June 2020


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The Joys of being a Rain God

I have survived yet another year (your assassins suck, by the way) and this past week I followed my latest tradition and took the week off. Mostly to decompress from the stress of Life in The Apocalypse, but also just ‘cuz it’s my birthday.

And also to get myself a gift. After nearly 20 years of telling myself it would be silly to buy a motorcycle again when due to work and such I would probably only be able to ride it one or two days a week, and that mainly in the summer considering how much rain we get up here (and how badly most drivers deal with it in the ‘Burbs).

This year though, several things came together in a rather nice conglomeration: the car is paid for, my student loans are finished, the Daughter-Unit aged out of support, and we aren’t moving or anything, so the tax returns were in savings rather than having been spent. We’re actually in pretty good shape financially.

(I feel kinda guilty saying that considering how many other people are having problems as I write this, but we’ve worked hard to get where we are and I’ll take whatever luck that brings me.)

Combine that with all the bullshit of 2020, plus work and, well, to paraphrase the Recruiter in Deadpool, “I finally hit fuck it.”

This is the result:

A 2007 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom in a rather lovely blue.

This being 2020 and all, however, means that things just won’t go smoothly. The Vulcan was not my first choice – that honor went to a Suzuki Boulevard S50 in silver paint that mysteriously disappeared from the dealership the day before I went to look at it. I almost bought a Honda Shadow 800 while I was there (signed the paperwork and everything), but my Credit Union didn’t like their numbers enough to push back on it, and I realized that while it was a good bike, it really wasn’t the one I wanted so I backed out.

(A downvote for Bob Lanphere Motorcycles here, for being a used-vehicle dealer like any other. I had to raise a bit of a stink to get my deposit back. For some reason they thought it would be acceptable to just mail me a check rather than writing one the day I went back to cancel the deal.)

So on Wednesday, I went up to Vancouver’s Pro Caliber Motorsports to look at what was a promising lead, a Suzuki Intruder Velusia. Low miles, good running condition, but some body blemishes – like a 6-inch wide swath of green paint on the front fender, (no clue), a fist-sized dent in the tank (or maybe a refueling mishap), and the chrome is starting to flake off some of the plastic bits. Brand-new saddlebags and an aftermarket windshield though.

Once I got to looking at it, I realized that it would be another “good enough” bike, but just didn’t spark any joy, ya know? Then I saw it: just a couple bikes down the row was the Vulcan.

The Vulcan was more expensive, but it would be value for the money what with a custom seat from Mustang Seats and (again) an aftermarket windshield. The saddlebags are crap, but I am, after all, a leather craftsman…

The clincher was hearing them run. That took some work on the dealership’s part, since the Vulcan had a dead battery but they dropped in a new one for me no hassle and we rolled ’em both outside and fired ’em up. The Suzuki had aftermarket pipes, and was loud as fuck.

Now, forget all the rhetoric you’ve ever heard from bikers who say that “loud pipes save lives” because it’s all bullshit – the only thing that loud pipes do is punish everyone’s hearing and piss off all your neighbors, and anyone who says otherwise just likes going deaf and being a general asshole. There’s a time and place for loud pipes, and it generally isn’t in my apartment complex’s parking lot at 6am.

So, the Suzuki is cheaper, but by the time I’ve replaced the exhaust with something quiet, fixed that green duck-bill on the front fender and whatnot, I’d end up spending about as much as the Vulcan.

Besides, she’s the wife’s favorite color, and ain’t she pretty?!?

Vulcan beauty shot

Financing really wasn’t a problem this time. After the Shadow debacle, I was talking with my loan officer who mentioned that I’ve got good credit with the CU, so she’ll just raise my limit and the rate is about the same as the loan they were going to give me on such an old bike anyhow, so just put it on the card instead of messing with a loan. Again, hard work paying off financially.

So now I’ve bought the bike that sparks joy and everything should be golden right? Well, enter the Paperwork Demons and their sidekick COVID-19.

