The Nuclear Tourist: Day 2

Evans Brasfield
by Evans Brasfield

Wherein we learn that I am but a frail human

Today was one of those days I’d like to forget. I awoke with a headache that, by the time I had the 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour fully loaded, was blooming into a migraine. Oh joy. Nevertheless, I pushed ahead because I was 900 miles from home, and I had a schedule to keep. I remember the ride into Los Alamos, NM as being scenic – and little else other than the pain in my head.

Riding the 2018 Honda Gold Wing On The Nuclear Tourist Tour
The Nuclear Tourist Tour: Day 1
The Nuclear Tourist Tour: Day 3
The Nuclear Tourist Tour: Day 4

My first objective was the Bradbury Science Museum where I hoped to add to my understanding of the development of nuclear weapons. Instead, the exhibits were directed more at people with cursory knowledge about the Manhattan Project. Still, the museum contains full-sized replicas of the bombs that were dropped over Japan. Seeing the actual size of the weapons that brought about so much destruction is a humbling experience. While I understand the reasoning behind the creation of the Manhattan Project during WWII, I simply cannot grasp what would motivate Kim Jong-un and President Trump to casually threaten each other with vastly more powerful tools of mass destruction.

My first objective was the Bradbury Science Museum where I hoped to add to my understanding of the development of nuclear weapons. Instead, the exhibits were directed more at people with cursory knowledge about the Manhattan Project.

After my trip to the Bradbury, I decided to make my way out of town to the west to ride a different, twistier road out of town, but in my gradually-improving-but-still-befuddled state I couldn’t find a way around the Los Alamos National Laboratory. After a short, pointed conversation with one of the guards at the laboratory’s security gate I gave up on my clever idea to photograph my bike in front of the security lanes. So, I punted and cut my day short by riding down to Socorro, NM for the night.

A couple hours on the freeway let me ponder some new aspects of the 2018 Gold Wing Tour that I’m maybe not so fond of. First, the trunk is noticeably smaller than the one offered on the previous generation. It will hold my XL Shoei Neotec helmet with a little jostling, but I don’t think even a small full-face helmet would be able to join it inside the trunk. More to the point for me, the normal-sized backpack I travel with barely fits in the trunk, I have to take one of my camera lenses out and tuck it to the side. Americans like to carry their stuff with them, and I can’t imagine that this lessening of trunk capacity will go over well with the Gold Wing faithful. Perhaps riders new to the Wing won’t miss what they never had.

While I like the soft-touch buttons that open the bags, I wish Honda had given the trunk a little more volume.

Then there are the handsome side-opening bags. If the Honda bag liners had been available in time for my departure, I wouldn’t have this gripe, but my clothes try to jump out every time I open a bag. While I do have everything packed in zip-locking plastic baggies, the mere thought of stuffing everything back into the saddlebag makes me stop to consider if I really want to open the bag in the first place.

With side opening bags, liners are a necessity. Unfortunately, they weren’t available in time for my ride.

Yesterday, I effused about how much I love the Gold Wing’s easy to read GPS system. Well, today I have a minor gripe. When I initiate a call through Apple Car Play – usually via Siri – I can’t switch away from the phone screen and back to the GPS display until the call is over. Hitting the Home button does take me to that screen, but the controls are locked while on a call, effectively making Car Play and the phone screen my only choice. Although this is a minor issue, I felt kinda silly telling people I was talking to that I needed to hang up just to check my GPS. On a route with many turns, taking a call could easily cause the rider to miss turn directions and stray from their intended route.

Of course, those are detail complaints and the overall bike is still an amazing traveller, after just over 900 miles in two days, I still have remarkably little fanny fatigue. This is a testament to the quality of the Gold Wing’s seat and well thought-out ergonomics.

Tomorrow will be a better day.

Day 2’s somewhat abbreviated route.
Evans Brasfield
Evans Brasfield

Like most of the best happenings in his life, Evans stumbled into his motojournalism career. While on his way to a planned life in academia, he applied for a job at a motorcycle magazine, thinking he’d get the opportunity to write some freelance articles. Instead, he was offered a full-time job in which he discovered he could actually get paid to ride other people’s motorcycles – and he’s never looked back. Over the 25 years he’s been in the motorcycle industry, Evans has written two books, 101 Sportbike Performance Projects and How to Modify Your Metric Cruiser, and has ridden just about every production motorcycle manufactured. Evans has a deep love of motorcycles and believes they are a force for good in the world.

More by Evans Brasfield

Join the conversation
2 of 35 comments