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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    if there was ever a time to slog through the whole dog-gone 104, now would be it, we're all on wuhan time. glad you enjoyed the read, now go scratch that travel itch.

    more Khronicles to come, face it, strange things happen out there on the road.
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  2. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    THE KWIK MART KHRONICLES 105

    I’d left Joel at the top of the Gaspe on the 132 coast road, he to continue his gravel route through the interior, while I was now riding southwest along the St. Lawrence River, out of time, out of patience, and in growing desperation for a ferry to cross the river north into mainland Quebec. I hadn’t planned to use the ferry this day, no reservations, and I had only a sketchy notion of the ferry schedules, some sailed infrequently. It was a Construction Holiday in Quebec, the traffic on this non-scenic section of coast road was terrible, and I was up and down through the gears like a kid practicing force fed musical scales on an out of tune piano, C flippin‘ major for the fumble fingered, my brain hurt big time.

    While Joel had brightened the day over a leisurely bike talk lunch, now I was walking the damn high wire, teetering toward the dark side, still on a rolling boil after placing an uncharacteristically bad bet to start the day. Worse yet, I hadn’t hedged that bet, and now I was making a down payment on the price to pay, total cost to be determined.

    The ferry at Metane would have taken me across to Baie Comeau, I know that town, but when I got to the landing it was closed, locked up tight. The next ferry opportunity southwest was at Trois Pistoles, now there’s a good name, sun now low, let’s give it a shot, so to speak. I dropped the freakin’ hammer, broke every speed limit in sight, Leo Vince in full throat shriek, and I rode up to the ferry office at the Trois Pistoles landing in a 4-3-2-1 hair on fire downshift from 8 or 9 grand, I had arrived…the office was closed.

    There was a schedule posted near the door, and as far as I was able to determine with limited French, there was a ferry sailing to Les Escoumins later in the evening which would put me on the north side at about 11:30, hmmm. I didn’t have a reservation, better ask some of these French folks, they would know whether I could get on board.

    That’s when the ferry fun started. My French is so impossibly fractured that I hate to deploy it, and it seems I had found one location in Quebec where no one spoke English, although many made a mighty effort. This ferry landing was a fair weather promenade location along the river, many people out for their evening stroll, and it soon became a community project to get me on the ferry.

    Snooty, snarky Quebecois, never for me, in fact always the opposite, and so it was today, or they may have just been captivated by the whiskey tainted southern pool hall English I was speaking, must sound sublime to the French ear. Sure, it was an affectation, but man, I had it workin’, more French friends by the minute.

    The call went out for an English speaker, and after a dozen misfires, a guy said in barely manageable English that he thought I could get on with the moto without a reservation, but the river was very low and the ferry might run aground causing considerable delay. I had to laugh, but I had been on a small ferry once that had run aground, and the captain was about to order all the passengers into the water to push when he finally got free.

    I had exhausted my entire French vocabulary by the time I boarded, may have slipped in a little quaint Spanish along the way, although no one seemed to notice. The ferry was trying to depart, and when I took a look at the prop wash all I saw was mud. The captain was going to have to plow the back 40 until he got some water under the hull, and he finally did as the sun went down, the ferry pointed north, sky ominous in my path.

    [​IMG]

    (to be continued)
  3. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    9,003
    Chaos on the ferry, little wild Indians racing around the cabin lounge, parental units comatose, well beyond any supervisory capacity after what must have been a very long day of family travel. At least I could get some dinner, potato chips and a metric diet coke, but soon interrupted by a five year old girl who demanded to put on my helmet to take a selfie, all in a kinda Frenglish hybrid language. Either she already had her own phone, or had stolen her parents, but I had unpleasant thoughts of having to chase her around the ferry in order to get it back. Sorry, “No”, and her reaction was…well, put it this way, if she’d had a knife handy, she would have tried for my throat. Damn, a BSC five year old, and I was already tired of my ferry ride.

    It’s not that far across the river to Les Escoumins, but when your ferry is only advancing at the rate of 6mph, the ride takes for freakin’ ever. I finally saw lights way ahead, getting close, and then I realized I was alone in the lounge, passengers had all headed to their vehicles. Oh boy, the ferry was going to empty in an old time Le Mans style start, and my moto was parked towards the front, damn, I could get run over. As the saying goes, it was 0-dark-30.

