Road Trip

The Two Bill’s – Part 4 of 4

Edmond Gagnon

The Other Bill

 

I chose Cody, Wyoming as our next stop, after Yellowstone. It is only a couple hours out of the park, and it looked like a good place to get off the bike for a day. It is also the hometown of Buffalo Bill Cody, famous buffalo hunter and founder of the wild west show in his name. The local dam, the town, and museums there are all named in his honour.

Checking in early, we were able to catch up on some laundry, have a swim and take a little cat nap. We were only a ten minute walk from downtown, so we strolled that way to check it out. Wouldn’t you know it? One of the first places we saw was a micro brewery. We stopped and sampled, but weren’t all that impressed with the beer or service.

We walked around the historic downtown, deciding that the bar at The Irma Hotel was the best place to hang out. The place was built by Buffalo Bill, and named after his daughter. It opened in 1902. The collection of photos and memorabilia on the walls is outstanding. The cherry wood used on the bar was a gift to Buffalo Bill from Queen Victoria. Some of the drunken regulars in the bar were as colourful as the hotel’s past.

Our hotel was next door to one of Cody’s western museums—there’s a couple that are reportedly top notch, but we’re not really the museum kind of folks. On our second day there, after a leisurely breakfast, we went to the Old Trail Town. It’s a collection of historic old wooden buildings that have been relocated on the site where William Cody first laid out his town. The buildings, furnishings and artifacts are all genuine.

One cabin that was relocated there was used by Butch Cassidy’s Hole-in-the-wall gang. The replica frontier town has a saloon where the gang frequented, a blacksmith’s shop, and stables where vintage wagons and a hearse are on display. A small museum houses various weapons from both the cowboys and the Indians.

On the edge of the old town lies its founder, William (Buffalo Bill) Cody. His grave is there along with others, like Jeremiah Johnson, who was portrayed by Robert Redford in the movie of the same name. The town is authentic, right down to the tumbleweeds that grow in the dirt street.

A lazy afternoon by the pool finished our day, and we walked back downtown for dinner at The Chophouse. The place was packed and the food excellent. (more…)

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The Two Bill’s – Part 3 of 4

Edmond Gagnon

The Way Back

 

Usually, going somewhere is more fun than coming back. Whenever I plan a trip I try to take that into account. I don’t know how everyone else feels, but I hate covering the same ground twice. I’d much rather make a loop and go out of my way, than drive down the same road more than once, unless something is worth seeing again, from a different perspective.

Cathryn and I had a great ride getting to Vancouver, but I knew I had my work cut out for me trying to find an eventful and scenic way back home. The whole idea of the trip was to cover new ground, since both of us had been out west before. Seattle came to mind. Although I’d been there twice, I never had time to see more than a few token attractions on the waterfront.

I loved what I’d seen in the city before, and I knew it had a lot more to offer. Cathryn had not been there. From Surrey, my sister and her boyfriend suggested taking the truck route south, across the border to the states. Seattle was only a couple hours from their home, depending on traffic at the border and on the highway.

On Tuesday, July 19th, we crossed back into the states of Washington. Our Nexus cards made the border a breeze, and we enjoyed about thirty miles of quiet roads, before being dumped on Interstate 5 South. I’d called ahead to our hotel for an early check-in, figuring we’d arrive around noon.

Merging to the right put us on Highway 99, which parallels the Interstate, and is an express route to downtown Seattle. Our motel was right on the highway, and it soon showed up on the GPS. Sometimes the machines are a pain in the ass—this was one of those times. There was a cement barrier down the middle of the highway, leaving us no access to the opposite side of the road where our motel was.

Cathryn got a bird’s eye view of downtown from the elevated highway, because I couldn’t turn around for a couple of miles. Turn’s out there was a way to do it earlier, but it was cleverly hidden under the highway. Live and learn. Checking in at the Marco Polo Motel was a hoot. The Chinese owner/operator should have been a comedian, kind of an Asian Gary Shandling.

The man loudly repeated everything I said, and even though I’d called ahead and was promised an early check-in, our room wasn’t ready. He yelled at another Chinese man to get it ready. It wouldn’t have been a big deal, but I’d made arrangements to meet an old friend downtown for lunch, at 1:30. It was noon.

