Early risers were greeted with angry skies and impending moisture. Papa exclaimed the night before that we would ride at 8:30 or 11:00 depending on weather and the decision would be made by 8:00. Watching morning radar and seeing the daily progression, two decisions were made…by 7:00. Weather forced us to bypass the day long trek to Southern Oklahoma and take US 70 to Little Rock. This would have had us travel on the “Corporal Michael Ayre Thompson Memorial Highway. Michael’s father and Pack member had spent the days prior preparing the sign posts for us. Unfortunately the weather had other ideas. We were heartbroken. We would need to stay on I40 and get East as soon as possible. 2nd decision? We leave ASAP! The word went out, via the wrong text string (since Papa has the pen in this group we won’t talk about blame) to saddle up immediately. Papa went into the breakfast and told a sweaty post workout Judge in his speedo that we were leaving in 10 minutes. This was a bit of a stretch but it was go time.
Now it is an understatement that with the Interwebs, smart phones (and watches), EVERYONE is a meteorologist. “We have a 4 minute window if we leave now…”. This group can’t introduce themselves in 4 minutes! All Papa knew is that the East-er we get the sooner (Oklahoma reference) we can do it, the dryer will be our day. The rain came. The rub is that it will not stop coming so we still needed to get East. Rain gear donned. 7:30am is here and “most” are at their bikes. Where’s GQ? We see the Make Great American Leasing ladies enter the RV. Raj, Judge Goldberg, and Paul Berg Youngberg fire up the RV and the move into position to make a quick exit. Judge wants to know GPS coordinates for the next fuel stop. Papa explains that we’re winging it… Whenever we get dry but not before 60 or 70 miles-ish. There is a GQ spotting. He is hurrying… a GQ hurry is still a saunter. Several Pack members have been attempting to perfect the GQ saunter. JBro has the edge thus far. Bikes are rolled out into starting positions. Rain is torrential. Some are questioning the timing of our departure in the rain. Boner tells us he is nervous. Meteorologist Slaw is announcing we stay and this will be over in a couple of hours. Perhaps, but it will be heading where we’er heading. Papa sounds the horn. Is GQ ready? No. As Fish explains, GQ must apply his hair product before donning his protective cover. In fairness, it is dangerous to rush rush rush a motorcycle departure when alone… it is worse when in formation. Finally, GQ is pretty enough to fire up his Harley and fall into formation. We depart the hotel parking lot, RV in tow. We move through a couple of traffic lights toward I40. IT is 8:06. Papa is internally pleased. We will have 20 minutes of heavy rain and then be in the clear. GQ fell out of rank at the final light and pulls off to the side. Papa continues to lead the pack over the interstate and left onto the on-ramp. Knowing we leave no Pack behind, Papa slows to a stop on the on-ramp. With an RV tow the locals trying to get to work can wait. Also, we will not navigate a temporary fishing hole that the rain has left on the on-ramp. Turns out GQ, in his haste, had neglected to zip us his rain gear. Thus after a minute or two he is roaring over the over pass and falls into position. We’re off. Slowly and gently. Our hotel was on the West side of OKC so we will navigate the interstate system in heavy rain and night style driving as the morning sun was severely depressed by the angry skies. We progressed smoothly and efficiently. By the time we make the East side of OKC and Tinker Air Force Base the rain was light and steady and nor longer torrential. The Eastern horizon skies were not so angry. We progressed. Soon we had dry road and were able to get to highway speeds. 70 miles out we pulled off for a fuel stop and had been out of rain for 30 miles. Now Papa The Tyrant is Papa the Genius. At least the Make Great American Leasing ladies thought so.
We intended to make this a quick stop and get going east as quickly as possible. Slaw peed in record time. Some removed the pants portion of rain gear but it is bad juju to remove it all until the skies are clear. The next stop was selected and sent to GQ and the RV. Slaw was informed he would have to hold the bladder for 140 miles. Wince.
The next 68 miles were uneventful. Light traffic, dry skies and road. It was an hour of so of riding zen. All Pack members in lock step/roll. It is really a heavy metal ballet.
