Day Twenty-One

   

"Always Get the Best Jumper Cables"

Wednesday
September 25, 2002

Bend, OR -
Seattle, WA

385 miles

7:19 riding time


It happens to me all the time.  I'm in front of a product display in some store, looking to buy a widget.  There are three choices:  I can buy the cheapest for $19.95, something a little better for $26.95, or the best for $31.45.  What to do?  There are reasonable rationales for all three choices:  The cheapest is, well, the cheapest; the most expensive is the 'best' and how can you go wrong owning the best?; and the middle-priced one looks like a good compromise, probably almost as good as the best, and maybe a better 'value'.  But Consumer Reports hasn't tested widgets lately and I'm no expert.  Hmmm .... what should I get?  So I ponder awhile, maybe hoping that a widget expert will just happen to wander by.  I finally punt and make a random choice based on my momentary emotional state.  Deep down, I'd bet my choice is based on the haircut of the celebrity who pitched one of these widgets last week on TV.  After all, that's why they pay those advertising execs the big bucks.  (And a note to all potential W&G sponsors:  I can get a better haircut!)

I'm telling you this as a public service for the next time you're out buying jumper cables.  You don't need to ponder at all—get the best they got, the absolute top of the line.  Why, you ask?  Because if I had bought el-cheapo jumper cables a few years ago, I'd probably still be stranded in the incredibly busy and densely-packed Virginia Mason Hospital parking garage, with my car, dead as a proverbial doornail, blocking several people into their parking stalls and seriously impeding all traffic into and out of the garage.  But luckily I had earlier bought the best-of-the-best jumper cables, which were about three feet longer than the el-cheapos, a critical three feet when there is virtually no room to get a donor car near enough the dead car to string the cables.  With a half-dozen impatient drivers impatiently gridlocked while I frantically ran between cars, it was worth a heck of a lot more than the extra $5 these cables cost me.

If you're still with me, I'm sure you're wondering how in the heck I managed to get from the wide-open expanses of the Great Divide Tour to anxiously trying to jump-start my car in an underground parking garage in downtown Seattle.  Let me fill you in.

The day started well enough.  In the morning, we had a wonderful ride out of Bend Oregon, west through the Columbia River gorge, and behind Mt. St. Helens to just south of Mt. Rainier.  The afternoon had us taking the back way into the Seattle area through Enumclaw.  But it was difficult to reconcile my enjoyment of the picture-perfect ride with the knowledge that my dad was at Virginia Mason undergoing an angiogram, trying to get a handle on his persistent chest pains.  Gizmo and I arrived back in Seattle about 3PM, did our farewell salutes, and returned to our non-Divide-Tour ordinary lives.  When I got home, my dad was there, finished with his minor surgery.  My wife had picked him up from the hospital just an hour or so earlier.

The doctor's report was the typical good/bad news.  Good:  He was fine and the doctors had found the problem.  Bad:  He was going in next week for quadruple bypass surgery.  Wow, that brought me up a little short.  But against this backdrop of cold, slap-you-in-the-face mortality, we had the rather more mundane problem of getting his car out of the hospital parking garage (he had driven himself there, probably not the best idea), and getting him home.  And there were ferry rides involved since my parents live on Vashon Island, a ferry-only island in Puget Sound.  The whole problem reminded me of the classic grade-school problem involving a farmer, a fox, and a chicken who needed to cross a river.  Or was it a missionary, cannibal, and big-game hunter wanting to share a Land Rover?   I forget.

In any event, six or seven different plans were carefully evaluated (sorry, there was no time to present them here and get our crack W&G readership working on the problem) and the winning plan was for my dad and me to drive to the hospital garage in my car and swap the cars.  Next,  I'd drive him home in his car.  Then, using some TBD mixture of  ferry, bus, cab, and rickshaw transportation, I'd get myself from my parent's Vashon house back to my car and drive it home.  It sounded good on paper.  And it might have worked except for my car not starting in the parking garage while VERY awkwardly double-parked, battery weak from disuse while I was trundling around on the Great Divide Tour.  So there I was, running around jockeying cars, untangling jumper cables, tangling traffic, and getting my car jumped while my sick dad, three hours out of exploratory heart surgery, stood patiently waiting for me to get it sorted.  It all ended ok, but take it from me, get the best jumper cables money can buy!

