The new Disneyland

June 24, 2021

Road hard.

Americans are hewing to the Gospel of Willie Nelson:

On the road again
Goin’ places that I’ve never been
Seein’ things that I may never see again
And I can’t wait to get on the road again

The New York Times says tracking indicates that mountain-resort bookings are off the charts, well ahead of even last year’s record-shattering level.

Hotel rooms cost more, and so does go-juice for the family tank. Planning to camp? Do you have a reservation, m’sieur? Non? Please ’ave a seat in your Buick and I’ll see if we can pencil you in for, oh, let’s say … October. October 2022. Your bicycle should be available by then as well.

On the edge, back in the early Oughts. Photo: Merrill Oliver

I’m not immune to this sort of questing, especially since I’ve been up on blocks in Bernalillo County since fall 2019.

A couple old comrades recently invited me to join them for a spot of biking and hiking around Truckee, Calif., as in days of yore, but I couldn’t warm up (ho ho ho) to the idea of driving a thousand miles each way in a 17-year-old Subie through a series of forest fires. Visit colorful Flaming Rock! Retardant drops every hour on the hour!

So I scoped out a few getaways a little closer to home, quiet locales without zip lines, mountain coasters, or via ferratas, and ho-ly shit, no thank you, please.

Your modern highwayman is not an armed robber ahorseback bellowing “Stand and deliver!” but rather an innkeeper telling you your pitiful pile of Hilton points won’t make the nut here, Sonny Jim. You think Arizona was smokin’? Wait ’til you see what we do to your Visa card.

Samey same at campsites at any location with an elevation where daytime highs stall out in the double digits. Wanna pitch a tent? Thumb up some porn on your smartphone, Johnny Muir, our dirt is all spoken for. And you couldn’t afford it anyway.

The amusing part of the NYT piece is about how all these destinations hope to teach tourists how to eschew outlandish dickishness, which is a primary characteristic of the meandering jagoff. Pivoting from tourism promotion to tourism management, as The Colorado Sun puts it.

Hee, and also haw. You won’t have to drive to Tombstone to see the O.K. Corral, podnah. The same salt-of-the-earth types who were doing it hand to hand in the Dollar Store over the last jumbo pack of Charmin will be drawing down on each other — and the hired hands — at overloaded campsite pit toilets, chairlifts, and undistinguished chain eateries from coast to coast.

Being up on blocks in Bernalillo County suddenly doesn’t sound all that bad.

DUI yi yi

June 21, 2021

Imagine my surprise. The douchenozzle who drove his Ford pick-’em-up into the masters race at Bike the Bluff in Arizona apparently has a history of overly happy motoring, among other things, reports The Associated Press.

Courtesy Arizona Department of Corrections.

Shawn Michael Chock, 35, has quite the rap sheet, according to Maricopa County’s online records. Some gentle soul matching his name and age has been fucking up like a champ since 2007: Aggravated assault, disorderly conduct with a weapon, three DUI-related charges, shoplifting, and violating parole, before finally doing a year and a half in the stripey hole beginning in May 2013.

Maybe he wanted to go back? Some people like it in the joint, I hear. I didn’t care for my one overnight stay in Denver City-County, but there’s no accounting for taste. Could be he’s the Aryan Brotherhood’s version of the Brown Truck Dude and got the word that his kindred needed a buttload of one thing or another.

“Just get your ass in here, Shawn, we don’t care how. Earl needs a cellphone.”

Perhaps he wanted to appeal his case to St. Peter? Didn’t quite make it to the Pearly Gates, did he? But then that Ford of his was full of bike parts and bullet holes and neither it nor Shawn was rolling all that well there at the end.

Meanwhile, we have a half-dozen cyclists in various hospitals around the Southwest who probably would like to know why the hell this had to happen to them. We’ll all know more than we care to before long, I expect.

