Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Take this job and shove it, one of those days you didnt want to be at work.

Yesterday was one of those days you just wish had not happened.
Started out with a delivery for Accessories to a mine on Monday, nice 10 hour day.
Would check into the Hotel at 7 PM, relax, ate a nice light chefs salad purchased form the grocery store and just relaxed.
Sleep was my usual four hours of non constant BS grr.
Would crawl out of bed at 4:45 Am and eat a banana, 15 minutes later I would fire up the work truck, visit the hotel eh ehm, diner for some usual hotel food.
Two hard boiled eggs, one minature slice of french toast and one microwaved sausage I was ready to hit the road.
Nothing eventful as I drove the hour 15 minutes to pick up the MMU truck, or mobile manufacturing semi truck I would use on another site.
It was left at a different mine. It fired up after its usual five minute crank fest, doing the walk around I found that a fuel line used to tell how much fuel as in the auxiliary tank was broken do to age.
I fixed it at least as best I could in the truck headlights. Fixed the burnt out bulb in a clearance light and would be ready to go.
Not so fast, the less than dependable fuel guage only registered just over quarter of a tank, which ment it probably was empty.
A quick kick and a feeble attempt to see into the fuel tank would confirm my suspicions, my ever caring previous co workers had failed to not only mention any problems, but also that it needed fuel.
I would proceed to the mine shop and see what I could find out, namely how far a gas station would be.
I parked amongs the line of Miners vehicles who had just showed up, people were walking about everywhere and there right in front of me was a fox. She was looking scared confused and licking her chops. HOLY SHIT A RABID OR DISTEMPERED FOX! I prepared to jump back into the truck as she looked at me and took a few step forward, visions of the seven shots in my stomach came to my mind. But some crazy fool miner would walk right up to her, I almost yelled, he put out his hand and she sniffed it, he walked on past.
Turns out the Fox is a wild pet of sorts, they feed her breakfast and she follows them around, what an amazing experience!
Next I would have my fuel fear confirmed "Nearest station is 30 miles" yea I was screwed.
I managed to beg a tank of fuel off of them. By then it was now 7:30 am, I was supposed to be on another mine site 50 miles away already grrr.
Off I went, worried about hte scales as this is one of those barely passes trucks, not eventful at all.
I would ring my co worker and tell him to inform the boss I was running late and to please let the mine know.
40 minutes later I was at the mine.
First attempt to load the truck did not go so well, but it worked.
We began to fuel the axillary fuel tank and the crap hose I had tried to fix earlier broke, diesel everywhere.
After listening to a guy who didnt know what to do, I should have just used my years of plumbing experience and fixed it how I wanted, which I would do.
My boots were soaked with diesel and I was praying not enough to get into my socks, this sucks.
Boom swings out over the hole, I hit the switch, and, nothing, flip the switch back and forth, nothing.
Outside mess with the manual hydrolic override controls, nothing.
Miner helping is just staring, I am swearing out loud everyone knows how much I hate this job.
The Auger was not emptied properly so another half an hour following my co workers mistake we would finish loading the first few holes.
Back down to refill, this requires driving under and chute from a Amonium Nitrate bin with a flexible 14 or so inch hose hanging down.
Hose would fall off, and the hose clamps were rusted, one hour later it would re attach.
Miner whom I was contracted for "We HAVE to be done by 4pm today, nothing can stop us.
Trip to the bench, load more holes, back down for the hose to fall off again grr, Im hungy, and at this point it is 1:30 and I realize I left my sandwich in the delivery truck along with my extra water and vitamin water damn it!!!
Back up on top I would load on a hill most people would only want to drive a 4x4, not a semi truck.
We would finish, of course after I had to clean the auger two more times grrr.
3:30 pm, with a picture of Tom Cruise and Mission impossible music playing in my head I would strap down the boom on the truck and head out.
First stop at a gas station to get some  diesel and hopefully a snack.
I would grab the last hotdog off the tray and it would roll off onto the ground unreal.
I would be back to the first mine site at 5 pm on the button, only one hour 15 minutes back to the hotel.
The Sandwich I left in the truck had melted cheese from the sun, luckily I had left a banana so I would have that. IT had only been twelve hours since my last snack even, and wow was I starved. Soaked work boots off, had not got to my socks which was great, but they stunk. Flip flops I would drive back in. 
Upon checking into the hotel  AGAIN I would ask where the best steak in Laural Montana was.
The bowling alley the old lady said who had worked this mediocre job far to long would inform me.
So off I would head up to my room, throw away my work shirt, tear off my stinky diesel covered clothes, shower and down to the kick ass diner.
And wow was I ever craving a good steak, and yea well it wasnt that at all.
A trip to the IGA and some snacks would tide me over with a six pack of beer would finalize another day in the mining industry.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