Where were you when Mt. St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980?  I distinctly remember where I was during the awful JFK assassination and the heart-breaking Challenger explosion, but this one escapes me, perhaps because I lived so far away in North Carolina at the time.  But St. Helens does have a special place in my memory of these times; about a month before the explosion, while working for an environmental engineering firm, I was on a two-week field assignment at a fertilizer manufacturing plant in St. Helens Oregon, about 30 miles north of Portland along the Oregon side of the Columbia River.  On the infrequent clear days, I'd climb up a tower at the plant, look across the river, and watch St. Helens do its mini-eruptions prior to the big one.  There were rumblings at the time that it might have a major eruption, but I never imagined the events that were to unfold.

After moving to the Seattle area ten years later, I didn't give St. Helens much thought until a few years ago when a few of my friends told me of the great motorcycling roads between the logging towns of Randle (just south of Mt. Rainier) and Carson (in the Columbia Gorge).  About of a third of the way south between Randle and Carson, is Windy Ridge Road, a spur that goes through the blast zone, past debris-jammed Spirit Lake, and directly to a lookout point that overlooks the crater.  If you're up this way, this is a must see, especially on a clear day, as Windy Ridge is one of the most dramatic roads I've ever experienced and the viewpoints are breath-taking.  The devastation is both overwhelming and sobering, but so is the natural rebirth that is occurring.  So I was looking forward to introducing Gizmo to these roads.

We had a picture-perfect ride from Bend to the Columbia, going through the town of Maupin, a river-rafting center on the Deschutes river.  (Note to sportbikers:  US 197 is a vastly more entertaining road than US 97, well worth a detour.)  At The Dalles, we crossed the river, returned to Washington state, and turned west to enjoy thirty miles of the Columbia River gorge, always spectacular, but particularly beautiful on this crystal-clear and perfect-temperature day.  At Carson we turned north and went behind Mt. St. Helens.  The roads were dry and deserted; we had a great ride.

At the Windy Ridge Road turnoff, I stopped and asked Gizmo if he wanted to do the spur and see the crater.  I did this more as a formality than anything else; I expected he'd say that he wanted to get home before the Seattle traffic had built to its usual crescendo.  I had done Windy Ridge tens of times, but I didn't want to be accused later of not offering Giz the chance to see this special place.

But he surprised me and said, "Why not?" so off we went.  (I like it when the barn smell doesn't become so overpowering that you go into Death March mode.)  But wouldn't you know, we had only gone about five miles, just entering the blast zone when we ran into road construction with long delays while they used the single open lane to move heavy construction equipment.  The oncoming traffic managed to get through fairly quickly but it was looking like there might be an hour or more delay round-trip, so we bagged it and backtracked.  At least Gizmo got a taste of how spectacular this area is.  I'm sure he'll come back curious to see what he missed.

Of course, while we sat waiting for the road folks to do their thing, the flag people had to lecture us with a horror story about somebody who had a motorcycle wreck a few days before.  Now I completely understand that these people have a dangerous job with their close proximity to moving traffic.  I acknowledge this by driving extremely slowly when I'm in construction zones.  I'm courteous, friendly, and cautious to a fault.  But I wish they wouldn't use their job as a lectern for a motorcycle safety diatribe while I'm a captive audience.  I much prefer the approach of the flag man we met twenty miles earlier.  He flagged us over as we entered a repaving zone, told us what to expect, asked that we try and avoid the newly paved sections, told us to enjoy the ride, and let us go, free to use our own good sense and judgment to avoid hitting a paving machine or running over a construction worker.

I hate to keep drawing parallels to Europe, but there, the traffic control folks let much denser traffic navigate on their own through extremely intricate construction zones without flag people and without pilot cars.  Where there is only one lane of traffic open, they'll let you do your own lane negotiation with oncoming traffic (if the conflicting section is short), or they'll use an automated timed signal so that there is no need for someone to endure what has to be the most boring job in existence.  Why the difference?  Maybe it's the smaller cars, maybe it's the better drivers, maybe it's just a different attitude towards risk.  I don't know.  In any event, I like our wide-open roads, but I don't like our absolute-lowest-common-denominator approach to road safety  Every time there is an accident, the knee-jerk response is lower speed limits and more draconian traffic control.  There has to be a balance—getting where you're going expeditiously should have some importance also.

