A sun setting perfectly, not a cloud in the sky and the sparkling lake below. You can’t get any better than this. Even though it was over 106 degrees the excitement of going full fledge solo motorcycle camping was so exhilarating I hardly noticed. Plus it was a dry heat, which feels much better than sweating your soul away in the humid heat of Alabama. This would have been the perfect time to set up the Coleman stove and pan sear a nice T-bone steak but I was more interested in hanging out with my new buddies at Wizzards Bar. With the campsite setup complete I secured the tent with a padlock and proceeded to the bar.
To my amazement the exact same crew that was there last night was there tonight like they had never left. “Come on and have a seat buddy.” The bearded guy said. “Sure, let me get a beer” I responded. I walked in and of course the same waitress was tending the bar. “Nice to see you again, Romulus.” She said. “Want your regular?” Wow. Not only did she remember my name she remembered the beer I ordered. “You got it, ma’am.” I said. She whipped out a bottle of Stella, popped the cap and slid it over to me. This is what I’m talking about right here–treated like the honest to goodness biker that I truly am. I sat down with the fellas and we must have chewed the fat until around 9:00 before I decided to head back. “Where’s your next stop, friend?” The guy with the Bandido tattoo said. “I’m headed to New Mexico to see what I can get into down there.
“You should check out Santa Fe. It’s a beautiful area.” One of the other guys said. “I’ll definitely check it out.” I responded. We all said our goodbyes and disappeared into the night. Once I got back to my tent I felt it was time to let Jay know I had made it safe and sound. By the way, this was the perfect time for my cross country trip. Incidentally, Jay had already planned a girls trip with old friends from grade school in St. Louis, so this was the perfect time for my solo cross country trip. Something that I failed to mention was the wind was aggressive the entire time. That made me feel uneasy because any time the wind is consistently high like this it means there’s a big storm coming. In fact it reminded me of the winds I felt just a couple days before a hurricane touches ground in the Florida Keys–Not good at all.
I texted a message to Jay to let her know I was fine and she responded in kind with a rundown of her girls night out. I proceeded to check the weather radar and did not like what I saw. There was a weather pattern developing from the Southwesterly direction that looked like something from the movie: “Perfect Storm” moving slowly towards Fritch. The next day I ventured over to the local grocery store to pick up supplies. Upon closer observation you get the feeling that this is the absolute perfect sleepy little town to hide in. A grocery store, hardware store and a dollar store a couple blocks down the road. Gas station at one end and a biker bar at the other end. A guy could camp out here for months, have little to no interaction with people and write a novel or a screenplay.
I picked up the biggest ribeye I could find, a case of spectacular seasonal beer, breakfast sausage and a milk carton of eggs. By the time I had gotten back to camp the wind died down, which made the heat damn near unbearable, so I retreated to my tent, started up my music on the Bluetooth speaker, stretched out on my mat and started sucking down beers. Instinct would tell you in a situation like this one should be scarfing down water but this wasn’t a situation of survival. Meanwhile, drinking a beer is the least of my problems. In quite literally the blink of an eye the wind picked up miraculously sending my tent into a frenzy flapping away. I peered through the netting to see a storm cloud that looked like it was large enough to engulf half of California.
With no structure or object obstructing my view I could see the cloud rolling toward my campsite. The sunlight quickly began to disappear and went from mid day to dusk. Crickets fooled into thinking it was night time started chirping away. The clouds darkened even more as if it were carrying remnants of nuclear fallout. Even with my tent secured in several different directions it was being pushed to its limits. Weekend campers that had just set up camp a short while ago were ill prepared as they sought refuge in their automobiles and watched their tents laid flat by the brewing storm.
Seemingly looking death face-to-face with nowhere to escape and only a tent for shelter I thought to myself I’m not going to let this ruin my camping experience. So, I set up my Coleman stove and proceeded to sear my steak. At this point the wind was so high that the metal wind deflectors on the sides of my stove wobbled like they were made of paper. I increased the burner to wide open just to have enough flame to heat up my iron skillet. As the T-bone steak quietly sizzled the two burner stove slid across the picnic table like it was a paper plate. I held it in place and carefully cooked my steak with the little heat that my stove could muster against the wind.
Satisfied with what I had I decided to snatch my steak directly from the skillet and eat my somewhat medium rare steak while I watched my tent flap furiously. Other campers who had the fortune of having large RV’s to camp in jumped in their trucks and started trolling the camp grounds looking at the ongoing damage. Everyone who had seen me ride in the previous day knew I was the only guy on the edge of the cliff with nothing but a motorcycle, so you could image their surprise as they stopped in the middle of the road to watch me casually chew on my steak, my tent still standing.