By Bruce Johnson

Memorial Day weekend 2005 was coming up. My wife and I were anticipating a Long Weekend riding around West Texas and SW Texas , in search of some war memorials / museums that are a part of our TMRA yearly History Hunt.

Friday after work I hurried home to a 1986 LXE that was ready and waiting. I had made all preparations Thursday night; gas, oil levels, tire pressures, cleaned mirrors, and windscreen. All set… but a quick check of the battery with my Radio Shack Analog Multi-meter indicated a low charge. So I charged the battery all night Thursday. Friday afternoon another quick check of the battery showed 13vdc, best I could tell on the analog meter. I decided to throw the charger in the trunk, just for peace of mind, if for no other reason. By 6 PM we were off and traveling south of the Dallas / Ft Worth metro, watching “thunder bumpers” build in the far distant skyline in the same direction we were headed.

We stopped for dinner at one of the places we had been trying to visit for more than a year. We enjoyed dinner and good fellowship with other patrons. There was a lot of interest by everyone as to what was that motorcycle we were riding? Is it new? Who makes it? Many of the serious inquiries I am sure all Cavalcade riders must answer when they stop.  We finished with the Conversations, bid our farewells and took of into the evening shadows and light show on the horizon. By 9pm we decided to stop for the night and “hole-up” in a motel to see what was in store weather wise. I decided to plug the charger in and see if the bike needs a charge. I resolved to leave it charging while we slept.

Saturday morning we awoke to a thunderous wake-up call. A check of the weather channel showed a line of thunderstorms that was settled in to the area where we were staying. But we had a fully charged battery! After watching the weather channel for another hour we decided…It ain’t gonna stop! But we might have a chance of riding thru it to clearing sky about 130 miles west, or we could scrub the mission and return home in the thunderstorms (195 miles). We suited up, complete with over boots, and headed west.

There were touchy moments along the way, hard rain, small hail and lots of lightening! We would seek cover under gas station canopies, and overpasses on 4 / 5 occasions. 4pm Saturday we made it! Clear skies over head and 85 miles to our first designated Museum to photograph with our bike out front of the Historical Marker. We got our first assignment completed, then headed on to the second 125 miles and the “Museum West of the Pecos ” in Pecos , Texas . There were more thunder bumpers building off in the distance, but we kept up our pace on interstate 20. We ran through a couple of showers. Then all the weather was building behind us and was moving eastward to where we had come from. There was fresh, clean desert air, mild temperatures, and lots of highway to cover. We planned to stop in Fort Stockton for the night. Just cruising along, enjoying the late afternoon sunset ride headed for a motel, shower, clean sheets, and food.

If you have ever traveled in west Texas , you know there can be miles and miles of nothing! After about an hour and 20 minutes of cruising, the Cade stopped cruising… I first thought I had accidentally hit the kill switch. But no, I tried to start her with the starter button while still coasting (it died while traveling down hill), catch a gear, pop the clutch. No start!!  Still coasting, but slower, I spotted a trailer off to the left about 3/4 mile from the highway. We rolled to a stop on the shoulder. Quiet!  Dead silence!  Not even a breeze to hear!

I walked to the Trailer and shouted out “Hello!” Several times, before a young man poked his head out! “Whatta ya want?” I told him my dilemma. Then asked if I could plug my battery charger in to his electrical supply. After I assured him I was willing to pay for the services rendered, we push the Cade up close to the Trailer. A 100 ft extension cord was run out one of the back room plugs. (Turns out this was the only one working). I plugged in the charger and begin to pass the time with small talk.  I also began to survey the situation we were in. Then, this old lady appeared. She was a sight. I mean these people were different!

As the time passed, the chatter never really settled into anything meaningful. I started to become concerned. These people certainly were different. Two hours passed and I gave the Cade a try, nothing…not even a click of the fuel pump. It was getting dark. I mean you couldn’t see your hands dark!  Twenty minutes pass and I decide to try it again. The young man started moving around to my right flank and the old woman moved the other way. Mumbling again! Did I say these people are different?

I whisper to my wife, “If this bike starts, start walking towards the highway”. She reminds me, it has only been 20 minutes since my last try at starting it. I get on the Cade… Bow my head and Pray. Pray like I have not prayed in a long, long time!  Miracle!  It starts!! I unplugged the charger, tossed it in the trunk. I handed the old woman $20 and start for the driveway. The only light was coming from my headlight. I could see my wife headed for the highway. Just a few feet behind her is the young man, with something in his hand. Did I say, “These people are different?” Just then the old woman hollers at him, I could not make out exactly what she said, but I pulled up next to my wife and said “get on, now!”

We cleared the driveway (which was all muddy from the earlier rains), hit the highway and hauled butt into town. (7 miles) and checked into the Best Western. Then I hit the start button again to go around to our room…. Nothing! Not even a click!  My wife declares, “but it just started back there 7miles!”

After pushing the Cade around to our room and plugging in the battery charger once again. We went to bed! Thankful the good Lord and our Guardian Angle was out there on the Prairie.  We always have memories of our trips on the Cade. Some are more memorable than others…… Did I mention those people were different?