Ok, off my soapbox.

Time to get back to my everyday life after the Great Divide Tour.  I've enjoyed virtually every minute, especially the minutes spent interacting with you, our readership.  I'll reserve for the Epilogue my long and exquisitely boring colloquia about what The Road and The Great Divide Tour have taught me about the grand question, "Why the heck are we here?"

In the meantime, let me leave you with a thought made more poignant by my dad's health issues:  Life's short and we live in a wondrous world, so when an opportunity for a road trip arises, DO IT.  Just be sure to bring top-of-the-line jumper cables.


Update -- Grand Finale Contest -- Pitch the Pitchmen

As we said in yesterday's report, the polls will close Thursday midnight PST 9/24/2002, less than ten hours from now as we write this.  So, if you haven't voted, what's your excuse?  Voting is your obligation as a W&G reader!  So do it now by clicking the 'Vote' hyperlink below on the pitch you find the most compelling.  No salesman will call and no spam will infest your mailbox (from us at least).  A couple clicks and you've cast your ballot.

Here's the rules and pitches again:

Contestant The Pitch
Tom Brady
Wading River NY

Vote


LET US SELL YOUR CUSTOM MOTORCYCLE SEATS!
HOW CAN TWO ASSES WITH THIS MANY MILES ON THEM BE WRONG?

 

Mike Leskin
Houston TX

Vote


"YOU ARE WHAT YOU RIDE...THE MEN, THE LEGENDS, THE WAY OF LIFE...WHIZMO & GIZMO...COMING SOON TO A TRUCK STOP OR ROADSIDE DINER NEAR YOU!"

FREE CANS OF FRITO-LAY BEAN DIP FOR THE FIRST 15 ADULTS...FREE BALLOONS FOR THE KIDDOS...AUTHENTIC WHIZMO & GIZMO BUSINESS CARDS FOR ANYBODY WHO HASN'T ALREADY BEEN GIVEN ONE!

Dear Prospective Whizmo & Gizmo Sponsor:

After a detailed screening process, based upon your company's products and/or services, your firm has been selected as a prospective sponsor of Whizmo & Gizmo Touring Enterprises, Incorporated, the world's leading producer of lifelong dream-fulfilling motorcycle tours.

Ask yourself, "Could I use more business?" If the answer is "Yes," and we think it is, this is the opportunity you have been seeking to maximize those advertising and corporate sponsorship dollars!

Whizmo & Gizmo are just a couple of regular guys, probably a lot like you and your neighbors, except for just two things: 1) they are not employed in any sort of meaningful, productive work and 2) they love to ride motorcycles all over the world.

Now...for you, as a potential sponsor, here's the really interesting part: They are available to carry your company's logo to all those out-of-the-way, off-the-beaten track markets that you have not been able to reach by conventional print and electronic advertising media.

Why place your logo on a motorcycle or racecar that will only be seen by a few thousand people sitting around an oval track on a Sunday afternoon? Whizmo & Gizmo will carry your company's name and logo to every corner of the globe, including many places where there aren't any people at all!!

A number of major corporations have already signed up. (This is a boldfaced lie, of course, but who will know?!) Just imagine...your company's name and logo displayed next to those of other corporate heavyweights such as Johnson's Wax, Frito-Lay, Compaq and Jake's General Merchandise.

Our representative in your area will be contacting you personally in the next few days. She will be happy to explain the various levels of sponsorship. Currently, there is some prime logo placement space remaining available on the back of Whizmo & Gizmo's jumpsuits. Less expensive space is available on clothing which is shown when the boys stop for lunch or a well-deserved break from riding.

In today's world of tight advertising budgets, we think Whizmo & Gizmo will give you the most bang for the buck...especially if they stay sober! Thanks very much for your consideration. I remain

Very truly yours,

Virgina P. Mountjoy
Director, Corporate Sponsorship Activities
 

Bing Gordon
Atherton CA

Vote

Put the "Mo" in Your Product Sales

 

 

 

 You'll thrive, because they drive.

