August, 2004  (I have a lot to put in this month.  Reload the page each time you visit, until I'm done with the trip to Sturgis,  the run to Omaha for the Central Art Car Exhibit and Celebration, and the Route 6 Nebraska Art Car Cruise)

August 8 - 16, 2004 (Run from home to Sturgis to Omaha to Hastings to home)

My original plan had been to attend a Brothers of the Third Wheel rally in Kansas when I returned from Sturgis, but, as it turned out, my departure for Sturgis was delayed several days so I changed direction at the end of the run to Sturgis and headed for Omaha instead.  Sounds like there's a connection, but there isn't.

Anyway, the night before I left, I made the most recent modification in the BugWing in yet another attempt to improve performance on a hot day.  As I've whined before, performance drops off when it starts getting around 90 degrees or above and I've made several changes in an attempt to find out what has been causing it.  Clearly, it was heat-related, but nothing I've done has really solved the problem, although some things have helped.  Shortly before leaving I had Phil cut two more Lexan windows for the sides in the rear where the motor is located, and I had the shiny film placed on the insides of the windows to block the sunlight.  I pondered and searched and planned, to no avail, in my attempt to figure out what I could do to make or buy air scoops that could be mounted in the windows.  I noticed a small performance improvement when I made scoops out of 4" PVC reduced to 2" PVC and then attached swimming pool cleaning hose, running the hoses to the coils, and I think part of that was that the carburetors got a bit more air that was cooler than the air in the engine compartment.  

While looking at various options to serve as air scoops, I went to a local RV place and found some chrome dryer vents for RV's.  On the evening I found them I also learned they are listed as vents for boats in a boating catalog, but the price is double what they are when you find them at an RV place where they are known as RV dryer vents, even though it's pretty clear the same company makes them.  Anyway, after I found those I had Phil cut a hole in each of the new Lexan windows, and I bolted them in place a couple of hours before I went in to get some sleep so I could take off the next morning.  I also made some things I could stick into the air scoops to keep rain out and off the engine and electronics if I ran into that, and I tossed them in to take with me.

The performance improvement was very significant!!  The sunlight is restricted quite a bit more so it's not getting nearly as hot back there (as noted on my indoor/outdoor thermometer I mounted a couple of months ago to make scientific observations of temperature conditions and the factors that influence it in the engine compartment), and there is a lot more air flow into the engine compartment, which, in turn, has an impact on the temperature.  Early the first morning in Sturgis I did a couple of photos to show the new windows and air scoops, for those who have been following this part of the saga and pondering a project similar to this one.  My suggestion after struggling with this for two years is to get as much air flow into the engine compartment as possible.

Once again, after I arrived in Sturgis my internal clock was set to a different time zone so I was up early and headed downtown on Monday morning. I did some shots last year to show what Main Street looks like when it's deserted, but I had to do a couple more this time, too.  It doesn't take long, however, for people to start showing up, and, by 8:00 o'clock, a lot of people are on the streets already.  During the first morning there I was talking with some people who were looking at the trike, and, when the conversation ended, I felt a tap on my shoulder.  When I turned around I found myself looking at a familiar face, but it took a couple of seconds for me to realize it was my cousin who sold the GoldWing to me for the BugWing.  I was surprised to see him there, and soon learned he had purchased a new Harley a couple of months ago.  Right away my mind went into high gear and I started thinking about projects.  At one point I took him to his bike and did this photo, but, for some reason, I could never quite convince him to get rid of the Harley and make it my next "donorcycle." I'm not sure, but I think I heard him laughing at me when I walked off.  I could make some additional comments, in jest of course, but I won't do that since some people are touchy when it comes to teasing about brands.

Speaking of brands reminds me of something I saw and couldn't quite identify.  I did some photos of what I encountered at one point while walking around and I'm sure those who have far more experience than I have with "motorsickles" might be able to identify this unknown make.  I'm not sure what happened to it, though.  My best guess is the poor owner might have gone over a rock, or maybe something fell off a vehicle in front of him on the highway and he ran over it,  knocking something loose.  Who knows? I've never seen anything quite like it before.