    The ferry bounced off the fender pilings, all ugly crunching sounds, splinters flying, slammed into the landing, ramp mated up, gate down, and as the vehicles touched terra firma, every driver pinned it, me too. It was a little Class B highway up to 138, midnight dark, and I was running 70-80 with all the lights on, hell, y’all coulda read a newspaper a full mile distant just from what I was burning. Every single car on the ferry passed me before I got up to 138, those Frenchies were late for the big holiday party I guess. I even saw my BSCish five year old girl, she waved when she went by, caught wide eyed at the SUV window in the blazing arc of my driving lights. Lordy, I was thinkin’ Exorcist, signs and omens, made me shake like a wet hound dog.

    Highway 138 is the coast road on the north side of the St. Lawrence, and I’d been here before, but riding northeast. Now I was headed the opposite direction, prospects slim to none at this hour of the morning in falling temps, and I’d been rolling for over eighteen hours at this point. I was still feeling pretty good, had caught a second wind, and as I shifted around in the saddle prior to my turn southwest, my active mindset was “Well, ok, just let ‘er buck”. Without that active state of mind I would have been forced to park it, no use continuing on.

    The 138 is a scenic ride from Les Escoumins northeast, but less so southwest towards Tadoussac, didn’t matter, couldn’t see anything anyway, except for “No Vacancy” signs, or infrequently the French equivalent. Some establishments had bonfires going in front, party central, big crowds of Quebecois, no doubt some still half drunk from the previous night’s revelry.

    I passed the intersection with highway 172 which runs north to Saguenay, this road was on my route as an alternate, but continued on to Tadoussac, maybe lodging would be available there, yeah sure, “No Vacancy” neon was branded on my eyeballs. I should take the free ferry across the Riviere Saguenay, but when I got to the landing there was a long line of tractor trailers waiting, the ferry had broken down, that was the report I got from an English speaking driver with Ontario plates on his rig.

    I sure as heck wasn’t going to wait, so I backtracked to 172, turned left, and headed north to Saguenay. I’d been there too, but now a long ways off on a dark highway, not much in between. Yeah, that’s what I said, and a fuel stop I remembered on the 172 was closed up, out of business when I got there. My mental fuel range calculator said “Fumes” in the same sentence with Saguenay, man, this is going to be close.

    Those thoughts were in my mind when I ran into about 30km of brand new road surface, beautiful smooth black pavement, freshly striped same as the States, and I was flying headlong up the road, fuel, coffee, and food had to be somewhere ahead. That’s when the new pavement markings stopped, no signs, no nothing, and I floated off into pitch black space, weightless and winged.

    (to be continued)
  4. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer Supporter

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    :yikes :muutt
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  5. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    new meaning to "flying" down the road...
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  6. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    No moon, no stars, no traffic, no lights of any kind except those pointing forward, and all I saw was black as I seemingly flew off a sharp edged cliff at 70mph. I was hallucinating, and I must have traveled a good half mile through the air before I landed, figuratively speaking, and if I had been alert before, now I was really wide awake. I’d been swallowed by a rolling sea of blackness, my spatial reasoning in failure mode. Now I was back, ain’t no Knievel, the heck with that flying nonsense. Let’s get to Saguenay, and I backed it down a little, save some fuel, either that or walk the final miles.

    The glow from Saguenay was showing against the clouds, then finally some actual lights, yeah, lights, like my low fuel light, I’d been staring at it for 25 miles while I crawled along. No chance of impeding traffic, I’d only seen two vehicles since 138. It was around 3am, what fuel stops would be open at this hour? Three o’clock in the morning, and I coasted up on two young kids on bicycles, maybe 10 or 12 years old. They wanted to race, I was going that slow, near out of fuel, but I finally pulled away, leaving them pedaling furiously, no quit in those two.

    Another mile or two into town, here’s fuel with the lights on in the convenience store, no lights at the pumps, I stopped anyway, hadn’t been off the bike since the ferry. I thought the store was closed, but a car pulled in, a guy jumped out and went over to the door, locked, but then I heard a faint buzz and he pulled the door open, aha, a safety feature for the night time store clerk. I walked over, knocked on the door, the clerk took a peek at me, then buzzed me in. I headed straight for the coffee, passing close enough to that other buzzed in guy, damn, they must sell Boy Chanel somewhere around here, although no one would ever confuse him with a svelte urbanite.

