Saturday, 23 June 2012
One of JC's passions, in addition to old cars, airplanes, tractors, trucks and just about anything else mechanical (he even rode a mechanical bull more than once), was motorcyles. Just about anything with two wheels (one fore and one aft preferably) would qualify but his preferred ride in that category was a larger road bike. During his single years he put as many as sixteen thousand miles a year on his beloved Harley Davidson, riding to many different places like the heartland of the United States, both coasts, Sturgis, in South Dakota where the annual Black Hills Motorcycle Classic takes place, and even numerous day trips to East Glacier in Montana.
Yes, one could say that he was well-traveled and he loved his motorcycle and the circle of friends he had made while on two wheels but life sometimes has a way of diminishing some passions.
JC settled down and married and his new partner didn't share his passion for mechanical things, motorcycles included (or anything else for that he liked for that matter). Consequently that limited JC to the occasional day trip and even those became less frequent. So many times the bike simply languished in the garage, forlorn and almost forgotten.
JC's (then) wife wanted an RV, a recreational vehicle, or sometimes referred to as a travel trailer so they could see some country in style and camp every night in the warm heated comfort of that home away from home. She referred to it as roughing it although JC was a little bit cynical. 'Yeah, just turn on that electric blanket and sleep like a --teenager!
Well that term: sleeping like a baby, was an oxymoron according to JC as it was his experience that babies didn't sleep that well. However teenagers can sleep all night, throughout the next day and well into the afternoon, especially when they had work to do; they can sleep through a hurricane.
But that's a soapbox that JC will get up on in another story...
Anyways, JC and spouse looked at RVs/travel trailers and decided what they might want--more like she decided what they might want. Of course JC put up a brave argument against said trailer citing things like: they didn't need it, they had no place to store it, and the ultimate: we can't afford it. But after some choice words, coercion and outright demands, he finally softened up and said that he'd put his motorcycle up for sale. If it sold then they'd buy that trailer and go on those 'dream' vacations.
So, JC put his bike in the paper, listing it for what he thought was an outrageous price. Like, who in his right mind would pay $10,000.00 for a seventeen year old Harley Davidson Shovelhead with 72,000 miles on it? If the truth be known, he didn't want to sell it at all.
It sold practically the first night; JC was heartbroken!
Nonetheless they bought that RV then rented a site at Forty Mile Lake where, with the exception of three of those 'dream vacations' elsewhere, they parked the trailer for the summer.
Sure, it was a nice break. Take off after work on Friday night, get out to the lake in time to make supper, visit the neighbors around the campfire, then retreat into the quiet warmth of the trailer to read or watch TV...
Yeah, just turn on that electric blanket...
For three years they rented that spot at the lake, made nice, and happy, and all was well... That is until the day when the other half decided that she no longer wanted to be the other half; opting instead to add a prefix to the title to become the Ex-other half. In short she asked him for a divorce and JC, barely able to contain the thrill of hearing that, perpetrated said divorce and the two of them lived happily everafter--in their own separate worlds.
Did you know that prayers really are answered..?
Now I have to back up a bit here and say that JC didn't hold any animosity toward his ex; they had both made wrong decisions and there was only one thing they could do. And they did it. And to this day they are on speaking terms.
In short JC would joke that he sold his bike to buy an RV, then sold the RV to buy a divorce. In hindsight he'd rather have kept the bike and forgot about everything after that, especially the marriage and the RV.
They say that cannibals and sharks tend to avoid divorced people because of the bitter taste. Well, JC wasn't down on love, or even bitter over his major disaster; in fact he was optimistic that his permanent destiny was just around the corner. After all he'd just spent fifteen years in hell and thought he deserved a little bit of heaven. Of course he gave himself a year which was enough time to clear away the smoke before he put out his mugshot for all (available women) to see.
Enter Round Two and JC's best Better Half.
JC and Mattie met on the Internet and soon became quite an item. They married after less than a year of courtship but they were convinced that it was the right thing to do and they have been going strong ever since.
