Day Eight by Dave Schultheis
Friday, May 31, 2002 - Jackson, Tennessee
I slept okay, was awake at 7:10 a.m. Central Time and up at 7:53 a.m. The Road King was still waiting outside the hotel room door and many other vehicles that were here last night were gone; thanks to those folks for leaving quietly.
All of my nasal passages seemed to be plugged and I was coughing. It would have been a good day to call in sick, but of course, when you're on the road, that's not an option. You gotta keep goin'.
I checked my voice mail, returned a call and again monitored CNN while packing and loading the bike. I could "feel" the humidity all around me. While making notes, I observed that even the paper felt different because of the humidity.
After checking out of the motel, I decided to see a little of Jackson. This portion of the city has grown since I was here last year; more fast food places, more stores, more gas stations and more traffic signals. Some day I'll have to spend more time here, possibly including a visit to the Casey Jones Home and Museum.
I left Jackson about 10 a.m. and headed north on U.S. 45, then U.S. 45E through Milan, and stopped for gasoline at a Shell Station in Greenfield TN, where I learned a little about the differences between gas stations in the big city and gas stations in small towns.
In many places, there is a sign posted on the pump saying "pay first." At this station, I pulled up to the pump and dismounted, took my card inside and handed it to the young man while saying, "Number three, please," meaning I was paying in advance for what was going to come out of pump number three.
While I was pumping the gas, he came back outside with my card and a receipt for three dollars. I 'splained that I would be filling the tank and it would be more than three dollars worth. It took a few moments to straighten it out, but I guess what I should have done was to simply say "Hi, y'all," fill my tank and then amble inside to pay.
It wasn't too much farther north on Hy 45E when I saw signs for Martin TN and the University of Tennessee at Martin, so I knew I was really close.
It was about 11:45 a.m. as I found "downtown" Martin (I'm sure Roger is laughing) and circled the parking lot at the Econolodge, where I saw a couple of motorcycles parked. I did not have a reservation but it looked like a good place to stay if I needed a room and if they had any available. I was approached by the owner of one of the motorcycles, Jim Butler ("the Detroit steelmaker"), and was pleased to make his acquaintance.
I checked Roger's printed instructions a rode the short distance to his property, found the "MAMBM" sign and turned into the huge yard at 12:05 p.m. It was 2,965 miles from my home in San Jose to Roger's home in the outskirts of Gardner TN.
Already on site were Roger Elmore, Mike Fields and Kurt Bigalke (N.E.W.T.s 1, 2 and 3), so I become N.E.W.T. #4. Arriving shortly thereafter were Jim and Pat Butler (N.E.W.T.s 5 and 6). I met Roger's wife Karen and their "protective security agents" (dogs) Teddy and Maggie. Arriving a short while later were Rosie and Kenny and their friends Jim and Kent. (N.E.W.T.s number 7, 8, 9, and 10.) They brought their own trailer, just in case.
Roger had seen to the erection of a huge blue and white canvas tent over a major portion of his yard, keeping numerous tables and chairs out of the burning sun. Roger opened a box of Bob Carroll's hand-made "coasters" (four-by-four inch hunks of wood to prevent kickstands ["jiffy-stands"] from sinking into the grass), so I helped distribute them to the people already there and spread a few others around so that they would be found easily.
It was a hot day and I had almost depleted my fluids, so I rode into Martin and got some juice at a convenience store, then spotted a Wendy's, so I got a Frosty, which I knew I could make last a while, and something else. The round trip was just 6 miles.
Rolling in from New York was Bear, then TL Mitchell from Ohio (Owner Number Two), and Taz from Georgia.
I made a note about "dinner," and don't remember for sure, but think it was something in the fast food family that I had brought along.
Other arrivals were Snag_one (Terry from Memphis), Phil, Ray from Richmond, John Schnupp, Melvin, Mike Rambo and Drag-pipe Doug. Later Bob and Willa Carroll came in from Nashvegas with Nashville Jeff and Tim O'Brien in their entourage.
A lot of tents were planted, including the one I had brought. I had not camped since I was in the Scouts in the middle 60s, but I had practiced with the borrowed tent to make it look like I knew what I was doing. I rolled out my sleeping bag and noted that I was in deep trouble because I had been unable to pack a pillow. I guess you haven't lived until you've tried to use towels and sweatshirts instead.
I noted the arrival of Doug and Cheryl from Kentucky and Dean "91 FXSTS" and Steve "Flylow" from Pennsylvania.
The assembled riders lounged around, tried to avoid bug bites, and I think some beer may have been consumed. As a matter of fact, I think some clear liquid from the southeast, and some other local delicacies, may have been shared.
Roger had set up an outdoor viewing area and had provided some biker movies. I missed some of the show as I was napping, I mean, checking the tent for proper operation. The parts that I did see didn't make much sense out of context, but I think the camaradarie was primary and the movies were secondary.
Some folks left for the Econolodge (and the University Lodge across the street) while others stayed in their tents. I tried to sleep but it was difficult because I could not get comfortable and because dog next door seemed to bark much of the night. Thanks to Roger, however, for providing a chemical toilet a few steps away. All the comforts of home!
M.A.M.B.M. = "Me And My Big Mouth." N.E.W.T. = "Netscum Eyeball in West Tennessee."
Miles for the day = 66. Miles for the trip = 2971.
Tomorrow: Burned arms, Wal-Mart in Union City, catfish dinner and cheese racing!