    I asked for pie in English, then tried in French, but the fat-boy clerk looked at me like he hadn’t heard a single word, deaf in both languages. I did buy a couple candy bars and a sticky bun, then hung around long enough to find out a credit card would work at the pumps, he’d turn one on for me, at least I think that’s what he said.

    I got out there real quick and fueled the bike, no fuel and I was stuck right here. I was standing there drinking my coffee, eating my fuel stop breakfast, when the two bicycle boys rode right up to the store door, brakes locking up the rear tires, then dropping the bikes like rocks. The clerk buzzed them right in, must be his 3AM regulars, no curfew in this town.

    Done in the store, the boys came over to look at the bike, they didn’t respond to English either. What the heck, maybe I can get them to help lube the chain, and I got out my spray can. I showed one kid what I wanted done, he understood immediately, and as I rolled the bike forward, he sprayed down the chain, good job too. I packed things away, turned to the boy who had helped me, pointed to the chain, and said “Merci beaucoup”. He looked me right in the eye, and said “You’re welcome”.

    Ha, that was a small gift, but if I laughed too hard the boys wouldn’t have understood. Hey boys, let me gift ya back, give ya something to talk about, and I left the pumps in a near redline launch, Leo Vince an out of control wild scream. Yeah kids, there’s madness in there, don’t have to dig too deep.

    (to be continued)
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  7. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    Oddometer:
    9,003
    I’d punched in a GPS number for La Dore up the 167 road, I knew that little town too, y’all can’t quite manage to forget flipping the damn bike upside down in the café parking lot on a beautiful Sunday morning, not that I had an audience of about fifty Quebecois looking out the windows. I had a good five course breakfast at the place though, damn cute waitress doing that French girl walk-on-air thing…I left a nice tip. Now as I made my way through Saguenay, I was thinking about where the heck to stop, I’d been traveling for going on 24 hours, still full dark, sunrise due pretty soon. I’d sorta gone through my second wind, and was reaching deep for my third, the one that would take me home, wherever that landing may be.

    Up past Lac Saint-Jean and the series of little towns at the bottom of the lake, full of French inspired architecture, nothing open, then past my La Dore café, also still closed at this hour. This was a fuel stop, and I couldn’t remember anything between La Dore and Chibougamau, I sure as heck had fueled here when running the opposite direction. Let’s see, how many miles to La Dore, then La Dore to fuel, the numbers were confused, hazy, bottom line I’m probably screwed…then it started to rain. I eased off the gas, nautical sunrise, gray dawn, and the road became a big black mirror well into the distance.

    Highway 167 runs through Reserve Faunique Ashuapmushuan, unpronounceable in any language, but there is a nice campground. If you find the campground office, it’s the same one I casually threatened to burn down after another impossibly long riding day down from the Baie James via the Rout du Nord. The camp attendant was hopelessly confused by the credit card machine, and was not the least aware of the cheery menace standing in front of him. Thankfully, he didn’t speak a single word of English, otherwise he might have dialed the Mounties. Eventually I paid in loonies and toonies, and the office still stands. I wasn’t far out of the park on the northwest side when the fuel light came on, and the light prodded my memory a little, I’d been carrying 12L of extra fuel the last time and could run the distance, but now it was looking a lot like a kick in the yarbles.

    Suddenly I ran up on Le Relaise du Lac Cache, huh?, is this place new? I had no memory of it being here, and it did look relatively new, who cares, I was saved, here was food and fuel. Fueled the bike to overflow, then in for coffee, I was staggering, in need of a half gallon of coffee.

    [​IMG]

    I got my coffee and a selection of junk food, I didn’t want to sit down for breakfast, if I did, I might not be able to stand back up. The throw back sweater vested young man at the register had an unusual look, might have been those car door ears sticking way the heck out, and he rattled off some instructions for my credit card use in a machine gun cadence.

    I said “Could you please say that again in English, my French is kinda rusty”.

    He haughtily replied “Monsieur, I am not addressing you in French, let me assure you, I am speaking to you in absolutely perfect English.”

    Hmmm, “Well ok then, whatever it is, give it another try.” I was into this ride about 26 hours, had the high temp fevers, y’all want some excitement around here, hey, just push that button again.

