Just as last years Kern River Run came to an end we started planning for the 5th annual Run after getting some great ideas for the next year’s event. More riders and friends were getting involved not only with ideas how to make it even better and wilder but, also offering their help with getting the run set up early.
While some had offered their help with next years run as it came to a close in 2009, Patricia and I really didn’t expect riders and friends to stop their busy lives and come out early giving up their time to help us set up the run in 2010.
As the 5th annual Kern River Run was approaching, we began to get e-mails and calls from not only last years riders and friends but, from riders who were coming out for the first time.
Patricia and I were truly impressed with the offers of help from supplying generators to bringing firewood. We were also once again offered live music, vendors and food catering companies. We once again told those people this run was not about money, it was about riders coming out to party and just have a good time the way runs were meant to be. No one should have to worry about spending money on our run. Just getting there, finding a spot to put their head down at night after partying hard and meeting old and new friends.
This years run was going to be special, not only with the out reach of help but, we were planning something special to honor those who could not make events like this because they were proudly serving in the military and keeping this country and others free.
For a while now Patricia and I have been corresponding with riders who are serving in the military both at home and in foreign countries. We met them from our web site and all of them enjoy the site and appreciate our efforts in keeping the “biker lifestyle” alive.
One rider in particular (SFC Ricky Owens) who is stationed at Bagram Airfield, in Afghanistan has become close to us. He told us he appreciated our support of the military and our patriotism. He went as far as to having an American Flag “flown in the face of the enemy” proudly defended by the 101st Airborne, 82nd Airborne, the 25th Infantry and the 1-45th Arizona National Guard dedicated to us by those units and the base commander and then sent to us.
When we opened a Fed Ex package with the address of the base on it, we were unsure what we would find. When we discovered that is contained this flag and symbol of American freedom along with the unit order signed by the base commander Patricia and I both could not hold back the tears. Anyone who holds this country so close to their hearts and knows what so many have given to defend it and keep it free will understand. My father is a veteran of the Korean War. Patricia and I felt totally honored to receive such a gift.
So, Patricia and I wanted to do something special in return to honor SFC Ricky Owens and all the others in the military who give up so much so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have. We were going to take the American Flag that flew in Afghanistan on the ride and on 9-11-10 we were going to fly it at camp. We would also fly another American Flag and that one would be sent back to SFC Ricky Owens. We were also going to make a banner that everyone could sign and show their support for him and the troops stationed with him. Dale and Lisa came up with an idea to create something a little more personal for him which I will get into a little later.
As the week before the run arrived, Patricia and I, along with our friends Rooster and Packy set out for the run along with Chris and his wife Patti. We would soon be met up with our friends Dale, Lisa and Paul. Paul was supplying the generator that would keep the music going for the party and Dale and Lisa were supplying all the firewood for the week and weekend.
As we drove along the Kern River, we saw where a fire had destroyed several miles of the river 3 weeks prior. I had already scouted the campground earlier and I knew our spot was spared due to the hard work of the forestry and fire departments.
As we pulled into the campground at Calkins Flats, we were relieved to see that we had the whole campground to us. This made things a lot easier for us to set up the run and all we needed to do was insure that we held the place for riders who would be coming in all week and for the weekend.
This year that hard job which usually I had to do along with setting up the run was made a lot easier with all the help from friends and riders who came early to help. By the end of day all the tents were set up and the banner was up showing the riders this was the spot.
The river this year was higher then usual which meant it was colder due to the snow run off. The weather was also a little colder then usual in the 80's. In past years it has been in the high 90's and even triple digits which made using the river to cool off a relief from the heat. It also meant the ladies would be wearing less clothes if any and the river would be the party spot. This year we did not have the heat we hoped for but, as we would see later, the ladies did not disappoint.
Another special addition to the run was our having a pig roast courtesy of Dan n Cat. They have cooked pigs at their home parties at the club house and it was awesome so they suggested we offer a pork dinner on Friday. We took them up on their great idea and we told all the riders there would be a “BBQ Harley Hog” dinner at this years run.
The days and nights leading up to runs kick off on Friday are always laid back and they have a total different vibe. There is no wild craziness or pressure for entertaining the riders and running around making sure all the riders are taken care of setting up their spots and stuff. We all just kick back and enjoy the great outdoors. The only thing to do is make sure the camp is held for the riders.
