January 19, 2017
90 Miles from Palm Desert
In the morning, I ride into work in a cold, light, January rain. It's times like this I wish I hadn't left my gloves in Colorado. Like, I'm really surprised that it's cold here. Really surprised that it's raining. None of this fits with the Los Angeles basis, in my mind. Not that I'm a metereologist or anything. I just wasn't really aware, I think.
At work, I'm trying to decide what to do. It's so hard to know what to do. I'm in a curious position where I can spend my weekends in either Colorado or California and, at some point, you start to consider the weather as a factor in your travel. "Hmmm. It's probably warmer out here than it is in Colorado. I think I'll stay in California for the weekend."
The thought process goes something like that. It's not a complicated thought process.
So, I've got a ticket to fly to Denver today, but I just no-show the flight. After lunch, I fiddle around trying to load some data, but in the back of my mind, I'm trying to figure out where I'll. go. Palm Springs? Palm Desert? The Joshua Tree National Park? Slab City? The Salton Sea?
I start charging my GoPro and my GPS. Everything needs to be ready to hit the road.
There are a lot of options out here. And now that I've missed my flight, I may as well go somewhere.
I swing by the house to pick up my boots. Then, to K-Mart to buy some winter gloves. Now, I'm all set for my little adventure. Hop on the bike and presently, I'm rolling east on Highway 60 with a camera around my neck.
I'm further east on Highway 60 than I've ever been before when the road starts climbing up through some low hills. I'm guessing these are the Moreno Hills. Not certain. I go to shift down and the clutch is gone. Again. Mother fucker. Like, I'm so through with this KTM that there aren't words. I've had this bike in the shop for this same problem at least 4 times. Mother fucker.
The trip is over, and now, the game is to try to get turned around, and try to get the bike back to the KTM dealership for repair. In an instant, everything changes. So, I'm heading East, looking for a place to turn around. Eventually, I see a very small exit (Jack Rabbit Trail) and take it. (This is the last intersection before 60 merges with I-10 if you're heading east.) It's a dicey intersection, and basicaly I end up doing a U-turn on Highway 60. A car come by and honks loudly to announce his displeasure at my driving. But I can't stop. That's not an option now.
Now, rolling back west, towards town, I want the GPS to take me to the KTM dealership. I know roughly where it is, but not exactly. So, I need to find out the address while I'm driving down the road with one hand. I'm serching my GPS and my contacts in my cell phone, but I can't find the address. Finally, I google the Chapparal Motorsports and now I have an address. Cars are passing me on the left. I'm driving with one hand. Coming down the hills into the Moreno Valley. Searching for the address in my GPS. Finally, I see the address, and I select it.
Now, the GPS has gone into some mode where it acts differently than it used to. It used to say "in 10 miles, keep right". Instead now, it shows a map of Los Angeles from the moon and says "keep right. Take 215" or something like that. Useless as tits on a bull.
But it's something.
So, I'm driving in heavy traffic and this is tricky because, if everyone stops, I'm royaly screwed. Hosed. I can't stop. The goal is to NOT stop. If I stop, then I have to call a tow truck.
So, I'm monitoring the flow of traffic.
As we exit onto 215 North, 2 lanes merge into one and traffic is backed up. Somehow, I make it through without having to stop. Now, as I'm riding north on 215, I see a massive storm moving in. It looks like, without a doubt, I'm about to get drenched. This is going to suck.
So, I'm rolling north on I-215 and after about 10 miles, the GPS says my exit is coming up. But there's a red light at the intersection, so I jam it down into 1st gear and let off the throttle so that I'm idling in 1st gear. Please lord god don't let me get to that light before it changes from red to green.
Somehow, the light changes to green, and I roll through. Very close. Now, I'm coming to the next red light. Same drill. 1st gear. Red light. Idling. Light turns green. I roll up and turn right. Now, there's short cut that I usually take where I drive down the sidewalk to get to Chapparal. So now, I'm driving down the sidewalk, stuck in 1st gear, rolling between parked cars. Somehow I make it to Chapparal.
Drop off the bike.
And now, I have to deal with the dumbest guy in the planet.
"Are you going to leave it with us?" he wants to know.
"Dude...it's a brick. It's not going anywhere."
"So you're going to leave it?"