 

Have your sales gone flat?  Are your customers using Tivo to ignore your commercials? 
Are your spokespersons under investigation for child molestation and steroid usage?

 

Are you tired of over-cologned advertising executives who are afraid of the open air?  
Do you need to get readable and get real?

 

Do you need credibility in the heart of America?  Do you need a grass roots campaign?  Or a 'no roots at all' campaign? Do you need to sell water trucks in the flood season?

 

Then it's time for you to turbocharge your sales with the twin titans of two-wheeling, Whizmo and Gizmo.

  

Features to remember:

  • Recommended by Fortune Magazine, who put Kenneth Lay on their cover in Jan 2001.
  • Sustained 100% readership of target audience for an 18-stage internet campaign!
  • One truck-stop shopping: copywriting, photos, website and stunts!
  • Especially effective to AARP members, silver hairs and Rolling Stones groupies!
 

This water truck sold in 3 days,
during Seattle’s worst rainy season in 30 years! 

  Graduates of the prestigious Harvard Bee School!
Glenda Revelle
New York City NY

Vote

TOP 10 REASONS TO SPONSOR WHIZMO AND GIZMO
 

10. Holding your logo placard gives Whizmo something to do with his hands in all those photos.

9. Gizmo “marks territory” in the shape of, you guessed it, YOUR LOGO!!

8. Whizmo and Gizmo’s next tour named after your company or product: e.g., The 2003 Right Guard Ride, or The 2004 Odor-Eaters Tour.

7. Whizmo designs a bike in the shape of your product and rides it on the next tour

6. Thousands of fanatically devoted followers waiting hypnotically for W&G to tell them what to buy.

5. Whizmo & Gizmo willing to deface both state and federal property with your corporate brass nameplate on well-traveled byways throughout North America

4. Gizmo reinterprets Maslow’s hierarchy to include a Need for Your Product

3. What Whizmo and Gizmo do to your competitors:

2.  Your company logo tattooed here:

1.  They make such lovely spokesmodels.



 

Steve Ellis
Seattle WA

Vote

THE 
WHIZMO & GIZMO
 MO' MOTION 2003 CAMPAIGN
 
Do your sales merely mosey along?  Do your advertising campaigns lack motility?  Do you lack momentum in your quest for success? 
 
Then join the Whizmo and Gizmo Mo' Motion 2003 campaign, a veritable mobile modus vivendi.  In your behalf, the boys will ride any motorized two wheeled device - motorcycles to motor scooters to mopeds - anywhere from Moline to Mobile, the Mojave to Moclips, or even from the Moselle to Mogadishu.  In so doing, the boys will be a colorful mosaic of your logos and brands, their efforts in your behalf shamelessly motivated by cold, hard cash.  As pitchmen, they are the most.  Let their motive be your motif.
 
So, get on board, and abandon those old sales campaigns that move like molasses.  Take a step up to a new, high-tech sales campaign fueled by motorcycles and modems.  Take your sales from the Mohorovicic Discontinuity to the moment of truth!  Take a step of which not even Momus - much less your CEO - could complain.  
 
Adopt a new modus operandi; adopt a new mot juste; adopt  "Mo' Motion!" 
J. Ozinski
Kirkland WA

Vote

I think a Lemon Pledge campaign centered on Led Zeppelin's Lemon Song would boost sales considerably.  The only down side, and there always is a downside, is that Gizmo will also have to get one of them Yaller 'Stiches.  Anyway, the way this would go is that with the song in the background, the Izmos are patrolling the highways, looking for visors that need attention. When they find a fellow motorcyclist in need, they whip out the Lemon Pledge, and jump into action. They could have bandeleros of small Pledge cans over their shoulders. Kinda like Zapatic/Teutonic squeegee guys, except no tips are accepted.

