NVAR 2012

It is with sad regret that I will not be making the ride to DC this year. Last Sunday, May 6th, we lost a very good friend to a sudden heart attack. Bernie Blue died at the young age of only 52. He was my main guy (manager) at Oregon Tool & Supply for over 25 years. He will be missed by a lot of people who have known Bernie over the years. It was because of Bernie, that in the past, I have been able to be on my old rat bike for up to 6 weeks at a time and never have a single worry about the store. He always did a fantastic job and ran the store like it was his own.
I want to wish everyone on this years NVAR ride a safe and happy journey back to DC and back home again. I will miss being with all of the great folks who I have ridden with over the past 6 years.

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Lighthouse Run, Hwy 101 Harley dealership

This is an add on to our 5 week NVAR ride.

trying the 12v pump

Joni & I got home on Sunday May 19th. We were home 4 days and left on Friday to ride the 85 miles to the Oregon coast. The Lighthouse run is put on by Hwy 101 HD in Coos Bay. We left at around 3:00 on a beautiful afternoon. About 40 miles into the short ride, I had the rear end wobble at 65 mph. Joni was wondering what I was doing as my rat bike looked kinda weird from the rear. Yep, flat tire. I got her slowed down safely enough to pull over at a place on hwy

very patient Joni

42, where we would be OK for now. Only problem was we had no cell service where we were at. I put in a can of fix a flat and it came out as fast as I put it in. The hole in the tire looked like I ran over a 3/8″ bolt. I got out my 12v pump from my back pack and had to hold my finger over the hole to get it to hold a little air. When it was as full as I could get it, and still hold my finger over the hole, Joni disconnected the pump and I jumped on the bike and I was able to get about a half mile farther before I had to stop again. We had cell service there so I called our daughter, Dani, and asked her to go to my shop and grab one of the new Avon Venom X tires that I keep ‘in stock’. I called Marty in our Coos Bay store, and asked him to bring the delivery truck with the lift gate to pick me up. Joni and I were waiting just off the highway on a spur road so it would be easier to load the bike up. Dani pulled in from Roseburg at the same exact time that Marty got there from Coos Bay. Perfect timing! I had to air up the tire again just enough to get it on the lift gate. Mission accomplished. I called the Harley shop and told them that I am coming in to have them take the tire off my mag and put the new one on and balance it. When we got to Oregon Tool and got the bike out of the truck and on the ground, we used the forklift to get the bike in the air and I had the rear wheel off in about 15 minutes. I walked the 2 blocks around the corner to find that the shop was closed. One of the mechanics, Lincoln just came back from a test ride and did my tire for me in just a few minutes. I walked back to our store with a new tire mounted and ready for the road and Joni helped me get the wheel back on. We made it to the run for check in a little later than we wanted to, but we made it!

view from the 6th floor, Mill Casino

This is the 11th annual Lighthouse Run. I have made all of them except fot last year when the date conflicted with a planed family weekend. There are a lot of beautiful lighthouses that we stop at to get our poker run cards stamped. This ride is what you wan to make it. Chose which route you want to go and make it your own individual run. Joni & I waited until the main group left and we headed north. Our route took us about 50 miles or so to just past Florence to Heceta head lighthouse and then we headed south to the Deans Creek Elk viewing area. We then went to Loon lake for another stamp spot. The course has 11 stops and if you do 6 stops or less you get a 5 card poker hand dealt to you. For everyone who has 7 or more stamps, we get a 7 card poker hand which has better odds.

We got back to the Mill Casino, who is the host motel/casino where they have poker tables set up to deal all the hands to us. Joni & I didn’t get anything, as far as a good hand is concerned. We had an excellent time, as we always do at this event. A big thanks go out to Al & Karen, owners of the Highway 101 Harley dealership and to the Mill Casino for putting on a top notch affair.

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Idaho to home!

What a challenge it was to try to locate a bulb for my headlight at 7:00 on a Sunday morning in Burley Idaho. I jumped on Joni’s bike and rode around to try to find an auto parts store open. No such luck. I ended up at one of the ‘mart bros’ and actually found it hanging on the wall. I started on the headlight repair once I got back to my bike. A few people stopped by to talk to me about the bike while I was working on it. One guy said he saw me last year in Utah on a ride for the veterans. I told him that I was doing the same ride again this year, only this time with my wife. He said that he’s glad that I am still doing it and that the bike is still on the road.

