Sunday, September 26, 2010

View from the Back Seat

Sometimes it seems that a ten-day motorcycle trip is not long enough when you want to see and do everything on the way to wherever you are going. Our ultimate goal this year was two-fold: tour Upper Michigan and visit the Mackinac Island and take a ferry ride across Lake Michigan from Ludington, Michigan to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, home of Harley Davidson Motorcycles! Since we haven’t been to Milwaukee, it was highly anticipated.

Although we had a slow start on the first day of our vacation, we arrived at our hotel in Waterloo, Iowa around 5:00 PM. It had been a very warm day, but the ride through the heart of corn country was beautiful. Rows of corn covered the countryside; the only change in scenery was the change in crops – soybeans!

Later that evening after everyone had unpacked and freshened up, we walked across the hotel’s parking lot to the Highway 63 Diner. Twenty eight people from Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska who had ties with Topeka Harley Davidson ate dinner together and then celebrated the birthdays of two people on the trip. With the appropriate group sing of “Happy Birthday”, the honorees indulged in chocolate cake (with candles).

In the last twelve years, this year was the first time anyone had an accident on the Great American Adventure sponsored by Topeka Harley Davidson. Every motorcyclist shudders when they hear that word. Early Saturday morning, three couples from Topeka were on their motorcycles traveling on Interstate 70. Just east of Cameron, Missouri, the rear tire of one of the bikes had a blow out. The rider was able to pull the bike onto the shoulder of the highway. They had slowed down to 15 miles an hour when the bike flipped, tossing the riders into the ditch. Both were shaken up badly, bruised and scraped up a little, but the passenger (wife) broke two bones in her hand. The ambulance arrived an hour later and took them to a hospital in Liberty, Missouri where she had emergency surgery. The other couples stayed with them and then returned to Topeka later that evening.

We shared the news with the remaining twenty eight motorcyclists that evening. It was a solemn reminder that “There, but for the grace of God, go I” (John Bradford, 15th century martyr). Until next time, may God bless you and your family during this beautiful fall season. Vicky

Monday, September 13, 2010

Great American Adventure XII -2010

My dear husband and I returned from our annual motorcycle ride with the Oz Harley Owners Group (OZ HOGS) of Topeka, Kansas on Labor Day, September 6, 2010. It was a ten-day journey to Upper Michigan that had perfectly warm weather for riding motorcycles in the Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan areas. Actually, the temperatures stayed around the upper 80s and lower 90s for the majority of our 2,700 mile adventure. We were sprinkled on a little bit somewhere in Michigan and it stopped right after we put on our rain suits. Twenty eight friends/members of OZ HOGs traveled with us, leaving at their own time, riding in small groups and choosing their own routes. However, we stayed at the same hotels and frequently shared meals together. It was a wonderful experience, but after our trip I was ready to settle on the couch for a long sit-down after we returned home on Monday afternoon.

We left behind beautiful Lake Wabaunsee and the Kansas Flint Hills on Friday afternoon, August 27, and stayed the night with our friends in Falls City, Nebraska. The plan was to get up quite early, 5:00 a.m., have a relaxed breakfast and leave at 6:30 to meet another couple in Hiawatha who would ride with us. The bikes were all packed and the gas tanks were full. All we had to do was dress, eat and get down the road.

It was a beautiful, quiet morning as we buttoned up the house and locked the doors. Even the best laid plans go awry. The battery on our friends’ motorcycle would not turn the engine over. It was stone cold dead! So, at 6:30 a.m. on the quiet cobblestone streets of sleepy Falls City, three grown adults pushed a big Screaming Eagle Harley, its rider and ten days of travel gear. We hoped to push-start the bike. After several attempts and three blocks later, the bike wouldn’t start and we were exhausted. The two men resigned themselves to jumping the bike from the truck. Success! We were on our way! At least to Joplin, Missouri where the Harley Davidson Dealership put in a new battery and did a little adjustment to the rear brakes on our friends’ bike.

We had a great morning riding the back roads to Joplin. The blacktop curved through miles and miles of farmland filled with corn that would be ready for harvest about the time we returned to the state. Our friend took a short cut, - no time for joy riding! – and we met them at the dealership. The people there were great, loaning us their new custom HD truck so we could go to breakfast. We found a Cracker Barrel and dined in style and then returned to the shop. It was noon when we left Joplin, Missouri, but it was a fine day for a ride to Iowa!

While our trip got off to a slow start, it was a wonderful time! Unfortunately, I missed the newspaper deadline for submitting the article last week as we were on a 426 mile detour to Indiana. I will tell you more about that later, but wish to thank you for your patience! Until next time, take care and God bless you and your family! Vicky