Gary Gardner (grgardner) wrote,
Gary Gardner

October Column

It's already the middle of October, and time to write my column for November.  Where has the year gone.   Below is my column from the October issue of Quick Throttle Magazine....

You know you’d think there was an election coming up wouldn’t you?   I mean with all the signs along the sides of the highway, the endless commercials on TV (and it’s only September as I write this, it’s gonna get worse), and all the “vote for me” postcards showing up in the mailbox.   Yep, it’s a sure sign its fall. 

But you wouldn’t know it was fall by the weather though.   I actually have nothing to complain about in that department – and that’s a first!  We all love to complain about the weather here in the Northwest.   It’s the state pastime.  But you know, I don’t think I’ll ever complain about the weather again – or at least not as loud.  

What changed my mind?  Comparing what we have – at times as crummy as it is, with what is worse.  We actually have it pretty good here. I realized this last month.  When I go to the gym, I generally start my workout by doing a half hour on some aerobic torture device while watching CNN.   Watching the news gets my heart rate up and the machine makes it go even higher.  In theory this is supposed to burn fat – however my fat apparently loves going along for the ride and never leaves.  

Early in August, hurricane Isaac was heading straight for Louisiana, and I’d watch the CNN graphic showing the spinning storm heading right for the Mississippi delta as I climbed an endless stairway or spun away on an elliptical machine.  Seeing that storm approach really hit home for me since earlier this year I stood at the end of the road there at the foot of the Mississippi – the end of Louisiana Highway 23.   That storm ran aground right there and powered right up that road through Plaquemies Parish towards New Orleans just like I did on my bike.  

It hit home because I drove that road – down from New Orleans and back up.   It was an eerie place.   It suffered from massive devastation by hurricane Katrina seven years ago.  It was like driving through 40 miles of abandoned waste land and it still hadn’t recovered, though there were some limited signs of life.  The humidity and heat were oppressive in May, and I was hot and sticky.  It wasn’t exactly fun, but I have a thing for “end of the road” places, and I drove down to this one and passed hardly any cars the entire way on a four lane divided concrete paved road.   Between the devastation, the sparse population, and the heat and humidity, it felt almost like driving through a post-apocalyptic world, and I honestly couldn’t wait to get out of there.

I watched as the CNN anchors stood on places I’d stood at or ridden by, only now they were knee deep in water.  They were being blown to kingdom come, with sideways rain under dark ominous skies.   Later in the day I watched as they tried to evacuate a nursing home I’d driven past using small rowboats.   I saw what was left of homes and trailers floating in the water, and I thanked God I didn’t have that here.

Meanwhile our weather here was glorious as it has been all summer this year, and I thought I’d treat myself to a weekend getaway on the scoot.   The day that storm hit Louisiana I headed up one of my favorite roads, WA-9 between Bothell and up to Sedro Wooley, and then turned east on to WA-20, the North Cascades Highway overt to Winthrop.  The sun was out, it was warm, the air was fresh, and the scenery was – well lets just say it was indescribable.  

As I was enjoying the road, leaning into the curves, feeling the rumble of the motor and the sun on my bare arms, I was picturing another road – LA-23.   Nothing can compare – not the scenery, not the curves, and least of all, not the weather.   I mean, as bad as it gets here sometimes – with 100 days of rain and little sun, and years with no summer – at least we don’t get monster storms roaring up out of the ocean!  No 90 mph gusts, and rain measured in feet not inches.   Our houses are not in danger of being blown off their foundations and out to sea.  No oppressive heat and humidity.   Yeah, I may grumble a bit about our weather, but after watching that storm roar up a road I’d ridden on – well I won’t complain anymore.  At least about the weather.

I will complain about politics though.  It is fall and election season after all   And while we can’t do anything about the weather, we can do something about politics.  We can tune it out, or we can participate and try to change the wrongs we see.  I know a lot of folks complain their vote doesn’t count or that politicians ignore them -- that nothing changes.   Well, in some cases they are right – but unlike some places, we can and indeed I think we have a duty to participate. There are some countries where you can’t participate in the process.  Here, we can participate, we do have a voice, and while it’s sometimes bad, more often than not it’s like driving over the North Cascades highway on a sunny day, and that beats driving up the Mississippi delta any day, hurricane or not.  Think about that – it could be a lot worse, and we are fortunate to live where we can participate and have a voice in politics.

So I’ll ask again – are you registered to vote?   You can’t participate if you don’t vote and you can’t vote if you aren’t registered.   Have you moved and updated your registration?  If not, you need to so you can vote this year.    You have a scant few days left to do so.

The deadline for registration or changing your registration is October 8th.   The Washington Secretary of State’s office has made it very easy to both register and change your registration.  You can do so online:   

No excuses, no complaining, just do it.

Gary can be reached at and you can read his blog at, or

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