Archive for the ‘Automobiles’ Category

Car camping

June 24, 2020

My lodging for Interbike 1999. While I was en route, anyway.

Two distinctly different takes on the ancient and honorable practice of kipping in the car, the first from Adventure Journal and the second from NPR.

I’ve spent many a night racked out in my rides, starting with a 1974 Datsun pickup that had an aluminum topper. The two ’83 Toyota longbeds were an upgrade (more space for me and the dog(s). The ’98 Tacoma? A little less so; that truck was too pretty for stealth camping.

One of the best ever was Herself’s Subaru Legacy Brighton wagon, acquired sometime in the mid-Nineties. Fast, decent fuel economy, AWD, long enough for a 6-footer to sleep in, and no icy water dripping on the sleeping bag on rainy/snowy nights (all truck toppers leak eventually, especially if you bounce them along the indifferently maintained dirt roads of Crusty County for a few years).

Of course, the best thing about kipping in all these vehicles was the certainty that it was both temporary and voluntary. Even a Motel 666 in Dipstick, Idaho, looks pretty good after a couple-three nights spent roadside in your ride.

Charge!

May 22, 2020

This teensy little sumbitch got me back on four wheels after a few hours plugged into a wall socket (the four-wheeler, not me).

Almost forgot: Sue Baroo the Fearsome Furster is back on the road after a few hours hooked to the Schumacher SC1301 Fully Automatic Battery Charger.

So, yay, etc.

I must’ve triggered one of the 2,485,397 interior convenience lights somehow. When you only fire up the four-wheeler every couple of weeks this can pose a problem re: infernal combustion and the application thereof.

Happily, the SC1301 was on sale at O’Reilly, so with all the moneys I saved I added some jumper cables to the order.

Even so, I think I may start using bicycles and the Vespa for errands more often, because (a) I really don’t enjoy driving in Albuquerque all that much, and (2) I rarely venture far from home in this, the Year of the Plague. So why not make my outings more funner?

Assault by battery

May 19, 2020

Guess which one starts?

Today was grocery day. I was armed with a rather extensive shopping list, my last trip having been a short one to the Wholeazon Amafoods to collect a few delicacies for our 30th anniversary dinner.

That list got edited more than somewhat when I slid behind the wheel of the Fearsome Furster, turned the key, and … bupkis.

Not a slow crank. Nary a whir, click, or grind. Fuck-all, is what. Dead silence.

The trusty Wald basket shifts easily from bike to scooter. I use toe straps to cinch it down.

Like the rest of us, ol’ Sue Baroo has been enjoying some extended downtime in the Year of the Plague. She gets out about every two weeks for a grocery run.

But our last voyage was just a week ago, so I can only assume I managed to trigger some pain-in-the-ass interior light that failed to catch my eye. The battery is fairly new. Newer than the car, anyway.

But plenty of things are. This beast dates back to the last dipshit fool we had in the White House.

“Well, hell,” sez I. “What else we got in this garage here?”

Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s Bike Month. I should’ve manned up and turned one of the touring bikes into a grocery cart. It’s not as though we lack for racks and sacks around here.

But I took the easy way out. Pulled the Wald basket off the Soma Double Cross, strapped it to the rear rack on the Vespa, and putt-putted over to the Sprouts with a messenger bag slung over one shoulder.

The lack of cargo capacity means no buttermilk biscuits for breakfast. But we all have our crosses to bear, amirite?

Pelotonnage

May 6, 2020

The actual outdoors. No instructors shouting at you. Free of charge.

I’m having trouble fitting into The New Weird Order.

The idea of spending $2,245 for a Peloton bike plus $39 per month for online classes*, so I can stay fit for … for. …

For what, exactly?

“Enjoying” a long and healthy life spent indoors, never more than a few steps from a screen?

I guess if the auto industry gets another bailout, as seems likely, these folks — the ones with all the money, anyway — will be able to have their “outside” and their screens at the same time.

* Incidentally, if you already own a bike, and you must do your cycling indoors, you can spend a few hundy on a stationary trainer or a set of rollers and join the free community of voices in your head.

A van, down by the river

April 13, 2020

“Down by the river … I parked my Chevy. …”

You (OK, I) might have been thinking to yourself (or myself): “Man, a van, down by the river. That would be the thing right about now. Fresh air, solitude, no cootie-carrying COVID Charlies popping in and out, sneezing on everything. Get tired of this place, move to that place. Living the dream, baby.”

Not so much, it seems. Kylie Mohr chatted up a few van-life types and found that this livin’ off the road is gettin’ kinda old given current conditions.

Says full-time van-lifer Matthew Tufts:

“While thinking I’m living quite independently, I’m actually reliant on far more public places than the person with a home who fulfills a lot of those little daily tasks and activities from their residence. It sounds idyllic to weather this storm in rural locales and on the road, as if mobile living makes you immune to the issues currently plaguing most of society. But in reality, living on the road isn’t in the best interest of the greater population. …”

Happily, as in other corners of society, the nomads are taking care of each other, providing parking spaces, spare rooms, even apartments. Says one good Samaritan, Aileen Gardner:

“I definitely feel like we had a responsibility to take care of the people who are currently living on the road. The van-life community is honestly half the reason why people do van life. We take care of each other.”

The Monitor in the Merrimack

February 11, 2020

C’mon. When you’re staring at this much screen you want a box of popcorn, a big ol’ soda, and a preview of coming attractions that does not include the honking 18-wheeler into whose lane you have strayed.

I have an ironclad disagreement with the notion of a multiplex in motion.

