What we did at the rally
OK, it's a rally. I've been to a bunch of them. We always have a good time, no matter what happens. This year, the original plan was that I'd ride out on the RT and Tina would fly out to join me. I'd thrash it on home and she'd fly home.
And then we bought the /2.
So, instead of the ride/fly, we put the /2 in the truck and headed to WI.
We have busy lives. She works in the city, I work at home. During the week, we're both so whooped from our jobs that we don't really have a chance to talk - which is what you're supposed to do when you're married. We got to do lots of that in the truck. We spent three days getting to the rally and two days going home, so we had plenty of time to talk about our family, our house, our jobs, ourselves, bikes, going places, doing things.
It was pretty refreshing.
Utah was under seige, with a couple hundred square miles of it on fire. Despite the haze, the views were still wonderful.
what we did
That's pretty cool, Dave. :thumb Kudos to you both.
This trip report's going to take me a while to put together, so be patient.
After coming across Nevada on 50, we drop down to 70 and cross Utah and then head into Colorado. Interstates aren't my favorite, but I70, through Glenwood Canyon, Vail and the like, is absolutely beautiful.
As we're climbing up to the Eisenhower tunnel, there's a giant traffic jam. We spend an hour or so in it, creeping along. I'm riding shotgun, looking out the window and spinning tunes on the iPod. We have a singalong with old Talking Heads tunes for a while.
I notice that the minivan that's caught us in the right lane is pretty far over in the lane. As we're stuck, bikes are slowly riding up the breakdown lane to get the head of the pack; primarily HDs. The minivan driver, a woman, is, I notice, gazing intently at her passenger side mirror and her passenger, a man, has his head craned around, looking over his right shoulder. As bikes come up their side, she creeps out into the breakdown lane to try and cut them off. Most of them just flip her off. By the time I figure out what she's up to, she's up the road a ways and I can't flip her off.
That's me. Ambassador for the sport. :ha
File this one under "Strange Coincidence".
I love that picture, man. Thanks for sending that along. I need to stick it up on smugmug, I think. :buds
No matter what, I always wind up spending a night in North Platte, Nebraska. I'm not sure why, but there seems to be some sort of magic nexus that pulls us in and makes us spend the night.
This trip was no different and sure enough, North Platte, it was.
When we went to dinner, we piled out of the truck (fell out might be more accurate - sitting in there for hours makes me knees stop working) and started to head into a steak house. When I'm in the plains states, it's important to have some beef, just as a matter of course for me.
As we're walking in, a mother son team get out of a Lancer and start heading in. The kid, a young man of 23 or 24 or so, looks over my shoulder and spots the /2. "Got an old beemer in there, huh?". I'm surprised to hear this, and we start talking. It turns out this young man, Nate, is a very, very good friend of Sue's daughter. It's a small world, indeed.
Later that night, a monter thunderstorm rolls through. We don't get them in California, so I grab my camera and try to get some photos. I don't get much, but I get a few like this; the field illuminated by the lighting and the rain highlighted by the parking lot light.
The next morning, we spot a couple of older folks on a pair of HDs, a husband and wife team. He's got a couple bikes. He's riding a Road King Fireman special, but has another one at home - a 2004 with 110K on it. They ride. Mom's riding a Heritage Softail. They're great folks and we talk with them for 15 or 20 minutes before heading out.
There's something neat about motorcycle people.
I've got family in Wisconsin. My uncle, aunt, some cousins and my grandma. She's 95 (and a half!, as she likes to say) and has seen it all. She's pretty much blind now and the legs don't work like they used to, but she's as sharp as ever.
She's been through the depression, got the grocery stores in Detroit unionized in the 30s, knew Jimmy Hoffa personally, raised three kids while her husband was off fighting in the South Pacific and just generally done the things that needed doing. She's got a certain confidence and forthrightness that I try to emulate with varying degrees of success. She's got a BS detector that works better than anyone else's I know.
If I manage to hold my load of responsibility half as well as she did with hers, I'll be a fortunate man.
She gives me a flower pot that my mom (departed since 1977) used to keep on our kitchen table. As I walk in, she points me to it, tells me she wants me to take it home and I almost bust out crying, I'm so touched. We talk for a couple hours and the conversation is different. She talks to me about my parents and my family as a fellow adult, not a kid and it's eye opening. I realize that we're all just trying to get through our life, doing the best we can, even though, as a child, I percieved that my parents and grandparents knew what was going on.
She heads off to dinner and we head back to the rally, all of us smiling.
Here's a rare sight - two Mrs. Swiders. The blonde one is going to wind up as the matriarch of our side of the family when my grandma's gone. They're more alike than I can imagine. I think it's that good midwestern stock.
We love ya, Gramma.
She's got this cool powerchair she uses to get around. She's got a regular, but nicely lightweight wheel chair in her apartment, but uses this to get around outside of there. She wears some pretty cool shades to protect here eyes, when she's out, that give her a sort of Peter Fonda in Easy Rider kind of countenance.
I think she needs some stickers on the back of the thing, but I don't push it with her.
That evening is the Ambassador's dinner, so we beat feet back to the rally site and join in. We manage to score a table with Diaz and Hodag, where the local cheer is in evidence.
I get up to speak and hand out some plaques and the like and they swipe my dessert. I recover parts of it, but I learn an important lesson.
Don't leave food unattended around those two.
We all know about Camp GEARS, which the Foundation operates and is going absolutely terrifically well these days, but Hodag and Brad set up Camp BEERS over on the other side of the rally. It's bounded by a bunch of old cable spools, more trash cans than one could imagine and gradually turns itself into a sort of nexus of weirdness in the middle of the whole place.
There are a bunch of AdvRiders in residence, but there's a healthy smattering of other folks orbiting the place, drawn by the lights on the screen house and the people that seem to be standing around the cafe style tables the spools provide.
It is, at this rally, a sort of roadhouse that welcomes in people, feeds them beer, food and companionship and then spits them back out. Hodag seems to be the Evil Mastermind behind this place and it works extraordinarily well.
It starts to serve as a sort of meeting point. If you want to find someone, just hang at Camp Beers. They'll be by eventually, and you'll have some beer and entertainment while you wait.
For the residents, the picture below is how they actually saw the place during the rally.
We're beginning to rally, now.
Their neighbors were either deaf or really good sports. One night, Friday, I think, there are 10 or 15 people standing around outside our trailer talking. It's cool, until one of the guys starts telling a story by yelling.
I go outside and stand a couple feet away from them all. I ask them if they'd be kind enough to move 50 yards that way and I point. They're cool and apologetic and I go back to bed.
Here's what I noticed at this rally: everybody was in the groove. No tension. No disgruntled campers. No angry hordes, just a bunch of folks hanging together and enjoying the scene.
I'm on the same wavelength.