« Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park | Main | Beneath the Cow Itch Tree »

May 16, 2012

Beneath the 'Cow Itch' Tree

Bike broke down on me.  Not clear what happened.  I was racing down CA-1.  Rolling south at a pretty good clip...probably about 75 mph, I'd say. And the engine just throttled down on me.  Just like you turned off the key or ran out of gas.  BLAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA.

I pulled over and stopped.  Bike has plenty of gas in it.  Switched it onto reserve.  Pulled the fuel line to make sure it was getting fuel.  Then I figured I'll pull the plug wire and make sure that it was getting a spark, but I managed to break the plug wire in the process.  So, I'm sure as hell not going anywhere now.  I'm really way out in the middle of nowhere at this point.  I'm 8 miles north of a little town called Lucia.  South of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.  Just on the side of the road.

I'm so sick of the bike that I start parting it out.  I pull off the mirrors and the Givi case and prepare to push it over the clifs into the ocean below.

I decide to try to hitchhike, so maybe having the bike and the helmet and the cameras will convince people to stop.  It does not.

No one stops.  I was afraid I didn't have cell coverage.  But fortunately, I got a call out to a tow company in Monterrey and dude says he'll come get me, but it will be at least an hour to get down here.

Fortunately, the weather is fairly nice.  Not too hot or too cold.  I'm kind of hungry.  I haven't eaten anything today, but I probably won't starve before he gets here.

I go through a lot of different phases when the bike breaks down.  First there's denial.  If I just keep holding the starter in long enough, it will start.  But it doesn't.  Then, by breaking the wire going to the spark plug, I pretty much guaranteed that the bike wasn't going anywhere on its own.

I'm kind of in a funny spot and lots of different thoughts go through my mind.  What if someone stops and tries to rob me?  I get out a big wrench and my pocket knife and keep them close by.  I hide my cameras.  But then I think, what if the police show up?  Probably I don't want to have the knife in my pocket.  So I hide it in the grass beside the large wrench.

So, I check when I made the call.  It was about 3:00 p.m.  Figure that he'll be here by 4:30 p.m.  I lay back in the deep grass by the edge of the cliff, overlooking the ocean. Cover my hands with a shirt to protect them from the sun.  Pull down my cap over my eyes.

Every so often, I glance out at the cars.  There's not much traffic.  A few cars come by south bound.  Probably about 1 car every few minutes.  North bound cars are much more scarce.

I'm sure the police will show up eventually, and then we'll be discussing why the bike has no plates and all sorts of difficult questions like that.  

But eventually, I drift off to sleep.  When I wake up, 

When I wake up, it's 4:30 and my buddy hasn't shown yet.  I start calling him.  No answer.  I text him.  No reply.  

The sun is getting lower on the horizon. Temperature dropping.  Now, I'm starting to panic.  If this guy doesn't show up, I'm royally screwed. It's hard to imagine how isolated California's central coast is.

There is nothing there.  No gas stations.  No towns.  No call boxes.  If you break down here, you're fucked.  More so than if you were in Mexico.  In Mexico, they have "Los Angeles Verde" (The Green Angles).  On CA-1, you have nothing.  No rental cars.  No hotels.  No gas stations.  No cell coverage.

I start texting the guy like crazy.  Why didn't you come get me?  He replies that he couldn't find me, and then quits answering my panicked text messages.  "Dude...I'm going to fucking die out here."

Finally, I decide that I've got to give up on Plan B and switch to Plan C.  No one will stop. I've tried that.  They just drive by.  Now though, I've got to come up with a new plan.  I've got to get someone to stop.  

If you had a car, you could lift the hood up, and maybe someone would stop.  That's the international sign of car trouble.  But with a bike, you can't do that.

So I take the bike, push it up to the very edge of the road, and lay it down.  Anyone with any sense would sense that something is wrong.  Bikes should never be on the ground.

People just keep driving by, totally ignoring me.  I begin to lose my faith in humanity.  I wonder, if I was pinned beneath the burning bike, if they wouldn't just drive right by.  It's sad, I think.  That people won't really stop to help someone who's in need.  And it's not like I"m poor.  I have money.   But they don't want to fall into a trap so they just keep driving.

