Not again! This is the fourth time I've passed this Durango. Am I riding in circles? Is this some plot to rob me of my sanity? I've got news for whoever it is. Sanity fled long ago. Is that a camera truck? Am I on some "Candid Camera" type of show? That probably dated me, didn't it? Or is this like one of those continuously running film loops? Sort of like the movie Groundhog Day?
I don't need my attitude adjusted. I've got plenty of my own and I like it just fine, thank you. If someone else doesn't like it they can just learn to adjust. This has got to be a different Durango. Sure, it's red. There's a blond woman behind the wheel. She has a cell phone glued to her head. The tires are drifting over the line into my lane just like the other three. Wait! This one's got a different colored blouse on. How did she change in the rig? I'd be scratching my head but the helmet's in the way. Oh bother. How did I get here?
This started out like any other commute to the office. There were three wrecks, traffic was backed up in four spots, everybody seemed particularly angry, and what should have taken an hour and twenty minutes took almost two hours. In other words, pretty normal for my commute. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the drizzle. Here we are in August and there was rain within a few miles either side of the Columbia River. After a long dry spell, that was kind of fun. Riiiiight!
My journeys took me through several large cities. First was downtown Portland. A bike's the only way to make time and find parking in this city of six hundred thousand. I saw a small statured female motor cop I know. She has to slip off to one side to get a foot down on the BMW R1200RT. She rides the bike's rear tire over a 2 X 2 so she can get the bike onto the centerstand. Connie also happens to be one of the best riders I've ever seen. They say it's not the size of the dog in the fight. Rather, it's the size of the fight in the dog. This gal's not going to come out behind very often. That was my first encounter with a cop. The next one wasn't quite so pleasant.
Next stop was in Beaverton. It's a suburb of Portland. The population estimate is around 60,000 but it feels much bigger. Urban sprawl at it's finest! I was heading back to North Portland after a stop at Trader Joe's. A Beaverton cop in a cruiser slid in behind me. Looking in the mirror I could see that he was a mountain of a man. He stayed behind me as I waited to turn left onto the ramp that leads to Hwy. 217. I noticed he didn't bother to use his turn signal. At the metered ramp lights he came up beside me. I ended up in the middle lane and he was in the right. Suddenly, he moved over into my lane. He was on the freakin' cell phone!! I can't comment on why. Maybe it was emergency business. It could have been his wife giving him stuff to pick up on the way home. It was 12:15. I think he was calling ahead for his lunch. Either way, I was lucky I was watching. I felt perfectly justified giving him a satisfying, if not slightly puny, horn honking.
I thought my encounter with the cop was an isolated incident. It would turn out to be AN OMEN!
The Weather Gods have given up on me. For a while things were relatively peaceful. I believe I have been facing some new foes. They are the Pagans of Perversity.
Today they gathered up 7 blond women. All were issued cell phones and told they had unlimited minutes. If the minutes weren't used up in the next two hours and one hundred miles, bad things would happen to their loved ones. These women were inserted into Dodge Durango's. Five were red and two were grey. The Durangos, not the women. The Pagans spaced the women out in timed intervals so I'd have to interact with each and every one of them. Last minute instructions must have included:
"Painted lines on the road? Forgedda about 'em! We got ya covered. Following distances? See the first statement."
I kid you not. This is too bizarre to be fiction. The first one was probably a decoy. She was driving at a reasonable pace while just staring at the phone. I found her just South of the newly renamed Rosa Parks Avenue overpass. My GPS still calls it Portland Blvd. I had to tuck in behind her to get out of the way of Rose Quarter traffic merging onto the freeway. I saw from the back of her rig when she put the phone up to her head. At the same moment her speed dropped twenty miles an hour. I passed her and she was out of mind until the Terwilliger Curves. This stretch is uphill, fairly curvy for the freeway, and has a 50 mph speed limit. Which nobody obeys. My Durango mounted nemesis was working traffic aggressively. She must of hung up the phone. Too bad she got trapped behind those slow moving trucks. Normally I hate it when one truck is in the faster lane passing a slower truck. Fast truck is exactly two miles per hour faster than slow truck. I know, they have to do what they have to do. Today I was happy to see Durango Doll get stuck.
It didn't last long. I met her twin. Durango Doll the Sequel. By now we're back to the flats. Durango Doll II had lane placement issues. Durango Doll III had both speed and lane placement issues. At least this Durango was bright red. Durango Doll IV had trouble looking up and realizing when she needed to press the brake pedal. Have you seen those dunking bird novelties where the nose dives? She could have pounded spikes with the front bumper of her SUV. Didn't bother me after the first time. When I managed to get out from in front of her, that is. I put a Suburu Outback wagon between us. Poor beggar. Durango Doll V came into my sights around Woodburn. Her left rear tire was looking seriously flat. I tried to point it out to her. She must have told whoever was on the phone to hold on a minute. She looked over in response to my honking and pointing. I might just as well have been signing algebra equations for all the recognition in her face. I finally shrugged, she waved, and went back to her phone call. I mean I care what happened to her but what more was I going to do?
Durango Doll VI was waiting about six miles North of Salem. This was another blond. All the other Durangos had been smoother styled. Probably early 2000 models. This Durango was one of the newer ones with sharper angles. The sharper angles must have created a more cranky feel to the drive. This woman was on her phone, ( seeing a pattern, here? ) and tailgating me something fierce. She'd literally dove into the lane behind me with a only a couple of inches to spare at each end. I'm looking for a spot to pull right. All the while laughing hysterically to myself. What are the odds? Who's going to believe it? I pull into an open spot and let her go. As she passes I raise my left hand, give her a hard look through my black Ray-Bans, and .....give her a cheerful wave!
Durango Doll VII was waiting for me in Albany. This one put me totally over the top. I almost bought this particular rig. It's sitting in a car lot in front of a Chinese restaurant Katie likes. Grandma's having trouble getting into ( actually, out of ) the small cars we have. There's little room in the S-10 pickup. We test drove this Dodge. I loved it but I suffered from anal glaucoma. I just couldn't see my ass in an SUV!
Here it is, ready to pull into traffic. I know you're going to think I'm lying, here. It's too unbelievable, even for me. I'm going to have to try to get a copy of the accident report. Yes, I said accident report. Not me, of course. I'd taken a little detour East to Coastal Farm Supply and was heading back towards home. As soon as I spotted this blond driver ( with a man in the front seat ) on the cell phone, and looking to get into traffic, I moved waaaaay over to the left. I'm not normally what you'd call a "jolly" person, but I'm practically having convulsions from laughter. The dealer stickers are still in the passenger side rear window. I'm a block past her, waiting for the light by Airport Road, when I hear squalling tires followed by a loud crashing sound.
She has pulled out in front of a Honda Odyssey van! She's almost across from the State Police office and the fire station is around the corner on Spicer Road. Just keep riding, Dan, and don't look back. Go home and see if you return to reality when you dismount the bike.
Durango Day's proven to be fairly harmless to me. It's also turned out to be entertaining in one of those " I just can't believe this is happening to me" kind of ways. Or, "they'll never believe this at home"! Were they sent to get me? Was this some kind of plot by the Pagans of Perversity that failed? Were they just toying with me? Was it a plot at all? Maybe these vehicles have been here all along. Did a couple of close calls "sensitize" me to look for the others? I don't know.
What I do know is that I'm heading South tomorrow. I can't wait to see what's in store!
Miles and smiles,