Thursday, June 02, 2005

Man, the bbq was fun

What a weekend. Whew. I'll be recovering for a while...I still feel exhausted and it's been like 3 days!

We left Portland last Thursday after work to drive to Moped BBQ 11 in Kalamazoo, which is about a 17-hour drive from Maine. Dan drove his truck with three peds, and we drove our Blazer with a trailer, pulling 5 peds. After loading up in Boston (Josh Dahl, Fred, and John from RI), we were on the road. The trip out was uneventful, if a little long. I read quite a bit and slept very little, which I'd kind of anticipated just because I have a really hard time sleeping in the car.

We got into K-zoo about 1 pm, and proceeded to work on mopeds until about 7:30. Luckily, Brett got both bikes running ok -- he'd had quite a time tuning them this spring, since it rained for 10 days straight for the week or so before we left for the BBQ. It was good to have that afternoon in K-zoo to work the kinks out.

After that, there was a potluck sort of dinner at the Rocketstar (a coffee shop owned by some of the Decepticons). A bunch of people were going on a ride afterward, but I was SO tired (having only slept about 30 mins in about 38 hours) that I went back to Miguel's house and went to sleep while Brett and some others rode.

Saturday morning, I slept in a bit and then we got up and went to the Rocketstar and hung out for a while. Marci and Caleb and the rest of the Seattle contingent had arrived, and it was great to see them. Around noon, about 60 people on mopeds all rode out to some park outside town, where we had the Mo-Lympics. HA. It was really fun! There were all sorts of contests, things like relays, and pedal contests, and carb assembly, and longest skid mark, etc, etc. Brett participated in the Solex Toss. (A Solex is a brand of moped -- it is really more like a bike with an engine tacked on. They kinda suck -- they go really slow.) He didn't win but it was hilarious to watch him trying to throw it.

Then, there was a moped trick contest. I was sitting on a hill with Marci, and some other girls, and some of the Seattle people, including Brendan. He decided he was going to do a couple tricks, and he got up and went over and started doing them. All was well and good until he decided to jump the hill we were sitting on. It dropped off sharply behind us, and what he didn't know was that a car had parked down at the bottom just minutes before.

He began his jump, and he was literally like 20 feet in the air, when we all realized that he was going to hit the car when he landed. He hit with this sickening crunch/thump, and Marci and I watched as his body snapped and he was thrown about 6 feet. I was too shocked to do anything: I just stood there as everyone ran in a wave over the hill to him. Thankfully, he was ok -- his front forks on his ped were smashed up against the engine, and his knee was very swollen and stiff, but he is alive and walking and that is a blessing.

After that, we went to Miguel's and had dinner, which he was very kind to make for us. He was an awesome host, by the way -- he was so welcoming and I felt very comfortable staying at his house. It was really nice to have a clean, comfortable place to crash at the end of a long day. His kitties are sweet and fun, too -- Sophie and Annie. Man, I woke up one morning and Annie was just snuggled right on my chest. I <3 kitties. And it was fun to talk about Lord of the Rings and Tolkien with someone who appreciates it as much as I do and who knows the books and the history well.

Anyway, Brett headed out shortly after dinner to work on his bike, and I hung around with Miguel until about 9, when we headed down to the old 1977 Mopeds for the party. Initially, I felt really awkward, just standing around. I'm not much of a party person, really. I can't dance, I don't really get too wild, I don't drink much. However, that all changed after Marci and I went to the liquor store. I decided that because I was on vacation, I would indulge myself in some gin. So I bought a bottle...I guess it must have been a fifth...and I proceeded to drink quite a bit of it. Of course, the party was great fun after that. Heh. I talked to lots of people and just hung out and watached Josh and Miguel box, and other people box, and then the police came and told us to stop boxing outside, and I don't really remember much else.

Brett told a friend last night, "I found Kathleen in the parking lot of the moped shop at like 2:30 in the morning, wandering around and saying, 'Now I've had A LOT of gin...' before she'd start a conversation with someone." I finally decided I needed to go to bed, so Miguel was going to ride home with me. We got out to the bikes, and I got on to try to start the green bike, and almost fell off it. Heh. That was when we decided to walk back. Miguel was very kind to walk me home. I got in bed and fell asleep, though woke up when Brett came in about 3:30. I felt sooo sick at that point; I almost broke my record of never being so drunk that I puked. It was touch and go there for awhile, but I can still say I've never gotten so drunk I puked.

