The KURE2013 motorcycle and I were in the La Canada Memorial Day parade – number 82, just in front of the LC Kiwanis AM presidents “float”, and just behind a number of LC cheerleaders who carried the KURE banner. Parade took 2 hours and was a bit exhausting – ever ride a 600 pound motorcycle in a parade going ½ mile an hour? My feet rarely came off the ground.
Back home to load up the duffle bag and other sundry items for the trip – tent, sleeping pad, projector, camel-back with water, etc. All fit in the two side bags – where my emergency kit was in one and the other held all the camping gear – and the back/top saddle bag, where I put the computer, GoPro stuff, bike registration stuff, and the speakers. All in all, a well packed bike.
After gathering with the Club and interested members at the Lutheran Church, I was off at 1:05 p.m. Sheriff Lee Baca verified my mileage at 1029.
After stops at a rest area and two stops for gas at Azusa and then at the first station in Arizona after crossing the Colorado, I arrived in Phoenix about 6:30 p.m. to the welcome site of Ron Smith, his wife, Joanne, and son and a friend, Matt, waiting for me to ride with me up to Ron and Joanne’s house. We arrived back at the house after travelling the first day about 436 miles.
Ron and Joanne live in Fountain Hills – about 45 miles outside of Phoenix and in the hills. Ron is an ex-Marine who has had as many jobs and positions as most cats have “lives” – was on the security detail for candidate George Bush [the father], was attached to the Austrian Embassy as the person who investigated and enforced violations of US restrictions on trade of sensitive and secret technologies [nuclear and many others], and was in the customs department – he has been retired for many years and is thoroughly engrossed in the Kiwanis programs. His wife is an RN who works for a podiatrist and is the ultimate of home makers – her home is simply one to be proud of. After arriving around 8 p.m. that night, travelling an additional some 40+ miles from where we met, Joanne whipped up a dinner with almost no effort that was truly a top ten in my book – maybe I was just hungry and tired from the 436 miles ride that day, but it sure was a welcome meal for me.
TUESDAY, May 28, 2013 (DAY 2):
Ron had announced the schedule to me the night before, but it was not until “revelry” the next morning that I really understood that he meant what he said. We were up at about 6 a.m. to get ready to leave no later than 6:30 a.m. for a meeting that started at 7:30 a.m. so that we could be there by 7:15 a.m. to set up the power point [PPT], and, like all Marines, when he said we were going to leave at 6:30 a.m., damn it, we left at 6:30 a.m.!! Driving around the Phoenix area was like driving to the Phoenix area – in the day+ I was there, we drove probably ½ the same distance as getting there – some 200 miles. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is close in Phoenix and the fact that you can actually see where you are going, doesn’t mean that it’s any less than about 25 miles away.
The first stop was a Kiwanis meeting with the Sun City West Kiwanis Club – all I remember is passing a sign saying “Surprise, Arizona”, and remembering that my parents had good friends that lived there, and I had never thought that such a place really existed, until I saw that sign [kind of like Intercourse, Pennsylvania or Hope, Arkansas]. The meeting was our first and the first attempt at the PPT – on the way there, I got an ear full from Ron as to the issues we were dealing with, and so the PPT was presented in a bit of a different emphasis as originally thought, but well accepted by the assembled fellow Kiwanians. Fist glitch of the day, I forgot the tickets and the contributions sheets, but we got a number of people to give us checks which we then filled out their tickets and send them back the receipt side of the ticket. The Governor was there also, and he said he would take the project to the district meeting. All in all and good meeting, even though we had to stop and have breakfast on the way back to the house because we were so busy talking to people that we did not imbibe in the culinary things that were presented at the meeting.
Second meeting was just as far away, drive time, but a somewhat different crowd of Kiwanians. We went to the Tempe Nouveau Club, and were a bit late, but after being there about 5 minutes, I was asked by a very inexperienced meeting head if I was “ready” – what we found is that when the speaker showed up, they wanted to start with the speaker – none of this “business” meeting stuff – that all came after the speaker. Of course, this puts the speaker who is not prepared because they do not have any audio-visual equipment in somewhat of a disadvantage, but we went with it and put on the PPT and the “show” when asked to. Of course, all the members had already eaten or were eating while the PPT program was being shown to them, and, once done, the food had been either consumed or taken away, so, needless to say, these first two meetings, I had no food to speak of. By the third meeting, I was smarter but a bit exhausted.
