A Battle Between My Two Favorites

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Factor in the facts that I am riding a Goldwing listening to Ozzy @ full volume while I am cruising some very quiet country roads at very high speed. It reminded me of when The Ride Of The Valkyries plays as a vital part of the intimidating plot in one of my favorite movies ever, Apocalypse Now. If you are asking yourself how one can have anything to do with the other all I can tell you is my bike is as quiet as a mouse fart in a cemetery and screaming out of my speakers one can here Ozzy singing Crazy Train. I am heard before I am seen and have often wondered what goes thru other’s heads when they see the bright lights in the darkness and Ozzy barking at the moon. Would it freak you out?

Anyway, I find the therapy of drilling thru time listening to something hard, fast, and heavy gives me the freedom to shrug of things that bother me and gives me great pleasure when I am just out riding for no other reason except to be riding. What’s my point here? I found my way, have you found yours? Think about that for a while. The best part of all was the fact that my wife was along for the ride with me. She isn’t a fan of loud rock music or of going fast when she isn’t control, but loves to ride with me because it is time we spend together. We make time, we always make time to be together. Plus, after 15 years as a passenger, I was informed she wants to learn to ride and wants a bike of her own. Of course, she insists it will need to be something much, much smaller. And so, we begin another chapter in our relationship.

Now, go do what makes you happy!

Rest Stop Wanderings

I have spent a good portion of my life traveling from one place to another for one reason or another. I have seen many cities, plenty of the countryside, and every place I have traveled in the world offers it’s own idea of a rest stop for travelers. I guess it’s the old cliché that when one isn’t looking for a place to pee there are options for stopping everywhere and when you really, I mean really got to go there isn’t a place in site. Personally, I was raised to use my resources while traveling but sometimes one needs to sit down and think about one’s business. As much as I love the state of Texas, I have noticed that once you get off the beaten path in the middle of nowhere that a rest stop for the public doesn’t really seem to exist. Trust me, I spend hours driving hundreds of miles on country roads every week and I know where I can pull over and when it is best to wait. I usually plan my trips around pit stops, especially as I get older, but more on that later. A wise man once told me that I should never pass up a restroom or the opportunity to use one because you never know when the next one will come about.
 
Life before GPS, Google Maps, and cell phones was interesting, a person had to memorize where the rest stops were at since they were never any rest stops listed on the maps I was using. But what if you were traveling into unknown territory? Whenever I travel it’s done in a car of some sort. I don’t fly. In the beginning this would irritate my wife. Why? I’m really not sure, maybe she liked the close to instant satisfaction of getting to her destination in the shorted amount of time possible. But that isn’t why we are here, I could write 1,000 posts on the discussions (arguments) we have had about travel arrangements, maybe later. I enjoy it when I’m driving. I travel at my own pace, enjoy the scenery, and see my surroundings on my way. Sometimes when riding my Goldwing I find myself lost in the ride and find myself wondering what in the hell the hurry is all about when getting to a destination. The destination will still be there when I get there. When I travel alone not being able to find a rest stop is not a problem because I’m a person who will make a pit stop when my body says to make a pit stop.
 
I mentioned above a few times that I drive everywhere I go. It’s just the way it is in my life. In fact, I can remember being younger (much younger) and taking the road trips with my family going all over the United States. Maybe that is where I get it from, who knows. I was never, and I am never now, afraid to take a journey. When I was in the Air Force living in Japan I found out very fast that there isn’t any such thing as a rest stop. Nature was your rest stop. I lived off the base way off the beaten path of American influence. I had to basically learn to drive all over again because when I first got there I thought all the Japanese had lost their freaking minds the way they drove. I had to adapt pretty fast. What better way to adapt to the new driving environment then to just get out and explore. Being this was at the northern tip of northeast Japan it was obvious that I was in farm country. Being fro southeast Texas I was no stranger to this kind of living. Nor was I a stranger to farm equipment, large and small, sharing the roads with all the rest of the cars and trucks. You will see me call the way they drove as backwards, don’t take offense to this, all I really mean it is opposite to what I knew, such as driving on the left side of the road as well as the right hand side (steering wheel placement) drive vehicles. An example of the challenge for me was re-learning to drive a standard (stick) because now I was having to shift with my left hand and the tree pattern for shifting was opposite as well. Let me get this back on track here. The only way to get comfortable driving the “new to me way” was to just get out and drive. In four years I would have to venture to say there weren’t many roads in Japan I didn’t travel. Oh, wait, there are no rest stops, period. But fortunately I never got caught taking in the scenery and “watering” the grass when I needed to. The biggest shock I saw up in the country was this Japanese gentleman taking a shit on the road. When he was done he scooped it up, placed it in a bag, took a bottle of water to rinse the spot down, and then he got in his car and left. Probably took less than 30 seconds. I never had to resort to popping a squat on the road luckily.
 