"I'm telling you that you couldn't move that bike without a forklift. It's stuck in gear. Do you understand what I'm saying?"
"I'm not going to say it again. Maybe we need to get your manager."
"Sign here to say you're approving for us to do $100 worth of work on it."
"Dude...Y'all just fixed it. I just had it in here. Y'all said this problem was fixed."
"Well, you have to...."
"I think you need to get your manager."
So, after a while, they agree that I was in here to have this repaired and just got it out of the shop in the middle of November. But it was sitting out at the Ontario airport for 4 weeks. I haven't been on it.
"I can't find you in our system," he whines.
"Would y'all tell this guy who I am?" I ask loudly. Everone else in there admits that I practially live here as a second home.
They lean over to help the idiot find me in the computer. He's so daft there aren't words.
"There he is....this guys in here all the time....Rob. Rob...you go so much money when you write a check, the bank bounces!"
January 18, 2017
Tierra Del Fuego
At 4:59, there's a mad rush of fatted calves for the door. "Does you watch say 5:00? Mine says 4:59." Its a miracle no one is trampled as they run bleating for the exits. At the elevators, exasperated, they rush into the stairwells, flowing down in waves of fat, smearing makeup on the walls as they crush down in undulating waves.
C17 cargo planes roar overhead for reasons on the The Donald knows. What is their mission? Who can say. But I promise you it wasn't like this last year.
At 6:00 p.m., I've done everything done the boss asked me to, and go tell that I'm done and ask for something else to work on.
Now, it's 7:00 at night, but I'm not leaving work. I'm waiting for my boss to leave first. I don't want to be let go because I didn't try hard enough. That's not going to happen. One day, they'll walk me out, but I don't want it to be because I was lazy.
I cross the cold parking lot to a gas station.
I don't like that my daughter went back to college. It isn't right. It's not fair. It shouldn't be allowed.
I think about that guy I used to work with at EDS. He and I rafted down the New River in Beckley, West Virginia. We worked together at some company in Virginia. The new CEO came in and fired all of the buyers because he thought they were making too much. And then the sellers refused to deal with the new buyers he hired, because they'd had such close connections to the buyers her fired. The company produced clothes, but now they're bankrupt because of this one idiot.
In any event, he told me for sure that he'd never have kids because him and his wife had talked about it. How could you possibly have a kid, raise them for 18 years, and then just wave goodbye as they leave you forever.
And, I think he has a point. I mean, I don't think that I'd trade my last 18 years with my daughter for a life of pure unadulterated hedonism, because a child is the best toy in the world. That's the God-Honest truth right there.
I think about that more than I care to admit, lately. I don't like that she had to go back to college. And now, I'm out here, and I don't know if I'm going back this weekend. I have a ticket to fly back tomorrow. (I just got here yesterday, as if that makes any sense. Flying to LA on Tuesday and back on Thursday. Like...seriously? What's the fucking point?
"When did you fly in?" I'd asked the girl sitting beside me at work.
"Tuesday morning," she stammered, trying to pretend like what we do matters. Like it makes sense.
"Yesterday," I offered. "Tuesday was yesterday."
"And you fly out tomorrow?"
"Tomorrow is Thursday," I continued. Like, I just think that it's so absurd, that we shouldn't overlook the insanity of what we're doing. Like...why did I come out here? What, really, is the point?
I'm thinking of not flying back to Denver in the morning. I think that I'll drive out into the deserts east of LA. There's a lot of stuff out there. Palm Desert. Palm Springs. Slab City. The Joshua Tree National Forest.
I just feel like, if I don't go now, then I never will go. Life just races past us so fast. Now is the time for me to see some of these spots I've never been before.
The only problem with Tierra Del Fuego is the timing. Now is the time to be at Tierra Del Fuego. If they don't let me go soon, then I won't be able to go for another year.
I think it's so sad that we all live lives of quiet desperation, working for others. Trading our hours for dollars as our lives slowly fade. Everyone dies, but not everyone lives.
It should be illegal to work for other people.
The problem with leaving for Tierra Del Fuego now is that, my memory, at this point, is so bad that it's really not safe for me to ride anymore. I find myself driving down the road, going into a turn, and not even watching the road. Not aware that I'm in a turn. Going triple digits. And, I can only assume that, as i'm driving, I forget that I'm driving. There's no real way to explain it otherwise. I just sort of forget to pay attention.
