June 16, 2013:
After spending several hours touring the Shiloh Civil War Battle site, and packing up the camp site and the bike, I head to Pell City, Alabama. At the start of the trip, I experience my first rain situation – a small drizzle, to start, but as I am about to Pell City – 5 miles from the off ramp – I get a call from son, Steven, wishing me happy Father’s Day, and, at the same time, the heavens open up and a down pour ensues – and I mean a down pour!! First real rain I experienced – bike performed great, but very hard to see and got soaked at 60 mph! Steven kept me company as I forged through the downpour, eventually getting off the interstate and under a Shell station cover to dry out and get my foul weather gear out and on. Rain lasted about 10 minutes, then, after I got all my foul weather gear on, it stopped. There is truth to that saying for humidity areas – if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes and it will change! Short ride to my hotel for the night.
June 17, 2013:
I get picked up for the Pell City Kiwanis meeting by my contact, Rod Goode. Rod works in the agriculture industry for the government, as I understand it, helping farmers do what farmers do. I have not totally learned to speak “Southern” yet, so I may have missed a word or two! The state is my 14th and the club my 17th on the ride. I am not the speaker, and enjoy the talk on Veteran’s services at a local hospital, and I say a few words about the KURE project. I meet George Aiken, and his wife, who give me a down home tour of Pell City and its attributes. George is a 25 year veteran of the FBI, so the stories just do not quit. Great dinner at a local Cracker Barrel with the Aikens –many thanks.
June 18, 2013:
Leave for Columbus, Georgia, very early. Second experience of rain – first, just scattered but I have, this time, my foul weather suit on so well protected. No real down pour, but just a scattering of drops. Arrive in this truly Southern City and attend the Columbus Kiwanis meeting at the old Confederate Iron Works building – where they made the Ironclad ships and munitions during the Civil War. I park the bike, by mistake because I did not read thoroughly the POC [point of contact] sheet prepared by my ever so competent KURE2013 Committee, in an open area instead of underneath in a garage – while in the meeting, a horrendous noise emanates from the roof, like the pounding of drums. It is, much to my surprise, rain – heavy rain – and comes down pretty steadily for a number of minutes. I think my bike will be flooded, but, after the rain, the heat is ever present and when I get out to the bike, everything is dry. Weird weather – no other way to describe it!! My host at the meeting, Jimmy McCorlew, is a local realtor and a wonderful supporter of Eliminate. The club members are very supportive, buying many tickets and donating to the KURE2013 cause – this is the type of support and interest that is why the word “unity” is part of the KURE2013 ride. Many thanks to all in the Columbus, Georgia club for a fabulous meeting and support for the La Canada AM Kiwanis KURE2013 project.
I am now off to Jasper, Florida, a 259 mile jaunt through some beautiful areas with puffy clouds galore and a bluer than blue sky. My hosts for the night, John and Terri Wester, live, no joke, on the Suwanee River in Lake City, Florida. John is concerned that my GPS will not be able to find his house, and, when I finally get to the home, I can see why – down a long mostly dirt road, then down a gravel driveway to a house not able to be seen until you are right on it. A short walk out the back of the home, and one is right on the slowly meandering Suwanee River – just like Mr. Foster sang about oh those many years ago – I got an interview with John while standing on the Suwanee River. The Westers offer this tired rider a cold beer and as I sit down to enjoy it, after having taken off my riding clothes and put on shorts, I notice a “thing” on my leg at the knee area – John right away declares it is a tick and after I try several times to remove it, John uses his skills and rips it off my leg – no harm done, until he pronounces that he sure hopes “this is not one of those ticks that spread the yellow Nile disease” [or something like that], which can be deadly!! Welcome to Lake City and the Suwanee River – fortunately, it seems this tick was “friendly” because I am still kicking, some days and miles later!! Enjoyed a homemade meal with the Westers who impress me with their avid supporter of the unborn - both work at a pregnancy clinic – Terri, a nurse, doing ultra-sounds and John mowing the lawn for the good Sisters of the church that sponsors the program. They volunteer that time assisting pregnant mothers with their efforts, and while this particular topic of their attention is not a Kiwanians project, it is clear that their devotion to helping others demonstrates that they are true volunteers who are right in line with the Kiwanis belief of helping children worldwide. Thanks for sharing not only your home with this far from home Kiwanian, but your true belief in your many causes. It was a pleasure and an honor to stay with the Westers.
