Down On Boness Creek (Est. 1979)

The morning is lazy and my family didn’t know I had a small road trip planned for our enjoyment. For winter, it is a beautiful day, no rain and mostly clear sunny skies. Adventure!

Oren and Charlotte Boness, Aunt Charis and Tula

My 9-year-old boy Eduardo was indifferent that he’d be forced to play on his iPhone in the backseat of our Chevrolet rather than at home. I get it, I think. My games were all stuck in 100 pounds of computer hardware at his age - if only he knew the pain of being really cut off from his matrix of pixels, sprites and shitty music but I digress.

Silvana and I were much more excited about a little jaunt upstate - a place that holds a special place in my heart. 

Everyone was set, Edu had an orange Fanta and Silvana and I both had Cokes, ice cold in the bottle because that is the best way to indulge a favorite. By the way, the fact that my girl enjoys a Coca-Cola as much as I do… well hell, it is just awesome.

As the captain of the trip, I easily accepted the “master of the stereo” title as well. In an effort to energize Eduardo, I put the Scorpions on shuffle but it must’ve taken too long to get around to Rock You Like A Hurricane - as he had already sunk below window level peering deep into a 1/4” piece of plastic and aluminum.

So, our triumvirate squinted into the late morning as I (probably irritatingly) sang along with every single song that came on. Nobody has told me that I’m irritating them - but I’ve spent enough hours in the XO’s seat to know that if you don’t even know the songs it is much, much worse that if you do. Knowing this, I let the thought flow right out the ½” space my window is cracked and I picked up the stereo at Still Loving You. I do not have the range that Klaus Meine has so this was probably extraordinary miserable.

As we neared Mt. Vernon, WA, I started having the flashbacks of a thousand trips to this area of the state. My grandparents owned a plot of what is basically a little boy’s paradise: A big house in a forest on a creek that flowed into the Skagit River.

Many things have changed since then but I still see every stretch of the road as I did when I was 8, 10 or 17 years old. There is one exception; there are many bigger, dumb trucks on the road. It is as if this part of the state has forgotten that we have paved roads and amazing interstates that can be navigated on a buckboard with four wheels on casters. This gripe is for another time, too.

My brother Aaron and cousin Kristian (and Tula)

We hopped off the mainline to a more rural Washington Highway 9 (the roads are still paved very nicely here but still - many giant trucks carting around… well… nothing. It is right about here I have the warm, fuzzy flashbacks to a fantastic childhood. Beautiful small town homes and small stores lazily float by our windows thanks to what are actually better than your average Seattle pavement.

Winding through the valley catching glimpses of small creeks, farms and farms with a lot of extra big dumb trucks that look like they never even get driven. Perhaps these are the backup trucks for when Armageddon comes in a bigly way - one of the four or five leviathans just has to start up. Failsafe. For the first time thanks to my love of NASA, triple or even quadruple redundancy is something I begin to admire. 

As we near the city of Concrete, Washington, the particular stretch of Highway 20 that we’re on is exactly where at about age 19 my friends and I all decided to go camping in winter on a lark. We had CBs and saw ourselves a bit of a fighter squadron with the scout up ahead letting everyone know when it was safe to pass slow vehicles. This particular stretch of 20 has a slight bend to the right for what seems like two hours. 

My buddy (let’s call him John) and I were combat scouts up front. His bright red 1978 1/2-ton, 7.4L V8 and the nickname “BIG 10” emblazoned on its flanks made every car we passed a very simple task. 

1978 Chevrolet ½-ton "BIG 10" Model

The rest of the crew were playing “tail-end Charlie” in a bronze colored 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera Coupe - a grand name for a pretty boring car. It came equipped with not the buzzing but pretty kick ass “Quad 4” GM engine but a reliable AND gutless 2.5L 4-cylinder dud. 

This rolling hazard to progress was nicknamed by some polyester suit the “Iron Duke”. Oh yeah, it was iron. The only aluminum you’d find on the engine was probably the alternator housing.

A representation of the Iron Duke

Anyway, on this long bend of great American road, the word on the CB from the Big 10 (the Shepard to its Lost Sheep, if you will) was that the 5 cars they were stuck behind could easily be passed, as the oncoming lane was empty all the way from them to us. As it was related to us after the Iron Duke lazily pulled into the oncoming lane the first four cars were easy - but that 5th was beginning to look like “bit off too much to chew”. We all came to the realization at the same time. We dutifully radioed back that the next vehicle coming in the oncoming lane was a Peterbilt that had some amazing chrome dual exhaust stacks. 

At this point, our forward observer position was mostly worthless, as the Iron Duke had also seen its challenge. We were told Eye of the Tiger by Survivor just happened to be playing on the stereo when the word “commit” meant exactly what it said in the dictionary. The captain of the Duke pushed the throttle down the last 10% of the way (in effect, did nothing) and they all grabbed each others butts because it was do or die.

They died in a tangled wreck, meeting St. Peter at the pearly gates going backwards and on fire.

Not really. They cleared the last car and the CB was silent but we in the front know that somehow, our brilliant tactics were not brilliant enough. Our asses burned as somehow we could hear them cursing us back in the Golden Chariot. 

Our happy family was now nearly into Concrete and I reveal to them that we’re here to see the world un-famous Baker Lake and Baker Dam. Eduardo pulled his hoodie further down over his baseball cap as if leaving the car would unplug a cork from his body, spilling his essence into the sharp gravel we were parked on. I think he has the wrong definition of bullying but I’m accused of that and as the adult, I accept it because I cannot throw him off the bridge which is the only other option I’m left with. 

I take the point and our little crew walks out on to the 100 year old bridge, all the time I’m pretty sure that Edu is going to drop his iPhone accidentally over the side as we all watch its beautiful red case glint in the sun for 4 seconds before gravity takes it all the way under the water. It’s a long way down. 

Eduardo flirts with gravity

Yet, this does not happen and we have time to pose for a few pics because, thank the Universe, as soon as he peeked over the side of the bridge and how far down it was, one could actually see the hair standing up on the back of his head. He’s a good boy.

We breathe some air, laugh and Edu takes a swig from the orange Fanta he hauled with him the full 30 feet to the bridge. We made our way back along the exact same 30 feet and pile back into the black Chevrolet. I’m not sure if my crew is happy or perturbed that the bridge was not the main attraction and that now we were going to drive further up the hill to the top of the dam.

Me and Silvana on the 100+ year old bridge

This sends my brain back to when my grandpa drove us up to this very same place in his 1979 Dodge. He told me, “its a dam good view,” it always made me laugh as I felt like we found the very best way to cheat at swearing! A stop at the True Value hardware store before motoring up the gravel roads and he’d happily buy me a 16oz Coke in a glass bottle (those fatty ones that only Generation X probably remembers). 

I’m a kid and I can drink 5 of these a day and not pinch an inch.

Remember the fat bottle?

Grandpa drives windows down all days of the year which I think is pretty manly but now realize it's just a great way to drive and breathe Pacific Northwest air. Even as I type this I hear Marty Robins and damn it is good. Thanks, Grandpa!

We crawl up the hill (we’re really off road now, you know, the type you need to buy a Jeep for). Silvana is watching a video of a terrible flooding disaster back in Brazil on her phone and I kinda feel terrible for the Beach Boys’ “Catch a Wave ” playing at the same time. Someday she’s going to read this and kick me square in the apple sack but for now my morbid humor demands that this precious memory stick with me forever. I’m not sure but it may be the reason I’m writing this little story.

Happy and Happy

We reach the top of the dam and Baker provides the clear water. Baker Lake is absolutely mirror-like and I stand in wonder, gazing up to Mt. Baker, at how this water has made its way down the mountain through trees, roots, ferns and rocks to land right here. Perfect, clean water. With an amused smile at this thought I turn to explain to Eduardo the significance of the snow pack, the melting, the water and then the dam that creates the power for his stupid online game. Before I open my mouth I see he has decided at this moment of the week and month to fiddle with a loose tooth. I digress. 

Me and cousins

Grandpa always offered to tie a string around it, attaching the other end of the string to a doorknob and then slamming said door. It promised a quick and easy extraction.

I was either too much of a coward or too smart to ever take him up on his offer. I now feel the need to find out from my cousins if they ever fell for it. One of us had to, and whoever took the hit: hats off to you.

