Rain rules

This summer, I was riding wet for many of the miles I traveled. I own a good Gore-Tex rainsuit, so I stayed dry. Being the lazy SOB that I am, however, I let my feet get wet because I never put on my gaiters. Fortunately, it wasn’t cold.

  • Looking for some rain gloves? Visit a grocery store and buy dishwasher gloves. The price can’t be beat. Added bonus: they come in two colors — blue and yellow.
  • Green or orange garbage bags make good covers for anything that’s held on with a net. The net will keep the plastic bag from shredding.

On the rainy highway, traction is a major consideration at speed, and hydroplaning is never far away on two wheels if your speed is high. Hydroplaning can occur any time one rides through the puddles that collect in the lowest part of the roadway, primarily the two tire tracks running the length of each lane. It can be avoided by riding on the high spots and by keeping tire pressure on the high side. Running on bald tires isn’t good either.

In built-up areas, anything metal such as manhole covers and bridge gratings, painted lines, and places where oil and grease have not washed off become a lot more slippery when first wet.

Railroad tracks are a sleeper, and can bite hard when being crossed at anything other that parallel or almost-parallel, especially in the wet. If your tire slips into the groove running alongside the track, it will ruin your day.

Thunderstorms are scary when you’re in the middle of one out on the prairie. Being the highest point on a flat plain or at the top of a bald hill when the lightning comes crashing down is not a smart place to be. Avoid it, at all costs, or one day you’ll be sorry. Take a break at one of those fancy Canadian rest areas.

Last, but not least, don’t delay when putting on the rain suit. Riding just a little farther to see if it will clear is not always a good thing if you want to stay warm and dry. Ask me how I know.

To sum up, in the wet:

  • Painted lines are slippery. Keep that in mind when turning or braking at crosswalks or any time you cross them.
  • Ditto for manhole covers, grated bridges, and bridge expansion joints.
  • Railroad tracks require a careful crossing so as not to slip into the groove.
  • Hydroplaning is a real possibility with excessive speed and under-inflated or bald tires.
  • Botts’ dots* or any other raised lane indicators are slippery and could cause tires to slip off of them.
  • Gas stations are particularly slippery in pump areas. All the clunkers get parked there, leaking and weeping.
  • Avoid riding during a thunderstorm when you’re going to be the height of land that the lightning will be searching for.
  • Put the suit on early if you want to stay warm and dry.
  • Slow down.

* Botts’ Dots are used on California multi-lane freeways. They come colored, round and square. Most are white; center markers are amber; wrong-way markers are red; fire hydrant markers are blue. They are being used on the highways of other states as well.

Gas bar thieves

Slime is everywhere, most notably if one is an habituĂ© of the gas bar in a well-traveled area. I pity the poor tourist who fills his tank and wanders into the store to pay in cash. If he’s lucky, he’s rounded up to the nearest dollar, which makes counting his change that much easier.

More likely, he’s at a gas’n’go and has used his credit card at the pump, but must wander into the store for water, pop, gum, cigarettes, or a treat for his sweet tooth.

If the day is long, like mine are, then attention isn’t at its highest.

High enough, mind you, to let the teller know that I gave her a twenty.

“Oh, sorry,” she replies, sounding too practiced and too much in haste. An honest error more often gets a fumbled reply.

When the cashier is trying to take you, the cash goes right into the till before she gives change back.

If the cashier is smart, the bill is left laying on the till while she hands you your change. That way, you can’t screw the cashier by telling her that you gave her a larger bill. It evens things out.

Still holding out my open hand, I get my ten dollars added to the change in my palm. When I press the point by looking the cashier in the eye, she looks away, then turns around and pretends to do something else.

Nice try, sez I.

No response, but then, I didn’t expect one.

I waited for about 20 seconds before I turned and left.

Out of the corner of my eye, I watched as she then turned around.

I waved the ten at her as I was going out the door.

I really enjoyed cheating the thief out of her ten-spot.

Whispering pines, rustling palms

Pine trees whisper, palm trees rustle

Palm trees rustle, pine trees whisper

I was sitting with a woman I was “sort of” seeing at the time. There was a breeze blowing. The palm trees surrounding the oasis were making those sounds that they make when the wind blows.

“Whispering,” I said to her, thinking of an old motel that I was familiar with.

“Palm trees don’t whisper. They rustle,” she replied.

She was right, of course, and I didn’t argue with her. But, some weeks later, in the dark, while in bed, she tried to shove a knife into me. More than once. I didn’t take it personally, but I left town in a hurry and didn’t look back.

Who’d have thought that whispering pines and rustling palms would have had such an effect?

Or, perhaps it was the other woman I was seeing who worked in the same bar. They hated each other’s guts, but obviously they still talked.

Women — can’t live with ’em, and can’t live without ’em.

Men — stupid.

Anyway, that’s the motel I was thinking about when I blurted out the whispering palms in obvious error. It’s closed now, of course, and has been for a very long time.

Rest areas across the prairies

If you thought public rest areas across northern Ontario were just plain silly, you shouldn’t complain, because at least you had a tree to hide behind. Or a snowplow turnaround to litter with your urine deposit.

If only it were so simple on the wind-swept prairie!

It starts on the eastern Manitoba border with Ontario, and ends on the western Manitoba border with Saskatchewan. Two welcome centers, complete with facilities for those who have needs. Open only in the summertime.

That’s it!

Nada. Nothing. Rien.

Piss at your leisure, boys and girls.

Anywhere. Any time. Any place.

Just don’t expect ground cover.

On into Saskatchewan, see above. It’s the same.

Ditto with Alberta.

Oh, sure, there are some brown-signed rest areas, some with porta-potties, to be sure. But by the time you speed by the tiny brown sign announcing same, it’s too late, and you can’t get turned around on the four-lane to hit them, so to speak.

I wonder if the colour of the sign is reflective of how much importance the powers-that-be give to restroom facilities.

Perhaps they don’t give a shit.