Finally, a Suburban stops.  

"Are you OK?" They ask.

"I am stranded.  I don't want to spend the night out here.  I need to get to a hotel or an airport or a rental car place.  Can you give me a ride?"

They're in a Suburban with 5 people in it.  The thing is packed.  Somehow, I've got to cram all of my gear in with their gear.  I've stripped everything off of the bike that I could easily pull.

Somehow, we cram all of my stuff into the suburban.

"What are you going to do with your bike?" they ask.  "Are you just going to leave it laying there?"

At this point, I want nothing more than to shove it over the cliff into the sea.  God as my witness I'd have done it in a second.  Only I didn't want to freak them out.  Didn't want to scare my new friends.  To freak them out.  So I just rolled the bike away from the highway and over to the cliff edge and then parked it on the kickstand.

That seemed like a reasonable thing to do.  Rolling it into the ocean, though it would make more sense, would be harder to explain to these people.

Now, I'm inside of a brand new rented Hertz Suburba n with GPS and 5 strangers with bad accents.  They're from Africa, apparently.  They're white, and they're used to driving on the wrong side of the road.  I get that much.

He's having a hard time keeping on the right side of the road, as he's used to driving on the left side of the road.

So, we're rolling South on CA-1, and I'm trying to make them comfortable with their decision to pick up this loner on the open road.

"We thought you were in an accident," they offer.

"I meant for you to.  No one would stop otherwise," I reply.

"Probably you're right.  Probably we wouldn't have stopped either."

I show them photos of my daughter.  Flowers.  Birds.  Anything to try to convince them that I'm human.  Not some serial killer on the side of the road.

They turn on some music with a little iPod.  Charlie is sitting by me in the back.  He starts complaining.

"Do you like that," he asks me.

"Well, honestly, I'm not a big fan of Jazz.  I lived in New Orleans for 2 years and I just never could really make myself like it."

Chalie snaps to attention.  "You hear that?  He doesn't like jazz either.  Turn that shit off!  Hell.  I'm glad we picked you up."

"I should have been standing by the side of the road with a sign that says "I HATE JAZZ!"  Then you would have picked her up.

"Yeah, but I'm not driving.  Steven's driving.  He would have kept right on going."

So, we drive south, along the coast.

Several times, they ask me where I was heading to.  Every time, I tell them "Pismo Beach".  They aren't familiar with the place though, for whatever reason.  So, they ask the question several times. And I never change my story.  I know from dealing with the cops that you have to tell the stame story over and over.  It can't ever change.

I was going to Pismo.

They're all related.  Some sort of extended family that's all come together and they're heading to a town called "Cambria".  But they've never heard of Pismo and I've never heard of Cambria.  So, I'm reasonably sure that Cambria doesn't exist.  And they're reasonable sure that Pismo doesn't exist.

"Where will you go now?" they ask.

"San Francisco.  I've got to get back to work," I explain.

"Probably you should have caught a ride going North," they explain.

But I wasn't turning down a ride.  That's a risk I couldn't afford to take.  I didn't want to spend the night outdoors.

Eventually, they dumped me off at a hotel in Cambria called the Bluebird and I was like...good enough.

I checked into the hotel, shot the flower gardens, then went to the Lombard Restaurant for dinner. Afterwarrds, I stopped into a little watering hole for beers. I started telling them my story and they just couldn't beleive it. So we went to antoher bar for more drinks. They left and I met these two chicks. I was talking to them...I was paying for everyone at this point. Like...I've got a lot of problems but money's not one of them.

So I'm talking to these two chicks...and one of them says she was in Vegas and I ask her why she was in Vegas and she tells me I'm asking too many questions. And I'm like...check please....now, it was already last call. But I closed out and I said..."are we good here?" as in ...dont let me walk out on a bar tab. And he was like. We're good. And I tipped him $50 and told the girls to go fuck themselves. And she swore she was joking, but it didn't matter and I don't care. LIke...trust me when I'm paying your bar tab, you don't need to be cutting me down. Are we clear on that, cunt? Like, I don't care how low you are. You can go fuck yourself. And I promise you that I'm not paying your tab any more. Cunt.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 16, 2012 at 1:46 AM


Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)