After showering and changing clothes, I asked the manager if he could call us a cab. He suggested Uber. I got frustrated fiddling around and trying to download the app. I asked him again for a taxi.

He said one would be there in ten minutes. After waiting twenty, I went back into the office to ask him if he could check on our cab. He was on the phone with someone who called to reserve a room. He yelled back to them, telling the caller it was first come, first served. He repeated that at least three times without taking a breath. He nodded yes and waved me back out the door.

When the cab finally pulled up, Gary came out into the lot. He held the phone to his ear and yelled at someone from the cab company. We laughed and waved, and went on our way. Even with the delays, we walked into the restaurant right on time. My friend was impressed at how we drove across the whole country and managed to be so punctual. (more…)

The Two Bills – Part 2 of 4

Edmond Gagnon

Wind & Terrain  

It was Monday, July 11th, and we had to be in Kelowna, B.C. by Wednesday night to meet my sister, Bonnie, and my brother-in-law, Larry. That meant we had to cover 1,100 miles in three days, with most of it on two-lane mountain roads. So far in the trip, Milwaukee was the only 400 miles day. We would have to do three of those. It wasn’t part of my original trip plan, but we had to get to Kelowna a day earlier to hook up with everyone else there.

The day started out nice, with the sun shining down on us. The road was quiet and dry, heading northwest. US 212 clipped the northeast corner of Wyoming, and by midday it put us in Montana. The wind picked up with the later hours of the day. The rolling green hills were nice to look at when the wind wasn’t punching us like a giant boxing glove.

The Custer National Forest kept the wind at bay, but in the open, we blew right by the Little Bighorn battleground. US 212 joined Interstate 90 just outside Billings, where the speed limit is 75 mph. Heading directly west at that point, the gusts made it difficult for me to stay in my lane at the posted speed. We had intended to bed down in Bozeman that night, but the air-hammering got the best of us, and we called it an early day in a town called Big Timber. (more…)

The Two Bill’s – Part 1 of 4

Edmond Gagnon

Westward Ho

Cathryn’s big question was, “How do I pack for a whole month?” She was faced with the dilemma of how to get her clothes, shoes, and toiletries into one small suitcase, that fit into the trunk portion of our Harley Davidson motorcycle. I had laid out a plan to ride all the way to Vancouver, and back, within a month…or so.

“You only need to pack for five to seven days,” I offered, “We can do our laundry along the way when we stop for more than a day.” I broke the trip into segments, staying in a few different places for more than one night at a time, so we could take a rest from the bike, and not have to be on it every day of the trip.

We met with our friends Greg and Brenda, to discuss the first leg of the trip. They changed their final destination, deciding to only ride as far as Milwaukee with us. It didn’t matter, we were going on with or without them. Figuring traffic would be lighter, and a hotel in downtown Milwaukee cheaper, we left at 9am on Sunday, July 3rd.

The border traffic was light, but they didn’t have the Nexus lane open and we had to wait with all the other peasants. We jumped on Interstate 94, and headed west to get out of the city, with a plan to take the back roads as far as we could. I got carried away, and hit Michigan Avenue (US 12) around Dearborn. It was definitely the scenic route, all the traffic lights allowed us plenty of time to look around.

The road opened up after Ypsilanti. It was a beauty day with lots of sun and a big blue sky. We stopped for an early lunch in Cement City, where Brenda had a chicken quesadilla that could have fed all of us. I really wanted to help, but I was trying to adhere to my low carb diet for as long as I could. I didn’t even have a beer. (more…)

The Fifth Monday – Hard On’s Curse Conclusion

By Ben Van Dongen

Chad struggled to wake up. His dream, something about a hot Quebecois redhead with a Charles Bronson moustache, kept tugging him back to sleep. Yawning, his jaw cracked, and water slipped into his open mouth. The half of his face he wasn’t sleeping on was wet and cold. The sensation, along with a burning desire to take a piss, roused him.

