Monday, May 31, 2010

A Quick Thought

I heard this lesson from a cycling acquaintance:

I was taking a criminal law class last year wherein the professor continually corrected students who would remark, "The law prevents you from doing that.". He would interrupt and say, "No, let's be clear. You can still do that if you want to, you'll just go to jail if you do.".

I think you can approach everything in life with the same attitude - you really can do nearly anything you want, the decision is just how much of a consequence you're willing to face.

I like that.


The SkitoSea adventure is complete, and it was a hell of a thing. It was a real adventure, complete with trials and tribulations ranging from logistical nightmares, cross-state travel, teamwork, and haunted houses in the woods.

We headed up Saturday to pick up our race packets and get set up, which all went smoothly. We left our kayak with the Boy Scouts (despite Steve's lack of trust in the Boy Scouts that expelled him from their ranks as a child) and headed up to our campsite some 40 miles away from the finish of the race (it was closer to the start, and we thought it would be more convenient in the morning). Our campsite was our friend and teammate Kenji's roommate Marcel's project property in the woods up in Maple Falls, which was "still a work in progress" according to Kenji. After almost getting lost a few times, we eventually find the property - off of Cemetery Road. Of course, the "house" is a skeleton of a one-great home, and is riddled with all sorts of niceties (see: unexplainable sharp metal stakes, what can only be described as an open grave - complete with a shovel next to it, assorted saws and nails, and a front door that leads only to a concrete wall). I've included a photo of the "house" that includes what I can only assume is a ghost. After laughing for a bit about how awesome all of this was, we started pitching tents and setting up camp. Once our "home" was set up, things felt much better, and since we had to get up in a few hours for the race, we turned in (against every shred of self-preservation we collectively held) around 11 PM. Kate may have stayed awake a little later, however, since we may or may not have legitimately terrified her with talk of zombies.

Yesterday's race was awesome. It was a long day - we woke up at 4:45 AM for the race due to logistic constraints, but I didn't have anything to do until 8, and didn't actually start racing until after 10. The weather was perfect for my leg, and the roads weren't even that wet. Rain on and off for the rest of the day, and even some snow at the top for the skiers and runners. After the whole race was over and the festivities were concluded, we refueled, drove back to the campsite, packed up, then drove back to Seattle. Didn't make it home until after 1:30 AM, and still had to take a shower before bed. 21 hours of fun.

The race went great, though, and I beat my goal time. I finished the 38 mile course in 87:47, maintaining an average speed of just 26.2 mph. My avg HR was 178, my max for the day was 193 (there was one respectable climb in the whole course, in addition to maybe 5 or 6 shorter hills and rollers). Because our first 2 legs weren't that solid, we were in 375th place overall (of 464) when the run started, but Steve Benesi was in good form and made up 97 places with a 50:12 time over some 8.2 miles, averaging just over a 6 minute mile. Starting that late (my leg was after Steve's) in the day, a lot of the fast riders were away when I got the start, so I attacked right out of the gate. I laid into the riders on the course almost continuously, setting the pace the whole time. One rider passed me on a TT bike from one of the pro teams (his skier had a disaster up top and they started way back), and I stayed with him for about a mile. After I pulled him up a hill, he took the front on the successive descent and just took off. His 175+ lb frame and more aerodynamic bike were too much for me to stay with down the hill. There were a few other people that tried to ride with me early on, but I dropped them fairly quickly and kept ramping it up. I attacked more often than anyone I was riding with, and only stayed on a wheel for a few seconds or so to grab some water, etc. About 20 miles in I was starting to catch up with some good riders, and 2 guys started working with me to stay on the offensive. It was one of the best riding experiences of my life - working with two strangers to paceline our way to a better time for the sake of our teams. These two guys were experienced racers, and helped a lot. I still set the pace maybe 70% of the time (and they let me hear about it), but there relief came at some weaker moments for me and was greatly appreciated (albeit not as frequent as I would've liked). After the race, I got some "Thanks for doing all of the dirty work out there"s and some "Great ride"s from the guys that hung with me, which was very, very flattering and satisfying. All said and done, I passed 119 people, and got passed by 1. I'm pretty proud of myself for that statistic. Unfortunately, more quality teams were fielded this year, and although last year my time would've been good for top 10%, this year it only netted me top 13% (I finished 63 in a field of 464). But given that there were some pros and former Olympians in the field, I'm very content.

