Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Thunder Rolls

June 21st may be the first official day of summer but Memorial Day weekend is the "unofficial" kick off of to the summer season.

Officially or unofficially, whatever your persuasion may be, the start of summer couldn't have started nicer than last Saturday afternoon in suburban Washington, DC as the sun was shining bright and the air was warm to the touch.

Matilda's brother Ara and his fiancee Lucy who were in town for a wedding hopped in their rental car (a PT Cruiser none the less) and headed southbound to Richmond for a rehearsal dinner they were invited to.

As for me, well I had my sights set on attending the annual DelFest bluegrass concert for the evening. Nestled in the Cumberland Gap region, DelFest attracts several top bands in the bluegrass circuit. Visions of sipping beer, banjo pickin, and slapping my thigh to some bluegrass music occupied my mind for most of the day. In preparation, I decided to clean my motorcycle for the festival and of course the Rolling Thunder Memorial Day motorcycle parade the following day.

Later on that evening after I had cleaned the bike, done the laundry, and performed a host of other chores for the day I simply could not muster up the energy to drive the three hours out to Cumberland Maryland on my motorcycle. I was dangerously low on fuel and no amount of Red Bull was going to top off my tank.

As tired as I was, I still managed to find enough energy to be disappointed in myself for not making the effort to go to something I had been looking forward to for so long. Mentally torturing myself I couldn't help but think about how tonight there would be no dancing, no thigh slapping good times, no sipping of beer... (well lets not get carried away here)... of course there would be sipping of beer and perhaps even some of my own banjo pickin but it would be done in the comfort and safety of Matilda's living room.

Later that night after having a few beers with my friend Bryan I happened to catch the eleven o'clock news while flipping through channels. One of the lead stories was concerning Del Fest.

Apparently, a violent storm had passed through the area resulting in the main stage being destroyed by wind. Four people had also sustained minor injuries from lighting that had struck the festival.

I thought to myself how ironic it was that my own pure laziness saved me from a torrential downpour and the possibility of being struck by lighting.

Lucidly dreaming but soundly sleeping in my own bed that night I was awkwardly comfortable that I did not make it to the festival that evening.

The next day was great. I woke up at 11:00 a.m. and rushed to the shower in order to make the twelve o'clock motorcycle parade going on downtown. Driving on my motorcycle downtown there was car and motorcycle traffic everywhere.

After driving down several side streets and getting denied access I ended up attaching myself (uninvited of course) to a group of about seven Harley's.

As we pulled up to a police barricade for no reason that I could discern, the officer moved an orange barrel and let us directly into the parade completely circumventing the Pentagon staging area.

Deciding not to immediately jump into the parade I ended up parking my bike on the side of the street next to about fifteen other riders from an Ohio chapter and watched the parade for a good two and a half hours.

I could not believe the shear volume of motorcycles slowly moving down Independence Avenue. This was the largest Rolling Thunder parade I had ever witnessed. The name "Rolling Thunder" was the name given to one of the most intense operations in the Vietnam war. Rolling Thunder was designed specifically for intimidation purposes against the Northern Vietnamese by dropping massive bombs on several disbursed targets throughout the country.

It was hard not to see the symbolism in the name "Rolling Thunder" as hundreds of thousands of eclectic cycles and cyclists took the the streets to bring attention to their cause. With engines revved in rebellion, they slowly crept down Constitution Avenue all the while knowing they were just a stones throw from the White house.

Some of the bikes were rigged out with the most random decorations. A personal favorite for me was the large Buffalo head (yes it was real) mounted to the sissy bar on the back of a motorcycle.

How random I thought to myself. I could not think of any significance of a Buffalo head to the Memorial day holiday. Maybe he was from Buffalo?

In any case, the day was great and my summer has officially begun. Now if mother nature would just cooperate!

1 comment:

DL said...

Tom--wanted to let you know about another lost dog in case you were interested. Since Radar, we've recovered two more, and are now on the trail of Leo, a lost foster dog with Boarder Collie Rescue. He's lost in Alexandria--his blog is here:

You can leave a comment on Leo's blog if you'd like to help--we'd love to have you!