Ramblin’ Fever

Written by admin. Posted in 2011 The Journey Begins

“So what, you going to run away from people?”

“No, no I’m gonna see things, you know discover, surprises, I like surprises.”

Great lines from the 1969 tv show “Then Came Bronson” which had more effect on me than I ever realized until recently.  I was 13 years old and here is a guy with a cool motorcycle, just riding that long lonesome highway, gets all the girls and helps people out. What 13 year old red blooded American kid didn’t want to be Bronson!

I’m Home!

It has been another great trip and glad you could Kom Igen

Why do I do this? No, not the ride, that one is easy, I ride because the little voice inside my head tells me to. No, why do I do the blog? I have to admit it often felt like work and was often the last thing at nights I wanted to work on. I would go through periods of why, nobody is reading it, nobody cares about what the hell I see and then I would get an email, a txt or a comment on the blog from somebody out of the blue that was reading and would comment that they felt like they were on the ride and keep it up. I would also think about my mom who passed away earlier this year. One of the things we found in her personal belongings was a printed copy in a hardbound leather binder of the daily 2009 and 2010 blogs. When she could no longer use the computer, the lady who ran the care home would print them for her and the whole care home would share. My mother would always tell me to be careful but she never condemned me for riding a motorcycle, instead she would tell everyone “thats my son that rides a Harley” like it was a really big deal.

Obviously my family would read it and they are all very supportive even though they do without so called “Normal Vacations” because of it. They know how hard I work and know how much I need the getaway time to recharge so I get a friendly kick out the door when Sturgis time comes around. Thank you to all my family! My co workers also read it and like my family, many of them suffer because of me being gone but all are very supportive. So, we have family, co workers and then the close friends all following along when along comes someone out of the blue who I did not know.

Bruce Carlson was an engineer who worked with my brother Bob in Kansas. My brother had shared the blog with Bruce and he became a faithful reader in 2009 and 2010. In August of 2010, Bruce was diagnosed with a rare disease called Wegner’s Granutomatosis. The disease affected his kidneys and in January of 2011 Bruce passed away at the young age of 56. Bruce was an avid motorcycle rider having owned over 12 motorcyles. In August of 2010, Bruce had made a comment on my blog about how much he enjoyed the adventure and then added “My life for yours” That is why I do it.

Bruce Carlson

” Mr. S, here is your gold. I chased it all the way to Missouri where Injun Joe had traded to some pirates for some whiskey. I chased them pirates down the Mississippi all the way to Memphis and finally caught up with them at a drive up BBQ stand, however they was a walking so it was easy. Here is your secret treasure too Mr. S. I now see how you are so lucky at cards, I’m sure this distracts them enough for you to pull those Aces out of your sleeve.

And here is the rest of your treasure, shouldn’t be long for you to double your fortune, but don’t worry Mr. S, your secret is safe with me.

MISC. Ramblin’s from my diary that didn’t make the blog.

Note to Indian Reservations. PICK up the damn trash!

Iowa, pig farms smell worse than any dairy.

Iowa has the friendliest people, even the cops. Had one chasing me down through town, I could see him driving fast behind me in my mirror and thinking , did I come to a complete stop at that last sign? He is on my ass now, crap it has to be my loud pipes, now he is passing and going to signal for me to pull over. I look over and he is giving me a big thumbs up and then speeds away!

Number of times I got stopped by cops… Zero

Number of times I got stopped by pretty girls….

Iowa is not all corn fields, actually seems to be more soybeans than corn.

Speaking of corn, I have seen enough to last a lifetime!

My motorcycle does not like ethanol.

Number of times I washed the bike on the trip… Zero, I think it had a lot of character by the time I got home.

List of celebrity tippers considered Saints: Tim Allen, Charles Barkley, Kevin Costner, Jay Leno, Peyton Manning, Stevie Nicks, Tom Petty.

List of celebrity tippers considered scum: Al Gore, Don Henley, Jesse Jackson, Dan Quayle, Tiger Woods, Mark McGuire, Scottie Pippen, Barbra Streisand and Marie Osmond. The last one surprised me but I am thinking she does 10% for everything.

Riding through town looking for a motel, when did signs stating “American Owned” become so popular?

Illinois has problems, the roads are terrible and it is obvious a welfare state, yet had some of the cheapest gas.

Tennessee is the most prosperous followed by Arkansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Oklahoma. That is just my road warrior view of things, maybe I should look it up and see how close I am.

People out here(along the river road)  consider mowing the lawn (riding lawnmower only)  a hobby, they mow the barrow ditches!

Total miles 3613

Total DUI’s at sturgis, 212, what the hell is wrong with people!!

I predict that we will see multiple Casino’s go under in the next 5 years, there is way too many of them and of course I participated in too many of them but I did see the people in them. I didn’t know you could trade food stamps for Casino Chips?

I know what chigger bites feel like and was that a damn tick that just fell out of my hair?

Overall America is still in good shape, you just have to get off the interstate, away from the chain stores and restaurants to find her. I have many new friends and was surprised often.

Only once did I come close to any kind of conflict and it was early in the trip at Spearfish and it really wasn’t mine but I bet that kid thinks twice the next time before he flips off an old biker whose bike had died in front of him. First he pulls in so close to my bike he can’t get his door open and expects me to move my bike. I just stood there in a stare down until he rolled his window up and had his girlfriend get out on the other side and go into the liquor store. A guy standing next to me noticed what was going on and asked what the hell was wrong with this guy? The guys girl friend came back out, jumped in the truck and then he jammed it into reverse and almost hit another biker who had just pulled away from the gas pump. The old biker jammed his brakes hard to keep from getting hit and killed his bike and couldn’t get it started. This caused the asshole kid to honk his horn which was real stupid because he now had my attention, my new found friends attention and 3 others who earlier weren’t paying any attention. Some other guys help the old man push his bike out of the way and then the kid flips us all off as he peels out of the gas station. My now, 4 new friends said “fuck that lets get him”. It was more reaction on my part than anything thought out and the 5 of us went hauling ass after him with gears jammin’ and leathers flying. At least I now had a little time to think the situation over and wonder what the hell was I doing, what if the kid runs one of us over or has a gun, too late I’m committed. Two of our group got in front of him, one on the side and two of us behind him . The two in front keep slowing down, the one on the side kept him from going around and at the time I was thinking I would be the one to give the police report after the kid ran over all 3 of them. We forced the kid to pull over, I could tell he was scared now and not as cocky. One of our group, (the biggest meanest looking one) screamed at the kid to roll his window down or he was going to break it. The kid cracked the window, voice shaking with “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it.” The big guy then told him that if he ever flipped us off again he would be missing a finger while the rest of us just tried to look tough and make sure he or his girl friend did not have a weapon.  That was it, we let him out exchanged high five’s, names and talked about where we were all from. I never saw any of them again. I have to admit, I felt a little bit like a badass and at the same time embarrassed for how stupid and what could have happened. Yet, I rode away thinking that is how America won wars.  I was also a little worried thinking at work I operate on “learned behavior”, is this really my natural behavior? 3000 miles later, I think I am okay.