My fat ass hastily makes its way over the rocky terrain here as I deploy the tripod and attempt to corral the Smith Family into any kind of frame I can pare down in to a photo. The tripod is pretty damn rickety and we’re far from on stable ground. I place my far too expensive Phone XS Max (seriously?) on the top of the baby giraffe legged contraption and set the time at its maximum time. 

The Smiths all in one frame

10 whole seconds to get down to the family while trying to not knock down the whole shiteree on the way. 10 seconds goes by fast at 6’3”, 300 pounds but I make it! I’m pleased with the shot but it turns out “all” of our smiles are not the greatest so we set it up again. Another successful dance around the rickety tripod and finding my place in the family photo. Eduardo, at a 9 year old bantam weight gets back to the camera before me and promptly knocks the tripod off its footing. 

I’m not ready to die yet but I can see a way through if that phone hits the rocks and shatters like so many Mariners fans’ dreams every goddamn year. (Hello, homers! The Mariners now hold the longest playoff drought in all of the four major North American professional sports, having not qualified for the playoffs since 2001). Anyway, Edu catches the tripod from falling and I do an about face and walk away from the light. For all the gesturing and fiddling with his tooth and to my chagrin the tooth is still in his mouth.

We motor down the mountain and I find what the town of Concrete would call its very own Kessel Run.  That is if anyone in Concrete was a Star Wars fan. I’m unsure if this particular stretch is to be driven on but it isn’t posted and I want to get some photos of this amazing train car that has been sitting here since The Great Pyramid was under construction.

I’m motoring and taking in the sights and out of nowhere a deer jumps out in front of me and in one hop clears the path and is back off the road to the other side. As I marvel at its quickness and the Chevys anti-lock breaks, two teenagers reeking of weed bound out of the forest in chase of the deer. They freeze, with “what the hell are they doing here” looks in their eyes. I throw the peace sign in order to try to convey that I’m not the hooka police but it is clear that their mantra here in their forest is “trust but verify." It is a sound mantra but I am past them before they can verify so I cannot report if they are still thinking of me right now wondering why I showed up in their life for 10 but I've thought about them every day since. Do they grow their own weed?

This has not changed

We’re done here so it is back towards home but this time I take the route whose orbit is close to my heart than any other part of the trip before. We roll past the gravel pit that is bigger than ever. I explain how when it is snowing they mountains of gravel make great mini-mountains to slide down. The closer we get the present starts giving way to the past. We drive over Finney Creek’s bridge that the daring would jump off and cans of refreshment were left in the water to keep cool. We pass “Finney Creek” Charlie’s place where my grandfather and I once were called upon to eradicate Blue Hornets. I got to drive my grandpas 1942 International dump truck down the road and to Finney Creek’s place and it was a thrill. It was also funny to watch the two men concoct a plan: they all included fire and fire worked just fine.

I slow down as I pass over Presentin Creek. I’ve never really owned anything in my life but I feel like I own this bridge. I’m sure my cousins may feel the same way about this creek. Summers spent with good sticks, blazing trails and countless rocks tossed, skipped or saved. We may be the single reason you just don’t see slugs around anymore. As kids it was fun to blow up a slug. I wince at the thought now. I think we stopped the slug massacre the year we blew one up and we all laughed until about 3 seconds later one of my cousins caught a piece of dead slug that didn’t reach escape velocity. I’m unsure I’ve ever seen anyone go from laughing to freaking out and screaming in my life. Another 4th of July comes to mind: the year we set up an extravaganza for everyone to watch in the evening and a Buzz Bomb made its way up on the deck of the house.

Safe and Sane

It was dark out and I can still see the shadows and silhouettes of child and adult dancing to escape the fiery device. Somehow, not only was nobody harmed but also we didn’t even burn down the house.

I cannot even begin to share the many stories with Silvana and Edu so I take a deep breath and hop back on the South Skagit Highway. I have Siri play Sons of the Pioneers and roll the window down all the way in honor of my grandpa and half tune out for the next few miles, letting the familiar surroundings flood in. It is kind of like Walton Mountain but it was our creek and river.

My eyes pick up the telephone lines running along the side of the road. Until the 90s the phone line was a party line! You could pick up the phone and if there was a conversation going on you could listen in! If someone needed the line in an emergency, much like a ham radio conversation, one asked if they could have the line for a while. It’d never work today, too many self-obsessed people that’d leave their phone off the hook just to spite you. In fact, now that I think about it we should reinstate the party line and teach people to be decent again. 

Adam and Tom plant a sign

I try to quantify all the cherished voices these lines have carried into and out of Boness Creek. Aunts, uncles, cousins and friends in electric form shot over copper. Home sick grandsons at age 8 who just wanted to call mom to say hi during a summer stay. If only reality could be as permanent as the copper in these wires. I’d pay good money to posses them.

Alas, copper wires do not have a memory of what they once conveyed at nearly the speed of light and there is no portal to the past and even if there was, young Mr. Smith would probably not even recognize old Mr. Smith.

I've mown this front lawn a few times

Again I queue up Sons of the Pioneers to imprint a little more on the memory while deciding where to grab some dinner. I ask Edu in the back set if he'd like a milkshake, he says yes and promptly falls asleep for the 20 minute trip. 

He stirs a bit dazed when I pull into the drive through and announces that he doesn't want a milkshake and crashes back out.

The car was aglow in red from the brake lights in front of us as we made our way though the line. We get our food, get sorted and I navigate to Interstate 5 - when Eduardo wakes and asks in a groggy voice, "where is my milkshake?" 

He drank my milkshake.

Grandma with me and my brother Aaron

Best Christmas Ever (1989?)

Grandma with her grandchildren and great grandchildren 

The Buick and the Whale Tail Mustang 5.0 - April, 2007

A clear and dry night coming up Highway 18 East Bound

It was after 10PM on a Saturday night and Band On The Run was playing through the iPod (yeah, remember those). Already shaking in rain the Riv has already bombed up the hill as only drivers who give into their impulse to get up the hill give into. 

By time the Highway 18/I-5 interchange had come up, I thought the adrenaline would have burned off but thanks to a late 80’s 5.0L Mustang (White) heard cackling and merging – and pulling hard exiting the off ramp to Highway 18 the fuse, apparently, was re-lit. 

It was irresistible and in an instant the torque-y Buick downshifted from 1600RPM and 65MPH to 3rd gear out of Overdrive. From a roll the Buick easily walked the Mustang and he took it as a personal affront, as well he should have. 

 
3.8L Gen II Huffer

The next light was too busy and both street racers knew it so we rolled a few blocks.

Finally, after having enough time to disable traction control for the coming launch, our cars rolled to a stop. 

I pre-loaded the transmission and got the supercharger into producing some boost as the light was about to turn. The Mustang turns out to be a manual transmission as I can hear the slight bog at the light. We launched hard, the Riv’s torque spinning the tires off the line and grabbing quickly thanks to the dry street. 

After the light there was a downhill bank. The cars are evenly matched handling wise, but the heavy throttle through the turn had both cars asking everything of their tires. Traffic loomed up ahead in my lane so I backed off the throttle, not wishing to ask anymore of the hot tires on my car. The Mustang was behind me a half-car length at least and this easing off gave him an opening to jump in front.The next light ahead had four cars in each lane so we both shut down. 

Always liked the lines of the Riviera
To stop at the light, even though I was light on the brakes, the ABS kicked in a bit. I guess slowing down from 70 even in dry might have some uneven wheel spin. The best thing about this ending was the thumb up from the Mustang driver. The second best thing was as we shut down and coasted, loping down the street, we passed two of Federal Way’s finest watching the streets on a Saturday night. My guilty conscience assumed they were waiting for us… but no. I guess the Rivira is pretty quiet.


Maybe they thought I was driving an old man’s car.

Chevy Guy Drives A Ford

Well, I am a General Motors nut. More specifically, I really love Chevrolets. I've owned many and my latest one is very nice - but someone needs it more than I do so I've gifted it.


2000 Mustang with giant tires

My ride is a 2000 Mustang. My best friend won an auction ($350!) and isn't driving it so I'm taking care of it. It is a 2000 Mustang 5-speed. It has a 3.8L V6 - not the V8. It does not make it less fun to drive!

The Mustang really reminds me of my first car. Long hood, snarling and actually shifting the gears brings back memories of my teenage years driving the mean streets of Renton and Kent.