By Thursday more riders were coming in and it was time for Patricia, Rooster and I, along with Dale n Lisa to head back to Lancaster so we could ride out with the group on Friday morning. We left the controls of securing the camp in the hands of Chris and Paul.
Early on Friday morning we made our way over to the Lancaster Harley dealer to meet up with the riders for the ride out. Every year we don’t know what to expect in the numbers of the riders going out for the run to the river.
We have found that more and more riders are coming from other areas north of the run and the only riders to make the run out are usually those riding in from the south and local riders. This year was no different.
We were happy to see some familiar faces on Friday morning along with some new ones. This year I made it clear that everyone should be fueled before leaving to avoid any problems like we had last year. After a quick road safety and route meeting we were kick stands up.
Pulling out and getting onto the 14 freeway with a line of bikes is always a rush and while I tend to enjoy a ride with just a few friends it is always cool to ride down the highway with a line of bikes.
As we made our way through Red Rock Canyon, we felt the feelings of deja vue come over us. It was that feeling of being in one of David Mann’s paintings of the “Ghost Rider” as we passed the rock formations.
We made our way onto highway 178 making the home stretch run to the river. This is where the ride really becomes enjoyable as we make our way from the desert terrain to the mountains past open range ranches and down highways made famous such as Steven Spielberg’s crazed tractor truck driver vs. joe salesman in his dodge sedan in the movie “Dual.”
Once we turned onto Sierra Way we could see Lake Isabella with its strange rows of trees submerged in the lake. Those trees actually mark the old streets of the town of Kernville. Once past the lake it is just a few minutes to the town of Kernville where once hosted a miners community in the 1800's and a place for bikers to ride to in the 60's and early 70's.
It felt great knowing we were bringing history back to this town. And the town was totally for it. It all means much needed money coming to the town A week after our run the state ABATE run would also be held in the town of Kernville at Frandy campground. Patricia and I would once again be attending that rally after the wild time we had the year before.
As we rode into Kernville it was only 14 miles to the campground as we rode along with winding river. Riding past the burnt forest had to make the riders behind us curious as to what the camp would be like. As we passed the last section of burnt forest it was great to see that not all of it had been lost. Seeing the damage done you could only imagine the intensity of the fire and I was thankful for the forestry workers and my not having to do their job.
As we rode up to the camp, we were once again greeted by those who had already arrived before us. They had to have heard the rumbling machines making their way to them through the rivers canyon. Riders pulled into the campground with people helping them get settled in and old friends greeted one another and new ones did the same.
Once again it was funny to watch the riders make their move for their camping spot. Much like the Redwood Run, it is first come first serve. No spots reserved. Like in the old west the land rush was on with riders taking a tent off their bike or a sleeping bag and using it to mark their spot. There is a long stretch of shaded sandy ground along the river that reaches far back up river and by the end of the day most of the spots are taken. Those coming on Saturday will find a spot in some of the shaded areas but, it can get cozy later in the day on Saturday. There are some riders who chose to camp next to their bikes up on the top and there are shaded spots under the large pine tree.
This year marked an increase in RV’s and we made sure they were parked far away from the bikes. It is made clear. This is a bike run, not a trailer run but, support vehicles are welcome because we understand some women are not happy sleeping on the ground and we do try to cater to the women. The more women the happier the guys are it would seem.
Our RV is used for one thing and one thing only. A hospitality station for coffee and breakfast rolls, first aid and an information center. Patricia and I sleep in a tent during the run next to the river.
As the riders settled in and camps were set up, we checked in with Dan n Cat who were already busy getting the pig BBQ set up. They had help from Patti and Chris as well Colleen and Chris.
They had the place set up like an outdoor restaurant which we were not at all surprised to see knowing Dan n Cat. When they do something, they do it right.
A return form of entertainment from last year was the dance pole once again. Lisa and Debbie got the girls started by warming up the crowds during the day giving the guys a preview of coming attractions for the nights entertainment.
This year we had an idea of setting up a room for those who wish to party in private. We set up an easy up and we placed a green net screen around it that created some privacy. We put a large air mattress inside along with some chairs. The room was given a few names through the weekend such as the “green room,” the “VIP room” and the “Love Shack.” Whatever it was called it was well used.
Besides the obvious, it was also used for the girls to change for the wet T shirt contest and it was also used as the painting room.
