Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Badlands Loop and Riding with Missile Command

Another days riding this last summer it was an incredible experience.

It would be a long ride today, over 300 miles.  We would ride through the Badlands with a Stop at Wall Drug.  On our way to Sturgis we ride through the Minuteman Missile fields in the plains.

So it's Sturgis for lunch at the Knuckle Saloon.  Then we were off to the mountains and Deadwood, then finally Mount Rushmore.

On the way back to the Hotel near the Badlands we have developed a case of scenery overload.  We live in a beautiful country one that we take for granted.  We started with jagged mountains and desert plains.  Then a national monument to presidents with long ride away from a sunset at day's end.

There are so many place we need to see in this area, Wounded Knee and a ride through the Pinnacles Mountains and so much more.  The Idea for a return trip has already been planted.  

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Colorado Fishing

My annual summer trip to Colorado to fish for these marvelous rainbow trout.   I always look forward to this trip it is always good to get back to that Colorado fresh air.

Trout fishing in the Rocky Mountains with my brother from a different mother, my brother in law Mike Konczak.  We have been doing this for a lot of years now. This guy is a trout fishing, deer and elk hunting machine.  He is a heck of a sportsman.   It is always fun to get out there once a summer to catch these remarkable fish.

These trips have provided some great moments in my life. We had some great conversations about Ella our inherited Grandmother who made our earlier trips so much fun.  She passed a few years ago but lives on in our memories and these mountains.

Ella, who used to own a cabin in the Rockies in Eagle Colorado was always a joy to visit.  Not your normal grandmother an eclectic person in her own right.  She used to take us to the Brush Creek Saloon and fishing at Sylvan Lake it was always a good time full of cherished memories.  Although those days are over back then I fished that next day with a heck of a hangover.  Ella was a woman that was full of life who was hard to keep up with at times.

When in Colorado are the main area of operation is in and around the Flat Tops National Wilderness area.  In our younger days, we used to backpack to many a lake in those mountains.  Lakes called Big Fish, Skinny Fish, and Trappers Lake.   On this trip, we stayed close to the road and fished the reservoirs around Yampa and Oak Creek.

For the two days we were in the mountains we stayed at the Oak Tree Inn in Yampa and took our meals at the Antlers Cafe and Bar and Penny's Diner.   As promised it turned out to be a great trip,  We fished at Stagecoach Reservoir for 2 days and left with a stringer of fish.  It is a trip that I can't wait to repeat.

The Antlers Cafe and Bar has a history that dates back to the Silver Mining days of Colorado.  One year coming down from the Flat Tops we pulled in and the only person there was the owner.  He was a relic from the past who was actually mined silver back in the day.  As we talked he went into the history of the bar and the silver mining days.  Explaining bars back then, were a franchise for the most part sponsored by the brewery who provided the ornate wooden bar that we were sitting at.  It was one of those times in your life that you will never forget.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Completion of the Cascade Loop: Winthrop, Wenatchee, Leavenworth to Everett

One of the many rides completed this summer of our year 2016.

We completed the first leg of the loop on Highway 20 over the North Cascade National Park from Everett to Winthrop 2 days before. After spending a day wondering through this small eastern Washington town we take off to complete the loop.  

Winthrop my boyhood hunting grounds.   It used to be a sleepy cow and hunting town but in the course of 35 plus years it has been yuppified.   It is now a tourist destination filled with rafters, mountain bikers and believe it or not motorcyclist.  It seems that this ride we are on has a name the Cascade Loop and from the amount of bikers that we see it seems pretty popular.  

Now we must finish it up riding from Winthrop to Wenatchee then over the Cascades this time via Highway 2, back to Everett.  So after fixing a seat malfunction on Terri's motorcycle it is off to Twisp a short 8 miles south for breakfast at the Branding Iron Cafe.

This is a ride following a bunch of rivers.  The Methow, then the Columbia and finally the Wenatchee.  With long slow turns that eat up the miles through rough mountainous desert country it is a kaleidoscope of scenery. We pass through Wenatchee on are way to lunch in Leavenworth following the Wenatchee River.  Leavenworth is an old world German Village so we have a Wurst and German Potato Salad Lunch.

