TRIP BACK IN TIME

Tuesday I got done late with my last horse. Just rounding a turn in the road here was a 1959 Chevy Apache Fleetside sitting in a guy’s front yard staring me in the face. I just had to back up and take a picture. As I backed up, here the guy was looking over his yard fence. I yelled out, “Great looking Chevy”. He started out the yard gate so I parked, got out, we shook hands and started to talk. He gave me the low down on how he acquired it and told me about a get together of American car owners in the area. Of course I had to tell him my Dad owned a Chevy Apache, which we used on the farm, and how I learned to drive in it. I then went to talk about my first car – 1969 Chevy Camaro. Finally I had to go, so we shook hand and off I went. Now my drive home was a trip back in memory lane.
It was metallic purple with black interior. When I got finished I had rebuilt the top end with a 4 barrel carb, new headers, high lift cam, you know, all the goodies needed to get some more horses under the hood. I only had a 283, but I got as much power as I could get from it. Bought a set of deep dish slotted steel wheels (chrome finish), L60’s for the rear, 70’s for the front. Air ride shocks all around. Inside I decked it out with a brand new Craig eight track power play, with Pioneer speakers, two almost filling the back deck. I was real proud of this car. Also I had my CB radio mounted under the dash, my handle was “Purple Pirate”.
My best friend Dan had a ’68 Malibu. We soon learned girls took money away from the things we “needed”, plus it was much more fun “cruising “ down town Boise without gals, also a lot cheaper! One weekend I would drive my car, Dan would buy the food and drinks. The next weekend he would drive his car and I would buy. Great deal and was a fantastic time.
It was the ‘70s. The movie “Happy Days” had played and the TV series of the same name was still playing. Down town Boise was the place to be on a warm summer Saturday evening. There were two, main one-way streets at that time. Both streets would be lined with people, teenagers, young adults to watch the cars cruise the streets. Every once in a while a couple would line up and drag from stop light to stop light. I never remember any trouble, everyone was there for a good time. It was a fantastic time to grow up, have a great car and enjoy a good summer weekend.
It was usually after midnight when Dan and I would head home. On the way many times we’d stop at the Hong Kong in Nampa. One time we ordered a meal for “4”. The waitress didn’t want to order it for us, but we said we’d pay the rate for 4. She looked at us kind of strange, especially when Dan ordered extra portions of hot mustard for the pork & seeds. Later on as we sat back, after finishing a Chinese meal for “4”, the waitress came and shook her head in disbelief.
Yes, those were the care free days of our youth. Later on after Dan moved back, south of Portland, Oregon, I made a trip out after rebuilding my engine. I got it tuned up on the way out. I told Dan to find a good, straight road with no traffic, I wanted to see how fast she would go. The speedometer went to 140mph and I pegged it, so I figured it was fast enough.
I turned into my drive way, looking up I can see my dog Gabby came out to greet me as usual – back to reality. Slowing driving my VW Transporter up to the parking spot I collected my computer, phone, work calendar, opened the door and was greeted by a good looking dog. We gave our greeting and headed for the house. Yep, I’m back to reality, but it is sure great to have those memories in my head and get something to trigger them every once in a while, just so I don’t forget them.

