Friday, October 1, 2010

Getting Out

Last night I saw old friends. It was so good to see them. Some tiny little part of my energy, that I hadn’t even noticed had withered a little, was brought back to life in the company of these friends.

It was most likely the last opportunity that Cliff and I would have to go on a motorcycle ride with our old Harley Owner’s Group (HOG) this year. The group officially disassembled two years ago, when our local Harley Davidson shop closed (a HOG group has to be associated with a shop). However, this group of friends saw no reason to stop riding together. It was only a coincidence that the timing of the official extinction of Kinnickinnic Harley Owners Group tied in exactly with our having a baby and not having time to go riding anymore. I was 8 months pregnant at our official “closing of the chapter” get together – our opportunity to reflect back on the years as Kinnickinnic Harley Owners Group and look ahead to a future of riding together, just as friends, not as an official motorcycle club chapter.

For the last few years, we’ve barely seen these friends that we used to see a minimum of once a week, usually more. Sure, we keep up via email, but even that is only every few months. Some of these friends have been in our life so long that they were at our wedding, and we’ve been married for over 8 years.

We got the “Thursday night dinner ride” email from Larry on Wednesday…

Hey All,

Tomorrow night's dinner ride leaves Gilby's shop at 6:30 sharp and heads to Muddy Water's restaurant in Prescott ...probably nothing too extensive of a ride - just good chow......everyone is welcome!

See ya there!

We get these emails several times throughout the riding season, but this one sort of felt like a “Last Call”. After all, today is October 1st. The leaves are turning and the air is chilly. Evenings are downright cold. Yesterday was a gorgeous day, but by 11:00 last night, at 50 mph, it felt frigid.

I hadn’t been on a ride all year, and in fact had only gotten on my bike for the first time all year a week ago! I so wanted to go on this ride. Not just for the feeling of riding again, and for the most delicious food in a great atmosphere, but to see these old friends. Did I mention that I love Muddy Waters?

It was going to be tough to get away for this ride. I was supposed to work until 5:30, I had a 5:30 appt about 45 minutes from work and 30 minutes from home, and Cliff thought he would be busy in the fields, combining soybeans. Not to mention, we didn’t have a babysitter. It took a little fast acting! I called my niece to see if she could babysit. She was free and said she could be at our house by 5:30. I called and cancelled my 5:30 appt, rescheduling to next week instead. I talked to my boss and let her know that I was going to try to leave by 4:30 so that we could go on this ride. Cliff didn’t go out in the combine last night. I raced out of work at 4:45 and got home at 6:00, pulled off my dress-pants and pulled on my jeans. Knee-high socks, motorcycle boots, long sleeved shirt, sweatshirt, etc. I barely got to give Gavin a smoocher before racing back out the door. We had to be in town, sitting at the shop, and ready to ride at 6:30. I hopped on the back of Cliff’s bike and we headed for town. It was a beautiful evening.

My bike stayed home because the sidecar is attached to it and we didn’t want to do this ride with the sidecar. I was glad to be on Cliff’s bike. It’s always warmer when there are two of you, not to mention the back rest keeps the wind from going up my back like it does when I’m on my bike.

We arrived at Gilby’s to a warm welcome from our friends. It was so good to see them. Hugs and smiles were combined with a few jibes and jeers. One of our good friends even re-introduced himself to Cliff in an effort to remind us how long we’d been away.

There were 18 of us on the ride. After chatting for a few minutes outside of Gilby’s, we started up our bikes and headed out of town toward Prescott. It was a cold ride and although the winding backroads provided breathtaking views of the country (and more than a few deer sightings, which are not welcome when you’re riding a motorcycle!), I was ready to just hurry up and get to our destination. My ears were cold inside and my legs were cold, but otherwise, it wasn’t too bad. It was gorgeous. We arrived at Muddy Waters, where the St. Croix River and the Mississippi River meet, and we headed up the back stairs to the upper deck. They have two decks overlooking the river. We split up into two groups and filled two large table clusters. There were heaters on the deck to keep us warm. The one on our end of the deck went out about 10 minutes after we arrived and never came back on!

The food there is fantastic. Cliff had the Cajun Chicken Penne, which is an old favorite. I had the Scallops. Three words for you. Why-You-Em. YUM.

The group’s meals ranged from the Baked Tortilla to the California Burger, and Pasta to Seafood. After enjoying sufficiently more food than any person should consume in one sitting, we headed back down the stairs to bundle up for the next leg of the trip. On went the sweatshirts and gloves. Hats were pulled on under helmets. Socks were pulled up, and leather chaps buckled on and then zipped down from our hips to our ankles. Sunglasses were traded in for clear goggles. Heated vests and jackets were plugged in and turned on. It was freezing just standing there, and we were about to be flying through the already frigid night air at high speed. The nights are getting down to 40 degrees lately. Today’s high is 66 degrees and the low tonight is expected to be 35 degrees. From Prescott we headed toward River Falls. I had my heated vest on, so I was pretty toasty, but our faces were definitely cold when we pulled up at the Main Streeter. We sat at the Main Streeter until almost 11:00, talking, snacking on popcorn (like we needed MORE to eat!) and enjoying a drink. What a nice night. It was so good for us.

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