Howdy! Grab a chair an’ a beer! Well, summertime has begun to get old already, with temperatures hoverin’ around the one hundred five degree mark here in Madtown, an’ so far I haven’t been able to cultivate a friendship with anybody who has a pool. Watchin’ TV in your underwear gets old pretty quick, so after a few shots of my all-time favorite blackberry moonshine, I started thinkin’ about ways to cool off. That brought back memories of years ago, when I was a younger guy, and decided to go motorcycle camping.

At the time, I was ridin’ a Shovelhead Low Rider with a solo seat, drag bars, an’ not much of a rear fender, so I stuffed a change of clothes and my fishin’ gear, in a backpack, filled my little ice chest with sandwich stuff and ice, strapped it on the front fender under my sleepin’ bag, and hit the road into the mountains. Lookin’ back, I probably shoulda headed for the coast, but the mountains have always called to me. The trees, the wildlife, the mountain lakes fulla trout… Yeah, that’s my kinda place!

Now, I don’t believe in omens, mainly because it’s bad luck to be superstitious, but if I did, I would have abandoned my plans before I ever hit the road. My ol’ Shovel was a one kick bike, and after I had my gear loaded, I climbed on, swung out the kicker an’ pounced down on it like I always did. It was about that time that I remembered I’d left it in gear. Fortunately, it didn’t start, but still jumped off the kickstand an’ onto its side. I really hate it when that happens. After picking the bike up and checking the load, I found neutral, fired her up, and rode off into a hot Central California sunrise.

The ride through the Sierra Nevada Mountains is always a joy, and the ride to Wishon Reservoir is a biker’s dream. Pulling into a campsite near the water, I parked the bike, stretched my plastic tarp from the bike to the ground to fend off the morning dew, then got out my fishin’ gear, preparing to live off the land. Not much beats fresh rainbow trout cooked over a campfire for breakfast. I drew back for a cast into the deep channel just off shore, and at that moment, I tripped over a loose rock, my thumb slipped off the reel, and a “bird’s nest” of Biblical proportions formed as the line backed up and snarled in an impossible to rectify tangle. “OK,” I mumbled, along with a few epithets that aren’t fit to print, “At least I brought enough chow for a couple of days.”

On my way back to camp, I meandered along, enjoying the scenery, and after makin’ sure the kickstand was still on the piece of bark I’d put under it, I started a fire in the fire pit, and settled in for a night under the stars.

About nine that night, I was enjoying the peace and quiet, looking up at the stars, when three college girls pulled into the next campsite. They started putting up their tent, but things didn’t seem to be going very well. After about a half hour, one of them spotted my ol’ Shovelhead and made her way over. Apparently they’d had more success finding the wine than putting up the tent, because she was giggly and half snockered. “Can you help us set up our tent?” she asked, eyeballing the Harley. “We can’t figure it out.”

“Yeah, I’ll get it set up for ya,” I told her, and wandered over to have a look. In about 10 minutes, I had it set up, and started back to camp. When I walked up, I saw several furry butts running for the bushes, an’ discovered that raccoons had gotten into my ice chest an’ cleaned me out. The only thing they didn’t take was a pint of Jack Daniel’s, which doesn’t speak highly of their intelligence. I sat down on a log by the fire an’ opened the bottle. After a few swigs, I decided it was time to hit the outhouse, so I made my way down in the dark. I’d just come out, when I see the girls headed down, their flashlight bobbing as they made their way down the trail. Feeling ornery, I stepped into the dark behind the bathroom, and as they got to the door, I gave ’em my best bear growl, and shook the bushes. The flashlight did a triple somersault and landed in the trail, while their screams echoed across the lake as they ran back to camp and climbed in their car.

The next morning, there were three pairs of jeans hanging in the trees drying out. “What happened?” I asked, innocently, while trying to suppress my laughter.

“We almost got eaten by a bear!” they squealed in unison. “It was by the bathroom last night!”

“Yeah,” I chuckled. “They’re all over up here. They’ll eat ya, then use a rib bone for a toothpick.”

They looked at one another, and started stuffing clothes in duffle bags, and taking the tent down. I started to head back to camp, then a thought struck me… “Hey, since you’re leavin’, can ya spare a couple of sandwiches an’ some chips?

As I happily and peacefully munched on my culinary windfall, I thought “I just love motorcycle camping!”



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