Throughout the days downtown I wander around periodically looking at different things and meeting different people.  I stood off to the side and watched several times and did photos of people looking at the BugWing, some different views of Main Street with people present, a CMA couple I had a really enjoyable conversation with, and one of the guys I met one morning who left me with a really memorable quote.  While sitting in the BugWing one day resting my feet some familiar faces peered in at me, although Brian, on the right, is the one I've come to know best in the past couple of years since he and his partner have parked next to me probably each time I've been on Main Street in that time.  They have a sense of humor, but get down to business, if needed.  Brian even refused to allow me to buy him some ice cream one day, but maybe I'll get the chance another time when he's off duty.

My original plan was to leave Sturgis on Thursday morning to have a relatively leisurely ride to Omaha, but plans changed late Wednesday afternoon. I was approached by Tony who is with the Rat's Hole Custom Bike Show and he asked if I'd consider entering the BugWing in the show the next day. I told him about my plan to leave first thing Thursday morning, but, after talking with him a bit longer, I told him I'd consider it.  After we talked I did some calculating in my head and looked at the atlas to see what I'd have to do to get to Omaha by 5:00pm on Friday if I left by 5:00pm on Thursday.  I finally decided I could do it, so, on Wednesday night as I got ready to leave downtown for the last time this year, I did a shot of Jerome and his wife in their business on the corner they've occupied since 1991 and I headed for my tent.  

On Thursday morning I packed up the tent and headed outside Sturgis a few miles for the Rat's Hole show.  Tony had a place set aside for me to park so I could ride straight out the gate at the end of the day, and, after I got registered in the "Most Unusual" category, I started looking around to see what else was there.  I like rat bikes and trikes and it didn't take too long to find these works of art.  Obviously, I also like other trikes so I did photos of the Star Trike I first saw in Sturgis in 1991, although he'd been there before that with it.  At one point during the show he came to me with a copy of the Rapid City Journal that had a couple of photos in it, done on Main Street by a reporter from the paper, and he gave the paper to me.   In addition to the Star Trike, I also did photos of one, two, three, four, five other trikes in the show, all of which were really nice, and some of which would win one of the trophies to be given away at the end of the show that day.

One of the guys I got to talk with for some time that afternoon was Ivan, shown here with the BugWing.  It seemed pretty clear to me while talking to him and he was looking at the trike that the wheels were turning in his head for some kind of project when he got back home. I'll be interested to see what he comes up with.  When it came time for the award presentation, Ivan took the camera and did a shot of me getting the trophy when my name was called for Third Place in the Most Unusual category.  Since I had absolutely no space in the BugWing for anything else, and, since Tony indicated they'd mail the trophy to me when they returned to Florida, I had Ivan do another shot before I returned the trophy so it could be shipped later.

Very shortly after that photo was made I fired up the BugWing and headed for the gate and I-90.  I had to go back through Sturgis to get to it, and that took some time, given all the traffic on Lazelle.  Around 6:00 pm I was on I-90, headed for Omaha.  I rode that night until about 10:45 pm and decided I just had to stop and get some rest and some food.  I decided to pull off in the small town of Presho, SD, and found a motel.  The only thing open for food was a little place downtown that had a payphone in front of it, forcing me to do a photo of it for the Payphone Project.  In the middle of the street in front of that place was this sign.  I'm not sure what the population of Presho is since I haven't taken the time to look it up, but it's small enough last names aren't needed to know who is being honored.  They have my best wishes.

After having breakfast in the morning, I got back on the road and continued toward Omaha.  I've heard about the Corn Palace in Mitchell, although I had no idea what it was or what it looked like, so I had to go into town after fueling up so I could at least get a quick peek at it.  I saw it in the distance as I made my way down the street, and I rounded the block so I could get a better photo of it up closer.  I parked for a couple of minutes and did some other photos, during which time a couple of girls came up and talked with me for a while before I headed back to I-90.