Way back in ’99 when we moved back from ‘Vegas and I transferred over my license, I was short on cash so I didn’t take the re-cert test for my Oregon Motorcycle Endorsement. I figured I would get back around to it in a couple months or something, ya know? Well, here I am 21 years later realizing that I never got back around to it and now I’ve purchased a motorcycle I can’t legally ride home. And not only do I not have an endorsement, the effing DMV is closed because of the plague so I can’t even just run down and blast through the test.


So after a few false starts with trying to find friends or relatives with an endorsement and time in the immediate future to ride it home for me, I gave in to the impatience and jumped online to rent a truck and trailer. Made a quick same-day reservation at the place across the street from my office (convenient, that) and the guy at the counter starts the process. About that time my phone rings, it’s the reservation agent saying they have a truck here, but no trailer. Counter guy confirms, but they find a trailer at another location 6 miles away. Close enough, I take it.

So, into the truck and down the road I go (side note – I hate Ford F-150s, just not intuitively designed as far as I can tell) and get to the other rental place only to discover they rented me a truck & trailer combo – but the fucking truck has no trailer ball. Just an empty receiver. And the rental guy is saying he can sell me one for another $25…

So, I call the reservation agent back only to be fed some line of bullshit about how they never provide the hitch, yadda yadda, and there’s nothing they can do… I hang up and do a little Primal Scream therapy, then suck it up and wander back to the rental office to buy a hitch. The junior guy running the desk looks around and finds a rusty-assed used hitch of the correct size and says “screw it, I need some karma, I’ll loan you this one”.

Points to the junior dude, he was the man.

Cue the montage as I proceed to drive from Cornelius to Vancouver to get the bike, back to the apartment in Hillsboro to drop off the bike, then to Cornelius to drop the trailer and finally back to Hillsboro to drop the truck and pick up the car from the office. Lo and Behold, the truck right next to the one they gave me has a fucking hitch installed.

Points to the rental counter lady that refunded me $25 for my pain.

That wraps up Thursday, and we’re on to Friday where I do some running around and then end up in the garage staring at this beautiful bike that I can’t ride. I spend an hour or so connecting the battery tender hookups and polishing some gunk off of the windshield, and generally familiarizing myself with the new bits that my previous bikes never had. (Fuel injection! A digital ODO with a clock!)

Finally I find myself thinking screw it, I can get away with a quick trip around the Park-N-Ride lot at the end of the block. I stand up and walk out of the garage to get a jacket and I feel something wet on my cheek:

It’s starting to rain.

Flashback to October of 1992 in Las Vegas. I moved into a spare bedroom at the Old Man’s place so I could go to tech school there, and needed some cheap transport. Old Man says “get a bike, it rains like 3 days a year here, you’ll be fine.” So I raid the pre-Craigslist classifieds and find me a nice little Kawasaki KZ440 for a decent price. Get the bike, get it all nice and legal, and trundle off to an SCA event to find some friends in the big city.

Get to the event, set up a tent, have some fun (see ‘The Great Frognapping Caper‘ which I apparently have not written yet, but one of these days…) and then proceed to look for boat-building supplies as the heavens open up and send forth the deluge.

That red arrow is that night. Some of you up here in the PNW are thinking “one inch, that’s not so bad”, but the chart misleads, because that 1″ started about 10pm. So an inch of rain in about 2 hours. In a land that gets about 4.19 inches of rain for the entire year.

(As it turns out, this was a record wet year for ‘Vegas. I can only attribute it to me being a Rain God, and I brought it with me when I moved. Pay no attention to the chart above saying most of that rain fell in March. Shush.)

So yeah, the Universe has once again rewarded my life decisions with the joy of water falling from the sky.

OLD MAN YELLS AT CLOUD Grampa Simpson The Christian Restoration Association cartoon text yellow comics vertebrate fiction


One reply to “The Joys of being a Rain God”

  1. GreyDuck Says:

    It wouldn’t be an expensive unusual purchase event without a whole lot of unexpected, unneeded hassle, now would it? Yeeesh.

    That is, however, quite the looker of a motorcycle.