I also found myself driving in few other countries like South Korea, Turkey, Iceland, Greenland, Italy, Spain, Iraq, Kuwait, Germany, and some others I’m forbidden to ever acknowledge. Lets just say I have seen my share of international crappy roads in wartime and in peacetime. What I learned is that I should never skip an opportunity to use the rest room when it’s available. Due to laws and the indigenous people one never knew what to expect if one was caught whipping it out to piss in the wind. It always seemed prudent to follow the lead of the local people. I just watched what they did and that became the new normal. Hell, most of the places I traveled through I found the open road was their rest stops. It was nothing to see cars and trucks pulled to the side of a major road and there be two or three tents put up, a camp fire, and people making their own way. I saw this allot in the Middle East. I never attempted it. I was afraid of the unknown. Most of the places I was at weren’t real “American friendly” if you smell what I’m stepping in here. There were just things that were dumb ideas and not worth any of the risks that may have been involved. I recall a funny time, at least I thought it was funny, also amazing in a way because it was the first time I had ever seen it. I was in Kuwait and it was really fucking hot, I thought I knew heat, but this was fucking hot. How hot you ask? It was hot enough that during the heat of the day one could cook things in their shorts. Did I mention it was fucking hot? Anyway, I drank water all the time. One didn’t sweat much because it was so dry and arid that it just evaporated instantly, just leaving the salt residue behind. A person knew if they were hydrated by the color of his/her own pee. You knew if your pee was dark and had a stink that you were becoming dehydrated. You knew that if it was light in color or almost clear that you were doing it right. One day in the middle of the afternoon I was traveling in the water truck returning to the base and really need to go. I pulled over off the road and went to the passenger side so I was “hidden” from view of passing drivers. At first, after unbuttoning my pant and pulling myself out, the hot breeze felt decent. Within moments the direct sunlight and hot wind began to burn like fire. Imagine if you were in the dark all the time and when you came to the surface the light, wind, and heat just knocked you on your ass. Yes, that hot. In a hurry, I began to pee in the sand. Like any male, young or old, I was trying to write my name. When the pee hit the sand it didn’t even puddle, it just instantly dried up and blew away in the blowing dust. First time for me seeing that little phenomena, not the last by a long shot though.
 
I spent a fair amount of time in the deserts of New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona while in the Air Force as well. Each place with it’s own travel challenges. Anyone who has traveled on the I10 or I40 corridor knows what I’m talking about. There isn’t shit out there, and there isn’t even shit between where there isn’t any shit. It was always long stretches between civilization. Population was so scarce that most places just said fuck it to speed limits and put up Drive Safely signs everywhere. Most of the driving out here was monitored by aircraft because it was so vast. Rest stops? Not too many. Don’t even think about breaking down if you are off the main roads because it could be days before you see another human being. Some state’s idea (excuse) for a rest stop basically looks like the picture below, a porta-potty or two, a trash can, and maybe a tree. I found that traveling north from my location really only goes to prove my point. Once I was out of sight of any given city or human population it seemed as if there was just a road leading somewhere, nowhere, or anywhere. I understand it takes “funding” to have rest stops. I also understand it seems to be pretty low on the totem pole as far as being a priority. Which is the irony of it all, states want you to travel to them as a destination or thru them on the way to your destination, yet most of the states I have traveled to or thru are not very accommodating to the motorist. If it were then most states would take care of their roads as well. Think about this, I ride my Goldwing from Houston Texas to Sturgis South Dakota every year in August for the bike rally. I have to drive thru Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota to get there and then do all of it in reverse to get home. I usually drive the 1350 miles straight thru, only stopping to pee, grab a bite, get fuel, and grab a nap for a few hours at a nice rest stop in Nebraska. Usually I get there in about 24 hours, sometime longer if it is up to my wife. Sometimes she drives a “chase vehicle” with my trailer just in case but she usually arrives at least 10 hours behind me.
I usually don’t let the lack of or the poor condition of rest stops deter me from driving anywhere. I like driving and riding way to much for that. Trust me, I make do. In fact, in the last two years I have driven to Ogden Utah and back six times, to South Dakota and back three times, and to Orlando Florida (and further south) and back twice. Plus, to El Paso Texas twice already this year. Only two of those long haul trips were not for pleasure and all but four of those trips were done on my Goldwing. I have pretty much every rest stop or pee location ingrained in my mind for those trips and it never fails, if I don’t stop I have made a mistake. I guess, if nothing else, I will leave you with this lesson in life, never be to “good” to pee on a tree or squat in the bushes. It’s not worth it to be uncomfortable, it really isn’t. Also, always, and I mean always for you hard headed ones, pee before you leave the house, you won’t regret it. I will write a few more posts about my travels in some future posts.

Who brings a gun to a knife fight?

