Route 66: 2010

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Foreign Exchange Adventures School Year 2006-07

This story begins in 2006.

I first became involved with foreign exchange through EF Foundation for Foreign Study shortly after I was asked to join my former employer's Community Outreach Committee.  I was looking for something "fun" for the committee to do and while this didn't really fit into that committee's plan it DID seem fun.

I filled out the application and then, next thing I know, I'm sitting down with a gal named Erin for an in-home interview.  While I wasn't exactly in the place to become a host parent, I was brought on as an IEC, (International Exchange Coordinator).  The first "season", I didn't place any students of my own, but was asked to take over the Denver area when another coordinator decided to step down.

Let me take a step back and give a rundown of a bit of the terminology.  Just like any corporation or organization, EF has loads of abbreviations and special terminology.  So, Season or Placement Season refers to the time from about January to August, when we are looking for great host families to match with great students.  To Place or Placement means the process of matching up the student with the host family.  Host family is the family that agrees to open their home and their hearts to a foreign exchange student for a high school year.  

So, my first year, I supervised 6 young ladies in the Denver area.  We had ladies from Germany, New Zealand, Sweden and Denmark.  As the Christmas season rolled around, I decided to take a trip to Denver, pick everyone up and hang out.  We spent the afternoon at the museum and then went to have dinner,  OK, so a trip to the museum was "OK", but note to self, shopping would have been better...for them.  :)

I went around to each of the host families, met them and of course, thanked them for opening their homes and hearts.  After I gathered up all 6 girls we were off.  This was sadly the first time that most of them had met.  They all got along quite well and of course spent a good deal of time talking and talking and talking and...

After our adventure at the museum, we went out for pizza.  THAT was interesting AND Fun.  I swear the young man behind the counter couldn't take his eyes off the girls, of course, he also couldn't quite figure out what the heck I was doing with 6 girls with accents.  It was a good meal and great conversation.  From that point forward, our monthly conversation became much more animated as I had learned a great deal from and about them all.

Fast forward to sometime in May of 2007 and we're getting ready to wrap up the school year.  I took the girls to the Denver Zoo this time.  This was a better choice than the museum, mostly because the animals are "cute".  We also got together for another meal and had Great conversation again. 

This year was one of lots of lessons learned, great conversations with some very cool ladies and the chance to meet some very nice host families.  I also started working on increasing the size of the team out here and at this time was named "Team Lead" of the Colorado portion of Team Wade.  At least that's how I recall it, I could have the "dates" wrong, but what the heck, I've slept since then and I forget stuff.

Next we'll delve into the 2007-08 school year.  Yes, I know it seems odd, but since we're talking about exchange students who are here for a semester or school year, everything here is based on a school year.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Channel 27 @ The Back Sheep 7/26/10

Do you enjoy music?  I mean Really enjoy live music when the musicians are really having fun?  I DO!!!

These are my recollections of my most recent live concert experience.  This was a show at The Black Sheep on Platte Ave in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Monday 7/26

Channel 27 is a Colorado Music Original.  I have to admit that in the past I've used "local music" or "local band" and while those monikers  are true, they just conjure the image of bands playing in their garages.  That being said, there's nothing wrong with a garage band,  if you're in high school.  Well, maybe Colorado Original Music, how's that?

So, here's a quick current rundown of Channel 27.  Currently, the line up is Ames on Lead Vocals, Eric on Lead Guitar, John on Bass and Mike on Drums.  This night the band is opening up a show for the band Fuel.

This time out Channel is number two on the bill, between Non Compliant and the headliner Fuel.  Tonight the band was Ready to Rock!  Channel 27 is a band that has a really great vibe.  They write their own songs that have a very cool groovy/funky/rock and roll feel to it.  In this show, as with most of their gigs, they line their setlist with nearly 100% original music.  Sure, there are cover songs here and there, but not enough to be considered a true "Cover Band"...Yay!!!

The original tunes are well constructed, intricate and well played.  The covers are a nice representation of tunes I like.  Tonight, the Band is Totally On!  As one who has seen a good share of bands over the years, I can safely say that when the band is ON, the show is SO much more fun!  Anyone who knows Anything knows that when the band is having fun, the crowd has fun and they feed off each other.  It makes everything So much better.  Both were happening at this show.