The next morning, I woke up with the suprising absence of a hangover. Brett went to the captain's meeting (which I wish I'd gone to also because I do help him with the captain duties quite a bit). I met up with him at the Rocketstar later, around noon, before the big ride. I talked to Becca from the Mosquito Fleet for awhile and realized that we both went to SPU, and even weirder, she worked at the IDX Tower when I worked there. It is a very small world.

Anyway, the ride was awesome. 106 mopeds...it was amazing, so cool to be a part of something so large. Riding with that many people is really cool -- we took up like 2 lanes and stretched at least 1/2 mile, and when we'd come to a stoplight, 3 or 4 guys on fast mopeds would ride out and block the other lanes of traffic so we could pass in one group. Sometimes that would take several cycles of the light. It was definitely swarming at its finest. We went and got ice cream in this town called Plainwell; I had a double-decker cone with strawberry and chocolate. Yum!

On the way back, I was riding the green Puch. I was near the front of the group, right next to the yellow center line, when the bike just died. I was giving it full-throttle and nothing was happening. It was really scary, actually -- I looked back and saw about 75 mopeds coming, between me and the shoulder, and behind them, a line of cars. Marci said later that I looked really scared. She gave me a look like, "AAAK! I am so sorry you are stopping and I wish I could help but I can't stop!"

I finally made it to the shoulder by darting across in front of the cars. Jordan of the D-cons was there in a flash, radioing on his walkie-talkie, "I've got one down!" I wanted to laugh at that; it seemed so serious and hardcore. Anyway, we soon discovered that the spark plug cap had come off, and that it was not holding a proper seal inside. We jammed it back on and the bike started, thankfully. We caught back up with some of the stragglers, and were riding with about 6 people when one of them accidentally cut Jordan off, sending him flying into a grassy ditch over his handlebars. He was ok, the ped was ok (albeit grassy: there was grass stuck everywhere, in his handlebars, headlight, wheels, etc), so that was good and we were on our way. Shortly after that, as we were trying to catch up to the main group, we were on this side road, way out in the country, when we passed (going the other direction) a very old, toothless man with a bit of hay in his mouth, wearing denim overalls with no shirt underneath, riding a black Puch with a milk crate on the back. I laughed so hard; it was such a random and surreal image. I wish I had a photo.

After the ride, we went with about 20 people and got pizza, and then afterward, Brett and I went with Dave, Amber, Wayne, Dan and Chad to see Pinback at Kraftbrau. It was a really good show, although there were so many people and it was so packed I never did actually see the band. I guess that's what happens when you are short and in a crowded room. The room the show was in was SO HOT. I was sweating and just overheated. We actually left a little early because it was so uncomfortable. Anyway, it was a fun evening overall, despite the crowded-ness of the room. It was fun talking with Amber, and the show was good too.

Afterward, we rode to the old shop where the party was happening. It was late -- about 1, I think -- so I didn't stay long. I was beat. The riding, the gin the previous night, the cumulative lack of sleep...I just didn't have it in me to party all night. Brett and I rode about 5 miles out to this store called Meijer, which is like a Super WalMart and Fred Meyer all rolled into one HUGE STORE. I wanted to get some ingredients to make Mango Salsa the next day (to take to the bbq), and he needed some bolts. So we didn't get back to Miguel's till probably after 2, I think, at which point I did some laundry (thanks, Miguel!) and we went to bed.

Monday was actually fairly anticlimactic for me. The actual bbq was just basically everyone sitting around eating and talking, like we'd been doing all weekend. But no, I don't mean to be negative. It really was fun. The highlight was the race, I think. Bret H was first, Matt (Marci's brother) was second, I don't remember who was third and fourth, Marci was 5th, Chad was 6th, and Brett was 7th. Woo! He was really excited that he got 7th -- there were probably 45 people racing, so that is pretty dang good.

After the race, Dan took us into the basement of the shop, and showed us the lot of NOS (New old stock, so they're brand new but from like 1977) Yankee Peddler mopeds they'd gotten. Oh man. He offered us a great deal, so we kinda had to buy one. I really wanted to...the bike only has like 80 miles on it, so it will be really reliable. I want to start leaving my car at work and riding to and from, so it would be nice to have a reliable moped. Also, when we move back to Seattle, I want to have one I can commute on. I mean, I love the Snark, and it will always be my favorite ped, but it's not always so reliable.

It was pretty late in the day after that, so while Marci and Caleb were getting matching Mosquito Fleet tattoos (that's so hardcore) we loaded up the car and trailer and truck and were ready to hit the road. We said our goodbyes, stopped at the Taco Bell on the edge of town, and headed out.

