May, 2004

May 1 & 2, 2004

Last night, Friday, April 30, was the start of the 9th Annual Macksville (KS) Biker's Weekend that our CMA chapter, the Rapture Riders, and Gabriel's Thunder, co-sponsor.  We've started meeting in Macksville on Friday evening to do some setting up, and to have a cookout/potluck.  After I arrived I put my tent up, did some running around talking with some of those who arrived that evening, and then got in on some of the food in the shelter house.  It rained off and on, and, sometimes, the rain was fairly heavy Friday night.  It was also cool and got down into the 30's Friday and Saturday night.  After some really good conversation throughout the evening I finally decided to call it a night and hit the rack.

On Saturday morning, bikes started meeting on Main Street in Macksville so we could head out and do the 100-mile "Run for The Son" ride.  After we left Macksville, we headed for the 281/50 junction east of town, and then headed north to Great Bend where we met up with more riders who joined us for the remainder of the ride.  Some of those joining us included Luie (and, later, Bo) of The MEN MC, Randy with the Vietnam Vets MC, and a number of riders from the Kansas Sidewinders.  

After leaving Great Bend, we headed to Larned where we made another stop and more riders hooked up with the group.  Following that stop, we rode on to Kinsley where riders joined us from the south and the north to continue the ride to Macksville.  While standing around talking, I did this shot at one point, but didn't see Randy from the VVMC to include him.  Down the street a few feet, some women were engaged in some sort of tug of war, or something I never did figure out, and one of them somehow wound up on the street laughing about something.  After everyone was fueled up, we took off for the city park in Macksville to complete the ride.

When we arrive in the park after these runs, we start the afternoon by making some announcements, and then by brief devotionals and prayer from the Chaplains of the two chapters.  After serving seven years as Chaplain of our chapter, and then two years as President, I announced last October it was time not to consider my name for an office.  However, our Chaplain had to resign two weeks ago, so, when asked at that meeting,  I allowed my name to be put in for consideration.  I had no clue when I went to the meeting that night that our Chaplain was going to need to resign, but I found it interesting that, during the week before that happened, I had read a certain passage twice, and, both times, I thought to myself I'd be preparing a devotional on that passage if I were Chaplain.  I'm Chaplain again.

Anyway, after prayer to start the afternoon, the registration tables were opened in the shelter house.  We like to have a count on the number of people attending the rally, and, the last I heard, we had around 273 who registered officially.  However, a number of people did not make it to registration.  I'd guess we could easily add 50 or more to the 273, with others coming and going throughout the day and evening.  When people register, they also get tickets for door prize drawings held throughout the day.

After an hour or so set aside for people to get registered, set up camp sites, and get something to eat from one of the food vendors, the bike games are started on this street, and another street,  on the south side of the park.  Yvonne and Vic in our chapter do an excellent job of taking care of games for the kids while the adults are participating in, or watching, the bike games.  

One of the games played this year was the piston toss, which requires the passenger to toss a piston into a triangle that has different sections marked off with different points awarded, depending on which part of the triangle the piston lands in......if the triangle is even hit by the passenger from a moving bike.  Some of the Southern Cruisers Riding Club guys from Alva, OK, watched while Mike and Deana did the piston toss, and they also watched another game that is fun to watch, and hard to do.

I'm not sure what it's called, but two bikes are set up, and two contestants place their heads on baseball bats some distance from the bikes.  When told to "go," they spin around the baseball bat 10 times, holding their head on it, while someone counts.  When they hit 10, they try to run to one of the bikes, turn the key on, and honk the horn.  The first one there wins, and winners get to compete with someone else until there is the final winner.  This  person from our chapter, who shall remain unnamed, managed to spin around maybe three times before going down. I managed to spin around 10 times, but promptly fell down and couldn't get up to even try to run to a bike.

Our run this year was in memory of Daniel Trickey, who was a member of our chapter.  Daniel died several months ago after he stepped off his motorcycle when he arrived one day at the church he pastored.  I'll do a photo of the front of the shirt and place it in later.  During the games, though, I did this photo of the back of the shirt on Pat while he stood in the crowd watching some of the games.

After everyone recovered from being dizzy, the next game was the slow race.  I borrowed Denise's V-Max and actually made it through twice before I was eliminated.  That's a record for me since I'm usually knocked out on my first run.  Craig, the guy on the left,  Mike Z. were really good.  On one run they did, four of us could not tell which one crossed the line first since it was so close. They had to make the run again for first place and Mike got it, but it was close.

