"97% of the time I am right, so who cares about the other 4%?
- some fat kid coming out of a truck stop in Columbus, Mt.
Well it's finally over now. I am sitting here with a bruised and swollen left arm, the second and third toes on my right foot may need to be amputated, my legs cramp intermittently, I have sunburnt my balding scalp so badly that I woke up with a headache and immediately took three ibuprofen this morning. Oh, and we're out of coffee.
So I got all that going for me.
I wrapped up our ride to the Black Hills yesterday with a 600 and something mile, Billings to Boise, speedapalooza. The Road King has layers of bugs on it. I put it in the garage last night. I may never ride it again.
Our annual mid summer motorcycle odyssey began on Tuesday. Our target was the Black Hills.
Getting to Idaho Falls is pretty easy. I use SH 20, watch for deer and other suicidal creatures, and speed a little. When I get to the Moonbat Valley highway junction, I instinctively want to turn left and head home- something I did for 25 years. Nowadays, I just flip off Moonbat Valley and head east into Carey.
I spent the first night in "I.F." because that was our departure point. One of our riders, my cousin in law Jason, decided he could not go. That was a huge blow. This was the first time Jason would not be with us. So I'm not going to dwell on what a pussy thing it was to bail out on us at the last minute. Jason will just have to live with the shame and guilt for the rest of his life. Jason did offer to barbeque some carne asada which was excellent- plus as a bonus- I enjoyed watching everyone get their drink on. That was fun. In what would be a foreshadowing event, it rained during the barbeque. The Road King acquired a fine layer of maple syrup from one of Jason's trees. I was the only person at the car wash at 1130 pm that Tuesday night.
So there would only be three of us. Troy, Dave, and I. Jason was staying home with his husband.
On Wednesday morning, Dave was a no show for breakfast and over an hour late, so everything seemed to be operating normally for us.
It was sunny out and the trip into Jackson Hole, Wy. was beautiful. I spent a winter in Jackson once delivering food during the Carter depression. The little town of Victor had grown rather large since then and Jackson Hole was still busy as ever. We got some gas, Troy yelled at a woman who was patiently waiting for a car wash, and we loitered around a bit. By the time we got done screwing off at the gas station, the gal in the car had moved up two or three spots in her line. I remember thinking how lazy we have all gotten. Sitting around waiting for a car wash. She was still four cars back.
The ride out of Jackson and by the Tetons was majestic. I never get tired of that beauty. The Tetons might just be the most spectacular shards of rock in the lower 48.
A couple of funny things happened on the way to our first stop, Thermopolis, Wy. Dave took a bee strike directly under his right eye. His eye swelled up. We missed a "cut off" road and had to double back but it was only a few miles- and it began raining on us- hard enough that we parked the bikes for ten minutes or so.
We were supposed to stay at some campground but we didn't like it. So we found a little motel with a crazy woman running it. We knew she was crazy when one of the other guests said she was crazy and told us not to stay there. We did anyway. We like crazy. Troy and I slept in the same bed. Troy is kind of a homophobe so I knew he would reject any nocturnal advances. The only opinion Dave voiced the entire trip had to do with claiming the room's couch as his own.
After dinner, we found some place that serves ice cream and has a putt putt golf course. So we had the first of three road championships.
It was neck and neck up until the sixteenth hole, a hole called "volcano." That's when the wheels fell off of both Dave and Troys' game. They took sixes (the agreed upon maximum score) on volcano and I cruised to an easy victory. I might have rubbed it in just a bit.
The next day we stopped at my uncle's place in Buffalo, Wy. There is always some sort of shooting of the guns that takes place whenever we show up at his house. Uncle Lynn had just stolen an AR-15 for 750.00 bucks so we were shooting that off the back deck when Lynn hands me these explosive canisters filled with phosphorous and gun powder. We stuck them in a big pile of sand. I began shooting at the first one and actually managed to hit it but it didn't explode. We stuck the second one in the sand and I burned through a box of ammo- 20 rounds- trying to hit it but it remained unscathed.
Troy grabbed the gun and nailed it on the very first shot as Dave videoed the explosion. This was a horrible thing for me. Troy reminded me on numerous occasions over the next few days what a loser of a marksman I was. Retired cop loser. In fact, he told me that he would be reading this blog to make sure the truth was told.
From Buffalo, it is only about 150 miles to Deadwood, S.D.