After I got off I-90 I got onto I-29 for the final stretch into Omaha where I would meet up with a whole new crowd at the 5th Annual Central Art Car Exhibit and Celebration.  During that Friday afternoon some time on I-29 I stopped for a short time in a rest area and had a couple of other CMA riders pull in behind me.  I saw them back up the road, and they had seen me, so they pulled in when they noticed I had stopped.  After we talked for a while, we all went our separate ways.  While going down I-29 a car apparently kicked up a rock which chipped my windshield and put a crack in it about an inch visible when I do photos through the windshield.  It's showing signs of wear through little chips in the paint on the front, and, now, a chip in the windshield, but that's not unexpected since I made it to ride.  

While going down I-29, also, I pulled up on a Lexus with no lake pipes....yet,  going slower than I was going.  As I pulled into the passing lane an arm came out and waved with more enthusiasm than I'm used to seeing on the highways.  I waved back, and then noticed another vehicle in front of her.  I knew when I saw it I'd meet them in Omaha since I had no doubt we were headed for the same place.  It's not every day you see a car covered in leather cut from the seats of other cars in a salvage yard, also sporting a large wing on the roof that can be elevated by car jacks, and also sporting boxing gloves sticking out, front and rear, along with what appears to be Jaguar valve covers bolted to the hood.  Later, I'd learn the driver is every bit as colorful as his car.

When I pulled into Omaha at 4:00 pm I noticed a gas station that also had a car wash next door.  Since the BugWing had bugs all over it, along with a lot of dust from the week, I washed it after I got fuel.  I then continued my journey to the location where we were to meet for the Friday evening part of the show. When I left the gas station, though, I noticed an odor I had never encountered before, and it stayed with me all the way to the Friday night location.  I was wondering what that unusual smell might be, and wondering of there was some sort of manufacturing or packing plant or something else that would cause it. In reality, although unknown to me at the time, the source was inside the BugWing, inches from my right hand.

The trip from the gas station to the meeting place for Friday night only took about 15 minutes.  When I pulled in, Peter directed me into a parking spot and I slowly started meeting people who were there already, or who would arrive shortly after I parked.  I was on sensory overload from the week and  didn't get all the cars photographed that night.  I did do some, though, including Peter's van covered with computer circuit boards and other related items, a car I believe Peter did, a 1901 Oldsmobile (if I'm not mistaken...from Kansas), the back of Tom's Leather Car (a sight I'll never forget as I came up behind him on I-29 north of Omaha),  Martha's work-of-art in progress, this 600cc BMW modified in an aeronautical theme (from Kansas), and Peter's lawnmower with the BugWing in the background.   (If I didn't get your name right, or provided other incorrect information, it's because of the trauma I experienced, explained below, and I cannot be held responsible for not getting to see your name in print which would have burned it into my mind...for a little while, anyway)  During the evening, I also met Ken and Tina and had a long, very enjoyable conversation with them that came about then they drove by, saw the cars, and came back.  

A series of things happened that night while the cars were there in that parking lot, in that the lights in maybe a half dozen businesses around us went out and the power company seemed to be having trouble finding the difficulty, Mina locked her keys in her car, and, remember that odor I mentioned earlier......... Well, when I got into the BugWing at 10:00 pm that evening when we were all going to head for the hotel, my starter button wouldn't move.  I found that weird since I'm used to just getting in, bumping the button, and having it kick off immediately.  I pushed on the button again, but, again, it didn't move.  I pushed on it once more, this time with more effort, and it moved but stayed all the way in.  In addition to that, the motor would not start.

That started to concern me.  I was at a total loss to understand what took place, so I pulled a screwdriver out and took the control assembly apart, wanting to appear like I knew what I was doing.  That part of the controls contain the on/off switch and the starter button that had been on the GoldWing and it was used in the BugWing, along with the controls from the other side of the handle bar that contain the horn button, turn signal, and high/low beam switch. When I looked in the housing, it was clear the starter button had melted down.  That was what I had been smelling while on the way from the gas station.

