Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Still A Lack Of Care And Concern & Sea-Tac Transition Update Plus An Idaho And Oregon Hot Springs Review---Places To Soak Body And Soul

I wish I could tell you that a real appreciation of taxi drivers and their contribution to America's overall transportation  is nigh but unfortunately reality is much different, Uber's transcendence a telling sign, signifying that many potential customers could care less if the cab industry altogether disappeared, merely a quaint memory not dissimilar to the horse and carriage, something anecdotal related by your grandparents before a winter's blazing fireplace. Yesterday a cabbie recounted a story how, after a woman stiffed him for sixty dollars, and pulling a "big gun" on him, the Renton city police decided pursuing the assailant wasn't their first priority.  Of course you can instead imagine their response if she had pointed her gun at one of them.

When you don't care, you simply don't, and that is what me and every other cabbie in America faces daily---a defined lack of caring except perhaps for our money.  Coming back from vacation in the mail I found a notice from the City of Seattle requesting $100.00 dollars, saying I had underpaid my business licence for the years 2013 and 2015.  But of course I don't mind, understanding, like the bad Bachman-Turner Overdrive song, any kind of attention is good attention.  Yes, that must be the answer, the City of Seattle loves me too. Ain't I gratified?

The Rush to the October 1st Sea-Tac Deadline

That it makes little sense to compress a process normally taking months into 2-3 weeks should be obvious but the Port of Seattle appears not to understand this.  With Saturday October 1st a mere three days away, Eastside is attempting the impossible in meeting the Port's deadline.  Few if any of the Yellow Cabs transferring to Eastside (E-Cab) have been repainted, potentially bringing in question whether cabs representing one company can now pretend ( least with its surface color) to claim to be another entirely different company.  Yes, the owners are, like me, independent contractors but it does appear potentially to be  an interpretative stretch.

But of course, expanding limitations or just plainly ignoring them is part of taxi tradition, where rules always apply to someone else but not us. I have openly wondered about insurance considerations but  have been reassured that all the transferred cabs will remain insured.  Given my own recent experiences dealing with insurance companies and their cohorts I can only hope that is true.  Beware of any entity whose sole concern is profit despite any and all rhetoric stating their prime concern is your safety and protection.

Though regardless of initial confusion, I am sure it will work itself out somehow given that money is involved. Each transferring taxi is paying Eastside a non-refundable $3,975.00 to achieve their new/old position at Sea-Tac.  While a lot of money, compared to the believed $10,000 paid by the drivers to Yellow during the last Sea-Tac transition, I suppose it can be termed a bargain.

There have been various ongoing conversations between the primary involved parties but acrimony having destroyed any constructive negotiations, like Israel and Palestine, the argument never ending. Who do we ultimately have to blame for the current state of affairs?  While knowing full well who bears the responsibility I will say this: the sleeping owner/driver population allowed the mice to play, our dreams becoming nightmarish. Oh so it goes, so it goes.

And making for a nice postscript, Eastside has to pay over $60,000 to rebuild the holding lot restrooms.  Like I said, so it goes, so it goes.

A List of Hot Springs

I think both of us got a little dizzy, trying to dip in as many hot springs as humanly possible during a 12 day long journey.  Forgetting to write down my initial mileage, I still estimate we drove between 1500-1700 miles, which at times made for hectic hours.

Regardless, our efforts plying down the byways introduced us to country new to us in both Idaho and Oregon, for me the Hart Mountain National Antelope (Pronghorn) Refuge being my personal favorite.  In order I am listing the hot and warm springs we visited.  While experiencing some disappointments, I would return to the hot springs trail in a split second but this time allowing a minimum of 30 days exploring the mountains and plains of  Idaho and Oregon.  I hope you too are inspired to join the hot/mineral springs hunt and soak your cares away.  You will be glad you did, soaking in a hot pool next to a wild rushing river, life, not at its worse but its best.

Cougar (Terwiller) Hot Springs---Very nice pools but extremely popular.  Located 53 miles east of Eugene, Oregon in the Willamette National Forest.

Burgdorf Hot Springs---A very rustic, commercial hot springs offering both cabins and day-use.  Day-use fee is $8.00 for all day usage, 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM.  A very good deal.  Family-oriented for the most part. Located 30 north of McCall, Idaho. Cabins are a bit worn out but there is a very nice forest service campground nearby, Jeanette, where we camped.

Trail Creek Hot Springs---Three medium sized pools just off the Warm Lake Highway 19 miles NE of Cascade, Idaho.  Nice water but fatal for the small cold-blooded frogs floating in the pools.  Nice forested setting and reasonably quiet.

