Scootin’ America – Kansas Style

 What a leap of faith it takes to dedicate a couple of years time and ride thousands of miles spreading the word benefitting those who need a hand.

 

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For the last few days I’ve had the opportunity to meet and hang around Adam Sandoval as he travels around to every Harley-Davidson dealership in the United States with Scooter “Trash” Sandoval, his Chihuahua, raising money and awareness for the children of fallen soldiers. Since I work at a Harley-Davidson dealership it was inevitable that we would meet. Scootin’ America indeed.

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What a leap of faith it takes to dedicate a couple of years time and ride thousands of miles spreading the word benefitting those who need a hand. Now I could write about Adam and his accomplishments, but this has already been done. For me it’s more about what drives someone to be a motorcycle gypsy, putting most of your personal life on hold and hit the highway hoping, just hoping people will show up and donate to a worthy cause. Most people talk about or dream of doing this but that’s where we commonly stop – just short of pulling the bike out of the garage. After all, “it’s just wishful thinking” and “someone else will do it.” It’s one thing to say we want to do something similar to this on our very own motorcycle but to actually do it speaks volumes to a big heart, and a drive to make a difference. Both he and Scooter are going the distance to showing it can be done. Now if only more folks would actually follow through with an idea, just think of what could be accomplished on this big blue planet we call home.

I have to hand it to Adam. Riding a 1996 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide 100,000 plus miles through all kinds of weather would make most people rethink their big idea of riding the United States but I don’t imagine that’s the case here. Adam is sincere and genuine. And appreciative. Even Scooter is happiest when riding or stopping to have their pictures taken. But put yourself in Adam and Scooter’s position; ride, stop, meet and greet, hammer down to the next stop and repeat. The many faces and the endless handshakes, the well-wisher’s and the logistics can wear you down, but in meeting Adam I didn’t sense any of this. He was present in the conversation and took the time with everyone he met. This is a man who believes in his cause, and who is willing to do what it takes to get the job done.

 

It was an honor to meet you Adam and Scooter, Judge and Julia, who you can follow as HarleyBabe. I wish you all safe travels, and thanks for all you do. And if you see Scootin’ America on the highway or at your local Harley-Davidson dealership, stop and say hello and donate to the cause if you can.

 

 

Dropping Anchor in San Diego Bay

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If there is one thing I truly enjoy, it would be meeting new people. Recently while flying to San Diego California for a motorcycle dealer show (my first trip to California), I sat next to a gentleman who, quite obviously was traveling for business as well, wearing a suit jacket and slacks. In my line of work, business casual is just that – minus the business. Blue jeans, tennis shoes and a work shirt are sufficient and from the untrained eye it would appear I was just an average guy on a plane. Who am I kidding, I’m just average no matter how you dress me. As the flight took off from DFW we sat mostly silent in our seats. During the first few minutes of the flight we could over-hear two random passengers talking about airplanes, their history, books they’ve read and some museums they both have been to. What luck, I thought, that two guys from different corners of this country could find each other and have so much in common and be seated that close for the next couple of hours. I made the comment “sounds like they were made for each other” and my friend next to me said “yes, and it is very interesting to listen to.” I agreed, and now the ice was broken and our own conversation took off.

 And as we talked, I realized that we too, are from different corners of this country and in some random strategy that only the airlines can come up with, placed us right next to each other. He is from Atlanta and just recently moved there with his work. I am from a small town in Kansas with the apparent boat anchor tied to my ankle.

We talked about the usual – where are you headed, what do you do and where are you from – mixed with some smaller details of family, life and business. And as we talked, I realized that we too, are from different corners of this country and in some random strategy that only the airlines can come up with, placed us right next to each other. He is from Atlanta and just recently moved there with his work. I am from a small town in Kansas with the apparent boat anchor tied to my ankle. He oversees a national sales force with about 140 employees selling medical devices and I sell motorcycles to those who I hope will never need such medical devices. A common thread being my daughter Kelly has had the Harrington rods placed in her back from Scoliosis. He asked how, after all these years, she was doing with them, and I thought back to the days of when she was going through that. He talked of the challenges he has with his line of work, and I could fully relate.

