Now, THAT'S a silly question!
At the end of July, Chris Stovak walked up to my desk at work and announced; "If you are interested in going, we would like to send you to Carson City, Nevada for some Harley Davidson sales training in September. Sounds like a good excuse for a bike trip. You want to go?" Do I want to go? Let me think about it for a minute. Hmmm. All expense paid trip from Michigan to Nevada (by motorcycle). I would get to see some beautiful country (by motorcycle). I could ride through some places I have never been before (by motorcycle). I could meet some interesting people (by motorcycle). I should even learn some things that would help me do my job better. And all by motorcycle! Of course I would go! I leaned forward so I could yell across the sales floor. "Ron! Hey Ron, Iím going on a bike trip!" Then Chris threw in the clincher. "This time of year, we are a little slower, and we could let Ron have the time off to go also." "Ron! Did you hear that! We are going on a bike trip!" And so it started.
I work at C&S Sports Center in Mt. Pleasant. Last year I was able to take one of those trips that I had only dreamed about before. Ron Napier, Jim Hadley, my son Mickey and I were all able to spend a couple of wonderful weeks traveling together by motorcycle through some of the most beautiful country in the U.S. It was over two years coming together. It was on, then it was off (I had to have surgery), then it was back on again. Much planning and saving were involved. We wanted to pack as much in as possible. We studied the maps as to how and where we could go, what we could see. Then we made the trip.
Wow, I was awed by the ride and the places we saw. This was all of the beautiful country that I had always wanted to see,
and we did it by motorcycle. My son and my good friends! It just doesnít get much better than that. I didnít think I
could do it again for years. Now here was the chance to have a major ride again, and only one year later. My budget would
not stand being able to pay for another trip like this yet. Chris offered that C&S would pay for my lodging and food
while at training, and they would give me what it would have cost to fly me there. Budget problem solved.
With the major part of the expenses covered by C&S and me squeezing a little, I could do this!
The Group Assembles
new member Dennis Vasher joins
So I asked Ron, would he like to go? "Yes!" was his answer. A little while later, Jim Hadley came in and we asked if he would also like to go. "Time is not a problem, but Iíll have to check with my wife." Jim answered. Soon, he called us back with a "Yes!" (Oh yeah, I almost forgot! I pick up the phone; "Hey Honey, C&S is sending me to training in Nevada. Oh, just a couple of weeks. Ok, love you, bye"). There, with that taken care of, things were beginning to look good. Ron has a friend (now our friend also) Dennis Vasher. When Dennis was told of our plans, he offered to go to "make it an even number." So, the plans were put in motion.
I had a choice of two dates, mid-August or the end of September. Well, I had a
couple of weddings in August, so it would have to be in September. September should be a great time of year, not too hot,
not too cold. Those words would haunt me later.
Indiana Route 24
the splendor of late summer!
I began to plan.
Lets see. Iím going to need a new set of tires. I was going to replace them anyway, but now I must do it before the trip. This also would help put me in reach or my goal of reaching 100,000 miles on my BMW. It now has 94k and the trip would make reaching my goal easy. Well, didnít work out that way. About two weeks before the trip, my BMW developed a bad vibration in the motor. Oh boy, what to do now? It was almost too late to get it repaired and if I did, there would go the trip budget. Also, it was too late to get reasonable plane tickets, and the guys were counting on me as their reason for going. So with much trepidation, I went to talk to the boss, Jim Stovak.
"Jim, old buddy, old pal, old friend, how are you today?" (Hey, this is the approach my kids always used on me!
Except they always started with "Dad, I love you.") To make a long story shorter; Jim was gracious enough to
loan me the use of one of the shopís Harleys. A FLHTPI. In short, a police dresser that came back off lease. About five
days left now. So I approached our mechanic, Beatle, and asked if he could get the bike ready for me. "Beatle, old
buddy, old pal, old friend, how are you today?" So now we had the
bike and accessories we needed. I rode it home and pulled an old KG trunk out of the storage shed and installed it on the
bike. I knew I saved this for a reason! Next was to select my clothes. Warm weather gear, Aerostitch suit, layering
clothes, electric vest. At that point I thought about wiring the Harley for the vest. No, I donít think I will. It should
be enough just as a layer, after all, itís only September. (You can feel whatís coming, canít you.)
Ron & Dennis
reconsider packing plan
A Dying Town?
The only merchant left in
downtown Forest is the
Wednesday the 15th finally came. We met up in Shepherd at 6:30 am and were on the road. We headed down Interstate-69 into Indiana. We had all agreed that we would rather not travel by way of Chicago and planned some two lanes to avoid this area. Arriving in Ft. Wayne, we jumped off the expressway and headed west on State Route 24. This was a very pretty road. We made good time and enjoyed some very nice, wooded scenery. As we began to get closer to Illinois, it changed from wooded to much more agricultural. By the time we were into Illinois, it was mostly fields of wheat and corn. I was quite surprised that many farmers were harvesting this early in the year. The towns also changed. Illinois seemed to have many small towns with a few houses, a gas station, maybe a general store, and a BIG grain elevator. Farming is definitely the main occupation in the areas we were traveling through. This would definitely not be a place to live if you have a lot of allergies. Soon Ron needed fuel, so we jumped off onto a side road that said fuel was available.
This took us three miles to the town of Forest. This looks like a town that is in change. We drove past the Ďoldí downtown section and most of the buildings were empty. At the north end of town sat a completely modern City Hall, and across from it, a nice, new combination gas station and convenience store. We took a break. There was a collection of old ladies having coffee and I tried to strike up a conversation. I wanted to learn a little more about the town, but these ladies were not interested in talking to a Ďbikerí. We headed back out to the main road and had some fun on the curves! We felt we were not making good enough time, so we decided to cut up and connect with I-80 at Moline. Soon we hit rain. Hard rain! It was really thoughtful of the highway department to put in all those overpasses just so we bikers could get out of the rain. Wonder if we would have missed all this rain if we had stayed on the two lane? Reaching Moline, we had a nice supper and a dry, warm room.
One day down, four more to Carson City!