The modifications are a short throw shifter and some bad ass 18" wheels with very low profile tires. We have a couple superchargers that we've bought - can't decide to use the roots type or the vortec. I'm including a blurry pic of them - and I'll report back.

The 3.8 V6 is already a torque monster - easily spinning the tires in first and second gear and the Mustang is light. The big meaty tires will help get more power down and I'm interesting in seeing how the "huffer" will add power. Bigger fuel injectors are already done so we're ready to bolt on a re-program.



Here is a little video of the short throw shifter 1st-2nd shifter at work.



I didn't know how much delight I'd get from driving this rig, and I'm having a blast! 



On Saturday I got on the road around 10PM and carved up I-90 just to get some fun driving in. The roads were empty and the twists were a blast. 





I drove to Cashmere and back - and on the way back I used ALL of the highway! Nobody to worry about at 2AM!

So, if you're an adult that misses the good old days - they're still here. Go find yourself a nice used car and get driving!





Shame - Fall 1992

Sorry it has been awhile since I've posted, life has gotten pretty busy these last two months.

Today I bring you a story of shame. Believe it or not, kids do stupid things often. This little story is one of those times.

An acquaintance wanted to show me his Camaro so four of us piled into his white 1977. It was a 350, automatic. And so we headed out towards the highway for some evening cruising.
This is not the exact car, but you get the idea

Now, like I said, we were just teenagers and being goofy. What I'm about to relate to you should never be reenacted because today some kook would shoot you.

As we were cruising out on Interstate 5 North towards Seattle, it was past dusk and well into night. The radio is going, we're talking cars and then one of my friends in the back seat found a survival knife at his feet.

Being the kids we were, of course we had to flash it at drivers - in jest of course. Of course someone in another vehicle doesn't hear the laughter or pick up on the goofiness that is going on in our car. The car we were passing had a woman in the car and she took a look at the knife and calmly dipped into her purse.

You've heard the witticism, "don't bring a knife to a gunfight?"

Well, I've lived this witticism and, yeah, don't bring a knife to a gunfight.

Silhouetted against the headlights of other cars on the road, the woman pulled what looked to me as a .38 revolver. What isn't in dispute is that it was a hand gun! As if we had been in tangles with guns before, we all ducked (like it would help) including the driver!
Kinda like this

As the driver ducked his arm kicked the shifter out of drive into neutral! So all his flooring of the throttle was doing nothing for a few seconds until I kicked it back into drive.

The woman had to be laughing now. We laughed - but it was a bunch of nervous laughter knowing that we just had a valuable lesson in driving etiquette. Namely, no need to get aggressive with other random drivers.

So, kids, this is a lesson of what not to do. 

I'm happy to be your mentor for driving scenarios and you can take this one to heart.

You Can't Fly Underground, 1990

If I titled this story what it should be titled it would give away the punchline so, since my life is an open book, I just wanted to be straightforward with you on that one.

As you know my best friend and I both owned fire breathing Pony Cars in high school. We'd take turns driving to school as while 8 cylinders are just right for a fast car, 16 is too many to just drive to school and work so we economized.

Another friend that lived close somehow ended up part of this deal so we had three cars at our disposal so it made no sense to do anything other than accept another 4 cylinders into our carpool.

I cannot recall if his parents bought the car for him or if he was able to just drive it whenever he wanted but, I think, his parents bought him a new 1990 Nissan Sentra. I am pretty sure Sentra means "square face and ass" in Japanese but I don't know Japanese so I can't bet more than $1 on it.

This is not my friends Nissan Sentra, it is a representation. Stop looking at pictures and read.

Well, today was the Nissan's duty to drive us four sophomores to school. Oh, and if you're asking how I know this particular Nissan Sentra is not said Nissan Sentra, it is because said Nissan Sentra is either rusted out, has mildew problems or has enough electrical problems to have driven whoever owned it next insane.

How do I know this?

I know it because I was in the passenger seat. On this day in the Greater Seattle Area it rained above average. Which means it rained "a lot". Plus, kids, todays drive to school took a diversion down a road that we never really drove down. It was a residential area and to this day I cannot remember why we diverted down it.

Picture a long, straight residential road, no speed bumps and oh about 1/4 mile of distance in a 25MPH zone. As my particular friend that was driving was not all that daring a kid (read: more mature than myself) we were doing 25MPH. When what to our wondering eyes did appear but a little bit of water running over the roadway.

As the intrepid Nissan rolled over this water, it became instantly apparent that this road was not "perfectly flat". Soon the water was ½ way up the tires and wheels. We pressed on, a steady 25MPH as our attention turned more and more to what was ahead of us.. in a matter of seconds the Sentra had a bow wave

The not-so-mighty engine started having trouble holding speed and soon the water was over the nose of the hood.. this ship was in peril. My friend in the backseat and I yelled, simultaneously, "FLOOR IT!" and, "DON'T STOP!"

Accelerator to the floor, the Nissans brand new windows, and I'll never forget this, were very clean. I could see a good 3" under water through the side window of this car, if the Sentra were a convertible I'd be up to my nose in rainwater! The car was slowing but we were still moving... if there were fish in this "puddle" I'd have seen them, the windshield and in fact, all the windows were 3" under water!

This was as deep as we got - but knowing that if we stopped now, right here, it'd be catastrophic to not just our morning but to the car. I'm unsure if we could have even gotten the door open.

The car sputtered down to less than 10MPH under full throttle (and we never became afloat as far as I know). The wheels kept turning and the water visible through the window started to recede as if a drain had been unplugged from the street. It wasn't, of course, we just happened to make it to the other side of the pond.

We laughed knowing that we dodged a bullet, as Ralphie in A Christmas Story states: We kids know it is always better to not get caught.

Our friends only comment on this, other than extreme laughter echoing through the cabin of the Sentra was, "don't tell my dad, he'll never let me drive again."

So we never told anyone.

Sticks and Stones My Break My Bones But they Also Can Fix My Chevy

I've posted a couple serious and deeply personal posts lately so I'm going to balance it back out with goofy car stories. This one is actually a "humble brag" post about my mechanical ability and ability to work a situation that isn't necessarily going my way.

In 1992 while driving in my neighborhood, I passed a car with a for sale sign in it and it immediately drilled into my psyche. It was a gunmetal grey 1962 Chevrolet Biscayne 2-Door Post. The "post" referred to the B-billar of the car. Oddly, to me a the time, it was also known as a "sedan" even though it was a two door.


Like this but grey
It had huge front and back bench seats and the seats were sprung, not of foam like modern cars are. The body was straight and it was a 283 V8 with a 3-speed and automatic overdrive, essentially making it a 6-speed. A great drag car!

The $1600 asking price was within reach - if I sold my 1968 Chevrolet 3/4-ton truck. I didn't need a truck, I'm not even sure why I ever bought it. 

I sold it.


Like this but grey.
The Biscayne I purchased the next day was just a joy. It was a 2-owner car, I was the third. The previous owner had installed cruise control, delay wipers, water injection and a 2nd oil filter under the hood. It purred like a kitten. It had the original hub caps on 14" bias-ply tires.

This is my 2nd favorite car I've ever owned. It never broke and I daily drove it for years to work and all over the Northwest.

Well, honestly, one day it broke. I had driven a good friend over to his not unattractive girlfriends home on the other side of the city. We listened to Queensrÿche: "Empire" on the CD player and 7 speaker system I had installed myself - and damn it was great!

The "breakdown" happened, appropriately for a Chevrolet, only after it delivered me to my destination. The clutch pedal went dead - to the floor - and for a few minutes my heart sank to the same place.

I had often bragged that I could fix a Chevrolet with sticks and rocks if necessary. I never had a wish to try it, it was bravado, but this day, this day I swear my only options were sticks and rocks.

I diagnosed the problem while my friend was in his girlfriends house doing who knows what. I found that the clutch pivot spring that mounts from the engine block to the fame, about 8 inches long, had broken the weld at the frame. This essential part was what let the spring "rock" when you engaged the clutch. No weld, no brace, no engaging the clutch.

As I eyed this problem, two factors immediately came to light. 1. I had not brought my tool box. 2. I did not know how to weld and even if I did, I'd need to fabricate a new part. The cherry on top of the shit sundae being that I was not a CNC operator.

