On The Road

The below photos and recap are but a brief overview of our trip to honor all those lost on Sept 11, 2001. Feel free to send me any comments or questions about our trip to Ride2Newyork@Gmail.com.  I want to give special credit to Dominic Maricic who is our website guru and provider. Without his very generous help this site would not be up. Thanks Dominic!

August 26
Steve Cobb from our local H.O.G. chapter called me to offer a special treat for Bobby and I.  Since he put in his years at United Airlines in the shop, he had access to the employees and management. Steve suggested we stop in around 1PM to visit.

Steve first introduced us to Bob Maddigan the sites Operations Manager and his staff. They were the first to sign the Pentagon Flag and we then visited a lot of those with the responsibilty of maintaining and repairing these large crafts. What a responsibility these folks have.

We finished our viist after about 2 hours with a visit to a memorial fountain on the site dedicated to those lost on September 11, 2001.

Thanks so much Steve!

August 27
Most of the gang that will ride has arrived into the San Francisco area. Rae has teamed up with Douglas Frisbie ( a local) to run the first leg of the Northern Route across the San Joaquin Valley, to Yosemite for lunch and then will finish the day in Lee Vining.

Given that most of the travelers both north and south are together it was planned that we would ride from Dudley Perkins H-D to San Francisco and the Hard Rock Cafe on Pier 39. For some it was their first time in San Francisco.  San Francisco didn't dissappoint it's know reputation for diverse culchure and "FOG". We traveled out of the dealer west up to Skyline Blvd before turning into the beach, going past the Cliff House, down through the Presido  area before going past Robbin Williams house, NaNu NaNu. Unfortunately at a number of the points of interest it was shrouded in fog. Couldn't see the Golden Gate Bridge but still was fun.

Parking and walking a short distance we ended up enjoying each others company and getting to know one another a little bit. Jeff tried to over talk the music but was unsure about whether everyone could hear him. Still was a fun time.

August 28
Bikes are packed up and I am to meet with Bobby Boucher and Ross from Menlo Park Fire Department at 0430. Yes that 4:30AM!  Well the good news is that we were all on time.

The ride at this hour finds us on the road long before the sun rise. Traveling down US 101 at this hour has little traffic as a concern. As we leave south San Jose California a light fog mist was noted around the Coyote area (small town south of San Jose). As we progressed past Morgan Hill, Gillroy and points south the fog did get increasing thick. So thick that at some points we could only see about 50 yards in front. Now in a car this is some concern but on a bike, not only do you wonder if you'll suddenly approach a slow moving vehicle but also and certainly more important, will an animal be in the road that you can't avoid. This definetly keeps you awake better than caffeine!

We made our first stop in Salinas for gas and to check on Ross. Ross was along for the morning ride only and with no chaps and a half helmet really is a trooper. I say that because with the fog comes cold. These are concerns as once you begin to get cold it's very easy to loose focus on the ride. Ross I am happy to say did great and with a few wise cracks kept smiling and was ready to trek on to King City.

King City was to be a stop to meet the local volunteer fire guys. While I made the call the day before to confirm, and it was confirmed, something got confused. We pulled in at a little after 7 and waited at the fire house till 8AM before deciding we needed to move on. Sorry guys couldn't wait any longer.

Bobby and Ross practice their dove calls while we stopped in King City California

Plaque at the King City Fire Department main station commerating the events of Sept 11

Back on the road south and after about 1.5 hours we arrived at Gary Bangs H-D back on schedule. Gary and staff met us and set up a table to place the Flags upon for signature. We met the Atascadero Fire Department and few patrons. Thanks Gary and all those that stopped by! It was at this point our friend Ross turned his trusty steed back towards the Bay Area and home. Ross you can ride with us ANY DAY! Great sense of humor mixed with some common sense. (Ross don't want to over do it here).

                                                Jeff, Ross and Bobby

                  Great to see Ross fits right in with his new "Peeps"

We have discovered a few mechanical concerns. Unfortunately the shop was not open on Sunday so Bobby and I tried to do some on the road work. Bobby and his new bike have developed a small gas leak below the fill cap area and my communication system is working sporadically. Both do need to be addressed at some point but after a few hours of effort, we had to get back on the road south. This also impacted our next stop to Bartels H-D in Marina del Rey. Unfortunately no matter what we did, it was decided by the time we got to Santa Barbara that we weren't going to make it in time. So we checked in early evening to our hotel in Irwindale and made plans for the next day.

August 29
It was decided the night before that we would get up as early as we could to get on the road to Goodyear Arizona our next stop. Reason for early start was we knew that the temps were going to be north of 100 degrees F.  Four in the morning we got up, packed the bikes and headed east.

Now for those of you who have never been to Los Angeles and experienced the freeways, well changes happen fast and they caught us off guard. At the point where we were to merge from I-5 to I-10 east Bobby following his GPS took a wrong turn, Jeff went another way and well, separation occurred. Jeff was able to reach Bobby on the phone and it was agreed that they would meet back up where Hwy 60 east intersects I-10 east. Well that was nearly an hour down the road.  A quick break after meeting up at a Denny's and we got back on the road around 7AM.

      Bobby soaks his shirt on one of the stops across the desert of California

At this point the temps were rising above 70 and soon as we traveled further 75, 80, 90 degrees at it was only 9AM when we began the travel towards Blythe California. At around 10AM we arrived in Blythe, gassed the bikes and then headed to visit the Blythe fire house. We caught the guys after a long nite but they welcomed us inside and shared some stories, a bottle of water and signed the flags. Back at it !

