Have a Nice Day

“Have a nice day” the cop said disingenuously and almost with a sneer.

I could see myself in his glasses as I looked at him, and took my copy of the ticket.. I could also see  my mouth start to open , but then close. This was a minor issue that I didn’t need to get worked up over. The ride I’d had today far out-shadowed any small minded attitude that wouldn’t be swayed.

Just that very morning I’d left traffic congestion, stop lights and hundreds of miles way behind me. The more time and miles in the saddle, the more relaxed I get. We were one, the Vintage and me, over the pass and into drier climes of the east-side  Riding along I chuckled to myself as I thought aloud, “even if I were a kidnap victim, bound, gagged and tied up in the trunk of a Town Car,  I would still know that change in the very air when the evergreens turn to sagebrush.”  Naturally, my senses were much less constrained than that, and crossing over back and forth several times this summer, the second summer with the Vintage, I could feel it starting to get broken in and freer too. We were having a nice day.

A small cloud of dust followed then settled behind my rear tire as I pulled into an oasis of a town in Central East Oregon. Except for the old gas pumps out front, the GasStationPostOfficeFeedstoreSaloon and local card players hangout hall, could have been straight out of a western movie. I might have just interrupted a royal flush, but more likely gave the proprietor a chance to get up and stretch. The woman, wearing cowboy boots, a snap-shirt and blue jeans with a belt buckle the size of a dinner plate saying something about rodeo championships, nodded, said “howdy”, and handed me the pump.

We talked about the roads, we talked about the weather. We talked about the freedom of the saddle and the river near by. When my tank was full, I’d made a friend. It seems so easy and natural on the road.  As my left boot kicked it into first, she said,  “have a nice day” with enthusiasm and with smiling eyes…

Cruising along late one afternoon on a roundabout way to the John Day rally, the bike suddenly died. Coasting to a stop, I assessed my predicament. Just ahead, at the top of a hill, was a sweeper I had just been mentally calculating.  To the rear –well, it’s mighty beautiful country out here when you’re on top of the world and riding the wind, but indeed a daunting view when suddenly and unexpectedly becalmed. I think the last sign of civilization was about 20 miles back. Telephone poles got smaller and smaller in my mirror and disappeared into the horizon. A Jack rabbit loped by, seemingly unconcerned.

Just as I tried, eliminated and had failed with all the usual things, a county sheriff pulled up. “Sure ‘nuff,  I’m dead in the water here and certainly do appreciate you calling a tow truck for me.” 30 minutes later John, owner/operator of “Budget Towing” pulls up. I’m tired, hot and mad that this is probably the end of the road for me this leg of the journey, but then I put things in perspective, and realized the last time I needed a Tow truck I’d been in a wreck. We found the first, then the second, and finally the third and last motel in town with a vacancy. I got a square deal from John. We shook hands. “Have a nice day” he said with unusual compassion.

5:59PM  checked into the motel and just as a fluke, decided to call Moto International. On the 2nd ring Micha answered. I was a little taken aback expecting to leave some pitiful message and try again in the morning after sleeping on the situation.

“Listen” he says, “I think I know what happened.” He went on to explain the, by now, infamous fuel line off-the-pump-inside-the tank syndrome, and what I needed to do to fix it. I was getting a more sinking feeling by the sentence, but he ended it with “I know you can do this”

So I did it. By dark the tank was off and the secret panel opened up and the errant hose was revealed by flashlight. That was all I could do until morning when NAPA opened up and I could get a couple of “real” hose clamps.

It had been a long day, almost ending with a bad day, but thanks to Micha answering that phone 1 minute before closing…something I probably wouldn’t have done…well….I  had a nice day.

I buttoned everything up the next morning and the Vintage fired up on the first crank as if to say,  “I’m rarin’ to go – lets ride!”

And ride we did. Another 1,900 miles over the next 5 days on that leg, and some 1,800 more four weeks later. All the miles I covered this summer were a pure joy.. Literally covering the 4 corners of both Washington and Oregon and many points in between. More passes than I can remember. Snoqualamie, Tombstone, El Dorado, and Santiam to name  a few. The John Day Rally, Brandes campout, and Humbug were scattered in between visits to Grand Tour checkpoints. Beautiful days on the road. A full moon in a day time sky, hawks were abundant and the air was sweet. I tasted the farmland going by…alfalfa fields, sweet onions, peppermint and potatoes. Freshly tilled soil sometimes gave way to harsher caked desert earth in the blink of eye or a county line passed. Road kill out here, while not pleasant, seemed appropriate. The miles and the white lines went flying by, as did the summer.

Now, it’s time to move on again. I’ve stayed long enough, I’ve many miles to cover before sundown.

Have a nice day.

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