February 1, 2003:

A couple of days ago I received an e-mail from a good friend of mine who is the First Officer of the Panhandle Chapter of the Southern Cruisers Riding Club out of Alva, OK., who reported the chapter was meeting in Burlington, OK, for breakfast.  Since I did not get to make as many meetings of the chapter as I'd have liked last year, and since I had nothing scheduled for today when he e-mailed me, I got on the road at 7:00am to meet up with the rest of the chapter in Burlington.  My fuel capacity is still not adequate so I fueled up in Medicine Lodge and got to meet a number of people there before I had to get back on the road.  I made it to Burlington a few minutes later than I had planned and found the rest of them eating, or waiting on their breakfast to be prepared.  After catching up a little on what had been going on down there we did a group shot of most of the people there (at least those who would cooperate, Marsha), and then everyone went on their way.  John e-mailed later and said some of them went on to Gloss Mountain (where ever that is), and they climbed the steps to the top where they could see Lone Peak.  It sounds like a really scenic place, but he also said "...you should have heard all the moaning and wheezing" on the climb to the top.

I've gone down to Alva several times in the past two years, and really enjoy taking in some of that "Okie culture," the highlight of which for me is the burnout contest after a car and bike show.  The first one I saw was in the parking lot of some little shopping center, and this past year it was downtown on a street they'd blocked off.  They let them burn the tires til they blew if they wanted to the first year, but limited them to 10 seconds this past year, after which they had to take off. John said rubber marks are still on the street.

After I left Burlington, I stopped in Kiowa, KS, and talked with a number of people in the gas station where I got some coffee, and showed them an album of photos I have in the BugWing with many of the shots of construction of it found in this site.  I then continued my ride back to Medicine Lodge where I spent maybe an hour talking with a number of people in the gas station there, and some of them also looked at the album.  From there I went to Pratt where I ran into a guy on Main Street. I've known him for many years, and, after we parted ways, I went to another gas station on the east edge of town where I spent maybe two hours talking with truckers, some others I know in the CMA chapter down there who happened to ride by, and a number of other people who stopped while I was there.

After leaving Pratt, I went on to St. John where I stopped for fuel.  While fueling up, Curt, Blair, Patty, and Dennis, all from Bikers of Central Kansas, rode by.  They turned around, pulled in, and we all talked for a while.  Blair had organized a ride today you can read about at the last link above.   Like Curt said in his narrative account of the day, I went another direction, or I'd have accompanied them back to Great Bend.  I stopped to see a cousin and his family, but, as it turned out, they weren't home.   A few more found out about, or were reminded of, the message today.

February 21 & 22, 2003:

I had mixed feelings about this trip.  Ralph Snyder, a 71-year-old member of CMA who was with the Hyway Harvesters chapter out of Augusta, died.  His funeral was conducted in Wellington on the 22nd, with Wayne Harrelson, CMA State Representative for Kansas, officiating.

I left late on Friday afternoon and spent the night in the Wichita area.  On Saturday morning I met up with one group who rode their bikes or showed up in cars, and we left Andover as a group to ride to Wellington.  Others came in from all over the State.  I felt for those on bikes since I believe the temperature may have been in the high-20's, or so, it was very overcast, and it gets pretty cool while riding at those temperatures.

Wayne's comments during the service made it clear what Ralph wanted him to say to those who attended.  Wayne didn't use the precise words found in my references to "the message," but the essence of that message is what Wayne said at Ralph's request.......and he did so, very clearly.  While reading in one of my daily devotional booklets for the 22nd, the day of Ralph's funeral, I found this and I was reminded of some other things Wayne said during the service.

I said my feelings were mixed.  It won't be the same not seeing Ralph at rallies and other events, and I can assure you he'll be missed by a lot of people.  I didn't know Ralph nearly as well as Wayne, but he always had a warm greeting and I don't think I ever saw him without a smile on his face.  Ralph served as a hospital chaplain in the past few years, and Wayne mentioned Ralph even started a Bible study while he was hospitalized.  Although many people are sad and mourning at this time, there is also the comfort that comes with knowing where Ralph is home now.

After the service, a procession of motorcycles and then cars went to the cemetery for the graveside service.  Since snow was predicted for later in the day or the night, and, since it was much cooler than had been forecast and also overcast, I was concerned about getting caught in weather I didn't want to be in while in the BugWing.  For that reason, I headed for home instead of going north to the Wichita area for the dinner following the service.

However, as I proceeded west on highway 160, I eventually ran into sun.  I made a stop in Harper, KS, for some coffee, and, while there, ran into other CMA members who had been at the funeral, and I got to meet and talk with quite a crowd of really nice people from that area.  I didn't think of it soon enough to get a photo of the group when a number of others were there, but I did get a photo of this group before I got back on the road.  It was really nice meeting you and getting to talk with all of you and the others as well!!

As I went through St. John I needed fuel so I stopped and met some more really nice people at the gas station.  I made a stop in town to see a cousin (not at home again), and a guy and his wife pulled up to look at the BugWing.  He saw me pull out of the gas station and found me, following which we talked for a while.  He then went to get his father and called someone else, and I met them at his father's business so he could see what I was in, too.  Nice meeting all of you, too.

I met a lot of people while on this run.  I think Ralph would want me to remind all of you of the message he asked Wayne to deliver at his funeral.

February 26, 2003

Our CMA chapter was invited to participate in the DFYIT day (Drug Free Youth In Town) here in Great Bend, and 12 chapter members (some not shown) were able to take the day to participate.  We set up a two-part booth, with one side of the aisle displaying the drag bike, a Phaser, and the BugWing, and the other side of the aisle displaying a V-Rod, a V-Max, some dirt bikes, and our table with video tape playing and literature displayed for the taking.   Our purpose for being there was to share the message.