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...


  1. Cool Story. I did enjoy reading it.

  2. I would love to head back down through that neck of the woods and take a little time to actually do some sightseeing and enjoy the trip. at least I'll know I'm not hallucinating when I see dino's alongside the road. lol