It's now around 100 to 105 degrees and as we travel across our first state line into Arizona we sensed some challenge to come. Our bike issues were still unresolved but we had to continue on in an effort to beat the heat if possible. Did I mention 105? Traveling east for about a hour Jeff began to feel the heat in the cranium becoming an issue.  Wow does it happen quickly where you go from ya it's hot to my head hurts and I don't feel so good.  We pulled into a small service/Truck stop about 80 miles from our destination. After a sandwich, some water and a few aspirins, all better and back to it.

As a note on this part of the story I can tell you that the "cool vest"  and other rags that we soaked, including the clothing we were wearing did help.  However when confronted with this type of heat, it is best that you leave before the sun comes up and plan on reaching your destination by noon. I'm sure others would just struggle through, but I don't recommend it.

Taken at the Arizona and California State Line. El Paso Gas & Electric Transfer Station

A little over an hour later Bobby and I arrived in Goodyear, found our hotel and both of us were "Spent" as a result of the high temps. It was about 1:30 PM and the temp was now 118 degrees. This isn't hot, not hotter than hell, it"s freakin HELL and we were both looking for El Diablo!  How do these residents cope!? Bobby raised a question later at dinner, " can you imagine the local natives and early settlers living hear without air conditioning?" 

While in our hotel I began checking emails from the past two days and there were no shortages of responses needing to be made. Personal, business and those emails relating to our ride needed to be reviewed and responded to. Two were from the local NBC news channel teams. Seems that word is getting out as to what we're up to. A few emails and calls and it was agreed upon that we were meet at around 7PM at our hotel for interviews and video shoots. Kevin one of the producers had Anna DeVencenty interview us and tells us that it will be aired on the Phoenix 10PM news. Anna had some great questions as to our purpose and beliefs in our reasons for doing this and oh yes took some great video of the flags to be presented.  Thanks Channel 12! Pass it on to all your affliates! 

Time for rest as tomorrow we are scheduled to visit Superstition H-D and have been told that Mesa Fire and Apache Fire will meet us to sign the flag. If your reading this the night before or early on Tuesday, stop by to sign one of the flags.  Time for rest now.......

SIDE NOTE: slight error when the newscaster stated were visiting the local fire departments rather than the local Harley dealer. (trying to help promote the local business community as well during our ride) I did try to correct their copy before the next airing and hope they get that corrected somehow.

August 30
We got up today and on the road at 8AM. The temperature was already in the high 90's and within an hour we saw 103 when we arrived in Apache Jct. Our mission today was to visit the Superstition Harley Davidson Dealer where they made contact with the local Fox affiliate and firefighters from Mesa and Apache Jct. As we rolled up to the driveway I personally choked up. Not just because of the amount of people but that the fireman had raised two ladder truck gantrys with a US Flag suspended below.

Since both Bobby and I had a few mechanical needs for our bikes, owner Mark Le Resche  and Lynn Danielson had mechanics ready and jumped right to the tasks. As a note to the staff in service, communications are working great and Bobby no longers is inhaling gas fumes. You made our day guys! 

We want to thank the entire staff, too many to mention at  Superstition Harley Davidson for planning such a fantastic event. You took our breath away literally!

And to all Mesa and Apache Jct Firefighters, the honor that we have in carrying these flags can not be discribed in words. Especially greatful for the invite to lunch and great salad you guys. If you know anything about travel it is that eating well is rare. Thanks for providing us with at least one good meal! 

After lunch with our new found friends, we headed out on US 60 east to north and east and certainly some much cooler temps. Kinda seems that temperature has been a theme here so will try to cure that new bad habit.

For those of you who have not traveled this road all I can say is you are missing one our country jems for a travel on the back roads. After about an hour going through some higher desert we found ourselves emersed in the canyons of the Superstition Mountains. Geology at it's absolute finest! The intense red color of the soil sprinkled with the low brush and cactus against and blue sky is not to be missed.

Our first stop was  at a local convience store in Miami Az. Talking with the locals while we were there I asked and was told of the rich copper mining that employs many in this area.  It is traveling in these locations that really shows a lot of what we just take for granted. It's hard work, the pay is little and we never ask where it all comes from. My hats off to those in the mining profession.

                  Short stop before we crossed the Gila River

We left Miami and headed further down the road towards Show Low and "resort" area. Prior to arriving in Show Low we stopped at a closed rest area that was just before crossing the Gila (pronounced Hila) River. A few slugs of the water bottles and it was back on the road.

It was at this point of our travel that I found myself in a day dream. We were in rich green valleys with pine forest on either side and the air was crisp and clean. While we kept seeing the signs warning us of elk crossing, it never occured. Guess the elk didn't get the memo that we were coming through. Still 30-40 miles of beauty was our route and we came into Show Low which appears to be a thriving community. At our fuel stop all of a sudden we hear the call out from someone, "Heh you're the guys that were on the news this morning aren't you?".  Nice to see that we're now famous and not because we robbed a bank.  We shared some personal stories and a few stickers and then continued our travel down the road.

