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September 24, 2017

Mennonites at the Airport 2

For a short while this summer, I did fly back and forth between southern California and Denver, with a motorcycle at each airport. (In the winter, I normally use one of the cars or the Tahoe.)

But today is cold and I take the Beamer and park it at Canopy Parking.

When I park at Canopy, I take a photo of the car in the parking space so I have the number. They give me a parking slip, but I don't trust it. Sometimes they are wrong.

I put my passport and my frequent flyer card in my front breast pocket. I have a screenshot of my boarding pass on my phone which charged all night. I turn off WiFi and auto rotation. These are the things that screw you up when you're trying to scan your boarding Pass for the monsters at the TSA.

As I approach the TSA goons that guard the different security alleys, I flash her my frequent flyer badge. She sees that I am A-List Preferred. I had to fly every week for over a year to get that status. (I started flying in July, and it resets in December, so I think it was September before I finally got the highest status. The bastards.)

I clear security and then I see the rarest of things. Memonites at the airport. I had no idea that they flew. But, I do recall when I used to work in Philly, I'd go out to Lancaster county, and I did see driveways that had a horse and buggy, and also a black Pontiac Grand National. So, they do appear to have some flexibility in their travel.

I was really surprised to see them down in Central America. Like..I had no idea they were down there. But, apparently, they fled the oppression of the USA to go to Central America, if you can believe it.

Catch the train out to Terminal 3. The escalators at Terminal 3 have been broken for over a year. At the monitors, I check for my gate information. You have to know 1) what city a I going to and 2) what is the flight number. I locate Flight 4615 Non-stop to LAX at gate C37.

At C37, I hand the woman my passport and say "I need a preboard for the fligh tto Los Angeles."

We get that settled,

"How full is this flight?" I ask.

"Completely full." She replies.


Like, I want her to know that I fly every week and I know how many seats the plane has. I'm just showing off really.

Now, I'm waiting to board the flight.

I'm already nervous about the KTM being at LAX. Like, if the KTM is gone, I'm so screwed that there aren't words. I left it in short term parking at LAX 3 weeks ago. I have a notice in the mail saying that my plates expire this month on the KTM and I need to renew them.

They call for Medical Preboards, and I bolt down the aisle, pushing handicapped people and old women out of my way.

Some idiotic tall guy sits in 1A thinking the bulkheads have more legroom. They do not. It looks like they do, but it's an illusion.

I end up in Seat 4A.

I put my helmet in the overhead bin, but I lose my mind if people move it. Since today, I have my CC Filson backpack and hand-bag, I put my handbag in the overhead bin in front of my helmet. So, now, I'm thinking that it is safe from molestation. Like, when people start juggling my helmet around and moving it to different bins, I seriously become a person that you don't want to be near on the plane. I lose my mind. Like...leave it the fuck alone. Just because the space I need to occupy is smaller than your herculean sized Travel Pro does not give you carte blanche to move my helmet t the back of the plane. It doesn't work that way.

Adjust the seatbelt, lights, and the air jets in the middle seat to your own satisfaction before anyone sits there. Adjusting the seatbelt makes it easier for them to sit down. Turning the light off and the air on (if you're hot) is just a heads-up move as the person that will sit there is probably retarded.

Now, the middle seat is empty beside me, and I see that she has lied to me. I want to go back to the gate agent and smack her hands with a ruler.

I didn't even try my line, which I normally use.

Normally, I turn to the person in the aisle seat when she first sits down and I say "a woman is sitting in the middle seat, but she's in the bathroom. So, if anyone asks, the seat is taken."

Now, the rear of the plane is regurgitating passengers. Apparently, they passed up open seats, got to the back, and found that there was no room to sit. These people.

Now, the gentlemen are standing up, removing their items from the overhead bins, and making space available for these lepers.

I'm like...If you touch my helmet, I will kill you and your family.

It occurs to me that this is my last flight to California.

And, so what if I was fired. Who cares? It was certainly a good run. I'm tired of flying to CA every week. It could have been a lot worse. I could have crashed my bike out in LA.

---- on the plane.

So, I saw this week that they closed Tioga Pass, and I almost lost my mind. Like...if I can't ride over Tioga Pass on the KTM, then I don't think that I can go on living

Tioga Pass is my route from SF to Denver. And I've driven it countless times.

And then, today, I checked again, and I see that Tiopga Pass is reopened. I'm like...Oh Hell Yes!

Like, without Tioga Pass, I honestly wouldn't know how to get home. I mean, I guess I could take I-80, but I do not want to do that. Not at all. Not ever.