Burning. The word repeated in his head. Burning. It was distasteful, making him frown and fidget. Burn. He smelled smoke, or char. Burner. The word made him sneer.

“Ah!” He jumped up, running in a circle, kicking up snow, screaming and clutching his bottom.

The grumbled, deep voice of the snoozing demon joined the yells. “Shut the fuck up Hard-On, I’m still fucking sleeping.” The words, accompanied by small fires, caught dry branches and grass in the patch on the ground, melted by the demons heat.

“My asshole is on fire! My asshole, it burns!” (more…)

The Fifth Monday Two – Hard On’s Curse – Part 3

By Edele Winnie

The long flight to Quebec City was torturous. Cardinal Molson, nearly eighty years old and fortified by a glass of angel semen in water, was a constant attraction on the aircraft.  Women hovered around him like flies on dead meat. Three of the male flight attendants offered to give him a tour of the private areas of the aircraft- or maybe it was their private areas in the aircraft? It required a lot of forgiving, but Molson was up to it. It also helped distract him from his travelling companion. They were flying first class so Mr. T was already over-filled on complimentary beer and little packages of crackers. He was sweating profusely- the skanky smell of beer cold filtered through a human body with a bushy layer of greasy black body hair. The cardinal was named Molson but Mr. T was Molson inside and out. He was so drunk he was eating the crackers without taking the plastic wrappers off.

When he heard the commotion near the back of the plane the cardinal suspected the flight attendants were scrapping over him. Angel semen seemed to be some kind of crazy aphrodisiac.   But this time he was wrong.

“In the name of Allah!” a bearded man shouted. “American Imperialists and crusaders will pay the price!” He had some kind of button thing in his hand, with his thumb poised ready to press.

People were screaming and swooning. Cardinal Molson heard some praying to a Christian God and that snapped him out of his reverie. He raised his right hand- he wasn’t sure why at the time- and a bolt of white light came out and zoomed towards the bomber. And then the light was gone and so was the man. People blinked and rubbed at their eyes. The trouble maker had vanished. Cardinal Molson wiped the tingly palm of his hand on his black pant leg.   Angel semen indeed.

Far below a man with a beard hit the metal roof of a snowy barn and slid off, bones smashed after a freefall from thirteen thousand feet. Fourteen year old farm girl Ashley Bloomfield looked up just in time to be crushed by the falling pulverized body, killing her instantly.   One virgin, anyway. (more…)

The Fifth Monday 2 – Hard On’s Curse (Part 2)

–Five Years Later–

“Honey, I’m home.” Chad walked through the front door of his raised ranch house. A gust of snow followed him in, sending a shiver down the back of his neck.

“Where were you?” Sarah, Chad’s wife, came out of the kitchen. “I thought you’d died in a car crash or something.”

Chad knotted his eyebrows. “You know my boss, he always wants the reports on his desk before the end of the day. If you were really that concerned, you could have just called me.”

Sarah rolled her eyes and turned back towards the kitchen. “Well, dinner’s ready. It’s probably cold, but I guess we can microwave it.”

Chad chased behind her while trying to pull off his jacket, drop his briefcase and kick off his shoes. “Sarah, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you worry.” He knew his apology was in vain. If there was one thing he could always count on with Sarah, it was that once she was in a bad mood, nothing could change it.

She had been right, dinner had gone cold. Chad refused to heat it up though, instead insisting to his wife that it was just how he liked it.

After he finished the dishes, Chad headed for the garage to grab a beer.

The garage was cluttered. Boxes from when he and Sarah had moved in two years earlier still sat against the walls. She was always telling him that he needed to clean the space so that they could actually park their car inside it, but he seemed to never get around to it.

“Hey Charlie,” Chad said as he slapped the bronzed Charles Bronson bust on the shoulder. He made his way to the old fridge and gave the handle a yank (it always stuck). He reeled back in surprise when he saw that the fridge was empty.

“God Burner!” He stalked over to the pulldown ladder which led to the attic above the garage. He jumped to reach the string but it was too far above him.

“What’s up, homie?” The demon came walking into the garage from within the house. A beer hat sat on his head, the last two beers sitting snuggly in the holders on either side. (more…)