I left Boston on the morning of May 2 to travel to New Orleans by motorcycle, all back roads. This afternoon, day 5 of my trip, I enjoyed a sublime pipe experience, the kind of smoke that reinforces why I took up the pipe and threw away the cigarettes. Needless to say, I’m not in a rush if I’m taking all back roads, averaging about 350 twisty, out-of-the-way miles per day, enjoying the scenery and the byways and hamlets. I haven’t stopped for a pipe break before today though because a properly enjoyed pipe takes time. Even though I’m not in a hurry, I am on a kind of schedule: always moving forward. I’ve enjoyed a pipe in the evening at day’s end but never mid-journey. That changed today. Five days, ten hours a day, made me inattentive, logey, slogging through the miles instead of enjoying them. Something had to give and that something was my attitude. I’ve travelled through some beautiful country but I stopped paying attention around 2:00 this afternoon. That’s when I decided to change gears. In Conecuh County, Alabama I noticed a packed clay road leading off Route 31 just before a bridge. I crossed the bridge and doubled back, navigating my little motorcycle down the dirt road in second gear to the edge of the Sepulga River where it cuts through its clay bed. I unpacked my corn cob pipe from my starboard saddle bag and assembled the stem. I packed the bowl with some tobacco from Boston, Piretti’s Park Square, a favorite of mine. Sitting by the edge of the river I smoked my pipe, letting my thoughts flow like the water and the wafting smoke. I savored the moment in full contemplation of where I was in the world...in some place I’ve never been and probably never will be again, on the bank of the Sepulga River under a bridge with all my familiar world a world away... Nothing but my thoughts and my pipe to keep me company. Pipe smoking isn’t a hurried pleasure. It took me forty minutes to savor my pinches of smoldering tobacco. It was time well spent. I had nowhere to go but in my own skin, enjoying my reveries and steeling my resolve for the miles ahead. I appreciated the discipline of savoring a well packed pipe in an exotic location, taking care not to care about the clock or the map. It may very well be the best pipe I’ll ever smoke. I tapped the spent ashes into the river and watched the current carry them away. Grounded and centered again after this bit of meditation, I remounted my motorcycle, helmet in place, visor down and pipe stowed away where I can find it again latter in the afternoon. A pipe is a thinking person’s respite. Unlike a cigarette, it isn’t a nicotene delivery system hurried into the lungs and then tossed away. Smoking a pipe isn’t a means to an end, it is a thing of its own, one bowl at a time. I sipped at my corn cob the way my motorcycle sips at gasoline. Tobacco and petroleum are both fuel that propels. One drives me inward, one drives me onward. There is nowhere to go but here in this moment. Refreshed and rejuvenated, senses hair trigger sharp, I sped down Route 31 with new purpose and resolve. All for the taste of a pipe smoked slowly when I had somewhere to go. Sometimes it’s best to pause. It’s always best to pause with a pipe full of good tobacco, smelling the roses, taking stock of the surroundings. If you want to read a review of Piretti's Park Square Tobacco, I've linked to it. It's good but not particularly special, just my home blend. I don't really like to indulge in self promotion, but if you are interested in reading about my journey, none of it pipe-specific, I've been blogging it. If you find it interesting, please leave a comment there. It's not my usual style or subject matter. Thanks for reading. It really was a good pipe in the right place at the right time.