At that point I had no clue what else may be wrong with it, and I had no clue how I'd get it to a shop to be repaired.  I could see myself being abandoned by my new friends (?) in a strange city with no one to care and to help me and no food or water or clean clothes, and I could imagine myself being in that parking lot until Tuesday, if I survived that long, sunburned, famished, without food, vultures circling overhead waiting patiently while I became delirious in the heat and I could see the BugWing being stripped of everything of value and its empty, dented, burned-out shell rusting in the weeds somewhere next to weedy, cracked concrete alleys littered with glass and other detritus discarded by those on the fringes of society, and.......... Before I got too far along in that visualization, fortunately, Peter and Dean slapped me around a little bit and brought me out of it, at which time
minds less traumatized than my own went into action while I stood around slobbering.  They came up with a plan.

Dean, who owns "Miss Vicky," (the car...the nice lady is Janice), would take Miss Vicky to the hotel on her trailer, he'd unload Miss Vicky, and then he'd drive all the way back across town to pick me up and take me to the hotel with the BugWing on the trailer.  That's exactly what happened.  I'm not sure how long it took Dean to get over there and back, due to my trauma, but, when he returned, a bunch of us pushed the BugWing up on his trailer, using a board
Peter had for the middle wheel to roll on.  The ramps for the front wheels fell off as soon as we got the front end on the trailer, as I recall, but at least it was there.  The back end went on without incident.  I had no motorcycle tie-downs since I'm not used to these things happening unless I'm in Hurricane, WV, and want a free ride back to Ashland, KY, to visit the Honda shop there, but Dean had two come-alongs.  After looking at various ways to use them to secure the BugWing, Dean had an idea that worked fine but left me feeling pretty jumpy.  When all was said and done, we were all at the hotel by 1:00 am, only about 2.5 hours later than anyone imagined.  My fears of being left in the parking lot to wait on vultures had not materialized.  I looked down from my 6th floor room and did another shot of the BugWing on a strange trailer it didn't know well.

I finally got some sleep that night and got up the next morning to start making calls to see if I could get some help with repairs.  The first several calls got me nowhere, and I started to wonder if I'd be knocked out of all the activity that day that would be taking place in three different stops.  I called the Honda shop at one point and learned they wouldn't be able to get a new control assembly in until the following week.  After pondering things for a while, I called the Honda shop again and asked if they'd be able to do a temporary fix for me.  They weren't sure, but invited me to come out.  I got directions to the PowerSportsPro shop which was a good distance from where I was, and, after seeing some of the people off in the parking lot of the hotel, I started toward their shop....still feeling jumpy about the way the BugWing was tied down.  

It made the trip without incident, however, and I went in immediately and picked up four tie-downs.  After that I made my way to the service counter where I appeared as pathetic as I could possibly appear, seeking to play on their sympathy for a stranger stranded in a strange town with a mutant 1981 Honda Goldwing.  It worked.  Steve went right to work, clipping the old starter button out and wiring in a new, temporary button.  It started right up, and, after I paid for the tie-downs and work Steve did, I tied the BugWing down even more and headed for the second stop of the day at Trovato's restaurant where the group had just arrived.

Some people I talked to at a stop light were kind enough to lead me right where I needed to go, and, when I pulled into a parking lot across the street from Trovato's, I was only a few feet from a place in the parking lot Dean was smart enough to see and use as an unloading dock.  After I drove the BugWing across the street and parked it in the lot at Trovato's, I started doing some catching up on what had happened at the first stop the group made at the Children's Museum, and started talking to people who were looking at the cars in the lot.  in addition, I did some photos of the back of Miss Vicky, Peter and Christine, the Fat Rat, the car painted by the kids at the museum earlier in the day, and another one of Peter and Christine with the Ambulance to the Future.   

When it came time to leave we headed for another part of Omaha; that being the Old Market where we parked at Ted and Wally's.  While Peter was on top of a truck at one point I gave him my camera so he could get a view of the parking lot from up higher and he did this one, and this one of the Women That Rock van.  After having some ice cream and getting to talk with more people in the parking lot, we moved on again with Peter leading the group on a short tour before we headed to his studio where the cars were parked in his studio parking lot for the night.