    That’s when I knew I better start looking for a place to stop, and I made a defining turn south on 113, the hell with Chibougamau. I had taken a look at Lebel-sur-Quevillon, about another four hours ahead which would round things off nicely at 30 hours of travel. Here I was on the edge of the boreal spruce again, still out of the wall and urgently alive…hard on the gas, shifting through them gears.
  8. JRowland

    JRowland reaching for the sky Supporter

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    Yarbles, loved that book :thumb
  9. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    it's been nearly 60 years, not just anyone would have caught that reference, but with a JRowland forum name, it suggests an artistic or literary bent.
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  10. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    THE KWIK MART KHRONICLES 106

    I had made the turn west on I40, sure I had left the crazy behind, but now was rolling alongside the demented, those drivers that should be institutionalized, locked away in a safe place where they can’'t get their hands on vehicle keys. Confiscating drivers licenses won’'t work, I don'’t think many at the wheel around me had one to start with.

    Dark now, and I set a goal of 800 miles on the trip meter, better stop for fuel, and I rolled into a Pilot truck stop. The guy tending to the beat to crap and a half pickup across the island from me was drooling tobacco juice down the front of his shirt from a big chaw, had a loose pitbull in the bed that was silently estimating the distance between it's teeth and my throat, and there was a twelve year old boy riding shotgun that some judge should give 25-to-life right freakin' now, save the world a load of grief. When I hung up the pump handle, I noticed the old guy had a knife stuck in his right boot, never have seen that before except in the movies. Hmmmm, time to head over towards Memphis, and I was outta there.

    The traffic had thinned after dark and west of Knoxville, pure dark now, running 80, wary of deer with all the recent road kills along the shoulders. Far ahead I could just make out a faint tail light, and when I run up on it, I find a scooter redlined at 40mph out on the interstate in the middle of the night. The guy at the controls was way north of 400 pounds, all white boy blubber wearing a football helmet, and his ass had completely eaten the back of the scooter, poor thing. I wanted to gawk and try to snap a few frames, might help the authorities identify the body when they peel it off the front of the next Kenworth to happen along. Shucks, can'’t wait on the excitement, and I headed to Jackson, should be close to 800 miles.

    I had been to Jackson back in 2011, and it held some memories…

    The exit I choose (at Jackson) happens to be the road I will use to ride down through Mississippi on the way to Arkansas. I find a beat up Super 8, should be cheap enough, and when I ask the desk gal if there have been any problems with theft around the motel lot, she replies “"Nope, only stabbings”". Comforting after a long day, at least the bike would be safe.


    Pizza place next door, convenient, but when I walk in, oops, I'’m the only white person in there. Luckily, I had a really dark end of summer tan, shouldn't be a problem, like if I was really really white. Ordered my pizza, and struck up a conversation with the other people waiting. Had to dredge up my jive repertoire, and then told some stories about my first days on the road. I was the crazy white dude, got everyone laughing, then slipped out the door with my pizza before I got stabbed.

    Jackson had several exits, and I stopped at a Loves station, fueled, then went inside for some junk food, but changed my mind when the food prep area smelled like deep fried Chuck Taylor. Got some water, and when I went to pay, the night cashier guy wearing the fake mohair T-shirt was way too friendly, and had bad blinky meth eyes, Lordy, gimme the change, I need fresh air.

    [​IMG]

    Outside, I realized I had hit the wall at 800 and wasn’'t going anywhere. I took a look around, the metal halides around the parking area were so bright directly under the poles that there wasn’'t even so much as a hint of shadow at my toes, this will work. I had a bunch of gear on the back seat of the crew cab, shoved it aside to make some room, climbed in and locked up. I could have found a room, but a little gypsy is way more fun, part of the adventure, …and I’'m nothing but a hound dog on the trail of adventure.

    (to be continued…)
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  11. borderlinebob

    borderlinebob Been here awhile

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    CANADA-100 ft N of International Falls, MN
    Well shit!!

    You’re in a pickup.
    :becca

    Here I’m picturing you -in the dark- at 80mph -dodging deer -on your bike.
    That’s a way more fun mental image than reality eh.
    N-Id-Jim likes this.
  12. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    bike in the VersaHaul out back.

    glad i was in the truck, dead deer every 1/4 mile, never have seen more dismembered deer along a stretch of road before or since. deer parts and pieces all over the road, surface painted red, and that's just since the sun went down.