I love Deadwood. It is historic and beautiful. I think I like Lead (sister city) even better. Lead has not been turned into a tourist area with all those bullshit store fronts and casinos. Lead has the same late 1800's architecture (and it is all still standing) that I grew up with in Butte. Including a giant gold mining pit in the center of town. I think I could live in Lead rather easily.
I am going to plug Hidden Valley campground here. It is 5 miles south of Deadwood and gorgeous. Rates were reasonable and the new owner, Jason, is a good guy. We pitched camp, went back to town and gambled, and came home. We skipped the fireworks in Lead when we noted that the streets were crammed with people hours before nightfall. The next day, I found out from some of the locals that a guy had shot and killed himself in front of everybody at the fireworks viewing area that night. I have seen enough of that shit for a lifetime- so I was pretty happy that we missed another episode of that. It rained on us throughout the night.
The next morning, I decided to play in a poker tournament at the "No. 10" casino. I'd like to deviate and tell you a couple of things here. Most of you know I have spent a lifetime playing poker. I'm pretty good at it. I have also played in hundreds of tournaments on line and live. I win at least one in 10- or 15 tournaments I play in. I usually place in the money about 20% of the time. The other 70% of the time- I lose. Even though I lose 70% of the time, my numbers in tournaments are actually pretty good. I use hitting a baseball as a metaphor. A great hitter only connects 3 out of 10 times.
I always try to win. I hate being the first loser, 2nd place.
There was only 11 people in this tournament. I think it was probably the smallest tournament I have ever been in. The casino added one hundred bucks. They played until there were only two players and then they split the prize pool 60/40. I liked that. I identified my only two "real" opponents in the game early on.
Eventually there was only the three of us. I had pocket sixes against pocket fives on my right. All three of us were in. When the flop came 9-9-5, I knew the chances of anyone having a nine was low. I could beat anyone with a five. I was first to act and I put a lot of chips in- and consequently I lost a lot of chips. I would play that hand exactly the same way every time. The interesting thing about my two opponents, and I had noted this earlier, was their willingness to sit on their chips and not play when they had big chip leads. They simply lacked that killer instinct which you must have in tournament play. So it was, that I just stole blinds and outplayed them. They could have called my garbage at any time with their garbage but they were afraid to. That predictable type of human behavior used to cost me a lot of money until I wised up. You want to win? Then you are going to have to take chances with shitty cards. That's just the way it is. Never, ever, let an opponent hang around if you can help it. Three handed, queen anything, and I am going to put a low chipper all in and try to oust him. I think my opponents just thought I was going to go away. They didn't know me.
I finished second by only a chip or two. I didn't win much. But it was 20 times what I bought in with.
Troy and Dave went to Sturgis and the Full Throttle Bar while I played on Friday. When they got back,
we gambled some more and then ate all you can eat crab and prime rib for 22 bucks. Everywhere we went that evening, Dave would pretend to walk into posts, walls, and doors. He would grab his head and stagger a little. As juvenile as all of that sounds- it was actually pretty funny to watch as people asked Dave if he was ok, and they seemed concerned. Of course they all thought he was drunk. The act was good enough to fool most of the people who witnessed it.
Do you remember in the beginning of this piece- the part where I said my toes were swollen and bruised?
On Friday night we stopped at a convenience store next to our camp. I was trying to decide whether or not to go grab a bottle of water to brush my teeth with or walk from our campsite (the farthest away) to the bathrooms. I was straddling my bike having decided to just walk to the bathrooms that night- so I put the kickstand up and prepared to leave. When it started to rain, I changed my mind and decided to go back in the store for some water. I had forgotten the kickstand was up. When I swung my right leg over and off the bike, the whole sumbitch tipped over. That's 1100 pounds of stuff going down. The good news is the rear crash bar rolled right over my right foot and prevented any damage to the bar or bike when it hit the ground. I have gladly exchanged a few days worth of pain- for a thousand dollars worth of repairs. Dave helped me lift the bike. In some blended state of shock and pain, I limped into the store and hobbled out with the goods.
Neither of them laughed at me. That is unbelievable. Dropping a Harley carries the same seriousness as a hunting fall. You save the gun at all costs and your body takes it's chances. This morning, my toes are still black and the right side of my foot remains swollen.
I thought about snapping a photo of my toes but then I thought, maybe one of the two people who actually read this blog are eating. So you have been spared. I will end part one here- mainly because I am tired of writing today and mostly because the real funny shit happened on days 4 and 5.