I have saved the best Mark Twain quote for the end.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the tradewinds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.”

It is going to be hard to wait a whole year to do this again and who knows maybe I won’t. I hope you enjoyed!

This land is your land, this land is my land

Written by admin. Posted in 2011 The Journey Begins

It happens at all gas stops, if there are two motorcyles getting gas they are going to talk to each other. I think the world would be a better place if people in cages did the same thing.

“Where you headed?”

“I’m headed west, back home towards Denver, how about you?”

“I’m headed to Ft Riley Kansas to see my kid, he is in the Army, I am from Cheyenne. Damn it’s a hot one out there on the highway.”

“Oh you know it and that is why I’m taking a bottle water break, here try it.”

“Son of a bitch thats cold, feels damn good, why didn’t I think of that!”

I called him “Hard Core” He had just ridden almost 500 miles already today, the last half in the 100 plus degree heat but neither of those is why I call him Hard Core, he did it with no windshield! I can’t do that anymore, I have already been hit in the forehead my grasshoppers the size of a B2 bomber going 80 mph that somehow managed to go around my windshield and there are at least 50 that hit my windshield.

Be safe and tell that soldier Thank you for me Hard Core. He headed east and I headed west.

The road west has lost it’s curves but the plains of Kansas still have an allure, I feel like a pony express rider headed to the next station!

I think Kansas towns have cornered the market for old jet fighter planes, it seems like they all have one on display.

This is a scene from a typical Kansas small town business district. I could hear Woody Guthrie singing “This land is your land” from one of the box cars.

It is hard to think about riding a motorcycle in the snow right now.

Especially when the temperture outside is still 101 deg.

I am getting closer to the mountains, I can feel it. I can’t wait to see Pikes Peak just like I did my very first trip to Colorado from Kansas. I can’t wait, where is it, it has to be right over there, is that it, no it is just some clouds. I know, I will stop here and cheat. Come on, you know you always wanted to stop here and climb the tower to see 6 states at once!

 One more stop to see my old buddy Kerby. We worked together at Amoco and actually lived together for a bit, surprised we survived. We do have some history, most of it we can’t talk about but we also have a love for old cars! Kerby has the market cornered on 66 and 67 chevelles, I think I counted 8.

He also has other highly desirable chevy’s. Hey Kerb, you’re a movie star; again!

 

It was good to visit Kerb, we don’t see each other often enough.

Gotta roll, it has been a great trip, a great vacation and work was just a distant memory until now>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Now grab some buds and get your ass to work! 

Not home yet, and still have one more day ride and be a bum. Wait, what day is it, maybe I have two more days?

Kansas Motorcycle Museum and Bro Jim

Written by admin. Posted in 2011 The Journey Begins

Hint to all, click on pics to an enlarged view!

After a great nights sleep it was time to hit the road north and my only other scheduled stop of the whole trip to see my oldest brother Jim.  A few hours of work calls and I was on my way to Salina Kansas where Bro Jim has lived since his return from Vietnam much disabled as a result of the war. Just don’t tell him he is disabled or he will challenge you to a foot race and you will most likely loose. Bro Jim was wounded my mortar shrapnel during an attack by the North Vietnamese on November 18th, 1967 and then to ensure he was dead the NVA later shot him in the head. Good thing the North Vietnamese didn’t know how tough a Kansas farmboy could be or an even tougher soldier from Indiana named Sammy L Davis was.  Being wounded himself, Sammy managed to blow up an air mattress swim across the river and rescue 3 wounded comrades. The most severe wounded man and thought to be dead was put on the mattress and pushed back across the river while Sammy continued machine gun fire until the other two could also be rescued. The soldier thought to be dead was Jim Deister my oldest brother. www.modernamericanheroes.com/tag/jim-deister/ Check out the link and have a tissue handy and Thank You Sammy for not leaving my brother behind and the ability to have this picture in 2011.

Brother Jim couldn’t make it through the day without his assistant keeping him out of trouble, he is a Deister afterall. That is her bright red T Bird in the background and she is a Harley girl!

I had spotted a sign along side the highway on my ride here and knew after vistiting Bro Jim I would be coming back this direction to go find the Kansas Motorcycle Museum and am I ever so glad that I did. The museum located in a sleepy little Kansas town of about 500 people named Marquette host a world class museum. The museum started by Marquette resident and motorcycle racing legend Stan Engdahl is chock full of antique motorcycles and memorabillia. Stan has over 600 trophies spanning 6 decades of his racing career some won with broken legs and some at age 61!

I thought I had died and went to biker heaven!

 

Hmmm this looks familiar? Lucille a BMW GS ridden around the world.

The grey ghost!

And a Harley Racer model known as a peashooter chained up for the ice.

I have been called a cowboy biker but this guy is the real deal!

After a couple of hours and I could have spent more it was time to go. I walked outside and heard this hellish noise in the sky. You don’t get to see a B2 Stealth Bomber everyday!

It was another excellence day and one I will remember as one of the best, time to celebrate Cole Style!

Sunflowers, Sunshine and Son’s o Bitches

Written by admin. Posted in 2011 The Journey Begins

Gone are the days of the general public snubbing their nose at motorcycle riders, everybody waves and for the most part extremely friendly and seems as though I get special treatment at most motels.

“Please just park it there sir and we will keep an eye on it all night for you”

I think I know why the change in peoples attitudes over the years, bikers spend money and respect the working people who serve them and then treat them well in return. In Deadwood SD weeks after Sturgis bike rally there is a Corvette convention. Interviews with waitresses, bar staff and motel staff indicate that it take 10 corvette oweners to equal one biker in the giving of tips.  Not only are bikers more giving, they are a lot less needy, whining and much more respectful than the corvette owners. If the trend keeps up, heck in a couple of years they will not only watch my bike at night but wash it for me while I sleep!