The team finished, and that alone can only be considered a victory in a race that spans multiple climate zones, 90+ miles, and 7 legs of sport tackled by teams of 8 athletes.

I rode hard, had a blast, and did well. Taking a rest day today, then back on the training schedule. Big 100 mile day on June 12, which will be fun.

I've included a few pictures from Mount Rushmore and some of my other travels from a few weeks ago that never made it up earlier in this post.

One quick rant - it now costs $10 to get into Mount Rushmore National Park where the "good" photo ops are, and that makes me sick. The photo in this entry was taken from the roadside a good half-mile away, and is my photographic rebellion against this appalling truism of the current state of the US. I woke up that morning and watched the President deliver a commencement speech at West Point, which I thought was a very fitting way to start my day at Mount Rushmore. I was feeling pretty patriotic at that moment. But an hour later my hopes and nationalism were dashed to the rocks, and I left the park feeling absolutely awful. I feel like it's every American's God-given right to see Mount Rushmore - the closest thing our country has to a pilgrimage site, as far as I'm concerned. But let's leave deities out of it for a minute and break it down. I pay taxes, and that should be enough no matter who or what you pray to. I don't ever complain about how taxes go to policies I disagree with, that they fund welfare programs for people that don't pay taxes (and may not even be citizens), or any of that. But I do take offense when that isn't enough to get me into Mount Rushmore National Park. America, you've let me down.

Friday, May 28, 2010

All Good Things

This week included:
- progress at the workplace. I'm starting to dive head-first into training here in Seattle, and I couldn't be more excited about working at Gold's (I know, I know...). It's a great environment, and I'm very impressed with my supervisor's knowledge, work ethic, and personality. It's going to be a summer full of learning, and I look forward to that.
- riding! Training rides, casual rides, indoor rides, and more. One day, I rode up to a stoplight and said hello to a fellow cyclist waiting at the light with a bike-tourer's load of panniers on his commuter. He asked if I wanted a drink, then handed me an airplane bottle of Tanqueray. Ever have that happen when you're driving a car? Score one for the "bikes are cool" argument.
- friends. I'm loving catching up with a lot of my old friends, and making new ones. Some things never stay the same, and some things never change.

The SkitoSea race is Sunday, and we're all heading up to Bellingham tomorrow to get ready. It's going to be an epic weekend, and there will more than likely be a tell-all blog entry upon my return. Then it's back to the grind of building my career as a trainer, continuing my work toward a successful cycling season, and (hopefully) continued strides as a person. Here's to it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Seattle, etc.

It's good to be back in the Emerald City again, and it still feels like home.

My last few days of driving across the country involved a lot of singing along to Elvis Presley (my iPod currently holds 137 of his songs, and I'm not too embarrassed to admit that I know about 85% of the words, and I did even before this drive), snow (yes, snow - Mother Nature adheres not to the calendar of the secular world), coffee, mountain driving in Montana, and a few pitstops for workouts at Gold's Gym facilities (I know few of you may consider a workout a "pitstop" but I'm a fitness junkie, after all). All things considered, everything went just about as smooth as I could've possibly imagined.

Now, back in Seattle, I have a very real sense of urgency. All of the wanderings and minor adventures of the last 6 weeks have been very pleasant and rewarding, but the time has come to settle back into the real world of genuine obligation, financial burden, routine, and a testing of commitment. A lot of my immediate future is intrinsically dependent upon my work ethic as a solo artist, and that cannot be understated.