The last thing I noticed was that forward of where the weld broke on the frame was the top of the suspension shock absorber. This was a stout mounting and here was where my mind went to work. Eyeballing the distance between where the broken weld was and this literal stud

Without even thinking of my past boasts about sticks and rocks, I began looking for... sticks and rocks. What I finally came up with was a nice piece of granite, a nicely dried 3"x½" stick of maple and the wonder of compressibility, a nice piece of bark off a giant Douglas Fir.

These three simple, natural items placed in the right order allowed the spring of the clutch to press into them. I hopped in the car and gave the clutch a press. I kid you not, it felt exactly as it did when everything was factory. Good pressure, the pedal returned to its normal height off the floor... groovy!

When my friend came out to check on me I had given it who knows how many pumps to see if anything was moving about under the hood - nope! In fact, the bark had already worn in a nice groove for it to rock in. I wasn't exactly 100% sure this would get us home but I had, as Astronauts say, "a high degree of confidence". I didn't ask how his girlfriend was.

My confidence was well placed. We got in the "Biscuit" as many of my friend called the Biscayne (they must not have been familiar with the bay but I'm a geography nut) and we sailed her home. Nary a hitch as Jet City Woman played on the CD player, an odd mix of 1962 and digital audio rolling through King County in style. Men in bland Honda Accords looked at me with our windows down, all smiles and I could read their minds: I wish I had never sold that car.

The most impressive part of my humble brag is that I drove my car like that for a good six or more months before finding someone who could take on the job of fabricating and welding in a new bracket at the great price of $50!

So if you wonder why the only tattoo I have is "1-8-4-3-6-5-7-2" and I bleed Chevy Orange, this is one of the many reasons. I've had many things let me down or not work as advertised or had small prayers not answered but Chevrolet has never stranded me, whether a 30 year old one with hundreds of thousands of miles on the odometer or a modern 2008 or 2013 model.

I still have those sticks and rocks packed away somewhere. So I implore you:

See the U.S.A. in your Jet-Smooth Chevrolet.

The Low Odds, High Desirability Event (Cars & Girls)

Hello, lovers. It is time to get back on the horse, or should I say horseshittery?

This story comes to us from the great state of Washington in the summer of 1990. If you've followed this blog so far you know that this is basically a blog revolving around funny or stupid things I did as a kid. So here we go.

I was 17 years old in 1990. In that year people in cars actually drove them rather than pretending to not look down at their own crotches while looking at their cell phones. By the way people, we CAN see you looking down at your phone even when you're tiring to make it look like your head is looking out the window - but that is another rant for another day.

My F-body Chevrolet (That is a Camaro to you) was never going to be complete without a CB radio in it. So, as a 17 year old in high school, working 40 hours a week and pulling 3.7GPAs I figured dropping $50 on a Uniden 510XL CB from Costco was more than a fair weekend joy. It turns out radio would be a life love of mine - and that I'd find out that looking for love on a CB radio was "all the wrong places."


The "Yellojacket" as my friends called my car.
My 1975 Camaro Rally Sport was one of 1500 Chevrolet made that year. Of course, I wrecked it because it was my first car and I was a boy. I didn't find out that the car was limited numbers until 20 years later when the Internet allowed looking up such banal facts.

Anyway, I think I prepared my whole life just for the day I could drive. I kept close attention to every single place we drove from childhood until that day Washington State handed me my permit.

I could attention seek and post pictures of all these treasured artifacts but you're here to READ so you only get one photo, kid.


Oh, the girl?

Yes, I was driving home from my grandparents place in on the Skagit River up in (heh) Skagit County back home to Renton. The South Skagit Highway is a Washington State best drive. (I almost hate to divulge this because I'm starting to not give up all my "best drives in Washington" for fear they will no longer be "best drives" but full of Subaru Drivers driving 5MPH below on the twisties, causing me to pull over for 20 minutes in order to hope they either drive over the bank into the river or give them time to get off the highway so I may do it properly).

The "low odds" event mentioned in my title is that on this day another Camaro was on South Skagit. It was not driving slow, it was the same generation as mine and it was RED. South Skagit is a two lane road with one in each direction. There are only a few passing points no matter how fast your car is or how masterful a wheel person you are. So, when doing 70MPH and I came up on the tail of this red Camaro, I was more intrigued than frustrated. A fellow petrol head!


This is not the car, you illiterate fool, we didn't have camera phones back then.
As Def Leppard played on my stereo, I slid into 4th gear and kept a "safe and sane" distance from this car and started to take it all in. The red looked original, less masculine (or asinine) than mine did. The person driving it had longish hair... and I kid you not, it had a CB antenna on the trunk. The spirited driving I had been doing up until now was nothing compared the way my heartbeat picked up. I'm not sure if it was just the hope I had to engage in some fun or if I truly expected anyone to actually engage in any fun with me.

I had been driving and riding the South Skagit for ALL of my 17 years and I knew every twist and turn. Which straight away could handle 140MPH and which ones you just motor on through at 35. I knew a left hander was coming up that rolled out into at least a one mile or more straight away that crossed one creek with a small bridge. As the corner loomed, I blipped the throttle of the V8, matching revs and downshifted into 3rd. When she had completed the turn and I was at the apex and could see no oncoming cars, I put the spurs to her. The M-22 transmission whined and the ker-chunk of the four barrel carburetor happened in quick succession. 

My Camaro not so much passed her, but leapt aside her where I peddled the car at 4,000RPM in 3rd to hold station. She looked over and all I did was hold up the microphone of my CB and dangle it so she could "get the message".. and all of this in the blink of an eye, she held up 7 fingers, not just the one finger I was expecting. I finished off 3rd and the pass and banged home 4th gear. The Coconut Little Tree™ hanging from my rear view mirror, heretofore rocking back and forth like a metronome during the maneuver, returned to its normal place. 

With my heart pounding, I dialed in channel 7 on the CB and then.... there she was! We were almost in the same car! For the next 45 minutes from the South Skagit Highway to down Interstate 5 we chatted as if we were having coffee except we were talking about cars, our favorite bands and whether we should stop and meet.

Before the exit was coming up I was already having separation anxiety. I was wary of stopping and she definitely had to be more wary, even as two Camaro owners - of the kid with the mullet and deadly good looks. I was just naive enough to think that "this has happened once now, it shall happen again".

At the exit we waved and laughed and I merged off onto Interstate 405. We kept talking until we were out of range - which was another 10 or more minutes and then our disembodied voices faded off into the ether. 

I never saw that Camaro or person again - and I still wonder where the heck she was driving from and where the heck she was going.

Here's to you, missy! You had reinforced a hopeful young mans belief in romanticism in the most perfect way it could have possibly been conveyed that day.

The Great Blimp Attack of 1994

Ah, my beloved Seattle Supersonics. I was a complete NBA head until the league decided that Oklahoma City(!?) of all places needed a team so bad that expansion just wouldn't work. They needed a team, in place, that they could steal from a city and plunk down in the great market that is OKC. Don't even argue with me that this was a premeditated attack and rip off of our team here, 1967-2008.. over 40 years of support and love.


Anyway, this short story is about one particular game in 1994. The very good Orlando Magic were visiting and the Sonics were playing in the Tacoma Dome. Why? Because Seattle was trying to placate yet another NBA bitch that our arena wasn't good enough. It was, but still we took a year to give them exactly what they wanted. 

The 1994 Orlando Magic were a powerhouse but the Sonics were also very good these mid 90s years. Orlando came packing Shaquille O'Neal and Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway who were nearly as fun to watch as the Sonics duo of Gary "The Glove" Payton and Shawn "Reign Man" Kemp. Nearly - but not as fun. They were not as daring and dare I say just could not match the charisma that Payton/Kemp brought to the hardwood.

Anyway, the powerhouses met to do battle in 1994 and I remember the game well. I had season tickets this year and I brought my younger brother to the game. Leading up to it we knew it was going to be a great game but we had no idea about how fun the game was going to be.

The game was fun. It was intense. For some reason we held Shaq to 0 (zero) points and beat them quite handily. Perhaps it was a secret weapon to make millionaire basketball studs from Orlando play a game in Tacoma. This isn't a jab at Tacoma but I think even they would admit in March that they are no match for Orlando as a city. 