         Late afternoon on the way to Springerville Arizona

This last leg of the day was perfect. A few clouds with rain sprinkled the sky, it was about 4:30 in the afternoon and with the sun hitting the rain, rainbows painted the landscape. About 15 miles down the road Bobby and I noticed a fellow biker on the side of the road, Greg was his name we soon learned. It seems that Greg had lost keyway out of the pinion drive shaft and was nearly finished. Now this was the really cool thing.....As we are standing and talking about the break down, we begin hearing the call of coyotes to one another.  Don't know what they were saying but we hoped it wasn't "Soups On! Humans will be served with a fine sage dressing" I tried to get the video up and running but by the time it was functional all the howling had ceased. Drats foiled again! Greg assured us that he was fine and we got back on the bikes headed to our final stop Springerville.  6:30PM and we pulled into our hotel, unloaded the bags and went to dinner....

Well it's now 11:30PM and must get some sleep. Tommorrow we travel to Santa Rosa New Mexico. Wonder what we will see.

August 31
We got up and loaded the bikes at around 8AM to have some breakfast at one of the local  establishments. Well what we found was a jewel in the hills of northern Arizona. We were met by Veria the hostess, waitress and bar tender (or so we were told). Veria with a big smile and good sense of humor, (heh she put up with us) really started us out for what turned into a great day.

                          Our sunshine first thing in the morning.

At 9AM we road over to the Springerville FD and were joined by the local volunteers and fire personnel from Egar the adjoing town. We certainly had to stop by and see this group based on their national news entry last spring. In the late spring this area experienced a tremendous loss caused by a record sized fire. Hard to imagine what that must have been like given the size of the communities. As we understand injuries were minor and no loss of life, thank the gods!

                        Springerville stop and flags that were signed.

Both department listened as Jeff explained about the purpose of the trip, where the flags were to be delivered and made sure to shake everyone hand. Great turn out to all of you!

We had been on the road for about 1.5 hours traveling through areas of rolling hills dotted with rich red soils, pine trees and the partly cloudy skies that made this picturesque.  Jeff was getting parched and decided that the next stop was the nearest convience store. We were just west of Pietown New Mexico when we saw it. ET and Sashsquatch were hailing us to visit the owner Vicki and here friend Bob and the store mascot Alex the dog.

        Bobby speaks to aliens, Really he does...not sure if they get his jokes though

Well we had to pull out the flags do a little smoozing and well all I can say is that to Vicki and Bob we want to come back cause that was the best 2 hour rest stop so far. Oh yea and Alex you really are the best dog. Woofers to you.  Vicki shared the background story on Alex with us during our stay. It was that this dog somehow knew that the store was there and treked 16 miles from the dog pound, not once, not twice but three times before Vicki stopped calling the pound to tell them he had arrived. Great story! I would bet that if Alex could talk, he would tell us, "No big deal when you know you're loved".

               Lexi and Smokie, (my dogs) watch and learn you two! 

This is one of those dogs that you can tell has the good life, knows it and isn't about to ruin a good thing.  Good Dog! Alex is the official greeter of the property.

We then had to say good bye to our new found friends and continue on to the east. We're to be in Santa Rosa before dark and still have many miles to cover. The weather at this point was clouding up and a few sprinkles were felt, nothing of note though. As we crested the hills and came into a vast valley about 40 miles from Socorro we could make out that something in the distance looked to be military or something of that nature. As the next few miles went by and we got closer it was easy to see that off in the distance were a series of large dish antenna and several in a line. This was located on the "Plains of San Agustin" A marker describes the importance of this valley geologically.
This turned out to be a "very large array" system. As I understand this, these are radio receivers used in radio astromony for discovering high energy signals from space. Sometimes then are used to locate pulsar or to detect the ever ellusive "black hole".  Another use and one of interest to me anyway is to listen for a possible intelligent signal (certainly none on this planet) that might indicate other life in our universe. I wonder if these guys know that Vicki and friends know E.T. ?

                                              Antenna up close

After a few picture taking moments and some rehydration we turned back onto the road that would eventually take us to Socorro. Side note we did hit a 2 mile stretch of rain and did I mention my concern for hail? Having hail hit your skin standing still, piece of cake. At 65 mph.....It Hurts! Well we got out the short downpour clothes wet but with the heat and dry air afterwards we were dry in about 5 miles. We continued on through the desert dealing with mostly wind before arriving in Santa Rosa at 7PM local time.

Sept 1
We wiped the dust off the bikes from yesterdays weather "events" before fueling and hitting the road. Our attempt to visit the firefighters in Santa Rosa was met with a voicemail service so we contacted the Tucumcari department. Scott their dispatch was available and so we stopped in for a quick visit.

The common thread if you haven't picked up is that a lot of these towns depend upon volunteer fire fighters. I can't imagine how difficult that must be to respond in a timely manner but I suppose they have their ways of making it happen. My hat's off to all volunteer departments.

Early before leaving Santa Rosa I had contacted the Amarillo Texas Harley dealership to have them look at my again failling communication system. What A Pain this system is to find the cause!  Meanwhile back at the "Ranch".......the service department said they would have someone available when we arrived. I told them to expect us around 1:30. Also I mentioned about our ride and if they knew any firefighters to invite them over to sign the flag.

This stop in Amarillo was preceeded by a well known tourist stop along interstate 40. It seems that back in the 70's a farmer decided to retire his old cadillacs by placing them face first into the field at a 45 degree angle. Just west of Amarillo we found the location and pulled in.

                  Travelers from the country of Spain that we met

While walking around the site and taking our own photos we met two couples (well we assume they are couples....off the track again aren't I?) ANYWAY, we met these four individuals from Spain that were traveling the United States. The explained that this is listed in their travel manual as a must see if in the area. I couldn't agree more since they met US!!!!