I haven't been feeling lethargic lately, but I feel like my resolve and dedication isn't where it should be. Perhaps the standards I impose on myself are set too high (but of course I will shrug even the suspicion of this off, as I cannot yield to that amount of self-doubt), or perhaps I am actually feeling a little overwhelmed. I can't say for sure that I have put too much on my plate, because I have ingrained self-reliance into my being, and I am overly confident in what I can achieve with a little persistence, but the forbears of burnout are there. I need to realign my focus, get organized, and apply myself. I am confident in my skill set and my drive, but I need to translate these things into success with the use of organization and method. No one is going to hand things as paramount as achievement, success, or victory to you - you have to discover the road to these things on your own. And I'm learning this.

I have enjoyed some successes since getting back to Seattle, including a number of the professional front. I should have enough work to keep me afloat this summer between Gold's Gym and Rain Fitness, and I am excited to get started. I should have enough time to devote some real energy to TakeYourBike (which just solidified its first ever sponsorship) and get this thing off the ground and making strides by this September's tour, and I should have enough intelligence and drive to train well and race successfully in this, my first season as a amateur bike racer. All of that being said, I'm fully aware that "should" is not a word I'm fond of, and I'm determined to make these things happen.

I prefer "I do" or "I will".

Saturday, May 22, 2010

South Dakota, Photos, and More

Wow. 12+ hours of driving does some interesting things to you. Or perhaps it was the 100 consecutive Elvis Presley songs I listened to. Or perhaps it was seeing the Mitchell Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD (yes, it is a palace made of corn). Whatever it was, yesterday was some kinda thing. I arrived in Rapid City, SD (home of Mount Rushmore) last night both mentally friend and mentally invigorated (if that's even possible).

My mind was racing a mile a minute, and my nerves were shot after fighting downpours for most of the last 2 hours. Downpours of bugs and rain.

I actually drove through a cloud of bugs that (upon hitting my windshield en masse) sounded like rain on my windows. Think about that - it was a smattering of death I've never seen the likes of before. I thought I was experiencing the second coming of the Plagues. After stopping at a truck stop and scraping off the corpses with the company of my fellow insect-assassin-travellers, I press on.

After fighting through a break in the storm, I catch myself paying less and less attention to driving. I am entranced by a lightning storm stretching across the horizon to my right, as far as the eye can see. It's remarkable. The lightning is far enough away to leave no trace of thunder, and the visuals are striking. I decided that it would be safer and a lot more fun to pull over and watch for a bit that continue testing my double-tasking abilities at 87 mph.

Pulling off the freeway in rural (all of?) South Dakota is a humbling experience. Dark, dark, dark. There are no lights outside the flurried high beams of my passing traveller counterparts. I stop my car, hoist myself onto the roof of my mobile home, and stop. I stop everything, and I admire this spectacle. I'm not sure what contributed to the effect (I'm no meteorologist), but the lights were as bright as strobes and as far-reaching as anything I've ever seen. It must've encompassed a hundred miles, perhaps more. I sat on top of my truck in perfect weather (an anomaly on this particular evening) and took in this highlight of my trip for some 30 minutes. I may never see anything quite like it again, and I'm glad to say I stopped. I once read that when you rush something (like blistering across the country at 80 mph for 12 hours a day only stopping for fuel), you miss the details - as you have already mentally moved your focus to something in the future. I am glad I am learning to slow down sometimes. Do yourself a favor, and stop - just once - today and take it in for a minute. A lot more goes on than we give the world credit for.

Photos from the journey cross-country thus far are above - my personal favorite is the evidence that they actually hold high school graduations at the Corn Palace. God bless America.

