Friday, April 27, 2018

Night Commute

Tomorrow evening I will be sitting, I hope, in an aeroplane bound for London. In two weeks I will be back once again walking Rusty whom I shall miss very much, riding my scooter to work and glad no doubt to be back in the bosom of my family. I will try to post here as my phone and the blog app allow, and if my pictures are of interest my Instagram account:  michaelconchscooter will get regular updates. I will be in Scotland a few days with one sister and in Italy for a few more days to see my other two sisters. I plan to take lots of pictures.
Meanwhile I have been thinking quite a lot about how much I enjoy commuting with my Burgman 200, my first ever Japanese scooter.   It gets 70- 80 miles per gallon and has a top speed of 75 mph with another 5 possible in neutral conditions. The winds lately have been blowing hard but I have no trouble passing distracted drivers on Highway One. I liked this Australian billboard found on the web:
My commute starts about 50 minutes before I have to start work. For a 6pm shift I try to be ready by 10 minutes after five, loaded with my man purse and my lunchbox I say good bye to Rusty who sits at the top of the stairs looking pathetic as I put my bags under the seat of the Suzuki and put on my helmet and gloves.
I roll out onto Spanish Main the main artery that connects my neighborhood to US One. It's a subdivision filled with pirate names for some reason, a bored bureaucrat or one with a  peculiar taste in imaginative street naming. My house is almost a mile from the Overseas Highway and along the way normally one will see a human or two walking their dogs in the same places in the same way every day. In winter they crowd the street from their trailers in the neighboring Venture Out trailer park.
Riding to work between five and six in the evening I get to see the sunset in its various stages before and after time changes, different times of year, under vast cloud anvils and through wispy cirrus and sometimes in all shades of pink and orange and red. In December I find myself in a race with darkness to get to work before the sun drops out of sight. Those are the times I remind myself why I have worked nightshift for 14 years and, after I was sent to nights as punishment for insubordination (I was rude to the boss's daughter) I never wanted to go back to days. These days I'm the senior dispatcher and I work the shift I want.
The other reason to work nights is the lack of traffic.In winter there seems to be traffic everywhere all the time and all of it driving very slowly and distracted. However eight months of the year I drive the wrong way against the commuters and my ride to and from Key West can often be a pleasure, an empty road, the highway to myself. The hardest thing is to find an opening to pass if I do get stuck behind a solitary wool gatherer behind the wheel of a car.
When I arrive at work there is normally my choice of parking spots as all the administrative staff, all the day shift have gone and there are open spaces all round the police station. Plus my scooter doesn't have to sit out in the sun fading the paint and wrecking the seat. I am a vampire: by the time the sun does come back up I am most of the way, if not all the way home.
I love riding the empty highway especially after a short overtime shift which often sees me on the road around two in the morning:
I can ride the 14 miles home without seeing another vehicle after I leave Big Coppitt. That's the place the last of the cars from Key West usually peel off and go home. It takes dedication to live at Mile Marker 23 out beyond the outer darkness that closes in on the highway after Big Coppitt.
When there's a decent sized moon the waters either side of the highway glisten silver, while the mangrove islands crouch impenetrably black alongside the road. Sometimes I stop in the middle of one of the innumerable straight stretches and I sit astride the Burgman scooter and listen to the darkness.
The lights of Cudjoe Key mark the Sheriff's substation at Mile Marker 22 followed shortly thereafter by the Kickin' Back convenience store. I paused for a picture to take advantage of the lights though this isn't a twenty four hour store and it was long since closed for the night:
Then it's another mile of highway and the final mile of Spanish Main back to my side street. Rusty awaits usually and expects a quick neighborhood walk before I repair to the deck and sip rum and look at the night.
All this riding requires occasional maintenance and though I usually turn to JK Motorsports on Stock Island for my wrenching, I will do a quick oil change as needed. Pretty soon Jiri will have to order a tire for me as the rear is wearing down. I've put more than three thousand miles on the Burgman since March 17th. Not bad. I like this scooter, handy in town and powerful enough to pass cars on the highway even if they decide to try to prevent me.
Why people spend so much time worrying about other people passing them I'll never understand. If you want to go fast be my guest, but if you don't please don't get mad if I want to ride faster than you want to drive. Because my Burgman 200 won't hold you up if I do pass you. I've ridden this road enough to know every nuance, believe me.