 Joni and I went down to the breakfast at the motel where I was surprised by Rick Gibbons, of Allen & Gibbons Logging from back home, saying hi Milo. Rick was with his wife, Karen and a friend, Gina, who they picked up in the Crooked River, Oregon area. They were on their way to Rock Springs, Wyoming. I told him, ‘been there, done that’ a few weeks ago, only with snow and a lot of wet stuff. Rick said when they saw my bike parked in front of the motel, Gina got on my bike for a picture. They sent the picture to her sister and said something about her being on the way to Sturgis….

Joni & I got on the road at 9:00. It looked a lot like rain again so we finally dressed for it before we left this time. Hey, it never did rain on us! After a while the rain gear came off and we kept rolling down the road. The first or second gas stop, I put in 5.227 gallons in my 5 gallon gas tanks. Now thats cutting it close. We had a real heavy head wind to battle and because of that I only got 23 mpg. We gained another hour back with finally being in our own time zone. We figured we had almost 700 miles to home and didn’t plan on making it before dark, especially with leaving so late. We did a fuel and go a couple of times just to see how far we could get.

When we got to Vale Oregon, I topped off the tank as it is 115 miles to Burns with a head wind still. The first 31 miles was on a freshly chip sealed road with a lot of small rocks flying up at us as well as the pile of gravel that was built up between the lanes of the two lane hwy 20. It was also built up between the tire tracks on both lanes of the road too. When we stopped in Burns for fuel again, Joni showed me all the gravel that was built up on her seat and in her lap. What another challenge! The next fuel stop was in Bend which was a 132 mile run. I put in 5.1 gallons this time. A gal came up to Joni and told her something about a Redwood Run of 20 years ago and getting some duct tape from me then….I had no idea what she was talking about. Another guy came up to me and said he saw me on the Oregon coast in Florence a few years ago. Every where we stop it seems that there is one story or another about seeing me here or there. Once in a while someone askes me if they saw me in Daytona. I say nope, never been there, with my bike that is. All of us rat bikes look the same….Not.

While we were still in Bend, I called our oldest daughter, Dani, and told her “Papa Aldos for pizza, banana cream pie, vanilla ice cream and our grandson, Dallas. Our house, 8:00. Oh yeah, you and your sister too. She was very excited when she realized that we will be home tonight.

When we pulled up it was exactly 8:00. No one was home. As I turned around I saw Andi, our youngest daughter, come flying down the driveway in her Mustang,  jumping out saying, “oh crap, I thought I would beat you home”.  Dani and Dallas showed up a couple of minutes later.

All in all it was 34 days with over 8,000 miles and with no tickets. We didn’t even get stopped by any of the many cops who had to take a lot of ‘second looks’ at me and my bike! No fall downs, by me, and only two minor little things that I had to fix on my bike. I had Ray bring along a new tire in the chase trailer for me for Joni’s bike just in case she ran out of rubber with her original factory tire. She had about 10,500 miles on it when we left and I wanted to be ready to have it changed when we got to the east coast. I packed the tire with me all the way back home as she still had enough rubber to be safe. It is now 18,565 and I will change it out in a couple of days.

We had a very fun trip, even with all the weather. I feel very blessed to be able to do these NVAR rides from coast to coast and to bring a little happiness to a lot of veterans along the way. It’s pretty cool to see their faces light up when they see all of us motorcyclists show up just to see them. It is especially rewarding to be able to do the ride with my beautiful wife, Joni riding also. I often hear people tell me that ‘I am living the dream’. You know, I really am! My wife on her bike, me on my rat bike and adding up the ‘miles and smiles’ with all my good friends on the National Veterans Awareness Ride!

For any one who wants to join us next year, yes every one is welcome, check out www.nvar.us to see the ride schedule and the hotel list for reservations. They are usually posted after the first of the year when it all gets firmed up.

Thanks for following along on another ‘rat bike run’  journey and I hope you enjoyed reading about it as much as I did living it.

Oh yeah, this message (and trip) was brought to you by Oregon Tool & Supply in Roseburg and Coos Bay. www.oregontoolandsupply.com Milo & Joni

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Yellowstone Park to Idaho

We left before 8:00 again and made sure we were dressed for the cold passes to come. 50 miles later we paid $20.00 per bike to get into the park. The ranger told us that there are a couple of buffalo’s toward the top and one has an attitude. He suggested that we not stop to try to take his picture. If I were a buffalo, the rat bike might look pretty good, for a change of pace that is!

