Dan's and Carol Ann's Eastern Washington Adventure.

The short version:

We're back and everything is all right.

The long version:

Carol Anne and I were cruising South on 97, about 15 miles past the sign that read no services for 50 miles, when the back tire on The Priest blew out. The bike eased over to the side without any real trouble. Thankfully we had just come out of a hilly turny stretch onto smooth straight pavement. We were cooking along at about 90-95 mph.

We locked our helmets on the bike and dropped our raingear alongside it before thumbing for a ride back into Toppenish. Carol Anne's thumb quickly proved to be the most appealing. While I held the coats she flagged down a car of funeral goers who cheerily offered to transport us to the next town. Replete with air conditioning and jokes of questionable taste this gracious older couple being driven by their daughter, ferried us across the desert to the Shell station in Toppenish.

Here we held up for the next hour, making fruitless phone calls to every tire dealer and motorcycle shop we could find in the yellow pages, and chatting up friendly bikers as they stopped in for fuel. Finally we raised a tow truck driver who was amenable to taking us back to the bike with an armload of Fix-a-flat to try, with the understanding that if that failed he would tow us back to Yakima. We've got about 30 min to wait for the tow truck to make the drive down from Yakima, so I use this lull in the action as an opportunity to drain the ATM of available funds. (Cash in hand proves to be worth all the combined birds in the scrub brush for several counties, later on.)

Soon enough, Dale, our cracker savior, whisks us away from our air-conditioned Shell station in his perfectly serviceable, if a bit dingy, flat-bed truck. Back on the scene I ineptly destroy the nozzle on the first bottle of Fix-a-flat. After futilely blowing through the other two bottles (most of it just sputtered out between the sidewall of the tire and the rim - duh), we hoisted The Priest up on the truck and strapped it down - not without significant out-loud speculation on the part of our driver as to the character of the company that refused to sponsor better quality straps.

We had a long ride back into Yakima, which provided us with lots of time to discuss our repair plans, as well as figure out where we were gonna stay, and establish that Dale had been off drugs and alcohol for the past two years. Our best bet seemed to be to tow us to the hotel across the street from the Harley dealer, spend two nights, then on Monday morning, roll the bike across the street to get it serviced. And hope they could get a replacement tire quickly. Heh. heh.

Along the way, it occurred to Dale that he knew a guy who knew a guy who had a Harley shop in his garage, and maybe he could help us out. It seemed like a long shot, but he made a few phone calls as we bounced along the highway, and finally said it would be OK if we brought a Honda to this guy's shop.

About 6 or 630 pm Saturday afternoon, we pull into Jerry's (Of J&D's American Cycle Repair) driveway. Carol Anne and I waited while our intrepid driver made sure this would still be OK. Soon the mechanic, Jerry himself, appeared and said we could give it a shot if we would like. Would we like?! Good God, we would like. You mean there's a chance we won't have to spend the next 2-5 days stranded in Yakima!? We like!

A couple things I didn't know about Harley Davidson motorcycles: they use SAE (non-metric) hardware and they have inner tube tires. Fortunately, Jerry had the metric wrenches necessary to get the wheel off (and a swell lift to hoist up the bike by the frame since The Priest has no center stand), but he had no tire patching technology since he doesn't ordinarily deal with tubeless tires. He pulled me aside to suggest, "If it's OK with you, my ol' lady could drive your ol' lady to K-mart to get the patch for your tire, and we can slap it on."

Thankfully, Carol Anne was, at least outwardly, giddy about having reached "ol lady" status so young in her lifetime.

Donna, Jerry's ol' lady, drives me and my ol' lady to Kmart. Not being one to let a good beer buzz stop her, Donna safely navigates the roads despite our view through the whitewashed windshield of the little p/u truck being completely opaque as we drive 3 or 4 miles straight into the setting sun.

Kmart has two different tire patching kits! The return to J&D's is uneventful but replete with stories from the punchy and buzzing Donna about how various misfits and drunken whores have been coming by their place at all hours since they opened this shop. We tried not to take her anecdotes personally, as she seemed in good spirits despite the hard times they had obviously lived through so far.

Meanwhile, many miles away, Aquaman summoned a heard of sea anemone to dispatch the evils of anti-Japanese bike energy from the small town Harley shop.

Upon our triumphant return, Jerry is quick to patch the tire, and then begins the slow arduous effort towards getting the sidewalls of the tire to hop up on the damn bead of the rim. My gracious ol' lady's patience is wearing thin as the evening wears on, but she doesn't let on. Donna offers us fried (oh yeah, that's the good stuff) hot-dogs. While on the phone with Marcus, there is a loud bang! immediately followed by a second gun shot sounding bang. Either something really glorious or something really very baaad has happened. Ta-da! The patched tire sits squarely upon the rim. "Just needed more lube and more pressure", commented Jerry.

There was much w00ting in my geekly heart.

So how much do I owe you for all this? "Well, on a regular day, I'd say thirty dollars.."

But on a Saturday night, with nonstandard problems? "I'd say fifty bucks."

We left them a hefty tip and the kind old couple, arms around each other, watched us ride off into the night. Boy, did dinner at the Shari's next door to the Quality Inn taste fine. And the waiter even gave Carol Anne a complimentary slice of cherry pie ala mode.


PS. Oh yeah, and the tow driver only charged me $80 cash for what otherwise woulda been a $200+ tow. Lucky lucky me. Thank you, Aquaman.

PPS. The tire patch held the 400+ miles home (the long way) the next day. w00t!


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