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Member's First Motorcycle Story
My Very First Motorcycle Camping Night

By: Sherry Forrest (TWOFOOT)

In March of 2007, I decided I wasn't getting any younger....or smarter, so I decided to buy a motorcycle, even though I had never ridden one. I bought it, kissed it goodbye and had it shipped to on three trikes to have it converted to three wheels. While that was happening, I signed up to take a riding course, passed, then took it across the United States two months later.

I had taken 10 cross country road trips before, but always in a jeep, so I had the protection of doors, windows, could nap in it and have room for all my stuff.

When I bought the gold wing I decided that I should try to look like a bad-guy, so I bought a leather jacket, chaps, boots, etc and got ready to drive it across the country. I tried most of my gear on in front of my two grown daughters, and both my ego and my attempt at looking like a "bad guy" was snuffed out when they grabbed their stomachs while gut-laughinhg. It's too bad they were so out of touch with what looked "cool". Anyway, my guy friends told me how they would stop at rest areas or the side of the road and take catnaps on the ground or under a tree if there was one.

Even though I felt like an outlaw, I couldn't imagine sleeping on the ground, for fear a bug might touch me. Because of my fear of bugs and snakes, I decided there must be a way to get comfortable enough to nap on the trike. Since I keep my gold wing in my garage, I thought I could try to contort myself into various sleeping positions looking for a comfortable one without my neighbors seeing me. I found that with a large pack strapped to the backseat I would be able to sit in the driver's seat, lean back on it and put my short squatty legs up on the handlebars. It was about a 5 on the "comfort scale", but about a 10 on the "this looks weird" scale, because it resembled having my feet in the stirrups at the gynecologist's office. Forget that one.

I tried putting both legs over the same handlebar, but then as soon as I tried to lean back I lost my balance and almost slid off the bike backwards and would have landed head first onto the concrete garage floor.

I decided to move to the backseat and I got it! I could scrunch down a little and put my legs over the front seat backrest. I sat like that for about 10 minutes, just the right amount of time to take a short catnap, and also the right amount of time before the kink in my neck prevented my head from moving. I decided this was going to work as long as I never went into a deep sleep with my mouth wide open in public.

I took camping gear with me just in case.......... and ended up having to use it the first night, not by choice. I left home and made it to John Day, Oregon, confident that I could get a motel room there. I'm really not sure what a "threshing bee" is, but whatever they are they draw huge crowds of people that take up all the available motel rooms for miles around. I tried a couple places in John Day with no luck, and of course it had started to rain right when I hit the city limits. Someone told me I could stay in the city park but when I drove over there it was empty.

I called the local police department to check for sure and they told me that wasn't allowed, but I could either keep going south into the forest and camp in the campground there, or I could pitch a tent in the ballpark at the next town. I drove south and found the campground. It was raining pretty hard by then, and I really didn't feel like pitching a tent in the rain and staying overnight in the middle of the woods by myself, with only a knife and a hammer for pounding in tent stakes as my only weapons.

I kept going until I got to Seneca, aka the twilight zone, where I was told I could camp along the side of the road in the ballfield. After missing a deer by inches, I saw the ballfield on the side of the highway.

I've gotta hand it to the people of Seneca, Oregon. They know how to cram a lot of recreational areas into a small spot. The ballpark was located on the side of highway 395 on the same property as a park, rest area and golf course. The park had a nice covered picnic table on a cement slab that I could park right next to, so I started setting up my tent on the nice level lawn. I was looking for someone to give me confirmation that it was okay to camp there, but didn't see or hear anyone.

The rain let up a little, and I got the tent almost set up, when I heard something motorized coming toward me. I assumed the man driving the golf cart was the caretaker of the golf course/park/rest area/ballfield. As he got closer I noticed he was probably in his late 60's, his clothes were really dirty, and some of his long scraggly gray hair was tied back into a ponytail. His dog looked just like him and looked to be about the same age. The man was chewing on a piece of straw that he probably pulled from one of the greens, because you really couldn't tell where the golf course ended and the adjacent cow pasture began. He stopped right next to me so I asked if it was okay to pitch a tent there. he pulled the straw out of his mouth, spit, then said in a creepy Stephen king movie voice, "nobody cares what anybody does in Seneca." as soon as he spoke he reminded me of someone, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. I felt like asking, "If nobody cares what anybody does here, does that include murder me in the middle of the night?" I didn't want to plant an idea, so I kept quiet. As soon as he and his dog drove away, it came to me who he reminded me of, Charles Manson.

I finished setting up my tent, walked around and noticed that for a Saturday afternoon/evening it was sure quiet in Seneca. Not one car came into town or left. Cars went down the highway all night long, but they either passed by or stopped to use the "rest area" then kept going. About 4 am I heard someone walking around by my tent, trying to walk quietly. I froze in fear. After listening for about 10 minutes I decided I needed to see who it was. I was positive I was going to unzip my tent & shove my head out all in one swift move and Charles Manson, the sole resident of Seneca, would be standing next to my tent with an axe. I was starting to break out in a cold sweat while I unzipped my tent door as slow and quietly as I could, then whipped the door open. I scared the "bejeezus" out of a house cat.

I didn't know it before, but when cats get super scared, they can jump from all fours into the air about 6 feet. They won't come to you either, no matter how nice you apologize to them using babytalk.

I decided before it got any later, I might as well get up, get washed up in the rest area bathroom and head out. The rain didn't start again until I got the tent down, so I felt pretty lucky........until Matt pulled in to use the facilities. I didn't know matt until that morning, and within a half hour I knew everything there was to know about him, because he came to my picnic table and showed me his amazing talent of talking non-stop without taking a breath.

The rain started again, my trike seat was holding about 2 inches of water and I kept jingling my keys to give him a hint, but he just kept talking. Finally I said I didn't want to be rude, but I had to go. It was about 10 am by the time I got going, and I still hadn't seen any movement from cars or people in Seneca. spooky. I headed south on 395, still raining. A little ways into California the sun came out, everything was dry and beautiful. Then I ran out of gas. I almost cried and turned around wondering why people liked traveling on motorcycles, this wasn't fun, it was only day #2 of my 30 day trip and it sucked. I knew I couldn't turn around and go home because just about everyone I worked with had placed money on whether I'd make it longer than three days. A nice couple stopped and helped me get gas.

From then on the sun was out and everything was great. My gold wing has become my new best friend. We've had four more cross country trips since then.....and I haven't run out of gas since....!

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