As most conversations do, it turned to politics and family, social media and the likes, and how this world is changing right before our eyes. He spoke of his ten-year old son, Jackson, who has a great relationship with his grandmother, wants to have a little more responsibility at home, and how his two children and wife are why he does what he does. Losing time with family at home to travel to a meeting in San Diego is a sacrifice, but right now it’s what he needs to do. Work hard, and enjoy the moments you have when you get home. Originally from Texas, he said that having family nearby was great, and they still get there once a month or so to visit. I, on the other hand, have my folks right down the street and most of my family is close enough that it really isn’t that big of a deal.

A lot in common? Sure. Different? Not in a bad way. For a couple of hours I had a great conversation with someone who I could relate to. So often we sit and not say a word, when the individual sitting right next to us is so much like us, or better yet, so different from us that it will be interesting either way. The plane landed and we shook hands. I wished him well and safe travels as I would any of my closest friends, and he was gone. I would like to think in this great big world, that I left an impression on him. We often move about our day and don’t realize the impact we might have on someone, and he had an impact on me. I learned something about the business he is in and I would like to think he got off the plane and thought the same about me. I wonder if he noticed the mark around my ankle where the boat anchor used to be.

One More Day

Road trips can change you. The more time you sit in the saddle watching the miles go by, the horizon change and the sun move from one spot to another, you realize you are getting closer to something as you move further away from where you started. As the scenery changes so does our frame of mind, and as we stop and mingle with the locals, we realize we are all the same no matter where we’re from, and they are just as curious about us as we are of them. “Where are you from” is the universal question, but it really means “I wish I had a motorcycle like you.” We know deep down we will probably never meet again, so we say our goodbyes until the next gas stop where we start a new conversation about our origination and destination.

Reflections about days gone by and past trips come to mind, as well as images of people we’ve known our whole life and those we’ve met along the way. They become clear as the sky above us. Who we are and who we want to be is a constant knot in our head but it all seems to untangle on the road and sort itself out. The greater the distance we ride, the longer we have to sort the dirty laundry we call our life. It’s easy to say that when every trip ends we are neatly folded, with a clean and fresh outlook on each and every day. At least until the clothes hamper gets full again.

” The greater the distance we ride, the longer we have to sort the dirty laundry we call our life.”

We are determined to make each mile count because as all trips start, they too will end. “If only I had one more day” or something along those lines always seem to escape from our lips. No one hears it so it just seems to get lost somewhere on the way home. Where does the time go? A week at work lasts what seems like two weeks in non-motorcycle time, but a week’s vacation is like a weekend off. Every road trip takes us through a time warp where clocks stop and days disappear right before our eyes, only to reappear during the work week. Ah, so that’s where they go.

So as we get closer to whatever it is that is pulling us away from the everyday life we live, we know, that at some point that everyday life will win. We return to a normalcy we so tried to outrun; to a place where time didn’t matter and the water tasted different. Boy, do I need to do laundry.

Places We Need To Be

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A bridge can be quite the silent structure. It’s there every day to make sure you get to where you’re going and doesn’t ask for anything in return. We take these strong, silent structures for granted and we assume that they will always be there, waiting for us to cross. Think about what happens to our daily routine when a bridge is out, or there is a detour because of construction or high water – it’s aggravating!

But we cross those bridges each and every day of our lives. We have expectations that every day will go smoothly and without interruption, and as we get comfortable with those expectations, the next thing you know there is a bridge out or a detour in front of us. Even though we can see where we need to be, there is a chasm in our way and without the bridge to get us there we feel that this short distance we need to travel might as well be a million miles. Sometimes those bridges can take us places we’ve never been before or bring us back to places we need to be. If there is one thing that stays the same, it would be old bridges.