Jan, who drives the Cork Truck, was walking around in the lot while Peter directed people in to park, and, after the parking was completed, I managed to do some more photos of some of the cars, including Twink, Mina's Transformation, Women That Rock, the Fat Rat and JAO's truck, the Aerocar and BugWing, the Leather Car with Martha's car, the Yellow Submarine, another one of Women That Rock, and a closer view of Mina's Transformation.  A little while later, Erika and Don showed up, so I managed to do this photo of Erika and Don with Erika's Scout, and another one of them with Don's Route 6 Nebraska car.  

Peter and Christine hosted a big gathering that evening, and, during that time, I stopped Erika and Don, and Peter and Christine, long enough to do these photos of us together.  I also meandered around the studio doing photos of some of the art work Peter, and Christine, have done for display, and for sale. Peter does a lot of metal sculpture, something I'm particularly interested in, and something he's very good at doing and has on display throughout his studio. Some time during the evening I took advantage of a ladder to the roof so I could see all the cars in the lot after dark.  Some time in the evening, also, I caught the shuttle back to the hotel for some sleep since we had a group run over to Hastings the next day as part of the Route 6 Nebraska Art Car Cruise organized by Don, which was part of the Kool-Aid Days held in Hastings, since that is where Kool-Aid originated.

I rode with Peter and Christine over to the parking lot at Peter's studio the next morning, and, while getting ready to leave for Hastings, I noticed Tom trimming his Leather Car.  Don led us on the scenic route out of and into and then out of Omaha from Peter's studio, and, after we got on the road  somewhere, I did this photo of JAO's truck while the framework for her artwork was still up.  As we proceeded toward Hastings, however, the wind became stronger and the framework had to come down when we entered Lincoln.  We fueled up in Lincoln, lined up, and headed out again for Hastings, where we gathered in a park on Route 6, we ate, and we talked with each other and people who were looking at the cars.  I did a few more photos while there, including this one of The Unruly Julies, JAO after completing one of her speed paintings, the front of the Women That Rock van, me in the Fat Rat,  Peter screaming  by between frequent crashes in the Rat that is tricky to learn to handle with its flopping mouth, wagging head, and unusual fork, and Erika with her van. When things wrapped up in the park we took a short break, and then gathered as a group for a meal at one of the establishments in Hastings before heading back to the motel where we said goodbyes.

When I got up the following morning I went to the motel office to get some coffee, and asked the lady at the desk where I might find a place to fuel and eat at the same stop.  She provided directions, and, after talking with a few more people in the motel parking lot, I headed out.  While fueling, I saw Tom drive in. He noticed I was gone from the motel, but learned from the lady at the motel desk where I had gone for fuel so he tracked me down.  We had a really enjoyable conversation about a variety of topics while sitting in the restaurant, and I had to do some more photos while we sat and talked.  In response to one thing Tom said an image flashed in my mind so I asked him if he'd flex his muscles for me and allow me to do a photo of that pose.  Somewhat sheepishly, he agreed to do it, but wanted it done quickly so it wouldn't draw attention.  Some time later, while riding down the highway toward Kansas, a thought struck me about Tom and that pose.   Here's a guy who drives a car covered with leather cut from the seats of cars in a salvage yard, it has boxing gloves sticking out front and back, a huge wing on top of it with elevation of the wing being controlled by car jacks, and Jaguar valve covers bolted to the hood.  Not only that, but he's going to put lake pipes on his Lexus.....................and he cares what people think of him!!! LOL I've laughed about that one a number of times, Tom.

After I entered into Kansas I blew by the turnoff to the Geographic Center of the USA.  I'm not sure how many times I've been on that highway, and, in all the years I've lived in Kansas, I've never taken the time to go see it.  I turned around in Lebanon, headed back north to the turnoff, and then went west to see the sights.  After walking around for a while, looking at an abandoned attempt to make a go of a motel at the center of the USA and a cross in the trees, I photographed the plaque on the monument and the BugWing with the monument.  Following that, I headed on home with a lot of memories from the week and some new friends I look forward to seeing in the future....................