Dale n Lisa had discussed the year before about having a canvas set up where women could be painted and they could press their body parts up against the canvas and make their own personal works of art. Well they had a great idea of having all the girls have their breast painted then pressed onto the canvas. Then signed by the girls later to solve the mystery as to whose boobs were who’s. This work of art was just one a few gifts to be sent to SFC Ricky Owens and the troops in his unit.
Dale n Lisa also offered their amazing artistic hand by painting riders with whatever the rider wanted. There was some very cool art work being displayed on bodies. Imagine if they had an air brush. Maybe next year.
Almost all of the riders wanted to enjoy the pork dinner. Those who didn’t rode a mile up to McNallys’s for dinner. A line was formed and those who wished to enjoy the pork dinner and the fixens did so with a lot of great compliments to the chief Dan. It was a perfect idea for those who did not wish to ride after drinking all day.
Just before dusk, Chris lowered his American flag to the sound of taps in military style. The following day would be 09-11-10 and for that memorable day for all Americans we would be raising the American flag that flew in Afghanistan following a tribute ceremony to SFC Ricky Owens and all the American soldiers who are giving all to keep our freedoms intact.
As night came on, the party moved to the pit where the camp fire was located. Chairs were brought around in a big circle and it was interesting how the riders were almost jockyin’ for position for the best seat in the house for the show. Either they were past run attendees or they saw the pix from the past runs.
I had set up a make shift DJ booth next to the green room where I played the appropriate mood setting music for the party. I even had a spot light set up for the dance pole. Although the cardboard around the light made it hard to keep it on for any length of time. It did do the trick to illuminate the ladies who danced on the pole.
This year though was a little different. Much like the coldness of the water or temperature in the air, the mood was a little slow and tamer then in past years. Finally Lisa stepped up to get things going. Let me just say that those of who have seen the movie “Dusk til Dawn” will understand. Lisa danced to the song “After Dark” by “Tito and the Tarantula” which would have given Salma Hayek a run for her money. Her dance set the mood for the rest of the night and possibly the weekend by letting everyone know this was the place to party and anything could happen.
Which it did. Several of the ladies danced for their man and a few others. Some girls were able to have fun and relax where they may not have been able to else where. Some girls showed their man some moves they had either been practicing for just this kind of moment while others just let go and had a fun time on the pole or giving a chair dance.
Once again the chair was placed in the middle of the ring and guys were pulled out of the crowd or they stepped up to get a chair dance. There were no rules here like in the clubs but, all of the men were gentlemen unless asked to have fun by the girl.
Patricia made one biker a happy man by giving him a chair dance then giving him some much needed relief in an interesting way. Can’t say more then that, you had to be there.
The green room was also a busy place where girls put on a fun show that could be seen by those outside by the shadow cast on the girls. Guys were invited in to sit and watch the shows the girls put on. Some of them where not ignored by the ladies after the show.
The first nights bond fire party was once again a memorable experience by all. There were a few there who obviously had never seen anything like that and they went away knowing what it must have been like in the good old days of a biker party.
Slowly but surely riders made their ways to their tents and camps and the fire was tended to by the riders who did not want the night to end. Patricia and I ended the night knowing we would be up early to make coffee for everyone and we do mean early.
As the sun came up on Saturday, we met it dragging our selves out of the tent. It was funny watching the earlier risers walking around the hospitality station like zombies. We kept them at bay letting them know the coffee would soon be on. This year Topper set us up with a large coffee pot that would serve several cups of coffee which made things much easier.
I could not resist playing the camp counselor and make announcements on the PA system ala MASH and Meatballs. This of course included my tradition of playing “camp Granada” over the PA to the happy campers.
Several riders rode into Kernville for breakfast while others made breakfast in their camps.
Some riders wanted to know if there was a ride planned for the day. Rooster let everyone know about the ride to the giant sequoia’s and waterfall in the afternoon.
I put the word out to everyone in the camp who was a veteran that if they wanted to they could participate in the flag ceremony to honor 9-11 and the American Flag sent to us by SFC Ricky Owens. There were several veterans at the run including one who had just returned from Iraq and had been wounded. Jeremiah told us he would be honored to help us with the ceremony.
All day Friday and Saturday, Dale n Lisa had been working on getting the canvas banner completed for the ceremony. The Canvas was filling up fast with some awesome boob art from the ladies. All of the ladies made sure their puppies were displayed for our soldiers to see and enjoy. Most of all remember what their fighting for back home.