My argument is a simple one: If you want to drive, get an automobile. If you want to text, tweet, phone, Facebook, Instagram, eat, drink, smoke, shoot, or stream anything other than your own bad self down the road, why, get a sofa and some fixed location to put it in.

Our discussion of the Escalade Multiplex with its 38 inches of curving OLED real estate caused me to remember an earlier screed on this very topic, from the pages of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News circa 2014. For a change I cited sources other than the voices in my head, though of course they too were interviewed at length.

Rather than simply reprint the column — c’est ennuyeux! — I barked it into the old Shure SM58 and presto! Yes, yes, yes, out popped another episode of Radio Free Dogpatch!

Too late for this year’s Pulitzer for Audio Reporting, but hey, there’s always next year, amirite? Or maybe 2024, when the sonofabitch will be 10 years old and journalistic standards may have declined even further, perhaps to my level.

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with a Shure SM58 microphone and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder, then edited in Apple’s GarageBand on the 13-inch 2014 MacBook Pro. Post-production voodoo by Auphonic. The background music is “Well Oiled Machine” from Zapsplat. Sound effects from Apple’s iMovie effects bin and Your Humble Narrator.

Road-rager found guilty

January 29, 2020

Who says there’s no such thing as good news?

A jury in Fanta Se has convicted Jacob D. Brown of Moriarty in a March 2018 road-rage incident that left three cyclists with broken bones after he first exchanged words with, then backed his vehicle into, a group of riders.

Sheriff’s deputies took Brown into custody following the verdict. He could be looking at more than four and a half years in the hoosegow when he faces sentencing next month.

Props to everyone who fought for this victory over senseless violence, nearly two years in the making. Let’s hope it sends a message to anyone else who thinks they own the road along with the automobile.

A spokesman for Seniors on Bikes told The New Mexican via email: ““We are thankful that Santa Fe citizens are supportive of the rule of the rule of law and that cyclists are not considered targets on our roads. We hope everyone stays safe: motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.”

Get outa my Waymo(fo)

January 23, 2020

Phantom 309 gets a phantom Big Joe.

Oh, good. Waymo is bringing its self-driving minivans and trucks to New Mexico.

The Duke City’s drivers can’t wait to take their hands off the wheel for real. Then they won’t have to steer with their knees while texting, smoking meth, swigging hooch, spitting out the fire in their laps (spilled hooch and pipe sparks), and shooting at the punk-ass bitch who gave them the side-eye at the last stop light they ran.

I don’t know much about ART, but. …

December 5, 2019

Once again, tragedy strikes Albuquerque.

Albuquerque Rapid Transit has been on the road less than a week, and already three of its 20 buses have been involved in collisions that left two of them knocked out of service and in need of repairs.

All three crashes occurred while motorists were attempting left turns. In two incidents the motorists apparently mistook the bus lane for a left-turn lane, because that’s what it would be pretty much anywhere other than ART’s nine-mile route down the center of Central Avenue.

That there was a giant garishly colored bus in the way did not deter the motorists from attempting to seize the lane. Burqueños, who get their driver’s licenses for free with their first six-pack of convenience-store lager, know that in the Duke City the first driver to acknowledge another vehicle’s presence surrenders the right of way. Plus, you take your eyes off your phone, you risk missing a text.

It’s not clear whether any of the drivers spilled their beers.

‘It’s stupid not to bike.’

November 9, 2019

Grandpa John whiled away his retirement making miniature pianos, replicas of JFK’s rocker, and other lovely bits of woodwork instead of riding a bicycle. For transportation he preferred a stately maroon Cadillac with a cream interior.

I don’t care to live in Copenhagen. The climate seems ill-suited to a worshipper of Tonatiuh who knows why his bog-trotting, ring-kissing, pub-crawling ancestors invented the uisce beatha.

My stepgrandfather on my mother’s side was a Dane, but he didn’t want to live in Copenhagen either. He lived in Sioux City, Iowa, where he was retired from the railroad and whiled away the hours drinking beer and smoking cigars, maintaining a medium-heavy vegetable garden in the back yard, and making lovely bits of this and that in a basement full of woodworking tools.

I don’t recall ever seeing Grandpa John aboard a bicycle, though he certainly had the leisure time for cycling. He drove a stately maroon Cadillac with a cream interior, because that’s what a fella did in America.

Which is a shame, really. Because if we hadn’t built our cities around Grandpa John’s stately maroon Cadillac with cream interior, The New York Times might be writing stories about Albuquerque, the cycling capital of the Southwest, where the residents neither own cars nor care to, because the bicycle “is typically the easiest way to get around.”

Albuquerque probably has Copenhagen beat when it comes to cycling weather. Today, for example, we’re looking at mostly sunny conditions with a high in the low 60s, and more than 10 hours of daylight, while Copenhagen can expect a high in the low 40s, rain, and less than nine hours of daylight.

But if you think I’m gonna ride my cargo bike to the Sunport to fetch Herself home when she jets in from Florida, well, think again, Jens old scout.

First, the Sunport is a 25-mile round trip from El Rancho Pendejo, with a thousand feet of vertical gain. Second, Herself travels about as lightly as Hannibal crossing the Alps. And third, the roads seem to be full of cars for some reason. Not stately maroon Cadillacs with cream interiors, mind you, but suburban tanks about the size of Hannibal’s elephants. And their mahouts are all inattentive, impaired, or insane.

Anyway, I don’t have a cargo bike. Because for better or for worse, Albuquerque isn’t fucking Copenhagen.

And until we rethink our cities and how we get around and about in them, we’ll have to settle for reading about Paradise from our parking lots.