The gusty winds of fall wreaked a wee bit of havoc with my Fat Boy’s rear view when crossing the Sullivan Lake (a.k.a. Orange) bridge just south of the northeast Washington town of Ione in late September. A large metal clip attached none too well to the bridge deck was affixed to a heavy tarp that, when whipped by the wind, flew into the path of my bike, breaking the mirror and denting its framework. The bridge painting contractor was quick to own the mistake, so I took the mirror off and, being on a shopping trip, intended to drop in at Lone Wolf Harley-Davidson in Spokane. It would be an opportunity to see Beth and to talk with Dawn in parts. Problem was, the visit to the big city 100 miles south was on a Monday; of course the dealership would be closed. Imagine my delight when on a whim I pulled into the lot at Lone Wolf Harley-Davidson and saw pretty Dawn and her eight-month-old pup Duke hanging out by the side door. Seems that Duke had convinced Dawn that the landscaping needed a little Duke-water. Luck was with me that day. Dawn is a transplant from Bend, Oregon, and we became acquainted when I phoned the dealership when she worked there some years ago. So it was a nice reunion and I found out she moved to Coeur d’Alene to be closer to her kids, so Beth and Greg Ernst saw a good thing and snatched her up. Then when the Spokane Valley store on East Cataldo was in the works, they asked Dawn to run the parts department. Efficiency rules there, evidenced by the arrival of my mirrors on Wednesday, just a day after the bridge contractor phoned and sealed the deal with his credit card. Nice going, Dawn, and thanks… It’s such a simple thing, really, Christmas and toys for children, but for the last 34 years the Olympia Toy Run has moved heaven and girth (hey, Santa’s no lightweight) to see to it that no child begins Christmas morning without something in hand. Last year an estimated 18,000 motorcycles took part. This year the 35th annual Olympia Toy Run will be December 1 and every last toy goes to the Salvation Toy ‘n Joy Shop. Bring a new, unwrapped toy or $15 for solo rider, or $20 for two-up. Dollars raised will all go to the purchase of toys. The gathering place before the parade is at the South Sound Center in the Sears parking lot. Address is 711 Sleater-Kinney Road in Lacey. Take Exit 108 on the South side of I-5. Find more information about the parade route easily available at And speaking of the route, the parade for this event is mighty inspiring; not for the landscape, but for the human scenery—the supporters lining the route. This is the premier feel-good event for our kind in Washington State, but there are others that deserve mention, including one that’s a few hours South… The Children’s Miracle Network and Toys for Tots are joint recipients of the proceeds from the 32nd annual Original Rogue Valley Toy Run out of Medford, Oregon. THUNDER PRESS contributor, rider, husband and friend Gene Nelson has been instrumental to the run over the years, and will be in the thick again this year. And that’s saying something, since Gene was run over by a SUV this season. He was riding home from a friend’s funeral when he darned near became eligible for last rites himself. The amazing thing was that the two people first on the scene included a registered nurse (who phoned Gene’s wife Lori), and the first face Gene saw when he looked up from where he’d been thrown 30 feet was that of a man who said, “I’m on leave from Iraq and a medic. We’ll get you through this.” Gene’s leg was broken in five places from knee to ankle, he’s had three surgeries and is just starting to get used to life in a wheelchair with less seat time. His business,, has been on the back burner, but the projects on the bench when the accident occurred are all done with the help of friends and Gene’s oversight. Wife Lori has been a trooper, herself a business owner and because Gene was unable to fend for himself for the first few months, friend Jerome Ellison came to the rescue. Gene said, “Jerome moved into a guest room here and sacrificed his schedule to take care of me for the first three months so Lori could work.” I asked Gene if the person who hit him was deep pocketed. Gene said, “I used up her insurance just to get to the hospital.” Gene hoped riders would look at their insurance coverage for two things; one, the state minimum threshold for underinsured motorists is something worth looking at hard. Gene said, “If I had to do it all over again, I’d get as much underinsured coverage as I could afford.” The other thing he suggests we all look at is whether any umbrella policies are in force. He said although he has eight motorcycles insured with the company that insures Lori and him, the umbrella is tied to the house and cars, but not a single bike. “People need to be proactive about this stuff, and be sure you’re covered.” The upside to the accident was realizing how many caring friends he and Lori have. He credits those friends and customers from Roguehawg’s Hawg Pen with making him focus on what he does have, and not just the long recovery. Gene intends to take part in the Rogue Valley Toy Run, but friend John Huffman will probably do all of the stuff on the ground. For more information about the run go to or give Gene a call at 541.944.7641 and tell him Susan sent you…


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