Less than a mile into the park, we came across two slowly meandering buffalo just minding their own business. They were walking the same way we were going and right in the middle of the lane. As the few cars in front of us slowly passed them, they were still not bothered by that. When I got almost next to them, they started to increase their pace to a slow gallop and were looking directly at me. I wasprepared to do some sudden acceleration, but I did not want to freak em out as Joni still had to get by them too. All was good that time and we were able to keep going. A short while later, a lot of cars were stupidly stopped in the middle of the road, trying to get some pictures of 3 big horn rams who were grazing just up the hill from the road. I ziged and I zagged through the cars and the people and Joni followed. As I accelerated, Joni noticed the biggest of the three put his head up majestically, as he tried to see what was making that new noise. We rode off to see what our next obstacle was to be.

As we neared the top of the first pass, snow was piled up on both sides of the road about 6 feet high. It was so close to the road that it would have been unsafe for a picture ( I recon that would not stop a vehicle driver however). We came across two more buffalo who figured that they owned the road. Yep, they could have it, as long as they left us a little room to ride by them, it was ok.  Another safe drive by and we crested the pass and started down. The next big critter was a cow elk who crossed the road just in front of a few cars in front of us. You would have thought that the people in cars have never seen an old scruffy elk before. You guessed it, another weave in and out between the cars that just stop in the middle of the road, and some rapid acceleration by me which more than likely made the elk go a little faster into the brush…. 

The lake still had a lot of ice next to the shore, as we were told that this years winter weather was slow to disappear. We took the route to get out of the park through the south side. We had to stop for gas and we got a couple of hot drinks. There were quite a few tourists who wanted to get pictures of me and the bike. I let a few kids sit on the bike for their folks to take pictures. The one’s that would let their kids get close to my bike, that is! People are funny, especially the ones that have a pre concieved idea of what I and my bike might be. They just assume, and give me a wide bearth ,as they try not to notice me as they hurry their kids along…. I feel kinda sorry for those kind of people (NOT), the ones who do not want to engage in conversation, or ask what the bike is all about. Luckily, there are many more people who really apreciate me and my bike for what it is for, entertainment and to put smiles on peoples faces. One kid after he got off of my bike from his turn sitting on it said, “I sure wish I could get a ride on this”. Sorry kid, no room for any one else.

Back on the road and heading south, we stopped for a couple of back ground pictures of the beautiful smow covered white capped huge mountians. The beauty is everywhere, but I’m good seeing it at 40 miles per hour most of the time. We found it a challenge to pass a lot of the looky loos as you never could tell when a sudden left turn, without a turn signal, is in the minds of the cage drivers. We finally got out of the park and found the next park which was the Grand Tetons. What an awesome mountian arrangement they are. They seem to give you a different perspective every time you look over at them at 40 ro 50 mph.

We rolled into the town of Jacksom Hole and found a very crowded tourist town. Joni wanted to stop, and be a tourist for a while, so we parked and walked around. We ended up in the Silver Dollar cowboy bar. There are over 2,000 silver dollars on the bar in a clear coating. They are all 1921. Joni and I both remember as kids, getting to come in for a look at the bar, which was built in 1950, when our parents stopped there during a family vacation. We strolled into a few more shops (I mostly just waited outside), until it was time to ride into yet another large storm that loomed ahead of us. On our phones, the weather bug elite, it showed a huge mass that takes over eastern Oregon & western Idaho.

We made it to our next gas stop and found the leading edge of the next storm. Back on goes the rain gear. We headed down 89 until we found 26 west. That took us to Idaho falls where we then picked up the interstate. We handled the heavy rain and lots of wind till we called it quits in Burley, where we got to a motel for the night. Joni told me that I had NO headlight or spot lights on at all. I will check into that in the morning……..

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South Dakota, Wyoming

My brother, Brion, is recovering from colon cancer surgery. He just started back to work part time this week. Aside from looking a little thinner, he seems to be doing fine. His Dr. told him that he believes that they got 100% of the stage T2 cancer. He told Brion that he’s going to live. Brion seems to be in good spirits, considering the life changing news that he got a few months ago. This too shall pass……a few more prayers sure couldn’t hurt.

We stayed an extra day to visit more. After a half day at work, Brion wasn’t in the mood to ride his shovelhead yet, so we drove to lunch and back home for him to rest. We are glad that we stayed another day just to hang out. We were up at 5:30 this morning and saw Brion off to work at 6:15. We were on the road before 8:00 taking I-90 out of town to Buffalo. We then took 16 over the very chilly Big Horn Mountains. We went through the small town of Ten Sleep and on to Worland for fuel and a sandwich. Then it was north to Greybull and then west to the town of Cody.

