Friday, November 11, 2011

frigid miles

                                                     notice the E to the left of his head

only a couple hours sleep at vics and I was wide awake. I dressed and got out the tools I needed to check out the bike. I'm fairly sure I've found the location of the oil leak, on the front half of the left  engine cover, so I took some gasket sealant and rubbed it all over the seam, to see if it would accomplish some sort of quick fix. Ive had this oil leak as long as I've had the bike, so its not terribly important.I checked the spark plugs, both looking good, the oil level, still okay, and the battery charge, just fine. Just a tiny bit of gas in the tank, though. I packed up my  bag tight, and walked the half mile or so to the breakfast spot that my parents had told me about. A place called Martins. I was expecting something akin to a Waffle House or Dennys, but it was more like a McDonalds, a everything homemade Mcdonalds that's super cheap. The line went all the way to the door, but it went quickly, and I purchased a cup of coffee and a giant steak and egg biscuit for 3 dollars and some change. I sat over near the window, and listened to all of the elderly people talk. If I had to guess, they all met here frequently. Some of them had even brought their own breakfast in tupperware, social security check probably wearing thin. I listened to one of them talking about riding a Gold Wing to Branson, Missouri and just how nice a town that was. He was at a table of maybe 8 people, and when he hollered over to ask his wife what the name of some theatre in Branson was, she was 3 tables over, sitting quietly by herself. Then he started talking about Yakov Smirnoff, a comic that was so funny that they saw at the theatre and how ol' Yakov was all american, which I thought was humorous. I havent had much of an appetite lately, and I didn't even want to finish my biscuit. Took my coffee though and walked back to the house. It was around 830, and still much too brisk to ride, so I made some phone calls and wrote a bit until I felt I could stand it. Josie gave me a little trouble getting started, but she's never liked cold mornings, and once we gassed up and got on 20 she was doing fine. 45 miles or so down the road I decided that I wanted to stop shivering so much, so I picked an exit that I thought might have a Wal-Mart nearby and took it. No Wal-Mart, just a Indian gas station clerk that didnt know where anything was, and an ol' black lady that gave me directions that took me back where I just came from, where I knew for a fact there was no Wal-Mart. Keep riding. Picked another exit 30 or 40 miles down the road and found one. Never been so excited to see Wal-Mart in my life, I tell you what. For some reason, whatever town in Alabama this was, Brenham, I think, has alot of attractive women working at their Wal-Mart. An anomaly if I've ever seen one. I bought a set of blue long johns, and a black stocking cap and as I went to pay, I felt the Walmart gift card that my aunt and uncle had given me in my back pocket. I'd forgotten all about it. Once I got outside, I undressed down to a pair of tiny purple underwear and then put the thermals on. A hispanic woman was on her phone in the car parked directly in front of me, and I'd bet a dollar she got a kick out of it. Dressed and a bit warmer, a little boy rolled down his window and waved to me as I cranked up.   The sun yawned deeply and started smiling on me somewhere near Birmingham, and although I was far from warm, each breath no longer was accompanied by a full body shiver. Passed by Talledega Speedway, which surprised me, because I thought it was in west Florida. I was tempted to stop and check out the Internation Motor Sports Museum, but just kept on moving. Near the Mississippi border I stopped at a rest area. The mother of the family that I'd contacted on Craigslist to stay with was celebrating her birthday today, and I didn't want to show up empty handed. I searched the rest area for 30 minutes or so until I found a four leaf clover, but I dropped it and couldnt find it again, so I had to find another which took me another 15 minutes. The second one was prettier though. The entire time I'd been staring at the ground, a person in full gear was laid out on the grass in front of a Kawasaki streetlegal dirtbike that had been heavily modified. Once that person got up I went over and introduced myself. Stefan didn't seem to understand alot that I was saying because he would say yeah, and nod, and then he would catch on a few minutes later. Language barrier, or maybe he just didn't care. Either way, he was a friendly  43 year old fella on his way from Montreal to the tip of South America. He works seasonally as a Chef at Celine Dion's golf course country club and spends the winter riding his motorcycle. Which he'd modified in preparation for the trip South. I think he said once he hits the Panama Canal the roads are shitty for the rest of the continent and thats why he'd rode the dirtbike. It was a very awesome motorcycle and I wish I would have taken a picture of it. Him and I decided to ride together as far as I59 where he'd head South. As we made the turn to leave the rest area, the keys to Josie just popped out and went out on the road. I told him this and he just said "What?" The lurching/popping problem showed up again almost immediately. I had been thinking about this throughout the day, and I believe that I'm running lean. I'm going to let out those screws a half turn and see what that does for me, if I can get to them. If i think its going to require taking off the carbs, I'll just wait until I get to Austin. 50 or 60 miles on, we stopped for gas, and said our goodbyes. It was at this stop that I realized that I no longer had a license plate on the back of Josie. I remember seeing it in SC, but theres no telling when it had either fallen off or been stolen since then. Fuck. Time to go. Nightfall came way too soon and I was shaking to the core for the last 70 miles or so. I wanted Josie's arms around me. Even though I was 230 times her size, she was the big spoon most nights and I would fall asleep with her running her fingers over my head and down my back. She would kiss the back of my neck and ears, tell me she loves me, and this would be the last thing I remember most days.

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