"I told ya it was gonna snow", my first interstate motorcycle trip with a childhood friend.

It was 23 years ago and I had purchased my first Street bike, a 1982 Yamaha 750 Virago.
I was a badass, and I knew it, the thunder of the road was a refreshing change from the years of tearing up dirt trails and jumping out and into gravel pits.

It was not long into the summer when one of my childhood friends and I decided to make our first journey by motorcycle.
Much debating began, roughly three minutes before we would settle upon our destination some 400 miles and change to the Amusement Park known as the Lagoon.

We set a date and began our preparations. My father was insistent that it would snow, even at the end of August.
"Your batshit crazy pops" I would tell him, watching carefully out of the corner of my eye as usually a smart ass remark was followed by the back of his hand, a tool, or even in one case a dinner role which would smack me right between my eyes and knock me from my chair.
"boy, you just wait and see, its going to snow"
Seriously he was nuts, we would be gone for three days and be coming back on the 29th of August, not a chance.

I had little for gear back then, I had a Nolan helmet and a Harley Davidson leather jacket I had purchased locally. I am not exactly sure where the money came from for this ,as both were around 300 dollars each. Its kind of hard to Imagine a time so long ago when we were subject to what the local store carried or what was in the back of a magazine.
For saddlebags I literally decided upon a set I used often. Since we had horses there were plenty of saddle bags hanging around. Dad was quick and handy modifying anything and soon he had those bags fitting my bike nicely, and I would be ready.
We had little knowledge of how to pack back then, there was such limited information in those days it seems. About all I had in my head were visions from the worst movie I had ever seen "Born to be Wild"
We would have crap strapped everywhere and my blanket would be tied by bailing twine over my front fender.
We would depart, no fanfare, no parades, just two guys on a mission.
We would stop at the hardware store and buy some rain gear, Steve swore up and down that goretex gloves were the best thing under the sun if our hands were to get wet, so we would try.
It is unfortunate that I have not written this before, as so much has already escaped my mind over the years. The next thing I remember is stopping in Idaho falls to see my cousins. Wonderful people and I had stayed there before. I tried to talk Megan, one of my favorites to come along, she was a wonderfully beautiful girl and why I would want the extra attention she would garner was beyond me.
Perhaps I thought if I had a beautiful girl with me other girls would find me attractive.
She saw thru my ploy, or in reality saw my bike loaded to the brim strapped down in a way only a farm boy could and kindly said "I think I'll stay". FOILED again damn it.
We would arrive in salt lake to crazy traffic, darting here and there and at one point Steve felt it necessary to give a lesson to a corvette on his KZ750. One of the fastest bikes of its era it certainly did well and in triple digits,  well I assume so at least as my speedo was buried at 85 *Grin* and Steve nearly a dot for me he would let off the throttle and I would catch up, seeing his big grin under the full face helmet as if his smile was painted on the outside.