Fuelishness

June 19, 2021

Keep on (not) truckin’. Photo courtesy Groendyke Transport

Here’s a fun story. My man Hal was homeward bound after a track meet in Lakewood and lo and behold, there was no gasoline to be found in either Florence or Weirdcliffe.

There’s no shortage of gasoline. But there is a shortage of tank-truck drivers, thanks in part to The Bug® and decisions made around same. And we two old newspapermen, to our everlasting shame, had to get the deets from (choke) the TV stations’ websites.

KRDO had the best piece, quoting spokespeople from AAA, the National Tank Truck Carriers, and Groendyke Transport.

Something like a quarter of tank trucks were parked in April due to a lack of qualified drivers, sez the NTTC. Older drivers decided to retire, sez Groendyke. And driver schools shut down, which kept new drivers from getting certified.

And if Circle K can’t fill its tanks, well … neither can you, Skeezix.

AAA Colorado is urging motorists not to panic-buy gasoline the way they did toilet paper. Yeah, good luck with that. They’ll be panic-buying both because right now they’re out of gas and shitting themselves.

The Deuce of Clubs is not always a winner

June 19, 2021

Clubbed.

Here’s another strong argument for staying indoors and playing your game of choice under the Fedders window unit.

Some shitbird in a Ford Super Duty drove into the masters 55+ category at the Arizona state road championships this morning in Show Low, Ariz.

According to various media reports the driver took out at least six racers, then fled the scene; the John Laws caught up with him and busted a cap in his ass. Everyone appears to be alive, but hospitalized; four cyclists and the driver are in critical condition, according to the Arizona Republic.

Irony of ironies: The Bike the Bluff race is sponsored by Show Low Ford.

The White Mountain Independent has a photo that will take a few years off the lives of anyone who rides the roads.

Don’t blame the dogs (or the cats)

June 19, 2021

The weather widget hits that C-note again.

Summer doesn’t officially arrive until tomorrow, but I’m already pretty much over it.

This sweaty conga line of triple-digit temps is starting to remind me of summers on Randolph AFB outside San Antonio. Your options were the swimming pool or some indoor sport, like Monopoly under the Fedders window unit. Venture outdoors for the usual boyish hijinks and you risked sinking into the asphalt like a Pleistocene mammoth stumbling into the La Brea tar pits.

Eventually we’d flee by car to Sioux City, Iowa, to visit my maternal grandmother. This was not an upgrade.

Our neighbors have been scurrying off to the high country on weekends to camp or VRBO it for a couple days, take five from the heat.

We’ve been sticking it out for a variety of perfectly unsatisfactory reasons. For instance, rather than join me in blissful sloth and torpor, Herself persists in gainful employment. Extra-credit tasks are assigned regularly by Herself the Elder, lest the devil find work for her daughter’s rarely idle hands. And finally, Miss Mia Sopaipilla is not an agreeable travel companion. The sounds she emits in a moving vehicle make a Marjorie Taylor Greene screed sound like the “Ave Maria.”

But we can’t blame this on the cat. Even the dogs are out of bounds, according to Ken Layne over at Desert Oracle Radio.

“Take the dog out at 8 o’clock and it’s still 100 degrees. The dog’s looking at me like, ‘What did you do?’ And I say, ‘Look, I did not do it.’ But of course I did; my species, anyway. The dogs just went along for the ride. It would be nice to blame them. ‘You’re the one who always wanted to get in the car and stick your head out the window when the A/C was on.’ But it’s not their fault.”

Pull it, sir

June 16, 2021

Luck of the draw.

Well, I didn’t win the Pulitzer for cartooning again this year.

But neither did anyone else.

Back to the ol’ drawing board, everyone!

R.I.P., Harris Cyclery

June 13, 2021

Sheldon Brown lives on at his eponymous website.

Harris Cyclery — yes, that Harris Cyclery, the place where the legendary Sheldon Brown served the cycling public — is no more.

I stumbled across the news while scanning Bicycle Retailer‘s Twitter feed (I hate to admit it, but occasionally Twitter actually serves a purpose). The folks at road.cc fear for Sheldon’s voluminous website as the shop closes its doors.

As a ham-handed, thumb-fingered dolt, I’ve relied on Sheldon’s how-to archives to solve many a problem that otherwise might cause actual mechanics to laugh at me for all the wrong reasons. It would be a tragedy of cosmic proportions if this treasure trove were to vanish into the dim mists of velo-history.

Road.cc is trying to reach Sheldon’s people for the deets. Here’s hoping they plan to survive yet another sad passing.

Just deserts

June 12, 2021

Even the cacti are hunting shade.

“Just put a chair underneath the swamp cooler and deal with it all like a pro.”“When Everything Goes Wrong,” Ken Layne, Desert Oracle Radio

Gonna be a hot one — or two, or three, or four, or more — throughout the desert Southwest.

Especially out there in Desert Oracle country, where Ken Layne chats with author Claire Nelson about the time when her day hike suddenly got too hot to handle.

Here in the Duke City I’ve finally bowed to the elements and switched the Honeywells from “heat” to “cool,” because we’ve been having too much of the one and not nearly enough of the other.

And it will only get hotter. The National Weather Service predicts high temperatures of 5 to 15 degrees above normal for about a week (!) as a strong high-pressure system blisters New Mexico like a chile on the grill.

We didn’t need no steekeeng air conditioning back in Bibleburg. Nobody made us move to the upper edge of the Chihuahuan Desert. We knew it was wrong, but we did it anyway.

And whaddaya wanna bet one or both of us goes out onto the sunbaked trails to get the ol’ heart rate up for a while? No brain, no pain. If you don’t hear from me for a couple days call the Duke City trash collectors. I’ll be that bag of bones under the prickly pear somewhere in the Sandia Foothills Open Space.

Bloody hell

June 11, 2021

Jordan Alexander Barson. | Photo courtesy Mohave County Sheriff’s Office

Remember this fine fellow? Charged with taking out a group ride on U.S. 95 in Nevada, killing five, injuring four?

If Jordan Alexander Barson is a good boy — that means no more running over cyclists while crazed on meth, mister! — he can be paroled after serving just 10 years of the 40-year sentence he received on Wednesday.

So says defense attorney Damian Sheets, anyway. District Attorney Steven B. Wolfson claims Barson will have to do at least 16 years in the Graybar Hotel.

But Wolfson and Sheets agree that the Nevada Highway Patrol intercoursed the penguin on the blood draw; the DA described it as “less than perfect investigative work,” while the defense called it a violation of Barson’s rights.

The upshot was a deal that saw Barson cop to just two counts of DUI resulting in death.

Donna Trauger, whose husband, Tom, was among the dead, got right down to cases. She accused the stateys of “embarrassing negligence” and “victim-blaming,” and said that “justice was not served.”

The NHP had no comment. Hell, I’m nearly speechless myself. There was a retired cop on this ride — Michael Anderson, who did 22 years with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department — and you’d think that if the system worked for anyone it would work for an ex-cop and his friends.

“We got it, Mike. This guy is gonna gonna do a century over this.”

Nope. Sixteen years. Unless he runs over a trusty with a laundry cart or something.

A wee misinterpretation

June 10, 2021

“Oopsie.”

Well, it sure is shaping up to be an interesting summer.

Lake Foul is a couple quarts away from becoming a pump track. Lake Merde, a skatepark. And we have to boil the air before we can breathe it.

Good times. Maybe not.

It seems we took God literally when She said: “Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

Now I can envision Her muttering: “You write ’em books and all they do is chew on the covers. You see anything in there about Phoenix, Las Vegas, or California? You do not. Because I was writing the Bible, not ‘The Beverly Hillbillies.’

“I send you my kid and Ed Abbey and this is the thanks I get? I hope you meshuggeners like drinking your wee-wee. Straight, no chaser.”