I've had the pleasure of seeing and hanging out with Channel 27 over the past few years.  Make no mistake, I've seen them put on good and even great shows, but this would have to be in the top 1%.  Yep, it was that good!  Channel did about 30 minutes of pure energy.  The Amy's vocals were tight, harmonies were spot on, John's bass was the perfect foundation, along with the solid drumming of Mike.  Everything combined to lay the groundwork for some fantastic guitar licks by Eric.  This show was fun for Everyone!

When you have the opportunity, please check Channel 27 out on the web at:, or perhaps even better, LIVE!

Please support Local Music or even better Colorado Original Music.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Route 66: 2010 Day 17

Today is 6/28/10

This morning Hans & I are taking in the Harley Davidson factory tour in Kansas City.  This factory makes the Sportster, V-Rod and Dyna families of bikes.  It was a very cool tour and it's always nice to see "how it's done".  The tour guide was nice & knowledgeable and it was really tempting to try to see about packing away a new bike, but my pockets just weren't big enough.

We are now on the road back home.  This will be another long day, but we're both up to it and well, ready to be home.  Most of the ride was pretty uneventful, good right???

OK, the ride was uneventful, we rode across Kansas for well, for ever...We decided to stop for dinner and a stretch just East of the Colorado/Kansas state line.  By this time, we were more than ready to be done, but what the heck, just keep riding and well, 650 miles is a much better ride than 900 miles, (the distance from  Mom & Dad's to Joey's).  The weather held up until we got to Limon, Colorado.

Luckily, Hans & I are smart, (or at least skeptical), so we decided to suit up for the 73 miles home.  Shortly after we left Limon the skies opened up.  It rained and rained really freakin' hard nearly all the way home.  When you're tired and more that a little grumpy, the last thing you really want is a hard rain.

Once we finally get to Colorado Springs, the weather let up and we cruised into the driveway just after midnight.  Well, the girls were hanging out waiting for us. Pretty sure Ashlee told them we would be home, so they were (im)patiently waiting.  As we pulled up, they went Nuts!  Ever see 2 dogs literally bounce off the walls.  They were SO glad to see us.  That is kind of a nice feeling, to be missed...I've definitely missed out on the whole "having someone waiting for me at home" 

So, there you have it.  We're home, safe and sound.  It was an amazing fun-filled 2 weeks.  We rode, we laughed, we saw some cool sites, we met some pretty cool folks and took lots of pictures.  It was most definitely a learning experience as well.

That's all folks!  Until next time, be safe!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Route 66: 2010 Day 16

Today is 6/27/10,

Today we have breakfast and say goodbye to our "family" we have known over the last two weeks.  Hans and I had originally planned to ride all the way to Chicago, Illinois.  Unfortunately, things didn't quite work out as we would have liked.  With a group of this size, it's tough to stay exactly on track, so we ended up being about 2 days behind OR I'm an idiot and didn't have the timing correct.

So, the original plan was to leave Chicago and head to Galva, Illinois to visit my older brother Dave and then head to Buffalo, Iowa to spend a night at Mom & Dad's.  We (3), Dave, Hans & I were then going to head to Kansas City. 

The group gassed up and were on their way.  I must say, I was surprised at how I felt to see everyone leave.  All in all, this group was lots of fun.  Of course, I hated to see Morten leave.  I feel like we became good friends and I miss the lug...:)

Shortly after the group headed East, the sky opened up and Poured rain.  Hans & I waited it out for a few minutes and then head West.  We are working our way towards Kansas City, Missouri tonight.  The weather was OK for awhile, but then as we kept going West, it started getting really ugly - black and windy.  We pulled off to suit up in our rain-gear and within a few minutes of leaving that area, the skies Opened Up!  We rode in rain so bad, we could barely see.  It was a bit unnerving.

We finally rode out of the rain; of course I can't remember the name of this town either.  After gassing up, we decided to grab some coffee and something to eat.  We were both pretty worn out.  Naturally, things are seldom "uneventful" and this was no different.  The fast food joint we ate in was weird.  The roof was leaking and the service was WAY beyond slow.  "Fast Food", yeah, not so much.

By the time we finished up lunch, it was pretty well dry and sunny, so we dumped the rain gear and finished out our ride in relative peace.  We finish up today's ride at a reasonable hour and checked into the Fairfield Inn in Kansas City and spend some time in the pool & hot tub.  Dinner at a nearby pub and a good night's sleep.