We then continued on to Amarillo and just as we took the the exit for the dealer my fuel light came on. Quick to the station before the dealer.  As we pulled into the dealer after our brief pit stop, there were three shiny fire trucks. Parking the bike we were greeted by a couple of the store employees that said we had people waiting inside. Now this was an understatement. There were easily 30 firefighters waiting to sign our flags. But this wasn't the end of the story. Shifts from all over the Amarillo area came over and I lost count. My guess is that we had around 50-60 in total.  Amazing given that I only contacted the dealer a few hours previously. Apparently we're doing a good thing.......

Side note is that this dealer has been in Amarillo Texas for over 50 years. The overall staff and ownership did nothing but show their Texas sized pride in welcoming us to the store. Thanks ever so much for a great afternoon!

The remaining hours found Bobby and I back on the road towards Oklahoma City to spend a few hours catching up and updating the website.  Today was a great day thanks to all of you we met in our travels.  Tommorrow we will visit the folks in Joplin Missouri. If you're reading this in the morning or late tonite (you really should get some sleep) we are to be at the Harley shop around 2:00 PM.

Sept 2
Today starts out with us leaving Oklahoma City around 9:30AM. I guess we needed our "beauty sleep" (no jokes here about where we're from so stop you dang snickerin!)  We just can't seem to get on the road much earlier and are staying up probably way too late. As we traveled into the eastern portions of Oklahoma the landscape went from grassy hills to a mixture of trees and grasses. The temperatures have been in the 90's and humidity is rising.

As we travel this morning my thoughts are now leading towards what we will see in Joplin Mo. This town about 3 months ago suffered a tragic tornado attack. I say attack because of what we saw later in the day. More on that later.

We arrived in Joplin around 1:30PM took exit 6 and drove into the Cycle Connection H-D. Nancy (Owner) and Joyce (Manager) met us along with the staff of the store. We were greeted in the parking lot by volunteer fire fighters from all the surrounding communities. When you meet these crews and see what they had to work with both in man power and equipment you're sure to be taken back at the amount of effort that must have been involved in rescuing all their friends and neighbors. Hats off to all of you guys!

As a story on the dealer my hats off to Nancy Hutson. When her first husband passed away (owner of the dealer) she struggled to convince the Harley Corporate suits to allow her to become the new owner of record. You might say well that's a nice story but I think it gets better.  Nancy in the center of the store created a small memorial to her late husband that I believe to be extremely moving. A large granite rock with a pole is located just as you enter the store. On the stone is the story of dedication to her husband. At the top of the pole is an old precurser to the ElectraGlide that was in front of their original store.

Nancy our host introducing us to the fire fighters (not all of them are in this photo). Nancy you really need to say what you believe......Just kidding of course. I would hope that you get to speak to womens groups cause you have a drive that needs to be harnessed! Great to meet you!

                         Just some of the firefighters present in Joplin

     Nancy and her dog Barney are ready to ride! Barney you are a ham for the camera!

The local fire fighters join us in front of the store. We're glad we were able to meet all of you!

As to what this town went through when the tornado tore through the area. Unless you stand in the debris path you can't begin to imagine what this must have put the town through. It must have been close to a mile wide and went for several miles before leaving these folks devastated. Now I have never experienced a bomb and what it is capable of but this must be close. Although by the time of our visit a lot of the debris was cleared, it was easy to see that the entire area was leveled, nothing much left standing.

While at this site I watched as a man walked around a nearby property for several minutes before sitting down on a small step and putting his head in hands. I felt I had to talk to him. I introduced myself explaining why we were here and he shared a story that tore me apart. This was his grandmothers home and she didn't survive.  As a kid I really didn't have any grandparents that I knew well but still felt like I lost someone after this story. I never asked him his name and didn't feel this to be what was important to my story. This probably at this point would be the most gut wrenching moments of our travel.  To say the rest of the afternoon was solum is an understatement. 

This is what we saw as the left over from the tornado. It was the same for miles. Mother nature has a way of letting all of us know, we're not in charge. Heart felt sorrow from Bobby and I to all who lost in this tragedy......really one photo is all that is needed.

As a brighter note, we made lots of friends while visiting all of you in Joplin and here is just one more...

    Bobby is standing on his toes..... Big John is a very friendly 6'6".  Glad he's on our side!

We got back on the road to our final destination of the day, Lebanon Missouri. As we pulled off the highway and into the parking lot of our hotel, several bikes were parked outside and soon we were surrounded like Custer at the last stand. Well maybe that's not a great analogy, but really we found some new friends. This group of 20 travels were from Belgium and the Netherlands.

What a positive to our day to meet all of you if your reading our site. To hear about you countries, your travels and to share just a few of lifes funny moments was the best way to end our day. Of special note, two of this group actually were firefighters in their country. At this point, these are the farthest away signatures on our firefighters tribute flag.  May your travels be filled with sunny skies, cold beer and good food! 

                   It's 7:30AM on Sept 3rd and we say farwell to our friends from Europe

Sept 3
After staying up a little late to enjoy our new friends we got up did a quick load of laundry before packing the bikes and heading across the freeway to visit with the Lebanon area fire fighters.  Short story as we got on the road what everyone would have thought to be a nice little old lady in her SUV pulled up next to us (on the shoulder) to scold us for being in front of her and then she proceeded to fly up in front and cut in front of Bobby. Sorry Mam! Someone get a firehose and cool her off!

Ok so back on to our mission....