We are now back in the Cascades making our way to Stevens Pass and the long downhill to Everett.  Its a series of small mountain towns before we make it back to where we started another Washington State Motorcycle Adventure completed.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The National D-Day Memorial

One of the best stops this summers motorcycle trip was the National D-day Memorial in Bedford Virginia.  Traveling from Tennessee to Pennsylvania through Virginia I found this unplanned gem.  Riding through the Virginia Country Side to get to this memorial was an unforgettable experience.  A memorial to the greatest battle of World War II.  The invasion of continental Europe the Normandy Landings was the pivotal battle that returned freedom to Europe.  The Memorial is completely funded through private donations organized by D-day Veterans themselves.

Some people say why Bedford?  Well here is the answer; “Bedford’s population in 1944 was about 3,200. Proportionally this community suffered the nation's severest D-Day losses. Recognizing Bedford as emblematic of all communities, large and small, whose citizen-soldiers served on D-Day, Congress warranted the establishment of the National D-day Memorial here."  24 of 34 soldiers from Bradford were killed during the D-Day Invasion inspiring the movie saving Private Ryan.

The memorial is a remarkable place on a grand in scale.  “The memorial is a continuum of three distinct plazas which follow on a time line. The first plaza, Reynolds's Garden, symbolizes the planning and preparation activities for the invasion through the execution of the order for the invasion. It is in the shape of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force combat patch. The second level, Gray Plaza, reflects the landing and fighting stages of the invasion. It includes what is called the invasion pool with beach obstacles in the water, sculptures of soldiers struggling ashore, and a representation of the Higgins craft used for the invasion. This section includes intermittent jets of water spurting from the pool replicating the sights and sounds of sporadic gunfire. The names of the United States' losses appear on the west necrology wall of the central plaza, the rest of the Allies' losses on the east necrology wall. In the spirit of Dwight D. Eisenhower's one-team command philosophy for the AEF, no other distinctions are made.  The last and uppermost plaza, Estes Plaza, celebrates victory and includes the Overlord Arch and the twelve flags of those Allied nations that served in the Allied Expeditionary Force. The Overlord Arch represents the victory of Operation Overlord and bears the invasion date of June 6, 1944 in its height at 44 feet.”

In today’s world of self it is hard to imagine such sacrifice.  It is a tribute to the greatest generation who sacrificed so much and asked for so little.   The memorial is a small enduring testament to the 9000 Allied Forces that died during this fateful operation.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

It's Halloween: Time to Relive the Everett Massacre

Isn't Halloween a great a time to reflect on the scariest times in our past.  I'm in Everett Washington helping my son out by watching our grandson, when I noticed these fliers around town.  The Everett Massacre was a major event in Northwest history.   I was completely clueless about this event even though I grew up across the bay on Whidbey Island.,

It's Halloween and dead dock workers are roaming the streets looking for revenge for that fateful day on 5 November 1916.  On that day 5 longshoremen and 2 Policemen were killed while getting off  the boat here on the Everett docks.  It seems the police didn't take to kindly to 300 Stevedores sailing up from Seattle to protest the hiring of nonunion workers.  They refused to let them land and when they tried to step off the boat a gun battle erupted,   Almost lost to history it seems that the city wants to relive this infamous past on a day so close to Halloween.

So on a rainy Halloween night in Everett near the waterfront it is easy to imagine this gun battle happening and the repercussion that it had throughout the Northwest.  In the faint light you can see the dead wondering the streets.  Good thing they only want candy.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Living in Europe: American Workers Should be Envious

Some of the greatest years of my life were living and working in Europe with my family experiencing the continent as it should be.  We got to see how Europeans live and the freedoms that they experience.   Most of my time was spent in Stuttgart Germany one of the larger cities in the state of  Baden-W├╝rttemberg. 

In Germany, I ran an office with 50 German National Employees.  To say their working conditions were better than most Americans is an understatement; 37.5 work week; provided Dental and medical care with prescription drugs, with 6 weeks vacation and not to mention their generous defined pension plan. When I had to lay 15 people off, the unemployment benefits they received were unbelievable.  The 1st Year full salary 2nd year 50%; all were offered retraining programs with job placement assistance. All we're working again in a short period of time.  This is standard for all German Workers. When I would tell them that in America people would lose homes because of medical bills they would act as we live in the stone age. In some respects American workers do.