Onward to Big Sky Country today. But a visit to the monument to our Presidents is in order first...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Long Overdue Update

I hate it when my schedule prohibits me from updating this blog less than once a week or so, because it tends to mean that my life is exciting/demanding/high-pace enough to keep me from finding the time (those same qualities tend to contribute to good writing fodder). I have a had a blast the last few weeks of my life, thanks in big part to my wonderful family and friends. I'm more than fortunate to have all of you in my life, and I can't overstate that enough. The strength of my relationships with those close to me is paramount in all that I am doing with my life - if I had even the slightest doubts in my ability to maintain good relationships with all of you during my travels, none of this would be possible. It's a testament to the quality of the people I have chosen to surround myself with that I am doing what I am with my life.

This same insight has motivated a bit of reflection on my part: what is the price of my travels - not in dollars and cents, but in relationship dynamic? Am I a better person and more experienced because of the number of places I've been and people I've met? Have I allowed my spirit to grow by exposing myself to variant perspectives? Or have I forsaken growth of the relationships nearest to my heart - my friends, family, lovers - by placing these distances between myself and the people who matter most? Only time will tell (and even that assertion is a bold and fairly optimistic one), but I am confident that the risk is worth the reward, and I am imbued by the successes of those have have come before me. After all, travel, for me, is a search, and finding those who are the foundation of my inner circle (outside of my family) was a consequence of travel in the first place. As a matter of fact, I don't know anybody from where I was born.... I'm going to have to get on that. Who knows - maybe the person I'm supposed to meet the most (be it a friend, lover, mentor, etc.) is where I got started. I'll be sure to keep my eyes and ears open when I'm there in October on my bike.

In the last few weeks I have spent time in Seattle, the Washington D.C. area, Miami, Norfolk and Richmond, and Pittsburgh - and I'm writing this entry from a Madison, WI hotel. This country is large. And if you drive across the Appalachian area, you're going to have to pay for it. They've got some fancy roads out there, and I've rung up a $34.50 bill in tolls already. That includes a missed toll on the Chicago Skyway, which I had to go online and pay (in the amount of 80 cents) in order to avoid a $20 fee. God bless America.

Chicago is every bit as much a city as New York, and I say that with no reservations. It is just as diverse, just as crowded, just as historic, and just as interesting. Of course (after contemplating suicide in traffic for an hour in my vehicle), I toured the city on two wheels. My weapon of choice was my hand-builtthrowback commuter that I have named "Brittany", which I've built from the corpses of bikes I found in my grandfather's garage. Pictures will be coming soon - she still has some work needed to be done before her online debut. But she's a great bike, and one that I'm very proud of. As I rode along the shores of Lake Michigan (Chicago has beaches downtown!) on my converted single-speed relic with no brakes (it's not a fixed-gear bike, I just am not very good at successfully routing brake cables just yet) among dedicated "roadies" on their thousand-dollar-dream-machines in the rain I was reminded just how cool bikes are. In a five minute eye-survey, I caught an overweight woman on a beach cruiser with every possible piece of safety gear imaginable, a roadie on a $7,000 Pinarello frame, a commuter in a suit, a commuter on a packhorse of a bike with panniers and a grocery-getter box, and a true-to-form fixie hipster with no helmet and a cigarette in his mouth (yes, in his mouth. in the rain. on his bike.). Bikes are one of the great equalizers, and Susan B. Anthony even went as far to say that they were the single greatest contributer to women's rights advancement. If that's not equalizing, I don't know what is. Bikes are very, very cool.

I could go into obscene details about my travels as of late, but I don't really have the time to do that just now. Ask me when you see me, and I'll be happy to talk about it all over an espresso. That being said, here are the finer points:

- I don't miss Norfolk, VA in the least, but there are some great people there who I miss very much. You know who you are - and I was very fortunate to see most of you during my visit.
- My brother has graduated college, and is now officially much, much smarter than I am. I couldn't be prouder of that kid.
- Miami is still too hot for me, and definitely not my scene. I do love Cuban food, though, and Cuban coffee may be the foundation of a religion I start in the future.
- Were it not for the lack of anything to do (no snow, no hills, no burgeoning music scene), Old Town Alexandria would be a cool place to live. Savanna, GA is the same way, but with a music scene. Not enough to let me consider living there, but it's a very cool town.
- Chicago is a real city.
- Wrigley Field is every bit as cool as billed.
- My parents will be living in a cooler place (Japan) and doing cooler things than I will be doing (anything in Japan) as of next week.
- Indiana is almost as painful to drive through as Kanas, although that might be attributed to it costing $15.00 for no reason in tolls.
- Floyd Landis is an idiot.
- Esperanza Spalding's version of "Tell Him" is slightly better than Lauryn Hill's. But it's close. You should listen to both.
- Sleeping in an SUV laying down is vastly preferable to sleeping in the driver's seat of a Ford Thunderbird.

More to come, as always. Pictures will be up soon as well - the connection here can't handle it. Rest assured, though - they're good. Travel well, my friends.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


I'm impressed. This is very cool.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Seattle and the Continuing Travel Saga

Ah, Rain City. It's good to be back. If you've never been, I can't really explain why this place is as great as it is. It's an absolutely perfect blend of culture, sophistication, natural beauty, and metropolitan living in one wonderful place. Sure, it rains, but not as much as you'd think. And that should sway you from checking out a place, regardless. It's just water, after all...

It's great to be back, and great to see all of the old friends. It's eerie how comfortable it all is - the places and sights and sounds are all too familiar, and seeing friends for the first time in years is just like I stepped out to take a phone call and walked back in the room. I'm very fortunate to have found such lifelong friends so early in my life.

4 job interviews in 2 days will determine what my summer holds for me - wish me luck. I'm optimistic that I can bring something to the table at all of the facilities I'm applying with, and I hope to have a very productive and fulfilling employment this summer. I'm also very fortunate to have found a way to turn a passion into a profession for the second time in my life so early on.

After catching my second Mariner's game of the season later today (they'll win eventually, I'm sure of it), I'll be back at the packing/moving tasks once again, and on a train to the airport tomorrow morning. I'm excited to hit the road again and to get back East and see friends and family, and looking forward to catching up with the old crew in VA. Even more importantly (no disrespect to those of you in VA), I'm looking forward to seeing my little brother graduate college. For those of you who have done that before, you may have a unique appreciation of walking that path. Or you may write it off as just another thing that you're supposed to and should do. For me, it's a pretty amazing accomplishment. I know how much that kid has poured into this, and it's pretty ridiculous if you ask me. I pride myself on being dedicated, ambitious, and versatile, but college is a feat that I am ever-impressed and borderline intimidated by. I have all the respect in the world for those of you who have met that challenge, and I look forward to celebrating my brother's accomplishments with him next week. I'm proud of my little brother - there is less than zero doubt in that statement.

Oh yeah - one last thing:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Despair, Excitement, Exhaustion.

The last few days have been exhilarating - ups, downs, and sidewayses (yes, I made up the word "sidewayses", but you know what I mean).

Words cannot even begin to describe the events of May 2, 2010, but I'll give it a valiant effort here: My day started exactly as planned, almost down to the minute. Perfect. Then the trials began in Steamboat Springs, with a genuine whiteout blizzard (if "Bad Weather Bingo" was a game, by the end of this drive I'd have won". My nerves about me, I struggled through the storm in my less-than-ideal vehicle for the situation, and eventually pushed all the way through to Utah. Here, the real festivities began.

After passing through Vernal, UT (see above dinosaur), I found myself in the desert. The middle-of-nowhere, tumbleweed-ridden, Utah desert. Which, of course, is the only place where real car trouble can happen. If you've never had a true blowout flat wherein your vehicle bottoms out on the road and your car is fishtailing crazily on 3 wheels, I can't explain it to you. If you've had one, I don't need to try. The point: my rear left tire is in multiple pieces across the highway, and I'm not in good shape. Unfazed (this isn't my first rodeo, after all), I get out on the side of the highway and start unloading my trunk. Of course, my spare tire is underneath pretty much everything else I own, so 15 minutes later my personal belongings are vomited on the side of the Utah highway in a hefty pile.