But even in the best of times there comes a longing for something that was lost somewhere in the past. For JC it was to be back in the wind, riding a motorcycle down a two-lane blacktop with a bunch of good people to a destination that only revealed itself when it was time to stop (hindsight reminded him that oftentimes finding a latrine was sufficient for a stop). Of course he'd settle for a brief ride just to remind himself of some happier times.
Now JC had sold his bike but he didn't sell any of his gear. He kept his saddlebags, his tool kit, his riding gloves, his helmets, even his rain suit (for all the good that would do him now). And yes, he kept his black leather riding jacket complete with all the zippers, traces of bug splatter, road grime and sweat.
While JC and Mattie were courting, Mattie invited him to a 50s dance in Calgary, an invitation that JC readily accepted despite the fact that he didn't have a clue how to dance. JC had just the right outfit to dazzle everyone else there; he had a white T-shirt that he rolled a small cardboard carton into one of the sleeves to give the impression that he had a pack of smokes (it seems to me that in reality that small carton contained Ex-lax or Imodium), blue jeans with the cuffs rolled up, heavy black riding boots, bad-ass gloves (with the finger tips missing), Joe Cool sunglasses and of course, his black leather jacket (somewhat cleaned up by now). With his hair slicked back into a duck tail, he was ready to challenge even the Fonz.
Well, he must have done something right because he received the top greaser award.
And he still couldn't dance.
I might add that JC and Mattie attended another 50s party in Taber a year later where they were crowned the Top Greaser Couple. Maybe the others attending would've had a better chance if they had actually dressed up. Like, white T-shirt, blue jeans, poodle skirt (for her), red lipstick (ditto).
One of the couples did ride out from Taber on their Harley Davidson which served to rekindle that desire to go for a bike ride. But that ache would still have to go unsatisfied for two more years. There would be light at the end of the tunnel, however, and that would be through JC's new brother in law.
Harley Davidson Motorcyle Company started a Demo-Ride program where, on a certain date, anyone with a valid motorcycle operator's license was invited to the local dealership to test ride the latest models. JC heard the news and Mattie immediately marked the date on the calendar just in case JC forgot. And when that special day rolled around JC began to gather all his necessary equipment.
Heavy riding boots, gloves, Joe Cool sunglasses, jacket, helmet... Well, his usual helmet was more than a little worse for wear. It was a Bell stock car helmet that JC purchased back in '68. Once metallic red, it was now riddled with numerous scrapes and dings from falling off the bike and bouncing on the pavement more than a few times (JC hated wearing a helmet at any time and used it only when he was traveling in a region--like Alberta--where donning it was mandatory; otherwise said helmet was tied to his back packs). JC decided not to use that one, opting instead for the Cue Ball White patrolman's helmet that still had it's DOT sticker in place.
Mattie and Kammi had a good laugh over that one.
It was a chilly day so JC donned a sweatshirt that he'd picked up at the Harley shop in Pomona, California back in '91 but had not worn it since then as it was two sizes too big. Strangely enough it now fit him perfectly.
It must have shrunk while hanging in the closet. Clothes do that, you know...
He put on his boots, jacket, gloves and bandana then decided to bundle up to ensure that everything was in good enough shape to go for a bike ride. And that was when JC noticed that something was seriously wrong.
He went to zip up his jacket only to find that it now had a gap at least three inches wide in the front. There was no way he could pull that jacket in close enough to even hope to engage the zipper; he'd have to use a come-along winch.
The jacket had shrunk; that was all there was to it. Pay no nevermind to the fact that the waist on his pants had shrunk considerably too, and once when a 32 waist was just fine, it now took a 36 to make ends meet.
They were just making pants smaller these days. And what did I sat about that sweatshirt being too big, until recently?
Well, if the girls laughed at the helmet, you should've seen them this time. I'd have to say that comedienne, Jeannie Robertson said it best when she talked about laughing so hard her water broke, and she wasn't pregnant. The same could be said for the girls.
To make a long story short, JC attended the ride and rode a couple of new motorcycles. And he had the time of his life. But he had to resort to an extra bandana and his Stormrider denim jacket to complete his ensemble.
That jacket had to have shrunk; it used to fit him like a sack. But then, being a happier state of mind and thus more relaxed tends to contribute to the shrinkage of one's wardrobe.