Most of the Germans that worked in my office lived in nice condos or houses drove Mercedes and BMW's built for the Autobahn. Most only had one car due to great public transportation some only using their cars on the weekends and during vacations. Tax rates are higher, but there not paying $800 a month for medical or dental care. Their property taxes are much lower. They were just average non-college educated workers all though well paid. Their German taxes were in the 30 percentile. I would argue that tax rates aren't indicative of your quality of life. 

When my son picked me up from Seattle-Tacoma Airport, he was telling me about the 1000 people living under the Interstate 5 viaduct near Boeing field. They would say what kind of society does that. I didn't find that anywhere in Europe.  They do in fact incorporate real Christian values into their public policy much more than the US. Many would go on Vacation to America every year and would love to come by and tell me about their adventures.  Sure life isn't perfect in Europe, but it always seemed much more orderly and safer.  Life there seemed so much more relaxed and stress-free.   Isn't this where freedom lies. 

The stress level of Americans seems to be at an all-time high, 1 in 3 being one paycheck away from poverty and homelessness.  I recently heard, 7 out of 10 American's don't have $1000.00 in savings.  There is a better way of living, and I have seen it.    What is the definition of Freedom we always hear about how free we Americans are?  We must find a way for more Americans to share in the American dream instead of the hollow reality.

Friday, October 21, 2016

A 1600 Mile Round Trip Ride to Carlisle Pennsylvania

I had to go see an old friend in Pennsylvania.  We originally met up in Virginia and continue our trip up to the Iron State.  This would end up being a great trip through Kentucky, Virginia then Pennsylvania and then coming home via Maryland, West Virginia, and then again Kentucky.  There were some surprises and unexpected mountain roads that tested the soul. It was good to get out and see an old friend and a big part of the nation in Electra Glide Classic style.

Here are the best roads of the trip, some moving me to tears and others to frustration.  I really don't think people realize how many Mountains are in West Virginia.  So many in fact I don't think anyone could ride every road there in a lifetime.  Or the majestic beauty of the Lincoln Highway through Southern Pennsylvania.  I discovered a lot on this trip so much, in fact, I want more.  Riding the Allegheny Mountains was an unbelievable experience.  It was travel crack for the soul.

  1.  The Cumberland Parkway: This is a high-speed blast across Kentucky heading east on the Cumberland Parkway and Kentucky Highway 80. This is my favorite road to head towards the east coast.  Where I live in Tennessee you take Highway 68 to Bowling Green.  Then a few miles north on, Interstate 65, jump off on the Cumberland Parkway exit.  It feels like you have left earth and are now are in the twilight zone.  This is a major freeway with almost no traffic.  A beautiful superhighway all to yourself running through the hills of Kentucky.  A great way to get to eastern Kentucky and from there to the east coast.  You can run fast and hard on this open road.

2. Hazard and crossing into Virginia at Pounds Gap:  Once in Hazard I head to Pounds Gap and Virginia on Kentucky Highway 15, then US Highway 119, which runs into US Highway 23. These are winding mountain roads.   It feels good to get off the 4 lane highway and get on some real motorcycle roads.  It is a long winding trip through the Appalachian Mountains to Pounds Gap.  Once crossing into Virginia at Pounds Gap you are now on the east side of Appalachia which drops you into the Shenandoah Valley.

3. Lees March into Georgia US Highway 15 to Gettysburg and Carlisle.  US Highway 15 cuts through the middle of Virginia.  It traces General Lees march towards Gettysburg during the Civil War.  The highlight of this ride is crossing the Potomac River above Washington.  A long 2 lane bridge over a beautiful river with great scenery.   The rest is a great ride through the farmland of Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

4. The Lincoln Highway US 30 to the Flight 93 Memorial:  From Carlisle, it is a short ride on US Highway 11 to Chambersburg where we join US 30.     US Highway 30 Americas first road part of the Lincoln Highway this section runs through south central Pennsylvania.  It is an outstanding drive past old log cabin Toll buildings.  This used top be a horse and buggy road. A great valley ride leading up to challenging switchbacks through the Allegheny Mountains.  What a great ride.  This road passes the Flight 93 Memorial a must see, an amazing story of courage and lives saved on 911.

5.  US Highway 220 and US Highway 50 :  Cumberland Maryland the Mountain Gateway through West Virginia.  This was a long haul through the Mountains.  Following a valley south on US Highway 220 you leave Pennsylvania and enter Maryland.  Once passing through Cumberland, Maryland you are in the thick of the Allegheny Mountains.  You will eventually get to US Highway 50 west to start the long trek west through West Virginia.  You will ride over 3 mountain passes before finally getting to Interstate 79.  I have ridden a lot of mountain highways the shear length and time of the ride makes US 50 seem like riding 3 tail of the dragons.  I am relieved to get to the Interstate.

6.  Interstate 79 the Mountain Highway:  Interstate 79 is an unusual ride on a high speed Mountain Highway through the remainder of West Virginia.  At times it feels like you are riding on the Top of the world when the interstate crest several mountain tops.  It is a quick trip to Charleston West Virginia for the last leg of the trip.   The views and the unique characteristics of this Interstate makes it a ride to remember.

7.  US Highway 119 a four lane Mountain Road:  One of my favorite roads of the trip, a tight fast four lane road through the last part of West Virginia and into Kentucky.   It is a thrill riding this road with all it's tight turns and mountain views.  I made a quick stop at Mountain State Harley for a tour of the shop and the new Milwaukee 8 motorcycles.  Great looking and sounding bikes, but I'll hold on to my 2013 Electra Glide Classic.  US 119 runs its course in Pikeville Kentucky and I am anxious to get home but one more road to go.

Well I'm back where I started the final blast on the Cumberland Parkway and Kentucky Highway 80.  It's good to get back home and reflect on a great trip and great time.  Riding and walking with an old friend.

Monday, October 3, 2016

A Trip to Houston

Getting ready to get on a plane to Houston to see my old neighbor Army buddy Reggie Dixon with Titan and Texan football tickets in hand.  This trip brings back a lot of memories.  The last time I went to Houston in the early 80's the plane didn't land.   I was selected to attend the 82nd Airborne Convention as part of an active duty contingent that parachuted into a field near Houston for a convention demonstration.

I remember during the pre-jump briefing we were told there was a picket fence running through the middle of the drop zone.  We were jumping steerable parachutes so we were advised to slip away from the fence.  During the jump I landed into a big patch of mud. After a short walk to the buses we were off to the convention.

While attending the Convention there were a lot  WWII vets there who were still relatively young in the 80's.  I got to meet the trooper that was hung on the clock tower in town of St Mere-Eglise and many others that parachuted into D-Day.  I wish I would have had the foresight to take a camera and take notes.  Although I do remember I was getting to meet history, but I have forgotten most that I met and their  stories.

 It was a fabulous time those old vets treated us like we were there with them on that day and we felt like we were in a sense.  Each regiment had there own hospitality suit.  It was fun going from suite to suite meeting those old troopers who treated us with such great camaraderie.  For that week I never had to purchase a meal or a drink.  Although us active duty troopers were housed in a national guard armory we were bused everyday to the convention hotel which I can remember being near the Astrodome.  Each old timer had their own unique story for that day and now much of it is lost to history.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Elkton Bike Night and the Todd County Hay Bale Tour

After living in Tennessee for the last 25 years I have developed a growing distrust of the Kentuckians that reside across a border only 9 miles away.  They invade our state every so often wearing that god awful Kentucky Wildcat Blue.  Being a casual Vanderbilt Fan I have attended a Commodore VS Wildcat basketball game, seeing that obnoxious sea of blue I became exacerbated.  In a up swell of growing rage I proclaimed build a wall and make those Kentuckians pay for it.

This though has all changed.  Lately I have grown to love our neighbors to the North, where we now cautiously travel every so often.  Terri's favorite quilt shop, Golden Threads is in Trenton. It is a small town where you can get a bite eat at the Black Sheep Bistro , where the Barbecue is to die for.  Now there is a new knitting store called the Wooded Needle which I'm sure now will end up with some of the Anderson family wealth.,

We also enjoy the Thursday Night Bike Nights in Elkton which is in the county seat of Todd County. It is a ritual to ride to Elkton have dinner and enjoy the impromptu bike show and the many restaurants on the town square. The bike nights run from May to October every Thursday night.  This last with week was extra special because of the Todd County Harvest Festival which includes the Hale Bale tour.

During the last week of September the residents of Todd County decorate Hay Bales as different characters.  It is interesting seeing Steve Wonder saying "Hay!!"and sheep made out of hay saying Hay EWE!!!  For a quick view of all the Hay look on www.exploretoddcounty.com to see whats happening in Todd County.   So check it out Todd County it's a happening place.