    @borderlinebob...last time i was in your general neighborhood, i came down 308 and then crossed in and out of the Northwest Angle, scratch that off the list. i'd been close by water half a dozen times, but not in it. most don't know it's there. crossed at IF a bunch of times too.
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  13. borderlinebob

    borderlinebob Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2016
    Oddometer:
    641
    Location:
    CANADA-100 ft N of International Falls, MN
    That Northwest Angle is quite a geographic anomaly.
    For folks not familiar with it, you should look it up. A little piece of the USA that is “North” of the 49 parallel only accessible by land by driving thru Canada

    Back when border crossings were relatively easy I was working at boat dealer in Nestor Falls on east shore of Lake Of The Woods and had a major customer broke down on west shore. About a hour run for big boat.

    To get him by trailer—a bit more involved— into US at Baudette, back into Canada north of Warroad, back into and out of USA at Northwest Angle then reverse it.
    So 8 International border crossings to pick up a broke down boat.

    Anyway JD, really enjoying your Khronicles.
    Please keep em coming
    BB
  14. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

    Joined:
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    the 308 is one of those roads you might not consider using as a transit road across the border, but does make sense if you're looking for a more interesting route crossing the border to points east or west on either side.

    [​IMG]

    well graded, and very little traffic north of the Northwest Angle cutoff, but fair warning, every driver i did see had their foot to the floor.

    [​IMG]

    the border was unmanned at one time, you were supposed to check in on the honor system, not anymore.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    the border monuments are right there, straddle the line, you're in two countries.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    the Border Patrol guys were cordial, they see hardly any motos, and no one lately who just wanted to ride into the Northwest Angle, then turn around and ride back out. it started to rain while we talked, and they suggested i get on down the road, it could get pretty greasy when wet.

    I'd fished quite a bit on Lake of the Woods, and had approached the Northwest Angle from both the north and east, but never actually got there.
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  15. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    9,003
    The truck side windows were dark tint, nobody could see in, but if they could have, gawd, there was this old man in there trying to get comfortable on top of and between a mountain of junk, wasn’'t no Sealy Posturepedic, but I’'d slept in way worse conditions, only 40F and falling.

    Figured I slept for three or four hours in the parking lot, fitfully, between truck engine noise, doors slamming, and one scream that woke me with a start, hair on end, fumbling for a defensive weapon, and all I could come up with quickly in the dumpster-like crew cab interior was a pocket knife…, 2 inch blade...hell's bells, I wanted a damn sawed off shotgun, like right the flip now. Nobody makes a sound like that unless somebody is chasing them with an axe, maybe an ice pick, kinda brings the world to a stop, take a breath, sonny.

    Whoever had screamed timed out, might be dead, and I climbed out of my cave, no cops, commotion, or crime scene van. Didn’'t see any big pools of blood either, but I didn’'t look real hard, had other things on my mind, like a big hunk of Chuck Taylor on a biscuit with bacon, don't care if it was chewy, I was starving. Inside, past the two gals who where there to entertain the truckers, it was hoppin’', zombies mostly, lots of shuffling feet, but at least the CT smell was gone, now it just smelled like good ol’' healthy All-American grease. I ordered an egg, cheese, ham, and bacon biscuit, man, even the photo of it on the menu board looked greasy.

    In due time, I was handed a wrapped up object resembling what I had ordered, except it looked like it was created using a 3D printer with flavored lard as the media, and whooof, I ate it right quick, might have gotten some of the packaging too. I thought hard about fetching another, but then I’'d need to buy one of them American Heart Association bracelets with my blood type and contact info. There was another guy over in the corner, food tray buried in wrappers, heck, if someone had slipped in a hot buttered skunk, he'’d have slammed that down too.

    Huge cup of dark roast, then two for the road, and I was heading towards Memphis, the river, and Arkansas. I got over to Memphis, no drama, but I thought I might have a chance to beat rush hour, no luck. Urban traffic looks all the same in the dark, not the same skyline to offer differentiation, could be Chicago, DC, LA, or anywhere, goofballs bumper-to-bumper, inevitable construction zones full of upended barrels and squashed cones. I’'m sure those folks around me driving with such grim on-task determination thought they were on a mission too, snobby me, it looked like droning urbanism from where I was sitting, V649 riding along obediently out back.