As I'm kneeling down and putting on the spare donut tire (just enough to get me to the tire shop back in town - 6 miles back the other way), a Utah sheriff pulls up. Awesome. I immediately recall that my registration is expired, and have to laugh at how hilariously unfortunate this all is. The officer educates me on why changing a tire on the side of the road is a bad idea, and recommends that next time I try and have a more convenient flat tire. Fortunately, he sympathizes with my predicament and chooses not to write me a ticket for the registration. See: elation, dumbfounded luck. He heads back to protect and serve, and again I'm alone on the highway.

I lower the car with my jack, and feel as though I escaped a rasther painful registration ticket. Smugly, I let the car hit the dirt, and am immediately unsettled: my donut has maybe 10 psi in it, and there's no way it's going to make it to town with so little air and so much weight from my life possessions weighing down on it. Of course, the officer has just left, and I'm in the middle of the desert, alone. I try to maintain some optimism (after all, it's only 6 miles back the other way to town), and figure I'll go for it. We all know how expensive calling for a tow is... So I rally my spirits and hop in the front seat, beaming with determination to will this car back to town. I turn the keys over (I'm sure you could finish this thought...), and, of course, the car won't start. Cruel, cruel fate.

I practice some more colorful language (I won't detail it here, my mother reads this blog), and my optimism is shot. My girl has seen her day I suppose, and since it didn't start just a few days before this trip without a jump I can't say I'm surprised. It was a gamble to even attempt this Colorado-Washington journey in that car, and I realize that. So let's recap: I'm on the side of the road in the Utah desert with 3 functional tires, no cell service, and my car won't start. High five.

After a good 20 minutes of walking up and down the side of the road searching for cell service/working out some angst, I return to my car (having failed to find cell service) to give it one last effort to start the car. Try. Fail. As I'm redefining "effective self-deprecation" in the front seat of my automobile carcass, a soccer-mom type van comes to a halt on the other side of the road (yes, we're still on the highway). It's no soccer mom, though, but Mario Hernandez. Mario Hernandez is my guardian angel, and he lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Super Mario was kind enough to stop and see if I was alright, which I never thought in a million years would happen on the highway. Maybe it's the spiritual overtone of Utah, maybe he's just a nice guy, but I'm pretty impressed with the chance benevolence. I'm stopping to help the next person I see who needs it - you should, too.

Mario exits his van after turning around via a spectacular U-turn (yes, on the highway), and, carrying a spit-jar for his sunflower seeds, comes over and asks me to pop the hood. No hello, no introduction, no even asking what the problem is. He just says, "Pop the hood." and spits a few sunflower seeds out. He runs through an "Engines 101" troubleshooting guide in his head, and after about 5 minutes he proclaims, "It's the fuel pump. You've got no fuel." I'm pretty defeated at this point, because I'm vividly aware of the pain and suffering (not to mention cost) involved with replacing a fuel pump. See: $1,000 repair bill and an overnight stay in Vernal, Utah.

He can tell I'm on my last legs, but Mario simply laughs and says, "Let's try and get you out of here." At this point I don't even care - so I'm rolling with this. Then Mario goes back to his van and pulls out a 20ish foot rope with a hook on each end. No AAA phone call, no offering a ride back to town, just a rope. Yes, I'm aware this is a crazy idea, but at this point I figure if we fail and die, it'll cost less than repairing my car, so I'm on board. Then he tells me, "We can't U-turn like this, so we'll go to the next town." What next town? The one 26 miles away. I look at my dysfunctional donut, look at Mario, and give a thumbs up. He reciprocates with a smile and a sunflower seed.