No map day found this old belt drive drill press outside an abandoned machine shop. I don’t think anyone will be stealing this monster.

No map day also took me by this restored house.

A lot of people ask me, “Is that all you do is just ride around, that would get old.” No, I stop a lot go to Museums like this one.

Stick my head into the barrel of an old civil war cannon.

Sometimes, I will just sit by the edge of a lake wishing I had my fishing pole.

Or find a nice cool spot in the Ozarks and go hiking and exploring.

and find a natural spring where I can get a drink and take a spring bath.

Is it any wonder I don’t make very good time? Call it “smelling the roses.”

“Where you from?”

“I am from Kansas.”

“Kansas! All there is in Kansas is sunshine, sunflowers and Son’s o Bitches and I don’t see no yellow on you!”

This was my introduction to a man in Wyoming who later became a very good friend. I’m on my way to Kansas now so I made sure to wear my yellow shirt and sure enough it did’nt take long for the sunflowers to show up.

 

On my way to see brother Bob, assistant Chief of the Kansas Delaware tribe and member of the Fucarwe tribe. Brother Bob works here at he NCRA Refinery in McPherson Kansas making me  high test gasoline so I can burn up the highways!

Had a nice visit and steak dinner with Brother Bob, his wife Bev and one of his cute little grand daughters and then his daughter Chelle showed up. Bob is the ultimate family man and also the ultimate brother!

And this is Brother Bob dreaming of the day his kids all support themselves and he can get out and put his face in the wind!

I will probably pay for that one. Oh well, don’t wanna get stale, time to hit the road again, take care Brother!

No Map Day

Written by admin. Posted in 2011 The Journey Begins

Have to get a few things off my chest, some not so politically correct but hey this is suppose to be a biker site of sorts. I skipped over saying anything about the River Road in Kentucky and Tennessee because there was NO RIVER by the ROAD! What the hell, there were signs that said Kentucky River Road, same signs as Iowa, Missouri and Illinois had but damn it, they had a river by the road. I feel ripped off by Kentucky and Tennessee. And another thing, there is some close breeding going on around here, I mean, play the dueling banjo theme people. What is even worse, they are walking around, riding bicycles and even driving cars! Hell, some were even in the service industry scaring the hell out of me.

“Fif fee scents fer the ass” Say what! I can’t understand you!  “The ass is fifee cents mister”  Damn girl, please write it down, I still can’t understand you! Oh hell, never mind trying to read that is worse than listening to you. Give me my damn ice and let me out of here. (of course fifty cents poorer)

Good got that off my chest, and oh yeah another thing, read the sign!!

 Wish I could take credit for that pic, but I stole it from someone else.

Somedays you just have to get off the main road, turn off the GPS, hide the map and do the man thing which is to never ask anyone for directions. I’m North and West now and that’s all I need to know for now so it is officially a no map day. This sometimes gets me into a lot of trouble. I’ve had no map days where the road dead ends and I have to back track 40 miles, sometimes the road turns to dirt which is always fun on a 500 pound Harley and sometimes I run out of gas in the worst of all places, not to mention how hard it is finding Starbucks!  This no map day is off to a good start when this is one of the first signs I see.

Could mean about anything but it is looking like a pretty darn good road to me.

Maybe it is because of this critter licking his chops over my leather saddle bags?

This reminds me, I have read that a human brain is 3 pounds, a cow brain is one pound. What the hell does that have to do with NO MAP DAY you ask? It is hotter than hell out here, well over 100.

All of the cows I see today are either in the shade of belly deep in a pond. I on the other hand am out in the bright sun riding down the even hotter road. It is so hot, I stop every 15 or so miles, drink a half bottle of water and take a water bottle shower with the other half. This is me after a water bottle shower when it is 108 degrees.

Now go back to the long horn cow pic and tell me which one looks the happiest and most content. One pound brain my ass!

Back to No MAP DAY.  Didn’t take long for the road to turn to gravel.

But look at the cool old school house on this gravel road.

I reach an intersection and stop to take a water bottle break when an old farmer pulls up to ask if I am alright. I responded with “Just taking a break.” He said I didn’t need no break on that motorcycle, hell you should have been riding in the 50’s and then he drove off. I sure wish he would have stayed around so I could ask about that riding in the 50’s comment.

Didn’t Bruce Springsteen write a song about Highway 99? Or was it Johnny 99 and Hiway 29, oh well I am at Hiway 99, wherever the hell that is?

You don’t find these kind of neat old roads and bridges using a map!

And look where the winds took me!

It has been a great NO MAP DAY, think I will do it again tomorrow, providing I can find my way out of here today!

You can’t get there from here, start over.

Written by admin. Posted in 2011 The Journey Begins

Walmart is a staple of any road warrior especially one on a motorcycle. This is just a partial list so far of my Walmart stops; underwear, spark plug socket, wd 40, batteries, peanuts, cream rinse and bug bite cream. Picture me bent over my my bike studying map completely blind to what is going on around me and I hear a ladies voice say” You can’t get there from here, you have to go home and start over.”

I turned to see who said it and it was a little old lady who had to be in her 70’s.  I laughed and ackowledged her. This has to be the best quote I have heard on the whole trip, including anything heard in Sturgis. She was right though. I can usally look at a map and tell about how far I can go in a day but out here the roads are just to crooked, too many of them and too much to see, plus there is a little burg every 10 miles that has a 30 mph speed limit. I am just not getting south very fast and it is looking like New Orleans will have to wait for another trip. I am running out of time and have to start thinking about where to turn West and leave the Big River.

Waiting at a ferry landing I couldn’t help but laugh at this sign. It looks to me like a lot of things spend as much time in the river as on the river.

A view from the cockpit, now 2300 miles strong on this trip.

That picture was actually a mistake.

So far on this trip, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee.  Okay damn it, good bye big ol muddy river, hello Memphis, go west young man and hello Arkansas. I have been wanting to get back and ride in Arkansas for the last 4 years and it was time to do it again. The roads are neat, the scenery awesome and you never know what you may stumble across. Where is that truck, I found another place to shop!

