The weather has turned the Street Bob into a garage queen. If I would have known the last ride in October was going to be the last ride of the year, I would have spent a lot more time in the saddle. It seems that I have this issue every year. Life goes on. Let the winter work begin.
There are always things to be done on the scooter. This year it’s new bags, risers and grips. I have to fix a few electrical issues. First, the Bad Boy horn isn’t working. I can hear the relay kick but the horn is a no go. Just need to sit and do some basic troubleshooting and it should be good to toot.
Second, I’ve had a set of Viking Bags that are finally ready to be added. It’s time for an upgrade and these will definitely be nice. I picked up a Quick Disconnect system that will make installation a lot easier.
Third and fourth, I picked up a pair of knock off quarter-turn throttle and brake grips off eBay. Since I’ll be messing around with the handlebars, I’ll install a set of used 2″ straight risers to bring my hands and elbows up for comfort in the wind. It’s an experiment that I will report on later.
My hope is to be riding full time again by mid or end of February. In 2019, I was back on the road on March 16. There was still snow and ice in places. It’s a risk and reward thing. For me, life is better when I’m on two wheels.
I took off this morning with no clue about where I might end up. It’s something I have been trying to do for a few weeks now. Every time I made my unannounced plan, something came up. This week I told my wife that I am planning to hop on the scooter Saturday morning with no specific destination or direction in mind. Step 1 – success – to semi-spontaneously plan and unplanned get away. Yeah ME!
Step 2 – just ride
I love the sound of my Street Bob. The throaty, load pipes transferring the raw end-of-shift frustrations caged up in my head, flowing down my arm to the throttle and spitting the thoughts out behind me. The wind pushing me back into the saddle and the gas gauge showing miles I’m not tracking. Eventually, I find myself totally immersed in the moment, no distractions, just attention to my surroundings as the road trudges by. Step 2 – not to brag but, success!
Step 3 – coffee
Well… not just coffee. Coffee, donuts, quiet place to sit and write. The Black Diamond Bakery has been here for as long as I can remember. We used to come back from bike rides, kayaking or on our way home from fishing when I was a little kid. It used to be a small shack . It has grown into quite the place. My fondest memories of here are coming out here and getting what ever the hottest and freshest bread were. The Crystal Mountain was my favorite. A round loaf, fresh, hot and smothered in butter.
Today, I snagged a fresh hot loaf of cinnamon raisin bread for my family and a plain and a frosted doughnut. Man, they are so good! Step 3 – another notch in the success belt.
Step 4 – write a bit
For what it’s worth, getting back to this blog has been a goal for over a year. Putting thoughts on paper is a challenge. My hope is that I get to spend a few Saturdays this summer out and about my “pen”- a keyboard, and “paper” – an old chromebook that barely fits into my scooters bags, and post some content.
Step 4 – success for today!
Step 5 – commitment
My goal is to get out every Saturday to ride, have some coffee, visit with people I have been trying to meet, and write.
Success! Just for today, I have achieved the goals I chose for today.
I am extremely grateful today. 29 years ago I started this journey in the parking lot of A New Beginnings Hall on a Saturday, just before the Nooner. I said a pretty simple prayer. I sat on the bench by the door trying to battle the fear, the anger, the isolation. I was about to bolt, when a person walked up, held the door open and said, “Hi!”
“Well, fuck it!” I prayed, got up and walked through.
I am extremely grateful today. That person is still sober and active in AA today. They may not remember saying hi to me, but every time I see him, I cannot help but smile and think, “Welcome to A New Beginning, the House of Hope!”
When I think back over my childhood, I have very fond memories of Easter weekend. We would pack up Thursday night so we could leave as soon as dad got home from work on Friday. It was a mad dash to the Anacortes Ferry dock, to wait in line for the ferry to Friday Harbor. It was always packed. Easter weekend and all. We would get to Friday Harbor (San Juan Island) and drive across the island, down an old dirt road to The Bowery. Finally, showing up around Midnight. Lugging our gear down to “our” spot, we would quietly put up our tent, cover the ground with our tarp, blow up our air mattresses and hop in our down sleeping bags for a restless night of sleep.
Up early to a day full of children’s adventures. Breakfast cooked over an open fire pit – usually eggs, bacon and hot chocolate. All tasted so much better when cooked over Cedar. Once breakfast was done, I was off to find my friends. We would spend the day playing frisbee, checking out the tide pools, tag, rope swing, hide and seek, racing, exploring all the properties. It was non-stop all day.