What makes a bridge what it is? Sure, location is important because it is allowing us to get over something we normally would not be able to get over without it. Strength, to get us and our heavy loads across without fail is also important, so we don’t have to worry about what might happen. Classic scenery doesn’t hurt either with a nice slow-moving creek below it. I like scenery.

We all have friends in our lives that over time have become our bridges. Some strong, some silent but always there when we need help getting across that difficult point in our lives that we couldn’t get across alone. They are able to carry the weight of our burdens so we have nothing to worry about when that time comes. They also take us places we have never been before and remind us of where we came from, no matter their location and without asking anything in return.

Remember that those bridges in our lives that have been there over the years are there for a reason; some we have yet to cross and others we are afraid to cross for fear of the unknown. Many of these bridges we cross daily without a hitch and life goes on, but don’t be afraid to go places you have never been before, after all it will always bring you back to a place you need to be.

Moving Bodies and Souls – 110 Years

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One-hundred and ten years is a long time in anyone’s book, especially when it comes to building motorcycles. It’s hard enough to feel passionate about anything for so long let alone beyond generations. That’s why you have enthusiasts building motorcycles for enthusiasts because nobody else can. Some dreams die with the dreamers, but in the case of the Harley-Davidson Motor Company it has kept the dream alive in all of us. In a time when wool suits were the proper riding apparel to ride your motorcycle, Harley-Davidson has been there to see the transformation of the culture and lifestyle of bikers to where it is today. Roads were being built, highways were being connected and destinations became real. What started out as a different kind of transportation 110 years ago, became a form of recreation and a lifestyle for so many. A combination of steel and style moves a nation both physically and emotionally and Harley-Davidson Motorcycles have been there through it all.

Just as any company knows, as time ticks by there are ups and downs, twists and turns, but it turns out that is the exact same thing we enthusiasts seek out when it comes to the roads we travel. It is “the ride” that gets you through it and whether it’s business or pleasure, we take the road less traveled because it is who we are and always will be. Nobody said “the ride” would be easy, but if nothing else, it has always been fun. Moving bodies and souls at the same time was probably not something the Harley and Davidson boys thought much about, but that’s how things ended up. It is Harley-Davidson that represents this country in a way that only it can and it changes you. Freedom, Pride, Emotion and American are a few things that come to mind, and we haven’t even looked at what it’s done to so many from a life-changing experience – and Harley-Davidson Motorcycles change lives. It’s brought people together and created a community around the world to the point of being a universal language – and it knocks down walls that are invisible and man-made.

Nobody said it would be easy, because easy wasn’t a concern 110 years ago. You rolled up your sleeves and you worked hard. You got your hands dirty and you brought your lunch in a pale. You were happy to be working with your hands and you didn’t think about life 100 years from then; we still don’t. But we dreamed, and we still do. And it is dreams that makes this country great, so we keep dreaming. For every road we travel down on our Harley-Davidson, someone before us has traveled that same road on their Harley-Davidson. Whether your ride in Rome Italy or Rome Wisconsin, there’s a good chance you’re not the first one there with your motorcycle. But knowing that also gives you a sense of belonging to something greater than the road traveled. It was created by men with a dream and a willingness to chase that dream on the creation before them. Just like we do today.

It has become a passion for which we have no control over. That passion is transformed into an expression of who we are, and where we are going – both in the sense of motion and emotion. To say Harley-Davidson has changed the way we put our lives into perspective would be an understatement. Some things have no explanation, and we accept that. This motorcycle has helped people through their ups and downs and the twists and turns that life has thrown at them, and it has been a member of the family that has been passed on through generations. It is a symbol and extension of our inner selves that only we know, and that only a few can understand.

So we ride. We ride like those did 110 years ago, and those that will ride when we no longer can. I’ve seen where Harley-Davidson has been, but I can’t see where this road will take us, but I guarantee it will be a great ride. Here’s to 100 more years Harley-Davidson!

