Goodbye Barry - Welcome Home AMERICA!

Saturday, August 30, 2008


My posting of July 28, 2008 "NObama Snubs America's Fighting Men and Women?" was in error. It was, however, based on the best information I had available to me at that time. (Nonetheless, the man is still an idiot, whose Pollyanna-like outlook on the world will be the destruction of our great nation.)

The Third Time IS A Charm!

Well, my most recent round trip to Utah has come to a relatively mild conclusion. During the last month I managed to put 2,855 miles on my Honda VTX. About 1,738 miles of that was getting to and from, and the other 1,117 was logged just cruising around Davis and Weber counties with my bro and BFF, Steve Farver. Steve’s lovely and talented wife, Kat, even performed a magnificent impromptu concert for us while I was there, although she was suffering a cold at the time. I did get to spend some time with three-fourths of my children and my grandchildren, most of whom were in wonderful Australia for 3 weeks visiting my son-in-laws people. My eldest son, Gene, and my youngest son, Kevin were there, but conflicting work schedules made visiting difficult. My youngest, Katy, was noticeably – but not unexpectedly – incommunicado during my stay. I keep hoping that on one of her 20-something birthdays she’ll actually grow up! But, that’s her problem …

The ride over was beautiful, but a bit warm on the deserts of Nevada and Utah. I always overnight in Winnemucca, Nevada in both directions, and on the way to Utah I met an interesting man from Finland, who loved motorcycles. We spent several hours talking about motorcycles we had each owned before I had to bring it to an end, so I could get some rest before my departure for the final leg in the morning. Bedtime came early that night – 8:30pm. And, getting-up-time came unexpectedly early at 3:15am! By 3:30 I was on I-80 eastbound, and wondering how that hot desert country could be so cold in the wee hours. I estimated the temperature to be about 40º, and stopped probably ten times to warm myself up before 8:00am. When I reached Utah I learned about ‘interpolation’. That's when the sign says “SPEED LIMIT 70”, and that’s only a suggestion. If you’re only doing 70mph you’re relegated to the right-hand lane … with everybody honking at you, shaking their mailed fist at you, and talking about yomomma (no, that is not a reference to Barack). The number 70, in Utah, translates to roughly 85. I discovered this phenomenon again at the intersection of I-80 and I-15, where traffic was just whizzing along, bumper-to-bumper, 4 lanes wide, at 85mph. At this point, realizing that I was astride the smallest thing on the highway was just a bit disconcerting, after 800+ miles of virtually no traffic .

I took some pictures while there, including one of my bro, Steve, cruising down the causeway that runs to - and back from - Antelope Island on his Yamaha V-Max at 65mph … I know he was doing 65 because I checked the speedometer on my bike as I took the pic (I think I’ll post some of those pics when I get my camera back ... I forgot it when I left my daughters house on my return trip).

The return trip was also relatively uneventful. There was the road construction on US 95 northbound, about 35 miles north of Winnemucca, Nevada, where I got to sit for about 15 minutes. The most interesting part of that stop was when the woman driving the NDOT Pilot Truck brought traffic from the other end of the construction zone, then swung around, backed up, and dropped the rear of the truck into a gravel filled ditch. After watching her spend about 6 minutes burying the front of the rear axle in the rear of the gravel hump, I told the lady flagging that I was going to move up and give her a clue, because she obviously didn't have one. The suggestion was: “Back straight up into the sagebrush, turn to the right, and come out about 15 feet to the right, where the surface is relatively flat and solid.” She did that and, shortly thereafter, we were off to the other end of the construction zone.

My first animal encounter was with a desert jackrabbit that galloped across US 95 just ahead of me. I considered us both to be lucky. Then there was the bird that apparently had failed physics in flight school, and didn’t realize that my rate of closure at 70mph was 102.6667 feet per second. Luckily for him, he swerved at just the right moment. My next, and final, animal confrontation was with a cow and her calf, standing in the middle of US 95, just kinda hanging out about 40 miles east of Adel, Oregon (population 79). I had to come to a complete stop until she made up her mind which direction they were eventually going to move.

