Forest fires and bikers

I’ve been watching the KTLA online feed of the North fire. The fire crossed the 15 near the Cajon Pass and is traveling unhindered on its way. The wind funnels up the pass and drops down onto the flat. I don’t think it will bode well for any homes in its path.

In another life well-lived, I spent 4,000 hours of helicopter flight time on forest fires in northern Canada. A lot of it came back to me in a huge rush while watching the feed. I had to load a mapping program to follow the progress of the news helicopters as they patrolled the perimeter with eyes high in the sky. The resolution of the camera from 8,500 feet is phenomenal.

There were no DC-10 airtankers back in the old days.

But I digress.

I couldn’t resist centering the map over a former favorite watering hole.

The usual suspects were in Fontana at a biker rally. One p.m. (that’s right, one in the afternoon) came and went, and, being the irresponsible, thirsty louts we were, we saddled up and headed for the 10. At the 215 we turned south and pulled off at La Cadena. For the uninitiated, it’s the home of the Club 215, a peeler bar renowned for nothing in particular but for being two stories high, with a balcony.

It was also on the way home, if you took the slight detour I outlined.

We liked the place because we could get out in the fresh air, wander around, and watch the sights – of which there aren’t many in Coulton. The girls liked it, too. Since we were the only ones in the club at that early hour, they wandered in and out to chat. I won’t go into details, but by early evening, it was long past time to herd the lads home.

I knew that, because beer bottles began floating down from the second story balcony to explode in the parking lot. Seeing as I was the only illegal in the club (I checked – there were no Canadian girls performing), and being of sound mind, I made an informed decision.

It was time to roll.

With the able assistance of a couple of the ladies, we managed to get the boys down the stairs without anyone falling down. Out in the parking lot, it was an entirely different story.

Tommy threw a leg over his Sporty, collapsed the kickstand, put both feet on the pegs, and headed on his way, eager to be in the wind. The problem was, he hadn’t bothered to light the fire. He promptly fell over with both feet on the pegs while still gripping the bars.

Much laughter ensued.

Eventually, we managed to get Tommy untangled and out from under his Sporty. We made sure to keep him on the bike as we helped him up. Once we got him straight and level, I started the engine, put it in gear, and slapped him on the back.

Away he wobbled.

It was a simple matter to head south on the 215, hit the 60 at Box Springs, and meander on down the road on the 10 to the 62 turnoff. I got to ride sweep to clean up the debris on the way home.

It was an uneventful ride on a normal California day under sunshine and blue sky.

I miss it sometimes, but not often, now.

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.

Dick Drost – Oddity

Allow me to reminisce for a moment, if you will…

I’m covering some old territory here when I used to ride south to Florida in the early 80s. I remember stopping on the east side of Chicago for gas. I asked the attendant (yes, they had gas jockeys back then) for a quick place to eat. He told me about this truck stop down the road on the 65, just off of U.S. 10, called Naked City. Of course, I just had to check it out. It was in the middle of a nudist club, and the staff were members of the club. It wasn’t anything special, other than an oddity. The owner of the place, Dick Drost, was later charged with exploiting children in California.

Naked City closed in 1986.

Dick Drost, former owner of a Roselawn, Illinois nudist camp called Naked City (previously known as Zoro Nudist Camp), promoter of Mr. and Miss Nude Teeny Bopper Universe Pageants, and proprietor of Naked City West in Southern California was booked on 5 felony and 4 misdemeanors charges on April 7, 1990 in Riverside, California. — Naked City’s Dick Drost

Marked for life

It was a Saturday and I was stopped in Grand Forks taking a break. Heat and distance had tired me out, so I was sitting in the shade at a gas’n’go drinking some water to rehydrate. I don’t know how many miles were behind me.

Another hundred and a half and I’d be home.

I watched her pull up to the air pump in front of me in her beater. The right front tire was low and needed air. The windows were rolled down. Obviously the a/c wasn’t doing its duty – if it was even working.

I watched her as she got out. She was young – maybe early- to mid-twenties at the most. Pretty, too. And with dark hair – my nemesis. She was wearing a white blouse with the sleeves rolled up to just under her elbows. Dark slacks. Well-worn brown shoes. Probably on her way to work as a bartender or a waiter.

In her haste to get air for the tire I think she forgot about those rolled-up sleeves.

It looked like she was having some difficulty getting the tire to take air, so I ambled over and offered to help. She explained that she was on her way to a wedding reception and was already late.

I took the air hose from her and as she stood up, I saw the track marks on her arms. They were healed over and scarred – definitely not fresh. Out of the corner of my eye I could see that she was watching me notice them.

I looked up at her.

“Are you all right?” I asked.

“I am now,” was her reply.