The lyrics for the soundtrack would be as follows, to the tune of The Lemon Song:

THE LEMON (PLEDGE) SONG
(J. O. Zinski)

I should have waxed my visor, long time ago (X2)
I should have sprayed them gnats, down to the station floor

I should have sprayed that Lemon Pledge, at least one mo' time (X2)
'Cause every time I spray that Lemon Pledge, really makes my face shield shine

Some people say that I use Pledge just 'cause it smells so fine
But I use that Lemon Pledge 'cause it's so benign

Went to wax last night, buffed as hard as can be
Waxed that visor, took that visor, ran through a swarm of bees
I should have done mo' waxin', long time ago
Then I wouldn't be without no vision, that's fo' sho'

So spray it, Izmos, till the Pledge runs down the visor (X2)
The way you spray that Lemon Pledge, makes buyin' the large economy size much wiser

I'm gonna leave them bugs, down on the station floo...ooo...ooo...oor.


Now, aren't you glad I didn't do a Beano ad?

For those not familiar with the original lyrics, I provide the following:

The Lemon Song
(Burnett)

I should have quit you, long time ago. (X2)
I wouldn't be here, my children, down on this killin' floor.

I should have listened, baby, to my second mind (X2)
Everytime I go away and leave you, darling, you send me the blues way down the line.

Said, people worry I can't keep you satisfied.
Let me tell you baby, you ain't nothin but a two-bit, no-good jive.

Went to sleep last night, worked as hard as I can,
Bring home my money, you take my money, give it to another man.
I should have quit you, baby, such a long time ago.
I wouldn't be here with all my troubles, down on this killing floor.

Squeeze me baby, till the juice runs down my leg. (X2)
The way you squeeze my lemon, I'm gonna fall right out of bed.

I'm gonna leave my children down on this killing floor.

 
Jonathan Cluts
Redmond WA

Vote


For the first time, limited addition Whizmo and Gizmo sunglasses are available to the public. You've heard about them, you've seen them on the web, but now you too can own your very own pair of Whizmo and Gizmo sunglasses. These are the very same glasses worn by the famous Whizmo and Gizmo on all their adventures. Choose between two styles, the classic Whizmo, or the fetchin' Gizmo. Don't be fooled, while these glasses look like the kind you can buy at many fine eyewear shops around the world, these are much more expensive! Quantities are limited! Order your pair today!
 
Adam Bellin
Bay Area CA

Vote


In the spirit of Bartles and Jaymes, Whizmo and Gizmo, spokespersons for W&G Spirits Division of W&G Foods, subsidiary of W&G Industries, LLP, bring you the new line of W&G coolers…

Gizmo says: “the thing I hate about California, is, you move out there from NY, the sun dries up all your zits, dressing up is like, wearing *socks*, and they haven’t had a new, good, thirst-quenching refreshing beverage come out in over 15 years! This is why we developed our new line of drinks:

Whizmo’s Mo-Whizzers, and Gizmo’s JizzyJuice. Whiz and Giz can’t agree on whose tastes best, so we’d like your opinion!

Also, try our new line of snack products…

WhizCheese & Giz’s Mo-Nuts
 
Peter Ellis
Snohomish WA

Vote


Are you tired of your sales, or lack thereof? Are you looking for a vacation from all the hard, backbreaking, and often thankless work that's involved in selling your product? Don't reach for the aspirin, the 'Izmos are here!

Whizmo and Gizmo, that famous motorcycling pair, will take care of your marketing efforts with the greatest of ease. What better method of gaining visibility than two men riding around with your product logo plastered over them, shamelessly plugging your product in those small towns you never thought you could reach before today? For the low, low price of nightly deliveries of Red Bull, Beano, and Frito Lay Bean Dip to their hotel rooms, Whizmo and Gizmo will turn your brand from gloom to zoom!

This offer only lasts for a limited time, so e-mail the 'Izmo's today!
 