So, the Great Blimp Attack? Ah, yes, the game was interesting but what made this match unforgettable was that the blimp that flew around Sonics matches for years and dropped free tickets to upcoming matches ran into some trouble.
I still can't tell if it was taunting people or if there were "technical malfunctions" that allowed it to fly below the "hard deck" (a term we all learned as Generation Xers from the movie Top Gun). In my mind, I was thinking, if I wanted to take a shot at that blimp, now is when I'd strike. 

In a brief flash of what felt like psychokinesis, indeed, a drunken fan at the south end of the court saw his chance appear. Or, a chance at notoriety appeared to him. We will never know. In one hilarious move he chucked his large bucket of popcorn up at the blimp which destabilized it enough to send it into a porpoising motion as if it were riding an invisible teeter-totter. This alone caught the attention of... everyone.. but in particular the Sheriffs who were doing security at the game.

The man saw his work, and was clearly pleased with it. I'm not sure if he saw the police and security coming to beat his ass as he was kicked out of the venue but if he did - and kudos to him to stay focused on the attack - he picked up his beer. He took a swig, showing great elan, and after he was good with the swill he fox-one'd the beer delivering a staggering blow the beloved Sonics blimp. It kept losing altitude until it was behind the stands and after that I know not what happened to it. 

The man who decided to take out the blimp was "escorted" out of sight also. I'd like to think he was one of what seemed to be the 30% of people there wearing Orlando jerseys because, ya know, everyone liked Shaq but I was not so close as to see his garb.

My human failing (as well as just plain being a homer) says that if it were an Orlando Magic fan that did this I'm less okay with it than had it just been a bored Sonics fan who was so sick of winning this night that he was pretty much done with basketball.

To this day, if Clay Bennett and his crook partner David Stern were riding in a blimp over Seattle... I'd entertain thoughts of throwing a King Beer at them. They ripped my heart out, stealing our team, and in my mind it will never be made right.

1998 The Daily 5AM Duel

OK, so my blog is starting to read that the only accomplishments I've achieved are driving cars and screwing around. In order to reinforce the fact that the thought that I'm a super talented person who just has a lot of interesting experiences - I have a fully new story to share regarding cars.

For a good one and a half years, every day when I got up to go to work, there was a 3 out of 5 possibility that when, after warming up my 1978 Z/28 to drive to Starbucks Retail Operations in Seattle from Renton that the "5AM Daily Duel" as I like to call it was on.

My 1978 Z/28 had 55,000 original miles and looked like it rolled right off the factory with the sole exceptions that I had dismantled the 5.7L engine (that's 350 cubic inches to you, kids), added a roller cam and rockers and a more modern Holley Double Pumper™ Four Barrel Carburetor. Usually Q-ships are cars that don't look fast but are. My car was a Q-ship if only because it was fast to begin with but the sleeper part was that it was faster than any 1978 Z/28 that ever rolled off Chevrolet's glorious assembly line.

I named it "The Menace".

The Menace is loose again.


I'd burble out of the garage onto Benson Road South and would pretty much let the 4-speed roll down hill in neutral... looking for a Camaro natural nemesis: A white 5.0 Mustang of about 1986 Vintage. The man who drove it was about my age (25) and his car was a stick too. His car looked stock like mine but clearly wasn't. When he woke in the morning I'd wager he was also wondering if he'd tangle with me too. 



There were two lights before we would hit downtown Renton at the bottom of Benson Hill. When we did spot each other, clutches were popped, V8s roared and since the streets were empty we raced to the exact same spot: the last light on Grady that turns onto 167 for 1/8th of a mile and then to 405 to I-5. The race stopped when we got to I-5 if only that driving 140MPH 3 times a week in an urban setting is just plain fun, er, dangerous.

I think we only ever made eye contact once in the 1.5 years and it was the first day we tangled. There was no posturing. No ridiculous exhaust sounds whose barks were worse than their bites. Just two Pony Cars whose owners love to drive them the way they were built to be driven. 

At that last light before the interstates, there were two left turn lanes. The inside one was the one the "loser" got stuck in. The outside left turn lane was the one to be in as it was an easy clutch pop and redline in first to that onramp and snicking the shifter into second or in my case, throwing the Menace into 2nd, you were golden. The car in the inside turn lane had to fall in behind and the chase was on to the I-5 onramp. There was no looking at the speedometer..... it was flat out Mustang GT versus Z/28 pride on the line.

To this day, I can't tell you the winning percentage of who had to watch the other guys tail lights to Interstate 5 North. I even remember the guys license plate and a bumper sticker, the sticker read "FoMoCo".

Now, just because I ended up behind him enough times to know that doesn't mean a thing. I'm pretty sure to this day he can see my Z/28 logo on my rear gas filler door and my RATT sticker placed very subtly low on my rear bumper; Dangerous but worth the risk.

But the very first time we ever tangled, he saw Chevrolet tail lights at every stop.


Nobody ruled the streets at night like me.


Spring, 1993, Stone Temple Pilots Show

If you haven't heard of Stone Temple Pilots, that's fine. Just substitute STP for one of the hottest, sweatiest most packed live shows you have ever gone to and it'll all make sense, kids.

I'm not going to get into a debate about STP. I think there are two people: One who dig them and others who think they just aped Seattle Sound. Let's not argue that. Let's just say that if you're GenX you definitely rocked to Plush, Interstate Love Song, Sex Type thing... and many more tunes that are near and dear to my heart.

So, when STP came to the Mercer Arena in 1993, you bet your sweet ass I was gonna be at that Rawk Show! I'm a music snob but I couldn't wait to see frat boys who only knew two songs packed in and getting their lame asses rocked off just to hear Plush while they were high.

Well, turns out, it did't matter who you were that night. We all got our lame asses rocked. 

I had bought a brand new pair of Chuck Taylor high tops, the only size 13s in the city, just for the show. Chubby and Tubby on Rainier (like Sir-Mix-Alot but a rocker) for $24. I was ready to rock. The usual "Goddamned Rockers" piled into my 1979 Sleeper Camaro and cruised downtown to the Mercer Arena for just another night.

This is not the one shoe I had left. It is a representation.

It wasn't just another night. I'm not even sure who opened for STP because everyone was jockeying for front row to see the DeLeon Brothers and Scott Weiland. I was about 2 or 3 people deep and the lights went dark. At first it was quiet and then the crowd started to press. Scott steps to the mic with a megaphone in hand, into the microphone, with his inimitable voice says, "I aaaaaaaaam smelling like a rose......."


I aaaaaaaaaaam!


The lights pop on at the exact same time with red shining down on his red bleached hair and the place feels as if someone just vacuumed packed us all in this place and time to have wallets stolen, asses grabbed, nuts kicked, sweat swapped, and smiles and singing above all.

I am not a small guy, even at age 18. I swear to you, ½ way through the first song someone stepped (I'm sure purely on accident) on my right heel, removing my brand new right Chuck T. I immediately tried to go to ground but the pit was so packed, I was able to raise my knees to my chest! There I was suspended - lifted as if I were a 2 year old... an odd feeling for a "grown man".

Before I can even try to shimmy down the sweaty arms to my beloved, new Chuck T, I see what can only be MY Chuck T being thrown over our heads at the drummer. The person missed, and it sailed over his him. There goes $12! But it isn't just $12 because nobody is selling me one size 13 Chuck T high top. The meter is still running kids - I have my brother's Eddie Bauer watch to lose still - absolutely no idea where that one went... no idea which song, whether the first or last one.

Also, to win the Big Rock Show Trifecta, and only after the show was over and my beer soaked right sock (It was a Nike mid-cut with blue Swoosh™) and badly bruised heel, arch, toes and top of foot.... as I hopped out of Mercer Arena on my left foot - Seattle blessed us with its famed gentle downpour. 


Adam the Goddamned Rocker with my cold friend Mat

Picture Frogger but instead someone who still had to drive all his friends home in his $400 Camaro - which for some reason everyone envied but they never had to get their hands dirty. Denon pull out cranked the tunes, I added up my losses and our ears ringed all the way home. 

I did try to ask politely to get my shoe back after the encore... you can guess what the stage crew said to me.

And I was happy.

They Day Flamin' Amy Died (And I Almost Did Too)

Hello, Lovers. I've had ten emails just in two hours - ridiculous for a post from this rat-trap blog - wanting to know about my near death experience. No, I do not think this is gruesome or prying. Now keep in mind, because I am a Norwegian Viking Warrior, no scars nor blood was shed in my near death experience. In fact, I only woken to permanent, catastrophic pain on September 29, 1999 at 3:15PM on a clear, sunny day in Seattle.