Max, who drives "Twink," a distinctive VW Bug, has done such an outstanding job of capturing the essence of the Art Car weekend in his photos, I'm going to link to his work right here.  

The Art Car Group in Hastings

August 27, 28, & 29

This was a weekend I've been looking forward to for some time, and it went well beyond my expectations for being a good one.  It all started last May when I went to Alton, KS, for a run to benefit the Heartland Teen Challenge Center, at which time I met several people in Alton and got to talk with them for some time.  A bit over a month later I went to the Sunday morning service at the Woodston Campground, and, during that service, learned the dedication of the Teen Challenge Center would be that day following the service.

After the lunch and dedication ceremony, I ran into Tony and his wife Robin, and I ran into Deanna Roach, all of whom I had met during my previous run to Alton, with the exception of Tony's wife.  Following that encounter, Deanna asked me if I would consider bringing the BugWing up to Alton for the parade which is part of their Annual Jubilee, and she asked me if I would do the church service on Sunday morning.  Since that weekend was already scheduled for our annual State CMA rally, I contacted my Area Rep, who, in turn, contacted the State Coordinator, and both of them told me I should go to Alton.  

Arrangements were made to do that, and, through a number of e-mails exchanged with Deanna, final preparations were made.  In one e-mail she told me a couple by the names of Doug and Linda Norris would allow me to stay at their Cottonwood Farm, which is east of Alton and is one of two places they have to rent out to quail, pheasant, and other hunters who come in from all over the country and can hunt on private land as part of the package deal they offer.  They also make it available to people who just want to get away to a really nice, quiet place in the country for a while, and that sounded good to me.  

After I got the BugWing loaded on Friday afternoon I headed north for Alton, fueled up in Osborne, and went to the Cottonwood Farm where I met Doug and Linda who had already told me to
make myself at home and just go on to the house they opened up to me.  After I pulled in I saw Doug in the yard, and found out I had made it to the right place.  Although I'm far too kind to say so out loud (most of the time), I wondered a bit about Doug when I first saw him since he had a tie on, along with a hat and cheap, tinny-looking badge in the hat band.  I didn't want to stare or get up really close to him to see what the badge said, but, while trying to sneak a peek at the letters on the badge, I wondered what I had gotten myself into.  He looked harmless enough, although perhaps a bit eccentric (or something), so I took my stuff inside after he left and I could see he was safely off in the distance.

I wandered around the farm yard a bit just looking around, and then his wife drove in.  Shortly after she drove in, Doug returned.  She seemed far too nice to be married to someone dressed like he was, and, while he talked with her I learned he was looking for his gun.  Guns are fine with me since I like to shoot and I've never been "politically correct," but it makes you wonder if someone with a cheap, phony badge stuck in his hat band should really be looking for one.   While he and his wife talked, however,  I soon learned from a comment she made that he was in costume getting ready for dress rehearsal for the play in the park on Saturday night.  A wave of relief came over me. LOL  (Just kidding about all this, except for the way he was dressed and how nice both of them really are........but I never did find out what his badge said).

After talking with them for a while I ran back over to Osborne, and then returned and went into Alton.  As soon as I hit the downtown area I saw Tony, so I pulled over to talk to him and some others who gathered around.  While talking to him and the others I noticed a gentleman standing 15-20 feet away, waiting patiently.  When Tony and the others left, this gentleman approached me and asked immediately and asked me about my father's name.  When I told him, he informed me he bought a disk from my father when we left the farm northwest of Agra and moved away, and that was 55 years ago!!  I learned his name is Jim King, and, after talking with him for a while, I asked if I could go see the disk.  

He took me a few blocks away and showed me what I did not remember seeing before, although I know I had to have seen it while we lived on the farm.  I posed him with it so I could show my parents, even though my father will probably not recognize it or him due to Alzheimer's.  He also showed me some of his other things, some of which I had never seen before, and we got to talk for quite a while. I picked up some additional history during that conversation, and I did some black and white photos of Mr. King in various locations.
After talking with Mr. King I rode over to the park where I watched the tent being put up, and I talked with a few more people before I headed out to the Cottonwood Farm to get some rest in a really quiet, beautiful, Kansas setting.  That evening, while out there walking around the yard for a while thinking about the sermon I would do on Sunday morning in the tent, the significance of the tent in my family heritage, in that part of the State, hit me.