The barrel race followed the slow race, and people chased barrels all over the place.  I borrowed Denise's bike again, made it through twice, and got eliminated again.  It's harder than it looks, and that was the first time I had ever done it.  I enjoyed the sound of the 4-into-1 exhaust on her bike. I don't think there is a better sounding motor than a V-Max with a 4-into-1 Hindle.

When the games were completed, people meandered back over to the bandshell where the first order of business was a haircut.  Milo, from the chapter in Hutchinson, had long hair when he walked up onto the bandshell, but it was gone when he walked off.  The ponytail was the first to go, and he then had his head shaved by a friend of his who shook the whole time he whittled on him.  I don't remember the name of the organization, but the hair is being donated to them.

After Milo's haircut, there was some more music in the bandshell while groups of people watched and listened and did photos of me doing photos. Later in the day, I wandered over to the campsite where the Hyway Harvesters chapter set up, and, while sitting there talking, Joey came over and sat down with a blanket over her shoulders.  It was at this point I learned the truth about an incident I photographed last year when I caught our Chaplain breaking into his own camper.  (see May, 2003) It was my understanding he had locked them out.  However, I learned he had not done that and Joey had been the one to do it.  This year, she had the blanket around her shoulders since she hadn't thought to bring a jacket to stay warm during the cool days and nights.  I wonder what it will be next year..........

After a short, cool night in the tent while the temperature dropped into the low or mid-30's, I believe, it was time to get up at 5:00am so I could go join the crew making breakfast.  I didn't sleep all that well since I was in fear of being chastised by Beth <g> if I wasn't there on time to do my duty; that being, making the coffee and keeping the cups full.  I strolled in before some of the others so I didn't feel bad, and I went right to work making coffee and keeping the pots full all while we served breakfast.  At one point, and I'm not sure how it happened, one of the kitchen crew members dropped a pot of gravy that went everywhere.  It was cleaned up and recycled (just kidding).  

Following breakfast, we all moved into the sanctuary of the Free Methodist church for the service.  After the service, those in attendance made their way back to the park a block north of the church where tents, trailers, motor homes, and bikes were packed up for the trips home.  I made my way to St. John where I stopped for some pizza at Gambino's, and then I headed for Great Bend where I pulled the memory card out of the digital camera, made some prints at Walgreens, and then delivered them to Ellinwood for some kids I photographed while the sat in the BugWing.  I'm always worn out after these weekends, but it's one of my favorites each year.  If you haven't made it yet, you really need to put the first weekend in May in the appointment book and head for Macksville with your tent and sleeping bag.......

May 8, 2004

The fifth annual Run to benefit the new Spiritual Life Center at Ellsworth Correctional Facility was held today in Ellsworth.  I don't have all the facts about how it came about, but, this run was started five years ago to serve as one method of raising funds to build the SLC.   It's completed now.  

I left home around 9:00am for the ride to Ellsworth where, the last I heard, around 270 bikes registered for the run after meeting at the old Armory.  I walked around talking with people thoughout the morning, and ran into some I hadn't seen for a couple of years.  At noon, the group headed out for the ride and started by circling the Ellsworth Correctional Facility.  When we first entered the ground to circle the prison the white spire of the Spiritual Life Center was visible.  We rode around the outside of the fences while the inmates watched, and then hit the highway to head for Bunker Hill where we made our first stop.  

We made another stop in Lincoln, and then made our way back to Ellsworth where those who made the ride started checking in, eating, and hanging out to hear who won the prizes, with the big one being $1000.00.  One of those who checked in was Casey, who was instrumental in starting the Northwest Kansas Bike Show held in Goodland, KS, each September.  I first met Casey and some of his friends at a gas station just across the Kansas/Colorado line on New Years Day back in 1993 or 1994, when my wife and I were on our way back to Kansas from Colorado.  They were on their bikes doing a New Years Day run out across the Colorado line and then back to Goodland.  
While talking to people out among the bikes today before the run, Casey and Linda came up to me today to say hello.   I've been able to make it to three of the bike shows in Goodland since I first met Casey, and, the first time I had the BugWing on the road to go anywhere, less than 12 hours after it first hit the road, was to go to the Northwest Kansas Bike Show in Goodland (see Travelogue, September 2002).  If you've never attended this one, it's one worth going to!!  