Molly Hot Springs---Just off a forest road.  Pools were too shallow.

Warm Springs warm springs near Cascade.  Short walk down a dusty road.  Too shallow that day for any real soaking.

Skinnydipper Hot Springs---Closed! by the forest service.  This famous springs located 5 miles west of Crouch, Idaho has been permanently closed due to misuse. Some fools started a major forest fire there in 2012, and three idiots died (ODs) in the pools.  One unfavorable aspect we discovered is that a small percentage of hot springs users think it is "party time!" when soaking.  We were sorely disappointed but avoided checking them out due to official notices threatening fines and imprisonment.

Pine Flats Hot Springs---Temporarily closed due to forest fire danger.  Near Crouch but closed for the moment due to nearby forest fires.  We were tempted to check it out but did not want our car to be towed away.

Kirkham Hot Springs---Campground with hot springs just off Idaho Sate Route 21.  The water is good but the setting isn't.  She soaked her feet and off we went down the road.  Located 4 miles east of Lowman.

Bonneville Hot Springs---Nice pools located next to a roaring creek.  We camped nearby for two days where we had our best "soaking" of the entire trip.  Very popular on the weekends. Located 19 NE of Lowman on Route 21.

Sacajawea Hot Springs---Series  of pools on the South Fork of the Payette River.  Good water but no privacy, located just below Forest Road 524.  Some good views of Sawtooth Mountains.

Barnes Warm Springs---Beautiful pool in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.  My favorite of the all the springs we visited.  Not hot but a great setting, surrounded by trees and grassy reeds.  Located near French Glen, Oregon.

Antelope Hot Springs---Two pools, one developed, one not, located in the wonderful Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge.  Good water but beware of numb skull campers! Nearest town is Plush, Oregon where you can get much needed gasoline.

Summer Lake Hot Springs---Like Burgdorf, Summer Lake is a very rustic commercial hot springs but, unlike Burgdorf, located in a big barn-like structure.  There is one large swimming pool with two smaller pools located outside.  Day use fee is $10.00.  It is located on Oregon State Route 31 six miles north of Paisley.  Nice water but it appears to draw "alternative types" who don't respect commonplace civility and behavioral limitations.  Drive and  park to see if the pool is empty.  If so, don't hesitate, jump in!

McCredie Hot Springs---Just off Oregon State Route 58.  Pools on both sides of Salt Creek.  Too close to the roadway.  We dipped but left soon after.  To be avoided unless you are desperate.

Wall Creek Warm Springs---We walked to it but found 5 people crowded in the pool drinking cheap beer. We waited for them to clear out but they decided to stay and keep drinking.  Located near Oakridge, Oregon, which has a good coffee shop.  The springs is worth checking out.  Maybe you will have better luck.  We stayed at the Salmon Creek campground which has a great swimming hole.  Return in the summer and jump off the rocks, having a good time!

There you have it.  Last two nights out we were rained upon.  Nothing like a wet tent!  Note that these hot springs are just some of many dotting the Oregon, and especially, Idaho landscapes.  Also remember that these are medicinal springs, with very potent waters.  For very specific healing I suggest travelling to Budapest, Hungary and checking out their baths.  They know what they are doing.

Friday, September 23, 2016

It's Official: Eastside-For-Hire Takes Over Sea-Tac Outbound Services October 1st

Having just arrived back mere hours ago from our Idaho & Oregon car-trip, my day driver alerted me to an Evan Bush written Seattle Times article announcing that Eastside and the Port of Seattle finalized their five-year $22.5 million contract last week.  So despite all rumors and hand-wringing, the new agreement is going forward.  Factually put me down as completely surprised that the agreement truly went forward, understanding as I do taxi economic realities.  The article notes that the contract requires that 75 % of vehicle operators are previous Yellow Cab operators, thus ensuring that most will survive though under different colors.

 The Port's message behind these actions are clear and blatantly obvious.  That they cared about the current Yellow independent operators and their families while repudiating the Yellow Taxi-Cab Association rings through its decision making.  Call it muted revenge or being knocked upon the head by the proverbial Velvet hammer.  That this is one big economic headache for Yellow should not be underestimated.  If anyone is considering buying a taxi medallion, the time is now.  Before I left on the 12th I was told of a 2009 Prius and City of Seattle medallion going for $30,000.  Not a bad deal, and I predict they will only get better.