I drove from K-zoo to Erie, PA, which is almost 400 miles. I was sooo tired by the end. It was hard to stay awake. I tried to sleep after that, and I did -- kind of. It was very off and on. About 5 a.m., somewhere near Utica, NY, I had to start driving Dan's truck, because only three of us could drive a stick and Dan needed to sleep. We drive for about an hour and a half, the Blazer was ahead of us about 10 miles. Just outside of Albany, about 8 a.m., we got a call from Brett. They'd broken down and were sitting on the side of the highway next to a toll booth. We gave them the number for roadside assistance, and I drove like a bat out of hell to catch up.

We pulled up and could see them, just on the other side of the tollbooth. We paid the toll and pulled up. The drive shaft (which connects the wheels to the engine and makes them turn) had come disconnected. It was just hanging down, touching the ground.

After much confusion, a tow truck finally arrived. See, I guess that on the New York State Thruway, if you break down, there is only like one company who can tow you -- since it's a toll road, the toll people have a contract with the tow people...so it took them a while to come. In the meantime, I nearly had a breakdown when I called the local Chevy dealership and they told me it was going to be TWO DAYS before they could even look at the car. I started crying when the guy said that (remember, I was going on little-to-no sleep here) and he kind of freaked out. I felt sort of bad, but you know, two days to look at the car is absurd.

Anyway, turned out that the place the tow truck was from could look at it right away, so we had it towed there. Brett rode in the Blazer, which was on the tow truck...it was very bizarre to look up and see him hanging out in the car while it was being towed.

While we were waiting for the car to be fixed, we formed a new branch of the MA -- The Drive Train Branch of Kinderhook, NY. We unloaded the peds and rode all over these tiny towns while they were fixing the car -- from about 11 to 3. We had lunch in this tiny diner that I swear has probably not been updated in the least since like 1955...and then rode to the Presidential home of Martin Van Buren. We had been seeing these signs on the highway and then on the roads around the garage pointing us to the Martin Van Buren Historical Site, so we decided (pretty much as a joke) to go check it out. I thought it was interesting, but I think the guys were bored by it. By the end of the tour they'd all wandered off to sit by the peds and wait, and I was the only one still with the guide. Ah, well. I do have to admit that Martin Van Buren is not the most fascinating of presidents...it kind of seemed like he didn't really do much at all so they had to tell us about the escapades of his son (I think) who almost got in a duel with someone...I don't know. The details are a bit fuzzy.

After the car was fixed, we were on our way again. It was not too expensive, thankfully -- only about $150, so that was a huge blessing. We got into Boston and dropped Josh off, then went to Fred's where we unloaded his mopeds and I took a shower. It felt sooooo good to be clean again.

Brett and I left Fred's about 9, and started back to Maine. This should have been the most uneventful leg of our journey. But no. Of course not. I had fallen asleep somewhere around Portsmouth, and woke up right near the exit for 295 to Brett yelling, "Oh SH*T!"

I said, "What!? What?!"

"I think we just ran out of gas."

"You're kidding me...uggggggg."

"Nope, I'm not kidding," he said, as we rolled to a stop on the side of the highway, only 9 miles from our exit for home. So close...so close.

Thankfully, we were right next to a hotel, so we climbed the fence and went inside and called Caleb (from church) and he came and brought us gas. We finally got home about 11, (12 hours after we should have been home) and I crashed immediately.

Overall, the weekend was great. I had such an awesome time. It was really cool to meet so many people, and to hang out with the Seattle group. I am so, so excited to move back to Seattle now. (Not like I wasn't before, but now there's just one more thing to look forward to.) Less than one year, and I'll be there. I can't believe it. That's not too far away...I so look forward to being back in the city and riding my moped to work every day and to church and to Moped Monday and having other moped girls to hang out with...oh, good times. It's almost tangible to me; I feel like I can finally let myself imagine being back there, start planning what we'll do and where we'll live and where we'll work. I cannot wait.

Oh, and another funny note -- I had told Brett before we left that I was not looking forward to spending 16 hours in the car each way with like 5 other guys. Actually, it ended up being really fun, even if it did feel like I was in a locker room for 15 hours each way. What funny and fun guys they are! It was really a pleasure to travel with them; I enjoyed myself quite a bit, laughing at their antics and male-ness. I think I learned quite a bit about the male psyche this weekend...so thanks, guys! Here's to trock and the Drive Train and what makes a girl's boobs attractive! Heh.

Ok, this is a complete novel. I think I just need to stop writing and post it...hopefully it makes sense, even if it is long!

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