A few years ago at a travel center in Arkansas they gave me a book on motorcyle roads in Arkansas, they are very motorcycle friendly here, even got a discount on a motel room for riding a motorcycle. These signs are all over the place.

I’m liking this place, I think I could liver here. There it is, ready to move in!

 How about this one, this place is full of neat old places right alongside the road.

 I love the Ozarks!

I think I will follow the Arkansas River back to Colorado, taking me through Little Rock.

 This next picture is for someone who will know who they are when they see it.

 Gotta ride now, see ya!

Road ends in water

Written by admin. Posted in 2011 The Journey Begins

Joesph Smith wanted to stay here in Old Nauvoo.

I wanted to come here and take a few pictures for some of my LDS friends. I have a lot of LDS friends and already knew a little bit about the history of Nauvoo and how the Mormons came to leave this place and head to Utah, but as I entered town and looked around I was thinking the Mormons have done well for themselves for leaving here. In fact they have done so well they should get even with Old Nauvoo and just come back and buy the place out! Once I got to the other end of town, it looks like they already did!

From here the Mormons headed west on what is now known as the Mormon Trail. I wasn’t ready to turn west yet so kept going south along the river.

See those hills, don’t let them fool you, even after you get to the top of them they are only 500 feet above sea level.

Since I live at 5280 feet, I am feeling in better shape at this altitude. Feeling good enough that I think I have enough wind to climb up to the lighthouse. That’s a lot of steps to get up here though!

I

 It was worth it though for this view.

It turned out it wasn’t my lack of wind that got to me but my legs turned to rubber and these two guys were laughing at me!

A few years ago I was turned on to this website. www.legendsofamerica.com it is owned and run by a friend of mine from high school and you should check it out. If you want a more realistic version of history than my twisted view you will get it on this website plus a lot more. We do share a lot in common on Americana though and this website caused me to do a trip on Route 66 the Mother Road 4 years ago. On that trip I started in Amarillo and travelled 66 all the way to St Louis where I like many before me then headed west. This time, I am still not ready to head west.

This time my sights are set on taking this river road until it ends in water!

The Great Missouri Train Wreck

Written by admin. Posted in 2011 The Journey Begins

Feeling like doing something Tom and Huck would do, I placed a quarter on the train tracks and waited for the train. I hear one coming now, yep here it comes.

Man, that train is close.

 Wow, that is a lot of cars, that quarter is going to be smashed good!

 OH NO!

 I always heard it was against the law to put stuff on the tracks.

Damn it was only a quarter!

Come on Huck, we better get the hell out of here!

“Yes mister, I saw these kids do it!”

Cairo, the place history is unkind.

Written by admin. Posted in 2011 The Journey Begins

I know I  heard the name Cairo Illinois, just couldn’t remember where or why. Looking at the map it looked like a neat place to go and afterall it was on the river road route, plus it was a good place to cross yet another river called the Ohio and end up in Kentucky a state not yet checked off on my list.

Something wasn’t feeling right as I got closer to Cairo, it was super hot and muggy and there wasn’t much in the way of life,  maybe it was just the heat. My feeling that something wasn’t right was enhanced as I rode under the bridge with the Cairo sign and on the other side my first thought was “man this place has seen better days.” Little did I know at the time, I was on the good side of town. My second thought, ” it sure looks poor around here.”  I did see a little activity and already I knew I would probably bypass this place for gas and take my chances up the road, the place looked like the poster ad for the TV show cops.

What the hell happened here? This is what my mind pictures a nuclear holocaust would look like. I don’t know what happened here but it had to be recent.

Neat buildings and homes, but they are abandoned.

A town located at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. A town completely surrounded by levees and in May of 2011 the Corp of Engineers evacuated the town with the Ohio river rising to the highest levels on record. They eventually blew up the levees to control the flooding and prevent a sudden 10 foot wall of water rushing the town. In the process they saved the town but damaged 100’s of acres of farm ground causing an uproar that is still unsettled with the landowners.

Why save the city? It has to be political, there is no logical reason otherwise. The city had a population in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s of 20,000. It has a history of racial violence and even in the last decade it has been reported of 150 nights of gunfire a year. During the period of 1967-1970 half of the city was vandalized and burned in racial fused riots.  In 2010 the population dipped below 3000 and after the latest flood who knows.

If nothing else , it would make a good movie prop for a Mel Gibson movie.

It certainly left an impression on me, one I will not forget.

While the place had a draw, I also couldn’t wait to leave town and Illinois. Hello Kentucky!

The Great River Road

Written by admin. Posted in 2011 The Journey Begins

Seems as if the President was here the day before I was, guess he was making sure things were safe for me. I wonder if he stopped here to get a map?

Yesterday I posted a pic of a dog driving a semi, they treat dogs real well here and they even get chocolate dogfood!

I came this far to ride the Great River Road and it is right over there!

Maps showing the routes and landmarks are on both sides of the river making it tough to decide which side to ride on. If I had time I might ride down one side and come back up the other, but since I don’t I picked the Illinois side to start with.

 Looks like Lincoln spoke here so I climbed up on the rock and spoke a few words myself but nobody wanted to hear what I said, maybe I need a beard and a top hat.

 

 This is what I came for and these roads are worth it. Some almost touch the river and some go up to the top of the bluffs giving great views of the river. Pretend you are riding this road as you view these!

Enjoy that? I know I did. How about a draw bridge postcard view?

All those curves made me hungry so I am going to get off here and have a hot dog. More River Road tomorrow.

Blame it on Mark Twain

Written by admin. Posted in 2011 The Journey Begins

“How can you be so sure Two Feathers? How do you already know who stole my gold and other treasures?”

“A friend of mine named Tom called me, said he and Huck overheard a fella bragging about stealing gold from a guy named Mr. S in Deadwood. Said the fella hid it in an old haunted house and him and Huck saw him hide it.”

“Well where are they at, where’s my gold and treasure, how will you get it back? What is the thief’s name anyway?”

” Don’t worry Mr. S, I will head to where the sun comes up and find your gold, I know the way. The thief is a half breed named Injun Joe.”

 

He’s just a fella working on the river all his life by the paddle wheel.

You may say he’s old fashion, that ain’t no big deal.

Well it’s too thick to navigate, it’s too thin to plow.

Let him go on mama, don’t put him down for it now!

