Older bikes, younger riders. A BMW 500S with Earles forks and an Indian Enfield 500. The Earles forks were a triangle and seasoned bike riders know about them. Smooth ride.

The trip was instantly planned with Jack’s new friend Frank, just back from ‘Nam’ and anxious for safer adventures. Jack was fairly fresh from overseas as well, with Comservron 6. Older Navy people know the nomenclature.

Jack and Frank had an easy itinerary: Route 66 to California. Just head south and take a right. Back in the days of paper maps and freedom to improvise and walk the line between a long trip and danger. Jack sold hisAustin Healey Sprite and Frank had his Chevy Bel-Aire to trade for the bikes. Jack was offered a Matchless 500 single cylinder. Jack got an Indian-Enfield 500 twin instead. The Matchless was like riding a vibrating pogo stick.

Off they went, both bikes with ‘sissy bars’ (ask someone or Jack) and their guitars strapped on behind them upright and some luggage and a camping tent. A bit of money and a hunger for vistas unseen. Good weather and full tanks and some spare parts, they left to head south first and catch 66 down by the Oklahoma panhandle. Camping was first choice and other than that, the boys (they were both about 24 years old ) didn’t have a clue about what was ahead. Frank had made some friends when he got back from China Beach. Those friends of Franks lived in ‘the city’ out west and that was good enough a destination as any. Money was tight. First adventure was in Omaha.

Somehow they met a group of hippies (Jack and Frank had been discharged in the ‘summer of love’) and were embraced as sojourners to the headquarters of the movement; San Francisco. The hippies took the boys to their home, right across the street from the big race track, Aksarben, (that odd name is Nebraska backwards). Beds available and very starry eyed girls seemed a pretty good place to stop over. Schedule? There wasn’t any and that allowed a bit of leeway. Waking up the next morning, both boys were greeted with a breakfast treat of a small pill. Guaranteed to be an interesting experience. The only thing Jack remembers was being taken to Arby’s and trying to order food. The colorful mushrooms growing out of the counter mans chef’s hat got in the way of comprehending things. ‘Have you ever been experienced?’ goes the song of the times.

A quick goodbye and the boys were back on the road for adventures that seemed to be working out pretty good so far. On down the road to Kansas and an uneventful ride until they stopped a bit in Liberal. Foolishly, but with great enjoyment, they gave rides to more starry eyed and bored young girls on their bikes; exotic transportation. The young men on the sidewalk gave squinty eyed stares, the Clint Eastwood trouble for you look. It was great fun until the town cop approached them and asked if they would like to stay overnight in the town jail. The doors to the cells only open one way and the boys declined the offer. The only officer in town told them: “Them boys is a comin’ for you tonight at your camp site”. “Oh. Well, we’ll take our chances officer, thanks for the offer.”

The local toughs came after them that night.. (to be continued) Jack Gator

Motorcycle Pilgrimage

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