Sunday, April 22, 2012

Road Trip!

Same place, different animals.

The restaurant pictured above probably doesn't ring a bell unless you're a fan of the movie Animal House, in which case you'll recognize it as the roadhouse where several hapless Deltas took their dates to see Otis Day and the Knights play, and...well, if you don't know, see the movie. It's worth it. Anyway, yesterday the Dexter Lake Club was the scene of another type of road trip, called an RTE, undertaken by hungry long-distance riders, many of which were entered in the Big Money Rally.

The RTE, or ride to eat, is an LD tradition. It's pretty much meeting some riding buddies for lunch, except some of them come from several states away, gobble down a cheeseburger, and saddle up again before their hot engines stop ticking. (I know, but it's fun to us.) I met up with my good friend Paul Peloquin there, and over lunch the subject of preparedness came up. Oregon no less than California is earthquake country, except unlike California, which has a measurable quake about every half-hour, in Oregon we're saving them all up for one huge tsumani-generating, coast-flattening, live-action disaster movie that will move the Pacific coastline just a few feet west of the southbound lanes of Interstate 5.

There's a place in Eugene called The Epicenter where for years I have bought MREs to get me through the winter power outages common here in the sticks. MRE stands for "meal, ready to eat," which I once heard a military veteran call "three lies in one." The ones I buy aren't army field rations. They're more for keeping on hand in case the electricity goes out, or Hawaii sinks beneath the waves and sends a 300-foot-tall wave crashing through downtown Boise.

Paul was intrigued by the sort of gadgets I'd seen on The Epicenter's website, and suggested we visit the store after lunch. As it turned out there was no retail store, just a warehouse out of which the company ships products ordered on its website. But Paul knocked on the door anyway, and to our surprise Brian, the owner, was inside, and invited us in for a tour.

You don't have to be a tinfoil-hat-wearing, tanks-rolling-down-Main-Street survivalist to appreciate the clever stuff we saw, including a stove the folds flat and burns anything, and a pot you can use to heat water and charge USB devices. Mark that well––you put water in the pot, put it on the stove (called a FireBox), light a fire, and the heat turns into electricity. You can literally charge your cell phone with fire. How cool is that? (Go here to see the products in more detail and watch some videos.)

I asked Brian if he'd ever thought about marketing the FireBox to motorcycle campers. He hadn't, so he gave me one to try out. I'm not really a camper, but I know how to make fire, having lived for 17 years in a house heated by an enormous and leaky wood-burning stove that took up half the basement. I'll try out the FireBox soon and let you know how it works. Meanwhile, if you watch the video and just have to have a Firebox of your own, I'm sure Brian would appreciate the business. His leisure hours are spent fettling a brace of old British sports cars, and those babies can suck a bank account dry faster than Bluto Blutarsky can chug a case of beer.

"Otis! My man!"



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