At lunch, John says, "I can't believe how green everything is. Those hills used to be brown" he offers. And I'm thinking...did they? Like...trust me I believe you, but no. I don't remember.
And don't say, "I told you once before." Like, when I hear that, I want to murder everyone in the room.
I don't think I've ever felt closer to my trip to Tierra Del Fuego than I do now. Like, something inside of me has been holding back. Planning on getting the house paid off and Jennifer's college all paid off, but tonight, as I sit alone on the KTM iat a gas station on the edge of the Los Angeles basin, I see that gas is $3.15 a gallon.
At first, I think..."that's outrageous," but then I settle down and I think...that's nothing. All it takes to get to Tierra Del Fuego is gas and a passport. The bike is running better than it has in a long time.
This time, though, I'll go through El Salvador. And in South America, the easiest fastest route would be to just hammer down through Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, swing through the deserts of Bolivia, and then Chile, then fly back from Argentina. And that might be the way I go,
But then, you've missed a lot of countries. Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Guyana, French Guiana, Venezuela. So, there is always the long way back.
January 17, 2017
Return to Riverside
On Sunday, I guilt Jennifer into coming up to say goodbye before she moves back into her dorm in Boulder.
It wasn't something she felt compelled to do - only because I guilted her into it.
We negotiate that we'll go to Sonic for lunch. She drives me to the Sonic in her BMW on the backroads, and gets confused and drives to the Safeway instead.
"Why are we here? I thought we were going to sonic."
Why aren't we at the Sonic? Why is she driving instead of me?
At the Sonic, we order lunch.
Suddenly, it dawns on me that this must be what it feels like when your kid comes and checks you out of the old folks home. I'm wondering where we're going. Now, I'm wondering if I'm not in an old folks home? How would you know for sure.
I don't want to be in a home. I'd rather be dead that be locked up like a rabbit in a hutch.
I decide to check all of the doors when I get home to make sure they're not locked from the outside.
Jennifer leaves in her BMW and drives away off to college. This is always the hardest part. I don't really want to be here anymore. This is too hard. I'm not strong enough for this. I don't really want to go on, this way.
I fall asleep with the cats and, in the morning, I'm awakened by someone opening my front door and coming up the stairs. Part of me wants to grab the M1911 US Army Colt .45 out of the night stand and meet them in the stairwell. But another part of me thinks, "It's probably someone you know that doesn't need to be shot," and the calmer persona prevails.
It's Jody, here to help me clean up the place. I always feel guilty lying in bed and watching her clean, s this time, I get up and try to clean up my bedroom as much as possible. Like...just trying to get rid of all of the clutter that I have no use for.
At some point, Jody leaves, and I'm alone again with the cats.
My phone rings and it's some woman trying to get me to pay my mortgage.
"I just want to pay it off. Why can't I just pay it off over the phone?"
"Sir. The most you could pay is $9,990.00."
"OK. Fine. Then that's how much I want to pay. $9,990.00."
After a while, she admits that she can actually only take payment of $9,984.63 for some reason.
"Fine. Then do that then."
I set my alarm clock for 5:30 a.m. and try to get my things ready to go bak on the road. If you commute between two different time zones, only the neurotic survive. Like, I've got to be able to hit the ground running in Ontario, and that means I have to have my CA keys, helmet, jacket, boots, gloves, riding pants, laptop, cell phone, chargers, ear plugs, head phones, macbook air, and all chargers. Like, you think maybe this is easy. It isn't.
In the morning, I'm going through all of my gear to make sure I'm not hosed when I land in CA and I realize that I'm missing my KTM motorcycle keys. I start to panic. A wave of fear washes over me. Fuck. Where are my fucking keys. See, this is what you have to do. A neurotiic maniacal attention to detail is the only way the timid survive commuting across timezones like a surfer on LSD.
I start the Jeep and back out of the driveway. Plates have been expired for over a year. The steering column collapsed, and with one headlight and a cat-scratching post to hold up the steering column, I drive off across the dark snow-covered streets to the airport and catch a flight into Ontario, CA.
At the gate, I explain to the lady, "I need a pre boarding pass."
