THE KWIK-MART KHRONICLES

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by jdrocks, Apr 6, 2018.

  1. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    THE KWIK MART KHRONICLES 96

    We stopped for fuel in Haines Junction at a station run by an unhappy looking Chinese fella. He looked like one of those old Bruce Lee kung foo bad guys, wispy chin hairs and squinty eyes. Buddy was fueling on the other side of the island while I was inside to pay.

    In a squawk of what I suppose are Chinese expletives, the guy grabs one of those tire thumpers that truckers use and runs out the door towards Buddy. I ran to the door and was about to shout a heads up when the guy stopped in his tracks, turned around, and came back to the office while muttering some Chinese gibberish. I swear that the sounds that they call a language remind me of the sounds that come out of the hen house when the barn cat makes a mistake and wanders in.

    WTF! I couldn't figure out what was going on until I realized that this dumbass thought that Buddy was washing down his bike with the window squeegee scrubber. The jerk was lucky, and the Canuck guys would understand. Buddy and I are both old northern Minnesota boys, and hockey guys from the day we could walk. In other words, if you want violence, well, let's just say we were born to it on all that old time Minnesota outdoor ice, postcards from an entirely different era.

    I know you think that all Minnesotans are just namby pamby liberals who elect comedians to the Senate. Those are just the young people up there, the old guys are the ones that wrapped on the foil. My old man was already teaching me the finer points of high sticking, slashing, and hooking before I could talk in full sentences. If that crazy Chinaman had touched Buddy with that thumper, he would have found out what it’s like to take his meals through a straw.

    This whole episode was putting a damper on my sense of humor, and it was past time to get the heck out of Haines Junction and turn south. The road was reported to be a great bike road for scenery, and the surface was supposed to be in good shape. Towards the bottom of the road, we would cross the border again into Alaska.

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  2. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    THE KWIK MART KHRONICLES 97

    I planned to stop somewhere around Kluane Lake, and I was ever hopeful of catching the first look at the lake around every corner and topping every rise. I could see blue on the little GPS screen, but it still took forever. I was ready to stop, it seemed like this dusty construction zone gravel had gone on for a hundred damn miles. I hit the west end of the lake and I'm expecting that deep blue, WTF, it's frozen over. They must have had a winter for the record books.

    I intended to camp at the nearby provincial park, but when I stop for fuel at Burwash Landing, Paddy, the old guy that owns the place reports that the park is closed due to bear problems. I'm jokin’ around with Paddy, and he invites me to camp for free down next to his old timey resort on the lake. Be nice, and you get treated nice. Thanks, Paddy.

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    The resort must have done well during the heyday of traffic on the highway, but now I don't think that many stop. Wonderful setting on the edge of the lake, and you're looking across to the mountains on the other side. They have a restaurant, so after setting the tent, I wander over.

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    I survived the ride, no goofy fuel incidents, camping for free, on the lake, food right here, and they serve beer. Nothing, and I mean nothing could be better. Well, they could have had a bikini contest going, but heck, that would have put it really over the top.

    The lone restaurant patron was an older local guy, so I naturally go over, introduce myself, and ask if he minds having company for dinner. I wanted to catch up on the local news. “Pleased ta meetcha, pull up a chair?”, so I had dinner with this guy, and man, was it a trip.

    I’m hardly seated, and the conversation starts down this winding path of truths, half truths, fibs, and outright lies. Bewildering, perplexing, outrageous, and all the while straight faced, sincere, and entertaining. It was so entertaining, I never had time to look at the menu, and finally just said “Gimme whatever he ordered“, and pointed across the table.

    We talked about a hundred different subjects, and he would switch back and forth, sometimes three times per sentence, trying to keep the loose ends tied together. I glance over at the waitress and she’s circling a finger around her ear, a signal that says “This guy is freakin' nuts“. Just when I’m thinking the same thing, the guy would come out with a statement that was so original and so profound that you just didn't know what to think. Maybe he's just a little nuts, but then, so are a lot of people I know.

    The subject turned to his claimed winter activity, gun running from a business located in Cape Town, South Africa. He supposedly sells AK47s to all the rogue armies in that region and had the business card to prove it. I think I’m going to get some of those cards printed myself, plus a deep tan and an eye patch. He had a whole pocket full of rifle rounds in different calibers, I'll be needing those too.

    He wanted to sell me an AK47 right then and there, maybe he had a whole trunk full out in the parking lot, no problem getting that thing back into the States, right?. Watch the headlines, you might see this guy on the front page for any one of a number of reasons. They were closing the place down, so I saw him out the door and he drove away in his old wreck of a gun runner car. Talk about entertainment, I could have sat there a good while longer, whew, the perfect ending to this eighteen hour day.

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  3. joenuclear

    joenuclear Still here....

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    Fantastic! Thanks.
  4. Steve_h

    Steve_h Been here awhile

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    Great! I bet it was better entertainment than anything you could have found on the tv too.
  5. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    when i more-or-less invited myself to have dinner with the guy, i had no idea what i was letting myself in for...it was one of the strangest encounters ever, and a Khronicle character for the ages, bar none. in my little tent that night, i decided that i really did want a cheap AK47, so i stopped by the lodge in the morning on the thought that he might stop in for breakfast, alas, no luck. no gun runner at that hour.

    but...time to fess up. the last sentence of KWIK MART KHRONICLES 97 posted today reads "Talk about entertainment, I could have sat there a good while longer, whew, the perfect ending to this eighteen hour day."

    the sentence that i wrote a full 10 years ago reads thus "Talk about entertainment, I could have sat there a good while longer. He should have his own reality TV show, or get elected to some high office back in the States."

