Story & Photos by Diana Olmstead
June 13th couldn’t get here fast enough for me as I had been eagerly anticipating my trip to Spring Opener since arriving home from last year’s Spring Opener! Yes, it is that great of an event!
Wednesday night my bike was packed and ready to roll. I woke up early Thursday morning, slammed a cup of coffee, jumped on my bike and headed to a restaurant in town to meet up with a dozen friends and bikes that are in the Mason County ABATE Chapter. The plan was to have our kickstands up at 8am.
We took Hwy 101 to Olympia, catching I-5 northbound. From there we continued past JBLM until we hit Hwy 512 and headed east towards Puyallup, then we merged onto Hwy 167 northbound to Hwy 18. We followed Hwy 18 over Tiger Pass until we met I-90. A short distance on I-90, we stopped for a leg stretch and topped off our tanks at North Bend, then proceeded the short distance east on I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass to Easton. We hit a couple of rain squalls and traffic but it was nothing we couldn’t handle.
When we rolled into the Silver Ridge Ranch in Easton around noon the sun was out as we parked our bikes and made our way over to the registration tent where we were greeted by a bunch of jovial, happy faced, Christian Crusaders who were working the registration table. With our wristbands now on, we hopped our bikes and headed to our usual camping spot in the back field, along a picturesque little mountain stream, dotted with pines and wildflowers.
But when we got to our spot someone else had already set up camp. No big deal, we just set up a few yards further down. It was funny watching everyone unpack their bikes and set up their tents, pop-ups, etc. No doubt about it, with years of practice our group has it down to a science!
After our individual campsites were all set up we lit our bonfire, kicked back in our chairs and opened a few bottles of Jack Daniels and Fireball, it was time to get the party started!
We hung out at our campsite for a few hours until we all decided to go check out the vendors that surround “the bowl” which is where all of the action, bands, bike games and bike show takes place. It was late afternoon and we are all starving and ready to eat but the food vendors weren’t completely set up yet so we headed to a really cool little biker friendly restaurant and bar just outside of the ranch’s main gate called the Parkside Café’ and Turtle Lounge. It’s so close that there is no need to don a helmet as you putt to their front door. The owners, Terry & Jo Hill, along with their small staff, welcome the bikers with open arms. The food and service were great!
After dinner we headed back to our campsite; we sat, stood and stumbled around the bonfire as we cut loose, laughing, drinking and slurping Jell-O shot after Jell-O shot! As the night fell, I hung a few glow sticks from my tent so I could find my way to my own tent at the end of the evening… I’d rather not surprise any of my friends by crawling into the wrong tent.
I, along with a few others, woke up Friday morning feeling wiped out; I was in desperate need of some hot coffee, kahlua and baileys. By 10am I was feeling just fine and ready to go enjoy the day. A bunch of us headed over to the vendor area to get some much needed brunch and do a little looking around and shopping.
The sun was out, the place was hopping with activity, and the there was a happy-go-lucky attitude in the air. I felt so free; I was away from the daily grind of my office, out in the woods at this beautiful ranch, surrounded by bikes, friends and fellow campers. Life was good.
This year the Mason County Chapter hosted its 1st Annual Scavenger Hunt. It started Thursday and ended Friday. ABATE Chapters competed against other Chapters. The premise was to get people out mingling and meeting new people. Some of the Chapters really got into the spirit of the game and had a great time. Friday night we announced the winning Chapter, congratulations to the Spanaway Chapter! They received a Scavenger Hunt Banner which was signed with their name and hung at their campsite throughout the duration of Spring Opener. Next year the game and process will start all over again and next year’s winner will sign the banner and hang it at their campsite.
At dinner time on Friday our group hung out at camp and enjoyed had a delicious smoked barbecue potluck with all of the fixin’s. Yum!
After dinner, we, along with all of the other campers, made our way to “the bowl” where the stage was located to listen to some live music by 2 bands: Dixon Boots and Soul Stripper, a great AC/DC Tribute Band. There was a slight glitch with one of the generators that was providing power for the sound system but Jimmy G had it figured out and fixed in no time!
After rockin’ out and dancing for a few hours we all headed back to our campsite to party some more and tell a few tall campfire tales. All I remember is sitting with my friends and laughing non-stop. At one point I remember saying “I’m having so much fun that even my eyes are smiling!”
Saturday at Spring Opener is the biggest day of all; there are so many fun activities taking place throughout the entire day at “the bowl”. It all started with the Bike Show which is hosted by the North Kitsap Chapter. They did a fantastic job! The categories were right on the mark, the show was very well organized and they had lots of entrants. I never get tired of bike shows, especially when they are done right. I enjoy and appreciate the individuality and customization of the bikes. It’s always interesting to meet the people who ride them too! I was very impressed with the number of women who not only rode to Spring Opener but who also entered their bikes in the show.
