Beaver Creek Run
Just before Seal Rock, we turned left onto Beaver Creek Road. We rode several miles up into the hills before we came to the farm where the party was. A steep muddy driveway led from the road into 10 acres of wet pasture. You could stand at the bottom of the drive and watch choppers dropping in the mud as soon as they hit the wet grass. Howard tore up a circle of muck, his Triumph over on its side spinning around on its left footpeg.
The kegs, the stage and the bonfire were in a field to the right as we came in. There was a band playing and the beer was flowing freely. The fire was as big as a house. There were some tents scattered around the first pasture and a few more behind the bonfire to the right. We followed another road to the left across a small stream and into another pasture with more camping. We found Brian at the far end of the field where he had set up his tent. We tied the tarp between our bikes and some trees at the edge of the field to make a shelter and rolled out our bedrolls before heading back down to the stage to drink beer and listen to the music. It continued to rain.
It got pretty drunk out that night. The kegs were set up to the left of the stage, with five taps running. Somewhere in the dark behind the bonfire they had mortars set up. Fireworks blossomed overhead, far above the blaze and the band played loud and hard and late. Around midnight I stumbled back to our camp. I found Howard lying on his back in the mud, passed out. I told him to get under the tarp before he drowned like a turkey staring up in a rainstorm. He told me to fuck off. I rolled him onto his stomach and threw his jacket over him before I put myself to bed. I was sound asleep when Howard came to and blundered into our makeshift tent, dripping mud and water as he crawled over me to get to his bedroll. What are friends for?
I woke up early the next morning. A grey mist hung over the rank grass of the pasture. In between the clusters of tents motorcycles were parked, like horses stabled next to an encampment. Rain dripped from the chrome pipes and handlebars. Here and there a beat-up pickup truck or a car was parked, support vehicles driven by the old ladies or perhaps an unfortunate biker who couldn’t get his machine working in time for the run.
I could still hear music coming from down by the stage. I walked that way in search of coffee. It struck me odd that the band sounded so much better this morning than it did last night. I walked across the wooden bridge which spanned a creek separating the two pastures. Emerging from the willows I could see the stage was empty. Apparently, the band sounded much improved because it wasn’t the band I was hearing-a recording of the Rolling Stones was blasting through the sound system. The rain tapered off to a light drizzle. Howard joined me, and we stood around the big fire drinking coffee and waking up. The storm seemed to be clearing.
Once we were warm and functioning again we decided it would be a good idea to get packed and on the road. As we walked back towards our bikes we were startled by a water balloon splashing to the ground between us and a dome tent set up on the far edge of the field. A second one landed, this time a little nearer to the tent, followed closely by a third which burst on the seat of the Harley parked in front of the tent. We crossed the little bridge on and came upon three bikers, flying Free Souls colors. They had a giant slingshot made of twenty feet of surgical tubing, doubled over. Two of them were leaned against a yellow sedan. There was an almost empty fifth of Jack Daniels on the roof of the car, and a plastic beer cup on the hood. Bracing themselves against the car they held the ends of the sling shot above their heads while the third biker pulled the center back, kneeling almost to the ground before releasing it. A water balloon arced up over the willows. This one hit the gas tank of the chopper by the tent.
“Can you see where they are landing? Did we hit the tent? My brother is sleeping in there!”, the biker standing nearest to us asked.
“You’re getting closer”, Howard replied.” The last two landed on the bike.”
“God Damnit! That’s my bike!” the biker who had launched the balloon exclaimed.
Back at our camp we rolled up our bedrolls, folded up the tarp and strapped the soggy bundles on the back of our bikes. Everything was wet. I tugged on my cold, damp leathers, weighed down with the moisture they had soaked up. I’d left my helmet upside down under a low spot in the tarp all night long. Frigid water splashed over my head when I put it on. Water dripped off my chin and ran down my neck. We were ready to go.
The rain came down in large drops, cold and steady. We followed Beaver creek as it wound through the forest to the ocean. When we got to the coast highway I pulled off at a wayside and sunk into the soft, wet sand. I managed to get my bike hogged around by whacking the throttle on hard and tipping the bike a little so it spun, the rear wheel shooting a rooster tail of sand and pebbles and sea shells out behind me. I couldn’t hear Howard swearing at me until I shut my engine off.
“Why’d you pull off?”, Howard cried
“Don’t get mad….”
“I wanted to get a picture of our bikes by the ocean”, I admitted.
And I did get a picture of our bikes by the ocean. Howard has a stripe of wet sand up the front of him and he is not smiling.
We rode north up 101 to Newport and turned onto Highway 20, riding along the bay. It was raining hard again by the time we reached Toledo at the head of the bay. It just kept getting wetter and colder as we wound through the coast range.
My goggles fogged up and I took them off. I could barely see through the rain on my glasses. Howard didn’t have a front fender on his chopper and the tire sent a high velocity slurry of water and road grime back at him. A good deal of the spray pelted the magneto and his ignition started cutting out. We struggled to maintain thirty-five miles per hour. There was a long line of R.V.s stacked up behind us.
Howard rode up next to me. Rain streaming off his mustache, he shouted: “We should pull over and let them pass!”
“Fuck ’em!” I hollered back. “How many times have we been stuck behind a Winnebago on this same road?”
We finally pulled off at a little store near Eddyville Junction, letting the parade of motor-homes chug on by. Howard and I went inside and got some hot coffee and tried to warm our hands. Our leathers were soaked through and so heavy with water we could hardly move. We decided not to try to make it all the way back to Hood River that day. When I got some feeling back in my fingers, I dropped some quarters in the pay phone out on the porch and called my friend Robert to see if we could crash at his place. After I finished talking with Rob, Howard and I reluctantly got back on our bikes. The rain did not let up.
to be continued….