Bobby and I arrived after the short interlude above at the dealer to find a number of firefighters inside the store ready to meet us, share a few patches back and forth and sign our flags. It just so happened that the dealer also had an open house event and before not too long the store was filled with riders from all over the region and a few from as far away as Oregon. I think that might beat us on mileage traveled. The dealer had the event catered and believe me we took full advantage since the food was some of the best to date!.  Actually we have done well on food issues overall and I don't believe that either Bobby or I have added to our girths.

Bobby and Jeff get a chance to have their picture taken with some beautiful ladies! (perks of the travel and of course we never turn down a pretty smile!)

                Harley the bear saying by to his new friends from Lebanon Missouri.

Now we had to be on our way. The rest of the day will find us on the road to Terre Haute Indiana. No additional events are planned for the day. Motor On Bobby B! With the kickstands up and the CB radio on it was time to sit back and enjoy the ride. As we rolled down Interstate 44 east we spoke to our past friends of the highway (years ago we both were over-the-road truckers). Rolling on through some of the more beautiful parts of the trip so far and gazing at the blue sky with only a few clouds now and then was our movie for this part of the flight. It seemed that where ever we pulled in for gas or the occasional water stop we would run into someone who heard about us and our mission. While in the bathroom washing my face, this guy begins to talk to me. Now a guy talking in the bathroom will get your attention and this wasn't one of those ...... well I don't need to go their do I? It  turned out he used to live in my town of Redwood City, small world. Wel outside the store again, I told him and his family why Bobby and I were out here and then we pulled the Pentagon Flag out and many more joined in to sign it. Later on our ride at some of the locations this was a "norm" once Bobby or I began to talk to people.

                        Wonderful scenery as we drove through Missouri.......

Around 3PM we were rolling into the St Louis area and decided stopping at the Arch was a must. It was getting cloudy and the threat of rain was present, you could smell that sweet smell of moisture before the rainfall. Love it.  We watched for signs telling us the way to the Arch and really St Louis, you could improve this one factor cause it isn't until you're nearly on top of ithe exit and park area before any mention of direction is provided.  We took the correct exit and soon were at the small park located at the base of this magnificent structure. I guided Bobby around the river side where we parked "illegally" in front of the Arch and got off the bikes.

I tried all kinds of angles to get the bike and the entire Arch in the photo but as you see, it isn't possible with this camera. So me being me, I soon employed a couple of ladies to take our photo as best they could and below you see the result.

                             That's Bobby and Jeff in the middle on the steps

As I said we met these two ladies and in talking with them I discovered that they were part of wedding taking place. Guess this is one of those "places to be married". She quickly ran over to the party and we were waived over to the party. Both the bride and groom signed our Pentagon flag and we wished them a long and happy life as a couple before we got on the bikes. Mother nature was giving us a little thunder, lighting and of course rain. We decided to tough it and got onto Interstate 70 heading east to our final destination.

After about 5 miles, we were on dry pavement once again and opened up the throttles and soon were back talking to the truckers as we went by. I could help but to mess with them over the radio in my own way. My sense of humor is dry so I used it to my advantage.

"Hey driver we're a coming up your back door and hold onto your panty hose cause were about to blow your doors off!"  "Bring it on driver" was the reply. The back and forth for the next few miles was fun as we discribed where we were in relation to him. We soon came up to about 100 yards behind him and all he kept saying is "Where are you two, I don't see anything but a motorbike".  My reply was, "you're right, we lost 16 wheels somewhere back in Texas and this is all that's left".  The laughter from this guy was loud and full as he had to admit we got him!

Sept 4
Sunday finds us with a grey sky and only a short distance to travel. It's about 85 miles to our stop of the day, Northeastern Indianapolis. We managed to get all the way to the hotel without more than a few drops on the windshield but the bugs......I think my bike is red!

I haven't discussed friends much but it is at this point one of our great friends needs to be mentioned. Gordon Gibbs from our H.O.G. chapter is known for attracting great weather on rides he joins. Well either Gordons' spirit is with us or rubbed off on us. I say that because with the minor exception of the short burst of hail in eastern New Mexico, we really haven't gotten more than damp. Most of the trip the suns been our guide with a few clouds to break the otherwise blue skies.  Thanks GORDON!  So from here I will coin a new term, "It's another Gordon Day!"

As I said bugs covered the front of both our bikes so after we got checked into the hotel we decided to find a spray car wash. A little searching and we found one. After a few dollars and about two hours to dry and wipe off the rest, we once again had clean bikes.

Time to kick back for the rest of the day.......tomorrow we will meet with the Northern Group in Crawfordsville Indiana.

              Jeff gets Bobby to shine the new bike back up! Rub right wax on, Rub left wax off.

After washing down the road grim and getting back to our hotel, the growls of hunger were upon us and we went over to a nearby restaurant and sat down across from a great couple with the perfect kind of sense of humor. The husband needed a cane and a friend of his made him one to fit his outlook on life. See the photos below. 

                   Yes Wilma, that is a carved shoe with purty toes inside!

Sept 5
Today we are to meet up with the group of riders that left San Francisico traveling on the North Route. Rae has been in constant contact at the end of each day to update me on their progress. As to our meeting location it will be in the town of Crawfordsville Indiana. From our hotel it's about an hours ride and we are to meet them at 3PM at the main fire house.

Given that Bobby and I had some time to sightsee, I led us over the "my church". I worship the church of Al Unser, Bobby Allision, Richard Petty and Don Garlits, legends in their fields of racing history and felt it only fitting that we had to visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We took a few shots of the bikes at Gate 1 before heading over towards the museum.