Many years ago, north of Agra, my grandfather on my father's side, his brothers and sisters,  and my mother's parents, attended tent revival meetings. Initially, some of those relatives were on the rowdy side, and, from what I've heard, made fun of those who attended those tent meetings.  However, God got hold of them and my grandfather on my father's side was one of the three founding deacons of the Pleasant Green Assembly of God north of Agra, shown here as it is now, before he was killed in a tractor accident. In addition, some of his brothers became pastors, one sister married a pastor, they've had children who went into ministry, etc.  In addition to the significance of the tent, I was born in Smith Center, just a few miles up the road from Alton and Osborne, we lived on the farm north of Agra, as a child I attended some camp meetings at Woodston just a few miles west of Alton, and, after a number of years of taking the wrong paths myself, I changed course and I've been involved in ministry through CMA, only my involvement has been on the road, at rallies, and, now, speaking, unexpectedly, in a tent not far from where my parents, grandparents, and other relatives attended tent meetings and camp meetings many years ago.  

After a good night of sleep Friday night I got up early and got ready to head for town, but not before having breakfast that was brought to me by Doug (who was not wearing his badge or tie)!! As I made my preparations to leave I did this photo through the back door and the back porch,  this photo of the BugWing with cows across the fence, and this one of the house Doug and Linda let me use.  Cottonwood Farm is just a couple of miles out of Alton, and, while on the way into town, I did one of Alton in the distance, and another one as I came to the Al
ton city limits.  When I pulled off the highway I spotted Doug and Linda who greeted people as they came into town for the parade, and then I made my way down to the CO-OP where I got my number and found out where I was supposed to be in line for the parade.  I'm not sure how many made it to the parade, but I understand over 100 numbers were staked out.  While waiting, I talked to other parade participants, Mr. King walked across the street and we went back to his garden where he had okra growing, a box of which he gave to me before I left the next afternoon, and I amused myself shooting a reflection in the new tinted Lexan windows with RV dryer vents, cleverly disguised as air scoops, in the BugWing.

I was number seven in line for the parade, so I made my way toward town, and through town, being careful not to lose control and hit the mayor in a buggy ahead of me, and then I parked and got to watch the rest of the parade.  I did a number of photos, a few of which I'll show here, and they included the Bull City Opry Company float, a photo of Deanna Roach (who invited me to do all of this) and her daughter, and a taxi from Portis where I met the gentleman a few months back in his old Chevy police car.

That afternoon, I had lunch and talked with people in the park who came by and looked at the BugWing.  One of those people was "Cat" who has done the Run For The Wall on the Southern Route and somehow heard about me.  We talked and laughed and had an emotional conversation about our experiences on the RFTW before she had to leave, but I saw her briefly in the tent service the next morning.   In addition, I attended parts of the antique tractor pull, and watched as more and more people brought their lawn chairs to find a place where they could watch the Bull City Opry do the play that evening.  For a while I meandered around town doing black and white photos of some of the buildings, including the post office and a section of another building that would look good to me in black and white, but was also sad because of what was happening to it and many other buildings in small towns everywhere.  Although some of the buildings are in need of work, this town does an amazing job of pulling together to put on a parade as large as it is, along with the play and other events that take place during this weekend each year.  I was very pleasantly surprised with what I saw.

While I wandered around doing photos of the buildings, I also ran into Darrel who was kind enough to take me to his tractor and start it for me.  He was among those I saw immediately and got to talk with on Friday night when I came into Alton, and, from our conversation while he showed me his tractor, it was clear to me he knows far more about tractors than I'll ever know about them.