Those lyrics have been stuck in my head now for the last 100 miles as I start to feel the big draw and smells of the great river, the Mississippi. The plan, what little of one I had, was to go east until I hit the Mississippi river and then follow the great river road south zig zagging both sides of the river until I ran out of time.

I had been studying the map as I headed east looking for the perfect place to hit the river and start my journey south when I came across this little red writing indicating a historical marker. Perfect, how many people know Buffalo Bill was born just outside of Le Claire Iowa!

Le Claire Iowa, hmmmm seems like I have seen that before someplace, let me do a google search. Yep, sure enough, three of my favorite people, Mike, Frank and Danielle the American Pickers. Perfect, Le Calire here I come.

Wow, my first view of the great river and the hard hot road miles to get here disappeared.

Le Claire is a quaint little burg of 3000 people and lined with antique stores, shouldn’t be hard to find the pickers. After multiple trips up and down the main drag with no luck, I broke down and looked up the address. Okay, I’m on the right street now but nothing looks right, it should be right about here? Sign on this house says “Not the Pickers!”  Let’s try the alley, yep there they are.

There was a Danielle look alike pushing stuff inside but I never did see Mike and Frank.

I decided to sit in front and wait for them.

Couldn’t wait forever so I ended up buying a T shirt and a couple of stickers. I was planning on buying this old indian from them, oh well their and my loss.

 I know I am close to Missouri but they don’t let dogs drive semi trucks where I come from.

“Where you headed?” I asked the rider who was looking at a map stretched out over the back of his packed up BMW motorcycle. He looked surprised that I spoke first.

“Knoxville.”

Okay, let me try again. “Where you from?”

“I’m from Mesa Arizona, but was in Sturgis for the last week working.”

That’s better, at least he has opened up a little now.

“Was tending bar for a week at Coyote Ugly in Deadwood.”

“Hey, that’s cool, pay for a trip to Sturgis that way.”

“Well yeah, if I get paid that is.”

The BMW rider was moving to Knoxville and had his new job all lined up but was heading there to find a place to live and then riding back to Arizona and planning to move in a month. He was surprised that a Harley rider would talk to him and said he was caught a little off guard. Ever since he started riding the BMW it was like he had the plague with Harley riders. What is even worse is when he rides up to some other BMW’s, they will act like they are friendly until he takes his helmet off and when his pony tail falls out they shy away from him too. I eventually told him the reason I spoke to him was because he didn’t look like the normal BMW rider and that I had just bought one but hadn’t went back to ND yet to pick it up. He looked at me and laughed, “yep another lone wolf BMW rider then.”

“Hey, did you see that dog driving a truck earlier.” I asked.

“What?’

I responded “Never mind.”

It was time to start south and visit another important landmark to me I had spotted on the map.

Hannibal Missouri, home of Mark Twain and the river town of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.

Had it not been for reading Adventures of Huck Finn when I was around 12, I might not have ever picked up another book.

As I wandered about town and looked over the river views, it hit me. The Mississippi River was their highway. It was this river that would take them to far away places like Memphis and even as far as……… New Orleans! I read about their adventures and their travels and it had an effect on me then and still does now. I want to see those places too! I got it, I can blame my wanderlust on Mark Twain!

And one last thing to blame on Mark, a quote of his I firmly believe in and try to live my life by.

” I don’t give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way.”

Headed south, along the Mighty Muddy Mississippi! It’s to thick to navigate and it’s too thin to plow, let him go on mama, don’t put him down for it now.

American Pickers

Written by admin. Posted in 2011 The Journey Begins

I stayed in a really cool place last night but the internet sucked so not able to update the blog. Will try and double up tonight so you have plenty to look at with your Saturday morning coffee. Don’t worry about me though, I am off with these two guys looking for treasures along the Great River Road of the Mississippi

Is This Heaven? No, it’s Iowa

Written by admin. Posted in 2011 The Journey Begins

Had to work this morning so going to be a short one today. I really look forward to and appreciate all the comments so keep them coming.

My stereotypes of Iowa was flat, lots of corn and boring. While it is realative flat and there is lots of corn it is anything but boring.

One of the first things I notice is there is no bare ground and every inch is farmed. The soil must be so rich in nutrients that no summerfall or crop layout is needed here. One small town boasted it was the capital of “Black Dirt”. The further east I go the older the buildings get and the more majestic the churches.

No excuse for being late for church here either!

Menards replaces the Home Depot’s, Pizza Ranch replaces the sonics and Dairy Queens as the hang out spots and Casey’s General Store replaces the 7/11’s. One small town had a neon sign out front that advertised the ice cream machine was “ON!”  The towns are full of places that fix things, repair shops of all types. Nice to see a place that still fixes things instead of buy and bolt on chinese replacement parts.  It also seems that all of the farms have a minimum of two barns, one from the early 20’s and one from the 50’s.

I kept seeing these painted logo’s on all the barns and assumed they were some native logo of a local tribe. I later learned they are called Barn Quilts and they are everywhere. Need to start this trend out west!

I’m guessing it snows here from looking at this trick truck option!

Having a great time on the back country roads, not making any time but that isn’t the point. Just need to figure out if I turn right or left?

Sturgis in my mirror

Written by admin. Posted in 2011 The Journey Begins

“Sheriff! I demand you arrest them crooked card players who stole my damn gold”

“Now you look here Mr. S, if there be any demanding done around these parts, it’ll be me doing the demandin’ not you Mr. S”

“You’re the law, you are suppose to protect people like me, you need to go find them outlaws and get me my gold back!

“Mr. S, first of all this is Deadwood, easy come easy go and the way I see it , your gold is now their gold and anyways they are long gone, I seem em ridin’ east this morning. ”

“Damn it Sheriff, I got more gold and I’m willing to give some of it to the person who can catch them outlaws, they stole more than just my gold. They also stole my….well they stole somethin else and I need it back real bad.”

“I’m only the sheriff of Deadwood, I can’t leave these parts to go chasin somebody for something I don’t even know what I’m chasin them for. I suggest you go down to Saloon number 10 and find this fella named Two Feathers, I hear he lookin’ for a reason outta here.”

 Well, the bottle has been spun on the map and looks like I will be headed east so it was time to say goodbye to Sturgis and my motel neighbor farmer Jones.

 Farmer Jones has been my neighbor at Sturgis now for a couple of years. He has a farm in Northern Colorado and is always good for a few stories. At 68 years old he is still riding and having a good time. Like me he always does more than just Sturgis and this year it was Durango, Red Mountain and the Royal Gorge.

