Day Five by Dave Schultheis
Thursday, May 24, 2001 - Erick, Oklahoma
I was awake at 4:50 a.m. and got up at 5:10 a.m. (might as well get moving), checked out of the motel and got on the road at 5:45 a.m.
It was still dark, so I didn't do much better with my pictures at the Oklahoma Welcome Center, but I tried.
At 7:00 a.m. I got off the freeway in Clinton, OK for fuel, and discovered that my left saddlebag had popped open and I'd lost two baseball caps. As I write this I can't say why I thought it was a good idea, but I went back (round trip 110 miles) scanning the edges of the freeway, and couldn't find them.
So I got breakfast at McDonald's in Clinton at 9:10 a.m. and then continued east on Interstate 40. I stopped in Weatherford, OK for some pictures and continued.
At 10:30 a.m. I stopped for fuel in El Reno, OK, mileage 69710, then checked at a truck stop store near Oklahoma City for a baseball cap, but they were all stupid. I did find a set of hex wrenches and added them to my tool collection.
At noon I pulled into Harley-Davidson World in Oklahoma City; 28th at Agnew; looked like an old movie theater. I looked around a little and got a Harley-Davidson baseball cap.
Back on the freeway, I stopped at Shawnee, OK for a Mountain Dew break and then again at a rest stop east of Shawnee to call Diane F. again. It was a warm day and I was tired but I tried to stay hydrated and kept moving.
At 2:30 p.m. I stopped in Henryetta, OK for fuel and photographs. I talked with a group of Gold Wing riders, some with trailers, who were riding to The Wall from southern California. I rode with them for about 70 miles until they pulled off the freeway.
At 4:10 p.m. I passed the Arkansas state line, and a sign stating that there was a lot of construction ahead, and then stopped at a rest area a few mintes later.
Back on the road again, I encountered construction (as advertised) and the speed limit went from 75 to 70 to 65 to 60 to 55 to 50 over a space of twenty miles or so. For a while everything was shifted to the right; the left lane was concrete and the right lane was about 2/5 concrete and about 3/5 asphalt. Then we lost the left lane and traveled on the split-paved right lane.
I believe I made the best decision I could have at the time, and that was to ride on the asphalt portion of the lane. Cars would have their left wheels on concrete and their right wheels on asphalt.
About 5:00 p.m., near Ozark, AR, just about mile marker 37, the signs and orange barrels forced the single lane of traffic back to the left, across the joint between the asphalt and the concrete. Unfortunately, the pavement was uneven as I tried to transition onto the concrete.
I cannot remember exactly what happened but I do recall being aware that something was happ'nin'. I did not feel pain, and I remember thinking "I wonder how long this is going to go on?"
The Road King and I had evidently been "as one" for a while, and then Pearl decided to go her own way, and rolled over a few times before ending up on her left side on the right shoulder of the freeway.
I remember rolling too, apparently on two different planes. When I stopped rolling and sliding along the freeway, I got up and got out of the lanes of travel, onto the grass on the right shoulder.
That I was able to move was a good thing; that I was in a lot of pain was a not-so-good thing. There was only one small scratch on my helmet and I don't believe I had hit my head, nor did I ever lose consciousness, but I just couldn't remember everything that happened.
Meanwhile, the people driving behind me had seen our "flight," and slowed, then stopped, and all the cars behind them stopped, so there was nobody coming right at me.
I noticed that my left saddlebag had ruptured and disgorged about half of my belongings all over Interstate 40. I busied myself picking up maps and tools and stuffing everything into paper bags at the side of the highway.
The couple behind me came up and asked how I was doing. The woman was an emergency medical technician from Mississippi and wanted to be sure I was okay. Having been in public safety for about 30 years, I knew that we had to clear the roadway, get an accident report and get on with life. However, they thought I should sit down or get medical attention or something. I told them I was okay and they helped me pick up my stuff.
A truck driver stopped (he's a rider, too) and called the Arkansas State Police, then called Denney's Harley-Davidson in Fort Smith, AR (the closest dealer). They said they'd bring a trailer and come get me but they'd have to charge me for it. I said something like "okay, fine."