Ray & Kathy & us

We always like stopping in the very cool western town of Cody. We have toured the Buffalo Bill Museum, played miniture golf, saw gun fights in the street (no not gang bangers), and had meals at a lot of good places to eat. My favorite place to stop is at Cody Custom Cycle to visit our friends, Ray & Kathy. They have owned it since 1994 and know how to treat people right. On a ride to Sturgis in 2003, I discovered that my frame was cracked in two. A quick ride from the motel to see Ray and he set me up with a welder, grinder and anything else that we needed to fix my frame out behind his shop. One of the guys who was with us, Gordon, did the welding part of the repair job for me as he is a lot better welder than I am. The frame fix is still doing good 8 years later. Ray would not let me pay him anything, so I called back home and had Oregon Tool & Supply send him a cobalt drill bit set to say thank you. Thats the kind of ‘real folks’ that Ray & Kathy are. They are there to help. I gave Ray another Oregon Tool & Supply t shirt and he told me to pick out one of their Cody Custom Cycle shirts for us. We have been trading shirts for years. Kathy made sure we both got one. Thanks guys.

Gary, a rider who checked us in

Joni & I hung out at their shop for over an hour till almost closing time and Kathy called the Wyoming Rib & Chop House for reservations for us. We went to check into the Cody Motor Lodge while Kathy rode home to feed the horses. Ray closed the shop and they both met us for dinner, which was only a block away from our motel.

We had an excellent ‘dinner date’ and conversation as well. We invited them to spend some time with us back home in Oregon when they can get away. We said good bye and went our seperate ways as we are trying to do another early morning departure. We were informed that the pass just inside the east entrance of Yellowstone Park is very cold and has a large snow build up right next to the road on both sides. Our plan is to go in the east side and out the south side to Jackson Hole tomorrow. I will let ya know tomorrow how that worked out for us……

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S & S mfg. plant tour in Wisconsin, and more states too

My cousin Roy called me at 7:00 am and said he was leaving St Paul to start the 4 hour ride toward us. He figured that we will probably meet up on the road as he would probably recognize my bike(?). Joni & I left the motel after breakfast at around 8:30 or so. We snaked around quite a few country roads and saw some beautiful farms and a lot of green scenery. We even encountered a wagon train coming the other way. The first few guys and gals on horses were wearing bright safety vests. Then there were about 12 to 15 covered wagons full of a lot of people dressed in the period proper western wear clothing of the era. The last few riders were like the first with the safety vests on. We proceeded very slowly so as to not spook the horses. It was a very cool thing to witness. We have no idea what it was for but it looked like they all were having fun, waving and smiling all along.

We went through the town of Viola and a couple of miles later, we turned right on county hwy G. A short distance later on the left was a very large facility that did not fit with the rest of the typical landscape that represents the farming community. S & S started in 1958 out of a small machine shed next to the family farm. They did dual chores, farming and machining. That is why the place is where it is. They just kept adding more buildings as the need arose over the past 5 decades. Their distribution center is in La Cross, about an hour north of there.

I walked into the office entrance and there was nobody to be found. There was a phone with a list of a lot of personal extensions. Too many names, so I punched in a # that was for general information. I said I am Milo Anderson, and before I could say any more, he said we’ve been expecting you and I will be right down. We were greeted by Ian and he told me some more people were on their way to meet us too. Next Dennis showed up and said he will be interviewing me later,

S & S museum

after the tour. Dennis worked at Harley Davidson for 27 years, if I remember correctly, and has been at S & S for a couple of years.  We started in the museum and saw a lot of interesting bikes and engines. There was also a lathe and a Bridgeport milling machine on display that were probably the first ones used for the manufacturing process. A short time later, Tim joined us and said he would be giving Joni & I the grand tour. Tim has over 20 years at S & S and was very knowledgeable in

S & S museum

every phase of the process involved. They do not do the rough castings there, but they perform miracles making the finished products. We saw rough case halves, heads, oil pump bodies, carb housings and every other engine part, and a lot more too that you can imagine. The automatic C&C machines were amazing with the things that they were doing. Tim told us that they recently purchased the Crane automotive and motorcycle accessory manufacturing company. They were also making rocker arms and lifters for the automotive industry there now as well.

They gave us the red carpet treatment and took us to all the different processing rooms and finally the assembly of the finished products. They work on 3 or 4 engines at a time, not necessarily the same kinds either.

S & S at their flag poles and dedication to 911 victims

 We were also informed of a deal they have with HD and they now do all of the remanufacturing of the engines that Harley Davidson takes in to have rebuilt. They work on a line very similar to the S & S rebuild line too. We were very impressed with the overall treatment which we received while there. Everyone was real cool and very willing to talk to us and I got a lot of compliments on my bike as the employees took turns taking their breaks and checking out my bike. At the end of the tour Dennis asked us to ride around to the front to the flag poles and their dedication plaque to the fallen victims of 911. That’s where we met Justin as he was setting up the video and sound for the interview. Wow, was this ever a very welcome feeling coming here. I wonder if everyone gets this ‘top cabin treatment’?

Dennis asked us a few questions and we handled it like pros, (we were told). I told them that I have done this a time or two before! Dennis gave us a ‘parting gift bag’ of a couple of shirts, hat, books and a pin that I put on my bike right away. 

Joni & Roy at S & S

We thanked everyone and were just about ready to pull out of the parking lot when Roy pulled up. We turned the bikes off and talked a while and we all three headed back up north. Roy lead us up next to the Mississippi river, on the Wisconsin side, through some very beautiful scenery. The small towns held a lot of history and I could just imagine Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn pushing off of the shore on an adventure of unknown sorts.

After a couple of hours we pulled into a restaurant for lunch. It was very cool to see Roy again and ride with him too. We got to St. Paul with very little traffic and to his house. It was a very beautiful ride all the way up. The Mississippi river was a lot fuller than normal and the land of 10,000 lakes were really showing off their fullness too. Roy showed us some of his town and treated us to a nice Italian dinner. One of his sons, Jim and his wife Kathy, came over to visit for a while too. We stayed upstairs for the night and Roy made breakfast for us in the morning.  It was a beautiful morning ride, but that was soon to change, again…..

We took Roy’s advice and took hwy 212 all the way west instead of doing I-90. It is a much better country road, than the boring super slabs. The first couple hundred miles was not bad. It was looking very dark ahead of us. Thanks to Nancy, who loaded a ‘weather bug elite’ program on my phone for me, we were able to see ALL the storm fronts approaching us. Thanks a lot Nancy! As Joni and I were leaving our lunch stop, she wondered aloud if we should put our rain gear on as it was really looking nasty up ahead. I said we can deal with it when we need to.

It was only 15 miles down the road when I pulled over to a gas station. No, it had not started raining yet, but it is easier to put it on while we were still dry. I think Joni had a great thought 15 miles back. As we headed out west some more, it was not too long when we experienced that good old rain again. At least it was not as cold as it was in the past. And yes we were very glad we were prepared this time in advance….

Jerome, Ken and me

We got to Woonsocket, South Dakota, and went to another cousin’s home. Jerome and his wife Leslie were very glad to see us. Jerome’s brother, Ken and his friend, Velma were there for dinner too. They had a top notch steak dinner just waiting for our arrival. Before Jerome could get the steaks off of the BBQ, another storm came in from the west. Thunder, lightening and a LOT of rain again. This time we were hunkered down for the night and our bikes were in their shed. Ken, 85, and Jerome, 72, and I are first cousins as their dad and my dad were brothers growing up on the family farm, there in Woonsocket, with nine brothers and sisters. The only thing that we would do different next time is to possibly stay a little longer at our family stops as we learn a lot more about our heritage, and they are great relatives too!

  We woke up to another great home cooked breakfast as Leslie was busy getting ready for us to come down to eat. After breakfast, Leslie wanted a ride, so I took her to ‘downtown’ Woonsocket on the rat bike. Yes we rode on both blocks of downtown. When we got back we got on Joni’s bike and we did the cruise again, only this time we did both blocks in the opposite direction. I didn’t even scare her, either time!

Woonsocket's gas station

It was time to load up and stop at the gas station for a fill up. I talked to the owner and told her we were related, a couple of generations back somehow. There were some other guys there too who came out to check out my bike. One guy told me he was a Viet Nam vet and thanked me for our NVAR ride that I told him about, and said he would really like to get to DC and see the wall. After we talked about our ride there for a while, he got on his Harley and rode off.

I recon it was around 10:00 or so when we said our good byes and headed west again. We stayed on two lane county roads for about 70 miles and were advised to head south down to I-90 as there were a lot of closed roads near the state capitol of Pierre, due to all the flooding that they have incurred recently. It was a very warm and dry day as we were enjoying being dry and riding in the sun.

We stopped for gas at Wall and had lunch and went to a fairly new Harley shop called Badlands HD. We were greeted by a very friendly gal, Sorrel, who told us she was Miss Rodeo South Dakota in 2006. She still has the bubbly flair that it takes to be herself and make people happy. Joni bought a couple of shirts and we got back on the road again.

Krista, Jessie, me, Joni & Frank

We got to my brother, Brion’s, home in Blackhawk about an hour later.  Brion and his wife, Danette, were waiting for our arival. They called for my two nephews, Frank & Jessie, and niece Krista to come over for dinner with us. Frank’s girl friend, Hillary was with them too.  As you can see in the picture, there is height in my brothers family! It was a nice visit over pizza and I’m glad they came over to say hi.

Brion & Danette

 It has been a great trip so far with all the family stops that we are able to make and catch up with people.

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Illinois wedding:Brian & Kristi

Gary, Kristi, Nancy, (mom & dad)

Saturday was a little hectic for all involved. The wedding was at 5:00 at a golf course about a half hour from Gary & Nancy’s home. All the females in the wedding party were at the house at noon with pictures at 1:00. Kristi’s brother, Mike, was there too and after a while, he was going to go over to Brian & Kristi’s place where all the guys were getting ready. I figured that was the place for me to be so we left all the females and headed out of town. When we got there it was obvious that the guys had a lot of

Kristi siad, "this better not be on the internet"! Guess what?

fun the night before. Kristi stayed at her mom & dad’s home with us last night. It was kinda funny watching them get all their tuxes on right. They were still having a great time before the wedding.

Joni called me from the place and said we need 4 sand bags to holddown the arch where the stuff was to be said, the I do’s and that kinda stuff. Mike & I went off to go to find some sandbags. I spotted some holding down some construction signs, but they were kinda dirty. So we

Joni was being a self appointed traffic director and trying to help get the ushers to properly seat the arriving guests. All worked out pretty smoothly after a short while. The performance was out side and it was a little chilly, especially for all the gals with sleeveless dresses. It all went over very cool and it even included a bit, ok a lot, of laughter as well. Then it was inside for happy hour and dinner and dancing. All of the wedding party was introduced by the DJ, and they all made a very good entrance. The dinner was steak, chicken and fish. It was a very good catered affair. When it was Gary’s turn to give a speech, he said a few heart felt things and then said, “may all your up’s & down’s in life be between the sheets”! That got a very good response from all of us, and Kristi couldn’t believe her dad said that!  Everyone was having a great time. All of it went over just as planned.

Sandra, Terry & Joni

It was around 10:00 and Terry and Sandra said they were ready to leave. I asked them how far they lived from Gary & Nancy’s place. We said good by to a few people, got he house key from Gary, and got a ride back with them. They were going to DC the next morning and it was good timing for us to get a ride back. Thank you Terry & Sandra.

Dad & Daughter's entrance

Midnight was when it got over and a good time was had by all. Nancy got up early the next morning and went to the motel and got Brian & Kristi for today’s brunch that was planned for 11:30. A lot of people showed up for it and it was a very good meal. Joni & I decided this morning that we would get a head start on the day and get 4 or 5 hours of riding behind us, instead of making it a 10 or 11 hour ride tomorrow. We said good bye to all and thanked our hosts for all they have done for us. We always feel very

they were on our side

much at home with them as we consider each other like family. It was hard to leave, but we have been on the road one day shy of 4 weeks, and it was time to start the west-ward trek again.

We headed up toward Milwaukee and then over to the west as our destination was near the S & S engine manufacturing facility in Viola Wisconsin. I sent them an email earlier and asked them if they wanted to see a unique rat bike that one of their engines has been powering for the last few years. The response was, come on over for a tour. I already called my cousin Roy Hillstrom who lives in St. Paul, Minnesota with his wife Shirley. That is to be our next stop tomorrow afternoon. Roy is going to ride down tomorrow morning and meet up with us and join us for the ride to his home. S &  S pictures tomorrow…..






A parting group shot......

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Harley Museum, Milwaukee Wi

Gary's idea for my bike

We were scheduled to do a pre wedding golf outing today, Friday the 10th. Golf, no problem! How long can it take to do a few holes on a miniature golf course? Then I found out that they are talking real golf. A thing that I have NEVER done in my life. There are actually rules, no jeans, you have to have a SET of clubs and ya can’t share…wow, all of a sudden, this ain’t sounding too good. Well I got lucky by the fact that we woke up to another thunderstorm with lots of rain. Yep, golf is canceled! It turns out

Groom to be, Brian trying out Joni's bike

that only 2 out of 8 of us had ever golfed before anyway. There were a lot of relieved people for that one.

I have been wanting to tour the HD museum in Milwaukee while we were here. We are only 45 minutes south of it here in Gurnee. Due to the wedding plans and all the out of town people, there was no time. Gary had the idea of going to the museum as a group function after breakfast. Everyone was up for that and Gary & I rode and the other 6 took 2 cars up there. Needless to say the rat bike made quite an impression on employees and customers too. I asked a gal to call Steve Pheil, one of the HD executives that I rode with back in ’08 on the NW journey to Milwaukee for Harley’s 105th birth year party. Steve’s assistant called back and said he was tied up in meetings all day and could not get away. Steve told a company photographer about my arrival and she found me and took a lot of pictures. Who knows, maybe a picture of my bike could make the museum. No they can’t have the bike as long as I’m still able to ride it!

Any one who gets the chance to tour the place should do it. They have a LOT of old iron, great machines from all eras, memoribilia and a fantastic display. After saving stuff for 108 years, they finally have a place to display it all in one place for all to see. We only needed more time. Three hours was not enough. The wedding rehearsal was at 4:00 so we had to get back.

Harley engines galore!

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Illinois here we come

Breakfast at the motel and then north to find the interstate. We got on the road at 9:00 or so and took hwy 41 to I-64 west. We stayed heading west on that road for about 75 miles and then took I-57 north. We figured that we could make up some time that way. It was very warm when we left and got a lot warmer the farther north we got. It was a rather bland interstate experience as there were no hills or interesting scenery to watch. We got off about  80 miles before Chicago and stopped at a Dennys for lunch, which was much  cooler than the 102 degrees outside. A fill up of our water containers and back in the heat again.

We hit the Chicago traffic and found a rather warm experience getting hotter. It was stopped traffic and it took us a couple of hours to go 30 miles. Our bikes were getting very hot as we were practically walking with them on the parking lot of an interstate. Then more roads were merging into our lanes. It seems that just because a car is bigger than a motorcycle, they believe that we will move when they come heading toward us. I didn’t feel like playing that game and I ended up opening my train horns on 3 separate occasions for rude drivers. One guy kept going and just when it looked like he was going to pinch Joni into the vehicle to her right, I stopped right in front of him, so Joni could get by, and he got a very loud horn experience! Sure he tried honking his horn but it was drowned out by my LOUDER one. Shortly after that happened, he decided that it was in his best interest to find another lane to travel in….

Wow there are a lot of rude people in the big city. We finally got to where we were able to travel at 25 or 30 mph and felt a little relief from the hot engines. I decided to not get on the toll road and got off on Hwy 41. I did not know the way to Gary & Nancy’s place from that direction, but figured that we could find it anyway, as their home is very close to Great America. Joni rode up next to me and asked me if we were going to play the get lost game again? I said that we just might have to. We found ourselves in Gurnee and on Grand ave. I had a 50/50 shot at the correct way to turn. I guessed wrong again. We discovered that after going a few miles down the road, and asking someone where Great America was. She pointed behind us, so we turned around again, and we found a familiar intersection and their house just a few blocks later. We were very glad to finally get to our friends home and into their air conditioned coolness. We will be here for a few days as their daughter, Kristy, will be getting married on Saturday.

Fast forward two more days and today is the 9th. I rode Joni’s bike about 20 miles north to UKE”S Harley Davidson shop to get her bike serviced. Oh by the way, it is raining again! No problem……..My rain gear still works…

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Leaving Helen’s to ride north

We got up at 5:30 to try to get to town for breakfast at 7:00 to meet with Don and his friends. It sometimes takes a little longer when two females are involved. As I was getting the bikes moved around, I noticed a spiders handiwork on Joni’s handlebars. Our bikes had only been parked there for less than 12 hours. I have no idea where the spider was but his web was very concentric looking, for the short amount of time that he had to get it done.

Helen getting ready for a ride

It was very foggy out when I had Helen get on my bike for a promised ride before we depart. Helen had to get a step stool to get up on the back seat as it was not favorable to short legs with ALL the stuff that she has to get around. I put a couple of her pillows there, one to sit on and one for her back, to make it more comfortable for her. We went down the road for a few miles and when I turned around I opened it up a bit for her. She was screaming something about NO WHEELIES. I told

foggy morning ride

her that was not a wheelie, but 93 inches of fun power kicking in! She said it was a very comfortable ride and she would have been disappointed if I didn’t take her for a ride. We finished packing and followed her, her battery was charged up by time, to the Stars & Stripes, which is a very cool little hometown restaurant where Don Wright was having breakfast with some friends. Yesterday he told me he wished he had known us then, because he would have liked for us to ride in to show his friends my bike. I told him we would be there tomorrow. When we rode up it seems that we were the hit of the town. I reckon that he warned his friends that we would be coming by with a kinda unique motorcycle.

Joni, Candace, Milo

We were greeted by a bunch of guys outside and when we finally made it inside, Don introduced us to Jim, Rick, Bill, Paul, Beverly and his daughter, Candace. The state historian for Tennessee, Walter Durham, joined us a bit later. I know that Walter has a wealth of information tucked away in his memory banks, as he has undoubtedly been doing that for a number of decades.