First, one should know that by age 26 still nobody has ever trained you on what to do when a 1990 Kenworth from CTI (complete with second trailer) full of broken cement is out looking for trouble. You yourself don't have to snort cocaine to be effected by it. So if you send email questioning what to do after your spine is inevitably turned to liquid I do know now. Teachable moment.

On that afternoon I was driving home on Highway 167S which is a known gridlock generator full of semi trucks and people driving to Auburn or Puyallup (or the "Paris of Washington" as I like to say). Other trucks on the road are jacked up accidents waiting to happen, built up as if there are no paved roads just 20 miles south of Seattle. My 1979 Dodge short bed was just a plain ol’ pickup. You know, the kind you use for work and not to feel manly about or compensate for a lack of understanding physics.


I don't remember this. Three days after, I shouldn't be walking. Then, I couldn't.

Predictably, after driving 55MPH for about 5 miles the gridlock grew and I came to a stop. My arm was out the window. The stock AM radio was playing “Greatest hits from the 50s, 60s and 70s” and I was listening to chatter from truckers on the CB. C’mon! Great day right?

As I was singing along with Manilow I glanced into the rear view mirror (as all good drivers do every 5 seconds or when coming to a stop). What befell my Rootbeer Brown eyes was a Silver Kenworth dump truck about a mile back coming at me quick. What caught my eye was the second trailer visibly jack knifing. Not good.

Highway 167 South is 3 lanes in its direction. The carpool lane is on the left. The “fast lane” in the middle and the “slow lane” is to the far right - the lanes were in the right place but as usual the drivers were not in their proper lanes. I was in the middle lane and there were no cars behind me.

I can see the driver correct for the jack knifing trailer and then wheel from the center lane into the carpool lane but there is a car right along side him and he veers back towards me and that’s when I knew I was going to take a massive hit. The driver had made the choice to rear end me rather than crush the car beside him into the divider.

I had time to actually consider getting out of my truck and making a dash for the grass and trees on the side of the highway but quickly reasoned that the best protection I had was the Detroit Iron I was already in. I took one more look with my own eyes out the back window. To keep from adding to the change in velocity I was about to experience I threw the truck in neutral, let off the clutch and brake (not unlike Obi Wan lowering his light saber when facing Darth Vader) and heard Manilow sing to me,  "This ones for you," and said, “SHIT!”


SHIT!


By that time, it was lights out. Cocaine Kenworth crunched to within 3 feet of my body/head and had wiped out over 20 cars before I “awoke”. I don’t know how long I was out but there was not one thing in the cab of my truck bolted down that wasn’t thrown lose, including me. The initial hit had my head knocking out the rear window immediately followed by being pushed into the next car in front of me, knocking my big 6’3” 240 pound lifeless body into the steering wheel. The steering wheel bent at 90º and left marks on my cheek bones to this day. Still, no blood or tears came.


Courtesy rear window pop out via head.


This Norwegian oaf was shook out of it first when one Washington State Trooper, one Kent Police officer and one King County Sheriff were gently pulling me out of my truck. I only remember apologizing for being so big. When asked for my address I gave them a mix between my childhood homes and my childhood best friends home, none of them current in more than a decade.

I remember hearing one of them saying, “he’s dead.”

And that is where Adam 2.0 started. The shock of running 6 minute miles and dunking basketballs and lifting cars off people - gone in the blink of an eye. My brain is still sure I can do it, alas, it cannot. Think of every possible physical pleasure you enjoy - diminished by 50% or completely - forever. 26 and life to go, Mr. Smith.

The good side.

I remember coming around and saying, “I’m a hero!” That’s just my style - supposed to be funny in dire straits and I’m glad my brain quickly filed back to a good place despite a severe concussion and spine completely on fire. My body tightly strapped down to a board to prevent further damage, including my head taped down and on the floor of a speeding ambulance I remember my back hurting so bad my hands felt cold. I spent what mental faculties I could focus on by reassuring the medic. I asked him if I was in a General Motors vehicle and what engine was under the hood. He replied that it was inconsequential because the semi had wiped out over 25 cars and there was no traffic between us and the hospital.





The bad side.
Some details for your pleasure. Tailgate at 45º angle.

Use your signals. Give a semi 5 seconds of signal before changing lanes in front of one. Finally, submit to the fact that even if you do all these things and the driver is coked up and jamming gears that he is going to do some urban renewal on your body. 

I suffered three burst discs, L3-L4, L4-L5, and L5-S1. These immediately were the thing that set my spine on fire. The concussion, which was only termed "severe" made my whole body flinch every time I blinked my eyes. Newborn Adam, brave new world.
I don't remember this. (Taken three days after accident)


Anesis Pain Clinics - A Pain in the Anesass

My close friends all know that I am the survivor of a Near Death Experience (NDE). In 1999 while sitting in my 1979 Dodge Truck, which I loved, a semi driver high on cocaine plowed into me while he was doing 55-65MPH. This changed my life forever.

I'll describe the action packed event in a different blog (because if you do survive, only to be injured badly it is kinda exciting to think back on - if only it was a ticket to ride the most violent thing I think I could have experienced behind the wheel of a vehicle).


As you can see, Flaming Amy's thick American steel is a bit wrinkled. My head knocked out the rear window.



This truck had no damaged body panels on it before contact. The tailgate was flat and straight.


Today I'd just like to write about my experience after my beloved doctor retired after 17+ years of saving my life, keeping my body moving with as little pain as possible and generally just being a super person. Dr. Edward Hartzler is no longer practicing and I hope he has his toes in the sand, sailing his boat that I helped make payments on over the years.... maybe even building a nice bungalow with his own bare hands because he was that kind of guy. He also has a rarified 4.85 star rating since practicing medicine in Washington State since 1973.

Anyway, onto Anesis Pain Clinics.  The news you hear about opioid nastiness and overdoses and deaths are not in question by me. People who use them for fun times are playing a risky game. That being said people who are prescribed them because of nerve damage, severe spinal injuries or severe maladies such as cancer or other horrible, godless diseases do not get high off these opioids. It helps them manage their pain so that they are able to function, as best they can, dealing with life. Some, it helps be more physical (thus able to manage weight and do work), others it helps get along with family and friends or to sleep.

I'd wager that Anesis Pain Clinics will end up causing more harm than help to their clients, in the name of the almighty dollar and not doing their due diligence in listening, customizing and contouring their treatments to different cases.

I'm one of the people in the latter category. I have nerve root compression on two levels of my lower spine thanks to Mr. Cocaine Kenworth of CTI in Kent, WA. That truck still is driving by the way - I see it once or twice a month. Good on Kenworth for building such a tank; Kenworth is a Renton, Washington company and I take pride in that.

Opioids do not make me loopy, make my hair stand on end or give me a high. They do a job that surgeries, electrostimulators, IDETsmicrodiscectomies and myriad other treatments have not accomplished: Relieving people who suffer chronic pain due to an injury.

In this way you'd think your Pain Management Doctor would work with you when you spent  5 years trying all sorts of plans with your doctor team to find a balance between slowly killing you with nasty chemicals and you killing yourself because pain is so constant at best and at worst will put you onto shock and drop you to the floor (think Captain Kirk when he's beset upon by some superhuman alien with the loud screechy noise bringing him to his knees). Yes, it sounds funny but in real life it is shocking, painful and the cherry on top of the shit sundae, embarrassing. Followed then by having a nice 15 year run of life.

Anesis Pain Clinics have no interest in helping the latter. If you're injured, too bad. Their aim is to use guidelines set out by... someone.. to be your drug dealer... and hold back until you are on the razors edge of pain. So, all my fellow Square Pegs, prepare to be pigeon holed into a round receiver. You will be assumed to be at risk, assumed to have nefarious reasons for requiring pain assistance even when armed with 15 different MRIs from neurosurgeons, spine surgeons and overwhelming evidence from just about any venue you can imagine.