Then there was the 40 miles of Mixed Donkey Doodoo Dodging (it was wild burro poop, but I couldn’t come up with a scatologically referenced alliteration to work with the word “burro”). Actually, it looked as if Billy-Jim-Bob had held a cattle drive along the two-lane road the recent past, so I nicknamed it the “Cow Pie Highway”. With almost-constant swerving, I managed to avoid the fresher specimens, but occasionally I clipped a dry, dusty dung dollop.

Then, outside of Klamath Falls, Oregon, I once again entered the fearsome Valley of The Ten Thousand Grasshoppers! Undaunted, I pushed on, and, much to my relief, there was no horde of large, airborne insects this time. I hit maybe two of them – one became a windshield decoration, and the other a splat on the side of my boot.

Other than 4 more delays for road repairs along OR 95 and OR 140, nothing particularly noteworthy occurred on my return trip. I spent ten hours on the bike that last day of my trip, and required a transplant of the gluteus maximus when it ended. I felt as if I had just been released from a lengthy stint in a Greek prison! I am now seriously contemplating the insertion of a hospital-grade gel pad … under the cover of my bike’s saddle.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

How Much Does It Pay, And Do You Need A Degree To Get The Job?

I was first introduced to Utah in 1975, courtesy of the United States Air Force. Hill AFB is in Davis County, Utah, and is surrounded by the towns of Clearfield, Layton, Sunset, Roy, Riverdale and South Ogden. The base occupies a rather large chunk of land - about 13 miles around Perimeter Road - atop a hill ... hence the name (isn't our government just SO creative?). In 1975, the main road linking Layton, Clearfield, Sunset and Roy was full of potholes, and (it seemed like) almost everybody had a Bear Front End Alignment machine. Every service station (this was back when they actually did something resembling "service"), tire shop, inspection station ... maybe even Rite Aid, and Sacco's Produce stand.
Well, I'm pleased to announce that those potholes on the main drag have, for the most part, been eliminated ... and replaced by man-made potholes on the intersecting side streets. Apparently some clever construction company got a contract to countersink all the manhole covers (and they average about 2 manholes per block, with each one being offset from the previous and following one)! Does someone not understand the concept of flush mounting? Or did the county hire a civil engineer from the Bubba's Skule Of Enjinearring? Who did they pay to set all their manholes 4" to 6" below the road surface?
Okay, now try to imagine navigating this asphalt slalom course on a motorcycle, on roads where the "speed limit" is apparently a suggestion, and if you aren't going at least 10mph over the speed limit, you will either have to move your tuchas into the slow lane, or find yourself discovering the joys of organ donation! I can remember the days of Sunset Officer "Ticket Tommy" Reynolds, the fastest pen in the west, so I'm a bit leary of exceeding the posted speed limit in this area, even if it is just a suggestion. And nobody would want my organs ... but that's a whole different story in itself. It's obvious that Davis County, Utah has spent the revenues from the gasoline road taxes, vehicle registrations, on anything but roads! Perhaps they had a giant Postum party at the State Capitol. And then, there's the exhorbitant and ridiculous (and quite possibly illegal) practice of charging new residents UTAH SALES TAX on vehicles brought into Utah by them if they come from a state without sales tax. And, they don't care how old the vehicle is, or how long you owned it before moving here! How does the Utah DMV figure that they have the right to tax something that somebody bought elsewhere prior to moving here?? Where IS the logic?
Complaining aside (and I've been told that I'd complain if I were hung with a gold rope) oddly enough, returning to Utah is always like coming home, and I've been gone for 10 years now. Sure, Utah has it's problems - like goofy rules, odd laws, and corrupt politicians, but so do most places. I was born in New Jersey, and have lived in 11 states and 4 foreign countries, but I have never felt more comfortable - more 'at home' - than I do when I return to Utah for a visit with my kids, and my numerically insignificant but absolutely wonderful (I consider each one a personal blessing in my life) friends! To borrow a line from The Wizard of Oz, "There's no place like home."
P.S. And, especially if you ride a motorcycle, there are some MAGNIFICENT rides in Utah!!