The third meeting was a new club that was composed of “young professionals” who met at the Ventura Café in Phoenix. Very social and very informal, but we received a very arousing welcome. This time, I ordered my own food and let it sit there until I was able to eat it, which I actually did.
Home about 10 p.m., exhausted but pleased with the efforts and results of the day – probably about 10 tickets sold and the Tempe Nouveau club pledged 1 cent per mile ridden and gave a check to KI for $120 for 12,000 miles. Good idea and I now suggest that as a way to donate.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 29, 2013 (DAY 3):
Up early again to pack and get ready for Ron and another buddy of his to escort me out of the area. After a wonderful breakfast, Ron came up with the idea that we could take his district’s dessert cook book and “give” it to those that bought a KURE2013 ticket, of course kicking back to Ron’s district $10 for the cost of the sale of the book – I agreed and now have about 20 books to carry too.
We also were told at the beginning of the day that the effort to get a TV crew out to film us at the Las Vegas sign had fallen through, so we took our time cruising and touring. Around noon that day, I stopped for some gas and had a call from Chris Stedman of the LV Club, stating that they needed me to the “sign” by 2 p.m. for pictures. It was about noon and I was 50 miles or more south of Kingman, which is 90+ miles from LV – oh boy – 140 miles in 2 hours – yah, it can be done. So, off I went, and arrived at 2:15 p.m. – average speed was probably in the high 80 mph, but I hit 95 mph on Route 93 between Kingman and LV – whoo. The picture at the Las Vegas sign went will, with many Las Vegas Kiwanians and, of course, Elvis, turning out.
After the sign picture, I was escorted to the Orleans Casino Hotel, got checked in and freshened up – quite a relief after my speedy transition to the city. About 5 p.m., Julie picked me up at the hotel and off we went to a Marie Calendars for the meeting – some 5 Kiwanis Clubs represented and the meeting run by President Howard, a retired Lt. Commander in the Navy. The meeting went well and the support by the Las Vegas Kiwanians for the project was stupendous. All in all, an eventful day.
THURSDAY, May 30, 2013 (DAY 4);
After a good night’s rest, I had breakfast with Chris Stedman and then prepared for the ride to St. George. My mileage in reaching Las Vegas was 1751 on the odometer, which was a total of 722 miles riden and 10,478 to go. As I got ready to head to St. George for what I was told would be a 12:30 p.m. meeting, I glanced at the clock on the bike and it read 10 a.m. – I had two hours to drive the some 100 miles, which would only take me 1.5 hours. However, as I fired up the 1600ccs in the GTL, it hit me that somewhere along this route the time changed, and I would lose an hour. A quick call to my contact, Shaune Wallace, confirmed that the time in St. George was, indeed, one our ahead – 11:00 a.m. My time had just been cut by 1 our and I was not at the minimum time to make it there on time. Off I went, stopping at the Valley of Fire for, instead of fireworks as we usually did, gas, then onto the Virgin River Gorge where, about ½ way up the gorge and not more than about 20 miles from St. George, the traffic came to a sudden halt – paving of the road was occurring and one lane in both directions was closed – trucks going up hills meant a huge delay. I was now another 45 minutes behind schedule.
I arrived in St. George, at the Golden Corral, about 1:30 p.m., an hour behind schedule, and, much to my surprise, a compliment of some 5 Kiwanians were still at the meeting – all current and ex-governors. We had a brisk discussion of the KURE2013 ride and the project, and picked up several donations to the cause, plus about 10 pins for the banner. This was now my 5th meeting on the ride.
The plan then was to ride to a stop over point at Rock Springs, Wyoming – that was about 330 miles from St. George, and it was now 4 p.m. – that ride would have put me into Rock Springs right around midnight that night – not going to happen. The KURE Team quickly improvised, and the family of Randy Covingtron on Orem, Utah stepped up to host me for the night. Randy and his wife were the proud parents of 9 children. Randy was the County Recorder for many years in the county where Salt Lake City was, and was the President of the Provo Kiwanis Club. His and his wife’s hospitality on such short notice was greatly appreciated, and the lively discussion at the dinner table even included some thoughts about our recently prior President, George W. Bush – Randy’s daughter, her husband and their two young toddlers had just recently moved back into the home from Houston, Texas, where his son-in-law had studied at Rice University for a masters. The food and camaraderie was the best and it was very much appreciated. Mileage at Orem was 2136, or 1,107 miles driven and 10,093 miles to go.
FRIDAY, MAY 31, 2013 (DAY 5)
Up early and a quick pack job and I was ready to go at 9 a.m. for what would turn out to be the longest and most arduous part of the trip thus far. Distance and weather conditions would rule the day. I started the day with beautiful weather, a bit chilly at about 57 degrees, but clear and crystal skies, as I headed up the Provo/Sundance Canyon, which ended at Heber Lake and Route 40, which connected with the main route to Cheyenne, Wyoming, Interstate 80. Got the GoPro working again and got some good shots of the ride outside of Park City area. At the start of the day, had about 330 miles to go to Cheyenne, and thought I had to be there by 6 p.m. In route, contacted my host, Dave Nieman, of the Cheyenne Kiwanis Club, a top 3 club in the nation as to size [currently some 300+ members], and was told that their meeting would be at 5 p.m., so an hour sooner than originally thought. Up went the speed. Then, in what now is known to be the “infamous” winds of Wyoming, this huge hand in the form of wind gusts of up to 50 mph, came out of nowhere, and would require that for much of the remainder of the trip, I travel with the bike at a 45 degree angle turned into the wind, to avoid being blown off the road – signs all through the ride in Wyoming warned “light trailers” to not travel due to these winds. Light trailers – how much to they weigh – maybe 1,000 pounds? Well, with me on the bike, my total weight, including the bike, was not more than about 800 pounds, but no warning!! The only step to combat being blown off the road or into a truck was to slow down, which I did.
Got to Rock Springs to visit my intended host for the prior night, Greg Bailey, who owns and operates 3, count them, 3 MacDonald’s restaurants in this little berg surrounded by mines of “trona”, the substance used in the making of bottles and glass products. I was treated to a double-double burger, which, after being advised that Cheyenne was another 170 miles and with the winds I needed at least 3 hours and probably more, I warffed down at amazing speed – just like in high school!! I departed Rock Springs about 3 p.m., again being behind the “8 ball” for time and having to kick up the speed. Arrived in Cheyenne, after having winds directly in front of me most of the way, at about 5:30 p.m., and met some of the most wonderful Kiwanians and their wives from the Cheyenne Kiwanis Club. After being given dinner and one heck of a tour of the “warehouse”, and after being told of their part in the Cheyenne Days Rodeo festivities where they serve, over 3 days, over 30,000 pancakes at no cost to the visitors, I thanked the assembled members from that club and headed to my host home of Dave Nieman for the night – we got there about 9 p.m. and was collapsed in bed by 10 p.m. Mileage now was 2591, which is 1562 miles driven, and 9638 miles to go to break the record.
Dave and his wife, Kathy, are longtime residents of Cheyenne and Dave is a long time member of the Cheyenne Kiwanis Club, having served as its President on one term. Upon being told that they were going to host a Kiwanis “Biker” coming through Cheyenne, Kathy, being the always concerned mother [even though only the dogs were left at home], demurred to her husband that was it a good idea to have “a biker” stay at their home – when told I was riding not a Harley but a BMW, Kathy further demurred, was it a good idea to have a “German biker” in their home!!!! After my stay, I think I turned Kathy’s impression of bikers, German or otherwise, 180 degrees!!
The Cheyenne Kiwanis Club is a proud and illustrious club – the only one in Cheyenne, over 300 members and falling between number 2 and 3 in size in the entire country [only the Atlanta and Indianapolis clubs were bigger] and had as its members some of the most outstanding citizens of this fine city. Found out that Wyoming is, most who live there are proud to say, the smallest state in population [about 550,000 – the 5 or so cities around La Canada amount to more than that!], with Cheyenne having about 59,000 in population. My PPT theme of a “real cowboy” and “bringing in the herd” resonated well there, however. Dave runs a music shop in Cheyenne and Kathy is a beautician – having not had time to trim down the massive hair I have, Kathy was kind enough to give me a trim on a 1.5 inch trimmer and now I look like an old Peter Fonda on my bike!! Thanks Kathy for the couiffer!! Dave also is a fellow Navy veteran, but he spent most of his Navy career on the USS Enterprise [just recently decommissioned] as, get this, the “organist” and its librarian – I never knew we had a library on a ship and certainly never found an organ on any ship I was on!! Hit the sack sometime after 10 p.m., again.
SATURDAY, JUNE 1, 2013 (DAY 6):
After the winds blew all night, and welcoming in a new month, I arose and got packed up to leave for the next route by 9:30 a.m. The next stop was Denver, where I would get a much needed several days to catch up on lots of things.
Winds stayed with me to Fort Collins when, like a line drawn in the sand, just outside/south of the city, the winds stopped and the temperature went from 54 to 59 in a split second. Cheyenne, must to my amazement, is much higher in elevation than Denver – at about 8600 feet, Cheyenne is some 3000 feet higher than the “mile high city” of Denver. Temperatures, and winds, apparently, tend to reduce as the elevation diminishes. The ride of just over 100 miles along the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains was nothing short of spectacular, and, after several traffic snarls due to accidents and construction, I arrived about 11:30 a.m. at the Littleton home of George and Hazel Kinzer. My accommodations were nothing short of spectacular as I got the “Presidential Suite”, aptly named because one of the Kiwanis International Presidents, whose name I only recall as Gunther, stayed in the same room – I was respectfully grateful for the accommodation and the time to allow me to catch up on all sorts of paper work, this blog, and some needed rest. Odometer reading on the stop in Denver was now 2707, which is 1678 miles driven and 9,522 miles to break the record – we pushed through the 10,000 mile mark – feels pretty good.
George Kinzer is my second biker host, he having a Suzuki [“rice bucket”] 1100 and riding it often when the weather was “above 32 degrees”. I was able to park my GTL1600 in the garage, side by side George’s, just to make a comparison, and the two bikes looked like true “brothers” next to each other. George says he will escort me to a point out of town on Monday, when I head to Taos, but I seriously doubt he will be able to keep up with the Eliminator on his German rocket – we will see.
The Kinzers are nothing short of marvelously intriguing and interesting Denverites. Having grown up in the Pennsylvania Dutch area of Lancaster, they moved to Denver when George’s company, Johns Manville, transferred its operations there, and have been residents for several decades, at least. They live the life of happy retirement and make active use of every minute of the day. Our conversation went well into the night, George even commenting that it was 11:15 p.m. when we decided to all go to bed on Saturday, looking forward to a wonderful gathering of representatives from many Denver club members at a BBQ at the Kinzer residence tomorrow.
SUNDAY, JUNE 2, 2013 (DAY 7):
About 26 people showed up for the Kiwanis Denver meeting at the Kinzer home. Showed off the bike, along with George Kinzer’s Suzuki and Jack Schwartz’s Harley. George was a consummate host and put a spotlight on the KURE project – I spent about 2 hours with son Lee today honing the PPT videos and got to show it to the assembled Kiwanians. Sold a number of tickets and had a wonderful visit with those in attendance. My cousin, Bruce, and a nursing school classmate of my wife’s, Sue Kelly, who now lives in Limon, dropped by to say hi also. The real surprise was the twin sister of one of our own Kiwanis members in La Canada came by, surprising me that Martha Burns, her sister, would have come all this way to the meeting – turned out to be Kathy, her sister. Pretty nice surprise.
Now it is onto Taos for an evening meeting, then a day of travel to Albequerque, New Mexico for a meeting on Wednesday. The miles are just counting down.
TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.