I’ve been known to be a little forgetful on occasion so it was no surprise that I had left my sunglasses at the gas station where we filled up.
I didn’t think much about it at the time because the sky had clouded over and the sun wasn’t really a problem, but several miles down the road the sun came out again and I realised what had happened. Unfortunately we were on a 4-lane highway at the time, with exits few and far between, so I pulled up ahead of Charlie who was riding his BMW K757-A with German-engineered dirt under the fenders and flagged him off into the next rest stop.
“Charlie, I forgot my sunglasses back at that gas station.”
“So what would you like me to do about it?” Charlie was always a very sympathetic sort.
“I’m going to go back for them.”
“Hey man, it’s 15 miles back and there’s nowhere to turn around. Forget ‘em.”
“Charlie, those are expensive glasses. I’m not leaving them there.” The most expensive pair of sunglasses Charlie ever owned were the plastic $3 reading glasses from the Dollar Store that he darkened using a felt-tip marker, so he was having difficulty relating.
“Well shit man, if you’d take care of your stuff this wouldn’t happen.”
“Charlie, I just forgot them on the counter, that’s all. I’m going back.”
And so it went, back and forth, with me taking the lion’s share of abuse for being “so f’ing stupid”. But finally he relented and agreed to ride back with me “just to keep you company”.
It was another 5 miles before we hit an exit where we could turn around and 20 miles back to the gas station. All the way I could see Charlie up ahead, just shaking his head, and I figured I’d never hear the end of it: a waste of time and gas for a lousy pair of sunglasses left on the counter by an idiot.
Finally we pulled into the gas station and parked out front. And as I was getting off my bike to go inside Charlie said to me, “While you’re in there could you also get my credit card?”
We’d decided to take the weekend to go for a ride back to my home town. I hadn’t been there since leaving for school many years earlier and the missus wanted to see where I grew up, why I’m not sure because I didn’t particularly want to see it myself.
Right after work on Friday we headed out, me on a brand new RD350LC that I wanted to stretch the legs on,and her on her trusty CB400F. By about 8 PM we were in Mattawa, hungry, and looking for a place to stay. As I’ll explain later, the memories of that night are somewhat fuzzy, but I seem to recall the place we chose being called the Mattawa Motel though I’ll stand to be corrected on that. Anyway we got a room and had a good dinner in the dining room before heading to the bar for some refreshment.
That’s when the trouble began.
Except for the bartender and an older guy sitting alone at a table the place was empty. We headed for the bar and ordered up. Molson Golden was the tipple of choice in those days and so we had him pop a couple of stubbies for us. Soon enough we’re chatting to the bartender and tell him we’re going up to Temiscaming and why. He says to the guy at the table, “Andre, isn’t that where you’re from?”, and then, to us, “Andre’s the owner, he used to live in Temiscaming.”
With that Andre came over and asked our names. I told him and he said, “Your father’s name Fred?” “Yes.” “Bien maudit, I used to cut your hair. Do you remember me? I was the barber there and your dad used to bring you in when you were just little. Me and your dad, we used to go fishing.” Then he told me his last name which brought the memories into sharper focus.
Now that we were friends with the owner, or more precisely my dad had been friends with the owner, he felt obliged to buy us a round for old time’s sake, and another as we got caught up on all the news from the past 15 or so years.
About 9:30 a group of six or so very big guys came into the bar. One asked the bartender who owned the bikes parked outside. He pointed to us and I thought we were either going to get the crap kicked out of us, or be told they just ran over one of both of the motorcycles in the parking lot.
But no fear. They came and sat at the bar beside us. Being ‘friends’ of the owner, and somewhat a novelty (not too many women rode motorcycles then) we were introduced to each in turn. We found out that they were working on a nearby oil pipeline and were all staying at the motel where the bar had become a sort of home away from home. They ordered up their favourite beers, 2 and 3 at a time, paying in cash from huge wads of bills (Friday was payday) – including a couple more pints for us as well.
