The second leg of the journey begins (Day 18: Seattle to Portland, OR [Daily miles – 181; Total miles – 5719])

September 25, 2012 – View my route for the day: Day 18 Track

Mike and Annie left early in the morning for work and my plan for the day was to bring my bike into a Harley shop just outside of Seattle and then continue down to Portland to stay with Joe, a friend of my brother.

On my way to the shop, I admittedly got a little careless and carried away.  The HOV lane mentioned that it was for 2+ people and “motorcycles OK.”  This made me happy since there was quite a bit of traffic and I ended up going a little faster than I guess I should have been.  I rode over a blind ridge and then came eye to eye with a motorcycle cop standing beside his bike on the left shoulder of the road.  As I passed him, he reached over his bike, turned the siren on, pointed straight at me and clearly mouthed the words “You… Pull over… NOW.”  It happened in slow motion.  I had no time to react and think things through, but I immediately knew I had two options: comply and pull over or keep going and pretend I didn’t see him, forcing the officer to chase me down.  Thankfully, I made the smart decision of not running from the cops and instead got pulled over on I-5 going 73 in a 60.

The officer turned out to be a fairly nice guy and fell right into the trap I had devised when I left on the trip.  A few years ago, my brother Jason had given me a mini Sunrise Police badge that says “Brother of a Sunrise Police Officer” on it.  I strategically placed my license under the badge and sure enough, the officer pointed to it and asked me:

Officer: “Are you a fireman or something?”

Me: “No, no, my brother’s on the job, he’s a police officer and gave me this badge a few years ago.”

Officer: “OK, well I’m just giving you a warning.  The speed limit is 60 here.  Going 65 is alright, but be careful.”

Me: “Sure, OK, thank you sir.”

Feeling more comfortable and confident, I then leaned in closer to him and said:

Me: “But now you get to laugh at me because I’m actually on my way to the shop to get my bike fixed.  You see, I can’t start it without running with it to get it moving.”

Officer: “Do you need any help, or are you OK?”

Me: “Luckily, you pulled me over on a downhill, so I should be able to get it rolling.  But thank you all the same.”

I should have asked for his help just for the sight of it, but I was aching to get on the road and didn’t really want to push my luck too much.

Shortly after this happened, as I was getting ready to exit the highway to turn into the dealership, an 18-wheel tractor-trailer stealthily pulled up along my right-hand side and blew it’s air horn twice.  This made me jump nearly out of my seat.   When I peeked over my shoulder I saw the driver giving me the finger.  I had absolutely no idea why.  In my bewilderment, it took me a few seconds to realize what came next.  “Is that… could he… seriously??” I thought to myself.  The driver was giving me the finger with one hand and simultaneously masturbating through the window at me with the other.  I am not joking.  I still have no clue what brought this on or why he was provoked to show me his genitals, but I didn’t care to stay around to ask questions.  Instead, I exited the highway and brought my bike into the shop, making sure that no truck drivers had followed me off the exit.

No, I didn’t actually take a picture of it. I just wanted to get out of there as quickly as I could.

I had spoken with Chris at Downtown Harley-Davidson on Saturday while I was filling up with gas outside of Yellowstone.  He told me to get there by 9:30am so he could squeeze me in even though they were fully booked.  Due to the police incident, I was about 15 minutes late, but Chris was very helpful and got me right in.  He was going to give me both an oil change and take a look at the battery issue.

At 11:20am I got a call from Chris.  Like I wrote in There’s No Place Like Home, it felt as if I was getting a call from the doctor about my sick daughter.

Me: “Hi Chris, how’s she doing?  Is she going to be alright?”

Chris: “Haha, yes, good news actually.  We checked the battery and it’s fine.  Looks like it was just a loose connection on the positive terminal and that was causing an arc that was welding the terminal together and causing it to short out.  And that explains the issues you were having.”

Me: “Oh, awesome, that’s great, I think…  Thank you so much!”

Not only did they fix the battery issue and change the oil, but they also washed the bike for me.  As I was putting my helmet on and getting ready to leave, Chris said to me, “See, I knew there was a bike under there somewhere.  We just had to wipe away some of the dirt to find it!”

And it was true.  The dirt roads, insects, and countless other obstacles I had come across really had done a number on the cosmetics of the bike.  I also had started to notice a couple days ago that the throttle had been sticking and wasn’t springing back when I would let go.  The wash took care of all of this and, as Chris pointed out, I had a bike again.

I sat down on the bike, crossed my fingers and pressed the “start” button only to find a feeling I had not felt in nearly a week: relaxation.  The bike started up.  I didn’t have to worry about each stop anymore; the bike would start up on its own now!

So that was that.  I was back on the road and truly beginning the second major leg of the journey, where I plan to eventually end up in San Diego.  But right now I was headed for Portland where I would meet up with Joe.

It turned out that Joe was working at a golf course this afternoon and he would be getting off at around 3 – right about the time I would be pulling in.  So we made arrangements for me to come meet him at the course and get in a quick 9 holes before heading back to his apartment.

The course was beautiful and it was a ton of fun playing, but I found it very difficult to hold a club after my accident a few days ago at Yellowstone (“Hey Boo-Boo!”)  Needless to say, I didn’t shoot very well, but it was all in good fun (and thanks Joe for putting up with my terrible shots!).

After golf we went back to the apartment where his wife Bess had just returned from work.  We were all pretty hungry, so we decided to grab dinner at a local BBQ restaurant called the Screen Door.  Although I’m now on my way to the south where I am sure I will get “real southern BBQ,” I can never pass up a chance to have a good pulled pork sandwich.

While at dinner, the three of us had a heated discussion over the intricacies of the political landscape. Bess works in a hospital, so we spoke at length about the shortcomings of the healthcare system and our own priorities for the welfare of our nation.  Bess came up with a good point that the country needs to develop a mission statement going forward – some way of bringing everyone together under a common goal.  Now, what that goal should be is the real question.

My own perspective is that our number one priority should be to maintain/regain our competitive advantage in the world market.  We’ve lost much of that and there are things in the country – certain policies and practices – that are holding us back.  If we can recapture the competitive advantage we’ve had for so long (or find new ones) and get that back on track, it could fix many of our current issues.

Joe had a slightly different take.  His biggest priority was education and student loans.  He and Bess are paying 7% interest on hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loans.  This kind of debt is crippling our ability to educate our youth because people can’t afford to be in that kind of debt.  In order for America to thrive, we have to have smart people paving the way.  And in order to have smart people, we need to be able to educate them.

Bess’s thinking is that the number one goal should really be to focus on the job and housing markets.  We need to get people to feel comfortable spending again, and once we do that we can then focus on things like healthcare.

Not to open up a can of worms, but to all of you readers out there, what’s your take?

After dinner, we headed back to the apartment and chilled out for the rest of the night.  Bess had to be up at 4:30am for an MBA course she was taking, so Joe and I decided we would get up with her and then head out bright and early to a local river (Lewis River) at the golf course Joe works at and try our luck at some salmon fishing.  They supposedly have 30+lb salmon swimming up river at this time of year, so tomorrow is sure to be a fun morning.

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