At the 68 mile mark Papa noticed there was a rest stop exit. Signage informed us there were no facilities. The Pack needs no porcelain. We rolled off and into the empty parking area. As the RV followed us in the Make Great America Leasing ladies informed Judge that there were no facilities. Judge informed them that the great green forest would suffice. There are probably photos of this event… unfortunately.
This was just a quick bio break. Papa sounded the horn. Motors were fired up. Papa looked into his rear view and say Lone star on the ground under Paco’s bike. Engines off. Thank goodness it was a false alarm. Engines roar again and we’re off to our next fuel stop. This will be a longer fuel, bio and nourishment stop about an hour out.
Again we had very little traffic, dry conditions and smooth sailing. An hour later we pulled into our stop and fueled up. Most removed rain gear. All went for nourishment. Some abandoned the Wendy’s as this particular fast food establishment was fast food without the fast. Papa, JBro and Boner were sitting and eating the un-fast food. Apparently, in the parking area the wannabe meteorologists were beginning to panic. A coup was formed. Slaw would lead the Papa-JBro-Boner-less Pack back onto I40 east at slow highway speeds and the three of us would catch up. Lone Star was appointed to inform Papa. He sheepishly made his announcement and ran to the parking area. Wendy’s was consumed quickly and the three amigos walked to the parking area. Watched the group saddle up and roar off. No Pack left behind… unless they have Minnesota roots apparently. This was to avoid rain.
Editorial note, too much information is more dangerous than not enough.
Papa, JBro, and Boner saddled up, fired up and proceeded to I40 east. As we hurried east to eventually catch up we crossed into Arkansas. Progress! We noticed some heavily wet roads but experienced no rainfall. 25 miles ahead we roared past the RV or the Mars’ Rover Rover. 5 miles further we caught the tail of the Pack and slid into position. Lone Star graciously backed off and made room tor Boner. Slaw on the other hand was quite reluctant to fall back and move over. After some gesticulating he acquiesced. Finally Papa and JBro were able to get into formation. Later we learned the coup was successful in riding into rain at 15 mph over the limit. Apparently Slaw thought it a permanent coup. Lone Star backed in down so we could actually gain ground. Did I mention three of us stayed completely dry?
With the formation reset we continued east. Next fuel stop would be in Toad Suck Arkansas. Look it up. By this time the Pack was riding under clear skies and hot Arkansas temps. What a change from the morning! Skies were calm but traffic had become angry. A lovely white SUV got in between the RV and Paco and caused Paco to experience the rumble strips to avoid contact. This SUV, was someone important and in a hurry apparently. The traffic causing us to be in the left lane quickly impeded our SUV friend and the pack proceeded on without him. Soon traffic opened int he right lane and Papa moved the group over. Soon our SUV savant’ roared up the left lane a bit angrily and made a NASCAR lane change into the right lane causing Papa and therefore the entire Pack to hit the brakes.
Toad Suck didn’t. We fueled and noticed a Toad Suck Harley dealer so we made the decision to stop and stretch. We needed to make a left turn through and uncontrolled intersection. In a retail area on a Saturday mid-afternoon. Boner and Lone Star rolled out carefully and stopped traffic. All the locals stopped and graciously allowed us to safely reenter the roadway and give time for Boner and Lone Star to rejoin us.
The t-shirts at the Toad Suck (never gets old to say) Harley didn’t disappoint.
After a leisurely stop we fired up to make the final 30 minutes trek to our hotel. Papa put the hotel address into the Harley GPS navigation. Lone Star informed us GQ was still inside sauntering. He needed a part. We were told to go with out Lone Star and GQ and they would catch up. Paco missed the message. We rolled out and to the traffic lights. Paco roared to the front to let Papa know we left the other two. Paco learned it was pre-arranged and we were off. The ride into Little Rock was uneventful with the exception that HD GPS was close… not accurate. A quick use of the interweb’s Google app and soon we were at the hotel. Mars’ Rover was there along with GQ and one Star. All was well.