At noon we all gathered together to pay a tribute to SFC Ricky Owens who could not be with us because he was serving in Afghanistan along with other soldiers. Cat n Dan brought a roll of banner paper which we set up for everyone to sign and give their words of appreciation on. Dale used his artistic abilities to make the banner perfect.
After everyone signed the banner we took the American flag given to us by SFC Ricky Owens and the base at Bagram and we set up a photo op that was perfect for such occasion. Two riders placed their bikes which had some very cool paint of the American flag in front of our RV that had the banner for the Kern River Run. We also had two riders at the run who are Firemen (Dirk n Chris). Both of their bike’s paint are tributes to their profession.
We got everyone together and while Lawrence and Jeremiah held the flag, the ladies held the banner. I had spoken previously with SFC Ricky Owens, telling him what we planned on doing. He thought it was a great idea and he totally appreciated the thought. He asked that we make one photo “G Rated” and the other “R Rated” so he could hang the “G” photo at the base for all to see and the “R” one could hang in his barracks so only a few could see it and enjoy it.
So we took two photos. It was too cool to see everyone involved in this photo shoot. Cameras and videos from several riders documented the moment and it was a lot of fun to do both for all the riders but, most of all the troops.
It was quite a sight to see all the ladies going topless holding the banner and American flag up. It was such a sight that a rider was pulling into camp and he was so distracted by the sight he dumped his bike. After he was assisted up we then continued with the photo shoot.
After the photo shoot, it was time to give this special American flag a final tribute and honor. All of the riders assembled near Chris’s RV where he has a very large flag pole. Several veterans and riders assisted in attaching the flag to the pole and without planning it, something amazing transpired. As the flag was raised, it was done so hauntingly in a familiar scene. Due to the size of the flag and the pole it had to be raised just as it had been on the island of Iwo Jima. I know I am not the only one who caught this. (After viewing the videos and photos taken of the moment you will agree as well).
When the flag was raised the sound of cheers and applause filled the campground. It was a very cool moment and it reminded everyone of the freedoms we have and they are not to be taken likely. It was a proud moment for all.
It was time to ride, so Rooster gathered the riders together for a ride out to the giant sequoia’s. Several riders rode out of camp to enjoy the perfect day and weather for a ride in the high sierra’s. The riders rode up the river, past a giant waterfall and into the forest. The stream of bikes cruising through the canyons and tall trees was one of the great ways of enjoying the Kern River Run.
The riders stopped at to enjoy the giant sequoia’s and the waterfall for a chance for more photo op’s before riding back to camp.
Back at camp, the party continued with the Wet T Shirt contest. Once again brave girls signed up to participate in the event that all the guys and ladies look forward to every year. This is evident by all the photos submitted every year. Out of all the events at the run, there are always more wet t shirt contest pix submitted then any other pix. For obvious reasons. These ladies give their all to entertain and have fun.
The judges were selected for various reasons and as always we include a female judge to give it a girls perspective. All the girls put on a great show which was greatly appreciated by all. Once again it appeared that the shirts given to the girls were merely something to shed as they danced for the judges and the crowd.
As in all contest there has to be a winner. While we wish we could have given all the ladies something for their performance it came down to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. This year 3rd place went to Lisa, 2nd place went to Debbi and 1st place went to 2 girls who danced together, Marsha and Ziane.
Patricia always wants to know how many riders showed up for our run so she came up with a way to count how many attended. She gave out a free raffle ticket to everyone who attended the run. After the wet T shirt contest she had the raffle which all of the items given away are donated for the run. This year beside the usual stuff she gives out, we were fortunate to have magazines fresh off the press from Easy Rider. These were graciously donated to the run by Kim who is one of the editors of the magazine.
After the day’s entertainment it was time for dinner. Most of the riders were riding to McNallys’s steakhouse just up the road. They always have taken care of us and it has become a tradition of the run. But first, we needed to lower the American flag.
We had asked any of those veterans attending the run if they wanted to participate in the lowering of the flag and the honor of folding the flag. Jeremiah, Lawrence and a mother of a soldier who was currently serving in Iraq (I apologize for not posting her name) had the honor of the folding of the flag ceremony.