The oldest rider today was 77+ years old, and the youngest passenger was Nicole and Byron's son who is, I think, 20 months old.  In addition to pickking oldest rider, youngest passenger, etc., many prizes were available for those who purchased tickets for the drawings.  An auction was held for this pedal car and gas pump, and Ivan, husband of Deana who rides our chapter drag bike, did the auction.  Rose (red shirt in the background with arms crossed and a really determined look), grandmother of the youngest passenger, rider of "Harlena," her Harley, and rider of a Valkyrie, stayed in the bidding for quite a while with a really determined look on her face and no hesitation when it came to bumping up the bid.  

After all the prizes were handed out, people started heading out to go home.  Before I left, though, I did this shot of Leeroy (and Rose), with Dwight and Ivan looking on.  Leeroy was really involved in getting things moving on the Spiritual Life Center, and has been very involved in the Run each year, in addition to doing Bible study with inmates in ECF.  I was also approached by another friend and asked if I had any tools with me.  If I hadn't known already what he rode, I'd have known what he was riding when he asked me for tools................sorry, I couldn't help myself.

May 15, 2004

For weeks I've been hearing
announcements on KPRD radio about a run in Alton, KS, to benefit the Heartland Teen Challenge center housed in the old school in Alton.  I decided to head up there today to see what it was all about, and finally got on the road around 9:30.  I believe I've gone off the highway into Alton before just to look around, but I'm not sure.  At any rate, I found the park, parked the BugWing,  got registered,  started meeting people, and got something to eat.   One of the guys I met was Jim, who, as it turned out, was two years ahead of me in high school in Great Bend and married Sharon, one of my classmates.   I also ran into some people who talked to me in Sturgis last year.  Just before registering, Leeroy and Rose rode in, along with Steve.  I thought I could shake them today and head for a part of the State where I was sure they wouldn't show up, but no such luck <G>

The run was scheduled to start at 1:00 and then head for Stockton, down to Plainville to make a stop in the park, on to Bogue, back to Stockton for another stop in the park there,  on to Phillipsburg for a stop, and then, finally, on to Smith Center for the final stop.  Just before we left, we got some instructions on the route we'd be taking, and then we took off.  At one stop, Leeroy, Rose, and I counted 38 bikes, but two or three had pulled out before that stop.  

When we made it to Phillipsburg for our stop we pulled into the park and I headed for the check in.  While walking away from the BugWing I looked back and saw some people checking it out.  After I made it back I had the opportunity to meet and talk with some of them for a while, and found some of them knew some relatives of mine who lived in the area years ago, along with some others who are still in the area.  

When we made it into Smith Center (where I was born a block west of where we stopped the run), we went to the park where food was waiting and prizes were distributed.  The guy who took first prized donated every penny of it ($375.00, I believe) back to the run to benefit the Heartland Teen Challenge center. I took the prize for riding the longest distance, and I now have a shiny, new tube of some ointment formulated to help a sensitive, painful,  affliction.  

Not long after we ate and the prizes were distributed, most people needed to head for home.  Four boys had talked to me for a while when we first arrived, and they and a girl approached me when I was preparing to leave.  They wanted my autograph  so I signed BugWing business cards for them that have the plan of salvation on the back.  Two of them wanted their shirts signed, so I did that, too.  

After getting gas, I headed south.  While approaching Portis, I saw the shadow of the BugWing and did a shot of it as I rounded the corner to go into town. While going through Portis I happened to look to my right and noticed a pay phone just as I was passing it.  I turned around and parked so I could do a shot of it to send to a guy in New York who has the Payphone Project web site.  While positioning myself to do the shot I noticed a guy in a Toyota van drove by on the wrong side of the street, looking at the BugWing, and went into a building that had been a gas station years ago.  When I got back in the trike and got ready to leave I looked in my rear view mirror and couldn't believe what I was seeing.    

It turned out to be a 1931 Chevrolet with a flashing red light that said "Police," mounted right in the middle of the hood near the windshield.  It seems that Mike Dunnigan, "self-appointed constable," detected suspicious activity when he noticed a strange vehicle parked near the City Office, and he also noticed some guy was taking pictures of the pay phone.  Mike was quick to spring into action.  He bailed out of his civilian vehicle, ran to the garage in the old gas station, put on his conductor's cap, fired up the official "self-appointed" constablemobile, and lit me up before I could make my getaway.