We would pitch a tent in the camping area of the lagoon, wander about, run into friends from Anaconda, how amazing and do the usual Teenage idiocy.
We would find ourselves in the carnival games, as it turns out Steve was not so big into Amusement park rides (nice time to let me know Steve!!)  as he would get sick.
So there we stood, trying to win stuffed animals, and in particular a four foot tall gorilla that we thought would be funny as hell tied behind our bikes.
I quit after a few dollars, proclaiming the game was rigged, I would fall for Steves urging and all my cash save enough money for three tanks of gas, I would give in. Realizing at that point that I could have went to the store and bought a damn life sized gorilla for the back of my bike for cheaper.
Uhgg tomorrow would suck as I drifted home on Fumes in my gas tank and an empty stomach.
We would load up in the morning and head out with temps in the high 90s. Our fuel stops were the normal and in Lima MT we would stop for lunch. Let me make a correction, Steve would enjoy lunch and I would drink some coffee as I was not sure if I had enough money to even make it home at this point.
The weather was cooling off substantially and as we entered Dillon MT the temperature would have dropped to a Balmy 31 degrees.
We would find at this time that the Gore-Tex gloves let in to much air and our hands were frozen. Back to leather for me. I remember some kid thinking we were his heros riding in the cold, I thought he was nuts. A woman in the gas station stated it was snowing up yonder and I heard my dads premonition ringing in my ears. "You probably should stay here she said"
All I could think about is it was my last tank of gas and only a couple dollars left in my wallet, a hotel room was beyond out.
Dillon is normally only an hour ride from home, should be easy enough to make we thought.
We put on sweats over our pants to stay warm and rain gear over the sweats to of course stay dry and the biggest thing, to brake the wind.
In another ten miles we would find that snow, and we found piles of it. It was beyond a mild storm and it was an absolute Blizzard.
Visibility was zero, snow was piling on so fast we could not see the tire tracks of cars in front of us.
We would stop and look at each other and my last words uttered to Steve for the next hour would be "We do not know what these things will do on these slick roads so lets take it easy." Steve would Nod and would tear off into the sunset, er blizzard.
We road at a blistering pace and I am still not sure how we knew where the road was at, the snow was piled up so heavy only the occasisonal non iced over reflector let us know our path. My Visor was iced up so I found myself cracking it open slightly and looking between the visor and the chin guard.
Steve was flying, from what I could see on my icing up speedo we were doing 65, way to fast.
Cars were crawling at below half that pace and we tore past them as if they were going backwards.
I was cold, so cold, the rain gear had iced up and froze stiff, my fingers were almost beyond numb and all I could think of was if we could pull over we could warm our hands on the open motors.
But Steve had other Ideas, and kept up the blistering pace, I followed close behind him only because I was afraid he would slide off the road and I would not see him. By this time snow was over our feet planted on the foot pegs.
I would flash my light, nothing, pull up beside him, nothing. I would try one last ditch effort trying to wave my hand and point to the upcoming rest stop, nothing. It was all for naught.
Finally he would stop, 12 miles from home at the intersection of I 15 and I 90 and proclaim in a just above a whispered stutter "I am so cold I cannot go on."
Seriously I thought, we were almost home why let blood flow to our extremities now?'
We headed to the truck stop which was about a mile away. I remember sitting at the table with our helmets on, fingers to cold to pry the Ice from the clasps.
The waitress thought we were crazy, everyone made sure to let us know we were and the coffee would be free, well after our helmets came off of course.
Two pots of coffee later Dad would show up and rescue us with the car trailer, laughing with his booming laugh as always "I told you it was gonna snow"
It is unfortunate that such a wonderful adventure was not captured on film.
It seems to me that the next morning I took a picture of our bikes on the trailer, snow dripping off in the following day 70 degree temps.
I know not where that picture may be, nor if I ever actually had it developed, hell the way film used to be maybe it never came out.
I talked to Steve about this ride a couple days ago, which set forth this story before it leaves my mind.
I am happy to have shared it, cold fingers and all, and I have recounted it far to many times over the years.
Epic adventures come and go, but they always stay in our mind, this was one of them and would set the stage for my future travels. Sharing things like this with friends is the best and I only wish I could persuade more friends to share future travels with me.