I talked with Rick a lot, and learned that he has a 2002 Road King (I think) and he told me of a ’59 pan head that he rode for a long time. It might have been a little early in the morning for Rick as he had his t shirt on backwards. We had a very good breakfast, and after saying goodbye to everyone we followed Helen to Hwy 25, a small county road to head north-west on. We noticed that everyone must be in a lawn mowing competition, as everywhere we looked, someone was on a small riding mower. Some places looked like they were just mowed and they were doing it again? The land is very fertile with a lot of beautiful shades of green every where you look. The trees arch over the road and it seems like they beckon you to ‘come on down, neighbor’. It was a very relaxing, gently sweeping, road for our first morning jaunt of the day.

When we got to the interstate, Joni suggested that instead of county roads, we take the interstate to Morgantown, Kentucky, which is where we were going next. Joni had done a lot of research on ancestry of her Beesley family history. A lot of it led her to Morgantown. Instead of looking at the map, I figured it could not be too hard to get where we were going. WRONG! About 20 miles up the road, we should have got off onto another interstate. We finally pulled over after about 50 more miles when I did not recognize any of the names of the towns that we were coming up to. After I turned the map over, I discovered we were almost all the way up to Elizabethtown, which was almost up to Louisville. OOPS, I have the map. I have the GPS. Guess whose fault that was?

We headed back down south for a ways and took a small county road back west through the Mammoth Cave National Park. All things happen for a reason. What a beautiful ride it was for the next couple of hours. I even enjoyed the park cop who turned on his overhead lights and pointed at me, as we crossed paths in opposite directions, and signaled for me to slow down. That’s as far as it went, as we then rode a bit slower until we got out of the park. We finally got to Morgantown at 11:30. We should have been there around 9:00……

We found the courthouse on our own and went to the county clerks office. We were greeted by some very helpful gals, and Natasha took us into the back room of ALL the records. They told us they had a fire on the early 60’s and did not save all the records. Well they had records back to the early 1800’s. Joni found the original signatures of a marriage license from 1816 that was part of her heritage! The more that she looked, the more that she learned. It

Joni the historian!

was very cool how they let us help ourselves to any books that we wanted to pull out and look at. Joni made a few copies of some of the pages and I went out to find us some lunch. I came back with a couple of burgers and found another couple looking at records too. They were very funny as every time that she found something, she told her husband Bill to see what the property deeds said about the transaction. He told her that their family sold 125 acres for a dollar an acre. Well you can imagine the comments that came next…..A dollar an acre? They ought to be shot! They probably were back then,  eventually for some people that is…..

Meanwhile, it was getting close to 3:30 and they close at 4:00. What a relief it was for me to find out that they weren’t open till 5:00!! Little did I know that the library was next. We walked over to it and found the old time town founders book section and Joni buried her nose until 4:40 when we were told that they had to shut down the computers and close. We had a few copies made there and our next stop was to find an old graveyard that was supposed to have some Beesley’s there. Especially one from the Revolutionary era of the late 1700’s.

We took a lot of back woods roads and about a half hour later we hit the end of the road. A guy came out of the last house that was there and said, ” I’ve lived here all my life and there ain’t no graveyard back here. There is an old oneback up the road a bit. You got to go down a gravel road past a house and ya’all might find it. But watch out for snakes! We parked next to a house on the blacktop and asked a gal there if we could leave the bikes there and walk to the graveyard. Joni wasn’t about to do any more gravel riding than she had to. It was not too far of a walk in the swealtering heat. It was a neatly mowed graveyard that had a few new head stones there and some from the late 1800’s. There were a few rocks spaced kinda in an orderly fashion, as if marking the spot for someone. I guess when they planted someone there, at the time a rock was good enough. They probably figured that they would remember who was there. Well guess what? T’ain’t ’round either no more, so who is burried there anyway??

When we got back to our bikes, the gal came out of the house and told us of a place in Caneyville where she had just called, and found a Beesley there who does family history. I guess that I didn’tlisten good enough to her directions and we found ourself’s on a never ending back road with no signs, no numbers or no clue of where we were at. No my GPS did not help me any at all. Fuel was becoming an issue too. We finally accidently found Caneyville coming into it from the oppisite direction than where we were told to get there. A quick stop for fuel and then a ride across the street to find Sue. She was not at work then but a gal working there called her for Joni. Joni got another phone # to call later to get more family history.

We were right there at the Western Kentucky Parkway so we figured it was time to ride toward the setting sun. Shortly it was time to go north on another Parkway to got to Owensboro. It was getting a little difficult to see with our sunglasses still on. We went another 30 miles into Henderson where we pulled into a motel, just a few miles shy of Evansville, Indiana.

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