Thursday, October 11, 2007

Field offices.

I hear music. It's muffled, but distinct. Even with ear plugs the strains of Henry Mancini's "Theme from the Pink Panther" can be heard. It's my cell phone. The phone's nestled deep in the right chest pocket of my 'Stich. Sooner or later I'll need to check it out. Living pretty much in a "Big Picture" world these days, there's no particular rush. I'm riding for work on a beautiful day. It's one of the two Fall days we'll have around here. Tuesday and Wednesday, I believe they were. Winter cut into line ahead of Fall, I think.

I spent three and a half long years chained to a desk. Like a wolf captured and put into a cage it was a new experience for me. I tried to make it work but I'm just not cut out for captivity. My commute home would be the ultimate contrast. It was like finding the cage door open and bursting out into the wild on the motorcycle. Chained to a desk versus the freedom of a bike. I needed the ride just to keep my sanity.

Now I have a nice office but there's no chain. As most of you know who've been visiting here a while, it's also 99 miles from home. I've also got hundreds of what I call "field offices" to chose from.

When I'm on the bike my office consists of any wide spot in the road. There's lots of choices. The one above's on Three Lakes Road. The middle "lake" is visible behind Sophie. They're more like fishing ponds, really. People around here call them the Freeway Lakes. Interstate 5 runs right over the top of the connecting channel between the middle lake and the one farthest West. Hence the name. A quarter mile from the interstate is rural tranquility. This is my second "field office" stop of the day. The arrival of the rainy season will limit my choices because I hate standing in the rain! Up until now, though, I've used a lot of different options.

Here's one from earlier in the day. It looked like a great spot. Just my luck, though, it was a dairy farm. Vivid and smelly reminders of my young days filled my nostrils. Isn't that one of the differences we claim to enjoy about riding? You know how we trumpet to non-riders that we're "oh so much closer" to our environment? Is it possible to be too close?

Car driver passing by a dairy barn: "Hmm, there's some dairy cows."

Motorcycle rider passing by a dairy barn: "Oh my God, there's some dairy cows!"

Speaking of cows I had a curious onlooker.

This calf was one of several residing in these little houses. It was probably looking at my bright yellow torso and wondering if I was some kind of giant dandelion. I could practically see the calf salivating. Speaking of the houses, you can see the whole row of these things in a picture below. When I first saw them, my thought went to recent scandals. Dog fights and cock fights. I'm thinking these must be some mighty big roosters! The residents turned out instead to be a few frisky Holstein calves.

I made a few phone calls and bid goodbye to the dairy farm. Interestingly, one of the messages was from my youngest son. He's storing that ugly looking VFR at my place. Clinton works three 12 hour days and then has four days off. He'd come to get the bike for a ride and noticed Sophie missing. Clinton called to tell me we were both riding today. It was sort of father-son bonding experience. Mounting up Sophie I headed on into Marion. This was a road I hadn't been on in a long while. Normally I try to use Parish Gap Road out of Turner. There's miles of sweeping curves on that road. Circumstances had forced me to take a longer detour. Not as many corners but more miles through farm country.

In Oregon we have two seasons. Winter and Road Construction. Coming through Turner I had to wait a while in a line of traffic. Not quite as long as some of the cars, though. The flagger was a rider. Looking at him, you'd think he came right out of a Hollywood movie. A casting director would love this guy if they were looking for men to play bikers. This flagger stood well over six feet tall. He had a scraggly sandy red beard. Some teeth were missing. He wore his construction hard hat like a beanie helmet. The flagger was flying his "colors" in the form of the bright orange construction vest. He even had an ear-ring. Typical Hollywood sterotype.

Sophie and I were well back in line. I'd shut the bike down and was just enjoying the afternoon. Being on a bike will do that for you. I noticed the flagger pointing my direction. I hate to admit that I did the classis "Who me?" In response, the flagger nodded and then beckoned me to come to the front of the line. What the heck. I'm supposed to obey their directions, aren't I? I rolled past the cars in line and headed for him. I resisted the urge to rub it in when I passed each driver. Wouldn't do to antagonize them, would it? When I got near, Flagger Guy flashed me a gapped tooth grin and gave me a big thumbs up.

Now at the head of the line, we briefly chatted. I told him I was headed for Parish Gap Road after I got through this mess. He told me that the paving crews had that blocked off and I'd need to find an alternate route. Okay, he told me I'd have to find another way. "Alternate route" was a tad sophisticated for this gent. I kind of liked the guy, though. Two riders from distinctly different styles linked by the commonality of two wheels. Flagger Guy told me how to go around the pavers ahead and sent me away. Only me. The cars remained in line. Sucks to be them.

So I found myself taking the longer way around. Gosh, how terrible. You mean to tell me that I'd have to resign myself to riding more? I'd just have to try to deal with it. That's how I found my little buddy at the dairy farm.

Like I say, the coming of the rainy season will probably force me into sheltered spots to do business. Places like coffee shops. I'll think of Steve Williams as I sip the hot beverages. I may even have a cup of tea in his honor. Blueberry muffins are going too far, though. Even for a guy like him! For now any interesting wide spot in the road will serve as a field office. I love the freedom of using a bike to work.

Miles and smiles,



David said...

Enough is Enough! Now you're just gloating. Bad enough I'm stuck in this truck for another day, but to have you rub it in that you get to ride for work. It's enough to make a grown man grind his teeth to not cry. :)

Seriously, Glad you're enjoying the ride and I do wish I could be out there on the 'Strom with you.

Dave T.

Anonymous said...

Hey dude, I'm glad to see you like the way my bike looks! To bad you have to look at it more than me.

Kano said...

Yep, I don't know what happened to fall this year. I didn't even get a last chance to cut the grass while it was still dry and put away all the stuff in the yard.

I know what you mean about the dairys. Everytime I pass the Mallories Dairy barns near Silverton I think of giving up milk completely. I've spent a lot of time on farms and ranches, even a hog farm, but the smell of a dairy barn is hard to handle!

irondad said...

Put the 'Strom on the flatbed then let me know when you're coming through. We'll go strafe some roads together!

Sorry to insult your bike, Son, but that's the way it is! If it ever gets to running ok we should ride together. Maybe I'll change my mind.


Everyone says the same thing. Straight from Summer to Winter. I'll have to head back up towards Silverton and see the dairy.

Take care,


Anonymous said...

I always enjoy those pictures. Vegas seasons aren't much more than hot dirt, then cold dirt. The 'scenery' is rather portable. Tumbleweeds in a dust storm.
But the forecast for rest of week here is mid 70's.

That reminds me our Snowbirds are about due. WOOFs from Northern climes who winter here in their RV's and Condo's. In a fit of marketing genius (or rudeness) the Casinos have built discount RV spaces in their parking lots all up and down Boulder Hwy. With free shuttles for those too frail to walk those 50 steps! Seems a bit predatory to me.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy paradise!

Michael Bird

Allen Madding said...

Clinton - hang in there dude. Ugly is kewl as long as you don't have to invent parts for it :)

Dan - I think I like flagger guy. He sounds like my kinda people especially if he lets bikes to the head of the line!

irondad said...

Thanks for the reminder. I've been to Vegas so I know of which you speak. Sometimes I think I'd like to go somewhere more "scenic". Then I realize it's actually quite pretty here.

Get the geezers into seats in front of the slots and then they can't get out, huh? Does seem predatory.

It's amazing how some people look a little rough on the outside but got good hearts, isn't it?

Take care,


Steve Williams said...

Having a job where you can conduct business from pretty much anywhere and from the back of a motorcycle is a pretty good deal. For years the baseline of job requirements for me have been no dress code and no regular hours. I suppose now in my coming old age I would have to add being able to ride the Vespa to work, be able to conduct some business from it from time to time, and have a constant supply on hand of tea, chocolate chip cookies, and blueberry muffins.

Those muffins by the way are what will enable continued riding through 2037.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks