Because the heat had forced us to cut some of our intended route, we arrived at the rally a day early. Early arrivals are expected to volunteer for at least one of a variety of duties. I was glad to help, as without volunteers our annual rally wouldn’t happen.
“Your dog looks vicious,” remarked Chuck, one of the rally co-chairs. And so we found ourselves on the security detail. Our job was to make sure only vendors came into the display buildings until the rally opened, as interested shoppers tend to get in the way of setting up. Later, we would report to the Mail Room, protecting incoming parcels from…whatever. It was tough duty.
But the buildings were air conditioned.
We volunteered for shifts on three consecutive days, and security duty represented the majority of our time spent at the rally. We wandered around on our off time, checking out the vendors, the displays, meeting new people, and sharing ice cream. Barley likes all sorts of rally food: bratwurst, corn dogs, pretzels and schnitzel…but he really likes ice cream.
Reaching the ice cream stand required walking across several yards of asphalt so hot it felt squishy under my sandals. I didn’t want Barley to burn his feet, so would lead him to the shade of a big tree, put him on a Sit-Stay, turn my back and walk to the stand. He’d watch me intently, never taking his eyes off me as I waited our turn in line. If someone would hunker down in front of him blocking his view, he’d keep his butt on the ground but lean far to one side to peer around them awaiting my return.
And then we’d share.
Somebody once described the BMW MOA Rally as a gathering of family members you never knew you had. There is a lot of truth to that. We’d wander around looking at each other’s bikes, asking questions about accessories, gear, good roads and hometowns. Shaking hands and sharing suds in the Beer Tent. Every now and then someone would spot Barley and drop to their knees with arms held wide, begging for a dog fix and asking questions about traveling with a canine companion. And each night we’d travel the thirty miles back to our air conditioned hotel.
The outside temp typically dropped below one hundred about ten o’clock at night.
Friday was a time of goodbyes with friends old and new who would not be seen for another year. One last shared ice cream and we returned to the hotel in mid-afternoon in brutal heat under an unmerciful sun. To escape the worst of it we would be getting up at 3 o’clock in the morning, making it past St Louis before residents rose and clogged the roads, and as far east as possible to escape the heat. According to The Weather Channel there would be more reasonable temperatures in mid-Ohio.