The beauty of riding across the Nevada Desert between Ely and Tonopah (it's prounounced Toe-NOE-Pah, I recently learned) just can't be described. I mean...the desolation of the deserts is surreal.

Now, all of the times that I rode my KTM down to the beach after work makes me feel like it was a good investment. Like, instead of going home to my AirBnB for the night, I went out and saw Santa Monica or Malibu or Venice Beach. Now, it all seems like I did it right. Like, I got to see the Los Angeles basin finally, and learned how to get across the city, albeit on a motorcycle.

So, I spent a lot of time in Riverside, Cal Poly Pomona, and UCLA. Which was nice. Now, when I see UCLA on TV, and it's supposed to be Colombia, I know that it's UCLA, because I can recognize the buildings.

Like, it was great as a sort of final project to get back to SF and Los Angeles areas. Sort of like a victory lap.

We push back from the gate at 8:40 a.m.
Wheels up: 8:50 a.m.

Im experimenting a tiny bit. I'' carrying both of my CC Filson bags to see how it feels on my shoulders.
I have 2 cameras and a tablet, wifi keyboard, iPhone 4S.

Like, it dawns on me that this will be my last flight. Lord God.

Like...that's crazy. It makes me want to look out the window and take some photos this time.

I'm in 5A, so I can see my house. Our subdivision. Maybe I'll shoot some pics and stay awake today.

But it's cloudy and I put all of my camera batteries in my other bag, which I put in the overhead bin to protect the helmet. If it was easy, everyone would do it.

Now, I start thinking about the KTM.

Will it be there? When did I park it?

It was 3 weeks ago, roughly, so that would have been....Thursday August 31st, I think.

Then, the week of the 4th, I was home/remote.
The week of the 11th I was on site in Oakland.
The week of the 18th I was home/remote and sold the DUKW.

I check my phone for photos of the KTM. This is how I keep track of where my toys are. You take a photo, hop on a plane, and disappear for a month. You might forget where you left one of your bikes.

So, the KTM has been sitting in short term parking at LAX for ... uh... let's see...2:00 pm PDT on 8/31/2017 until I get there at about 10:00 a.m. on 9/24/2017. So, nearly 24 days it's been sitting there in 1D in short-term parking. Will it still be there? I dunno. I sure hope so. If not, I'm royally hosed.

If it's there, then when I plan on doing is:
gassing up the bike at the first opportunity
drive to UCLA campus and hit up Diddy Riese (the cookie ice cream bar place.)

Then, try to make it 100 miles before noon.

See... 100 miles before noon is a mantra. Basically, it means that you get up, get off your ass, and start moving down the road. If you can do 100 miles before noon, then you can easily ride 200 miles in the afternoon, and you have a nice day of riding the bike.

If, on the other hand, you stay in bed until the housekeeping lady is threating to murder you if you don't get out of the room immediately, then it's much harder to make 300 miles a day.

The flying waitress comes by. Yes. I'd like a cup of ice. And a can of diet coke.
And I realize I forgot to tun off my phone when we took off. Argh.
So many little things to remember.

Now, I'll look at my travel plan for today.

It looks something like this:

These will be the points where I'll gas up along the route:
1) Mile 0 - LAX/Sepulveda
2) Mile 133 - Buttonwillow / Bakersfield (I-5 Exit 257). (133 miles from last stop).
3) Mile 261 - Firebaugh (I-5 Exit 385) (128 miles from last stop).
4) Mile 375 - Oakland. (114 miles from last stop.)

The weird thing about being let go is that it's sort of like breaking up with your girlfriend. Like...part of me wants to go back to see the campus. To wander around the campus aimlessly, taking photos of the buildings for posterity's sake.

But then, part of me thinks that I'm really not welcome there any more. That I'd be escorted off of the premises. Maybe they'd even call the police. Like showing up at your ex-girlfriend's place at night, unexpected, and unwanted.

So, you sort of feel like you've been ostracized, but it's not like it matters.

This is the time, I think, when religion becomes appealing to the huddled masses. Christianity teaches us that God is watching over us. Everything happens for a reason. If he didn't think that you could handle this, then he wouldn't have put this burden on your shoulders.

I don't believe any of this, of course, but it is an attractive proposition. It's a comforting blanket, and I certainly see the allure of it.

So, I try to take some pieces from the religion of Christianity. Basically, what I get out of it is, suck it up. You can make it. Look on the bright side.

I got to see the Los Angeles Basin. I got to see it from Palm Springs and Palm Desert, to Malibu, Santa Monica, and Venice Beach. From Big Bear Lake down to Marina Del Ray.