Needless to say, I didn't try to run.  Instead, I talked my way out of a ticket by smooth-talking Mike, feigning interest in his uniform, cap, and vehicle. It was during that conversation I learned his 1931 Chevy, owned previously by his brother, had been on blocks "for 21 years before 1988" when Mike got it off the blocks and started driving it during apprehensions of desperados making their way into Portis causing trouble.  It was during that time, also, I learned Mike's grandfather had been the constable in Portis for many years, and I learned Mike is the one-man "sanitation department" in Portis.  Mike's sanitation truck is his El Camino, and he picks up enough trash around town that he has to make two runs to the dump to get rid of all of it.  

Seriously, I had a really enjoyable conversation with Mike and hope to see him again sometime.  A photo of the payphone in Portis is now in the Payphone Project site right here, and all the other photos I've e-mailed to him can be found here.  Finally, a story I spontaneously cranked out while sending photos of my search for a really remote phone in 1999 can be found at this link.

As I continued my run for home I stopped in Osborne to remove my shades and put my regular glasses on so I could see better in the fading light.  Two young guys walked up to look at the trike, and another guy stopped to invite me to a rod run later in the year.  Moving on, I stopped in Bunker Hill where I heard a horn honk as soon as I got out and started heading inside the station.  Michael Z. and Nathan from our CMA chapter pulled up in Michael's jeep.   They indicated they had driven up to Lake Wilson during the day when it was warm, and they had the top off the jeep for the drive.  Being pups, they didn't think ahead to consider the fact it would cool off at night, so they had no jackets with them and they were cold.   After listening to their whining for what seemed like 45 minutes to an hour, my compassion for them took over.  I opened the bonnet, pulled my leather jacket out and gave it to Michael, and I gave my polar fleece jacket to Nathan.  I'll probably never see them again <G>

When I made it into Great Bend I stopped to fuel up before heading for the shed.  While fueling, some guy came up to me and asked if I had been in Blue Springs, MO, (Kansas City) a year ago.  I told him I had been while on the Run For The Wall, while on the way to, and from, Washington, DC.  He informed me his brother was one who had given me a ride after I pulled the front fenders off the BugWing to ship them home from Kansas City when the mounts broke. (see May, 2003 when I finish that part). We had a short conversation, and then I had to take off.  I was wired up so I posted these photos and the narrative from a really good day, but I stayed up way too late getting that done.  I'm not a pup any longer who doesn't think to take a jacket to the lake when I know there's a chance I may be coming home in the dark in an open Jeep..........

May 21, 2004

NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing is back in town, and, since I have other things planned for Saturday and again on Sunday afternoon after church, I decided to take the day off and go to the track today.   I heard that somewhere between 500 and 800 cars were going to show up and I have no problem believing that, given the way they were coming in when I arrived at the track this morning.  While roaming around shortly after I arrived I ran into Stacy from the radio station (and our chapter) who did interviews with some of the drivers before heading for the tower to help with some of the announcing.  

The running started around 9:00 or 9:30, and a lot of Super Comp dragsters ran throughout the day, with alcohol dragsters and funny cars starting to run at 7:30pm.  It didn't take long before I made my way to the bikes where I ran into, and talked with, a number of really friendly people who were racing.  For a while I sat and talked with Tracy and John of Helmhold Racing out of Denver, and shortly after that, I met Jay (standing) from Douglas, WY, and another guy (on the bike) from Casper, WY, although his name washed off my left palm pilot and I couldn't retrieve it.  

One of the bikes struck me as being a bit different, and I learned it belonged to Jay.  It's a Kawasaki funny bike with a 1428cc motor, an 86" wheelbase, and a 13" tire on the rear.  I wasn't quite sure what all he had done to the motor, but I soon learned it was alcohol injected and had a turbo.  Jay said it hadn't been on the dyno, but he was guessing it may put out close to 500 hp.   I couldn't pass on this shot when I saw the sticker as he worked on it.   The bike is somewhere in the smoke during one of their burnouts.

When it came time for the bikes to run each time it didn't take long to get them all through, but the south wind today was pretty rough.  At some point while walking around the pit area where the bikes were parked I ran into Rob and Lisa from Texas and learned they both ride drag bikes.  While the bikes were preparing to run at one point I did a shot of Lisa,  and one of the two of them getting ready for one of the runs.  Everyone I saw today could ride!  The heat did me in, though, and, as I do this, I'm so tired I can't think.  They'll all be at it for two more days, but I won't get to see any more of it this time........

