By Trina Machacek

For a few years I was lucky enough to do a tiny bit of traveling on the back of a wonderful Honda Goldwing motorcycle. It was too big for me to handle, wink-wink. So I got to just be the passenger and I enjoyed the riding.

I was asked if I wanted to add a set of headphones to my helmet so the guy in front could talk to me while riding on the back and I declined. I just wanted to ride and enjoy the freedom. That was exactly what I did. I bring that up because of the many things I enjoyed about traveling that way, one of the most amazing and truly unexpected things I discovered were the smells along the roads.

You can get those smells, of course, when traveling in a car as you go down the roads of your journey. But! Yes an open aired “but.”  If you only go down the roads with your windows rolled up sealing you in a spaceship like compartment you don’t get the benefit of the full blast of all the smells of the road.

So occasionally roll down your windows and breathe in what is waiting for you out there. Let’s just sniff our way along a bit.

Rain. That first hint of rain while traveling down a road is a combination of ozone and rain hitting the pavement. Ozone is a gas that is in the oxygen we breathe all the time but something cool happens to make it more prominent when rain is on the way.

That first ozone hit to your nose happens when a storm is coming because ozone is around us for sure.  Then magically a storm will bring ozone that hangs around in the stratosphere, uh, up in the sky, down to mix with the regular ozone we suck into our lungs all the time.

Pretty cool actually to have that mix happen to tell us through our noses that rain is coming, and soon. Of course you can usually just tell by looking at the sky and see the building storm clouds.

But that hit of “rain is coming ozone” might just be a tap in your brain telling you to look up! RAIN is coming. Then it begins to rain and the ozone is replaced by the freshness of clean air. There are tons of cleaners that tout smelling fresh as rain. I’m here to tell you that rain has never been matched by any mixture of chemicals. It’s a gift that can only come from one source you know.

If riding on a motorcycle and getting attacked by ozone and rain isn’t enough to make you happy there are other sniffy smells. Have you ever been up in the mountains in the summer time when it is hot and maybe a little muggy? There is a mixture of moisture in the air mixed with dirt and vegetation with an added smell of an animal or two who live in the area.

It’s a smell that feels warm. Wonderful too. I have a grand wild rose bush on my property that we transplanted long ago from a bush that grows up in the mountains. It has grown from a few sticks we stuck in the ground to a bush bigger than a bread box but smaller than a small pick-up.

Okay so over the years of tender loving care it’s actually more towards the size of the small truck than the bread box. In the hot of summer when I walk by it and the breeze is just right I can smell that mountain smell of heat and dirt and passing time of wilted yellow roses that the bush put out earlier in the year. Almost but not quite as wonderful as rain.

By far though there is one smell that is unmistakably known. I would hazard a guess that no matter where you live, country, town, city, even on an island, this smell has surprised you at some time. More than once. Now first you must know it is not the best sniff you will sniff.

It is however an honest smell. Traveling on anything from a two lane road or freeway you are apt to zip past some sort of animal gathering area. That’s when, out of nowhere your nose is accosted by poo-filled puffs of air. Thick with gas. Aromas that are instantly identifiable. That’s what I call air with vitamins in it.

It’s a sniff that should remind you we all have been at the south end of a north bound animal. Even if that animal was a human being!

Trina lives in Eureka. Her book “They Call Me Weener” is available on or email her at to see how to get a signed copy.