I rode up the coast from Los Angeles to San Francisco last summer. And from Los Angeles to Ragged Point and the Mud Creek Slide about two months ago, on the weekend of July 29th.

And, this is my struggle. Like...I have a little bit of money saved up. Not a lot, but some. And part of me wants to go ride my bike down to Tierra Del Fuego. And part of me wants to save the money and not do it.

Like...fear has nothing to do with it. Finances are my only concern.

But then, part of me thinks...no...this is why I did it. This is why I took this contract. To make some money, and then have some time off to go and ride my bike around the planet.

So, maybe what I need to do is set up a "Go Fund Me" page, and see if I can get Honda and/or my friends and family to help off-set the cost of my trip.

Part of me thinks it would be financially foolish to go. Part of me thinks that, if I don't go, then I don't really know why I'm alive. Like...ok, so they let me go before I was expecting to be let go....so what? Who cares? Who really gives a fuck, in all honesty?

The bus has stopped. They say it's time to get off. Maybe I wasn't expecting it. So what. It makes no difference. All that I can do now is sort of make the best of the situation. I honestly don't want to go back to work. Ever.

Like...how nice would it be if I could just wander around on my motorcycle for a month or two.

One of my concerns with the KTM is that I don't have the gas can on it any more. Like, I used to have a plastic gas can on it, and, when I rode out here from Denver, I ran out of gas in between Tonopah and Ely. Even with the 2.2 gallons of gas, I coasted in on fumes, as I recall. Mainly because it's 183 miles between these two towns and there's not a sign indicating "No Service For Next 183 Miles" or anything.

Of course, I can pick up a gas can and a strap at a Wal-Mart, if I can find one.
And, probably I won't need it if my planning works out. I checked the forecast and planned my gas stops along the route. This is something that I learnd from Igor.

Like...for someon who doesn't believe in God, it sure as hell is hard to explain me running into Igor down in the Baja.

I mean....I was on a Honda XR650 Thumper, kick-start. And the extent of my planning was to through some things into a backpack which fell onto the interstate before I got out of the United States. I went down there without a map. Without a cell phone. Without a guide. Without a plan, really. And I ran into Igor. Someone who'd been around the world on a BMW R1150GS, with panniers, spare tires, and an 8 gallon tank (I think).

5 continents. 123 countries. 300,000 km. That's what his bike said, as I recall.

So, it certainly was fortuitous that I ran into him, and learnd the basics of riding cross-country from a pro.

And then, up in Montana, when I ran into those other bikers that were racing from Key West to Alaska. They were the ones that taught me you could ride 1,000 miles in a day if you just pushed yourself a little.

And now, I find myself again, perched on the very precipice of a grand adventure. This trip will have me bragging that I've been from the Arctic Ocean to Tierra Del Fuego (but not in one trip.)

The only thing I need is to figure out is how to offset some of the costs of the trip.

There are a few places I never saw in Southern California that I'd like to see. Like, the Salton Sea, Slab City, Joshua Tree National Desert, etc. So, maybe I can roll through these on the way back down into Central America.

Like, my plan is to ride the KTM up I-5 to Oakland/San Francisco. Then, work next week in Oakland. Then, maybe spend a day or 2 rolling around SF and Oakalnd shooting murals. Then, roll back to Denver on the KTM, across Tioga Pass (which had better still be open), and then home to Denver.

From Denver, I will spend about a month getting ready for the trip. Ordering things, planning out the trip, getting a 52 page passport, finish painting the house, and finish putting new shingles on the roof.

Then, I'll ride the Honda Africa Twin down to the Los Angeles basin, passing through Joshua Tree, the Salton Sea, and then down through San Diego into the Baja.

When I cross into Mexico, I will get my passport stamped this time. (Have to figure out where to get passport stamped.) Then, down the Baja to La Paz/Pichilingue, to catch the ferry over to Mazatlan.

Now, I have to think about today's ride. What to do now. Must focus on that.
I'll check the oil on the bike when I gas it up. Make sure it's got enough oil, and add a quart if it's low.

I now have a legal driver's license. (Big improvement, since they told me it had been suspended since last August/September).

So, I have a driver's license. I need to get the title straightened out on the Honda Africa Twin. So, I'll call him on Monday and ask where in the world is my title to the bike.

I'll appy for a new 52 page passport and have them expedite it.

I'll move the mount for the Garmin over to the Honda. And make sure that i have all of the maps current for the countries in South and Central America.

Posted by Rob Kiser on September 24, 2017 at 10:39 AM


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