knee and swinging it over the bike wasn't quite the smooth, fluid motion I had envisioned.
Our friend Rob swung into the driver's seat with the finesse I had been lacking and started the motor. I put my hands on his waist and realized that, being the tall string bean he was, there wasn't much to hang onto.
We were off! Rob was only going 10 to 15 mph down our street, but it felt like 90. And then we were at the end of the street and turned onto the cross street.
"Don't do that!" I screamed in Rob's ear as the pavement moved a bit more vertically toward my face as we leaned into the turn.
"Don't turn?" he asked. "You can't just go straight."
Two more turns and we were out on Route 2, heading toward downtown -- and going faster. I closed my eyes, but it felt like we were doing 90 mph again. I found myself staring at the back of his helmet and chanting, "Rob wouldn't kill me, Rob wouldn't kill me, Rob wouldn't kill me ..."
As we neared Hillside Cemetery, Rob pointed to the wind turbines on the ridge ahead. "Look up there."
Was he nuts? Driving one-handed? "Put your hand back and steer!"
And then there was that wide turn at the cemetery ...
We turned onto Marshall Street and I began to relax and look around. We turned onto River Street -- "I told you not to do that!" -- and over Massachusetts Avenue Extension, gathering speed as we went. I was actually enjoying it until we came to Ashton Avenue in order to cross back over to State Road. A 90-degree turn onto Ashton, two curves and railroad tracks to boot? Who the heck designed that street?
We roared down State Road -- if 50 mph can be called roaring. It sure felt like we were roaring. A turn onto Phelps Avenue, a turn onto Barbour Street and we rode triumphantly down Rob's street, waving to his mom and neighbors like returning conquering heroes. (Yes, I actually let go of Rob long enough to wave.)
Then it was back home and the task of getting off the bike -- no small feat because my bad knee had stiffened up. My dismount was less than graceful.
Would I go again? Yes, although the rumor currently circulating our neighborhood about me getting leather apparel and a tattoo is totally false.
Rob really likes a dish I make, Dirty Rice with Smoked Sausage, courtesy of my TV friends Pat and Gina Neely. It uses smoked sausage, rice, peppers, onions and celery. I sometimes add shrimp to the mixture and have a bottle of hot sauce on the table for those who like to make it spicier. Once the rice is cooked, it only takes about 10 minutes to make. Perfect after a fall day motorcycle ride!
Dirty Rice with Smoked Sausage
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
2 cups long grain white rice
5 cups chicken stock, divided
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound smoked pork sausage, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a medium saucepan, combine the rice and 4 cups chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until all the stock is absorbed into the rice, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile heat oil in a heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat. Brown the sausage. Once browned, add the garlic, onion, celery and green bell pepper. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 cup chicken stock and cayenne. Cook until the stock has reduced a little. Add the cooked rice and parsley and stir thoroughly. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary.
Margaret Button is the city editor of the North Adams Transcript. Send recipes for inclusion in future columns to the North Adams Transcript, 85 Main St., Suite 2, North Adams, MA 01247 or email them to email@example.com.