ARE THEY YOUNGER OR AM I OLDER

I was sitting in the dentist’s chair this morning looking at this very young gal who claimed to be the dentist. I wasn’t really listening to what she was saying, rather I was thinking, Holy cow, she is so young, how can she really know what she is doing?, yet she was very professional and did good.
The other morning I stopped in a place to get a cup of coffee and spend my telephone time reading a bit, having a cup of coffee and enjoying my morning. I was greeted by what seemed like a very young, smiley guy. As I placed my order I wondered why this kid wasn’t in school. With coffee in hand, walking away I thought, “ I wonder just how old he is”? Then I began to look at myself.
When I began to shoe horses here in Denmark I was 36, still had a full head of hair. I got a couple customers I picked up then and still do their horses today. One in particular I remember she had one kid in arm and the other one in a carriage. Today both these gals have grown into young, good looking ladies in their twenties. And it only seems like just yesterday they were about a foot and a half long!!
I would be driving down the road and come up behind a car just putting along, seemingly in no big hurry to get anywhere. As I would pass the car I would glance at the driver, yep look at that old guy in the hat. I wonder if he really knows what he is doing? Today as I drive down the road, not really in a big hurry to get anywhere, thinking about if I will have time to squeeze in a few holes of golf, cars zip around me in a big hurry. As I glance at the driver I seen them looking at me sometimes. I bet they are thinking: Look at that old, gray bearded guy in the hat. I wonder if he really knows what he is doing?
Where did the time go? I look back and it has gone by so fast. 2018 just got a start and we are already one fourth of the way through March! How did the time get by me so fast? I remember so many years ago an “old guy” once told me: If you get the chance in life to do something, do it, because there will come a time in your life when you won’t be able to do it, and you don’t want to think, “Gee why didn’t I do that”! I have taken lots of chances in life and done a lot of things, gone a lot of places and glad I did. I’ve had people sometimes think I was crazy for the chances I’ve taken or the things I have done, but looking back now I have had a fun life.
I remember once during my professional guide life I thought to myself, “Gee, I am getting paid to do what other people are paying to do”. Hunting, fishing, floating the Salmon River, driving jet boats, living in the wilderness area. I can look back on all those experiences and smile. I look back on my life so far enjoy it. I have had some people tell me they can’t believe I have done the things I have done – I really don’t care what other people think, I know what I have done and where I have been. I am thankful for the adventures I have taken and the fact God has been watching over me because sometimes I could have been in deep trouble out there by myself.
In moving to Denmark I gave up the best job I ever had in my life, but other doors opened to me and I’ve gone places and done things I never would have if I had remained in Idaho. I see and know so many people who are afraid to step out and take a chance. Remember, sometimes those golden opportunities only knock once at your door and if you don’t take them you will have to settle for second best. Even at my age now I am still getting new chances and opportunities which I will continue to take advantage of. Don’t be one of those who is afraid to take a chance. Yes I have had failures, but they were also something. Physically now I can’t do a lot of things I did earlier, but I still got the memories and I can’t say, “I wonder what it would have been like if I had done that”!

IDAHO BOUND

What a trip from Portland, Oregon to Fruitland, Idaho. It was great. Before I left, Bill got on line and we checked out the road. They got video cameras on the freeway and we could see clear sailing all the way. As I drove from my cousin’s place around Beaverton, Oregon I hit Hy 26 into Portland. Traffic was the usual morning thing, but I didn’t care – I was on vacation, and anyway had fresh a hot cup of coffee, so just go with the flow. My little lady (British voiced GPS) got me through Portland with no problems. It was the usual weather, cloudy with some rain, but good driving weather.
I’ve always enjoyed the Columbia River Gorge. As I was driving I wondered to myself if this is the last time I would make this drive. At my age and accounting the fact I can’t remember the last time, I considered it a real possibility, so I settled down to enjoy this trip. As I passed the Bonneville dam, I wondered what the river looked like before the dams. I’ve seen the pictures and all, but it would have been interesting to see it for real. Passing the bridge crossing over to White Salmon, Washington and remember my Mom telling me she was born there and later her family moved back to Kansas, so I guess I do have a little connection to the region.
Looking at the gorge walls, it’s always amazing how God carved the land and what He used as tools. As I drove on I notice one big change – windmills! They hadn’t been there when I last drove the gorge. Traffic wasn’t too heavy, lots of trucks. What a joy to see real trucks(to me anyway), K-whoppers, Bulldogs, Freightshakers, Cornbinders, Peckerbuilts! I drove truck for a while, a Kenworth conventional with a 1693 Cat with a 4 and 4 transmission – 4 speed main box with a 4 speed brownie, so sometimes I had to shift two transmissions as once – much different today. Later down the road, going down the Starkey grade I got to hear the “thump, thump, thump” of the Jakes holding a Kenworth back with a load trying to push him down the hill. It was music to my ears.
After I hit the bottom at Starkey here was a freight train – a long one. I’d forgotten just how long the freight trains could be. One thing I miss living in Europe is hearing the whistle of the engines as they go about their business of pulling the freight around the country. As I got down past Baker City, winding down the canyon I got to see two trains winding around the canyon sides for at least three quarters of a mile or longer. Nothing like watching a long freight train. Loved ’em as a kid, love ’em as a grown up kid!!
It rained off and on most of the way. I was glad to top Cabbage hill and find the road clear as I was driving a rented car without snow tires. Yea, they were “all season” but anyone knows they don’t hold a candle to real snow tires. I could see the water flying up under the tires so I knew it wasn’t freezing which was good. From the top of the Blues through the Grande Ronde Valley the roads were the same. All around La Grande from what I could see it was about the same, surrounded by the Blue Mountains. Looking ahead I could see the mouth of Ladd Canyon, the last major mountain crossing. As I started up the hill, the rain began to stop and turned into snow. The road began to turn white and I began to look real close at the road – great, they’d worked it up real good (graveled it) so I wasn’t too worried as I started to pass a couple trucks slowly making their way up the hill. By the sound of their engines I could tell they were in their pulling gear.
Snow floor, blowing and drifting snow! Oh yea, it was all around me. I slowed down to feel the road and how my vehicle was handling it. I was glad I had the set of chains in the back and really hoped I wouldn’t need them. It was cold, frozen snow pack road, to me good driving. At least I knew what it was until I got passed Baker City and climbed up the other side. As I started down headed towards Lime the road thawed a bit and now it was more slush than packed snow – I hated slush! Slush is more dangerous than the packed snow. As I was going around a long sweeping turn, I felt the back end of my car move to the side a bit giving me a little lump in the throat and my heart jumped a bit. I was glad I had a front wheel drive SUV. Even though it wasn’t four wheel drive it was heaver and handled the slick roads pretty good. So it was all the way to Fruitland, Idaho where my brother lived.
It was a fantastic drive. I got to see country I hadn’t seen in many years and to be frank, don’t really know when or if I will get to drive it again. The country was great, weather was fun and the drive was exciting. I really don’t mind driving the snow and ice – have done it so many times. In looking back over this trip, I’ve seen so many of my relatives and friends I haven’t seen in so many years, and don’t really know when I will see them again. The worst part is so little time I couldn’t see everyone I wanted to see.
This trip wouldn’t have been possible for all the people who’ve helped make this possible. First I am grateful to my wife for taking care of things while I am gone. I am grateful to my customers for being so understanding on my taking a little longer trip than normal. To my family and friends for putting up with me. This will be a trip for me to remember and I am so glad it was possible.

