So many excuses, with laptop breakage, job loss and transition…but here ya go.
Better late than never?
I woke up at 5am, gathered the last of my toiletries and walked to the airporter in the morning mist. I followed an elderly couple from the building to the bench at the center of the parking lot where the bus picks up the passengers. The man made two trips back and forth from the building to the bench, carrying their suitcases to where they needed to be . His wife stood under the awning, out of the wet air.
He told her there was coffee inside.
In the airport after security checks I still had time for bad coffee and a greasy breakfast sandwich. I checked my email and trip itinerary obsessively like I do when traveling. I eavesdropped on strangers and people-watch like I do when I’m alone in crowded places. The intercom sounded several times asking for Ja Rule.
Waiting for my connection in Denver, I was sitting at an airport bar when the intercom called out for Corey Haim to please pick up the white courtesy phone.
Either someone was messing with the folks at the information desk or I am a terrible listener.
I continued to watch people. What they carried with them, how they killed time between flights, their luck with finding available electrical outlets. I counted three women in neck braces between SFO and Denver.
The flight to Denver had been on a nicer plane. A beast with televisions installed on the back of each chair. The child next to me was ill mannered and kicked the back of the seat in front of him, crawled all over his mother and refused to sit still.
“No, James.” she’d say weakly, obviously annoyed but used to this type of thing. He’d smile at her and continue whatever he was doing that she had asked him to stop.
I’m a terrible flier so I slammed two glasses of wine in Denver before boarding my flight to Rapid City. I caught a nice mellow buzz and fell asleep just as the tiny plane hit turbulence.
My little brother Tommy and his fiance picked me up at the airport and drove me into Sturgis where my dad was falling in love with this years Indian in Journeymen blue.
I grew up going to motorcycle rallies and runs. My dad has been riding longer than I have been alive. I’ve never before seen so many motorcycles at once.
The sound never bothered me. It makes me feel warm and I think of home.
I’d never seen so many people trying so hard to be “bikers.” You can spot them by their squeaky clean tennis shoes and bare legged women who shouldn’t get on the back of a motorcycle if they value their own skin. Half the attendees posturing, imitating stupid television shows and trying to impress the old school, who just remember what it was like when it actually meant something to get to Sturgis.
“We spent half the week on the side of the road working on our bikes. Hell, I didn’t even make it all the way here the first couple times I set out.” said my dad.
Since the event is so large and so many people converge upon the area, the local hotels make it a point to make all the money they can. They raise all the prices because they know that out of towners won’t have a choice. I called around and found that most hotels were going for $200+ per night.
For a Comfort Inn. It ain’t the fucking Ritz.
Locals don’t seem to mind going out of town for the week. Some of them even rent out their homes to visitors. A club member’s wife knew someone who had recently purchased a house in Lead, just outside of Deadwood, a small mining town outside of Sturgis. They moved in a week prior and then moved back out to let twenty-something bikers squat in their house for a few days.
The house was on top of a hill with steep stairs and a driveway filled with motorcycles. There were three rooms with beds, plenty of air mattresses, sleeping bags and tents in the yard. The week before the trip my dad filled the house with air mattresses, checking for leaks. He claims efficiency, I’m pretty sure he was building a fort without me.
(He saved me one.) Tommy and Bree brought an extra tent and sleeping bag for me. One of the Journeymen blew up the mattress while my brother put up my tent. No one would let me do anything, so I cracked a beer, enjoyed it for a moment, and went to find Kim Bobo. We hugged and played catch up for a while, but she was badly dehydrated from the ride the day before and wasn’t feeling well. I needed another beer. I let Kim rest and went outside to talk to everyone else.
I threw my suit case in the corner of my tent and made sure my pajamas were on top so I could easily access them later in the dark. I stepped carefully through a yard filled with tent posts toward the porch where I found a bottle of Fire Ball which I grabbed excitedly before even bothering to ask who it belonged to.
Long Hair James came out of the house through the laundry room holding a crystal candle stick and a bottle of Casadores. He set both down on the table, poured one into the other and knocked back the shot.
I guess the residents of the house hadn’t unpacked their shot glasses. Sometimes you’ve got to improvise.
We sat on the porch and in the yard. Talking, catching up and enjoying the cool South Dakota evening. Ralo’s father was a professional wrestler. She told me about how the first time we met she was talking about growing up around a bunch of men with wacky nicknames like Tank and Beautiful Bobby Wolf.
“And you laughed and said ‘Me too.'”
The day I arrived was my brother’s 21st birthday. Ralo and Long Hair James wanted to make sure we did something to celebrate, which turned into taking a cab to town and going to see LA Guns at an old opera house that the taxi driver swore was abandoned until we arrived in front of it.
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