Howdy! Grab a chair an’ a beer! Let me turn the ol’ swamp cooler on ta cool the shop down a bit. Yeah, that’s better. Those of you who live in the South, where the humidity’s high may not know what a swamp cooler is, but out here in “but it’s a dry heat” country we know that sometimes it’s all that stands between holing up in the house or drowning in our own sweat. Here in good ol’ Madtown, it went from the 70’s and rain to 109 in a week. Reggie has a tough time ridin’ when the temperature reaches 100 degrees, an’ missed a lot of ridin’ because of her busted wing. We just got back from a great run to Sacramento, her first since her skiing accident, an’ I’ll tell ya about that another time.
Even though California has some of the best ridin’ weather in America, a lot of my ridin’ buddies an’ true brothers are leavin’ for parts unknown. Brother Bear an’ his family are movin’ to Wyoming, Sam’s in Idaho now, James is in Montana, an’ so many more have left that it’s gettin’ downright lonesome around here! Some are runnin’ from the crackpots in Sacramento who make life miserable with more new laws an’ “can’t do thats” every day; some are runnin’ from the summer heat, while some just want the wide open spaces an’ new scenery where it’s a lot cheaper to live, an’ a lot more freedom awaits at the border. I’m not gonna climb up on my soap box here because most of ya already know what I’m talkin’ about anyway. At least the ground squirrels who’ve built their replica of the New York subway system under my back yard are happy. They’re also happy that I’m a lousy shot with a .22 rifle. The other day, I tried to flush ‘em out with water, but two of ‘em ran up on the patio, grabbed the dog’s flea soap, an’ dragged it back down the hole. Lemme tell ya, squirrels singin’ in the shower is an ugly sound when it’s echoin’ around down there, so I shut the water off before they could rinse. That’ll fix ’em! I guess I’ll have ta poison the little heathens.
Speakin’ of water, it’s illegal to water your lawn or wash your car or bike out here in The Ranchos where I live. The water at the U-Scrub-Do-It-Yourself carwash has been recycled so many times that it’s thin mud. It’s gettin’ to the point where I’m gonna smear peanut butter on the bikes an’ ride ’em over to the dog park to get ’em licked clean. The last time I took the cage to Vegas, it was so dirty they stopped me at the border for Interstate transportation of farmland.
Even with all the problems here in the Golden “crispy critter” State, there’s great ridin’ to take advantage of. I’m a couple of hours from the coast, with Highway 1 windin’ past the most beautiful beaches and scenery anywhere. I’ve pulled over many times to watch whales, sea otters, seals, an’ other ocean critters doin’ what ocean critters do. Anyone who’s ever ridden through Big Sur or Pebble Beach isn’t likely to forget them anytime soon. Unfortunately, motorcycles have been banned from 17 Mile Drive where Pebble Beach is located, but that’s another of those “can’t do thats” I was tellin’ ya about.
I’m also about an hour from the south gate of Yosemite National Park, with incredible views, and cool mountain breezes. I also know a bunch more mountain roads that twist and turn through the Sierra Nevadas to clear mountain lakes full of trout where you can unroll your bedroll, catch dinner, an’ sleep under a blanket of stars that look like you could reach out an’ touch ’em.
One time I got caught in a summer thunderstorm at Wishon Reservoir, 6,600 feet up in the mountains. On the way up from the valley, the sky was an incredible blue, with not a cloud in sight, but as I neared the crest of the Sierras, clouds as black as the hinges on Hell’s back door started boiling over the crest at tree-top level. The clouds came down until it felt like fog, and the lightning was striking the bald granite domes above me; my hair was standing straight out from the electricity in the air, and the thunder was so loud it almost drove the air from my lungs. I managed to get my tent set up just as the first fat raindrops started to fall. I left the door open, and watched the spectacle unfold around me. The storm passed almost as fast as it appeared, and wildlife started peeking out from hiding places, with the first being a family of fat raccoons who came to mooch a snack from the bearded interloper. If you’ve never been in the clouds during a thunderstorm, it’s an experience you’ll never forget.
Yeah, there are lots of reasons to leave California, especially for retirees, but there are lots of reasons to stay as well. The main reason for me is when I look around the house an’ the shop, an’ think, “What would I do with all this crap I’ve collected?” I think I’ll just stay here, an’ let the kids deal with it when I’m havin’ a cocktail with Elvis.