Along the way Judge talked with our dinner host, Barry Simon of Datamax, and informed him we would be on time at 7:30pm. Barry replied that 7:30 was fine with the exception the hired masseuse was arriving at 5:00 and dinner is served at 5:30. So much for a nap exclaimed Fish.
Severe weather was looming so we made the decision to park strategically under the hotel canopy while leaving room for an auto and fire lane. Apparently earlier in the day a hotel patron parked his SUV (red not white) in a manner that blocked traffic as well as pedestrian entry into the hotel. After a few hours (or one according to the patron) the hotel had the auto towed..This last sentence is foreshadowing.
Lone Star arranged the bikes to conform to the wishes of the hotel staff. Still out of harms way from the angry skies. All is well. The text went out, to the proper string, that all members were to gather in the lobby at 5:00 for our 10 minute ride to the Simon residence. Our transportation method? Mars’ Rover piloted by Rover. The Make Great American Leasing ladies called for an Uber. Can’t blame them for not wanting to join 13 stinky (well the leathers are stinky) guys in a cramped standing/laying room only RV. Are we in high school?!
The Make Great American Leasing ladies were joined by Lady Patricia Ames from Rota Spain. BPO Media in the house!!! The three ladies called an Uber.
We arrived at 5:25pm, pulled the Mars’ Rover Rover into the Simon driveway and climbed out… like rats off a ship.. in the rain. The Simon’s welcomed us graciously. Barry led us to his outdoor/indoor man cave… castle. We were treated with adult and not-adult hydration. Better yet a BBQ spread fit for royalty… better still… a masseuse was waiting to give each of us a 10 – 15 minute neck and back kneading. We are shortly going to become entitled Rock Stars! We do believe this is how Paco lives his entire life. He gets home from work and Mrs. Paco provides a beverage and some needed kneading (lol).
Thanks to Pack remote support (Jenna Stramaglio) the new cuts (vests for the non-SOA watchers) arrived via UPS on a Saturday night to the Simon residence. This allowed us to make the ceremonial presentation to the 5 new Patriots Pack members. Paco presented the coveted cuts to Rover, Berg and Judge…The Judge. These come with a price. Recipients are required to sing their high school fight song, university fight song, or a patriotic song in return for this honored cut. Rover is promising a performance in DC later in the week. Judge is still contemplating (as judges do) his song of choice. Berg asked Papa to help with a duet of God Bless America. Apparently this octogenarian had had enough of Papa being the lone pitch bitch and started to sing loud and proud… and very well I might add. Papa backed off and tried a bit of harmony as Berg led the group in song. Epic! Judge and Rover have big big shoes to fill. Next, Papa was given the honor of bestowing cuts to JBro and Boner. A brief ceremonial presentation and photo op ensued. Next, theses two brothers needed to perform to officially become Pack brothers. They stepped up together and had a look of preparation. Papa was understandably nervous as the 10 and 15 year old version of these brothers may have done….well anything! Soon a very rousing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner ensued. Boner even pantomimed some rockets red and glaring. Toward the end, and if I am lying I am dying, the heavens began rolling thunder as though we had a fighter jet flyover. More than a few had a tear drop. Proud father. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful night. I won’t say it was a happy ending because a masseuse was involved.
Kick stand up at 10:00am Sunday. Memphis is in our sights.
Epilog. Arriving back at the hotel we checked on our rides and made sure all bags, pockets, and forks were locked. A gentleman was pensively wandering around. A squad car from Little Rock’s finest pulled up. The gentleman had called for the officer. Seems the hotel had his red SUV towed for doing just what these bikers were doing. Gentleman wanted an official civil complaint report. LRPD officer explained that no fire lane was being blocked and no entrance to the hotel was being blocked. Earlier in the day the Gentleman’s red SUV was blocking both. Actually disallowing a disabled wheel chair bound hotel patron access to the front door… while he napped upstairs. As this was being explained the same wheel chair bound patron’s van pulls up and comfortably exited the van and entered the hotel. Case closed… bump bump (that’t she Law and Order scene chime).
Papa & The Pack