The flag was lowered to the sound of taps and as the flag was folded in front of a crowd of riders you could hear a pin drop. It was a very solemn moment and everyone present felt the meaning of the ceremony. It was hard to hold back the emotions as you watched and when the ceremony ended everyone expressed their feelings to one another and to those who participated in the ceremony. At the end we were led in a prayer from Jeremiah’s father in-law, Steve. This was the first time that the mood of the party of the run was changed but, for a good and honorable reason.
After the ceremony most of us mounted up and rode to dinner at McNallys. Our bikes filled the parking lot of the restaurant and to those who were not a part of the group stopped to take notice not knowing what to make of all of these steel horses pulling into the peaceful setting of the restaurant. It was as if the old west had returned with rowdy cowboys coming in from a round up and stopped into town to the local saloon. Their worries were soon subsided when several of the riders held doors open for women and children going to eat.
Once again McNallys held the banquet room for us. There were so many of us we spilled over into the rest of the restaurant and bar to eat. McNallys are legendary for their steaks and especially their 40oz Logger steak which could feed 2 easily.
As we all waited for our food, it was a perfect time to get to know everyone and photo op’s having everyone all together. And once again, Rooster n Topper got together with everyone to show their appreciation to Patricia and I for putting on this event. It is a great feeling for us to know that we are providing an event to riders who enjoy getting back to the true biker run and it’s meaning.
McNallys took great care of us and after dinner we rode back to the camp where another party at the campfire was sure to take place.
The riders once again circled their chairs around the campfire not so much to warm up by the fire but, to enjoy the company of each other, to get to know each other a little better and yes, some awesome and wild entertainment by the ladies. What other run can you still go on that allows you to enjoy the pleasure and excitement these ladies can give a rider, at least in the so called “wild and free spirted state of California.”
The partying once again went on into the night with everyone not know exactly what they might see or experience possibly for the first time. No need to go into details. Just imagine what an “Old School” bike run would be like in the 60's and early 70's and you might get a vision of the nights event.
After last man standing put the fire out and made their way to their tent, everyone fell asleep to the sound of the river going by and the sounds of the wild animals around camp.
On Sunday morning we once again got up early to make coffee and set out the breakfast rolls for the early rising riders and for those getting an early start on packing up their camp to return to the real world. This year we had riders come from as far as Washington, Nevada, Arizona and Utah. So some had a long ride ahead of them.
Sunday is hard on everyone knowing it is the last day of the run. It is the day to say good bye to old and new friends. Make promises to get together before next years run and exchange information to do so. It is amazing to see the once filled camp slowly disappear leaving no trace of the wild parties that went on the days and nights before.
One by one the riders packed up and said their good byes as they rode out of camp. Once again there were those who donated to next years run to keep it alive. Everyone helped clean up the campground leaving it as if we were never there and showing the forestry department and other campers who come in behind us that bikers do care and are good human beings and not just a bunch of thoughtless people who expect others to clean up after them (on a side note. When we arrived at this campground everyone who came up early helped clean up after other campers who left their trash behind. We know who those types of savage individuals are and where they come from).
Soon everyone but a few were gone and once again it was time to slow down and enjoy the place we were at. We had a chance to get to know some of the riders more during these times because during the run both Patricia and I are constantly busy making sure all is well with the run.
By the end of the day it was just Patricia and I and we were in no hurry to leave. I was off work for 2 more weeks and on Wednesday we were heading over to the town of Kernville for the ABATE’s rally held every year the following week after our run. There we would continue the party and vacation seeing more old friends and meeting new friends. This year Amy, Ken, Lisa & Dale would be joining us.
After that rally we would be off to Reno Street Vibrations for the first time. So September was a busy bike month for us. But for the next few days we would enjoy the peace and quite of the campground. It was a time for us to reflect on the run and think of new ideas for making next years run even better.
To all who joined us this year for the 5th annual 2010 Kern River Run, Patricia and I want to thank you all for making this another enjoyable and rewarding time. Oh and once again, no drama, no violence, no vendors or promoters and bike builders all adding up too not having to have a law enforcement presence, lawyers or money loans to put on a run. To all others who want to put on a run, maybe you should come to our run to see how it should be done.. The “Old School” way.
And yes we will be back next year for the 2011 6th annual Kern River Run. We will keep doing it until we leave this messed up state for a much better one and then we can hand it over to someone else who “gets it.”
Red Dog & Patricia