For instance, I recently tore the meniscus in my knee and will be going into the University of Washington Sports Ortho to have it repaired. My doctor at Anesis told me that they'd want me to stop taking my meds for surgery. She didn't consult the UW, call my doctor, verify my injury (either of them) she just told me to stop taking my pain meds. Cold turkey. I believe this was the most inhumane thing I've ever experienced including being rammed by a 180,000 pound semi being operated by a cocaine addled driver looking to do some urban renewal on Highway 167 in Kent, Washington. Lack Of Communication! (This to to keep you entertained).

My doctors at the University of Washington, of course, said, "no such thing!" 

So, I am about to make my second visit to Anesis. I fully suspect to not be listened to, to be tracked further onto their agenda to be yet another copay, another gateway to take your money only to be treated like a common criminal from these licensed drug dealers armed with the backing of?

I hope you haven't ever needed to make the decision between long term liver and brain alteration and being able to walk, work and function. But if you have, this is one chain store you can skip out of hand. I try to avoid Wal*Mart type operations but I am treated more humanely and kindly at Walmart, by strangers as well as employees!

I do believe I was stuck behind my pain management doctor on the way to work today.


////////

Post appointment followup.

PS - My doctor, a Xi Chen, mis-instructed me two weeks ago and to cover her mess she walked out of my appointment when I followed said instructions. I hate to tell you my fellow injured and chronic pain sufferers, there is no help for you at Anesis. You will be treated like a McDonalds Drive-thru except there is only one thing on the menu: Working you down to being in pain but still come back and pay copay after copay as they are The Purveyors of Vice for Profit. There is no other explanation for their behavior, ineptness and complete lack of sympathy.

Seattle Summer, 1990, The Airport

Nothing good ever happens after 1 AM.

Well, that's a credo, if you can have a credo, I live by and is mostly true. At least by my measure. But this night, I recollect from age 17 in Renton, our clocks were probably pushed more to the two or three AM time line. So, I won't name whose idea this was, but we all agreed it had to be done so we are all culpable.

So we hit the road. At that time, driving from Renton to SeaTac Airport may as well have been Mexico. A few of us drove V8s, but regardless, from an "Iron Duke" 2.5L, to a minivan, to a V8 “Pony Car” lets say, gas, as always equaled money.

When you're 17, at least on Benson Hill, you stop playing hide and seek. Even at this age, the dawning of the Internet, better communications, and some boundaries that we could not see, didn't matter a hoot. We had CB radios that could reach out 5 miles, 50 miles 500 miles, 5000 miles. Communication between myself and my friends was not a problem in 1990.

So we decide the airport has to be played. I can't remember which people, how many cars, or the exact date but I do remember we paid for parking.

There's not much traffic after midnight even today. So, say, you were to hop in your car, drive to SeaTac Airport, park and walk inside and have free reign of the whole place you might make that drive today, just for fun!

Back then whether anyone harbored any ill will for my country or not, the airport was a safe place to be. Or so we felt.

Since 17-year-olds don't play hide and seek, we played "manhunt.”

Manhunt was “hide and seek". When you're 17 jacked up on energy, running with friends, and at a giant airport in Seattle, you go all out. Just a few memories are: Being exhausted, hysterical laughter, not being seen by any of the airport employees whether physically or on camera… and while running down one office space going into a giant board room and plucking an ice cold Coca-Cola out of the biggest iced container I've ever seen for pop. As far as I know taking a few cold Cokes from a meeting that was either done or soon to be happening was the only thing we did that could have been of consequence. Let’s call it 1:30AM.

We were just thirsty and it was there. I do recall being chased and chasing friends with so much space in between us, even with youthful speed, that when someone cut down another aisle, you were too far away to really tell whether it was the next one or the second from the next one.

I am serious: not even an "hey kids!” Nothing! For an hour, maybe two we took trams, we ran down concourses, went through offices (because we were either running away from or chasing someone), until we had all given up we're drinking down Coca-Cola's for free.

Well, they weren't exactly free. I think we may have paid 10 bucks each car to park there. I say we got the better end of the deal looking back. Hell, the parking may have even been free. In that case, karmically, I’m still ahead.

This is not a challenge to 17 year olds today, had there've been a TSA back then it's quite likely I’d have a minor Federal record. I've been caught speeding before, nobody is immune to the immutable laws of average. It's just that at that day, at that time and at that place, we owned it.

I'm pretty sure we raced our cars (and the "Speed Tax") all the way through the valley back to Benson Hill.

*Apologies for the typos, they're fixed. I imported this memory off a Commodore 64 and wanted the raw text at first. It is now... proper. - acs

The Dufferin, Summer 1992

Fall 1992, Vancouver, British Columbia.

Myself and three other cohorts went up to Vancouver to support a couple friends of ours who were playing on a soccer team in a competition up there.

We were far from world travelers, but when we reached Vancouver we cruised around looking for a hotel where we might have a base of operations for the weekend. But not after filling up for what we thought was an outlandishly good price of $1.13.... but it was per liter and not gallon... we were 19, C'mon!

Four Jovial, 19-year-old, fresh face boys and one girl piled out of my friends car, a new Volvo sedan that was "The slowest car I had ever ridden in", into a hotel called Hotel Dufferin.

I was the only one with the debit card, so I paid. I wasn't much of a carouser at that time so I stayed in the hotel room while all the rest of them went out and had fun on the town where at our age, we were able to drink. I got a couple Cokes and watched Into the Eagles Nest while they partied.

We were very welcome and eyes seem to follow us everywhere as we all piled into our room and did our thing. I didn't feel we were being watched because anyone knew we were American or acting in any peculiar way.... there was just a lot of interest in us. Later that night, through the bottom of our floor, we could hear what sounded like a dance floor thump thump thumping away. It wasn't rock, it was louder than I was used to and I'm a metal head!

Everything was still copacetic until about three in the morning when one of my friends returned drunk on his feet to our room. Even though he was only two blocks from our hotel he needed a cab to get home. The cab driver laughed, pulled out off the curb and then immediately back to the curb and dropped him off. Easy hit.

It all fell into place when we woke his hung over self the next morning and the first thing he exclaimed was, "we have chose a gay hotel!"

The open arms for us received from other customers when getting a room, the eyes upon us as we walked through the hallways and in and out of the building. I can only imagine what they were thinking of the five kids in one small room! I'm pretty sure we were not in risk of have a piece of our asses taken but it was a time for action - we needed to drive further north to get to our friends match anyway.

We didn't have any run-ins, and we had nothing to gripe about when we left the next day… Except a few laughs at how innocent we were staying at what was obviously a well-known local haunt with tight pants, only men and many mustaches.

I still have the receipt somewhere, as a Momento of the night us five really tight friends (unafraid to swat each others asses and zero fear of our sexuality) packed into a room at a huge gay hotel.


Ah, The Dufferin (Doo-fer-Aaa) silent n. I'd go back, the cable was free.

Summer of '93

Summer, 1993

I had just started a new full time job, freshly out of high school and attending community college. I was hired on at Denny's Chevron on 192nd and Benson Highway in Renton, WA. At this time I'd call myself about "shade tree" as far as hands on mechanics go but an above average understanding in things mechanically related.

My boss was "Wes" and working for him, there was nothin' that couldn't be done. What he lacked in tact and reading ability he made up for in wizard-like mechanic ability. He rebuilt Rochester Quadrajets ™ or Carter Aluminum Four Barrels (AFBs) hell, any carburetor in 45 minutes. If you have never seen, heard of or worked on a carb, look one up: They're complex.

Under Wes' tutelage I became not quite a master mechanic, but became an accomplished mechanic who was instilled with fearlessness that only true gear heads develop, minus taking classes. I went on to be the "Van Man" as vans are a pain in the royal ass to do tune ups on, generally. Their engines require contortions that Wes just wasn't gonna put up with, the lanky 20 year old me grudgingly knew when a van pulled up - Wes' eyes sparkled and he'd smile at me with his missing tooth prominently... I was gonna bleed.

My eye got better at knowing how much to bite off one Sunday. The shop was closed Sundays - I was working so that meant my '62 Chevy 2-DR street racer and classic was in the garage but it didn't need nuthin' done, minus friends and fellow weekend road warriors stopping by to talk shop or ask for a hand.

My 1962 Chevrolet Biscayne 2-Dr and a pal I sold it to.. waaaaaaaah!

And out of the blue, and rare for a Sunday, a guy called in from outta state and was desperate. He needed a new water pump on his Chevy Truck or he was stuck in Washington! Well, he may think he didn't want to be stuck here but I sure as heck wanted to help him get his California butt back to California.

