July 22, 2013:
I start the 9th week of the KURE2013 ride attending my 40 Kiwanis meeting in my 35th state – the Southgate Kiwanis Club joined by several other clubs in the area. The meeting is a night meeting – 6 p.m. – and so I get an entire day to prepare for the meeting, catch up on my log preparation for Guinness and the ride itself, and take care of the two or three [yah right] issues that seem always to crop up at the office that I have not been to in 57 days!! It was delightful to have that much time to get things ready, including setting up the audio-visual equipment. Southgate is a suburb of Detroit, and with the recent news of Detroit’s bankruptcy filing, discussions with many of the members, who many were auto workers, was pertinent and interesting. John Burns was my contact and Jeanette Harris the Eliminate Coordinator. The room was absolutely packed and the interest in the KURE2013 project at a high level. Thanks to our Michigan Kiwanians for letting me incite their interest in the KURE and Eliminate projects.
It is interesting to note at this time, because I finally had time to update the accounting for the trip, that prior to the end of the previous week, the KURE expenses are holding at under $40 per day, or exactly $38.99, lodging at this time being the highest cost, but still only $9.57 per day of the total daily cost. Fast forward to the end of last week, where KURE had no lodging assistance in Indianapolis to Chicago, lodging rocketed to almost twice that amount, $22.95, and overall expenses to just short of $62 per day. All of that translates eventually into less contributions to Eliminate, making the “unity” part of this project ever more important – this is a Kiwanian effort and we are so appreciative of the clubs that have embodied the effort and assisted in reducing the costs of the project by hosting the Eliminator – many thanks. One more interesting cost figure, that again shows the unabashed hospitality of all our Kiwanians, is the food costs - $6.28 per day – where can you travel some 8,500 miles over just short of 60 days and spend less than $10 per day for food. Again, many thanks to all the clubs for feeding the Eliminator and providing this unfortunately necessary necessity.
July 23, 2013:
My next stop is in Illinois, the Chicago area, and my travel from Southgate to Park Ridge area just outside of Chicago is both long and windy, all along those gorgeous Great Lakes. I arrive just short of the start of a BBQ at the Ted and Juanita Sigg home in Park Ridge, and, after freshening up [that means taking off my oh so uncomfortable riding boots and putting on my Harley Davidson hat (thanks Chuck Seifert of Conway, Arkansas)], I join about 15 other local Kiwanians for an outside BBQ under a pop up, where Ted serves what he claims are Costco burgers, but to me taste like something from Ruth Chris’s – delicious. Maybe it was just the lovely weather and company, but those burgers were really good. After bidding all adieu, I get to enjoy some family time with the Siggs – one of their grandsons is visiting and grandma Juanita allows him to play catch with a football IN THE HOUSE – man, that is always what I wanted to do, but never could with Mama the Judge always stopping my dad and I from the event – something about broken things in the house. So, the grandson asks Mama Juanita to play catch, the ball is one of those soft balls, and, right there in front of me, she hops into the play – of course, the ball knocks down the beer Ted had and a few other things, but throw-for-throw, the damage is under $100 so far. Then the grandson wants to get Ted involved – three way type throw, so I decide I cannot resist, and I place myself into the event. Of course, what the grandson doesn’t know, is that I have a few tricks up my sleeve, and after an hour or so of “pickle” type catch [Juanita and I against the grandson, seeing how often he can intercept the throw], Mama Sigg and I are definitely the winners, mostly because, in what is an almost never event when playing catch with a 12 year old, he gives up!! There are a number of ways to make a faraway traveler feel at home, and letting him/her play catch inside your home is certainly one of them – thank you Juanita for that simple pleasure!
July 24, 2013:
The Park Ridge Morning Club meets early – 6:45 a.m., and, because it is run by President, Ted Sigg, it does not start at 6:46 a.m. nor 6:44 a.m. – the bell rings at 6:45 a.m. exactly and you better be ready to rock and roll when Ted gets that meeting going, or you will be left at the salad bar! This meeting is short – 45 minutes, but I got to use most of the time, and the presentation was well received and a fun one to present – lots of interest and questions, and I was asked to bring the KUREmobile to the meeting for pictures. In attendance were also Tony Tripp, the Lt. Governor, Kathy and Jerry Shewing [boy are they into the peanut project], and Bill Scharringhauser, a Charter Member. I am presented with a multiple of “items” to make my visit noteworthy, and clearly the Park Ridge Morning Club gets the prize for the “biggest” amount of items – first was the obligatory pin and/or cup, but then came the bird house that Ted makes and sells at below wholesale, and then the capper was the presentation of an entire “peanut project” box and things to “beg” for donations on the streets of Chicago for Kiwanis! Ted was kind enough to box these items up and ship them back to my home club, given the fact that to put them on the KUREmobile would clearly have imbalanced my carefully constructed “pile” on the back seat. Thanks Ted for a great meeting, a wonderful visit with you and your family, and for helping out with the KURE2013 project. This visit was clearly one for the books.
I then travel to Crystal Lake, about 30 miles northwest of Park Ridge, to stay with my cousins, Lynda and Ralph DiGregor. I also have to conduct some office business, and “appear” by conference phone at a deposition of my client. Then Ralph drives me to a local Wells Fargo and post office, where I take care of raffle ticket business. A BBQ at the DiGregor home completes a wonderful family event – both Ralph and Lynda are motorcycle riders and we make plans for a some 100 mile ride the next day to my next meeting in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
July 25, 2013:
On this 60th day of the KURE2013 ride, I get to join my cousin and her husband – both who ride Hondas that sound like Harleys – in a beautiful and leisurely ride through, mostly, the Wisconsin countryside – lots of silos and fields. It is really fun to ride in formation and I catch a lot of it on my GoPro video camera – thanks Lynda and Ralph for the experience. The Waukesha Noon Kiwanis Club meets in an Easter Seals building conference room in Waukesha and it has the distinction of having three sitting jurists – all sitting on the Circuit Court in the area. President Sue Bothof puts on a wonderful meeting and I get a few minutes to talk about the KURE2013 project, and also to share some meatballs and mashed potatoes – didn’t know it the time, but that now is one of my favorite meals. Thanks also to Judy Mudlitz and Richard Ettinger for helping with my appearance and supporting our efforts. Many thanks to all the Waukesha Kiwanians for a great meeting and thanks for your support of the KURE2013 project.
After the meeting, I bid my cousins goodbye and head off to Crystal, Minnesota, a 328 miles ride. I plan to break it up and stop part of the way because the North Hennepin Kiwanis meeting is not until noon the next day, and to experience my second camping night, but mother nature decides to interfere with the plans and a pretty substantial downpour, and some pretty serious accompanying winds, descend upon me, and for some 20 miles, I try to endure the onslaught, but then reach the city of Tomah at the intersection of two interstates, which has my normal hotel, the Hampton Inn, so I decide to hunker down for the night in a hotel, with still about 180 miles to go. Don’t think camping in this weather, also, would have been very productive, although some say that’s what makes it camping. My committee even looks up a camp spot up the road about 80 miles, but the weather is too uncooperative for that long of a further drive. Have to do some more camping so I can get rid of these MREs in my duffle bag!! I take in a China Inn buffet and settle in for the night, letting the rain pass me by.
July 26, 2013:
I pack up the KUREmobile for the umteeumpth time and travel to the Twin Cities area – Milwaukie and St. Paul – for a meeting in Crystal, Minnesota at the North Hennepin Kiwanis Club. The club meets in a retirement home called “The Heathers” and President, Stacy Ondov is a one woman show, greeting everyone, organizing the tables, getting the food [maybe even cooking the food], setting up the table for me to run my power point, running the meeting, and then making sure that Abe Lincoln has the room in sufficient time to discuss the civil war battle at Gettysburg. I do not know how she did it, but at the same time she addressed about 12 problems that arose at the Heathers Retirement home as the home’s activities director. The meeting is very interesting and informative and we receive a good response, including numerous members who stay after the meeting to discuss KURE2013 project issues. While I think that Stacy certainly should be exhausted after what she has done, I know that I am, yet I have about 230 miles to ride to Ames, Iowa for the next event, and it’s almost 4 p.m. Stacy takes one look at me, at this point, and offers me a room in the facility to stay the night – how observant of her and it is very much appreciated. I have been invited to an informal gathering in Ames, Iowa, but both my somewhat tired state and the late conclusion of the Crystal meeting tell me that trying to get to Ames would not be a good “play”, so I contact Marion Kresse in Ames and advise him that I will be staying the night at Crystal, and coming to Ames in the morning.
The only other issue that my stay in Crystal creates is that, since the Ames meeting is at 7:30 a.m. in Iowa, and Ames is some 230 miles from Crystal, I would have to leave rather early – an early morning ride has not been part of my trip thus far, so I somewhat look forward this scenario, but, before I retire for the night in what is nothing less than an incredible “room” at the Heathers – a full apartment style room with kitchen, living room, and sleeping quarters – Stacy calls and invites me to dinner with Wayne – a guest at the Heathers. I accept and join Wayne at the dinner hall – Wayne is probably in his 80s, although we do not discuss that, has some mobility restrictions, but is nothing less than a walking encyclopedia, having been a college book salesman for a publishing company. I and Wayne have a very enjoyable dinner, being served from a menu by a delightful employee of the Heathers – Stacy pops in and out, between accomplishing the over 15 things she is doing at one time. Having heard that the movie for the night at the Heathers is Iron Man – the first one – I invite Wayne to watch it with me, and he accepts. Wayne has never seen the movie before, so I feed him various explanations as the movie unfolds, which I think help in his enjoyment of understanding what the movie was all about. I had a most interesting stay at the Heathers, thanks to Wayne allowing me to join him for some very enjoyable conversation and camaraderie.
July 27, 2013:
I arise at about 2:30 a.m., get my things together, shower up, and transport everything to the garage where Stacy has allowed me to park the bike, in from the elements and making it very easy to repack. All of this takes over an hour so I am on my way to Ames at shortly before 4:00 a.m. – a 227 miles ride, which at 75 miles per hour would take 3 hours, without stops. I make one stop and arrive at the Green Hills Retirement Center in Ames at just after 7:30 a.m. – I guess I travelled a bit more than an average of 75 miles per hour. Travelling at that early in morning means I have to travel in the dark – my first time doing this on the GTL – so I get to test out one of the attributes of the KUREmobile – its moving headlights. The GTL has headlights that “follow” the road as you turn – i.e., they turn toward where the bike is going, showing where it will be, rather than shining straight ahead and lighting up an area that doesn’t need to be lit up – this feature is really wonderful – the rider can see where he is going, clear as can be, and it worked wonderfully on this part of my ride. The other factor in the ride I am concerned about – spotting a deer or other animal crossing the road – does not occur, and I am in some areas of Iowa that deer are indicated by the sign. Having been told that motorcyclists were actually killed when they ran into Elk in New Mexico, the existance of such animals traversing the road always concerned me – in Maine it was Moose, but it usually is deer. I am very pleased when the sun is coming up and one can see further down the road. During this entire trip, I have seen only one deer crossing the road, far enough in front of me to not affect my ride.
Upon arriving at the Ames meeting, Marion Kresse meets me at the front of the building and escorts me in and I find a large number of Kiwanians waiting with some anticipation for the Eliminator – I launch almost immediately upon my arrival into my “program”, but this time without my power point. After some time, the group takes a break and Jodi Melcher takes over, so I get a chance to set up my equipment and after Jodi’s meeting, I get a chance to make the full presentation to those that want to stay – it is a fun and enjoyable meeting which includes a group of motorcyclist – including Tim Buenz and Bob Smith - who rode in and Kiwanians from several Kiwanis clubs including the Ames Town and Country club, the Jefferson Kiwanis, and the Nevada [pronounced Ne-vaaa-da – don’t ask!!] Club. It is wonderful to have so many Kiwanians so interested in our KURE project to show up so early on a Saturday morning – thanks Ames for such an energetic first meeting, but Ames is not through with me.
After this meeting, my contact, Marion Kresse, gives me the quick tour of Ames, which includes a university that I believe is Iowa State, including a tour of a horticultural center with, of all things, a butterfly display – thousands of butterflies of all types, in flight, right there all around you as you walk through the “cage”. It is, simply, an awesome display. Marion then “hands me off” to my first hosts, Jodi and Joe Melcher, who live in Nevada, Iowa – now, don’t even think about pronouncing this city the same as where Las Vegas is – oh, no, this city is pronounced as if the first “a” is a long “a” but the second “a” is just like the state – so it is “Nevaaaada”. I argue that whomever settled the city and named it simply did not have a handle on the proper use of accents and grammar – it should be spelled, Nevadea, but no one is interested in changing the spelling. The Melchers host, that night, a desert social and I meet many more “Nevaaaadians” who are Kiwanians also, and I get another chance to show my program – fun and delicious at the same time.
July 28, 2013:
This day, a Sunday, each of my hosts is working, so I get some “me time” to catch up on this blog, my Guinness World Book log books, and other such things as I have not given my attention to. I then am handed off a second time, this time to Don and Sue Seaton, who host one of the most interesting BBQs I have been to – it features sweet corn and, of all things, bologna – and it is good. The Melcher’s attend this BBQ as do Bob and MaryAnn “Harley Davidson” [not their real name] – Bob has ridden a Harley for decades, and was preparing to leave for Sturgis in several days, but without MaryAnn this time. Bob brought his Harley to the BBQ and we had a great time exchanging facts and figures about our bikes – safe riding, Bob, and stay between the ditches. It was a real enjoyable time with some real enjoyable Kiwanians.
The final numbers, as of July 28, 2013, the 63rd day of the ride – we have now travelled 9,430 miles, and have 1,770 miles to go to break the record. I have met with 44 Kiwanian functions in 39 states, with 9 states to go plus 2 webcam meetings, and who knows how many more Kiwanian meetings. 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”!!