An earthquake registering 8.9 on the Richter scale caused a nuclear disaster and triggered a tsunami that struck the island country of Japan on March 11, 2011 causing more than $210 billion in damages and killing close to 20,000 people, making it, according to some news accounts, the costliest natural disaster on record.More than a year later debris from the storm made its way clear across the Pacific Ocean to British Columbia, Canada.
U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) officials said currents would carry much of the debris 4,000 miles to the coasts of Alaska, Canada, Washington and Oregon between March 2013 and 2014.
One such item included a 2004 Harley-Davidson FSXTB Harley-Davidson Softail Night Train that was found on a Canadian beach. The bike was mostly intact but was seriously rusted and battered from the Pacific crossing. It was once inside of a cargo van container that was swept away by the tsunami. It was found more than one year and 4,000 miles later on April 18.Amazingly, the Japanese license plate was still attached and perfectly legible. The Miyagi prefecture plates were from one of the area’s hardest hit by the tsunami and that is what led the man who found the lost hog, Canadian Peter Mark, to suspect it might be tsunami debris.
Details from the plate helped locate the owner, Ikuo Yokoyama, who now lives in temporary housing after losing his home and three family members to the same catastrophe that took his motorcycle. Yokoyama was using the shipping container as a shed in which to store his bike, before the storm swept it out to sea. After seeing pictures he received from Mark, Yokoyama said in an interview with the BBC, "When I looked at the picture he took, I knew immediately it was my bike...It was a tough bike."
A Japanese dealership hoped to ship Yokoyama’s “tough bike” back to Japan and restore it for him, but he asked if someone would instead put the battered Night Train on display un-restored in homage to those affected by and lost in the Japanese tsunami. When offered a free replacement motorcycle, he respectfully declined wishing not to be "singled out when so many others lost as much or more" than he did. In a press release Bill Davidson, Vice President of the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, Wis., said, "The Harley-Davidson Museum is honored to receive this amazing motorcycle to ensure that its condition is preserved and can be displayed as a memorial to the Japan Tsunami tragedy."
Meanwhile on Southe Carolina Shores
The Atlantic Beach Bikefest, aka Black Bike Week, like the local Harley rally before it has come to an end. I was really amazed at how many motorcycles were in town this year. I also couldn’t help but notice how the rally, billed as an Atlantic Beach sponsored event, has spread south. I saw bikes riding, playing, and staying as far south as Pawleys Island this year.
Once known as a testosterone-laden bunch of young, male rowdies on crotch rockets and cruising in “whips on 20’s” terrorizing the streets, young women, and restaurateurs of Myrtle Beach, the event to me looked quite different this year. I still cringed as more than one idiot recklessly ducked in and out of traffic at high speeds, obviously mistaking U.S. 17 Bypass for Daytona Motor Speedway. I still heard tales of trashed parking lots and un-tipped waitresses. I still tried not to look at the big, cellulite-laden booties engulfing the rear fenders of whining sport bikes at every other traffic light, too.
But what I noticed this year was that I also saw plenty of older riders and plenty more black bikers on touring bikes, including Harleys. My wife Sissy and I spent a little time during the black bike rally on a bench in front of the Harley-Davidson dealership watching countless black (and white) bikers pulling in and out; cruising the retail area; and checking out bikes. I asked owner Phil Schoonover how the weekend went for his dealership and he seemed pleased, saying, “We sold six or seven motorcycles each day.”
I was encouraged at how friendly everyone seemed to be toward each other, regardless of race, or bike preference. I also noticed a lot of women riding their own bikes, too, and with this crowd that made for some high-quality people watching. One group of about six women wearing patches identifying themselves as “The Caramel Divas” (or something like) rode in perfect formation, parked, lowered their kickstands with platform stripper shoes sporting six-inch spiked heels, and strutted in unison into the dealership wearing enormous glasses and an abundance of jiggling jewelry, clad in less-than-enormous bathing suits with an abundance of jiggling body parts. As someone once said when my family rounded the corner onto Main Street in Daytona Beach during Bike Week: “Here’s the freak show we’ve been looking for!”
Another month of May is in the books.