8 Ball In The Wind

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Road Story

I got to talking the other day to a friend about some of the adventures life has brought me through.  Some of them were/are sad and tragic.  Others were in hindsight, and even then, funny and/or amusing.  Since my friend suggested I write a book full of road stories, I thought I would put one of them down here, and see how anybody else enjoys reading it.  
This is a story from all the way back in the summer of '83.  I had to make a fast run to the Denver area.  I had already been up for a day or so just enjoying life when I found out I had to head out. I left Tacoma about 10:00 AM, and shot down the freeway to Portland.  Then cut out east through the Columbia Gorge, only stopping for fuel and something to fuel my brain as well.  Flying down past Pendleton, Boise, and on into Utah.  All on freeway, and by this time I had caught myself zoning on the long straight stretches of freeway in that neck of the world.  By the time I hit Salt Lake City, I decided I was making good enough time I could detour, and get off the mind numbing super slab and onto some more interesting roads.  I figured that I would cut back north into the Wasatch Mountains.  Then head east again over Jack Rabbit Pass and through Steamboat Springs.  About 18 hours after I left Tacoma, I could see a summer lightning storm in my path.  I knew I was going to need shelter from the storm, but was hoping I could reach a town before the storm and I crossed paths.  Besides, I knew I was going to need fuel soon anyway.  For both the bike and my now half fried brain.  I passed a sign saying it was only a couple more miles into Vernal, Utah and I was hoping there was a truck stop to shelter from the storm.  As I rode on, I could see what looked like a truck stop ahead, and the storm was closing in.  About a mile from the truck stop, a flash of lightning close by the on the right.  I almost put the bike down, when I saw the T-Rex along the edge of the road suddenly lit up by the flash of lightning.  I figured I had just been up and on the road for too long, and was seeing things.  When the next flash lit up the road again, and I saw another dinosaur I knew I was too wasted to go any farther.  
I pulled into the truck stop, and made a bee line for the toilet.  Pissed, did a line, and then went in to get some coffee and something real to eat for the first time since leaving Tacoma.  When the waitress poured me a cup of coffee, I noticed just how empty the place was at 4:00 AM.  The only other customer in the place was a Utah state trooper.  She said I was lucky to make it in before the storm hit.  I asked her if there was a place I could park the bike under cover for a few hours and catch some sleep...cuz I was  starting to see things.  She laughed, and said; "Let me guess, you thought you saw some dinosaurs along the road."
She must have recognized the look on my face, because she said that I wasnt seeing things, the dino's were really out there.  I guess Vernal is the gateway to Dinosaur Nat'l Monument.  So they have dino's all over town.  
I leaned back, and pulled out a smoke.  As I fished around my pockets looking for my lighter, I tossed a few things onto the counter that would have been in my way.  One of the things was a little black pouch with a zipper running most of the way around it.  About 3/4 the size of a deck of cards, I didnt give it a second thought as it got tossed onto the counter before I found my lighter deeper in my jacket pocket.  The cop noticed it though.
About the time I got my cigarette lit, he walked over and asked what the pouch was.  My brain was too foggy and too slow to quite dawn on the fact he was even talking to me...I was just realizing I wasnt as burned out as I had thought I was.  Real life sized dino statues alongside the road...I wasnt seeing things..cool.
When the cop asked what was in the pouch again, without thinking I told him.  He didnt buy that it held my sunglasses.  About this time, my brain realized I was talking to a cop.  A small town state cop, in Utah.  Probably looking to bust me for anything he could.  A sleazy biker bust would be the highlight of his evening.  But I wasnt doing anything wrong, and I hadnt lied to him.  So I just repeated that the little pouch held my sunglasses.  Then I asked if he wanted to check them out.
He must have figured he had some stupid biker on his hands, and jumped on the chance to look in the pouch.  The look on his face when he unzipped the pouch and shook my sunglasses out into his hand was priceless.  To me, they were just a cheap $5 pair of folding sunglasses.  The arms folded in 1/2, and the bridge between the lenses folded.  Making them quite compact, and perfect for riding, and sticking in your pocket.
After a few seconds of looking at them, he got this kind of weird grin on his face.  He unfolded them and just kept looking at them.  After a few more seconds he asked where I bought them.  When I said I picked them up outside of Seattle, and they were easily found up there he was quite for a few seconds.  Then he surprised me.  "Want to sell them?" he asked.  
It seems he had never seen anything like them, and thought they were really cool.  I didnt trust taking money from a cop, so told him selling them to him would leave me without sunglasses.  Thats when he surprised me for the second time..."Want to trade then?"
I looked at his shirt pocket and saw hanging in the button hole a nice pair of Ray-ban mirrored aviators glasses.  
Hmmm, let me think, a nice pair of Ray-bans for a cheap $5 pair of shades?  "Why not?...Sure I'll trade you." came out before I even finished thinking about it.  
Everything turned out all right after that.  It turned out he had family who rode "back in the day".  I cant remember now, whether it was his father, Uncle or what.  But we ended up talking about bikes and places to travel to for probably an hour or so.  He thanked me again for the trade, and then bought my coffee and food, and left.
The storm had passed, and the waitress said it was only about three or four hours to where I was going, so I did another line in the john before I left and headed off into a beautiful Rocky Mountain sunrise.  The cool air seemed so clear and fresh after the storm passed.
It has been almost 30 years now, and I dont remember much of that trip.  But those couple hours I spent between thinking I was hallucinating dinosaurs until I was back on the road into Colorado again still stand out in my mind.
There is an old CW McCall song that ends with the line; "Life is just a collection of memories...And memories are like starlight...They go on forever."  This is one of those memories.