        Jeff standing with the bikes in front of Gate 1, talk about the gates to heaven!

    Bobby and Jeff get to fly the flag at the start/finish brick line. Both of us were winners this day!

         Standing on the awards podium, the Firefighter Flag wins hands down.

           Think about this the next time you wear your seat belt or start you car!

Bobby at the visitors center with the flags. Without any fuss or protest from the folks at the welcoming station of the museum, we gathered a lot of patrons to sign the flag. Bobby and I especially want to thank Mary and Steve for their assistance in making this a very special part of our travels in honor of those lost on Sept 11, 2001. For me, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is just one example of what makes up America and our ideals! Racing development would not take place without the freedoms we all share thanks to the soilders that fought for our freedoms.  

Sept 6 
We have over these past few days joined with a group of riders that left San Francisco at the same time we left the Los Angeles area. As was the overall plan in organizing this ride we are to at this point focus on assisting two family members into the Shanksville area. What an honor it is to have met and now ride with Ken Nacke and Erich Bay. I am at a lost for words for I can not possibly understand what must be going through each of theirs' or any of the other families minds. We ride as one in honor of the many.

Inside the the Crawfordsville Indiana Firehouse, everyone gathered to sign the Firefighter and Pentagon Flags before heading to our stay in Indianapolis.

Sept 7

                                Val starts the day out with a small prayer

               Springfield Ohio Fire Department greets the group at their main station

                Families of Flight 93 Flags being exhibited at the Fire House prior to all signing them

                            The firehouse has a tribute garden out front.

Riders were then escorted to Mid Ohio H-D for a lunch. Thanks to Brian Cubbage for your hard work to make this happen!

By 1:30PM we all got on the bikes to continue on to the final location of that day in Columbus Ohio. Time to get a little break from the miles covered and just relax.

                               Ken leads the group on to Columbus

Sept 8th
Today again is an easy day for the riders. Our journey as a group is nearing its location but one set of stops still on the schedule. Rae has arranged lunch at Steel City H-D in Washington PA. We pulled in around noon that day and after some discussions on miss communications from the front of the line to the rear decided they paled in comparison to what the journey was about, honoring the Families of Flight 93. Enough on that. The dealer did a great job on providing us with a bar-b-que lunch and some great shopping opportunities in the store. I know that I have been working hard to keep our economy going and during the trip manage to ship three boxes of "stuff" back home. 


                 Paul, Frank, Brian, Erich, Ray, Ken, and lastly Bobby and Jeff

After our lunch break we had one more stop, the Washington Pa Central Firehouse. As I have been saying throughout, it is important to honor those small towns that make up America. The town of Washington fits that mold. This town was made famous back in 1791 as being a center of the "Whiskey Rebellion" a protest of taxes on the production of whiskey.

         After the guys at the station signed our flags we took a picture before heading out.

Jeff at this point headed up to Pittsburgh to meet Lissa who was flying in that night and the rest of the group road down to Somerset. While on my way to the hotel near the airport I took one of those "side trips". Actually I got a little lost and found the township of Fayette Pa and their volunteer Fire Department.

            Fayette Pa Volunteer Fire Department gathered to sign the FireFighter Flag.

Sept 9th
Lissa had a flight delay and got in late, actually around 1:30 AM. The real kicker was the airline lost her luggage so we were chasing that the next day for most of the morning.....Ok back to the story.

Lissa and I headed over to meet my cousin at his lodge. Once we met and went inside my cousin introduced us to some of the members and I brought out the Pentagon flag for patrons to sign.

                          Jeffs cousin Barry watches from the background.

After a few hours at the lodge the bartender mentioned that she worked at one of the local firehouses and since we were off to Somerset soon, it was established that we would visit the local fire station.

Great to see not just young volunteers but that the girls are stepping up as well! Francesca if you're reading this section you'd be proud of your side of the sexes. These girls don't take any guff from the boys!

Our second stop that night was at the Larimer VFD who showed us a tribute they had painted on the exterior of the building. Nice J.O.B. guys!

As the day ended with us arriving in Somerset at our hotel, we ended up meeting Michael Emerson (I'll describe him a little later), and Mitch Mendler a Firefighter from the San Diego area and soon Lissa and I found ourselves working on a part of the story that was unplanned or scheduled.  Soon we were walking to the rear parking area of the hotel and learned of Mitch's project, The World Memorial, Patriot Flag. www.thepatriotflag.us or www.world-memorial.org  Mitch asked us to help him the next day to set up the flags and memorial. How could we refuse such an honorous thing. 

The weather was rain on and off but this was another part of our finding a way to understand the events of September 11th.

The New York Memorial portion of our efforts. The section of steel in the center of the photo is from The Towers.  To touch this brings out lots of emotion!

Placing of the Flags were nearly completed. Although the weather was difficult we enjoyed every moment of this.

Michael Emerson who has been involved in a large amount of the Flight 93 Memorial design and planning and.......with his high energy managed to also create the Memorial site in Union City California.  Great Job!

It began with the driver of the big rig, Jeff, backing the van closer and opening the doors to reveal a small piece of steel from the Twin Towers which we placed on end. Wayne Louth was our lead in the set up. Next to the beam we placed what was to be the symbol of the two towers before what was both physically taxing and at the same time worth every bit of the exhaustion, having cold wet clothes and on occasion questioning my sanity. We placed first flags along the perimeter of the memorial numbering 40 in honor of those lost on Flight 93. This was followed by flags honoring those lost in the armed forces and each of the countries that lost one of their citizens. 