Dan Newell
Medina WA

Vote

W&G will risk life and limb, spend 3 weeks and thousands of their own dollars on a marketing campaign. Why not let it be yours?  Yes, reach the affluent but difficult to find "40+ multi-motorcycle owning adventure hounds".  Remember, W&G will shamelessly plug anything for a pair of heated socks.
Tom Boyle
St. Paul MN

Vote

You're a rider, and you like to ride. You've ridden just about everything there is to ride: the wind, the waves, anything that bucks and kicks, gives you that thrill and makes you feel alive!  But you're afraid you've tried all there is, and that perhaps there are no new thrills left on this crazy old planet.  Well, I'm here to tell you that you're wrong - there is a vast frontier out there that beckons: until you've ridden the Internet, you haven't really ridden at all. And the way to get on board is with Whizmo and Gizmo.  They know how to ride the Internet like nobody else, and they bring that excitement right to your desktop. Feel the bugs in your teeth, the loose gravel under your wheels, and spirit of the open road ahead. You'll ride again, and with a passion you had forgotten was possible.  Come Ride the Internet - Ride With Whizmo and Gizmo.
John Helms
Atlanta GA

Vote

 (start with background music from the theme to Raiders of the Lost Ark.)
 
“If you want to run with the big hogs, you gotta get off the porch.”

Yah, we call it like we see it down here in the South, and when you ride with Whizmo and Gizmo, these are two big hogs.

Now, don’t take my word for it, just look at the awesome website they have created to chronicle their adventures, and adventures they are.  Just look at what they have encountered during their travels:

  • the horrifying, threatening black skies of Wyoming
  • the bone chilling cold of… Wyoming
  • the cuddly softness and companionship of cute little lambs in…ah… Wyoming
  • a crazed woman threatening these two “hog wild” riders in…ah, er… Wyoming
  • the incredible loneliness while biking through the beautiful hills of…well…ah…you guessed it… Wyoming
  • the aggressive, perverse “come-ons” from drunken, homosexual farmers in…where else… Wyoming

(fade out Raiders theme)
 
Yes, all this in just one day on the road with Whizmo and Gizmo. (see day 8)
 
(fade in Proud to be an American by Lee Greenwood, or is that Al Green?)
 
You, at whatever American broadcasting facility, have a golden opportunity to share the wild, crazy, exciting and exhilarating adventures of Whizmo and Gizmo with the rest of the free world. No, this is not an opportunity, it’s your obligation. It’s your obligation because these two true road warriors and fine, upstanding Americans risk their own lives to bring us their adventures, at no cost to any of us. They willingly encounter the trials on the road that would make most men turn tail and run. Why, you ask? Well, the answer is simple. They do it because they just love to take those risks that the rest of us only dream about. They harbor an unbridled desire to share as many of their life experiences with the rest of America as they possibly can. I understand that their next adventure includes riding jet skis from Baja, California to South Beach in Miami. Are Whiz and Giz brave or what?? Yes, they are true American Heroes.
 
(let Proud to be an American finish and fade in He Works Hard for the Money (I know it’s “She Works Hard for the Money”, but work with me here!))
 
So, come on, sign up Whizmo and Gizmo, right away before you miss this tremendous opportunity. And, don’t forget, as Jerry Maguire would say, “Show them the money!!” Of course, it is clearly not evident from the tremendous job these guys do with their website, their custom embroidered apparel, and their high quality motorcycles, but these two are almost destitute. The only way they have been able to stay alive on the road has a great deal to do with local law enforcement vacancies and soup kitchens. Many days they survive purely on the love of riding and leftover Frito-Lay Bean Dip. Yes, bean dip. It helps to occasionally warm their seats and put fuel in their tanks. Yes, these bikes run on pure methane gas.
 
If you need more motivation, just look at the list of potential sponsors that we have almost “in the bag”. Frito-Lay, BMW, Michelin, the National Parks Service, Hampton Inns, Beano, Super 8 Motel, 4 B’s Gas Station (HOT!!!, they’re ready to sign up right now), a fireworks and artillery dealer in Wyoming, Ted Nugent (???), AAA Travel, the Calf-A Café and so many others that we can’t name them all. Your sales staff already has most of its leads. This is a ready-made success.
 
(fade out Hard for the Money and fade in a theme song Gizmo will write and record)
 
The Whizmo and Gizmo Show obviously has endless possibilities. They can bring us the world. And, it is wholesome family fun. There’s really something for everyone in this budding entertainment dynasty. So, don’t be a day late and a million dollars short. Please call me, John Helms at John Helms & Associates (dba: Whizmo & Gizmo Entertainment Management) and let’s do this deal today.
 
(let theme song play out)