After a whirlwind weekend at the Kinzer home, George dons his motorcycle gear and hops on his Suzuki cycle to escort me some miles out of Denver and on my way to Taos, New Mexico. The hospitality of the Kinzers was second to none and is very much appreciated. Mileage to Taos is 286 and I am set to meet up with Albino Martinez, the local Taos Kiwanis Club president at about 6 p.m. for a 6:30 p.m. meeting. I set the GPS for the Quality Inn in Taos.
The ride has, for the first time, a number of mechanical and other issues – 3 to be exact. About ½ way to the destination, my oil light comes on and says to “check” the oil – I pull over at a truck stop and check the oil to find it down, but not to the point where it needs oil, but, to be sure, I buy a quart of oil and put some in – the line moves up, the light goes off, and I have plenty of oil left. Is the bike burning oil? Not sure, but problem solved. Then, at a stop off I25 where I turn off to US160 to head to Taos, a problem occurs with my display, where I get my GPS readings – it freezes. The GTL has a display screen where all of the notations for the bike are displayed, including phone calls, GPS, location of BMW dealers, and a notation when the bike is turned off that the bike “will” shut down in 28 seconds, and it counts down. No idea why it does this, but it continues on “battery power” during this time. When that display got to 1 second, it froze – could not get the display to change in any way, so it blocked the GPS map, so I could not use the GPS. My team had put together a complete Google map booklet, so I referred to that booklet and got back on the road, arriving in Taos, with one more “little” glitch, around 5:30 p.m. The solution to this seemingly electrical issue is detailed below.
About 10 miles outside of Taos, while cruising along at 70+ mph with little traffic either way, a group of three or four vehicles approached going the opposite direction, one of whom, unfortunately, was a New Mexico State Police car. I had my GoPro turned on and you can see the NMSP car pull off to the side of the road [to make a U Turn] – I knew I was “had” at that point, so I slowed to the 55 mph of the road and waited – sure enough, almost out of a movie, the law enforcer came speeding up behind me, followed me for a minute or two, then turned on his lights. Officer AJ Rodriquez stated to me that he had clocked me on radar at 78 mph and that “3 motorcyclist” had been killed last week due to, he said, speeding and hitting an Elk – I did not question him if the riders who were killed had helmets on since New Mexico has no helmet law and most local drivers do not wear helmets. I would think, with a helmet on, even hitting an Elk at high speed is survivable, but Officer Rodriquez was intent to write a ticket. I explained, also, my Kiwanis project and that I was running a bit behind time to a Kiwanis meeting in Taos, suggesting to him that surely one of the Kiwanis would be a lawyer and maybe he might know them [Taos is a small resort city where most residents know each other]. Officer Rodriquez would have none of that. He invited me to his vehicle, asked me to keep my hands out of my pants pockets, and proceeded to write a ticket for going “10 miles over the 55 speed limit”, which reduced the fine from about $120 to $76 – by LA standards, a real bargain!! Then he did what I have not seen before – he asked if I “wanted to pay for it now” – i.e., right there, with little other explanation. Apparently, in New Mexico, you can, right then and there at the scene of the offense, 1) admit you are guilty to the accusation and 2) promise to make payment within a certain period of time [Officer Rodriquez did not explain that so I thought he was about to pull out a credit card machine and take my payment!]. I advised the officer that I did not know the laws in New Mexico, so I did not wish to pled guilty right there, and that I wanted to consult a person who knew more of this than I. So, he “cited me to court”, which is what usually occurs, and I am therefore set to appear in Taos on July 3, 2013 – of course, he gave me the number of the court clerk and said I could “make arrangements” for the payment of the fine by calling her – not for a week or so, but soon. The interesting part of this stop is that the entire stop was filmed by the GoPro and it came out great!!!
Arriving in Taos, I met with Albino “Bino” Martinez, at the Quality Inn and, after advising him of my “meeting” with the law, he called his nephew who is a member of the State Police to inquire about what could be done – of course, nothing, other than paying the fine or challenging the stop. No attorneys in the Taos Kiwanis Club, so will have to call the clerk and “discuss” the proper procedure.
After setting up my audio visual gear at the Kiwanis meeting, I participated in a most energetic Taos Kiwanis Club meeting – Bino ran the meeting with such intensity and energy going through the many projects the club is participating in. All were very friendly and welcoming, but the club, which was started in the 1950s, is in jeopardy of losing so many members that it may have to fold, and Bino made that an issue. I gave Bino Jack Swartz’s name in Denver and suggested he contact him to discuss the programs for the “Heart of Kiwanis” and the “Celebrate what’s good about Kiwanis” – both could help save this club. My presentation was well received and appreciated – thank you Bino for purchasing a KURE “raffle” ticket. I spent the night at the Quality Inn and had breakfast with Bino there in the morning – this president of the club is just full of local energy, having grown up in Taos, went away to the Air Force for 20 years, and back in Taos for the last 14 or so years as a realtor in town – he pretty much knew everyone and was fascinating to talk with. He is the kind of person Kiwanis needs and should support in any effort to help his club. Thanks to all Taos Kiwanians for their hospitality and acceptance of the KURE2013 ride and project.
DAY 9, TUESDAY - JUNE 4, 2013:
I leave for Albuquerque for the 131 miles journey after re-packing the bike in a way that seems to require less bungee cords – not sure how that happened, and I worry all the say that maybe I left something behind – I did not. I am hosted by Don and Maple Levine who live outside of the now huge city in Corvallis, New Mexico. We connect with the club’s president for dinner and talk Kiwanis stuff – Don is a very passionate Kiwanian who is very active in all things Kiwanian. Maple is a neo natal RN who was an Air Force Nurse in the Vietnam era and participates in all type of medical procedures to help children – both very qualified and fascinating Kiwanians.
DAY 10, WEDNESDAY JUNE 5, 2013:
The presentation to the Corvallis Kiwanis Club went well – a club of some 50+ with 30 or so attending is very young. The meeting had a governor there to present an award – always a highlight, and then my presentation centered on the concept of “celebrating what’s good about Kiwanis”, and it hit a cord with this club. With much appreciation, I was told by one member [an ex-women’s basketball player] that the presentation was the “best” she had seen and she does Dale Carnegie courses – wow, quite a compliment. I think the presentation is getting more “clear” and directed and I now stay away from the jokes that no one laughed at before!! Thanks Corvallis for making me feel right at home and appreciating the KURE2013 effort. To show what quality people the Levines are, after the meeting, Don took me to the “home” of an aged Kiwanian, Dale, who still supports Kiwanian projects – he lives in a care facility and we found him on his porch smoking his signature cigar and very talkative – after being introduced, I was told Dale was in the Navy, so I told him of my Dad’s service on the USS Langley – Dale quickly advised me that the Langley was the “first aircraft carrier”, which is true – Dale was quite sharp and he appreciated the visit by Don and I, but much credit must go to Don for taking the time to visit this wonderful senior citizen – we so need to support our older citizens as they slow down but still need social interaction. Thanks Don and Maple for allowing me to share your home for a bit and experience that wonderful Albuquerque hospitality.
I leave for Amarillo, Texas, a 285 miles trek, with Debby Bippus my host in Texas, my 7th state to visit. The road has now become a bit redundant and straight, so the travel is getting more routine, to the point where I found myself “nodding off” a bit – this was of course a concern, so I lifted my helmet face guard so that wind would keep me up and it worked. Falling asleep on a motorcycle cannot be a good thing!!! Arrived at the Ambassador Hotel in Amarillo [pronounced, in Texas, “Amarillaaa”] and met Debby Bippus, a CPA with more energy than a nuclear power plant! First stop was a DCM meeting with Kiwanians from many local clubs and 36 in attendance at the Big Texas Steakhouse, where their signature event is an offer of a free meal to anyone that can eat a 72 ounce steak and its “trappings” within one hour – trick is, if you fail in this effort, you have to buy the steak, which is said to be $110!!! Met many vivacious and interesting Kiwanians, all expressing the highest degree of hospitality, and of all ages. It took me awhile to learn “Texan”, such as trying to understand what Debby was saying when she described a “haell” storm [hail storm], but after really concentrating on the words and understanding that some syllables just were not necessary, I found myself right in there with the rest of them. I was allowed to give a quick presentation to the group after dinner in the back of the restaurant, and it went well, right up to when a band started up and tried to drown me out – thanks to all who participated in the KURE project and for the wonderful dinner and experience. Back to the hotel around 9 p.m. to just pass out and get ready for a 6:30 a.m. meeting with the Amarillo Kiwanis Club.
DAY 11, THURSDAY, JUNE 6, 2013:
Up at 5 a.m. to get ready for a meeting at 6:30 a.m. Debby picks me up at 6 a.m. and we arrive at a wonderful church venue with lots of room and the best audio visual system I have seen yet. Great breakfast and wonderful welcome – presentation went well and club was interested in the project. Debby had me back at the hotel to pack for Wichita by about 8 a.m. and, after putting everything back on the bike, I was on my way at about 11:00 a.m. The route was 352 miles long and took me off I40 [where a tornado had crossed the road near OK City a few days before] and up along US 50, along some of the most beautiful landscape and rolling hills. One of my best days travelling along a route that had a sky that was so blue with puffy white clouds, but no “severe weather” anywhere in sight – 76 degree weather helped a lot too. Only issue this time was the road construction projects that stopped traffic dead in its tracks about 4 times.
Carolyn Dwire is my contact in Wichita and she kindly agreed to meet me at my housing for my trip to Wichita, the Fairfield Inn. My ETA was first set at 5 p.m., but my arrival was delayed by these construction projects and so I did not arrive until 7:30 p.m. – Carolyn was there, waiting to greet me – a friendly face is so appreciated when I arrive at these locations – thanks, Carolyn. Took me a bit to unload my bike – no cart at the hotel – but once I got it all in and put the bike inside a garage, Carolyn took me to a local watering hole for dinner and whatnot. Learned much of this energetic Kiwanian over dinner – just retired from her clerk position with the local court, and having a long history with Kiwanis and Kansas – she is epitamy of Kansas hospitality and pride and I very much appreciated her kind effort to make me feel right at home, along with many of the other Kiwanians who I met. Got back to the room at about 11 p.m., and collapsed. I never thought riding a motorcycle could be so draining, but I think it is the schedule that does it – mentally, I am ready to go, but physically, I am running out of juice attending meetings and enjoying the events my hosts have me going to – all well worth it, but I do look forward to a day off to revive my “batteries”.
DAY 12, FRIDAY, JUNE 7, 2013:
This day certainly is one for the books. It starts with about 10 American Legion motorcycle riders roaring down the street to my hotel, flags clearly planted on the bikes, and the attendance of the governor of the district – Mary Hammond. Mary was the first to appear, wearing jeans and an appropriate motorcycle attire, and who I mistook as one of the American Legion riders – she is from a town 2 hours from Wichita and came for the meeting and to ride with the American Legion riders – what a brave girl and a very attractive governor who I very much appreciated her coming all that way to attend our meeting. Once arrived and introductions made, we have “kick stands up” and off we go about 4 miles, through many Wichita intersections, where the traffic, literally, stopped and let us go through stop signs – only a police escort could have been better. Travelling down these roads with fellow riders is nothing short of exhilarating – thanks to all those in the American Legion who escorted me to the Kiwanis Park in Wichita for what turned out to be an amazing meeting. I was so profoundly honored to be a part of such a group, even if only for a few miles – thanks to all those that participated in this wonderful ride.
Appearing at the Kiwanis Park, about 56 Kiwanians came out to welcome us and after many many pictures and welcome statements, President Ken ran a fabulous meeting, including a great BBQ, and allowed me to make my presentation to all these wonderful Kansasians. I also got to give one of the members a Pellar Award for her donation to Eliminate, and Governor Mary made some wonderful statements about my efforts to bring a Guinness World Book record to Kiwanis. The vigor of this group of Kiwanians was just fabulous and I so appreciated everyone’s participating in this gathering and the good wishes for a successful ride and KURE project. Carolyn, you did well and should be proud of all your Kiwanis members.
Lastly, I was given an additional two nights in a wonderful hotel to regenerate my “batteries” and enjoy the River Fest down by the river in Wichita – again, just part of an amazing Kansas hospitality. So appreciative as I start to prepare for our third week.
Final numbers – we have now travelled 2,751 miles, and have 8,449 miles to go to break the record. I have met with 13 Kiwanis functions in 8 states, with 40 states to go plus 2 webcam meetings, and who knows how many meetings. Wow is all I can say and thanks to all for continuing to share this experience on Facebook at “facebook.com/KURE2013” and on the web at “KURE2013.com”, and for supporting the effort with your contributions. It is truly a humbling experience as “The Eliminator”!!