Katie casually mentioned that she was running out of hair spray. Like any product a person comes to like, she couldn't find it locally anymore. I think the manufacturers keep a close eye on sales. If something sells well it gets discontinued. My philosophy is to immediately go out and buy several once I realize I like it. Might explain my having 92 pairs of Levi's 517 boot cut jeans. Unfortunately, they still make these so I look a little silly right now. One of these days, though, I'll be vindicated.
Anyway, as soon as Katie mentioned the hair spray I had a flashback to being 16. Admittedly, it took a time machine to get me back there, but there I was. I'd just gotten my driver's license. I could finally drive ( or ride ) someplace by myself. On city streets, no less. All I needed was a reason to go. Those reasons were a little scarce as joy riding was prohibited. I was a Driver looking for Opportunity.
I was the most helpful person you'd ever hope to meet. Although the folks might have used a different word to describe me.
"We're a little low on milk. Should I go to the store?"
Suspicious looks were sent the way of the refrigerator.
"There was a full gallon there not more than 20 minutes ago. By the way, why are you sloshing when you walk?"
Any hint of a need for a run to town was quickly scooped up by my radar-like hearing.
"Hey, I got an idea! There's no bear repellent in the medicine cabinet. I know bear sightings are rare around here. But if one ever wanders into the house, you'll sure be glad I went to town and got some repellent!"
Most of my efforts went down to indifferent grunts. One day, though, I got my big chance. Some baking was going on and a shortage of corn syrup was discovered. I was sent to town. How was I to know that there was a difference between corn syrup and the corn oil I came home with? I didn't even get to go back for the exchange. Jeez, make one little mistake!
The years have passed but if something kinda worked back then it should still kinda work now. I suddenly became Extremely Helpful.
"You know, Katie, if we rode the bike to a bigger town we might be able to find it. Maybe their selection will be larger."
The morning had started grey and foggy. By the time we left, though, the sun was burning it all off. Despite the seemingly premature arrival of Winter, the trees don't know it. Fall colors are splashed everywhere. I even managed to get a picture of a hawk taking off from a field. Too bad I don't have a better zoom lense.
All too soon we were nearing the outskirts of Salem. Trying to draw out the inevitable as long as possible, I scanned my GPS like mind. Instead of going right into town, I hung a right at The Mansion. It really looks like a mansion. Should have taken a picture of it. This place is located at the corner of River Road and Croisan Creek Road. It's surrounded by a black wrought iron fence. The fence surrounds several acres. The owner must be a smart guy. With all the water surrounding the place ( go back and look at the street names ) the actual residence is built up on the hill. Maybe it's that kind of brains that helped him earn enough money to live in a mansion.
Just after turning onto Croisan Creek Road there's a stop sign. I turned left onto Madrona. This delightful road goes up and over a hill and then drops into town. The uphill portion I was headed for is a narrow road. Trees hang over the road on both sides. There's still enough leaves on the trees to make it seem like you're riding through a forest. A short forest, to be sure, but a forest nonetheless. Progress is slow because of several hairpin switchbacks posted at 15 mph. I hope you like who you are. On these corners you're bound to come back around and meet yourself!
At the bottom of the hill sits the South Salem Fred Meyer. Huge department store. I've mentioned them before in this blog. Getting into this place is a little tricky on a motorcycle. Especially on a big bike two up. You cross Commercial Street and then head uphill again on Madrona. Ok, I could have turned left on Commercial and gone into the main entrance. Along with all the other cars. Not for me. Humor me and be impressed by my finesse even though I chose the hard way. The back drive into the store is a little ways up the hill. On an unobstructed run a rider will be headed up hill when they turn left into the driveway. The parking lot is much lower than the street. So a rider makes a left then immediately goes downhill and at an angle back the way they came from. Tricky anytime but really difficult when you're following an old man in a bright red Toyota Camry.
His meds might need adjusted. Obviously he's seeing apparitions. Every 20 or 30 feet I reckon. How do I know? That's the only way to explain why he suddenly slammed on the brakes and came to a complete stop. Every 20 or 30 feet. Once I even saw him wave somebody across in front of him. Only there was nobody there. Katie says she never saw it but how would she know? She was behind me!
Our next stop was a large Wal-Mart Supercenter. I normally try to avoid these but this was about finding Katie's hairspray. We dismounted the bike and went in, still in our 'Stich's and carrying our helmets. Weirdly enough, nobody seemed to notice except the kids. Wearing the gear into a store proved useful at a K-Mart later. We don't go there, either. I hate being accosted by the photo and window sales people inside the store. Of course, this was about Katie so we went into one.
Sure enough, a woman approached with her window sales stuff. I turned to her and literally growled at her. Katie said she was ashamed of me for doing that. I noticed Katie wasn't too ashamed to laugh when the sales lady literally scampered away, though.
