Thursday, November 24, 2011

Breakthroughs and Meltdowns

Some of the most creative advertising on the planet can be seen on septic pumping trucks in the Anchorage Bowl. "Isaac's Honey Wagon," "A straight flush beats a full house," and my favorite, "Satisfaction guaranteed or double your load back." The best one I've seen here on the Big Island is from John's Septic Services, "John's my name and shit's my game." I bet he does a great job.

That's the fantastic thing about living or traveling in different places, you see that people are all the same except for the little differences. I rode around for a while wondering where all the cops were. I noticed a bunch of vehicles with little blue lights on the roofs like the weirdo in Whittier (I guess there's no reason to say weirdo if you say Whittier, it's like saying the lonely stamp collector) that used to drive up and down the road looking for a fire. He was the assistant chief. He bought the light and the dinosaur juice out of his own pocket.

Turns out that the lights signify cops. There are only two marked smokies on the whole island. So if you meet a Mustang or a Toyota Sequoia, it's either a tourist in a rental or a cop. The cops are required to turn on their little blue lights after dark. That doesn't make a lot of sense to me but so much doesn't. Marked cop cars or not, people here flash their lights to warn you that you're about to sail past a pig in a speed trap. In Japanese its, "Mokodi" same same but different. In Britian, Johnny Law will pull you over for warning others of his whereabouts. Sundays are all about sport bikes there. If you come zinging around a corner and instead of the jaunty helmet tip, you get an arm pumping down in front of the rider's chest, it's time to stand on that front brake.

Helicopters don't have front brakes or rear brakes for that matter. Back when this addiction began (that first little buzz really is the best, isn't it?) I hovered over Turnagain Arm the first time and in front of a bunch of friends at a bbq/kegger the second time. It was a bit of a lark, all in good fun and minute later you're all done, a pal hands you some Beam and a brat.

The instructor points the nose into the wind, holds the ship still and gives you the controls. It's all gravy at first but eventually you make a gross input and things quickly go to shit. Corbin gets it back under control and hands it back. Repeat. After a bit, or maybe longer, everybody's different (mokodi), you get the whole hovering into the wind thing down and Corbin makes you do it in a crosswind. Then as soon as you start to feel good about yourself, BAM he makes you give a tailwind a go.

Throughout it all, as soon as we start to pendulum too ridiculously, the instructor brings the touchy little fucker back under control. Yesterday I was killing it, following the yellow line with a wicked crosswind a solid three feet off the ground in a textbook hover taxi. Then Zephyrus sneezed, I hit the right pedal when I should have hit the left and all hell broke loose. So we're zigging and zagging and ballooning all over the place and I'm more than ready for Corbin to grab the controls and save the day.

But through the headset instead of "I have the controls" I hear "Fix it man, get it back under control." And I did. Somehow, I don't know how. It's a lot like hitting a baseball. If you really think about it, there's no way to swing a stick a quarter of a second after someone sixty feet away lets go of a bean traveling eighty-plus and make solid contact. But once you have the technique, you can do it on a regular basis.

So I've reached the point where my instructor is giving me enough rope to hang myself. Exciting.

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