After the play got underway I stood by the tree and watched the various skits that were done, and had been based on old TV shows.  While the play was taking place I noticed Dave (shown here on the left) had joined me.  He and I had talked on Main Street earlier in the afternoon and we quietly watched the play, until, very late in the production during a change in scenes, I made some comment about being amazed how many people showed up for the play and other events that had taken place so far that day.  Dave calmly replied by saying,
"I think the biggest crowd we ever had was when Earl jumped his truck."

When Dave said that, I knew I was about to hear something really good!!  I wasn't disappointed.  To make a really interesting story relatively short, it seems Earl, who was present at the play that evening but I didn't get to meet him, placed a truck trailer at the south end of town near the school, and put the front of the trailer down in the ditch.  Some dirt was piled up in front of it to make a smooth transition from the road onto the trailer, and the wheels of the flat bed trailer elevated the rear of the trailer, from which Earl would jump out into a field that had several cars in it lined up, apparently, side-by-side.  I'm really not sure what all happened, but I understand Earl was going to make a run down the north/south street on the east edge of Alton, run up to the trailer like Evel Knievel would do, stop, go back to the north part of town, and then make the real run and jump the truck into the cars to cushion his landing.  It didn't go that way.

It seems Earl started at the north end of town, noticed oil pressure was low and the water temperature was high, knew he had only one run before the truck motor ceased to exist, so he headed down the street with no communication to let others know what he was going to do.  I'm told he was wearing a motorcycle helmet and a lap belt, with what appears to be only a headache rack for a roll bar.  He missed third gear but got up a head of steam anyway, he hit the trailer serving as his ramp, cleared all the cars with the exception of the roof of the last one he took off, he hit the dirt nose down, almost went over, rocked it side-to-side, spun around, and got out somewhat dazed, but alive!  Dave cracked me up even further when he ended the story by saying,
"Truck jumping is best not left to amateurs."  Now, I don't know if Earl agrees with that or not, but Dave's entitled to his opinion.  I might have to agree, though, Earl, whoever you are.  

I couldn't believe what I was hearing from Dave's mouth, but I knew it had to be true.  I got to laughing so hard I had to walk away a couple of times from the southwest corner of the crowd watching the play, just so I wouldn't bother any of them.  Dave assured me the truck was still sitting in the north part of town where they pulled it after Earl's jump, so I knew I'd be forced to go see it.  On Sunday morning on the way to the church service, I did just that and here it is.  I'm pretty sure there will never be any more truck jumping ever again at the Alton Jubilee, and, from what little I heard when I brought the topic up with some people I ate lunch with in the tent after the church service on Sunday morning, it was pretty clear it's a legendary event in the life of little Alton, KS.  I'm just surprised Earl doesn't sell signed T-shirts to help raise money for the Alton Jubilee.  

If you witnessed this feat and want to toss your two cents worth in regarding this event, e-mail it to me and let me know if I have permission to put it in this site, or not.  If anyone can get a 640 X 480 digital photo of Earl, and his permission to use it here, let me know.  
I hope you were at the service I preached in the tent on Sunday morning, Earl, since stunts like that can have a negative impact on life expectancy.

Speaking of the service on Sunday morning,  I did go by to photograph Earl's truck on the way into town, like I said, and then I went to the tent that was set up in the park.  I was the first one there, but, shortly after I arrived, I met the guys running sound, helped them set up their equipment, and watched while they did some checking of the equipment.  For a while I wondered if many people would show up for the service, but, all of a sudden, it seemed like they were all flocking in and there was quite a crowd in the tent after even more arrived.  Pastor Rob did introductions, Curtis sang and others did some music as well, and then I did the sermon.  After that, chairs and tables were rearranged, food appeared from nowhere, and it was outstanding.

When the meal was finished, I stayed around and talked with a number of people, but the crowd thinned and disappeared so I got in the BugWing and started to leave myself.  I ran into Deanna on Main Street, talked with her for just a little while, talked with Dave and (I forgot your name, too) at the payphone I photographed, Mr. King and I found each other and I got my okra, and then I headed for home...thinking about the weekend all the way and what a good one it had been for me.  I hope you'll have me back some time!!