It is like a mass exodus of Sturgis now and there is a constant roar leaving town. There was a lot less people this year and noticable to me was the lack of trailers and motorhomes compared to past years. Maybe it is the economy or the price of gas but most were packed up like these leaving.

 I am going to miss Sturgis, but I am also anxious to hit the road and find something new out there on the back roads of America. Here is a few parting shots of Sturgis.

Proof I was there.

Can you see me now?

And oh yes I will miss the scenery. I wonder if she realizes the tail is on her hat?

“Where you headed?”

“I’m doing good how bout you” My hearing is getting bad especially after just getting off the highway and shutting the motor off at a gas stop. I thought the guy had ask me how I was doing.

“I’m headed east myself” He said.

“Oh yeah, me too. Where you headed east to?”

“Minnesota, Wisconsin maybe, I’m just tramping.”

I never did ask him his name but I gave him my own, “Chico” and according to Chico everything he owned was on his bike.

 

Chico is from Seattle and his left leg is made of wood from the knee down. Chico was riding in the fog one day and the wind shear that happens when you pass a semi truck at speed pulled him and his scooter in to the semi just enough that he felt a pinch on his leg.  Chico then reached over and pinched my elbow lightly. “That is all it felt like” he said. At first he didn’t think much of it other than scared. He went about another half mile to the exit ramp and where he pulled over went to put his left leg down on the ground and fell over. It was then he saw his leg on the ground. He laid there until help arrived, but it was too late to save his leg. That was 4 years ago and now he is riding with a big ol sword with hand clutch attached as his shifter. We met up again down the road at other gas stops and it seemed I always left first but it wouldnt take long until he would roar by me. Chico rode hard!

 

See ya later Chico!

Just now wheat harvest time this far north. Made me think of farmer Jones.

Need to go shopping? What do you want, Fashion Jewelery, watches, turquoise or espresso? No really, I know a place.

Gotta love Wall Drug!

I have no idea how a turtle this big ends up dead on the plains of SD! I might be the only person to take a pic of a dead turtle but this bad dude was huge! If I hit this thing going down the highway it would toss me off the bike but then again if i saw this thing walking across the highway I might have crashed just looking at!

I suppose he came out of the Missouri River. Hmmm the Missouri River, where will you take me river?

Sturgis, trout and Spearfish Canyon

Written by admin. Posted in 2011 The Journey Begins

Wow, what a night. I need to come clean on a few parts of yesterdays blog, there was a part of it that was fiction and just not true. I did get wild, had a wild time but I did not get escorted home by two of Sturgis finest! I actually rode home on my own, not on my scooter but on this.

After a night of huge fun, today is a day for looking at all the neat stuff and riding the black hills and hitting an annual destination for me. $50 bucks to the first person who can find me in the picture with my friends.

I take a lot of pictures of motorcycles but rather than bore you with all of them I have posted a couple of my favorites starting with my favorite one that just happens to be a panhead with a springer front, was at the custome chrome tent.

Always have to check out the new line of Indian motorcycles.

I’m thinking mine will sport a new paint scheme next year similar to this.

Time to head for the hills and I am hungry. Seven years ago I pulled into this place to escape a rain storm and while there I decided to eat.

That year, there were a few bikers drinking and fishing, luckily for me they weren’t eating and the people who own the place were frying up all the fish they were catching and it was an all you can eat fish fry paid for by the happy drinking fishing bikers. It was the best fish I had ever eaten and every since then I make it a point to go back and have fresh trout for lunch. They even de bone them for you.

After a belly full of trout it was time to ride my favorite road in the Black Hills called Spearfish Canyon.

Look ma, no hands!

Stopped at Cheyenne crossing and there was an old blues singer stopped to collect a few coins on the side of the road. I laid back on the scooter drinking a cold water listening to the blues singer, the roar of the motorcycles going by and enjoying the sights, smells and beauty of the Black Hills. Don’t pinch me, I don’t wanna wake up!

Eventually the thunder and rain woke me up and it was time to ride back to Sturgis but  another great day!

Alien Pole Dancer

Written by admin. Posted in 2011 The Journey Begins

Unloaded, hungry and ready to go down town Sturgis, you know, just to look around a bit maybe a cold one and then turn in early, been a long day.  I better walk though because I’m a “one beer no ride no more guy”.

Been seeing a lot of three wheelers this year, mild to wild ones. Not for me but a way for a lot of people get their face in the wind that wouldn’t otherwise. Some look like Harleys with training wheels, some with the single wheel in the back instead of the front and some like a street rod missing a wheel.

I have been looking for a hat. In Sturgis it seems everyone is wearing a hat or a doo rag. Hats of all kinds, some with horns, ball caps, skull caps, cowboy hats, leather hats, I think they are all bald. I tried a doo rag before and it didn’t work for me. I needed a hat that said “King of Sturgis”, something magical, something old timey, something that said Tom Petty!

I think I found it.

All right, we have hat, belly full of good ol BBQ and time to party. This bar looks interesting, band sounds damn good and the bar maid certainly looks like she is having fun, lets have a cold one and look around. Just one, cuz I’m tired and like I said before it has been a long day.

I later learned why she is always standing on the bar serving drinks. Ever heard of a beer bong? A large funnel with a hose attached, put hose in mouth, fill funnel and open the valve. Only in this case she had two beer bongs, one with a big ol tit on the mouth end and one with a dildo, both of  which she held between her legs while someone else filled the funnel. I hope you get the picture because my camera didn’t. Most of the women couldn’t take it and would get a beer facial. Now that’s entertainment!

On the way to the restroom, (ok 3 beers at this point not counting the beer bong) there was a dog laying on the floor. One to never miss a pooch, I couldn’t help notice the pooch had a cat laying on top of it. Not good enough; the cat had a rat laying on top of it!

Ask the guy how he trained them to do that? “Lots of treats and duct tape.”

Return to the area where the band is playing, not sure who this guy is but he can wail and the band can rock! Wait a minute what is that? In Sturgis you can go topless as long as you have pasties or paint.

Yep, body paint, it’s big in Sturgis. So I am listening to the band, watching the bar maid perform her beer bong rituals, and these two girls, one I call Cherry Tits because she has paint that looks like two cherrys with the stems wrapped around her neck  and the other I haven’t named yet were just dancing away. The one with no name yet never quit dancing. Cherry would quit once in a while to refresh but no name never quit.

