The Flood Run….or Invasion of the Harley’s (motorcycles, that is)

I grew up on the Mississippi River – no, not on a raft like Huck Finn, but in one of the many small towns on either side.  The one I grew up in, on the Wisconsin side (the other side being Minnesota), had a population of 287 when I was born.  Now it is 285.  Saturday the population increased by thousands of people in full leather riding Harley's.  It was the 41st annual Flood Run, commemorating the devastating flood of '65 when a group of bikers came to Nelson to help sandbag the shore.  The small towns up and down the riverbanks were so appreciative that they offered free food and beer (it is Wisconsin, after all) in thanks.  The bikers have been back every year since – and every town has a 'beer tent' and barbecue for them….although, with all of the cops around there may have been some bottled water consumed, as well.  When I was young it would be 40 or 50 bikes.  This year, driving along the river was next to impossible:  in the 8 mile stretch between Nelson and Pepin it was one continuous line of bikers (mainly Harley's) staggered (not quite side by side, but close) the entire way.  In little old Nelson the bikes were parked liked sardines as far as one could see in both directions going out of town.  It has gotten to be quite the legitimate event, raising money for the Gillette Children's Hospital, but, with all of these 'boys and their toys' it seems like more of an opportunity to see whose is biggest ;) 
The run goes down the Wisconsin side of the river some 120 miles, then crosses over to return on the Minnesota side.  It's a beautiful drive at any time of year and the locals in the small towns are making the most of nature, with gift shops, antique shops, ice cream stands and anything else to make a few dollars cropping up like dandelions (spring, and all that).  So no one gets left out in May there will be the "100 mile garage sale" (boot sale, rummage sale, whatever….one person's junk is another's treasure).  Everyone on both sides of the river is invited to participate: put your junk stuff on a table, slap a price tag on it and prepare to do some serious haggling.  This time it's cars and pick-up trucks that line the roads (no room on a bike for the goodies) as the folks from the 'Cities' (Minneapolis and St. Paul) drive down the river road in search of the undiscovered prizes (like the Van Gogh that the locals thought was ugly so had it in their chicken shed blocking a window…or was it a Renoir?).  The frozen north has thawed…spring is in the air….

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap