There are a lot of things to do on a Labor Day weekend…but when your guy lives near Milwaukee and owns a Harley, the only plan possible was to spend it at Harley Davidson’s 105th reunion. So Friday morning I traded the high heels, sneakers and flip-flops for my lug-soled black boots and we took off for two days of wandering on two wheels. There was a H.O.G. Haven not far from where I live, and for days before the weekend, bikers started arriving up to a week early, parking their RVs and tents and meandering around the countryside. The sound of engines revving was everywhere, and the everpresent bikes resembled bees coming and going from a hive.
But when Friday came, all roads led to the Milwaukee lakefront, and the two day music extravaganza at the Summerfest grounds and Veterans’ Park just north. It was sunny and dry, gorgeous weather for riding, listening to music, and just hanging out. We caught glimpses of leather jackets and T-shirts from all corners of the globe–not only from all over the U.S., but Mexico, Ontario, Germany, Korea, even New Zealand. We hit the Harley Davidson museum that first day, and a dealership party, and then sat at a coffee shop at the lakefront watching traffic go by before we finally entered the swarm trying to find street parking down at Summerfest. During one of our parking searches, we were directed to a spot where we parked next to a grizzled, amiable gentleman with a wiry grey beard who we’d been following in bumper-to-bumper traffic for a few blocks. We made acquaintance, and he turned out to be a poet and writer and a vagabond known as Iowa “Poet” Blackie”. I bought one of his books on the spot, and he autographed it for me before we took off again.
We took in the concerts the first day, but on the second, decided to skip the sardine-like crush at the Summerfest grounds and took off instead for the scenic route between dealership parties in the area. Yes, that meant that we’d actually skipped going to see Bruce Springsteen with about 70,000 other people. But we’d caught one of his concerts just a few months before. And instead, between sessions of bike ogling and stunt demos, along the way we saw wild turkeys, wildflowers, cornfields and weeping willows, all under glorious cloudless skies. Which is a lot of the fun to me.
When Sunday morning came, the powerful sound of engines flying past on the streets and freeways was still a steady, primal hum. But the campgrounds were emptying, and a lot of the bikes going past were fully loaded up and tied down for the trip home. The memories will last a lot longer.