    I had a full load out of caffeine in me, more than enough to mitigate fatigue, and with only one more cup of coffee, I would have stopped to get a photo of the Arkansas welcome sign that was bolted to the girders of the Mississippi River bridge, instantly causing a 200 car pile up. I might have been mentioned on the morning TV news, but Texas was at the other end of Arkansas, no funny business, I needed to get on down there, like freakin' pronto.
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  16. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,003
    THE KWIK MART KHRONICLES 107

    There was a long wait for a pilot truck, don’'t know why, there wasn'’t any traffic. The college boy flagger was bored stiff standing around by himself, nothing to do, leaning every bit of his weight on the staff of the stop sign, without it he'’d fall over. Pilot truck shows, now I’'m on my way, woman driving, ya know, one of those women that people describe as “big boned”, all the while meaning something else altogether. Halfway through, she suddenly cranks the wheel left with them big ol' man hands, and then jumps up onto the new pavement surface over a six inch asphalt lip. Sorry, I’'m not doing that just yet, need a better angle, and I move the opposite direction. Now I’'m getting freakin' man hand signals to get my butt over to the other side, oh honey, you’'re so cute when you get all pissed off like that. Lucky she didn'’t have her six shooter, she looked to be on the man-hater side of that bi-polar phenomenon, shading towards BSC, if ya know what I mean. Must have been a real popular figure with the rest of that road crew.

    Clear the construction zone, now I’'m back on pavement, and a few more miles up the road I find a Dodge pickup in the northbound lane with the front axle, transfer case, and a bunch of other parts torn completely off, various fluids all over the road, it looked more like a plane crash than a traffic accident. I can’'t imagine what the guy ran into, there was nothing else around, a mystery. On into Boulder for fuel and a break, one of those old time shepherd's wagons with a modern carriage parked next door to the quik mart, ready to go but not in use, the corn broom at the door a classic feature going back to the 19th century when sheep were introduced in the west.

    [​IMG]

    The cashier girl said she had seen many through bicycles, a few hikers, and very few motos, strange, since this is an obvious place to stop for fuel on the CDR route. She hadn'’t heard about the wreck in the road a short distance to the south, didn'’t know who the truck belonged to, no trooper or EMS truck had passed by the store running siren and flashers.

    [​IMG]

    Outside, a small dog runs out in the highway and nearly gets hit, screeching brakes, smoking tires, the driver shaking his head. A few minutes later, there'’s almost another wreck right in front of the store when an SUV with a travel trailer pulls away from the pumps and out on the highway right in front of a ranch truck, cowboy with his foot to the floor, even more smoke, big ass black streaks on the macadam, fist shakin', I guess that one ton truck was too small to see. At least those people were going the opposite direction, didn'’t have to worry about them seeing me. Man, in a few short minutes, an actual monstrous wreck, another near monstrous wreck, and a near dog squashing, I better get the heck away from here.
  17. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,003
    THE KWIK-MART KHRONICLES 108

    The route today contained a little bit of a geographic oddity. I’d left Alaska in the last day, entered Yukon Territory, departed Yukon Territory, entered British Columbia, departed British Columbia, then crossed the border back into Alaska, don’t forget to have your passport stamped at the BC/Alaska border station. While I had run along a number of mountain ranges since Alaska and the Provinces, I’m down lower now, and from the Alaska border to Haines I’m running through a wooded area with more traffic and development than I had seen for hundreds of miles.

    Mandatory fuel stop first thing in Haines, and as I'm fueling I see a Triumph go by, stop, make a u-turn and come back. The rider is a retired Alaska State Trooper. The guy had his leathers on and sat that bike like it was custom made just for him.

    [​IMG]

    When I remark that it didn't look like there were many places close by to air it out, he said with a laugh “Oh, I know a few roads“. He said he stopped to look at the bike, but I think the real reason was to show off his own moto. Whatever reason, a real interesting guy with tales from his Trooper days, and I'm glad he stopped. I mentioned that I was taking the ferry over to Skagway later that evening, when we shook hands, I said ‘Til we meet again” and he replied “Oh, we’ll meet again soon.“ He would track me down again later in the day to show me the Guzzi he's restoring, Haines ain’t that big a place.

