Be Like Mike, Toad Suck, 3.5 Minutes Until Hot and Dirty
Our day begins with a 3:30am weather check. Looks better than predicted so our departure time was set for 8:00. This makes the Judge happy as he presumably will have extra gym time. About 5:45 Papa entered the fitness room to join the Judge only to find Klinger on the elliptical and the Judge nowhere to be found. Perhaps the Judge will come in a bit later. No person his age can be this fit without a morning routine. Looking out of the window to the fitness room we notice Lone Star feeding the horses. Often after a day of hard riding they need a little carbon juice. The Pack was treated to clean fairings and windscreens, compliments of Lone Star. A while later when Papa and Klinger exited the fitness room the Judge was apparently still sleeping… mmmm.
We are +2 this morning as Bert and Captain have joined us. They have made the trek from the Iowa corn country to ride along for the middle part of the tour. Captain is on his Harley but Bert is in his SUV. Bert has a medical waiver but he is driving while sporting his cut! Good on ya Bert.
Papa walked into the lobby of the hotel at about 7:30 and much of the gang, including the Judge, were already there sharing travel stories over a cup of coffee. It must have been a rest day for the old Judge. Papa goes out to the bikes and packs his saddle bags. Looking at the skies coupled with the scent of moisture he makes the decision to don his rain jacket. Paco notices this and is wondering the same. Lone Star dons his and tells Paco: “I don’t want to be the one we have to stop for to put this on.” This clearly has an effect on Paco and he to dons his rain jacket. Down the row we see Captain also has his rain jacket. Best not to tempt the weather gods.
Something like Murphy’s law, if you wear your rain gear it will not be needed. There is the lightest of sprinkles on the paint as we mount up, notify the Mars’ Rover Rover of our intention to depart and do so. The gods were pleased as that was the last moisture we would experience until after we checked into our Little Rock hotel!!
Back up on I40 East and we begin to navigate OKC morning traffic. Again the travel gods took a cue from the weather gods and blesses us with light traffic and smooth sailing. A little merge congestion near Tinker Air Force Base but still we continued to move. Soon we were well east of OKC and traveling smoothly. Now 5 bikes, a SUV and the Mars’ Rover Rover. First stop will be fuel. For the next 140ish miles the Pack rode on with smooth dry pavement and that beautiful lane change ballet.
About 35 miles out as we are rolling smoothly Papa notices some commotion on the over pass just ahead. A car is stopped. A younger person has a phone or camera and a person a little elder was wrangling a very large American Flag on a long pole. He is intently waving this flag… at us! My goodness.. it’s Kory and Kory Junior Junior!!! Out this morning from their home to honor the Pack with this simple gesture. The Pack rolls through at 75 mph but we give them a raised fist in appreciation. What a thrill…
Thank you Kory and Kory Junior Junior.
The Pack exited for fuel and bio relief at about 10:00 am. This will be a quick stop. There was some construction at this stop and after refueling it was discovered our entrance ramp was nonexistent. The options were to proceed back West until we can exit and return East or follow the detour signs. Papa always follows directions so… detour it is. The detour took us north about a mile into Checotah Oklahoma. The town claiming to be Carrie Underwood’s childhood home. Carrie claimed Muskogee.
The Pack decided not to press the issue and moved on. We were a strange sight parading through this small burg. The rout had us heading back west about a mile and then completing the circle back east. Seems if you claim Carrie Underwood you get two exits! Luck for us.
Back onto I40 East and the Pack returns to form. It was a perfect morning for riding. Constant speed, perfected temperatures and light traffic. The next 125 miles were without issue. Papa sees the clock approaching noon. Rover never wants to miss a lunch meal so Papa begins to search for a stop with fuel and a sandwich for Rover. Papa is calculating and the next exit will have fuel and leave us with a short 100 miles to Toad Suck and our final stop before the hotel. Soon a frosty white Street Glide screens by the Pack and waves his appreciation. Bald head, no helmet, carefree and solo…. and doing about 90 mph. The weather has been wonderful… with several pockets of sunshine it is tempting to doff the rain jacket but… don’t tempt the gods.
We and an exit and roll into a Shell station just off the exit. We roll up to the pumps and begin to remove helmets and gloves. Papa notices Lone Star fire back up his bike and ride toward him. “Do they have premium fuel?” Papa looks and notices that all the premium pumps are out of order. If you’re riding around the neighborhood you could get away with regular gas but.. riding hard across the country you must feed your steed properly. Lone Star makes a reconnaissance run to the north side of the exit. Soon there is a call and sure enough there is gas just a half mile north. The Pack reconnoiters, finds the Mars’ Rover Rover and parades into the little now north to find Lone Star and his fuel. 93 octane even!! Rover spies a Subway Sandwich shop and determines he must eat. Papa begins to have PTSD from his 2019 Subway stop causing a run to the ER for JBro. Paco decides to stand in the parking lot and catch up on his social media duties. The cookies at Subway are awesome.
After lunch the Pack begins to gather. The temps have risen but it is properly decided to press on with rain gear. At speed it is still quite comfortable. Back on I40 east the Pack will soon cross into Arkansas. JBro and Boner, if you’re reading, it was exciting to actually ride with the Pack this year as we cross into Arkansas.
