Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Travels on the BigYellowBike
We only got to make one motorcycle trip this year, thanks to the economy and Rich's pay cuts. I know, I know, at LEAST he still has a job...we hear that a lot, but let me tell you, it's cold comfort when it's time to pay the bills and when we are missing our dearest friends.
So, we didn't make the Tennessee Lunch Run in April, and the Chatamoochie Run in August, and WOTS in September, but we DID head off to the Harrison Gathering the first weekend in October. This is, as always, my favorite ride of the year. Most of my chatroom friends make it to Harrison, and I look forward to this ride all year.

We started out Wednesday evening, September 30th, as soon as I got off work. We had everything packed the night before, and Rich loaded up the bike and trailer when he got home. Our nephew, Rick, lives just down the road from us, and he had promised to care for our cat and keep an eye on the house while we were gone. It was chilly, but we layered up and headed for Logansport, IN, to spend the night with our friends, Joyce and Ross. PoleCat was already there. We discussed the idea of heading on out, as the weather forecast for Thursday was threatening cold and rain, but decided the risk of running deer was scarier, so set our alarms for early morning and headed off to bed.
Thursday morning, we layered up again and headed out, Ross, Steve, Rich and I. Sadly, Joyce is suffering the effects of an attack of shingles from more than a year ago, and cannot stand to wear a helmet. I surely do miss having her along on our rides! It was cold, about the same as last year, but with layers, warm riding gear, and rain suit on the top to cut the wind, it was not terribly uncomfortable.
We rode part of the day in light drizzle, but mainly managed to stay ahead of the huge storm front that was coming across Illinois. Others on their way to Harrison were not so lucky, and rode in the rain from Wisconsin to Arkansas. After a mostly uneventful but long day, we stopped for the night in Poplar Bluff, MO. We called Galute (Rickey) in Arkansas and set up a time to meet him for breakfast on Friday, along with John Parsley (JP) and Michael, who had ridden in that day from Alabama and Tennessee to stay at his house on the way to the gathering. We got a text message from John Hicks (FrigNbored) who had already arrived in Harrison and was safe and warm at the hotel. After supper, off to bed to rest up for the last leg of the ride.
Friday morning, we saddled up and headed to Ash Flat, Arkansas, to meet up with the gang. Hicks was too lazy to get out of bed and join us, so he missed out on this:

ONE biscuit at Meacham's Restaurant, in Ash Flat, was as big as half a loaf of bread!

From Ash Flat, we headed for Harrison, by way of Melbourne. Rickey led us on a beautiful ride through the Ozarks, with a stop to visit friends Larry and Rita at their new home, fondly called Chatamoochie by the chat room bunch. What a lovely house in a perfect setting!
It was late in the afternoon by the time we reached the hotel. After a shower and some clean clothes, we joined the parking lot gathering to meet new friends and catch up with old ones.
Friday evening, we set out for supper with Frig and Michael, but had a small mishap in the hotel parking lot. Rich turned a bit too sharply and the BigYellowBike went over. I grabbed him to try to stay on board, but managed to pull him off along with me. I am told I rolled twice and Rich made a complete somersault before we came to rest on the sidewalk, embarrassed but unhurt, and laughing hysterically. Several of our friends rushed to help upright the bike and get us going again. There is a saying: "There are two types of motorcyclists: those who have dropped the bike, and those who WILL one day." This was not our first time, and it probably won't be our last. Oh, and if you talk to Frig, I was NOT drunk and I WAS wearing more than just my yellow boots at the time, no matter what he tells you!
Poor Michael...he has been described to me as "the happiest man I have ever met" and it is absolutely true! Michael loves to laugh, laughs easily, and laughs long, and he was so tickled by our unscheduled get-off that he giggled throughout supper. The man needs to cheer up a bit! :D
Saturday, we rode...and rode...and rode. Galute led us once more on a tour of the hills and valleys of northern Arkansas. Eighteen bikes were on the ride, more than G usually likes to lead, but he did a splendid job, as always. We crossed Bull Shoals Lake on the ferry, ate lunch at Cody's and finished with a ride on Push Mountain, where we all had our photo snapped by the Push Mountain Pics photographer. You can see the proofs here. Rich and I are on the BigYellowBike. It was a perfect ride, as always, Rickey! Thank you so much for taking such good care of us all.
Back to the hotel for the evening, to chat and kick tires.
Sunday morning, we packed up, had breakfast with the gang, and hit the road again. Ross, Steve, Rich and I followed Galute and Denise to their house. They took us to see the breathtaking property that will hold their future home, fed us like royalty, and put us up for the night. We are SO blessed in our friends!
Monday morning, we parted company with Ross and Steve. They were aiming north and west, toward the South Dakota Badlands and the Wisconsin Dells, and Rich and I were going north and east, toward home. They are dear friends, great riders, and perfect traveling companions, and we look forward to many, many more trips with those two nuts!
We said our good byes and thanks to our hosts, and headed out. It was a wet ride for us for much of the day, although we did see some sunlight in Illinois. We made it as far as Champaign, Illinois, before stopping for some supper and a rest.
Tuesday morning, we woke up to heavy rain, thunder, and lightning. We don't mind riding in the rain so much, but the light shows are a little scary, so we waited a bit before we hit the road. The skies did clear a bit, but we ended our trip riding four hours or so in wet, chilly, windy conditions, arriving back home in Constantine, damp but safe. All in all, a wonderful trip to a wonderful place to see wonderful just doesn't get any better than this.
Addendum...Ross and PoleCat continued riding throughout the next week, traveling in snow and cold and rain to the Wisconsin Dells gathering. On Saturday, the PoleCat hit a patch of gravel in a curve and went down, hard. He is bruised and sore, with a couple of cracked ribs and a severely damaged motorcycle. A friend from central Indiana drove up with truck and trailer to pick him up and take him and his bike back home to Ohio. We are thankful that we did not lose a dear friend. Y'all be safe out there!

Thanks to Denise from Arkansas and Sheila from Kentucky, I do have some pics to share:

Rickey, Rich, Denise, PoleCat, and Ross at Meacham's Restaurant in Ash Flat, AR.

Riding the ferry across Bull Shoals Lake is one of my favorite parts of the Harrison trip. This year, we had fifteen
Goldwings and three other bikes on the ferry.

The approach to Bull Shoals Lake.

Two Johns (Hicks and Parsley), on the Bull Shoals Ferry.

Mr. William McGee, our dear friend and sometime riding companion from Tuscumbia, Alabama.

There are more pictures here, at Galute's online photo album.

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