Catch ya on the road sometime...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Planning My Annual Run

The time has come to start organizing the run I lead every year.  I do it for personal reasons, since I was suppose to be at Mt St Helens with my Dad when it blew.  But by fate, the weekend I was suppose to take Dad down to relieve another Ham radio operator at an observation post was Armed Forces Weekend.  The ship I was stationed aboard was visit ship in Seattle that weekend, and I had to be there.  When I told Dad I couldnt take him down that weekend, but I had all the next weekend off, he got in touch with his friend Gerry and rescheduled.  I was aboard ship in Seattle when I heard the word that the mountain blew.  My Dad's friend Gerry was one of the 57 killed in the blast.  His body, hell, his entire campsite and RV were never found.

It took me nearly 20 years to bring myself to go back, to the area of Coldwater Ridge where we were supposed to have been that sunday morning.  Now, I lead a ride all the way to Johnstons Ridge, every year in the memory of the 57 men women and children who were killed that morning.

I have to admit, making this run on one of the best motorcycle roads in the state doesnt hurt any.  It has grown every year since I started this run.  The first year, it was a friend of mine from Astoria, Oregon and me meeting up in Castle Rock, Washington and making the ride.  By the 4th year, we had over 40 bikes, and a couple of cars along.  Last year, the weather was horrible.  Record rain amounts had come down in the hours leading up to the start, and it was still dumping down.  The temperatures were in the mid 40s, and by the time we stopped, at one of the visitor centers and were told it was snowing just a couple miles ahead (with 15 more miles to go, and 1,500 feet more elevation to make) I had everyone turn back.  At that point it was 39 degrees, and we had a 15F degree windchill.  Even with the weather like it was, we still had over 30 bikes show up from Oregon and Washington.

Last year, I started an after run gathering at a biker bar in Kelso, which worked out quite nicely.  The place is called Hardtails Bar & Grill, and is fairly large, and has great food.  A few pool tables, and good drinks dont hurt either.

The run starts at a Shell Station (with a LARGE parking lot) just off I-5 at exit 49.  That makes it very easy for everyone to find the start, and get topped off with gas.  It is about a 105 mile round trip, but there are no gas stations past the 20 mile point.  The road itself starts from only about 200 feet or so above sea level, and winds up to 3,500 feeet before dropping down to 1,800 ft.  Then climbs back up to 4,300 feet at the end.  Climbing from riverside forests, and up into the sill devasted blast area of the volcanic national monument.  There is even a sign along the road about 10 miles from the monuments boundary that says "ENTERING BLAST ZONE".  All the trees between here and the monuments boundary were replanted after the 1980 eruption.  The mud and debris flow can be seen in the valley floor, where the old road went.  It is now under 100 feet of rock and mud.  Nearly to the mountain it is more than 200 feet under the surface.

If you are in the area of  SW Washington come May 20th I would love to have you come along and enjoy the ride.  There is no ride fee, and it doesnt matter what you ride.  Just as long as you are willing  and open to be amazed at the awesome power of nature displayed along this ride.

If you cant be in this neck of the woods at that time, but EVER find yourself on I-5 near exit 49 with a few hours to kill.  take the exit, and head east to the end of the road.  It will be worth it...if not for the sake or this wonderfully ridable road...but for your own piece of mind.