DRIVING

At times when I’m driving down the road, my brain becomes so full I just got to get some place to empty it out, well today was one of those days!
I’m not the perfect driver, never claimed to be. Yea, I’ve probably pissed a few people off, but no one has ever contacted me, so I guess it can’t be too bad. Driving here in Denmark as been something else, I’ve learned a lot about people, situations and life.
The speed limit on most roads is 80kmh (about 50 for you mph people). This morning as I am relaxed, driving 80 on cruise control, zoom, zoom, two cars go past me like I’m standing still. It use to bother me, but not anymore. I’ve come to understand that early in the mornings Danish driving laws are not in effect – there are no police out on the roads patrolling! Everyone knows that, so early mornings there is no speed limits! I’ve come to learn I am usually the slowest one on the roads, I guess because I need my driver’s license for work and I’m use to Idaho, where the cops can be sitting in the dark and ambush ya! You’d think I’d learn, but old habits are hard to break. Also in Idaho, speeding tickets(and other tickets as well) are also tied to your vehicle insurance. You get tickets, you pay twice – once to the State, and again to your insurance company. This has a tendency to make people slow down a bit as it takes about three years to clear a ticket from your insurance, and that can become expensive after a while. It’s a double win, insurance companies make money, the State collects fines. Double loose for the driver!
The best thing I like is the bicycles, ya just got to love ’em! Winter time is the worst, I try to stay clear of any cities. Many people become stupid in the winter time, I think it is because of the long dark winter nights. Many days it’s overcast all day so there’s not enough sunshine to stimulate people’s brains. I see many bicycle riders with a little blinking light on the back, but nothing on the front. I wonder how they expect on coming cars to see them, I’m guessing that thought never crossed their minds. I also like the ones riding in town – it’s not dark, there’s street lights, so everyone can see them! Then there’s good old farmer Joe who doesn’t figure anyone will be on the road so he has no lights at all!!
Summer time is a little better, at least the days are longer and you can see them, clumps of them all over the road! I’m guessing they pay more road taxes than I do because many of them ride the roads like they own it. When I was a kid riding a bike, I was taught to ride on the right side of the road – going the same direction as traffic, ride to the side of the road as cars are bigger than I was, ride single file not to take up the whole road, use arm signals when turning left or right. One great thing here in Denmark is all the money the country spends on separate bike lanes! This is a fantastic thing, get the bikes off the busy streets. This past summer I was driving on my way home and ahead of me was two bike riders, riding side by side, taking up half my lane, but this wasn’t the stupid thing – there was a separate bike lane just two meters to their right! As I slowed down waiting for the oncoming car so I could swerve out to pass them I thought to myself, “Boy, I hope this couple never plans on having kids, their gene pool is already pretty shallow!”
As I’ve been out of Idaho for some years now, I’m just assuming (bad thing to do) most driving customs are worldwide: It doesn’t matter where you are, it’s ok to stop in the middle of the road and talk out the window with an oncoming car who has stopped to talk to you. When on the freeway (motorway) and you pass someone, after you get around and in front of them, slow down so the person you passed has to either slow down or go around. It doesn’t matter if its foggy, the speed limit is 130kph and you should be able to drive it. No sense in leaving early in the mornings when the roads are icy, most of “those” people will be off the road anyway! The posted speed limit is mandatory to drive, you must not drive one mile(kilometer) under! I know a lot of Idaho drivers would do good here in Denmark because there aren’t many stop signs – no tickets for those “California” stops here! I learned early on if you stop at an intersection, look both ways before proceeding, people get pissed off – they blow their horns, blink their lights, wondering what you’re stopped for!!
I’m ok now, my brain has been emptied for now, so I can go back to work!!

