Richard’s Unfortunate Day on the Route

Richard, as I’ve mention before, initiated our love of Route 66.  His original plan was to travel the entire Route on his motorcycle.  Since he and his friend Danny had traveled the Route east of Springfield, Missouri, they formed a plan to travel the entire Route west of Springfield.  Richard and Danny packed their bags onto their motorcycles the night before their trip.  They even took a tent so they could camp out and save a little money.

This trip was during the month of October.  I grew up on a farm and knew during that time of the year, deer went a little crazy, looking for love, sometimes, in all the wrong places, like the middle of Route 66!  I made Richard and Danny promise me they would not drive after dark, which would cut down on their chances of hitting a deer.  Deer vs. motorcycle accidents never end well for the deer, the motorcycle, and most of all, the driver.

Richard and Danny left early one morning and took off west.  The first 24 hours of their trip was without incident.  They camped at a campground just north of Stroud, Oklahoma, the first night.

The next morning, Richard and Danny packed up and continued west on Route 66.  As the sun was setting, they were  somewhere near Shamrock, Texas, and hadn’t located a campground.  Danny suggested they find a spot just off the roadway and pitch a tent.  Richard is a stickler for the rules and this made him a bit nervous.  Unfortunately, it was quickly getting too dark to see and there really were no other options.  They pitched the tent and spent the night.

Richard awoke in the very early hours of the next morning.  He typically is not an early riser, especially if the sun isn’t up yet.  However, Danny lived on the east coast at that time.  He regularly woke very early and went to work.  Throw in the time change factor and that probably made it seem like the middle of the night for Richard.  Danny was already packing, so Richard got up and packed up his motorcycle, too.  Although there was no hint of a sunrise, Richard got on his bike and drove west on Route 66, with Danny a little way behind him.

A short distance west of Shamrock, Texas, Richard rounded a corner at approximately 60 miles an hour and saw a large 7 point buck (male deer) standing sideway in the westbound lane of 66.  With no time to stop or swerve, Richard tucked in tightly to his motorcycle and hung on for the inevitable.  As he struck the deer, its body wrapped around Richard’s bike, leaving hoof marks on both sides of the gas tank.  As the deer fell to the ground, Richard was somehow able to keep the motorcycle upright and coasted onto the shoulder of the road.   Oil and other fluids from his totaled motorcycle immediately drained onto the edge of the road.

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A Texas Trooper responded and investigated the wreck for an accident report.  He told Richard he was very lucky, explaining a week before, a married couple on a motorcycle struck a deer on the same portion of the road.  Sadly, they did not survive the wreck.  Richard told Danny to continue the trip.  There was nothing he could do if he would have stayed, so reluctantly, Danny continued west.

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Richard called me later and told me what happened.  He asked if I would grab a few things and drive his pickup to Shamrock, Texas, to get him and the motorcycle.  He said he was going to the hospital to get checked, but he assured me he was alright.  I grabbed the equipment he requested and headed out the door, en route to the U Drop Inn, where Richard said he’d be waiting for me.

I do believe in obeying the law, even though I sometimes catch myself driving a little too fast.  However, this was an exception.  My husband was just in a terrible accident, his motorcycle was totaled, and he was hundreds of miles away from home.  I’m certain I broke every speed limit law all the way there.  Richard was shocked to see me when I pulled up to U Drop Inn, stating he didn’t expect me for a few more hours.  He suggested we drive out to the tow yard and load up his motorcycle before they closed for the day.

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We went to the tow yard, paid our bill, and loaded the motorcycle into the bed of the truck.  Afterward, he gathered the clothes and other belongings he once had packed onto the bike.  I had just put some things into the truck when I heard a strange noise I’d never heard before.  It slightly sounded like a baby rattle, but muffled and deeper.  Puzzled, I looked back at Richard and saw him jumping into the air, as the noise continued.  Richard said it was a rattle snake and he almost stepped on it.  Honestly, I am a good wife, but the first thing I said was, “Let me get the camera!”  I snapped a few photos of the devil snake before making sure Richard was alright.  I told him, “Get in the truck and let’s get the hell out of here!”

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I felt like I almost lost my husband twice that day, so we just needed to leave.   We got in the truck and I drove home, much slower than I did on my trip to Shamrock earlier that day.  No one would have ever known how fast I drove to Shamrock, if only Richard wouldn’t have checked that dang GPS on the way home.  We’ve been back to Shamrock a few times since that terrible day, and loved it, but we always think about the unfortunate events of that day.

Author: Judy Walker

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