Anyway, back to Wal-Mart. I couldn't help but stop and stare at the sea of cars in the parking lot. There were two bikes parked a long ways apart from each other. Sophie and a cruiser. The parking lot pictured to me the larger world. Lots of cars driving around like crazy with nobody obeying any kind of common sense rules. Actually, it's the sheer numbers. Two bikes among hundreds of cars. What if they were all bikes, instead? In one way I'd like to see that. In another way, I wouldn't feel special anymore, either!
This Wal-Mart is right across the road from the Air National Guard base. A few of the helicopters were being used in training exercises. I'd love to be a pilot and receive my orders for the day.
"Pilot Irondad, your duty today is to put air time on every single one of those whirlybirds. Don't come back until you do!"
Now that's what I'm talking about! One bird in particular caught my eye as we were mounting the bike. The chopper was hovering about 30 feet off the grass. Suspended ( hanging down, in layman's terms ) from the belly of the chopper was a cable. A connecting buckle was at the bottom of the cable. The pilot was causing the chopper to ascend and descend ( go up and down in layman's terms ). The cable was being reeled out or in so that the connector stayed at the same height above the ground.
I'm sure there's a use for that kind of thing, I just can't think of what it might be. Probably just to play games with someone. I could see myself somehow ending up stranded in shark infested waters. A pilot shows up and lowers the cable to me. Sputtering in the prop wash driven water, I grab the harness. I feel the sensation of rising into the air. Only to stop when my feet are barely above the sharks. The chopper goes up and down but I never move. Looking up to see what's going on, my eyes meet the eyes of a man. I recognize him as someone I flunked out of one of my motorcycle classes! He's getting revenge by toying with me.
"I knew with an attitude like that you shouldn't be on a bike!", I yell up at him. "Uncle Sam entrusts you with a very expensive aircraft and look what you do with it!"
Shaking myself back to reality, I steady the bike while Katie gets on. I salute the men in the chopper. I have the utmost respect for our military personnel. God bless all of you and your families. You are greatly appreciated!
I planned our last store to be the Market Street Fred Meyer. Coincidentally, it was mid afternoon and this stop was about half a mile from the Lancaster Mall Starbucks. Not giving Katie a clue what my devious plan was, we came out of the store. Making a show of looking at Sophie's clock I announced the time.
"It's about coffee time. Let's see, where can we go?"
Pretending to think, pretty much a normal practice for me, I came up with the Starbucks idea. Katie gave me a look that let me know she saw right through me. That was accompanied by that little head shake of hers. She must be impressed by my firm grasp of the geography around me.
Soon we were comfortably ensconced at a black iron table across the hall from Starbucks. I like sitting over there so I can see more of the world go by. My coffee had a toasted Chonga bagel to keep it company. Before you give me a bad time about that, remember something. This is a guy who used hair spray as an excuse to go for a ride. I have no shame!
Speaking of folks going by, I saw a couple of fellow riders. Both female and by themselves, no less. Good for them! The first came in wrapped up in her Harley leather jacket and chaps. She ordered her coffee drink and went to the other end of the counter to wait for it. As she made the trip, she glanced over at us. The Harley lady seemed taken aback. She gave a very small wave and quickly turned away. I don't think she was being unfriendly. No, she was probably blinded by all the Hi Viz color sprawled over our chairs.
The second rider I saw was familiar to me. I won't expose her presence there. She can do it if she wants to as she graces my blog by reading it. This gal was as far from home as we were. A yellow helmet with tiger ears and tail are her trademark. I saw her walk by but she didn't see us, I think. Her and the Harley lady seemed to trade greetings so the attention went the opposite direction. I wanted to go say "Hi" but didn't want to be mistaken for a stalker!
We did see a couple of more riders on the way home. Heading out Cordon Road we passed a couple of riders waiting to turn out into traffic. One was riding a beautiful blue Harley V-Rod based bike. Waves were cheerily exchanged as we rode by. In a strange coincidence I had to wait at a stop sign and they rode by me. I had to fall in behind them. What happened? They were a ways behind me.
I think the difference was in our routes. They apparently went farther down Cordon Road and turned at Turner Road. I, however, turned off at Aumsville Highway. This road goes by the new Marion County Dog Shelter, the Marion County Work Release Center, the Marion County Sheriff's substation, the Marion County Jail, a state run minimum security prison, and the new Police Academy. Turning West, we went by Corban College, a bible based school of higher education. Get the point?
One road is owned by The Law, the other by God. Neither one takes kindly to speeding. What's a fellow to do? That's how the other two bikes got ahead of me. They took a road with a higher speed limit. I took a road with a higher calling.
We had a great ride home. Aren't they all great? We never found the hair spray despite several stops to look. Katie's going to have to switch brands, I guess. We did have a great adventure, though. Any excuse for a ride!
Miles and smiles,