June 19, 2013:
Day 24, and the Jasper City meeting the next day was one for the books. John and Terri had to take a car down to a city I forgot the name of, so I packed the bike and drove to the meeting on the bike. The meeting was in a high school the size of which would put most high schools to shame – you enter a gate, then after going about ½ mile in a wooded forest area, you come out onto a huge landscape with gigantic sports fields and one story buildings that encompass the school – beautiful building. At the meeting, the Jasper Kiwanians come in slowly, as I set up to give my presentation – in only a few of the meetings so far – one being Albuquerque and the other being Jasper – have I had an overall acceptance and really a pure enjoyment of my presentation. While always politely accepted, only a few Kiwanians meetings have embodied the presentation. While a small club – 25 or so with about ½ that attending – the Jasper Club fully participated in supporting the KURE2013 ride –every one of those present gave something to our project. What a wonderful surprise and one that I hope will be re-visited often. After the meeting, I hang around for a spirited discussion with several of the younger members – 2 of whom are female – regarding some election shenanigans that apparently went on in a local election. The stuff was made for a movie and should become one – very interesting and good to know that politicians will always be politicians, no matter what part of the country they are in!!
Left for the Aiken, South Carolina around 2:30 p.m. and plan to see how far I can get toward the some 260 miles to Aiken – my committee could not arrange any Kiwanis Host for a stay in Aiken, so I decide to stop about ½ way there in Douglas, Georgia, after I find what is fast becoming my favorite hotel for the night, a Hampton Inn. Arrival about 6 p.m. – unpack the bike and get settled in for the night.
June 20, 2013:
I leave pretty early from Douglas, Georgia the next day, planning to be at the Aiken Kiwanis Club by 11:30 a.m. or so – as usual, traffic and roads that require me to reduce my speed to 45 then to 35 and sometimes to 25 slow me down. With the bad experience of a local cop in Bradley, Arkansas literally making up a speed trap when I tried so hard to slow down for each little city, I don’t want to take any more chances, so I slow down long before the sign – I am sure that the Bradley officer clocked me immediately upon reaching the sign, or maybe ever before, and just claimed I didn’t slow down, when I know I did – sad thing is the ticket just takes needed funds out of the hands of Kiwanis and UNICEF to buy inoculations for kids who are exposed to Tetanus – sad that money goes for speed traps to cities that have little concern for the real problems of the world, but everyone I have talked with say it happens all the time. I arrive for the Aiken, SC club meeting on time – it is at the Cumberland Village Retirement Center which is absolutely gorgeous – small club but very friendly and open to the project. Aiken is the 17th state and 20th club we visit. Got a lot of comments about the bike from those staying there and had time to rest a bit before heading out toward Raleigh, North Carolina. But, again since we cannot get a Kiwanis Host for the Raleigh area, I realize that daughter Joanna went to school for a Junior Statesman class while she was in high school with Emily Bone, and the Bone family lives literally ½ way between Aiken and Raleigh, in Monroe, North Carolina – I call Mary Bone who is gracious to invite me to stay for the night, which I cordially accept. I set the GPS for Monroe and it promptly takes me through every back road highway to Monroe – never put my feet on the ground at stop lights so much yet on the trip!! I arrive around 6:30 p.m. or so and spend a wonderful night with two of the most cheery and hospital people, and on property that has dogs, deer, and lots of bugs. Both Keith and Mary Bone are empty nesters, Emily having just graduated from GW in Washington, D.C. and their son recently married to an Israeli woman and now living in Canada – how do they live on that 4 acre homestead with 5 bedrooms with only 4 dogs and 10 deer to chase around. It was also fun to talk to some North Carolina residents who equally believe that the NC Legislature is passing some pretty funky laws – where oh where do these lawmakers get their ideas on what the public wants? Passing a law that forbade scientists from giving an opinion that the water level of the oceans is rising, however, is just way past the “crazy” mark on legislative “out-there-ness” – but, this is America and nothing is off the table. Great time with “them Bones, them Bones, them really Bones” – and then it was onto Raleigh.
June 21, 2013:
I get up early and Mary Bone leads me out to the interstate, and off I go, with tons of time to get to a noon thirty meeting with the Raleigh Kiwanis Club. But I decide not to listen to Ms. GPS, although I sure love her voice, and keep going when she tells me to get off the interstate – I rely on what I thought Keith Bone had told me that I would eventually get to route 1. Well, eventually, I realize I must have heard that wrong, and I get off the interstate after 20 miles past where I was to get off, and I am told I have just about the same amount of miles to go – behind schedule, again. I then arrive at Raleigh a few minutes before noon for what I believed was a meeting commencing at noon, pulling into the lot of a large church where I am told the meeting is – as I take my gloves off and begin the final procedures to disembark off the bike, a lovely lady by the name of Courtney Allen pulls up and says – “Are you the guy that’s riding all around?” After I confirm that statement, she says, in typical Southern certainty, “Well, you got a ways still go to, so follow me, Buster”. Apparently, the location for the meeting had changed, and wonderful Courtney was kind enough to double back after heading out of the old meeting spot because she saw the Kiwanis stickers on the bike – I dutifully follow her some 5+ miles to the new spot, at a university, where her club, some 200 strong, was meeting due to an activity where they used to meet taking over their room. Thanks to President, John Nunnally, starting the meeting early and carving out some time for me as a far away visitor, I got to plug the KURE2013 project and then meet all sorts of energetic Kiwanians who supported the KURE2013 project in a number of ways – thanks to all of the Raleigh Kiwanis Club members. Raleigh is my 21st club visited in my 18th state.
My next club is the Richmond Club, but, since I do not have to be there until the following Monday, I set my GPS to my son, Lee’s home in Herndon, Virginia, some 200+ miles. The GPS takes me the direct route, but the one with the most lights, so I don’t get to Lee and wife, Kim’s, home until about 8 p.m., just in time for a cold beer and some pulled pork sandwich – great to be with family.
June 22 and 23, 2013:
These are both down days – no riding. Go on a boat ride on the Potomac with Lee, Kim and their huge Golden Retriever, Eisenhower, where we see George’s place, Mt. Vernon, from the water side – a new one for me. We also go to Tim’s I, a water bar up the Potomac – again, a first for me. We have a great BBQ in Lee and Kim’s new home in Herndon, and I learn to live with a 70+ pound beast who always wants to do what you are doing and play with whatever you have in your hand. The next day is kick back day and get things ready for the next week, taking in a movie and dinner at a new movie theater which has assigned seating and serves meals and drinks at your seat – a real experience and kick and, because my wife, Lynda is not with us, we can see a Brad Pitt movie.
Final numbers, as of June 23, 2013, the 28th day of the ride – we have now travelled 5,528 miles, and have 5,672 miles to go to break the record – pretty much at the half way point. I have met with 21 Kiwanian functions in 18 states, with 30 states to go plus 2 webcam meetings, and who knows how many more meetings. Statistics on the Blog – in June, it has been visited 636 times with 2,852 individual page views, and, according to Google Analytics, 53% are “new visitors” and 46% are returning visitors, and we have attracted visitors from the US and 4 other countries, including Argentina, Italy, Germany and China – wow!! The most visits are from the “mother state”, California, followed by Virginia, Kansas, Texas and New York. The more visits, the higher up on the Google search engine, so keep those visits coming. 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”!!