MY ANNUAL pilgrimage to the land of Harley-Davidson has been curtailed this year thanks to the GFC! Or no fucking money! So armed with a free week’s accommodation and frequent flyer points, I decided to go to the Hawaii State HOG rally.
This trip was very different. You see Roo now has a partner (which tends to redefine what you do on road trips). This trip was to be very special though as I decided to use the HOG Rally as a good forum/excuse to ask Miss Jane to be his bride.
Oahu is a great place to ride and the local biker fraternity is very generous and warming. A trip around the entire island takes about five hours but the scenery is spectacular and the roads are no worse than the Pacific Highway.
As an ex-serviceman, the history of Pearl Harbor and all that Hawaii holds is fascinating and no one should visit without going to the Arizona Memorial, Missouri and Pacific Aviating Museums. Strange thing is that the Japs tried to take it by force in the ’40s and now they own it economically!
The thing I noticed this time is that the markets are now dominated by Asians. I don’t know about you, but if I want to barter for every purchase and have to strain to understand some prick, then I’ll go to Asia. By day two it was shiting me no end, so I showed my distaste as only I know how, by being a belligerent.
“Wat u want? we got effery thing,” some zipper would say.
“Shrunken Head?” I would ask.
“Oh, born that way, eh,” I’d say and walk off. (Miss Jane wasn’t impressed).
We attended a public Luau on the opening night of the HOG rally. I had arranged with some of my Hawaiian biker friends to set it up so I could propose. I had no idea it was going to be in public in front of 400 plus people, but with a few Mai Tais under the belt, all went well, fortunately because, as mate of mine, Bull, said before I left, “If she says no, you’ll look like a fuckwit, won’t you!”
I rode a Road King around the island and it performed beautifully. Riding through pineapple plantations fighting the pineapple bugs, past the NSA underground headquarters, along Banzai pipeline, north shore, areas which were used for filming Jurassic Park and Lost. I scanned Waikiki Beach several times and saw plenty of Japs and big fat Americans but no college girls.
The difference in riding in the USA is still apparent so I have reviewed my advice to Aussies:
The Yanks really do believe that Kangaroo’s jump down the main streets. Milk this for all it is worth because they love stories about kangaroos, sump Koalas, drop Bears, and I have paved the way so credibility is ensured.
2. Learn a modicum about our history and match it with their history timelines because they know about their Civil War but know little about Ned Kelly or Thunderbolt. Jessie James was a pussy compared to our outlaws so these stories are a good source of free beers.
3. Using Aussie phrases like Bloody Hell, Crikey, and No Shit Sherlock immediately identifies you as an Australian and the drinks and back slapping commences. Be prepared after a few drinks to defend our gun laws — half the buggers pack, and with a few under the belt, they will show you and complain about how some States now make you disassemble your piece when carrying it on ya bike.
4. When abusing Kiwis for shagging sheep, be aware that the Yanks don’t understand our sense of humour so you will see them prepare for punching stations. When they see the banter continues you will have a crowd around you marvelling at the sharp wit we antipodeans have.
5. Roads. Firstly they ride on the wrong side of the road. On interstates and freeways, no problems, but watch out coming out of gas stations or McDonalds — this is where we come to grief.
6. Light switches. On is up. My rationale is that if you are shot or stabbed and stagger home and die it would be unfair on your estate if you fell on the switch and left the lights on — what an unnecessary expense.
7. Although the richest nation in the world, they can’t afford hot and cold taps or plugs. So showers are over a bath, with a fixed plug and a contraption that you swivel, pull or turn (or a combination of all these) to get water flowing and then vary the temperature from cold to scolding with slight gradient changes on the angle of the dangle causing the adjustments.
8. Toilets. These are beauties! A cistern to hold water which causes a purge of water to flush the toilet is way too simple. In the land of USA, the crapper is filled to just below the toilet seat rim with water, so when doing the paper work, half the time your hand is in the water and you find yourself strangling a Bondi Cigar. No wonder McDonalds comes in double wrappings over there.
9. Four Way Stop Signs. This is fantastic fun. All the traffic stops at the white line, then in turn, depending upon when you arrived at the intersection, you proceed irrespective if you are on left or right. Needless to say, I held my breath and just rode! To make it interesting, they have three-way and two-way stop signs as well — God knows what you do here.
10. Unless posted that you can’t, you can turn right into the flow of traffic through a red light. I was always wary that there might be an Aussie coming through the four-way stop that would hit me.
11. Milk comes in about nine varieties: crème, condensed, ½ & ½ , skim, full, vanilla, coffee, caramel, etc. We are talking UHT most of the time and this is for your coffee; it isn’t a Big M or Moove.
12. There is no such thing as fried eggs! Sunny side up, over easy — I thought they were talking about the waitress!
13. Posted Speed Signs. Basically, it is 60 or 70 mph — and these are ignored by everyone on interstates as the usual speed is 80 mph. Except of course on secondary roads where posted corner signs are followed assiduously! This is also the case for Harley and bike riders — the signs are surely for RV’s as we were adding 20 mph and lapping the locals much to their disgust.
14. They don’t know what petrol is — it’s gas, I don’t know what they call LPG. But most gas stations are fully self-serve. You swipe your card, fill up and go. WARNING. Some stations will reject Australian credit cards so you have to go in and see the gas station attendant (usually a young woman with one tooth, dandy dress sense and a lazy eye). She then struggles to understand why you have come in to see her and stuffs around trying to work out how to process the transaction or turn on the pump so that you can fill up. (Be aware in some areas the description of the gas station attendant is totally unfair — they are unattractive and don’t speak English). The frightening thing is, as I told a few of them, the bastards have nuclear weapons!
15. Rest Rooms. The gentleman who pass you towels, soap, after-shave, etc, are there for the tips. So after a few beers you dread going in as you know to have a squirt is going to cost you again!
16. Tipping. You can’t even pee without paying some bugger for the privilege. In some bars they do add it into the price but usually it is 10—20 percent on meals and 10 percent on drinks. If you don’t tip them they get snaky, not just because you are a tight arsed Aussie, but they are actually taxed on a ‘notional’ tip take based on their customer’s meals and drinks costs.
17. You need to check who you are hiding from in the USA because you feel like every second person on the street has some sort of uniform, all resplendent with gold badges, stripes, etc. They could be sheriffs, state troopers, parking officers, toilet attendants or car park ushers.
18. Home Land Security. Be aware these guys control entry into and out of the USA. They aren’t the brightest lights on the tree but they do have power, guns and no sense of humour. Grin, bare it, answer their inane questions and move on.
Hope this helps.