Catch ya on the road sometime...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Some Thoughts

I have been talking to a few people lately about what I have in mind with my Softail.  About why I put a kicker on it, and why I am thinking of putting struts on the softail instead of its shocks.  When Harley bought the rights to the Softail frame, and began producing it, I was working at a H-D Dealership.  I always liked the basic look of the Softail, because it reminded me of the clean lines of a hardtail.  I put the Baker kicker on it because I just hate the idea of not having one on it.  One of the reasons I traded my '05 Sporty in on my 91 Softail was because it didnt have a kicker, and I still like the looks of the Softail Custom.  But, I didnt like the 21 inch up front, so I swapped it out for the 16 thats on there now.  I took the long fishtail exhaust off, and replaced it with a custom made exhaust that better suits how I like it to be.  I want to replace the single fire ignition with a dual fire one...that will make it much easier to kick the bike when its cold.  Also, I want to run a foot clutch, and jockey shift.  Planning to put struts on in place of the shocks to make it rigid, but I still owe money on the bike, so I'm not chopping the frame...just in case.
Once everything is paid for, and I dont have to worry about the frame, I might chop it, or put everything in a rigid frame, but it will be more raked than stock.  I just dont know whether it will be a hydraulic or springer front end. 
All in all, I have the look of the bike laid down in my head.  Over time it will slowly begin to take the shape I want...it is mostly there already.  But when it is done, it will be my bike, the way I want it...not just half measures.  But right on the nail of how I want it.

Catch ya on the road sometime...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Remote Mountain Road Sound Good To Anyone?

I am nearly finished with the first of the route plans I am going to put on Amazon to sell.  It is only an 80 mile / 2hr trip (oneway) but that doesnt count the miles you have to ride to get to the starting point.  So it could be an all day trip, depending on where you start out.  This first one runs from about 900 ft elevation up over a twisting 4,000 ft mountain pass, and then twisting down through about another 55 miles of secluded, and remote mountain twisties that finally dump out in the Columbia River National Recreation Area.  The hard part is getting all the motels, campgrounds, and gas stations (they're only at each end), listed and shown on the maps.  I'm hoping this will be just the first of many such ride routes.  I have about a 1/2 dozen routes just in the south Cascade mountains to work on already.  Plus others out along the coast and on the east side of the Cascades.  It would be a nice way to make a little extra cash with these, and they would be great, because they wont cost much.  Since they'll just be .pdf files, I'll be selling them for a buck, maybe two.  But if I had to print up each of these thing and sell them...it'd be more like $7-10 each.  Besides, I keep telling people about the great roads here in Washington, these will be a great way of actually showing everyone.

Catch ya on the road sometime...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Moving On

Well now, since the hearing says I quit.  I am not going to keep beating my head against the wall, just to give myself a headache.   It is time to start focussing on more productive things.  However I am sending the IRS the paperwork so they can see what a fuck up the assholes I use to work for made of the taxes they were suppose to withhold. 
Also, while I was down at Brando's getting the tranny straightened out, we discussed my plans to make a guidebook of some of the lesser known, but very cool riding roads.  Brando came up with the suggestion of making the booklet a .pdf file and selling it on Amazon for $1-2 per download.  It would be much less expensive to produce, and many more people would possibly be able to get it.  It is definitely something to consider.  Especially when I could readily use a little extra cash.

Catch ya on the road sometime...

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Lost the case, but got the tranny repaired

The hearing lasted just under 30 minutes, and the judge upheld the ruling that said I quit.  Not a real big surprise, since I had now way of proving I didnt quit when the employer had already said I did.  The judge said she could only look at the one point of law..did I quit or not, and not at any of the other crap involded in this mess.

But, on the good side of things; I did get word from the IRS saying the companys intermittent withholding of income tax was wrong...so I am considering sicking the IRS on them.

As far as the bike, well, we drilled and tapped the hole, and installed a steel insert for the stud.  tomorrow I will flush out any aluminum filings and install the stud...then its putting it all back together.

So, things arent too bad...I may end up getting revenge on the company for fucking me over....AND  the bike should be up and running VERY shortly now.

Catch ya on the road sometime...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Thoughts On The Appeal Hearing

OK, I know my main goal is to show that I had no intention of quitting my job.  The whole reason I was so upset about my check being cut like this...besides the fact it was the only time during 2010 that the company had withheld ANY income tax...was that it cut my paycheck to 1/2 of what my house payment was.  I was upset because I wasnt able to make ONE house payment...does it seem logical I would quit, and not be able to make ANY house payments?