At first no name was fun to watch but then again, it started to hurt. if you have ever seen the Jerry Seinfeld show where Elaine dances, fingers pointed hurky jerky, painful to the eyes. That was no name girl. She had a body you could crack an egg on but I couldn’t watch anymore!  Four hours she hurky jerky around, fingers pointed out the whole thing. I finally figured it out! Have you ever seen the science fiction shows where space aliens transform into a earthling so they move around unnoticed and cause chaos. That was it, had to be, a space alien transformed themselve into this stripper pole dancer but they had no soul! No name is now the Alien Pole Dancer!

I know, bad pics. Dark, laughing shaking and need better camera.

Okay we got bar maids with beer bongs, dancing space aliens, dogs with cats and rats on them. Nope, not done yet. Now we have action over by the center bar going on. The guy to my left was beside himself, he must have jumped up 5 times to go take pics. He would come back to our table tell me all about it and then send his wife with the camera to take more. There was such a crowd, I never did get close to take any of my own pics of the two girls now just about  totally naked  in a liplock. His wife came back and said the bouncers shut them down, one didn’t have pasties. They were last seen headed to the girls room, and yep my new friends wife continued the reports for us.

Why are they clearing out the dance floor, is it over now? Nope. Now there are two Harleys entering the building and they end up front tire to front tire,  at the count of three it is the wildest, loudest, smokiest burnout I have ever witnessed. Doesn’t take much to please the crowd at this point but damn it just keeps getting better! More bikes come in and do the same thing including an older type BMW with a sidecar. The Beemer couldn’t get the rear tire to break loose, his old beemer was popping, sputtering and the crowd was getting ruly over the fact there was no tire smoke. Never fear;  a few beers poured on the floor should get it started and if that doesn’t work then a couple of big burlybikers lifting up on the ass end will. It all worked and the beemer went to spinning the tire creating huge tire smoke all the while backfiring, popping and the wildest sounding motor ever heard. Think three lawn mowers with no mufflers wound up as tight as they can run and that will give you an idea of the Beemer sound. I think space alien pole dancer girl was dancing to it. The crowd went crazy and they practically had to jerk the guy off the bike to get him to stop. The whole place was filled with smoke and the smell of burning rubber, and the biggest applause so far. The announcer said the guy had been waiting there all day just to do that. I took pictures, but who wants to see a picture of smoke.

“We need 5 men from the crowd who wanna win $100 bucks to judge the pole dancing contest.”

For some reason I was suspect and good thing because once he had 6 suckers (yes 1 snuck in) he said he messed up and they were the contestants in the pole dancing contest and not the judges. You think the crowd would let any of them off the hook? Not a chance. Out comes an old ragged wet mop, the emcee said the mops name was Maxine and she had just been released from prison and man; was she horny. On comes the music to “you can leave your hat on” and the show begins. The young bucks rip their shirts off, dance with the mop but what’s up with sticking the mop between your legs and humping like a dog? It was the old guys who pleased the crowd with the romance, the long licks, the fluffing of the mop hair and the lean the mop over the motorcycle seat. The two old farts were driving the women in the crowd crazy and my ears hurt from the screams and the whistles. It was a virtual tie between the two old codgers but one just had more style and eventually won. Obviously I didn’t take any pictures of the contest, I wasn’t about to lift my camera for this one. Oh, the alien girl was still dancing.

Old guys rule. I tried to crop the old guy out of this pic but doubt if you will even notice him anyway.

Her name is Ashley, she is rich and a part time cop in Dallas. Her hobby is cooking .

So, I was only going downtown to eat, look around and ended up having the best time in Sturgis and have only told part of it. Eventually these two guys decided I was having more fun than the law allowed and decided to escort me back to the motel, thankfully the one without bars.

Deadwood and Sturgis

Written by admin. Posted in 2011 The Journey Begins

“Blackie, where the hell you been?”

“I been busy working on them damn wagons, don’t know why they can’t just ride their horse.”

“Why is everyone fixin’ their wagons, where they planning on going?”

“Ah hell, since all the gold done been pan’d out of these parts they headed to some new gold find in a place called the black hills, I think I heard one of em say Deadwood or something like that. Still can’t understand why they don’t just ride their horse and leave them wagons behind.”

“Gold huh, where is it, how do you get there, I need me some gold, got nothing better to do here anyway, this place is dead. Bet I could find a card game there.”

“It’s north somewhere from here, gotta cross indian country and I hear them indian’s kinda pissed about it, say it their sacred ground or somethin’. You better go find Two Feathers down by that big yellow barn, he knows the way.”

Ah, Deadwood, try and take all my gold you wild west  fun town in the Black Hills!

Well if the casino’s don’t take my money then I bet this place would and good thing I am riding my horse instead of a wagon. Hmmm may have to bring the wagon back though. I think I see Mike and Frank in there somewhere.

Seems to always be a lot of posers in Deadwood during the rally, you know a place to trailer your bike, hide the trailer and ride it three blocks to main street so you can show off and be seen. Okay with me, I like the scenery just fine. One of the first was this guy kicking his damn horse.

And eventually after 20 kicks and a lot of sweat he got the ol scooter saddled up, all to the wonderment of  us guys watching his girl friend. My knee hurt everytime the scooter kicked back remembering the panhead sitting in my barn. Like I said, all saddled up and I know her ass is hot in the saddle, since she sitting on the bare metal fender. He is smiling though cuz he knows it.

Time to hit Sturgis and they even put up a sign to welcome me. It has been a laid back day to get here but the noise, smells and scenery let me know where I am at.

New version of the Mattel “Big Wheel” Could of had a …..nope, he actually a V8

Did I mention scenery?

Damn camera acting up again and just keeps going off when it wants to. It’s time to head down to the delivery stable and upack this horse.

Black Hills the classic route

Written by admin. Posted in 2011 The Journey Begins

Its been a long time since I went to Sturgis by entering the Black Hills from the south end, in fact the last time was my second trip 12 years ago. Seems like by this time I am always in a hurry and riding the interstate to get there after a long journey. Sure is different starting out in Sturgis this year, but looking forward to the laid back ride through the southern Black Hills on what I would call the Classic Route. The new carburetor is working great except the gas mileage has went from a traditional 43mpg to 30mpg, something is wrong and with a long journey ahead that just won’t work. Start simple and change the plugs, had a set of NGK but nobody told me they were metric. Damn it, Im riding a Harley, American made, American sizes! Tighten them down with a pair of channel locks, American ingenuity, have duct tape too, plus bungy cords. I know that made no sense but all three the essentials to a biker.