DRIVING

Well, it’s taken a while, but I finally got this driving thing figured out in relation to driving in a different country. I’ve learned it matters what time of day you drive, what you are driving, and weather will also determine what set of laws to obey. And then there are laws that apply to all the above.

Time of day is very essential to the speed limits. If you’re driving early in the morning, and there’s not much traffic, speed limits don’t apply, especially here in Denmark because the traffic police are not out that early, everyone knows that. I know this because many mornings I am on the road around 0530 or so and even though I am driving the speed limit, 90% of the vehicles pass me like I am standing still. It’s either there is an un-posted speed limit or everyone else knows your allowed 10 -20kph (kilometers per hour) over the speed limit during this time. I have not read all the Danish driving laws, but I’m just guessing all these people can’t be wrong?

Trucks have governors on so they can’t drive over 90kph on the motorways, so even on the normal highways they just do the same – go as fast as they can. I know this for sure as when I’m driving 80kph, the posted limit, trucks I see way back are soon right behind me. Now if they were driving the speed limit when I’m driving the speed limit, how can they get right behind me so fast?

Motorcycles are not held to the same laws as we are. I’ve come to learn there must be a completely separate set of laws for them. Their speed limit is – just go faster! It doesn’t matter about the posted limits anywhere. And this is all times of the day, not just morning times. Especially good weather evenings. The road in front of our house is awash in the summer time with crotch rockets winding their rpms to the max. Normally, when outside I can hear them as they top the hill about a half a mile from our house. Once topped, I hear the rpms start to wind as the gears are shifted to high. Screaming past our place I can never tell what type of bike it is because they are traveling too fast.  On the main highways it’s the same – varoom – and away they go. I mean, can all these crotch rocket riders be wrong?

One thing I’ve noticed that’s the same, no matter what country you’re in – traffic lights. We all know red means stop; green means go; and yellow means go faster! This is standard in the States and here in Denmark as well. It is nice to know that some traffic laws are the same. Holding a telephone in hand while driving, by the secret traffic laws is ok. Even though it’s preached it is illegal, I’ve come to learn it must not be. When I see the so called professional drivers (truck drivers) holding the phone up to their ear, well it must be ok. I wouldn’t think trucking companies would let their drivers do anything illegal. And I know it doesn’t apply to anyone driving farm equipment on the roads – all the time I see the right arms bent holding the phone to the ear while they drive. And I know bicycles are not covered under any type of laws. They can even have both hands busy doing the “send a text message” thing instead of controlling the bike. I’ve always wondered why I spent the money to get one of those hands free ear pieces so I don’t have to hold my phone while driving?

STOP signs are pretty much universal. There aren’t many here, but those I’ve seen and from observing the Danish drivers, I’ve come to learn they are more or less kind of like the YIELD signs. But with the STOP signs one might slow down a little more than with the YIELD signs.  YIELD signs, one pretty much takes the corner as fast as they can while keeping control of the vehicle. The STOP sign, I’ve noticed there is a definite slowing down, especially if there is a vehicle approaching from the left or right.

I have yet to see weather really effect traffic much. Fog is only dangerous if you’re driving a white vehicle. Other than that, it’s just peddle to the metal and go for it. I’ve been in fog so thick I couldn’t find my behind with both hands and yet distances between cars is never extended and speeds don’t seem to change. I’m guessing there is some sort of emergency type of system built into the roads which helps driver avoid accidents in the fog, or more and more cars are now equipped with radar! Snow and black ice do seem to have some effect, but this is only temporary. Once a vehicle has entered the traffic, there must be some sort of energy field taking over the situation because sooner or later most vehicles start to speed up. I’m guessing there is some type of energy field that is activated to effectively keep the tires of vehicles from sliding around. Boy, I wish I’d had something like this when I grew up!

So if you’re going to take a trip to Denmark and rent a vehicle, don’t worry – here you can do pretty much anything you want to do, just as long as there are no fender benders or such – so I have observed!