August 21, 2010

The breakfast was simply horrible.

Do not order poached eggs in the back country. The whole thing sat on my stomach ungracefully.

I went back to the motel, packed up the bike, one last dummy check, brought the key to the desk, then rode across the street where behind the restaurant there a campground, and a laundromat that is open to the public. I needed to wash clothes…

Half of the machines in there sported a sign saying : “out of order”. There are dead bugs around the floor, an old dilapidated couch on which I will not sit. A bright orange plastic table to fold your laundry and the wash is $1.25. A bit steep for this sort of joint but clean clothes are priceless. I proceeded with the washing.

I walked out to get something off the bike and I hear bickering. It’s coming from a camper truck. An old mean looking skinny man is yelling from outside the camper. A woman’s voice replies from the inside.

Holy matrimony.. so sacred. For better or worse. To be out here in the middle of nowhere and have a bilious outbreak of rage for everyone to hear with your only partner. Yikes…. Thank God for not having to deal with that. Really… thank you, thank you, thank you. Well.. no, thank me!

The four wheeler came in barreling down the gravel path.

The man looks at my bike : “Wanna trade?”

“Naaah” I said. “I could’t get to where I’m going on that.”

“But you could go all over here” he said extending his arms to show the immensity of the place. Hills, Canyons, mountains, range… It’s the good life, the simple life” He said with deeply felt conviction.

He’s forty something, He’s missing a bunch of teeth, has a beard, reddish-blondish hair, the blue eyes of a rogue.

A woman was sitting behind him. “my wife, Laurie. Laurie walked off towards the RV parked down on the campground.

He tells me about this country here, the wild, wide open spaces, “they only give out 15 permits a year, there are bucks out there with antlers like this” he extends his arms way wide. “up there you’ll find the last wild buffalo herd in the country. (he did not say antlers, he used another word. A hunter’s word to say antlers that I can’t remember)

“So where you goin’?

“Zeeon” I pronounce wrong.

“ZAHYon” he laughs a rough laugh “Ha! Ha! ZEEon! Ha! Ha! Ha!

“Well I’m not from ’round here you know… But It sure is beautiful” I say.

Yeah, it’s the good life… I moved here three years ago… From Salt Lake City, it’s crazy up there… I got a double hip replacement, degenerative lower back disease…

“You in pain?” I ask.

“All the time” he says plunging in my eyes with a look that said pride, defiance and courage all at once.

“I get just enough social security to pay for stuff. A two bedroom house here is 350 dollars s month, no bills, it’s all paid for. I take care of the trailer park and I clean the washrooms here at the campground… It is the good life…

“What do people do around here?” I ask.

“We ride these”… He points at the four wheeler and grins a wicked grin.

His son comes up, twenty something, tattoos, a baseball cap over very short hair a soft pot belly already.. His eyes float in his head.

“Did you party all night?” the dad asked the son.

He laughs back. They both hug in a manly sort of way punching each other in the shoulders, chest and back.

The son asks me : “Would you give me a ride?” I’ll pay money, would you give me a ride?”

“Well, there is no room for a passenger with all my gear on there”

“I’ll give you lots of money”

“it’s not always about the money” I said.

He is disappointed. Another man arrives on the scene. Grizzled, long hair and grey pony tail. His face is eroded like the mountains around here. He too has a bit of a pirate glint in his eye.

“Hi I’m Hank”

“Hi Hank, nice to meet you”

“Nice to meet you. Where you goin’ with that bike?

Down to Bryce Canyon, Zion, then LA.

“I used to have a Yamaha …

Laurie comes up.

Talks to the young man : Are you drunk?

Kid: Yeah…

Did you party all night?

He laughs a grunty laugh.

Can I see your tat? Laurie says to me.


Wow, that’s really nice work. Who did that?

I tell her, “Marc at Slave to the Needle in Seattle. He is amazing.

“Yeah, that’s really good… I used to do tattoos, a long time ago. I’m going to set up shop here in town. A lot of people need to have their tattoos worked on… My friend, she’s gonna get me the tools…

“Well I should go check on my laundry” I said. As I walk off another young guy takes off with a jeep Cherokee. I hear a thump and swearing…

“You fuckin’ drove over my foot!” Hank yelled.

The man bends his left knee, tries to put his foot down. The kid in the jeep barely slows down then barrels away.

“HA! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! People laugh.

Laurie said : “He lost his mom” pointing at the young guy.

Ah, that’s hard I say.

“That’s why he’s so sad”

“Can you give me a ride on your bike? I love bikes, I have a thing for bikes, a huge thing…” the kid pleads.

Laurie says : “he asked me if I thought that you would give him a ride and I said no.”

We talk some more, Laurie tells me she works at the restaurant, I should come down here too, I could work there she tells me. I try to imagine what it would be like to serve beer to toothless men in a bar-restaurant along the 24 in Southern Utah. I can’t.

“Well, I should get on my way” I said packing the last of my stuff and gearing up. They got all serious on me all in a sudden.

“Ride safe” Said Laurie.

Then Hank came over with a “I really mean it” look in his eyes… Yeah, be careful, ride safe.

God bless you. Laurie added.

I will, I will. Thanks you. God bless you too.

“Bye sexy lady”… the kid says

It always grabs me. Perfect strangers who don’t know me from Adam who absolutely mean what they say : Be safe. Stay alive. Beware of the idiots that don’t see bikes. I know they mean these wishes with all their hearts, fully and totally. I feel it. From the religious people on the Tail of the Dragon, to the folks at a restaurant, to the strangers I meet on the street.

They follow me on the road, those wishes. They protect me. Clear the way for me. Wishes like prayers, as if a little part of all these people’s souls committed themselves to make sure nothing bad was going to happen to me.

I started the bike and left Hanksville.


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