After the bike games, a couple from our group, Dickie & Jenna actually got married on the stage. It was a true biker wedding! The couple looked so in love as they said their vows in front of a line of bikes and hundreds of spectators. After the ceremony, the line of bikes revved their motors and the crowd cheered!
After the wedding was over the Bike Games began. What a wild, crazy, fun event that is! The Bike Games are hosted by the Tacoma Chapter. Riders and passengers played several different games: One game consisted of two rows of stuffed animals in which the passenger had to scoop up the animals in a large fishing net without the rider putting his feet down. It wasn’t easy as the rider has to go slow while the passenger is wiggling around trying to get the animals into the net without dropping any out.
Another game consisted of two rows of red paper cups, in which the passenger had to lean over and drop a golf ball into each one. Again the rider cannot put his feet down. But some of the ladies got creative and laid across the passenger seat… pretty smart!
Then there was the slow race, 3 taped off lanes, rider against rider, trying to see who will cross the finish line last without putting their feet down. I was impressed with the skills of both the ladies and men who competed.
Of course, there were a few bikes that went over – sometimes it was funny, sometimes we felt bad for the rider and sometimes we saw it coming… especially if you were standing too close to the action.
After the bike games there was a tattoo contest with about 45-50 people entering! Awards were given for best male, best female, best sleeve male or female and best single tatt.
Saturday night ended with Sub-Vinyl Jukebox taking the stage and truly rockin’ the crowd! Everyone was dancing and having a kick-ass good time! This band played a great selection of high energy rock!
During the break, it was time to announce the winner of this year’s raffle bike – a black 2009 H-D Crossbones Softail Springer with custom pipes, seat and bars. And the lucky winner was… (Insert drumroll here)… Jason Waldrop! Jason was not able to attend but his father was there so he made the call to his son who must have freaked out on the other end of the phone. Jason had only purchased one ticket and he won! How cool!
Quick Throttle Magazine is proud to be a sponsor of ABATE of Washington Spring Opener 2013. This event has made a huge comeback from its days at Goldendale. I predicted last year that this year would be even bigger and it was with over 1000 riders attending! And that’s not counting vendors, security and set up crew. So mark your calendars for next year because this is one event you don’t want to miss!
Think about it, Spring Opener is a GREAT BARGAIN! It’s only $35 (ABATE member) or $40 (non-member) for 3 days of camping under the stars, music, bike games, vendors, campfires, hanging with friends and meeting new ones! The event is open to everyone regardless of whether you’re an ABATE member or not. Don’t think you’re too old to sleep in a tent either… because you’re not, it’s actually quite invigorating. I personally would like to see less RV’s at motorcycle events and more bikes rolling in packed with tents and sleeping bags… that’s how it used to be back in the day.
This event could not have taken place without the help of others who worked hard or stepped up as a sponsor. I’d like to take a moment to thank all of them. First on the list are the sponsors – Destination Harley-Davidson really came through giving ABATE a great deal on the raffle bike. Thank you Ed Jr, I can assure you that your sponsorship received a great deal of appreciation and attention from everyone at Spring Opener. Bent Bike also stepped up, along with Bulls Eye Shooter Supply, Easystreet Custom Cycle, The Right Spot Tavern and us, Quick Throttle Magazine. All of the Sponsor banners were hung on the stage in full view of everyone!
I’d also like to thank Lyle the ABATE State Coordinator, along with all of the State officers and the entire Spring Opener Committee which was headed by Jimmy G, and everyone else who volunteered. All of you did an amazing job and you have proven that Spring Opener is once again a must-do event!
I asked Lyle and Jimmy G if they’d like to say anything to our readers and Spring Opener attendees. Lyle said, “I would like to thank everyone who helped out and all that attended Spring Opener because without them we would not have the successful event we had. I hope everyone had a good time and will be back next year!”
Jimmy G who is never at a loss for words, was very thoughtful before responding; he said, “You know I just want everyone to have a good time, enjoy the event and the overall experience. That’s what I enjoy most about Spring Opener, seeing everyone having a good time. Thank you to everyone who attended and supported Spring Opener this year.”
If you missed Spring Opener this year, you missed one of the best events of the entire year. To sum it all up I am going to quote my dear friend Chuck (Chuckwagon) Bridges, “There’s only thing that bums me out about Spring Opener and that is that I have to wait another 365 days until I get to do it again!”