It has been a crazy, busy week at work, and doing some wrenching on the bike to get her ready for a couple of long rides coming up. I sort of let the blog slip onto the back burner. Well, here is the next part of my memories of a run from the early 80's.
Swan and Tennessee were coming back from a run to Missoula. Somewhere between Zillah and Union Gap they’d had a run in along the freeway with another club. Swan had gone down, but was more or less alright. He was only able to limp the bike to Union Gap. They were hanging out at a Denny’s with the bikes chained to a light post in the parking lot, waiting for a lift home. The two prospects would ride in the truck and follow Doc and I. Buck and Big Ed would meet us at the Clubhouse and then ride drag behind the truck for security until we stopped in Packwood for fuel. Doc wasn’t expecting any trouble, but he had long ago learned that it was better to be ready for trouble and not have any, than to not be ready when all Hell broke loose.
Shine pushed his Ironhead into the garage then closed and locked the garage door. As Doc threw his leg over his Shovel, his Ol’ Lady came out onto the front porch and asked if she should call the Clubhouse and let them know we were rolling on our way. Doc just smiled and nodded as he kicked the old Shovel to life. I fired the Norton back up, and Prospect John fired up the truck and we headed out.
When we got to the Clubhouse about fifteen minutes later, Buck and Big Ed were already on their bikes ready to roll. And so was Crazy Larry, with a pair of ball peen hammers clipped to his drag bars. Little John was on his rigid Shovel chopper. Being a boatswains mate, Little John always carried a monkeys fist on a four foot long length of rope in his pocket where it could easily be reached by him, but not grabbed by someone riding alongside him. Everybody fell in behind the truck and rode drag in a tight group as we left the Clubhouse and headed for the gas station in Purdy to top off the tanks.
The plan was to not stop after we topped off in Purdy until we hit Packwood a couple hours away to refuel. We’d take the slightly longer, but mostly freeway route into Tacoma to Interstate 5 and then head south for about sixty miles to US Hwy 12. We’d top off in Packwood, and then ride over White Pass and top off again in Yakima before heading to Union Gap.
We’d made good time, hovering around 80 or so for most of the trip. Riding in the middle of the night, traffic was pretty light. Hell, the last forty-five minutes on Hwy twelve we had only seen a couple of semi’s on the road. We pulled into the gas station on the east side of tiny Packwood, and as soon as the bikes were shut off next to the pumps. Little John let out a whistle, and said with a snicker; “Refueling in progress…the smoking lamp is out.”
Being a club of active duty and ex-Navy men it seemed quite normal. But also being active duty, it came with its own set of problems. The Navy didn’t approve of motorcycle clubs, so we didn’t wear our cuts on base. But once we rolled out the gate, it had become a joke to pull over there in Bremerton just outside the gate and put out Colors back on while looking at the Marine guards at the gate about twenty feet away. Then firing the bikes up again, we’d head out as a group. Even if it was only to ride down the block to one of “Bummertown’s” many downtown bars.
As soon as the last bike and the truck were refueled, Little John looked over at Doc, who just nodded and pulled out his cigarettes, and let out another whistle and said; “The smoking lamp is lit in all authorized areas…Smoke’em if ya got ‘em.” We all bought a cup of coffee and enjoyed a smoke before we got ready to ride again. Knowing we’d be going over 4,500 ft White Pass, we all dug into our saddlebags and put on another layer of clothing. As we mounted up, the sun was just about to rise from behind the mountains. The clouds that had seemed black as we rode up towards them earlier, now seemed to be bathed in blood. The red tint spreading across the sky. Someone muttered the words; “Red sky in morning…” Almost all of us replied without thinking; “Sailor take warning.” Hoping this wasn’t a bad omen of things to come. We fired up the bikes and rolled out. Next stop Yakima. At least that was the plan.