Normally, they just ask you a couple of questions:
1. Do you need assistance boarding the plane?
2. Do you have a medical condition that requires you to sit in a certain seat.
But this time, I'm sort of out of practice, and I'm having a harder time convincing her than normal.
Do you need assistance boarding the plane?
Do you have a medical condition that requires you to sit in a certain seat.
No. I mean what is your issue. Is it a medical condition?
It's a lie, but not one that anyone feels comfortable delving into.
DO you have a boarding pass.
I show her my phone.
Now, she prints me a boarding pass and staples the Preboarding ticket to the back of it.
This is the genius in the who boarding process. This is what separates me from the dull,huddled masses. No one else catches on. Hell, I flew half a year before I figured it out. But, eventually, it dawned on me that the handicapped were boarding before me.
Now, I'm seated comfortably in 2F and some idiot comes walking onto the plane and proudly tells the flight attendant, "I'm the first of the regular boarding process," whatever the fuck that means. Like, he thinks he's leading the boarding process. Instead,he's so stupid that it doesn't dawn on him to look around and wonder how I got on before him. There's clearly nothing wrong with me, aside from a bad accent.
I sit on the North side of the plane, just for a different view, and promptly fall asleep as soon as we take off. When I wake up, we're descending over the Nevada/Kalifornia border.
Now, Big Bear Lake and Snow Mountain.
I was away from California for nearly 4 weeks (from Thr Dec 22nd - Tue Jan 17th). But I've been away from Riverside for even longer, because I was in Oakland the last time I was in CA. The last time I was in Ontario was Thursday Dec 15th. So, I've been gone from Ontario for over a month.
And now, I'm catching the shuttle to Long Term Parking and I'm hoping I see my bike.
A guy on the shuttle bus has a model of a cargo plane.
"Let me guess.....it's a C17 Globemaster III," I offer.
"How'd I do?"
"You did good."
"It just bothered me enough that I looked it up to see what it was."
"Hey man...that's freedom. It shouldn't bother you...."
"No. I don't mean the planes bothered me. I mean it bothered me that I didn't know what kind of plane it was and I was seeing it every day."
I'm searching the parking lot as we're driving slowly down the middle in the shuttle bus and lo and behold. There it is. My great orange pumpkin. Sitting there, plain as day. Been parked there for over a month in Long Term Parking. I jump out and run up to the bike. Hop on it and shove in the key Turn the key and it starts up, but kinda rough like.
i'm trying to remember if I ever fixed the clutch or not and how to tell if it has gas. All of this stuff I forgot because my memory sucks so bad. So bad. Now, I realize I don't have my gloves or boots. Not sure where they are. Hmmmm.
It's cool, and my hands are cold, as I'm running down through the LA basin going triple digits. My GPS isn't charged so I'm just sort of following Highway 60 and trying to follow the signs.
I get into work and the C-17's are just flying like mad today. They're constantly taking off and landing. I wonder if Trump didn't tell them to get ready for something. My boss has moved to the cube right behind me so he can watch what I'm doing. This isn't a good sign.
The place is packed with people. It seems like they are taking over, and pushing us out. More of them. Less of us. I wonder how much longer we'll be here. My contract is up in 6 months. In the afternoon, we have a status meeting and decide I have to come clean.
"Look....my contract is up in 6 months. Are y'all going to extend me?"
"Well, it isn't a problem. There is plenty of work. We would normally extend you, but you need to figure out how our customizations work in Commitment Accounting."
"Look. I'm going to be honest with you. I'm suffering from Alzheimer's. That's why I'm having issues."
Like..there. I said it. I don't care. It is what it is. If I'm fired, then OK. But, I can't keep pretending like I'm OK. I'm not. I'm far from OK.
But, the beauty about laying it all on the table is that...I'm being honest now. I've made clear what my problem is. If you want someone else in here, I'll understand. But I'm not pretending everything is OK any more. This is the problem. I've got a bad case of CRS disease. (Can't Remember Shit.)
But, from this admission, comes a new understanding.
"That's fine. It's not a problem. How about you start each one of our one-on-ones with "this is what I was asked to do last week" and "here is my progress on these items".
And, the beauty is that, in a ll of this, is a little bit of freedom.
January 5, 2017
Setting the clock on a 2004 BMW X3 (E83)
Here is the user manual for a 2004 BMW X3 (E83).