5 minutes later we're tied together (yes, our cars) and he's telling me to put it in neutral and watch my brakes (my brakes - which, like my power steering, are no longer working very well). So I'm in the front seat of my automobile/corpse in neutral, hands glued to the wheel, perhaps 18 feet off of Mario's bumper. I still have my life's possessions in the car, and I still have 10 psi in my non-functional donut. He sticks his arm out of the window of his soccer-mom van and gives a thumbs up. I fail to see the "thumbs-up" part of all of this at this point, but I'm rolling with it. This ridiculousness is all I've got at this point. Thumbs up means "go", and we're off.

Seriously, we're off. Within minutes his thumb is still up and we're pushing 50. "Hold together, girl", I'm thinking. "I don't think I can hold the wheel any tighter", I'm thinking. "Mario is still nonchalantly chewing and spitting sunflowers seeds - I can see through your rear window", I'm thinking. We continue on this way (thumbs up for "we're going for it", thumbs down for "use your failing brakes, we're going downhill") for miles. Uphill. Downhill. Sidehill. I'm sweating buckets, and inventing new deities by the minute to pray to in hopes of aiding my plight. 26 miles and 274 new gods later, we've pulled this thing off. I'm speechless, but we pulled this thing off.

We coast into a NAPA Auto Parts store, and Mario hops out like he just finished a casual errand and unhooks our cars. He says, "Good luck.". He shakes my hand. He spits a sunflower seed on the ground, and he gets back into his van. That's it. I'm convinced he's my guardian angel. His name is Mario Hernandez, and he lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.

I'm still a little dumbfounded by the fact that we survived that madness, but I try and focus on the reality: I'm still stranded in a ghost town in Utah with 3 tires and a bad fuel pump. I assert myself and walk into the store and find a NAPA employee, and I unburden my precarious situation. He walks with me to my car and we run through the same troubleshooting that Super Mario and I ran through, and we (again) determine that the death knell is indeed the fuel pump. He puts his arm on my shoulder and (in the way a nurse relays information to a terminal cancer patient) tells me, "It's the fuel pump, kid. I'll see what we've got - you just hold tight. We'll get this sorted out, alright? Hang in there." I know I'm dead in the water.

As he's strutting back to the store with the confidence of somebody who just landed a big sales contract he stops, turns to me, and asks, "Have you tried the fuel pump reset button?" fuel pump reset button?!*&*!*?!!? Yes, apparently Ford put a fuel pump reset button on their mid-90s vehicles so they didn't blow up in the event of a crash. And yes, although it wasn't a crash, when my car bottomed out during the flat, it triggered that failsafe. After digging out all of the personal belongings in my car's trunk and spewing them out into the road in a vehicular vomit reprise, I discover that the fuel pump reset button (a shiny red dot of salvation tucked into the back corner of my trunk) has indeed been triggered. I'm giddy with anticipation. Once I go through the ceremonious act of pressing the button, I inch my way to the front seat. The key is in my hand, as a dragonslayer wields an axe as he moves in for the kill. I attack, turn the ignition, and the sweet sound of victory fills my ears. Let's recap: I went from being stranded with 3 tires and no fuel pump to being in a town and a spare tire away from being fully back in the race. Ridiculous.

I all but idle my car down the street to a tire lot, barely breathing in hopes of not upsetting my battered baby girl (I was whispering to her the whole day before this incident, "All you need to do is get me to Seattle..."), and coast in. I'm a bit confused when I see the bay doors closed until I realize it's 5 PM. See: every horrible word you can think of. I can't be denied, not this close. All I need is a tire. I see an employee inside closing the last door and I spring up to him, my car still idling in the lot, and literally beg him to help me out. I unload my story on him, and his amazement reinforces my ludicrous good fortune. The guys at the shop are so blown away by all of this that they not only throw on a tire (their last tire of that size), but they waive the late-service fee. I walk out with only a $78.27 expense receipt. Let's recap: I was stranded with no fuel pump and 3 tires in the middle of the desert, and it cost my $78 to get out alive. Ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous.

The next time you think you're out of luck, trust me: it's out there. You can get luckier. I swear.