Toad Suck is only 69 miles out so this will be a short haul. There is some construction traffic on this leg of our journey so we lose the Mars’ Rover Rover at times with the decelerating and accelerating due to construction. Usually Papa can find the Mars’ Rover Rover less than a mile back. As we approach our exit the traffic comes to a stop. Our two lanes must merge into the left lane. A few unruly drivers decide to skirt the right lane and force themselves in causing further delays. The trucker in front of Papa makes and aggressive move into the right lane and waves to Papa to stay just off his left. This effectively blocks the block heads. There were a few of these aggressive drivers who were nonplused at our trucker friend and then grew frustrated because of the trail of bikes, an SUV and the Mars’ Rover Rover had no space for them to merge… and the left lane began to grow larger behind them. This may come back to haunt us before we exit at Toad Suck.
Soon this odd train moved forward with much more efficiency and as the road finally became one lane the appreciative trucker merged in front and off we went.
After the few miles of construction the road widened back into now three lanes and the Pack had to quickly get over the the right most lane for the oncoming exit. Then bikes and SUV were able to accelerate out of the rapidly “unmerging” and angry drivers but the Mars’ Rover Rover was going to need a Formula One style lane change to accommodate the exit. Papa comes to the light at the end of the exit and notices the Mars’ Rover Rover safely in behind the Pack… wheels smoking!!
We wind into the Toad Suck Harley Davidson Dealership. The temp is downright steamy and the skies are mostly sunny. Also we notice our Frosty White Street Glide guy had made the same stop. There will be a story.
The reason for this stop is that if anyone in the world needs a t-shirt from Toad Suck Arkansas Harley Davidson is it the way too young for Cal, Mrs Cal. We know Cal replaced his tattered rain gear but not sure about the t-shirt. In the store we caught up the Frosty White Street Glide guy. He stopped to get a had to save his bald head from the sun. Turns out Frosty White Street Glide Guy is from Denver. Heading to Key West to catch the Sammy Hagar concert. Why not? That is just the precursor to him riding back up to Jacksonville for the real highlight of his ride.. the Bon Jovi concert. Then home. Again… why not?
Put that route in your google maps and ask yourself if 77 year old Sammy Hagar is worth the trip… why not?
Back onto I40 east for the short ride to I430 south to our hotel. The Mars’ Rover Rover has taken the lead but… has no idea of our route. Papa pull in behind but cannot pass because our exit is approaching and the entire parade would not be able to get back into formation before the exit. Papa is hoping the Mars’ Rover Rover either merges left to allow us through or knows our path and proceeds south on I430. The former happens and the pack roared through… thanks to a trucker who noticed our dilemma and blocked other merger-ers from hampering our progress. A quick 10 minutes later and we pulled in under the hotel awning. It is now just before 3:00pm and the Pack has two hours to rest and shower.
Before dispersing to our rooms we are treated by the Make American Great again Ladies. Welcome to Jennie and Kim from Great America Leasing. Aka, the GAL gals.
The pack is growing.
Pack gathers in the lobby at 5:15 to pile into the Mars’ Rover Rover and Vegas
Patricia-don’t-call-me-Patti from BPO Media arrives. Patti’s (oops) quiet and demure presence is always a delight. We will roll 13 deep to the Simon Residence and dine with Barry’s family. The ride over was scenic. Seems the Mars’ Rover Rover Uber driver was paying attention to the rear of the Rover where Hiro was entertaining the three ladies. Papa kept looking at the Google watching the blue ball move AWAY from the Simon residence. Time to take charge and navigate. The Judge, in an effort to stay out of the fray was in the child’s bed in the cab overhang. All for the cause!!!
We always look forward to this experience and hospitality. Barry not only feeds us but we are treated with a massage chair and a masseuse! A welcomed treat after 1500 miles of hard riding. The evening was lovely and the exit from the Simon residence was exciting! The upgraded Mars’ Rover Rover was too long to back out without curbing on the narrow street. Barry’s circle (actually U shaped) drive was the only answer… in the dark… with impending showers. Lone Star was outside the Mars’ Rover Rover coaching our Uber driver. After a few minutes of reconnoitering (second time today Lefty) we were back on the street and the heavens opened up.
Biblical rain came. We navigated directly to the hotel and under the awning to stay dry. The Mars’ Rover Rover bar equipment was transported into the hotel.
We gathered at the alter in the lobby and sat down for a cocktail and a couple rounds of the Spanish Inquisition. During our Spanish Inquisition a very large man and a younger svelte man checked in but kept a not so subtle eye on our happenings.
We offered a beer and the two approached. This very large man with a Pack-ish personality is the chicken prince of Arkansas. Unless your name is Tyson you cannot be the chicken king but his “little” $100m company provides all of Hy-Vee’s chickens. We met his fresh-out-of-college protege and later his painter. Chicken production houses need lots of painting. When the very large chicken prince heard about our cause he pulled out a Benjamin and took four Clover Harley Davidson raffle tickets to support Gillian fund! Who can say no to the Judge… besides Mrs. Judge?
Another day down. We hope that Patti gains confidence and joins in the conversation as the ride progresses. We do know she misses her Boner and JBro.
SOURCE Industry Analysts Inc.