After dinner, the fire would be stoked up and everyone would join and sit around the flames, stay warm, toast marshmallows and make smores. Dad would grab his harmonica and we would sing “What would you do with a drunken sailor”, “Row Row Row your boat”… Then, off to bed for the big day Sunday. Not restless this time. I would be asleep before my head hit the air mattress. Exhausted from the day of adventures and looking forward to the Sunday morning egg hunt.
We would be up early, all the kids brimming with excitement and energy. The eggs could be anywhere from the big tree on the S’s property next door, to the old rock crusher on M’s property. Off we would go, running and searching for the eggs. There was always a “special egg” hidden somewhere. It could be a coconut or a huge chocolate egg. I found both on different trips. The sweet smell of ham being cooked in a dutch oven over the fire was fantastic.
After all the eggs were found, we would have a huge communal breakfast over on the M’s property. Everything cooked over the fire – ham, eggs, cinnamon rolls, hash browns… sweet, smoky and yummy. We would play break the egg. I would take my egg and crack it over your egg. If mine broke, I would flip it over and try again. It would go on for hours, till all the eggs were broken and we had one champion unbroken egg.
By noon, we would start packing and try to catch a ferry going home. We would usually spend hours waiting in line to catch the ferry back to Anacortes. Ice cream cones being sold by cart in the line. Lot’s of walking around town, reading books. Getting homework done for Monday school. Naps. It was a long ride home to a cold home and unpacking our wet smoky gear. We would get home just in time to watch 60 minutes and the Sunday Walt Disney movie. Dinner, a shower and off to bed.
The memories of these adventures are etched in my mind and it feels like they happened yesterday. The vividness of the comradery, the laughter, the smell of the fire, the food, the salty air… all right there for me to open like a good book. It does not escape me today as to how fortunate I was to have been able to experience.
Adulting: to behave in an adult manner;
engage in activities associated with adulthood.
After spending the summer riding my scooter, I had to face some facts about my life. Returning to a job that I said I would never do again or ride across the United States. My wife and daughter needed me to go back to work. The reality of my bank account said I could make it to Boise, Idaho.
My great desire to do the “Wild Hogs” run away from life was very strong. Just me and my Hog running away, knuckles in the wind, sweet smell of worn leather, gas, exhaust, grumble of the pipes, flattened bugs on my glasses, and a wide ass grin on my face. Fifty-two years old, unemployed, possibly unemployable, a week away from unemployment ending, 4 months into being a “biker.” Life was great.
Great — if I ignored the responsibilities to my family. My wife needed her husband back. Her car needed new tires and oil changed. She needed to pay some bills that we hadn’t the money for. She needed me to take the garbage out, clean the kitchen and cook dinner. She needed me to listen to the problem she is having with her boss. My daughter needed to get her drivers license, so she can get a job and get on with her life. My dogs missed me. Buster needed to go to the vet and Sasha needed a bath.
It isn’t like I hadn’t tried to find a job. I’d had 20 interviews with rude people, in places I clearly did not belong. One interview, I was rejected by an email that was sent to me as I walked into the interview. We had a great interview and she said she would add me to the list for the next step. When I got to my car, I felt pretty good about it and checked my phone. There was the rejection. I stopped looking for work after that. Lost all hope of ever finding something I could do.
I was sitting in a little coffee shop in Morton, waiting for the roads to thaw out so I could continue my ride up the back side of Mt Saint Helens. I going over my pros and cons list. The thought of running was appealing. The thought of being homeless and unemployed was a nightmare. I really didn’t have a choice. It was time to call.
By the end of my Americano and bowl of hot soup, and employed again. I was to start Monday. I sent a text to my wife with two words – Start Monday. She was ecstatic. I, on the other hand, was disgruntled but I was adulting. Skip Photos…
Adulting… Finding some sort of balance between work, bills, family, pets and escape. This happened in 2014. I had quite a stressful job that I was under qualified for. The work environment was cut throat competitive. When I was terminated, I didn’t think I could work again. It took a month of sleeping, eating, binge watching, weeping, and moping before I could even take a shower.
I talked with my wife and she suggested I try and go out. I came home with the Street Bob a week later. I rode every day, rain or shine, till I started to like it. It took a whole summer to bring me up to where I could talk with anyone about working again. The daily escapes relieved me if my mind. The depression would disappear when I turned onto Main St and opened the throttle.