Originally Posed 04 January 2012

This was the question going through my mind this past Monday while a wise-ass was pulling a knife on me demanding my wallet. But wait, that’s jumping right in the middle of my story. I need to back this train-wreck way up. First I need to tell you how I got to the point of wondering what I was wondering and why. For some reason I always like starting a story anywhere but the beginning for some reason. Go figure. So, let me start from a good point.At my regular day job we were closed on Monday in observance of the New Year. Not unlike many businesses throughout the country. However, my part time employment was open and my manager calls me to offer me mega money to come in to work on what would normally be my day off. Since we didn’t have any plans but to sit around the house, my wife said go for it, we could use some extra spending money. For those of you who do not already know, I bartend part time at “gentleman’s club”. The pay is normally good, I work about 20 hours a week for about $1500.00. Not bad when you consider my day job pays me the same for working 80 hours. Anyway, she wanted me to work 8 hours at double and a half pay. I will be right in was my reply.

Anyway, I get a shower and get dressed and I am on my way. The parking is usually pretty non existent there, so I rode my Goldwing like I normally do. I stopped for gas and cigarettes and away I went. I made pretty good time and made it in by 6 pm. It was dark already when I pulled in the parking lot to secure my bike. I got off my bike, took off my helmet, and here was this retard standing there waiving a little knife at me demanding I give him my wallet. Now, I am 6′ 8″ tall @ 285 lbs and this guy was all of 5′ tall and maybe weighed in at 125 lbs. My brain works all situations in humor and I immediately was thinking what a cute little knife this little man was struggling to waive at me. I told him to let me get my wallet out and he free to have it and everything in it. He wants me to hurry! I wanted to ask if he was late for a date, but instead I proceeded reaching for my wallet. Oops, I couldn’t provide my wallet, but I did produce my .50 cal Desert Eagle and put it right in his chest. I can’t even explain the look of shock and horror that was on this man’s face, use your imagination. A patron decided to walk by and talk, my guess is he wanted to talk about buying my bike, again, for the 100th time and realized what was going on. He went inside to alert my supervisor, who then called 911. There was a pretty quick response, 3 minutes tops, by HPD. One officer took the thug and the other proceeded to check me out. After my pat down, weapons check, and paperwork check, I was released. All of this happening with my boss watching, and she did not look very happy.

Once it all settled, we went into her office, where we sat and talked about my place of employment and how she could not allow me to work there any longer because I violated the rules, which I found out later, are posted on the front door. I never seen the sign that states there are now weapons allowed on the premises because I always used the back door. So, I was terminated. I didn’t contest it. She paid me what she promised me and told me to come back in a few months to talk to her about re-employment opportunities. Wow, Happy New Year. This was definitely a turn of events from what was expected from the evening.

Let me introduce y’all to Frank. Frank is my Desert Eagle .50AE. I have had this weapon for many years. That day marks only the second time I had to bring it out in a threatening situation. This weapon is fired quite regularly out at my property, as well a my others. Does no good to own weapons if you are not a good shot and are not prepped to use it. I have possessed my concealed carry license for many years. I believe that I have the right to legally defend my family, myself, and what belongs to me. I am not a gun nut and I don’t believe a gun is the right choice for many people. After my incident, I spent some time reflecting. Everything that occurred finally sunk in yesterday and really got me to thinking.First, I verified my will was up to speed and current. It is. Second, I thought about what my wife and kids life would be like without me. And last, how lucky I was this dumbass was such a dumbass. I am very lucky he didn’t stab me and then rob me while I bled out in the parking lot. Collectively, all went well. I will miss the money from my part time job. I did learn something about myself also, and that is I need to take life a bit more seriously. I am in full understanding that I could have been seriously injured or killed the other night. My wife was curious as to how much cash I actually had in my wallet that evening. It was a very disappointing $4.00 and a gas receipt. Pitiful that I had so little to offer this criminal.

Yes, I did press charges. He was charged with attempted robbery with a deadly weapon, illegal possession of a weapon, public intoxication, and failure to produce identification. The officer did mention he had a few outstanding felony warrants also. This guy will appear before the judge on Friday, I am seriously thinking about attending the hearing.

What did I learn from all of this? Its hard to say. I am glad I have had the training I have had, military and otherwise. I am glad I was able to contain the situation. Most of all, I am glad that my wife and kids still serve as this little voice in the back of my head that tells me they are waiting at home for me, don’t be too long. The lesson I would like to pass on is that a prepared person still feels the presences of fear but uses it to control his emotions. Sure, I was humored then and as I write this I get a smile on my face simply because I remember the look on his face when I turned the table. When it is all said and done, I am very lucky he was not any good at what he does, very lucky.

As far as the title to this post, it came to me as I was reminded of a time playing with my son a few years ago. We were play sword fighting in the living room. After my son lost a few times, he went back to him room for a while. He came out and we had another sword fight, but it had a twist, he pulled out his Nerf pistol and shot me while my guard was down. He asked why I brought a sword to a gunfight. Good question son, real good question. Why indeed.