Two or three of the guys who had stopped to help got together and uprighted the motorcycle so that vital fluids wouldn't come out places where they shouldn't. Pearl looked a mess, with smashed windshield, broken headlight and passing lamps, busted front turn signals, damaged crash bars (sorry, "engine guard"), dented gas tank and quite a few other bruises and lacerations. The T-Bag was damaged but intact and both saddlebags were crunched. My Scooter Clock and Scooter Thermometer and some other things were smashed.
While waiting for the State Police, I got out my little plastic camera and took pictures of the bike. I started in front and went all the way around, trying to get close-ups of everything.
Eventually the Arkansas State Police arrived in the form of Corporal Don Brown, and he started the accident report. There wasn't much to it. He checked the scene and asked if I was okay (yes), did I want an ambulance (no), then he sat in the car with the E.M.T. while she wrote a brief statement, then had me sit in the car and write a brief statement, then took a whole bunch o' measurements and declared that he wasn't going to cite me because he hadn't found any evidence that I'd done anything wrong. That was comforting.
He said he had found two tire marks and eleven scrape marks on the pavement (from Pearl) and figured she'd turned over a few times.
He went back to the uneven pavement and measured two- to three-inch gaps between the level of the the asphalt and the level of the concrete, even more than I had thought.
Through this whole thing I knew that I was cut and bloodied. I knew that both elbows and both knees were scuffed up, but I did not want to look at them at the side of the road. I knew that I was not longer bleeding and felt confident that I could treat the injuries later.
In a little while a Denney's employee named Ron arrived with a trailer behind the shop pickup truck, and he and one other guy secured the Road King to the trailer and loaded my T-Bag, helmet and 5 bags of stuff into the truck.
When the Trooper said he was done, I thanked all the people who had stopped and got into the pickup for the ride back to Fort Smith.
We had to go east about 6 miles to Mile 43 to turn around and head back west on I-40, then south a few miles on Interstate 540. It was pretty close to 50 miles back to the shop (closed since it was after 6 p.m.) but there were several people standing around (employees and local H.O.G. members) who were mostly surprised to see me walking (limping, actually), considering the damage to the motorcycle.
Service Manager Mike Freeman (who's been with Denney's the whole 25 years that they've been in business) started the Road King and rode her about 20 feet into the shop, then told me the engine seemed okay and that they would start looking at her first thing in the morning.
Meanwhile, he loaded my T-Bag, helmet and five bags of stuff into his pickup and took me to a nearby Best Western, waited while I checked in at the office, helped me carry my stuff up to a second-floor room, took me to a nearby Osco drug store where I got some hydrogen peroxide and other medical supplies, and then took me back to the motel. He told me that if I needed a ride the next day to just call the dealer and he would send someone over.
In preparation for taking a shower, I carefully removed my vest and leather jacket (hole in one sleeve), long-sleeve green plaid shirt (sliced up a little), and heavy pants.
The road rash inventory included my left forearm and elbow, my right elbow, my left knee area and much more extensive damage to my right knee area. Nothing was obviously broken and I had no neck or back pain, but I had a lot of muscle pain and it was hard to move around.
My right knee was very stiff and painful and it was hard to walk, so I was actually kind of glad that I wasn't able to remember everything that happened.
It was difficult to get into the shower, but I just took it slow, playing the water and soap on the injured areas to clean them. The real fun was applying hydrogen peroxide to the wounds afterwards.
At 8:40 p.m. I scrounged through my belongings, found the motorcycle insurance card and called the toll-free number. The after-hours person gave me a claim number and the name and telephone number of the claims adjuster who would be handling my case.
I called my sister and mother on the phone, told them the story, and stressed that I was fine, but they were worried.
I lay down on top of the bed but found that I was shivering a little, so I carefully got under the covers, a task that took several minutes. It took a little while to fall asleep but I slept pretty well until ...
Miles for the day = 513.
Miles for the trip = 2376.
Number of injured joints = four - elbow, elbow, knee, knee.
Tomorrow = Can they fix it? How long will it take?