    Drink and a snack on my mind, and as I was reaching for the quik mart door, a guy came busting through the door from the other side in a rush, and I quick stepped out of the way to avoid a collision, then backed up some more when I got a look at the person in front of me, did I mention the smell, haysoooos christo, it was bad. I could have said homeless, but then not, more the look of a nerdy game boy taking a very short break from around the clock video game warfare in the cave.

    Totally disheveled, coke bottle eye glasses, kinda reminded me of the glass we used to start leaves on fire when I was a kid. The smell coming off him was beyond forgetfulness in the personal hygiene department, more like he was starting to decompose under his clothes. No hat, and the none too subtle vapors coming out of his greasy tangled mess of hair included ozone, hot electrical circuitry, and weed.

    He’d had something to eat in the store, couldn’t tell what exactly, but he shoved some half chewed part of it back in his mouth, turned around and walked away. Not that I was sorry to see him go, being judgmental and all that, but the smell might be transitional, jump the gap, then land on me. Trust me there, I once had woman’s cologne stuck on my riding gear for every bit of 24 hours, I don’t think a power washer could have removed it.

    I’d lost my appetite on the first sniff of that dude, bad news, but the good news was that my sinus cavities had been cleared of road dust and pollen, somebody should bottle that smell and sell it to anyone with seasonal allergies. I still needed a drink, a freakin’ Mountain Dew type jolt to bring me ‘round, and I was reaching for the door handle again when it opened.

    Stepping through the door was a very tall, imposing, and ridiculously handsome individual, nicely tanned over a body builder physique, short cropped hair styled in a fade, all the pieces fitting together in harmonious effect. I got a quick glance, and the look on my face must have been a tell, because the glance said “Don’t even think about saying anything witty, I can kill you with my bare hands.” OK, OK, got it, I suppose that means no photos too.

    Thirtyish maybe, she turned back to see if she still had her companion in tow. Her companion was twentyish, blond, a blue eyed beauty, straight hair to her waist, coltish in carriage, and it looked like she had more length in legs than I was tall. Man oh man, what a pair, and ya really didn’t need any undertones or overtones to confirm that romance was in the air. Haines of all places, but I’d traveled through Minnesota and Wisconsin quite a few times recently, and could distinguish certain behavior from a distance, instantly up close. They had just fueled their BMW and took off with a tire chirp, do I even have to say who was driving?

    I had some chores to do, cleaned up the bike, oil and filter changed, replaced a lamp on one of the piaa fogs, and went over to the post office to mail some junk home. I forgot to pack some things I needed, and brought some things I've never touched. It took a lot longer than it should have to get the box packed. I was parked near the front door, and about everyone that went by wanted to stop and chat about the bike or the trip, including a drunk who drove up in an old rusty pickup.

    He was trying to talk to me, but kept losing his train of thought, a stupid alcohol fueled effort, and I was quickly losing patience with this dope. Suddenly a friend of his walked up and said “Did you just drive over here?”, and the guy slurred back “Yeah, I been drinkin' too much to walk this fur, figgered ah better drive“. Oh man, where's that State Trooper dude?
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  18. PHX_Joe

    PHX_Joe Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2016
    Oddometer:
    140
    Your true calling, JDR, keen observation of, and resulting stories of the diaspora along the way. GOLD, good sir!
  19. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,003
    thanks, my friend, some Wuhan time and extensive travel notes...guess what, there's way more in there, some of it i'd kinda forgotten about until i reread my journals.
    JagLite, Traxx, B10Dave and 1 other person like this.
  20. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,003
    to all my Khronicle friends...

    here we are again, Christmas and New Year upon us. 2020 has been full of challenges for many, including myself, but with 2021 around the corner i finally see some light...hope everyone else does too.

    i'm writing this, so i survived, you're reading this, so you survived...let's all carry on. i'm calling 2021 the "Ride, Baby, Ride" year. don't know where i'm going, or how far i'll get, but adventure is calling...i'm hearing drum beats every damn day, louder and louder. the good Lord willing, i'll be out there, see ya on the trail.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, i guess every knows by now what beverage i'll be sippin".

    JDROCKS
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