“The world’s largest…3 miles ahead”

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I know what you’re thinking, every state is known for something. The obvious – Grand Canyon, the Royal Gorge, the Sears Tower just to name a few. Riding along the byways of Kansas, you definitely have some interesting sights to see. There is no doubt the ride South of Council Grove through the Flint Hills is beautiful. The rolling hills when the fields are green is amazing. But the wind…

The wind blows mostly all day and only lets up when you put the motorcycle back in the garage. But its what we do here in Kansas. You ride in it or you don’t ride at all. I’m used to it but I do hear a lot of people complain that it takes the fun out of riding. Sure it does, just as the Northwest has its drizzle and the Southeast has it’s humidity. We just adapt to our surroundings. But back to the roadside attractions.

In Cawker City Kansas we have the World’s Largest Ball of Twine. It’s big. So big it has a roof over it! I’ve had lunch at the bar across the street and I will say it is impressive. That is true dedication and I will hand it to the folks of Cawker City – they have put the city of theirs on the map. Just think of the town that currently has the “Second Largest Ball of Twine”. How would that make you feel? You work so hard but it doesn’t help get your ball of twine in the “largest” category. There are no road side signs saying “turn here to see a medium size ball of twine”.

And then we have Greensburg Kansas with the “Worlds Largest Hand-dug Well“. Not to be confused with the “Second Largest Hand-dug Well.” It must really suck to work so hard at digging a well BY HAND only to come up short. At any point during the dig I hope his wife didn’t say “see, I told you”. At what point do you convince yourself there is no going back to a normal ball of twine or a regular well. As bikers, we usually have to have to the latest and greatest of everything. Whether it’s the biggest engine, or the fastest motorcycle or loudest pipes, some of us have to have it. But the field is very small when it comes to water wells or balls of twine.

You have to hand it to these folks. They have started something and finished it in grand fashion. To those that don’t care it matters little. But to the friends and families of these individuals it is something to talk about through-out the generations. It makes me feel like I need to get off the couch and do something! Wait a minute…I think I might have the “Largest Pile of Dirty Clothes“…

Motorcycles to Anamosa – J&P Cycles Open House

A couple of years ago I rode to Anamosa Iowa for J&P Cycles open house. The end of June was perfect and the weather was good with a slight chance of showers for part of the trip. But no worries, with warm weather a little shower wouldn’t matter. I left after work on my Heritage and planned on making Des Moines Iowa to spend the night. I don’t normally take the interstate but I needed to make a little time so look out big trucks and speeding cars!

A nice night in Des Moines and back on the road to Anamosa. You know at the time I had not ridden through Iowa on a motorcycle, so I was looking forward to it. It was also going to be my first trip to J&P’s and I couldn’t wait. The National Motorcycle Museum was also on my list, so quite frankly I couldn’t get there fast enough.

Now let’s be serious. We’ve all been to things like this, but as I pulled into the parking lot of motorcycles, I was amazed at the turn-out. The people working the event were directing people and it seemed like a well organized group. Very impressed! But wait this was just the beginning. In a box not far from me was a four inch square piece of plywood to put under my kickstand. what a great touch. That says to me that these people understand me and what is important to bikers in general. It’s weird to talk about a piece of wood like this but in that four inch square it might have well said “welcome my friend, we don’t want your bike to fall over”. Nice touch and I haven’t even walked through the split-rail gate to get to the open house.

The day was spent walking and talking to a lot of vendors and folks milling around. It was a beautiful day for watching a stunt show and some synchronized riding. All in all a great time. Fun and professional at the same time. Afterwords, a trip to the National Motorcycle Museum was just amazing. The history within those walls is a lifetime of labor and love for all that maintain it and enjoy it.

The trip was great. The food was good and the host John and Jill Parham, their son Zach and crew were awesome. Thanks for all you guys do and the passion you have for our sport, it’s history and future. You are good people.

If you ever get a chance, go. I mean it. GO! And tell the folks at J&P Cycle’s thanks. See you again this summer!