I truly believe that losing that job was the gift I needed to move on in life. I have gone from a job that I dreaded going to every day to a job that I really like to do. I am very fortunate. The ride was spectacular. What a great way to close out the season with blue skies, beautiful scenery and a new job.
Holding her seconds after Sam was born. Sour little face all upset at the world. I tucked the blanket around her and held her like the precious person she was. Changing her diapers, feeding her food.
She’s doing the ‘wobble, step, wobble, step’ now. She laughs and laughs and grins.
She hops on her big wheel and rolls it around the back yard.
Next day she wants something out of the ‘fridgifator.’
We are walking around Albertsons and she hears a fire truck siren. She trundles down the aisle and yelling, “Daddy, Daddy! It’s a firefuck! Do you hear the firefuck?” I smile and say, “Yes Sammy, I hear the firefuck!”
The first skinned knee, the boo boo kisses.
New paint for the babies room.
Holding her hand before she gets on the school bus for the first day of kindergarten. The tears as she gets on the bus. Screaming “Daddy!” when she comes home. Showing me all the paintings, drawings and teaching me the alphabet.
Her best friend moves.
New friends and bullying. We try and talk but she is embarrassed and I am angry.
She calls me Dad now. No more hand holding. She’s growing faster than I thought possible. She hangs out more with her mom. I feel jealous.
She starts high school. Doesn’t want me to walk with her to the bus anymore. Wants to hang out with friends, do the parties.
She gets bullied more now. Kids are tough, but this really hurts her. She wont talk about it with me. Only her mom. At least she is talking.
She wants to drive, go to Prom, senior cruise, camp outs. She’s not talking to either of us any more. We are just her parents.
She’s living in Oregon now. Helping her grandma. We text, we laugh. I’m just Dad now.
I can feel the poison in my head. My body quaking. I grab a cup of coffee. Spill most of it from the quakes. I quietly slide the corner of the curtain aside to see if my scooter is home. It isn’t. My cat stares at me in disgust. I look for my shoes find one. This explains the muddy sock. Scrape the puke off the top my RedWing and limp out the front door. No keys, no wallet, no bike, no shoe. I quietly try and shuffle by the managers apartment, no rent. Trying to hold back the tears from the abused brain and poison I ingested this time. Light stabbing my sockets. I turn my head and the nausea invites itself to the party. Nothing but endless dry heaves.
I fade out.
The EMT crushes his fat knuckle into my chest. “Hey Buddy, you okay? You with us? Hey…”
“What day is it?” I ask.
I roll to the side and dry heave some more. Tuesday? Four days gone. Where the hell have I been?
“Tough night?” He asks.
“Something like that.” I manage to mumble between heaves.
“There’s a lot of blood on you. Do you know what happened to you? You look like someone beat you with a baseball bat.”
Can’t breath, the heaves. I fade out.
The noise. Chest pain. “Breath you son of a bitch! Breath! Come on bud! Breath!” Flo exclaims. “Breath… there you go. In— out—in—out. Good boy. In, one, two, three. Out, three, two, one… I think we can put the defibrillator away.”
My chest hurts. My stomach aches. My brain is being stabbed with every heart beat. My body hurts everywhere. My eyes roll back and my body tenses. I start to fade out and I hear Flo yell, “Not again! Breath dammit, breath…breath you son of a bitch! Breath!” She punches my jaw and white pain explodes in my head.
I fade. Darker and darker it goes. The little spots of light, slowly leaves.
I mumble, “Scotch… dammit…scotch… never again.”
I fade deeper… deeper.
I hear Flo say, “He has no pulse again. Start CPR…”
“The discipline of writing something down is the first step toward making it happen.” — Lee Iacocca
The question asked is “Who am I?” Well, I’m a dad, a husband, and a biker. I’m a courier. I’m also a big fan of Dr Who and Seuss. I’m a loner. I drive all night and sleep all day. I struggle with being an adult, husband and dad.
Where am I? Puyallup Washington (pronounced pew-al-up). About 35 miles miles South of Seattle, right at the base of Mt Rainier. It’s a beautiful place to live.
It is my hope, and my discipline, that this blog will open my eyes to the wonders of writing about the world, my joys, struggles and progress in towards my goals
I looking forward to the challenge and discipline of writing. I look forward to the guidance and help from the blogging community.