"Shops Closed," I told him. But he was desperate.

He told me it was a V-8 and I thought, "oh hell, I can do that."

So I told him to bring it in and give me three hours. At that time I could swap a V8 water pump in 30-45 minutes if pressed so that'd be no sweat.

He walked in, handed me the keys and off he went!

I was confident. All the tools, great air powered stuff, lifts, disposal, anything you could want!

I pulled the truck in and popped the hood and dove in. Radiator and fans, pullies, etc off. And I see the water pump. It's odd lookin. It's a diesel!!

I had never done more than an oil change on a diesel motor - and a water pump on a diesel Chevy 350 is much more time consuming and involved than a gasoline Chevy V8.

But I was proud and fearless. Yeah, I was sweating now now, between the summer heat and the dawning realization of the task that I just bit off was more than I could chew.. and definitely above my pay grade. Due to my childhood I knew it was on me and there was no internet, no phone line and nobody home to help me.

I was alone at the gas station half way through a job on a Sunday. Real quiet. Only success or humiliation could result.

I got in my car, locked the place up (it was open 24/7), and bombed down to the auto parts store. I think I turned a 13.1 ET as I banged home top gear and the roller rockers on the hood of my 283 with 327 cranked hotted up motor responded to my needs and at the same time soothed me with its silky smooth power.

Long story short is I got it all together, test drove it, and it all ran fine. I only charged the guy what I quoted (about 1/3 a diesel job) and off he went. I lived weeks in some pretty deep anxiety waiting for the long distance phone call that I screwed something up.

And some nights, like tonight, I wonder where the truck is that I most certainly over torqued the bolts and Permatex Blacked™ the water pump back on to and smile. I'd bet $100 he never had another water pump problem. That's the Smith Quality Guarantee™!

This story popped back into my head as roughly two weeks ago I was woke from dead sleep to hear a V8 being broken in about 3AM. It was revved loud and long and there's only one man on the hill I can think of that'd have ability, balls and "I don't give a shit" attitude is Wes. I'd bet $100 it was him. There is a art to mechanics. Yes, it is technical but when you can hear every part moving, time your beast by laying your hands on the distributor - not unlike using the Force instead of the timing light - it is as close merging with a mechanical, non-biological entity that I've experienced. Including Cortana, Siri, or whatever half-assed assistants we're stuck with today.

I smile thinking that. But if it was just any dumb ass that woke me up with breaking a new camshaft in, miles and miles away with extended 5,000 rpm, uncorked exhaust revs, I wanna beat him.

Pulled off a Hail Mary Christmas mechanical miracle before? Tell me about it in the comment box!

The Dual Fart Can - Inept Driver Conundrum

I'd like to start this out with some bonafides and because my life is an open book, share a story or two. I will then explain my exasperation at completely incomprehensible loudness of the slowest vehicles on the streets, peoples inept driving skills and offer some solutions. Most of them will be legal.

Yeah, I may sound like an old curmudgeon and my street racing days are waaaaaay behind me. My fast cars all sold for an "adult" modern sedan that is not exactly slow, but definitely not fast. 

My first car was a 350 cubic inch V8 (that's 5.7L to you, kid), 4BBL carb, dual exhaust, M-22 4-speed Camaro Rally Sport. I bought it before I had even learned to drive a stick - I taught myself. The clutch was non-hydraulic assist like cars today - just a big ass heavy spring that probably was more work out than I see most people do when they're working out their legs. 
With a 3.55:1 rear diff the car had a perfect mix of launch and legs. Redline in 1st was 60MPH - and the Hurst T-handle shifter made the 2nd - 3rd shift a fast, pleasant "snap" and into the wiggle of power coming back on in a blink.

I have no idea why my mom let me buy this car for my first car but bless her soul because this car is what led to my understanding of how the internal combustion engine worked - from start to finish. 

So yeah, in high school I worked 40 hours a week for an "honest" job but after midnight was when I made most of my cash. The job was merely a cover for my avocation of a little tomfoolery while rock music blared out the windows and the CB used to find where the action was that night.

Now, onto my curmudgeonly post. Please, suffer along with me  aswe go down the list of modern lack of disregard for neighbors and fellow citizens ears and peace and quiet.

1. The Fart Box car. These cars are, when you hear them, cars whose bark is not only merely worse than their bite, they are toothless except to act as should be noise citations. Legal solutions are to just hope they fix their car. Options are to share your stash of potatoes with them and cram one up their tail pipe any and every time you have the chance. We need to get proactive on this.

2. The Fart Box + Bad Driver car. These vehicles are much the same as above except the person "driving" the car has no idea how a powertrain works and either doesn't care about the longevity of their engines or purposefully drives their Annoyance in a manner that at all times allows it to make the most useless noise it can at all times. 

I must go in depth on the second one. If you have a fast car, even if it is loud, it should leave ear shot quickly. If you can still clearly hear a car as it shifts from 2nd - 3rd and until that redline, you know that most tow trucks could pull the car faster on their hooks than the car can move itself. Regardless, the cherry on top of the shit sundae for these Car and Drivers are that when they hit 45 and are redlined in 3rd, for some reason they do not upshift. Not even one gear! 
  • This is bad for your engine.
  • This is bad for gas mileage.
  • This is bad if you drive a car like this and run into the wrong guy at the wrong time.
Motorcycle drivers, particularly Harley Davidson riders (whom I consider newbs or just don't understand the point of driving a Harley) lately seem to have a strain of this ignorance/disregard or lack of couth. 

No matter if you are four wheels or two, when you drive a manual and are not in peril or racing for money or pride, we can hear you anyway. Trust us, you drive a Noise Generator and WE HEAR YOU. There is no reason to drive at redline for 30 seconds or rap out your car when you turn a corner onto a short/residential street.

Here is how, if you happen to be in this group of drivers or riders, to drive with some decorum and class:
  • Short Shifting. You probably have never heard of this, or just don't understand that low RPM driving is cool. Short Shifting is merely shifting up a gear without redlining your ride. Yes, you have 6 or 8k RPM but you needn't use them all when motoring. Instead, simply shift up a gear at 2-3k, and when you reach the speed limit upshift to  just short of under-revving your engine. 
Doing this primarily raises your driving IQ and the admiration of neighbors and fellow motorists as it shows you actually do have control and knowledge of your vehicle.  It also allows your engine (which even if you drive a cheap, base model Fart Box) such things as it starting the next time you want to drive it. Also, not blowing up as you drive it, more cash at hand and road rage avoidance, that is what Metal is for.

Now, kids, don't be offended by what I'm writing here. I get it. I was raised by a single mother and learned all of this (much more quickly than you have apparently, but I did) bit by bit. I love that you love cars. I love that you don't mind risking a ticket or wrapping your car around a tree at 2AM! Just do it at the outskirts of town and pass it on to the next generation so if you're fortunate enough to not kill yourself and live past this part of your life, you may have a fairly quiet sleep after midnight.

I am here, as always, as your Zen master if you have questions on how to win street drag races and street racing etiquette. Please feel free to post questions or comments below or, if you really do need help or have questions because you are losing at the drags for either psychological reasons, your car is slower or for any reason - you can always email me directly. I can help you sort this out and with just a few tips can have you giving faster cars hell.

Thanks for reading and NEVER let them look under your hood.

The Gist

This is a test! 

I've not had a blog/website for many a year - and while you'd think my Twitter or Instagram would be enough but believe it or not I get questions regarding my blog all the time - which has not existed since 2009 or so.

So, please, check in here from time to time - where I'll open up a bit more, tell some old stories that I find funny and think you may laugh at too, or I may just want to get down on "paper" before the memory slips my mind altogether.

If you already follow me on Twitter you'll know that I call it my "diary". Yes, it limits us to 140 characters but that is a good thing. If something is good, funny, important enough to be mentioned in my diary, that limit is a good thing for me. It keeps me from going too in depth. This will be a place in can delve further into my nerd habits and hobbies, strange sense of humor and my odd streaks of arrogance and self deprecation that confound not only me but probably many friends.

So, thanks for stopping by! I hope to have you laughing or thinking (even if the thought is "this is pure fart box!"). I look forward to hearing your thoughts and you are welcome for not using the Enable Smells option on my blog.

Adam "Lord of The" Smith