The Employment Security Dept. is trying to use the fact that I said "I am done."  To mean "I quit". 

I was "done" trying to discuss with someone standing less than a foot from my face, responding to anything I said with; "I talked to my bookkeeper, and she said I could do it."

That is until I shouted that he (Mr Boss-man) was ripping me off.  To which he replied; "Brian, you better back off." 

I said; "I am done." and stepped passed him to get away from him.  He testified in the original hearing that he gave me 15 ft before saying (he says) "Brian, if you are quitting then you need to turn in your keys now."  I heard;"Brian, turn in your keys."  But he says he doesnt understand how I can think that bing told to turn in my keys meant I was fired.

He says that he felt threatened by me...even though we are about the same size...and he was on the outside with a much broader option of movement to escape any perceived threat(which he never did until I moved past him).

I know I cannot let this turn into a "He said/I said".  But I have to show that I did not have any intention of quitting.  I am also going to try to show that his credibility is questionable.  I can show that in several places his referring to the first few months of my employment as "on call", or "very limited" are false.  Also, he was so worried I was going to portray him (in his own words) as an "aggressive, bully" that he tried to have documents from the assistance side of the coalition (with birthdates, and social security numbers submitted into evidence (making them public record).  Even though these documents had nothing to do with my job (they were from my wife and step sons assistance files), and from several months before.  Just to try to cast doubt on my credibility.  So his perceived self image was more important than government rules and privacy laws, as well as the company's own confidentiality agreement (which was one of the documents he submitted). 
I almost wish I hadnt objected to them being intorduced into evidence...because then the wife could have sued the shit of of him, and the company.

I can even attempt to show through pay stubs, that he continued to use the same company for payroll that allowed the entire error that caused all this in the first place, to continue doing payroll.  And that while doing so, they withheld $23 in federal tax in 2009, and only withheld tax on the November paycheck with the $2,400 "draw" he had them post so he could get his books to balance.  In other words, in 23 months, they only withheld income tax twice.  Also, it was Mr Boss-man's ultimate responsibility as he was the one who signed the checks.

See it's tough...to stay focussed on the main point of contention here.  I did not wish or intend to quit.  As I had told the dispatcher only a couple hours before all this went down.  And in crossexamination at the hearing, she stated that.  The problem is, the whole part of the question asking her what I said, simply reads (inaudible) in the hearing transcript.  But her response comes out clear; "You said you wouldnt."  But without the question, the out of context answer may not be much good.

So I am just trying to get my thoughts together, and ready for the appeal hearing in Superior Court.

But, that doesnt mean I am not going to let this go completely...I am planning on taking copies of my paystubs...showing how few times any Federal tax was withheld over a period from April 2008, until November 2010, to the IRS office in Olympia.  I am curious what sort of "can of worms" what will open up...because I know all the employees I spoke to about this always bitched about that happening to them as well...on Mr. Boss-man's orders.

Mr Boss-man cant understand why I dont just let this drop...Here's why...you dont fuck with my family...put my having a home in jeopardy...push me to the brink of bankruptcy...and then expect me to just let it drop.....IT AINT GONNA HAPPEN.

Catch ya on the road sometime....

Hearing is Friday

Well, at long last, the Superior Court Hearing is on friday.  Today I mail in my submission of exhibits.  So now I just have to get my head around to figure out how to prove that I DID NOT WANT TO QUIT MY JOB.  According to the Asst Atty General represent the unemployment dept, that is the key to the whole deal.  Whether I intended to quit, or not.
Like I was intending to quit, when my whole beef was the fact that by doing what the boss had done, he had made it impossible for me to even make my housepayment...so if I was pissed because I couldnt make the payment, why would I quit and have NO MONEY coming in?
I have also included some things that disprove some of the statements that the former boss made.  Like that I worked on a "very limited" basis when I started, so I didnt get a mid month draw.  I actually put in nearly 160 hrs, and was payed a $400 draw mid month the first month, and $500 the second month.
Oh well, just have to get my point across come friday.  I'll keep everyone posted.

Catch ya on the road sometime...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

As we look down the road of this coming year, lets hope that the road in 2012 will be long, smooth, and filled with good people to share it with.

Happy New Year!!

Catch ya on the road sometime...