One reason amongst many for this is exemplified by statistics presented in the article, stating that in August of this year 70,115 people utilized Uber and Lyft while taxis carried 72, 479 riders, representing a 16.6 percentage decline in ridership from last August 2015. Depressing but you get what you get.   Over two 1/2 years ago Yellow declined to hire me as the then GM's special assistant.  My taxi buddies know that we would now be looking at a different taxi landscape if that had occurred, our various lawsuits just about now coming to fruition.  Instead of roadkill, we would instead be running down the road like those wonderful pronghorn antelope we saw running up and down the hills of Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge in southeastern Oregon.  They can maintain a constant speed of 45 MPH, one fast and beautiful animal.

Taxi Sucks in Boise? 

When gassing up in Boise, Idaho I talked to a cabbie (six years on the taxi road) who was grabbing something cold in the 80 plus F. heat.  You know his reply.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Greetings From Bend, Oregon---All I Did Was Answer The Call

Sunny here in Bend.  I am on my way to Idaho and the Sawtooth Mountains where hot springs await.  This morning "she-who-can't-be-named" and I soaked in Cougar Hot Springs near Blue River.  Great water and great pools.  I am away from taxi for 12 days.  For shame!  How could I?

But getting back to said subject, after coming back from a post-Seahawk to downtown Kirkland fare, I innocently accepted a fare on Capital Hill located on Summit Avenue.  What I didn't know but soon found out was that a previous cabbie had driven away, leaving the three passengers waiting for another 45 minutes.  I was wondering why the guy jumped on 478's hood, spreading himself out like a flying bird.  I guessed there had to be some explanation and that was it: they were pissed and now I would have to share their combined anger and disappointment.

Ignoring the tattooed eagle I got out and found they had a pile of stuff to be taken to their storage locker.  Once the trunk was filled to bursting, I was told to take all three of them to the storage facility on 12th Avenue.  "Oh you mean the one on 12th and Madison, I asked"  And after receiving some odd affirmative reply from the chap once residing upon the hood, I set off.

Immediately I stated getting flack because they wanted the one at 12th and East Howell but somehow it was all now a big issue tough both facilities were only separated by about 5 blocks.  Finally I told them that I was about to take them back to Summit and they could start all over again.  It was just too crazy to continue.

That silenced them along enough to get to the storage entrance, all the while telling them I had nothing to do with the previous cab, that I didn't deserve what they were dishing out.  Taking five and five only from the ringleader, there were nothing further said.  All this bullshit was for a 7 block-long ride!  It made no sense but there you have it once again, taxi and humans-not-so kind: not always the best combination.

Can I now go soak my head?   

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Making It Happen---What Taxi Is All About!

Needing to move, really move down the roadway is rare but when it is necessary, the cabbie's only alternative is to hit it, and hit it hard zooming down the byway.  There I am, sitting exhausted and half asleep on the train station when two young men stepped up, asking if I could get them to the Edmonds/Kingston ferry terminal by 2:00 PM.  It was then 1:32 PM and I said,  "I think so," but there could be no hesitation, get in.  In they jumped and off we maneuvered through the congested station and 4th Avenue traffic to the Cherry Street I-5 on-ramp.  As luck would have it the north-bound express lanes remained inexplicably closed. Initial thick traffic quickly dissipated and once past the I-5 ship canal bridge we were flying north free and relatively clear.

A Labor Day holiday scheduling mix-up meant the bus they expected to find taking them to Port Angeles and  then Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, did not arrive at King Street Station but instead would be waiting at the ferry terminal.  They were anxious but I was focused, "performance taxi" fun when called upon, blowing up usual tedium into something close to exciting, making taxi almost enjoyable despite the obvious stress of having no time but "making time" nonetheless.

At 1:54 PM we were there, everyone relieved to see that the ferry was still unloading its previous run. Getting $60.00 was great but secondary, success over an at least 20 mile city/freeway combined stretch the real point of a victorious taxi moment.  For 22 minutes I can say I had fun.  I never, almost ever can say that when driving the cab, good to know I passed taxi's instantaneous test, awarded an "A" on the taxi report card.  And as every cabbie knows, taxi is a stern teacher, no fooling around come exam time.

On Robert's Behalf, Thank You!

Last night I picked up the second week's collection for Robert Stanstell, this time coming up with $183.00, making for a total of $329.00.  I delivered it this morning.  Thanks to everyone who donated, your taxi brother appreciating your kindness and concern.

No One Likes Being Called Names

Yesterday on Pier 69 an enraged cabbie recounted how, when stopped near Pike Place Market finishing up a credit card transaction, an insane road-rager jumped out of his car and called the driver a n _ _ _ _r!   The cabbie couldn't stop expressing his anger and disbelief.  As I keep saying, welcome to taxi as it really is, not as it isn't!