The ceremony was held later that night with Mitch, Wayne and the local American Legion providing moving speaches on what took to make all this happen. This was capped by the raising of a flag of I believe 40' x 60' in cerimonial fashion.  Mitch told the crowd of the difficult road in raising money, transportation help but the honor he felt in organizing this.  Wayne your patriotism in your speech without a doubt tore at my heart and I want to thank you for bring out my emotions when it comes to be patriotism. (I cried like a baby).
Jeff the driver of this truck, shared a lot during all our brief time together and I saw in him how lucky our country is. As a member of the armed services he showed that he understands the importance of freedom, a true understanding of family and what it means to honor the right things in this world. We discussed not only his committment to serving our nation but his love of family when he expressed how lucky he was having a son and wife at home who supported him in this project. 

Thanks to Mitch, Wayne and Jeff for allowing us the honor to be a small part of the journey of all these flags.

Sept 10
Today we road to the site of the final moments of Flight 93 for the dedication ceremonys. This is a beautiful grassy field that once was nothing more than a small farm before the events of that day. Surrounded by rolling hills and with a relatively small boulder placed at the point of impact you feel the souls of the 40 watching over you.

Although our group now was Rae, her husband Paul, Bobby and my love Lissa, we all gathered in the parking area before heading into the actual Flight 93 Memorial site. Saturday the 10th was a dedication of the site.

We listened as the VP Bayden, Former Presidents Bush and Clinton and many others spoke on what this day should mean, what they believed the site represents and how they pledged to see completion of the site. Somehow you feel the presence of those lost here.

          Rae, Paul, Bobby, Lissa and Jeff gather at a local restaurant for dinner.

Sept 11th The day we all were here to participate in....

Although digintaries spoke and the President was their I found myself in another place. I placed my chair not towards the stage but rather in the direction of the boulder and trees that surround that location. I mean no dissrespect to anyone but I felt somehow the lost family members were speaking, telling all of us to be strong and not let this stop us from our beliefs that good over evil will prevail.

The photos that follow are of the overall site.....

                                   The sun rising over the hills near Shanksville

            The field and area where the final resting place of all the souls.......

        The boulder was placed in the field to mark the location of impact that day

I have only briefly had the chance to update all of you but will come back to this with pictures and more thoughts once I have the opportunity to clear my emotions. Those of you that know me, know that I am not the most religous of people but for me, I felt in some small way if I were to understand traditional religion, a god was watching over all today....

Picture taken at the end of the day in Shanksville at the site.......you make your own conclusions.

     Lissa sits on the barrier in front of the impact zone to reflect on the days events

Lissa and I after the services decided to visit the small chapel honoring the Families of Flight 93. On our way, we had a brief rainstorm but soon the sun was out again. Another "Gordon Day".  For those of you who have not yet been to this part of the country all we can say is why not?! It's an area that even without the relationship with Flight 93 is peaceful with friendly neighbors and lots of covered bridges. In a lot of ways I would say it's a fine example of Americana.

     In a garden at the rear of the chapel is a granite memorial to the crew of Flight 93

Sept 12
It's now time to continue on our journey to the Pentagon and then onto to New York City where we will visit Ground Zero.  The day finds us with the sun on our faces as we head east on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and then south to Washington DC. What I want to share at this point is just how wonderful our country is and how honored I am to be a part of this the United States of America.

It took us about 4 hours to arrive at the Pentagon to present the flag which was carried across with us to honor those lost at this site. We met with Robert Candino near the entry to the memorial, presented the flag and then parked the bike so we could spend some time at the Memorial site.  Thanks to those in the Armed Forces for protecting our freedom.

                            This is the face of the building where the plane hit

As we walked through the Memorial Site Lissa and I noted how some of the markers were pointed in opposite directions from each other. The direction in which the top of the marker points indicates if the person represented was on the plane, (those pointed towards the building) or those that were in the building. To those that designed this it was well planned and not over done.  We next turned to Washington Mall to visit the newest addition of a memorial to Martin Luther King.

Sad to know that a mans words are not understood as they should be even several years after his passing. As a child I did not grasp who he was and what he stood for. We no matter the color of our skin or the religion we accept or believe are still equal as a member of the human race. Freedoms of thought and speech is something we all deserve. Why any man feels the need to attack another for the reasons that were somehow justified by those attacking us on Sept 11th is something I doubt I will ever understand......

The rest of our stay in Washington was with some friends for dinner before returning to our hotel (probably the worst of this trip) and getting some rest before turning north to New York City.

Sept 12
Lissa and I loaded the luggage and headed north of the DC area to visit Old Glory H-D. We got there a little early and decided breakfast was calling since the store was not yet opened. Around 10 AM we were back at the store and walking inside where we were  greeted by Peggy. Since this was nearing the final portion of the trip aaannnddd it was Old Glory we couldn't help but do some shopping for t-shirts and assorted other memoriabila. We also shared-presented them with a few of the patches/flags that we were carrying and then got back on the road to New York.

(Sept 22)
PS: Peggy we got our package on Tuesday this week (now back home) and the two notes inside really show what a class place you have. Your store was one of the tops of this trip and anyone reading this page needs to stop by and visit this great dealer anytime your in the D.C. area.