May 23, 2004

A year ago I headed for Salina to meet up with the group riding across country on the Run For The Wall, and I rode across country with the group of Vietnam Vets, Vietnam era vets, and a good friend, Mauricio, and his wife, Julie.  We joined the Run in Salina, KS, and rode from Salina to Washington, D.C.  I'm still not done with the narrative from that Run, but I work on it now and then and I'll finish eventually.  It's impossible to convey what the Run is like, but I did meet some people on the Run who will always be special to me.  I wanted to meet the group when they arrived, and I wanted to see some of those people who were making the Run again this year.    

I knew the schedule since I had been checking it in the RFTW web site, and I knew the time the group would be arriving in Salina.  One of the many things that was really powerful for me last year was all the people standing along roads and on overpasses waving or saluting as we came by, and I wanted to be among one of those groups this year.  I had no idea so many people would gather on one overpass just west of Salina, and, when I arrived, not one person was there.  However, I was early so I went down the road just looking around, and, when I returned maybe 15 minutes later, a large group had gathered on that overpass.  Periodically, a few bikes would ride by, but we knew the large group would be coming along at some point, and they did.  Banners were hung from the overpass, and the waving started as the group passed under us, heading for a park in Salina.  As soon as the entire group had gone by, many of the people on the overpass got on bikes and headed for the park as well.  One guy was carrying this flag back to his vehicle, so he held it so I could get this photo before I made my way to the park, too.

Another of the things that amazed me last year was the hospitality we encountered along the way.  Food was often provided by various groups, and gas was even provided in some places as well.  The food tables were set up in the park when I arrived, but I started walking around looking for some I knew would be on the Run, and looking for others I hoped would be on the Run this year.  Two of those I met last year were located within a short period of time, and they are among this group photo that included some others as well.   Judy on the left, and Val on my other side, made the run together last year for the first time, and we've stayed on contact since that time.  I had someone do this photo of Judy with me, and had someone else do this one of Val with me at the BugWing.  Val tried hard last year to trade her Cadillac for the BugWing, but I decided to hang on to it.  Val and Judy wrote accounts of their experiences on the Run last year and e-mailed them to me and some other people.  Both of those accounts can be found here.

I didn't do any still photos of it this year, opting instead to do video tape, but the group formed a huge circle in the park as a band played "Amazing Grace."  Following that, the band played the songs for each branch of military service as those who served in each branch gathered in the middle of the circle in response to their respective songs.  Several guys in the group were then selected to join a singer in the band who gave each of them a teddy bear to take to The Wall in Washington, D.C.  One of those guys was "Little Big Mike," shown here walking toward the shelter with the singer.  He's in a photo from the Run last year, shown at that time sitting on his Harley with a side car in Washington, D.C.  

Eventually, I had to leave so I got back in the BugWing and started making my way through the group and out of the park past some of those who were camping.  As I made my way down the road in the park I suddenly saw a person right in front of me I didn't think I would see this year since I hadn't seen her in the park earlier.  I don't think I'll ever forget how Kay came up to the BugWing to offer me a bottle of water as I sat in it preparing to leave the Veteran's Hospital in St. Louis.  She saw how I was feeling after that visit and she silently stuck her head in the window and hugged me. As we continued on the trip toward Washington she checked on me at numerous along the way and I got to meet more of her family.  We got to talk for a short time there in the park, and I got to meet her new granddaughter before I had to take off.  I finally found out where she and her husband live since I had no clue last year.  

While on the way to Salina after church this morning I planned to get something to eat, but that didn't work out.  I didn't get anything to eat in the park since I was busy tryng to catch up with people in the short time I had, so I decided to stop in Salina before I hit the road for Great Bend.  When I pulled in at a restaurant a little blonde live wire was in the parking lot, and, when I got out she said, "Awesome!!  Is that yours?"  I told her it was, and also told her she could sit in it if she got permission from her parents.  She didn't waste any time going inside one restaurant, and I went into another one.  When I came out she was there with her parents and a group I got to talk with for a while, one of whom is a sister of one of the women in our CMA chapter.  Before I left I did this photo, and then hit the road........