Most times on a road trip a day can be defined by how we perceive our surroundings as we ride. Some times it's how we perceive our surroundings at a stop. A few years ago, my buddy Raymond and I took a five week tour around the States. From Kentucky where we met up, we rode west to the Coast to follow the Pacific coastline from San Diego to Seattle. While riding across Oklahoma, Raymond mentioned he'd like to stop in Oklahoma City and visit the National Memorial. Now to tell this properly, I have to put this in context and time frame. On April 19th 1995, in Toronto, I watched the events of the day on the news. Yes there was shock that this could happen, but to be honest, having grown up watching TV news, there was a conditioned detachment from what was being shown. It was after all, in another country, in a place in the middle of nowhere. It was a tragic moment in time, a million miles away. There were several days of talking about it, but then life moved on. That was April of 1995. If not for Raymond's suggestion, the Oklahoma City National Monument would not have been on my list of things to see. We rode into Oklahoma City. We parked the bikes across the street from the west entrance of the monument. Raymond had a genuine, earnest desire to see the monument. He wasn't sure if it would be appropriate to take pictures. We took some shots from where we parked and then proceeded to the monument. We split up. Raymond went off to take in this monument in its entirety. I did the typical dumb tourist quick glance routine. I thought it was very nice and respectfully set up. Tastefully done. After 10 minutes I returned to the bikes to stow some gear. A minivan was now parked behind us. The family members were trying to figure out parking meter. Looking up from my saddlebag, I could see there was 15 minutes left on the meter. Speaking to the group in general I pointed out the time remaining and suggested they not worry about it. The oldest fellow, the grandfather I would imagine, looked at me and sounding almost angry said "I didn't travel all this way just to spend 15 minutes here!" I then showed the Lady trying to figure out the meter how it operated and exchanged "Good Day's" as they started off across the street. In my youth, I wouldn't have picked up on the old man's tone, let alone think about what he said. It's funny, I can ride for weeks, stop and drink in the natural beauty of wonders like mountain vistas, the ocean or even a river's rapids for hours. But in the middle of the city, only pay lip service to something man-made. The old boy's simple gruff words had spoken a volume of wisdom. I stood for a moment looking across the street, realizing I had unintentionally, inadvertently been disrespectful to something that was much, much more than something merely man-made. After reevaluating just exactly what I had looked at, but not seen, I started back to visit the monument for the first time. Unlike some news story, some million miles away, some eight years in the past, I was now there. This was where 168 men, women and children were killed in a senseless act of violence. Standing there, I mean really standing there, you cannot remain detached from the event of April 19th, 95. After some time, I started talking with an on duty State Trooper about the monument, the bombing and the significance of the different aspects of the monument. He pointed out that the reflecting pool is where street was and 168 chairs facing it is where the building once stood. A lot of thought and reverence went into the designing of this monument. It is a very sobering, thought provoking place. 15 minutes would have been my very great loss. As I talked with the officer, Raymond returned. We asked about the chain-link fence on the roadside by the west gate. It is covered with flowers and other mementos. The officer explained that it was a section of the original fence that went up around the bomb site on day one. As a sign of respect, people place flowers and personal objects on the fence. On one fencepost was an Indian Motorcycle sticker. Further down other motorcyclists had shown their respect as well. We each paid our respects by adding two motorcycle key chains to the fence. That impromptu stop in Oklahoma City defined a day of a road trip. Some times it's just how we perceive our surroundings when we take the time to stop.