When Nature calls.....
When we last met boxes of smoked salmon were being delivered to our distributors. I was in NW Portland with the next stop being down in Tigard. Normally it's not a bad trip due to the large arterials in a big city. My plan was to grab I-405 just as it came off the Fremont Bridge. Funny how we get so complacent about the marvels we encounter on a regular basis.
Just as a quick side trip, the Fremont Bridge has the longest main span of any bridge in Oregon. It also holds the distinction of being the second largest tied arch bridge in the world. Whatever in the heck that means. I'm just glad it doesn't fall into the river while I'm crossing it.
Anyway, the plan was to take I-405 South, the Sunset Highway West, and Highway 217 South. The trip is around 15 miles as the crow flies. Depending, of course, if your crow flies straight or imbibes in a little corn mash brandy in the crow bar beforehand.
Like any big city Portland has an ebb and flow of traffic. There's good times and bad times for being on freeways. Bad times make up the majority, of course. This day all bets were off. It was three days before Christmas and closing in on lunchtime. To top if off, my destination was very near one of the largest shopping malls in the area. It would not be fun. However, I'm not Irondad for nothing so I fired up the bike and faced the ride.
Imagine, if you will, a morning spent on a motorcycle riding in the cold. Mix in a few stops where coffee is consumed while business is discussed. About the time traffic started backing up there was this nagging urge for something else to flow. Like a small stream heading for the ocean, the farther I traveled the larger the current grew. Will power and fortitude were called for. In great measure. Laugh if you will, but you've been there. Indelicate as it may seem.
At last I exited Highway 217. I knew a back way to the distributor's business. I headed North on Cascade Blvd. Coming up was Bob Lamphere's motorcycle store where I had purchased Elvira. It seemed like a great place to head into the pits. For some illogical reason I decided to press on. It wasn't much farther to my destination. It's a sickness at times. Oh, to be like Steve Williams who thinks nothing of hopping off the scooter every 10 or 20 feet to make pictures, eat pastry, and drink tea. And, er, other things.
I, on the other hand, act more like a Japanese bullet train at times. Pick a destination, board the train, and hang on! The resemblance ends there as I am not long and sleek. Nor have I reached those speeds despite coming close at times.
Elvira and I have to contend with road construction just after we pass the motorcycle shop. The kind where there are two flaggers and one-way traffic. We sit and wait for a good ten minutes which feels like ten hours. Once past, we finally make good time as we are heading away from the mall. Kind of like a salmon swimming upstream. Which doesn't actually work as a good illustration but I'm trying to bring it back to the smoked salmon in Elvira's trunk.
We arrive at our destination at 11:30 AM. The only guy I know at this establishment is the owner. They only sell a small portion of our stuff so contact is very infrequent. His big corner office facing the front is dark. I decide to leave the salmon and Christmas card with the receptionist. Who just happened to frighten me. A lot.
She is a battle axe with a capital Medussa. Make-up cakes her face like a San Diego mud slide. I'm pretty sure that if one were to scrape off all the cosmetic formulas they'd find Jimmy Hoffa. In an effort to look somewhat pleasant she has a red smile painted where her mouth would be. If she were human, that is. The actual effect is more like lipstick on a dragon. I'm still in my 'Stich and standing in front of her counter. I don't know if it's me or the motorcycle gear, but she looks like she wants to drag me off and feed me to her young.
After reading various of his blog entries, I'm pretty sure that Jack R was married to this woman once. Perhaps that explains the venom in her eyes as she looks my riding gear up and down.
I already had to pee. Now this woman is scaring it out of me. Which is weird. I mean, here I am, a bad, tough, rider who's covered a hundred fifty miles on a cold morning already. I have on thick ballistic nylon gear. Somewhere underneath it all a Glock is cozily nuzzled up next to me. Yet, facing this woman I somehow can't muster up enough intestinal fortitude to ask,
"Do you mind if I use your Little Motorcyclist's room?"
So I do what any other tough guy would do. I slink back to the bike still holding it. Fortunately, the seated position helps while I ride away and ponder my next move. I just hope it's a voluntary one.
I'm drawn back towards the motorcycle dealership until I remember the road construction. So instead of turning left onto Cascade Blvd. I stay on Greenburg Road. I mention the street names because those of you who are local will understand what's happening. Greenburg Road crosses Highway 217. You can head North or South. If you stay on Greenburg without turning off you will find yourself at the South end of Washington Square Mall. I tried real hard to exit onto 217. Really. However, it's a long dang ways to the next restroom stop that isn't as crowded as a snow cone stand in Hell.
By now visions of Niagra Falls, Victoria Falls ( I put that one in for you, Dave ) oceans, aquariums, fire hoses, rivers, and broken dams are flooding my brain. Pun intended. Part of me is screaming that this is a huge mall three days before Christmas!!! The other part is screaming that it's close, dang it!! While sanity and physical misery fight for top spot my body is sort of just drifting along. My path of travel is largely dictated by traffic. Elvira and I are going with the flow while trying to avoid close calls that will make the final decision moot.
Now I realize it's too late. For changing our destination, that is. You were secretly hoping I'd embarrassed myself, weren't you? Like a bug drifting towards a whirlpool we don't realize we're trapped until it's no longer possible to escape. I'm not a trials rider, nor is Elvira a trials bike. Although the image of a large Yamaha sport-tourer up on its back wheel and riding over cars IS interesting to think about. Elvira's sleek and fast but that won't help in all this traffic, either. We're being sucked down the drain into The Mall. So I guess the decision has been made. It's kind of like standing and arguing about whether the tracks are from a deer or a bear until the train runs over your butt.
I'm going to pee at the mall, which will be both a blessing and a curse. While I'm there I might as well find some food and do a bit of looking around. Which is another story that will be in the next post.
Miles and smiles,