    yup, wussed out. my original 10 Y/O words sounded like some kind of gratuitous contemporary political commentary, CSM department stuff on ADV unless the time capsule aspect added the actual context. pretty damn weird to find "reality TV show" and "elected to some high office back in the States" in the same sentence i wrote in 2009.
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  6. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    as i re-read the gun runner saga, i wish i had presented a little better visual on the guy, he was a very freakin' unusual dude.

    think about the setting, faded glory old time lodge sitting on a frozen lake in the Yukon, drinkin' beer with a supposed gun runner from South Africa, who was name dropping a list of every regional African dictator you've ever heard mentioned via the media, all the while playing with a solid handful of rifle ammo in different calibers.
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  7. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    THE KWIK MART KHRONICLES 98

    The customs dude at the St. Leonard crossing was unusually surly, must hate Yanks, or maybe unhappy with the current state of his pesos, dunno. My passport has numerous Canadian border stamps, and his computer would tell him I’ve crossed the border a crazy number of times for someone not living near the border itself. Welcome to New Brunswick…or not. Watch them mooses.

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    I had a few loonies in the tank bag left over from previous excursions, now destined to be exchanged for frozen yogurt. Yogurt sure, but I’d followed a young lady into the store, raven haired, every bit of 6 feet, and dark eyes that sparkled when she smiled…exotic as all hell, need I say gorgeous. She was with a guy who had a KTM race bike in the back of his truck, maybe she was the Monster starting gate girl, heck, she could have been handed that job by acclamation in a matter of seconds. The watch cap wearing KTM MX-racer dude circled the V649 for a look on the way out, c’mon man, check what’s hangin’ at your elbow, get your priorities right. Had some good pineapple yogurt too, plus a bottle of water, only $13 CDN. I think the yogurt scale read to 6 digits, a microgram of sorts, but who’s counting, it’s only loonies.

    Sunday traffic to Saint Quentin, a place my momma said I’d end up at if I didn’t wash behind my ears and take out the garbage at age 5, now all these years later, here I am, San Quentin.

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    When a covey of 15Y/O girls scamper across the road in front of the bike, hmmm, in certain segments of Stateside society, they’re known as San Quentin quail…lay a hand on one, and ya go directly to the big house, tends to make certain people mind their manners.

    I’d been looking for a camping spot, and continued up 17 where I finally found a campground behind the local forestry museum, empty except for a small motor home parked in the back. The sun was still up, I wasn’t taking any chances given the fiascos of the previous nights, and actually had the tent set up before dark, whew.

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    It was a beautiful evening, light breeze, and I sat at the picnic table sipping cheap whiskey, making an entry in the travel log. The tent was set on the campsite gravel, rock hard, and as the day closed I was thinking about how many times I’d slept directly on the Bouclier Canadien with only a piece of canvas or nylon separation…not quite a thousand, but for sure another night.

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  8. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    THE KWIK MART KHRONICLES 98

    Let’s take stock of the situation…it was Saturday night, I wasn’t even halfway across Maine, and I needed to be at the Gaspe border in northern New Brunswick by Monday morning. Y’all don’t need a computer and mapping software to figure this one out. The curtain had closed on the Maine gravel, my rate of advance east was simply too slow, I’d have made the Gaspe by about Wednesday…if the Garmin didn’t get lost in the bush more than a few more times.

    Pitch dark on secondary pavement in Maine, folks, there ain’t much out there, not even a glow on the horizon, nothing darker if you haven’t had the opportunity to ride this type of road. Sometimes found in unlikely places, and under strange circumstances, just ask me, and that’s where I found myself, steady rain falling, cold and wet, every light on the front reaching.

    The road felt like it was bolted to the bike, then the bike bolted to me, it had been a long day. It’s a strain to ride at night, ya know there are some very dim witted, but huge animals that could step into the road at any minute, there’s no such thing as a casual evening ride here. My hands were cold, but when the occasional vehicle would pass, I needed to click the auxiliary light switch. Half the time the switch wouldn’t disengage fully and the lights would blink instead of switching off. While it might mean “radar trap” in an urban setting, it means “freakin’-moose-in-the-road” up here, and all the drivers were braking immediately, the brake lights still lit up as they went out of sight.

    East, east, more east, and finally I ran out of the rain, now it was just cold. I knew approximately where I was, west of I95 but approaching fast, and still well south of where my original route hit I95 near Millinocket, way off course. If I was cold riding 60mph, it was freezing riding 80mph on the slab, and I got off at the Lincoln exit, plenty of motel signs on the billboards, there has to be one room left in this town.

    After a bunch of “No Vacancy” responses on the phone, a guy with a very heavy NYC accent said “Yeah, I gotta small room, but it’s directly on the lobby if ya don’t mind something like that”. Hmmmm, it’s 11 freakin’ 30 on Saturday night, I’m frozen solid, no others available…let me think on it a bit.

    My new NYC friend spoke in a language only used by a caricature of an old time gangster, looked the part except in miniature, and was of indeterminate sexual orientation. He was a nice guy, and I had a smile stuck on my face to keep from laughing. Paid, got a key, rushed back over to McDonald's, and ate $20 worth of their gourmet fake food like a garbage can bear before they closed at midnight. I was the only one there, and I must have looked a little on the rough side…the manager with the cute little updo brought me an extra large cup of coffee when she saw that I had finished the first.

    They locked the door at my heels when I left, and that was that, I was in eastern Maine, piece-a-cake, and despite the hour, I wasn’t feelin’ humble. After all, when you pass the point of no return, it ain’t the right time to quit.

    I was needin‘ a little Tennessee pick-me-up about then, and I might know where to find it.