Friday, July 18, 2014

Cannonball Run

List of bad things:

Broken glass
Bits of tire
Drunk drivers
Failed gear
Flying rocks 

List of good things
Gear that works as advertised

Motel 6 in Marshall Texas made me remember a scene from one of my favorite all-time movies, the cannonball run. mad dog crashes through the hotel lobby, and when the bug guy hotel manager comes out mad dog commands "hey man are you the one running this fleabag? Where are the hookers?"
"What?" Squeaks the manager.
"Hookers man! where are the hookers?"

I won't go so far to say that the Motel 6 in Marshall is a fleabag, or that it has hookers. However if there had been fleas or hookers, I would not of been surprised. Many years ago, my former workplace ordered me and many other staffers to go on a staff retreat. They booked us into some sort of dude ranch used for company events somewhere out in West Texas. I don't remember the town. We specialized in putting on Weather shows and della events, so we expected them to book us into someplace that demonstrated respect for what we did. Instead, they booked us into a broken down, run down, dirty little joint. Bare cinder block walls, green paint, you get the idea. My friend and colleague Bill had bad walked into his room he said "this is where my parents will find my body." I thought of that moments of times in the year since when I've been staying at some great places and some less than great places. All that being said, it was clean, bug free, secure, and have hot running water. That place is it in the top half of "places where Andy has spent the night." 

i'm using a lot of "quotation marks" today.

Yesterday, I started the morning by packing and getting dressed. I have very small saddlebags, so I had to pack an extra backpack and lash it onto my bumper. This turned out to be a bad idea. I've done it before, several times before actually, and driven long-distance with that very same backpack lashed to my bumper. Didn't work.

I fed my new stray cat, then had breakfast at city CafĂ©. An older man at the bar try to talk to me. His breath was amazingly phone. I had to back away and I noticed nobody was sitting anywhere near this guy. He said something unintelligible, said something to the waitress, and then stumbled out of the restaurant. We were all looking at each other and shaking our heads, when I heard the war of the motorcycle. I look out the front door and see the drunk old man driving off on a Harley. 

I finished breakfast, got on the road, and made it to Meridian by 9 o'clock. I stopped for gas and found that my backpack was loose. Hadn't fallen off but looked like it might. I tried real lashing it too many contents had shifted during the one hour trip. 

I found the nearest post office and repacked so that everything I needed for the trip say to my saddlebags and things I needed a house when the backpack. Then I mailed my backpack to the conference. 

The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful, until I got to Monroe. As I ate a very late lunch, it started to rain. I had checked the weather forecast before I left and had not seen any rain predicted. Not a Tuscaloosa not in Meridian not in Jackson not in Monroe not anywhere along my route. Whatever. The rain started coming down, light at first then pouring. I'd left my rain gear at home since I'm going to the DESERT. I checked the forecast again: 80% chance of rain in Monroe for yesterday and today. Same in Shreveport. Waiting in Monroe would not have lessened the likelihood of me driving in the rain, so I decided to go.

Driving a motorcycle in the rain is… special. At 80 mph, raindrops hit hard. pebbles feel like buckshot. The worst time to drive is during the first 30 minutes. The water is on the ground, but it hasn't been down long enough to wash away residual oil. I waited. 

I invested in a bunch of new gear for this trip. My old gear was old, and wasn't great to begin with. Some items went missing, but that's another story. New helmet, jacket, gloves, tank bag, fender bag, pillion seat.

My new helmet has serious fog problems. I'll have to sort that out. It also got real uncomfortable until I pulled out the cheek pads. The jacket has all the armor I need in case of crash, but it's only water resistant, not waterproof. The magnetic tank bag hold on just fine, but the rain cover rides up while driving and lets water in from the bottom. The fender bag did fine, as did the pillion seat. The gloves got slippery, which is to be expected. I didn't think about how new they were, or that they'd never been on serious rain before. When I got to the Motel 6, I took them off and found the gloves had dyed my hands black. 

Also found out that my license plate is missing. Whether it fell off or was stolen, I don't know. Maybe my backpack knocked it off.  I'll have to replace it when I get back.

Today, I'm sipping coffee in a Texas best smokehouse in Longview before I strike out for the next town. I'm sore achy and tired, but it's the good kind of sore achy and tired. Once I finish this coffee, I'm off to Dallas, then Wichita Falls.

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