Bikers get a bad rap... Most of them are quite nice, gentle and comical people. Motorcycles, Music, Mayhem and Mosquitoes. Does that sound like a dream? Well of course it wasn't, I wouldn't waste a dream on that. The on again off again Helena bike fest came true at last, but only a part of it was a nightmare.
We should've left Friday night, but I honestly don't even want to go into Friday. I'm hoping to block that day out entirely, but so far it hasn't worked. Still, I refuse to justify it with any further discussion.
So let's begin our tale on Saturday. As of that morning, our plans still did not include the bikefest. It kind of came together at the last minute, and we grabbed our sleeping bags and bare essentials, and headed down the 61 highway on a quest for southern thunder majesty and rockin righteous tunes.
Once again, as we sailed down the highway, I saw more 'Bob Ross Paintings' surround me, I could have taken my choice, just reached out and grabbed it and hung it on my wall. In essence, I guess I did... my mental wall at least. As we crossed the Helena Bridge on Hwy 49, I breathed in the river-scented air, so pregnant with summer, and coasted on into the small historic town silly with the anticipation of roughing it under the stars.
Just a look around Helena, Arkansas might leave one with the impression of a lost age of diners and sundries, of 5 cent loaves of bread and street dances. However, the town left in the wake of what once was, is now run down and depressing. Boarded up windows, worn wood and hints of depression adorn the side streets of the tiny little town. Even with all of the drab ornaments, there is still something very picturesque about this place. Maybe it's the poverty-stricken, yet hopeful faces of its people, or the beautiful old historic homes scattered throughout, or the ghostly wind telling tales of a once vibrant and bustling small town.
We oozed to a stop at the end of 49, took the turn and made our way up the winding path to the campsite. Motorcycles decorated every corner and every curb, and breathed temporary life into an otherwise dead place. We arrived at the camp and parked our bikes and visited with everyone. Some of them were familiar faces, others were brand new. Everyone was in party mode and having a great time. Most of the people had been there since early Friday, and a few even since Thursday. Looking back, I don't know if I could've done that under the circumstances.
We were packed as I said with only the bare essentials. Richie's solo rack accommodated the two sleeping bags, and we had anything else we needed in our saddlebags. My quick thinking Girl Scout ways saved the night later, however, as we gave tremendous thanks to the fact that I had packed a Sun Screen 'slash' Bug Repellent. Because I swear, the Mosquito must be the Arkansas state bird!
As I was saying... Bikers (for the most part) get a bad rap. They're good people, mostly, the salt of the Earth. One of the best things about bikers is their nicknames. There is always a fantastic story behind how each of them earned such names. People like "Sparky" and "Junkyard" or anything followed by "Dawg" lol. But they are just tons of fun to be around. (Of course I am not mentioning anyone by their real name for obvious reasons... cuz you just never know!)
After dark, we elected to walk down to the Levee Walk and secure a spot on the hillside above an old, no-longer-used railroad track where we could look down on the festivities from above and watch the Kiss Tribute Band, "Kiss Army". They sang many of the songs you'd expect and some I didn't quite remember. If you want to check them out, Find Them Here on YouTube.
(this story has been so friggin hard to finish! I am so sick of it by now, bet you are too!)
Once we tired of sitting our asses in the wet grass down by the river, we decided to walk back to camp. Now, keep in mind that I am wearing my motorcycle riding boots... those boots were NOT made for walkin, but I weathered the trail anyway. We headed back up the cobblestone walkway, and some idiot on a motorcycle in the pitch darkness came plowing up behind us. Luckily, Harleys are famous for their obnoxious pipes and we were all able to move out of the way.
Right afterwards, Big G said, "Y'all gotta watch out these guys are drunk and will run right over ya!" and the other guy stated that he bet one of their friends would be the next one we see flying around the curve. For anonymity purposes, i'll call that guy "Bonez". Now, to look at Bonez, you can tell he lived a very hard life. He's been around the block more than a few times and has the battle scars to prove it. Bonez had been drinking, we were told, since before lunchtime.
Earlier a bit of rain fell, and we spotted a guy who had been riding drunk, and went over into the grass and slid his bike down the hill, the guys felt like someone should go and check on a fellow biker, so they went... the guy basically had given up and was just laying on the wet grass with his Harley. They got a closer look and lo and behold, it was Bonez.
Needless to say he was rough and rowdy and extremely pickled. He was bound and determined to drive another 25 miles to go to some jukejoint dancing and picking up women. The guys helped him roll his bike back up the steep hill, and he was trying to fight them to take off when the cops rolled up. The female cop told him that he was not allowed back on his bike for the rest of the night, and someone else would have to drive it back to the camp for him. Mr. J was the guy who rode it back for him. Still, all the way back to camp Bonez complained and proclaimed that he was getting his bike and going dancing because when he went to this place the women flocked all over him, and he was aiming to get laid. (He was quite a bit more graphic about the whole affair however, you can only imagine!)
Somehow the guys all contained Bonez and got him to forget about leaving, and so the night rolled on.
The Mosquitoes were quite unforgiving, and the only thing that saved me from being carted off by these monsters was my bug repellent and my thick sleeping bag. Still with these rowdy night birds, and their loud music we got little to no sleep the rest of the night.
One guy, we'll call him "Dirt", decided he wanted to start trying to give away Mardi Gras beads for girls to flash their boobs. The first few refused and he still gave them beads, but after a while his response was greater. They got to see a few pair (none of which was mine, I assure you). All this titillating fun seemed to thrill em so well (guys are so easily entertained).
While it was still dark outside, I was in desperation to pee. I had not gone since I had been down there. I just totally hate going to those porta-johns (so disgusting!), and these folk's trailer had limited space, so I had no place else to go but behind the trailer next to a truck. Hopefully nobody saw... but oh well if they did.
Mr. J and I were finally so tired and miserable from the bugs that we swore we would leave at first light. As soon as we had ample ambiance to pack our bags, we were off... Big G, Little G, Mr. J and I rolled off at dawn, fueled up and hit the trail. Another Bob Ross painting and several miles later we landed at The Blue and White Restaurant, which was established back in the 1920s, and has been there along the Hwy 61 in the place it stands now since the 1930s. Lots of history in these parts, and many blues landmarks. Hard not to feel the spirits of all that lingering around every corner.
I ordered the biggest breakfast on the menu as I felt like I was starving, and then ended up sharing some with Mr. J and Little G. The food was delicious though.
Once we were back on the road, we looked forward to crashing out in our own familiar, cloud-like bed (cloud-like in comparison to the hard ground of the campground, but heavenly nonetheless). We fell into a beautiful, dreamless coma until mid-afternoon.
At the end of the day, I guess I'm not really cut out for a full-time biker lifestyle... but that doesn't mean I won't have a blast visiting from time-to-time. Still, no matter where or how far I may roam, there is STILL... NO PLACE LIKE HOME!
Vroom Vroom Vroom... Zzzzzzzzz.