It soon became clear that our money was no good in that bar, but in turn we were expected to at least try to keep up. Round after round would appear as the stories of being migrant pipeline workers, hundreds of miles and months away from home, got longer and ever more ridiculous in the telling. We gave it a hell of a shot, but sometime after midnight with 10 or 12 empties in front of each of us (Canadian beer – 5%!) I lost track. It was one of the few times I can recall that I was actually happy the bar closed at 1:00 AM.
At breakfast the next morning we both commented on how we were feeling surprisingly good, all things considered. So we packed up and headed out. But I expect the reason we felt as good as we did was because we were still officially DUI. Fortunately we weren’t stopped, didn’t fall over, and riding and the sun soon burned most of the alcohol out of our systems.
We got into town and parked on the main drag to the curious looks of locals wondering who the strangers were. I recognized no one, and no one recognized me – 15 years can be a long time in the life of a small town. I pointed out some of the sights and hangouts from a misspent youth which took all of about 2 hours (small town, few sights, youth not that misspent) before we turned around and headed back home.
When we hit Mattawa I was actually feeling pretty good, so I suggested we perhaps stop at the Mattawa Motel for a quick pint on the way by. That’s when I got one of those don’t-even-think-about-it-if-you-ever-want-to-have-sex-again looks.
While there is plenty to recommend living here, one of the great negatives is the short riding season. If you’re a wimp like I am (hey, I earned my stripes; I’m just older and smarter now) who doesn’t care to ride in the snow, on frost-coated roads, or in freezing rain or sleet, the riding season is about 6 months long, with rides on both ends of that spectrum being few and far between.
However that doesn’t keep us from hoping for that one last ride of the year when Indian Summer is in full swing, the sun is shining brightly on the yellow and red and orange of the forest in its full fall livery, and the temperature is somewhere above absolute zero. But this year, with near-record rain for much of August and all of September, I was almost ready to give up, thinking perhaps it was time for the fall oil change and then beddy-bye for the next 5 months.
Then came this past weekend.
The (Canadian) Thanksgiving long weekend is usually marked by extremes here. It’s either absolutely miserable with leaden skies and any combination of rain/snow/sleet, or it’s spectacular with clear deep-blue skies and mild temperatures. This year we lucked in to the latter with a fantastic 3 days of sun and mid-40’s temps. And though other commitments kept me occupied for a lot of that time I did get out for a short 2 1/2 hour ride.
Here’s some of what Mother Nature had to share.
Saw these mushrooms beside the driveway as I was heading to the garage.
Sugar maple at the end of the lane.
Coming home to our lane in full colour…
complete with doe and fawn as welcoming committee.
And barring an amazing turn in the weather over the next couple of weeks, that’s going to be just about it for this year, so I might as well give her some fresh oil and cover her up with her winter blankie. Perhaps that’s a job for tomorrow as the cold and rain is expected to continue for a few more days at least.
Eighteen months ago I posted about this accident, where an unlicensed, uninsured motorist left an injured motorcyclist dying on the pavement and drove off. The rider, Claude Dorion, was found by a passerby, bleeding on the sidewalk, and died 4 hours later in hospital.
Well today, justice (of sorts) was finally meted out in an Ottawa courthouse. The driver, William Davis, was sentenced to a year in jail and handed a 3-year driving ban. According to the reports Davis was sentenced for leaving the scene of an accident, making an unsafe turn, driving without a licence and operating a vehicle without insurance. It’s worth noting that none of the charges related directly to killing another person. No charges were laid for vehicular homicide or dangerous driving causing death, which to my way of thinking should have been the case here – along with the aforementioned charges to which Davis pleaded guilty.
Davis got off far too lightly in my opinion. His year in jail will, in all likelihood, be significantly reduced for “good behaviour” and/or early parole. And with a history of driving without a license and without insurance it’s far from certain that the driving ban will have any affect whatsoever. It’s a sad day for justice indeed.
It’s shaping up to be a beautiful day here – perfect for one of those scenic fall rides. After the turkey is in the oven, of course.
Hope you have a great day wherever you are, and however you celebrate!