Hang a right at Mule Creek Junction and traffic is picking up. Traffic has always been there, but now it’s my kind of traffic!

Not only is the bike traffic picking up but it is getting interesting too. Since I now seem to be riding a Hog, as in gas hog the gas stops are always fun and there is nothing like a patriotic viking.

Or a pooch on the go.

Well the plugs made no difference, it is still a gas hog. It is running good and doesn’t make any sense. Oh well get out the atm again, gas up and ride on.

The Town of Custer SD gets no respect, it is at the southern end of the Black Hills and a long way from all the action in Sturgis. Only the real riders seem to make it this far south but more should. The people here and the businesses welcome you with open arms. How could you turn these two Custer greeters down anyway!

Couldn’t help it, this made my mind drift in a fun way.

 

South of Custer and the ride is great,nothing beats the fresh smell of pines on a curvy mountain road. Come around a curve and see this.

Crazy Horse Monument, it doesn’t seem to have gained much progress since the last time I was here and the feeling set in  I will never see it finished in my lifetime. Even at this stage it is a still a major attraction especially to bikers. This is only a partial view of the parking lot, there was easily 1000 bikes.

Unlike airports, downtown in major cities and most events where there are huge crowds, I feel good in these crowds. Must be because I am pretty sure I will get along with 98 percent of the people here and the scenery is always picking up and getting better.

If anyone finds one of these in a shop for sale, let me know. Peace Medal.

Someday my grandkids may see the finished monument of Crazy Horse and I hope they do it on one of my hand me down Harley’s. Hey did I mention I had a new grandkid! Tanner Sean Daniels born August 1st, 2011, time for me to get another Harley to hand down, this makes 4! The finished monument.

On the road again, headed out of the Crazy Horse park and what a road.

I found them interesting, but you would think I would know what they meant and take heed by now.

Storms here come out of nowhere fast and before you know it they blow up right over you. Getting dark and cold, you would also think by now I would know what that means too.

Ouch, ouch oh no not again, here it comes. Hail stones and these aren’t pea size, these are marble size and it’s causing chaos with the bikers. I quickly start looking for a place to pull off the road, not so much for the hail although they hurt my hard head but to get out of the way of the now crazed bikers! I take the first off road I can find along with 20 others into a grassy meadow. I park where I know I can turn around but others are really freaked out and trying to ride into the trees, I guess trying to protect themselves and their bikes. Others park as soon as they are off the road in the mud and run for the trees where I am now already standing. I am soaked to the gills but all smiles, it’s just another day in the hills on two wheels and I am enjoying the entertainment at this point. The hail never got any bigger, the rain while heavy was short lived and now I am helping people turn around in the mud with their heavy geezer glides, I am guessing new geezer glides and someday they will learn to never park pointed down hill especially in the wet grass. Some dork has his geezer stereo on full blast reporting the weather. ” Severe thunderstorms, high winds, large hail and heavy rain” No kidding, really?

Last one out of the meadow, I would rather be behind them than in front of them. I can still hear dipshits weather forecast while following them. My new mission is to remove all stereos from motorcycles. By the time I reach Deadwood I am dry, sun is out, feeling lucky and sometimes this damn camera just goes off on its own.

Day 1 lets roll!

Written by admin. Posted in 2011 The Journey Begins

“Please state your name”

“Two Feathers”

“Mr.  Two Feathers, my name is Drew Milktoast, I am with the law firm Goldchain and Goldwing and I represent the plaintiff Mr. Hondavette. Please state your background and occupation.”

“I learned my occupation on the road riding a steel horse and I am a story teller, truthseeker, guide, and writer.”

“Oh really Mr. Two Feathers, that seems like an unusual occupation and somewhat of a stretch. Please then, tell us in your own words what happened, and let me remind you Mr. Two Feathers,  you are under oath.”…………

 

If I have ever had this much on my plate at work, I can’t remember it. I am trying to concentrate, stay focused but it is getting harder by the minute. My mind keeps drifting to the road and everything it takes to get ready for a 4000 mile trip on a motorcycle. Of course, like always I also waited until the last minute to get ready. Four days ago my steel horse is in pieces, broken carburetor, wheels in shop with backordered tires and I am not packed, in fact I can’t find my road pack and gear. The carburetor a self inflicted wound, all I was going to do was take it off , replace the needle and seat that good old ethanol gas had destroyed. Taking off was easy enough, but I dropped it and bang O it broke the casting. Don’t even try to find a replacement at a Harley dealer, they are of no help and I should have already known since they had to backorder tires that fit some 3 million motorcycles.

Get in on line, yep they have a replacement, yep normal delivery is 7-10 days. Crap, I got four days, “How much for 2nd day air?” Ouch, no choice. “Sir do you need the air box adapter” 

Carb here carb on and here is what you get for $400 bucks and $60 bucks freight.

 Note the funky air cleaner,….I needed the air box adapter. Back to the phone, “Hey I need that air box adapter afterall…..tomorrow” Ouch, a $30 dollar adapter and $60 over night freight!

Somehow the day before I planned to leave it all came together and I am ready to roll!

And just to make sure there is no confusion which tribe I belong to, a good friend sent me this reminder.

Late afternoon as opposed to early afternoon and I’m off! Headed north to Biker Mecca, into the wind, into the……..”Damn those are some funny looking clouds.”

“Ouch, ouch, what the, ouch! Those funny looking clouds mean hail and I rode right into the middle of it. Also note I am in the middle of Wyoming looking for a tree to get under. Nothing to do, but lean over, hug the gas tank and motor right through it. Luckily it was quick and small but why the hell did I even clean the bike, I didn’t even make it 100 miles until its filthy. “Hey future biker dude, how much?”

Anticipation

Written by admin. Posted in 2011 The Journey Begins

The journey is about to begin… stay tuned… The blog starts Friday the 12th. You can still read 2009 and 2010 to get warmed up and nobody knows what is going to happen this year but I for one can’t wait to get it started.  potato, potato, potato. Faster!