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Nora Ephron’s mom was right, part 2

March 25, 2010
The GTS at the Vashon ferry dock

Waiting at the Vashon ferry dock (Orin O'Neill photos)

(In our last episode, you’ll recall I’d noticed a large cut in the GTS’ rear tire)

My mind was racing, as it usually does in such situations, weighing possible scenarios. Do I do the test ride and try to make it back to Portland?

No, it would be just my luck for the tire to fail in some place like Bucoda. And the cut is big enough that plugging it wouldn’t be possible, anyway.

I get on the phone to Susan (just what did we do before cell phones?). I needed to call her anyway to let her know I’d be late, and Scoot About sells and installs tires.

She said she didn’t have one in the right size, but should be able to get one in fairly short order. That’ll work. The tire only needs to hold up from Fauntleroy to Westlake & Mercer.

Off the Ferry, headed toward downtown on Fauntleroy Way, I am reminded how much better the pavement in Portland is. I hit a couple of spots that make me wonder if my fillings will pop out—or if the top case will break off again.

Down the hill toward the West Seattle Bridge, it’s like old times. The speed limit is 45, I’m going 60, and I’m the slowest thing on the road. Gosh Toto, we’re not in Portland anymore!

Ascending the highrise, an old green Volvo station wagon veers across the lanes, headed straight for a spot that’s occupied by a white Mercury Tracer. I’m preparing for an impact and assessing escape routes, but at the last possible second the Volvo driver realizes the Tracer isn’t going to make way. The Volvo then veers the other way, missing a brown Toyota Camry by millimeters.

An opening appears, and I dive for the far right lane, which is the mandatory exit for 99 northbound, aka the Viaduct.

Street entertainment

Street entertainment at Westlake Center in downtown Seattle.

I don’t remember the pavement on the Viaduct being that rough. Swallowing hard, I move to the center lane. I’ll need to go through the Battery Street Tunnel. There’s a new Audi (so new it has no plates) stopped in the merge lane near the tunnel entrance. He could go, but he doesn’t. Until I’m even with him.

Luckily, I anticipated the move and was on the brakes, so the Audi could get up to speed. But the roof of the tunnel reflects red, meaning traffic in the right lane is slowed or stopped for something.

The reason for the brake lights was not apparent at the tunnel exit. Oh, well, I need to dive right two lanes to catch the exit to Mercer and Dexter. A scooter pulls into the the far right lane (a 50, judging from the exhaust note) from the stop sign a block before the exit ramp. This almost always happens, so I move just one lane right, then one more when I’m past the scooter. Pretty brave, that rider, taking a 50cc scoot on Aurora Avenue during the commute.

I arrive at Scoot About, park the GTS and check the tire. The cut isn’t any bigger, and the tire’s still holding air. I’ll worry about it later; there’s a La Vita to ride.

Post-ride, Susan says she should be able to get a Kenda tire in the proper size by the next day if she gets the order in on time. She does it with nine minutes to spare. The Karmic wheel is turning my way. Sort of.

King Street Station

Seattle's King Street Station is finally undergoing the restoration it has needed for decades.

My thought at this point was to head for home and come back for the GTS in a day or two. Bad thought!

I show up at King Street Station at 5:45 pm, only to be told the last train for Portland left at 5:30. Arrghh!

Okay, let’s try Greyhound. Their last bus for Portland leaves around 7:30. Sorry, sold out. There’s a bus in the morning, the counter guy offers. No, thanks.

While it doesn’t help matters, I rant to myself that if this were Europe, there’d be hourly trains between Seattle and Portland 24/7. I am unfortunately not in Europe. Damn the Irish potato famine!

So the plan is to find a place to land, and hope the GTS will be ready to hit the road on the morrow. Favicon

  1. March 25, 2010 7:51 am

    Mother is always right.

    400 miles in one day? Not a hope…

    I don’t think European overnight delivery is quite as… energetic as it is in Washington State.

  2. Jack Riepe permalink
    March 25, 2010 9:25 am

    Dear Orin:

    So far, so good with the scooter though. I had a tire go at a major bike rally. The vendor split the brakes getting off the wheel (big problem) and then took 12 hours to mount the tire, after telling me to be at his booth at 7am. It took another day to get the brakes repaired and bled — just in time for the ride home.

    Was there a $50-a-night motel to crash in? If this had happened to me in the 4th week of any month lately, I wouldn’t have the $50. I am really curious as to what the cost of the tire was, and what they charged you for the mounting. And I am just curious, do you ever look at your tire surfaces before a long trip? I really don’t, but I am going to now.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  3. March 25, 2010 12:35 pm


    glad you located the tire. Not so glad you have to sleep under a park bench for the night

    bobskoot: wet coast scootin

  4. March 25, 2010 3:46 pm

    Maybe the streets in Seattle, but I-5 from PDX to Eugene was the worst stretch of pavement I have ever driven on. I swear ODOT spends no money on their freeway system.

  5. March 25, 2010 6:00 pm

    conch, European overnight delivery?

    Jack, Scoot About charged $75 to mount the tire, which took them an hour. The tire was $42, and King County’s almost-10% sales tax brought the total to $112 and change. Actually quite reasonable; most places seem to require an hour and a half to r&r a rear tire on a big Vespa.

    bobskoot, I didn’t sleep under a park bench. It was a (relatively) cheap & cheerful downtown motel.

    Actually Nate, at the moment ODOT doesn’t have any money to spend…

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