Tree. Tree. Tree. Car. Tree. Tree. Fire Hydrant. Whoa! Stop! Thatís what I normally see when my dad (Butch) and I take our frequent day trips on weekends or we ride with our Raleigh HOG friends. I had no idea when we left on July 14 that we would be riding to South Texas. The purpose of the trip was for Butch to attend a reunion and visit his parents.
Butch began packing about two days before we hit the road. When I saw him pack eight cans of my food, a large zip lock bag of my dry food, and treats, I knew something was up. I sniff checked the bags frequently. As I ate my food along the way, Butch would have room for souvenir T-shirts.
If you didnít know, my mom (Jo) finished chemotherapy in June. Butch and Jo talked about flying her to Corpus Christi, Texas, but the doctor didnít think that was a good idea because of her suppressed immunity. She didnít have the energy or strength to follow in the cage, and they talked about putting me at Camp Bow Wow and driving together. Jo didnít feel she had the strength to sit in a car for six or seven days.
North Carolina to Texas
On Tuesday morning, July 14, Butch said a short prayer, we saddled up and fired up the engine at 6:45. Jo took a picture of us, told us to be careful, and to have fun. The temperature was cool and comfortable. This was a good day for a ride!
At Blue Ridge H-D in Hickory, we learned they donít like dogs Ė even card-carrying HOG members. I stayed under a tree while Butch went for a quick potty. Everyone at Ghost Town H-D in Waynesville was friendly. At Deals Gap, they told Butch that I couldnít be in the store. Once they realized that I rode in, they let us stay so we could buy a T-shirt. We were at Deals Gap for about an hour, I liked everyone I met.
Tail of the Dragon was strange. We fell into a group of about 30 bikes that were going faster than Butchís comfort. Butch counter-steered left and right, so I was either looking at sky and treetops, or watching the pavement come up to me. For the first mile or so, I squirmed when I saw pavement. I vomited on the right saddlebag. Butch stopped on a shoulder to let the bikers behind us pass. I offered to lick up my mess, but Butch used some of the water we carried to rinse it off. He was laughing the whole time and calling me ďpoí Chewy.Ē With no bikers behind us, we cruised at a more comfortable speed to enjoy the scenery, stopping several times along the way to leave pee-mail. At one area with a stone wall, I could see a river valley. A couple was doing a mission function by providing free tea, lemonade and water, and ministering to people. We stayed there for about 45 minutes and talked with them. We arrived at the hotel in Knoxville at about 6pm and crashed early. Butch said I snored really loud.
We were up at 5am. We wanted to get through Memphis before rush hour. We stopped at Bost H-D in Nashville, and I posed with the RCA dog. I sniffed him, but he didnít return the sniff. He just sat there with his head cocked and ears up, so I imitated him. People in the shop were taking pictures. About an hour from Memphis, it was noticeably hotter. We stopped at Graceland H-D for a T-shirt. They were friendly and took lots of pictures. I was just happy to be in air conditioning and I laid down while Butch shopped. There were too many trucks between Memphis and Little Rock, and the traffic speed fluctuated too much. We arrived in Little Rock at about 6pm, ordered a pizza, and we crashed.
We were up at 4:30am to get a jump on the heat to San Antonio. Butch said a prayer, thanked the Lord, and we were mounted and rolling by 5:30. We reached Texarkana at 8:30, pulled into the H-D shop, but they were closed. Rather than waiting until 9:00, we hit the road. Before noon, the ambient air thermometer fluctuated between 105 to over 120 Ė while we were rolling. We stopped about every 45 minutes and we drank lots of water. We were glad we left early. We stopped at the Waco H-D. Those guys were friendly and we stayed there for an hour to get out of the heat. John (Sales Manager?) printed a route around Austin to avoid traffic. Very helpful, but we got stuck in the Austin traffic anyway, with a radio station reporting it was 104 in the shade. Butch told me lots of times that my slobber on the back of his neck felt really good in the dry heat, so I kept the slobber going. Butch had a 90-minutes business teleconference with Tokyo at 6pm, so we pulled into a truck stop, bought a bag of ice, and sat under a shade tree with a hot, dry breeze for two hours. The bike was in the shade, and the thermometer read about 105. I took a nap laying next to the bag of ice. We reached our hotel in San Antonio at about 9pm. Butch thanked the Lord for watching over us. He ordered a pizza and buffalo wings. Mmmmm. That was a good desert after my dinner!
On Friday, south of San Antonio, Butch played with the camera and took some pictures of us while we were riding. We stopped in a rest area, and we saw a sign ďWatch out for Snakes!Ē When we stop in rest areas, my job is to watch the bike and bark for him to know that all is well, and to hurry back! We visited Butchís parents in Beeville for a few hours. I went to Pampered Paws to spend the weekend in air conditioning and played with new friends in an outdoor play area. Butch rode to Kingsville for his reunion on Friday and Saturday.
On our last day, travelled north, merged onto I-40 eastbound, enjoyed the scenic ride and stopped a few times along the way. We stopped at the H-D dealership east of Asheville. We saw the three dreaded words, so we quickly mounted up and rode on. We stopped at the next rest area and ran into a H-D employee from Milwaukee. He was in a car, which we assume was a rental car. We canít remember his name, but he had a H-D University short-sleeved shirt with ďFacultyĒ on the front left of his shirt. He said we was visiting dealerships in the Carolinas and was heading to Birmingham to visit the dealership.
We arrived home at about 7pm on Tuesday, July 21. I had no idea when we left seven days earlier that I would be riding 3,436 miles.
My dad said he hopes to be able to take a longer vacation next year and ride to a place called California, or, at least, Arizona. Iíll keep my paws crossed that weíll go on another adventure!
After visiting a few shops, I am lucky to have a great dealership and friendly staff at Ray Price Harley-Davidson in Raleigh, North Carolina!
As my HOG friend Matt also says, keep your tongue in the wind!
This is a version of an article submitted to the Raleigh H.O.G. newsletter (HogWash). The edited version appeared in the August 2009 HogWash.
Butch arrived at 8:30am on Sunday morning. I was tired from playing, but I was ready to roll. A front passed through Texas, and the temperatures were much cooler. The road to Houston (US77 and US59) had light traffic and it was a nice, leisurely ride. Houston to Beaumont, however, had heavy traffic. We were grateful to the Lord for the cooler temperatures. We stopped at Cowboy H-D in Beaumont, but they were closed. Thatís OK. We saw the three dreaded words: ďNO DOGS ALLOWED.Ē We reached Baton Rouge and stayed at a really nice Best Western, one of the few that we could find that would accept me. We ate dinner at the nearby Hooters. They let me eat outside with my dad and they gave me ice water. The staff and customers were very friendly. I ate a whole Texas Steak Sandwich and fries, then had my regular dinner at the hotel. Mmmmmm! Woooof! That was good!
On Monday, we stopped at Chunky River H-D in Meridian and found that there are only four H-D dealerships in Mississippi. That explains why we could not find one in Hattiesburg. After a brief stop, we rode to Dealers H-D in Birmingham. Those guys are friendly. There were several members of their HOG chapter in the shop. They invited us to ride with them on any weekend. We learned that this dealership is the second largest dealership in the US, Iím guessing based on floor space. The scenery between Birmingham and Chattanooga was great, and we arrived in Chattanooga at about 7pm.