We stopped at a rest area along the way between Baltimore and New Jersey and found this great message. If there is one thing this trip has been, its an adventure and I do wish we had more time to "Venture off the Highway" cause this part of the country is beautiful.

The plan was to arrive in New York by 1PM. Well with a few other stops it soon became obvious that we were not going to be in till around 3PM. It was time to call my contact at the New York Fire Department to determine the best of times to present our flags. It was decided that we would meet first thing in the morning.

We entered into the city through the Holland Tunnel and Lissa felt she at "arrived" at her mecca, New York City. We had hotel reservations downtown at The Pennslyvania. Somehow I felt like I must be crazy riding a Harley into this town and as soon we pulled up to the front entry with all the taxis and limos it was a site to be sure. No mistake really, it was like the old drama series in the 70's where a sheriff from Taos New Mexico interns with the chief of New York City, Great Mix of Culture I think! With our leathers on we walked in like we owned the place and checked in. Smaill problem since the hotel didn't have a parking garage, I had to look for a place to park the bike for the night. Now the only reason of discussing this is that it cost me $43 to park for 24 hours....OUCH! Damn glad we were going to leave the bike the next day at the Harley dealer in Queens.

Sept 14

I called my contacts with the NYFD and was told to go over to the firehouse, they were waiting for us. Above Jeff presents the Flags to Company 54, Ladder 4

                      Outside the right entry to the firehouse

On the sides of the trucks, the names have been placed where a firefighter would have sat that day.........

                                               The men honored.....

                          The plaque honoring all firefighters lost that day

                             As it says..... "Never missed a performance"

For you movie buffs.....remember "who you gonna call? Ghost Busters!" This is the station that was used for the movies.

      Kinda errie how the lighting shows the truck.....

Next we will visit the Ground Zero site.......................

September 15th will be our last visit to Memorial Sites of 9/11
A few days ago all of those that joined this group of riders turned their bikes towards their homes and families as that part of the journey was completed. As discussed in the above, Lissa and I set on this entire mecca with a decision to visit each of the sites, Shanksville PA, The Pentagon and then completing it in New York City at Ground Zero.

We had arranged to go on a guided tour of New York. This was a walking tour that included side trips to Ellis Island, where immigrants from all over the world entered the country, The Statue of Liberty and The Ground Zero Memorial.  We met our guide around 9AM at a local deli and then got on the subway to travel the approximate 3 miles to southern Mahattan and the location of these sites.

Our first stop after departing the subway was near the memorial site where we stood outside the church where victim 0001 was placed on that day. His name was Father Mychal F. Judge. The Father was known for many reasons in this city that never sleeps, but will be remembered on this site as a guardian angel leading those 343 firefighters to the next life. I could not but stand outside of the church with these feelings.

The cross in the photo symbolizes a piece of steel that was found near the collapse of Tower 1 and where they found Father Mychal Judge. The actual section of steel will be placed in the museum when completed.

The new tower 1 when completed will stand at 1776 feet and here is near 1000 feet.

This photo was taken from the walking bridge that is the only thing left standing from the original Towers 1 & 2 and leads over towards the construction site.

There are two pools with water falls placed where both towers once stood. Emotions for Lissa and I were high at this location as you gave thoughts to those lost. 

This beautiful galleria was actually part of the original site and now cleaned and restored serves as a wonderful gathering place for those working in the restored portions of the site. All the palm trees had to be replaced due to the damage.

Our guide (seen in the green shirt) had lost four friends that day but shared a great story here. The tree next to him called the survivor tree actually was removed from beneath the debris and cut back to about 8 feet and nursed back to health before being placed upon this site.

                          Louis J Nacke brother to Ken Nacke

                                        Lorraine G Bay, wife of Erich Bay

Trbute wall located on the firehouse directly across the street from the Memorial Site

You might ask, what's so special about this place? This location a deli/store near the site stayed open while the firefighters and other rescue crews worked 24 hours a day to find loved ones. They served meals, provided water and a resting area for all during those long weeks after the event.

It is at this point of our journey that we then turned to more honoring some of what coming to America was about. The final photo in this section of the page is our way of showing any emotion through imagery.

           This tragedy must never take place again in any part of the world.

Memorial Ride 2010

Our group gathers on Sept 10 in Reno at the Gastropub restaurant

Bobby Strickland caught sing....On the Cover of the Rolling Stones with our entertainment

The group stops for a photo op on the east side of Lake Tahoe

The next day Sept 11, we all meet prior to arrival at the memorial

A fine example of Michael Emersons efforts to memorialize the loved ones lost on Sept 11, 2001

We arrive at the memorial in Union City California
Bag pipes were played...

Family members spoke.....

The group rolled on the San Francisco Airport the intended destination of Flight 93

Thanks to the San Francisco PD for the escort into the airport area

Once in San Francisco, we were escorted by both the San Francisco Fire Department and Police escort services. Thanks to both!

The President of the San Francisco Motorcycle club and Kat Kim (part of our support team)

Bobby making sure that Rae Killibrew-Amadio has a great time... Bobby you're the best ambassador!

Kat Kim gets to sit on one of the bikes....she's a natural!

Rae is surprised by the group celebrating her birthday.


Wait Rae needs to do an encore! 

Rae does a final check on her bike before shipping it home. Dudley Perkins orchestrated the transportation.

Eureka San Mateo Hog Ride 2010

Jeff and Lissa sittin in a tree......

Taken the next morning before we departed Eureka at the Eagle Crest Hotel

Lissa has become one of the girls! They have no idea what they're in for......FUN!