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The Plan was to ride into York Sunday afternoon with at least 3 million
points in the bag.  For a virgin assault on long distance rallying, this
seemed respectable, if not winning.  Events, however, conspired to render
this Plan unconsummated.

The first portent was the Laptop.  It refused to communicate with the GPS,
leaving me to enter the route coordinates by hand.  The hand job was
proceeding apace until the Laptop inexplicably died.  With barely half the
bonus locations entered.  So much for the technological aids.  Time to get
out the paper maps again and then hit the rack.

The morning was dreary with the promise of rain.  Despite having gotten off
late, around 6:20 a.m., the R1150RT and I made good time through Western
Pennsylvania and West Virginia.  Having never ridden I-79 south through the
state, what a treat.  Great big sweepers.  Beautiful vistas.  All at good
speed. 

At Bev's in White Sulphur Springs, the weather turned hot.  Bev had closed
down for the day and gone over to her variety store across the street but
left the Turkeys on the coat rack in plain view through the front window.
Time to head for D-Day and the Ass Kickin' Machine.

D-Day was uneventful but the road was turning dark as the sun faded over the
Blue Ridge.  Burnt Chimney lay smoldering in neon convenience store light
when the RT and I pulled up. 

First, up the road, turn around, then back down the road.  Up and back.  Up
and back.  No Ass Kickin' Machine.  Other than my Father's size twelves, I'd
never seen an Ass Kickin' Machine before.  Guess I was expecting a large
neon sign with an arrow pointing Here.  Since time was expending, decided to
try the Convenience Store.  None of the counter girls knew.  Road across the
street to the Other Convenience Store.  The middle aged man with the
moustache behind the register started to chuckle. 

"Yes, I've heard of the Ass Kickin' Machine" he said with a sardonic grin.
"Belongs to old man Booth.  82 year old.  Used to live in the house right on
the lane but sold it a year ago or so.  Built him a bungalow down the
tractor path goes back to the holler.  He's probly sleep by now." 

"He's not liable to come out with a shotgun, is he?"

"Heh, heh.  He just might."

Great.  The possibility of getting blown away for a Bonus.  The Man has an
Ass Kickin' Machine.  Stands to reason he'd have an Ass Shootin' Machine. 

Road down the tractor path and found the Bungalow.  No light except for the
pale yellow moon and porch light by the carport.  Park the RT and get out
the flashlight.  Besides the cars under the carport, the only mechanical
device in the yard is a refrigerator quietly humming.    Taking too much
time.  Head back to the RT to stow the flashlight and move on to Mocksville.
Mr. Booth is still sleeping.

Lift the bag latch and over comes the RT.  Apparently parked on some
unstable soil.  I try to get under it but Gravity overpowers me.  Thud as
the RT settles into the red clay.  Sheeeute!  Just what I need! 

Time to test the upper body strength.  Several tries and only get it halfway
up.  The RT lies in the dust.  Stripped to a tee shirt and covered in sweat,
I keep one eye on the Bungalow.  No lights coming on.  No movement. 

Finally the RT is fully upright but still on shaky ground.  The top case and
left side bag are quickly back on.  The latches clamp loudly to the RT.
Still nothing from the Bungalow.  Rapid search through the grass for
anything that tumbled out of the bags.  Then its back up the tractor path.
Whew.  My forearms are burning.  Tee shirt soaked.  Thankful to get out
without any buckshot in the behind.

Then at the end of the tractor path, back by the main road, the moonlight
glistens off some strange device.  There it is!  Hiding in plain view the
whole time.  Right by road!  Two shoes at board ends strapped to a water
wheel.  How utterly stupid.  And for this I risked life, limb and RT!  The
bonus points are a consolation.  But what time lost.  There goes Knoxville
and the three million.

Back to the Convenience Store for a drink and a cool down.  Told the girls
where to find the Machine.  In case someone asks.  Finally staunch the
sweat.  It's 11 p.m. Saturday night.  On to Mocksville.

Compared to Old Man Booth's place, Mocksville was easy.  It wasn't a diner
though.  A road side plaque instead.  Mocksville's claim to fame.  The guy
who dropped the Big One to end WWII.  Now for Hickory.

It's getting late.  Almost 2 a.m. Sunday morning.  The RT is still game but
the adrenaline from the Ass Kickin' is long gone.  Time for a motel.  First
the Hampton.  Then the Holiday Inn.  Then a Comfort.  Then a Red Roof.
Nobody puts a sign out.  So it's off the RT and off with the helmet at each
place only to find there's no room.  Something about a NASCAR event tomorrow
at Charlotte.  No rooms for a hundred and fifty miles.  Damn.

"Ah, but wait.  Try the Franmar.  It's not the Taj Mahal.  But they probly
still have a room."  That works.  I'm beat.  Two lefts, past the railroad
tracks and I'm there.

The first tip was the Plexiglass in front of the lobby counter.  Probably
bullet proof.  Explains the police station two doors down. 

The little man behind the expanse of Plexiglass insisted on cash.  "Thirty
bucks, mister." At 3 a.m. he probably should.  "Can I get a 6 a.m. wake up
call?"

Park the RT in front of Room 19.  Grab the tank bag and some other gear.
Put on the Kryptonite.  Turn the key and step gingerly into Room 19.  The
accumulated stains on the carpet render the original color indiscernible.
The finish is worn off the furniture.  Stains on the bed cover.  Must rent
this place by the hour.  There's cable though.  The TV takes quarters.  Four
for 30 minutes.

Grab the Dopp and head to the bath to wash up.  The enamel is peeling off
the sink and tub.  Turn the faucet and out rushes a slurry of red brown
sludge.  Never brushed my teeth with Diet Coke before.  The toilet.  More
red brown sludge.  Guess the patrons don't come here much to wash up.

Peek out the curtain to check the RT.  Still there.  Put a chair in front of
the door.  Sit on the bed and start checking the maps and mileage.  Two and
a half million points and a long ride back to York.  My rally is done.

Lay the Tourmaster on the bed cover and sleep in my clothes.  Two hours and
a wake up.  Load the RT and we're on the Road by 6:30 a.m.  Shell station
doesn't have a time stamp.  Head to the ATM by the Freeway.  Collect the
points at Shell's Barbeque and it's back up I-81 to York.

Sky opens up at Martinsburg.  Thunder booms and lightning slashes the sky
immediately overhead.  Through the rain soaked visor. Lookout!  Pickup
dropped a four-by-four out the open tailgate.  Takes out the right front
tire of a Z.  Bounces off the front of a VW and heads for the RT.  Quick
swerve and the tire flattening projectile goes skidding past.  Close.
Would've been a lousy way to end the day.

It's 3 p.m.  Still two hours to get to York.  Decide to take I-70, cut up
Route 15 to Gettysburg and then Route 30 directly to York. Should save some
time and toll booths on the PA Turnpike.  Who would be out and about in
Gettysburg on a Sunday afternoon?

The rain is drenching.  No time to get off and put on the rain pants.  Route
30 alternates between a parking lot and a construction zone.  My frustration
is loudly vocal.  All the farmers are out for a Sunday ride.   Watching the
brown top soil run off in torrents from their neighbors' fields.

5:10 p.m.  Pull into the finish.  Off to the judge.  Jean confirms the dumb
decision.  Cost me a quarter of a million points.  Still, happy to be back
and with 2.3 million. 

Definitely in for next year.  Not up for another Ass Kickin' though.  Maybe
the Bubbas ought to consider a Roach Motel Tour.


phil@philsweatman.com