Texas Day One: Shake, Rattle, and Throwed Rolls
April 1, 2006
Finally, finally, finally!! The day is here! It was just the Friday before that I realized I have never in my lifetime went on "Spring Break". Never as a kid, never as an adult did I throw caution to the wind, and go anywhere during this fabled week of passage. After 37 years, I was going on Spring Break! Four "Guys Gone Wild", or maybe gone awry.
I pulled out of the driveway at 7:30 am, with Nina visible at the front door, waving me on. My plan was to pass by Duncan's House, as I was led to believe that I would met him, and his friend, and fellow Bus Driver, Gene, there. When I arrived at Duncan's, his was the only bike sitting in the driveway. I pulled past his bike, turned around in his driveway, and pulled in behind his wineberry Goldwing. The other rider, Shooter Jim, and I, had an argument earlier in the week on who was to be road captain. Shooter had thrown the torch of being the Cruiser Club President at me a year earlier, and I wasn't about to let him cut and run on me again!
Duncan mounted up on his Gold Wing, and we headed over to the gas station, which would serve as our starting point for our journey. Duncan and I fueled up, pulled away from the pumps, parked the bikes, and waited. Shooter Jim was the next to arrive. On the short trip from Duncan's house, we talked on the CB. I was told that Gene would meet us at the gas station, also.
We were scheduled to leave at 8am, and that time had come to pass. Gene had not shown up yet. A few minutes later, he was in sight, and pulled into a pump location. After some bathroom breaks, photos, and short conversation, we hit the road for some "Blue Collar" miles. We were going to turn and burn on the Highway, 465 to 70, all morning long.
It was quite an ugly, gray day, the temperature was 48 degrees. We shot down 465 to Interstate 70, and began our Journey west. Our first stop was in 140 miles in Effingham. With the speeds, and the wind that accompanies them, we were having some issues with the CB's, but were able to adjust, so we could talk, and let each other know what was going on. Gene's CB was incoherent to me, but Jim seemed to be able hear what he was saying. At one point, I could decipher what Gene was saying. This happened to be at a time when Jim couldn't. Duncan has always had two flags flying on his bike, one is Old Glory, the other a Scottish Flag. I thought I saw a piece of fabric whipping through the air, not attached to Duncan's bike, and Gene confirmed it. Along this stretch of road, the Scottish flag went the way of the Illinois highland winds.
We were a short distance, about 10 miles, form our first gas stop, when Gene started having some problems. He was trying to switch the fuel valve to reserve. He had only had this bike for two weeks, and was unfamiliar with switching the valve. The bike slowed, then sped up, and then slowed. As we passed an exit, he switched over, and took it. Jim, who was leading, was already to far, and I was in the left track, and unable to get to the exit, also. Jim and I pulled over near the entrance ramp to get back on the highway. It was a few minutes, and finally Duncan chimed in on the CB to let us know they were about to get back on there way. By the way, I got use my new four way flashers that I installed!
It would be a short leg, as Jim and I needed fuel. Ten miles later, we stopped at the next exit, our first planned fuel stop, on the outskirts of Effingham. After fuel and snack, it was time to start heading south.
Heading south was much better, the temperature started climbing, and the sun started burning off the clouds away. By the time we got to our next gas stop, another 135 miles, it was warm enough to remove some of the layers of clothing. After another 50 miles, we pulled into Lambert's Cafe in Sikeston, Missouri. This place is famous for it's throwed rolls. They are just like any other dinner roll, although much tastier than most, but they are delivered with an easy toss. You throw up your hands, they throw the roll, and if you miss it, your are escorted out of the building, immediately. Okay, the last part isn't true, they will let you stay. Maybe it is the air that makes them taste so good, but I could have a meal on rolls.
We had a great time, a great meal, and great conversion. We all casually flirted with any young girl that came by the table. Besides the entree, with two sides, there were other servers roaming the cafe offering additional items like Fried Okra, Black Eyed Peas, etc. I will have to get the picture of Duncan eating Fried Okra a la Cleopatra, and it get posted her. How does he do that? How does he get women to do those things?
Lunch did take more time then I normally like on a long trip, but it was more than worth it. We pulled out of Lambert's, I in the lead, as I agreed to give Shooter a break. We were the highway, then state highways, and eventually some good curvy two lane scenic road, State Highway 160. I was pulling out from the group a little bit, as Gene was second in line, and, as he should be, was taking it easy. We were about 20 miles from stopping in a town, and deciding if we were going to try to make it the rest of the way Branson. The sun was slipping low into the sky, and we had come a fair distance. I could see a fairly sharp turn ahead on the GPS. This turn was also an intersection, so I slowed to approach it with caution, and see analyze the situation. I noticed the turn was marked 25 mph. Many 35 and 45 mph corners can be taken a little quicker, but most states are serious when they put 25 or slower. The outside of the corner/intersection was covered in gravel. I went to chime in on the CB that there was a sharp corner coming, but I think Gene, with his scrambled signal in my ear, chimed in at the same time. As I carved through the corner, I felt as though Gene didn't hear me. I made the corner, and climbed the following hill. I rolled down the other side, I said to myself, "if Gene has trouble, this will be where it happens." I still had the thought in my head that he didn't hear my warning.
After I crested the third of a series of five hills, I heard Shooter on the CB say, "Rider Down." I tried to confirm, but either the terrain was blocking the signal, or Ducnan and Jim were off there bikes, and off the CB. I found a location at the top of the fifth hill to make a safe u-turn, and returned to see Gene and his bike, off the road, and against a farmers fence.
A good rule for a motorcyclist in this situation is to stay calm. I know it is easier said than done, but sometimes you just go into instinct mode. I calmly parked the bike, making sure the kickstand was down. Gene was sitting up on his, and Jim and Duncan were trying to get him to lie down. I will skip through many of the details of the accident, as we have all been through something like this before. There were police, there were EMT's, paramedics, and ambulance, and a somber trip to the hospital. Long story made short, the four of us ended in a Super 8 Motel in West Plains, Missouri. Gene with a big cast on his right arm. We all agreed, It could have been worse.
The last big thing before bedding down was getting bite to eat, Duncan decided the place to go was Wendy's for a treat. The inside was closed, so we had to go through the drive-through, a first for me on a motorcycle. I also noticed that this was a "cruising" town. The streets were filled with kids in their hopped up cars and tracks, retracing the same path, back and fourth. Revving the engines, show off their stereos, and lights, they terrorized the little town with youthful exuberance.
Now that we were off our route plan, and who knows if we were going to continue? Stay tuned..