This was the first night in two weeks that I didn't have to wear ear plugs to cut the level of snoring.  Yay!  Tomorrow is the Harley Davidson factory tour.

Postscript for the actual  Route 66 ride:  I recently heard that one of our group passed away shortly after his return to Norway.  This is dedicated to Johan.  I'm glad he was able to spend his last few weeks doing what he seemed to really enjoy and with his family.

Be safe and have fun everyone.  Remember, those two items are NOT mutually exclusive.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Route 66: 2010 Day 15

Today is 6/26/10

I think I've finally got it dialed in.  Since we spent the night is Springfield, Missouri or "Mizzourah" as some folks, like my Mom say, then by all accounts we are leaving Springfield this morning.  Cool how that works, eh?

First stop out of the gate was after a  really great ride, (outside of Springfield, of course), was a little place called Devils Elbow, Missouri.  To get here, you have to ride down a cool little 2 lane road that has trees overgrowing the road and is right on the Big Piney River.  I'm sure there are times it's referred to as the Big Winey River, but what the heck.  Anyway, shortly after you go over the bridge, you take a slight left and as you come through the trees, there's the Elbow Inn.

The Elbow Inn is a nice little bar/barbecue spot, not unlike places all across the US.  What makes this one pretty special was the decor.  This place has lots and I do mean LOTS of nice little "articles" hanging from the ceiling.  These articles come from the ladies.  I say for many guys out there, Thank You!  In some cases, the ladies that left said articles behind were "Healthy" and still others were "VERY, VERY Healthy..."  ;)

After leaving from here, we next ride to Meramac Caverns in Stanton, Missouri.  Meramac Caverns are very cool underground mineral formations.  These are supposed to be the largest in the world, (for some of the formations anyway).  The caves were pretty interesting, in fact, I had been there way, way long ago, back in the stone ages when I was about 10.  They had recently added zipline rides, which really has an opportunity to be cool, but looked like they were not nearly high or fast enough, but what do I know...Anyway, the  rides went from trees, across the parking lot, (about 75 feet above the ground) and then over the river.  We all thought it would be really cool to have the line dropped the rider right into the river.

The caverns have another "claim to fame".  As the sign out front says, the caverns were once the secret hideout for Jesse James and his posse.  My thought, of course, was "well, Of Course Jesse James was caught, duh, his secret hideout had a frickin' sign out front."   Whose brilliant idea was that???

We leave Meramac Caverns and head to Springfield...this time, Springfield, Illinois.

Here's a bit more useless trivia for you.  The Simpson's "hometown" is Springfield.  Word on the street is that Springfield, Illinois was the city that inspired Homer's world.  D'oh!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Route 66: 2010 Day 14

Today is 6/25/10

Today is another day that since I didn't write this "crap" down, I've got to try to remember...

We leave El Reno this morning as guess what, we head East.  :)  We head farther along the route and come across the Big Blue Whale in Catoosa, OK.  It's an odd thing, but again, there have been a few odd things on Route 66 in Oklahoma, remember Harley & Annabelle?

We stopped in on a really cool motorcycle museum.  Even after all these days, it still brings a smile to my face when I see all these bikes lined up.  We always get great receptions where ever we go as well.

Our next stop was lunch at 4 Women on the Route.  This is an AWESOME little (and I DO mean little) place right on the corner.  Oh yeah, they are on the corner and pretty much in the middle of the Kansas Route 66, (it should be easy to find, there's only about 13 miles in Kansas).  Just in case you still can't locate them, they are in Galena, KS.

Across the street, Morten found a Very Cool '46 Chevy pickup.  She was a great looker, but apparently the owner felt he needed it worse than Morten.  I DO however, now know what I need to be looking for.  One of these days, I'll send you a little present Morten, I promise.  :)

We end up today's journey in Springfield, Missouri.  Hot and humid it was...bless the Midwest.  I believe it topped out at a mere 101 degrees Fahrenheit.  That's the kind of heat that makes you start dripping just by sitting on the bike without it even running.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Route 66: 2010 Day 13

Today is 6/24/10

We leave Amarillo this morning and continue our trek across the Texas panhandle.  Everyone was doing pretty good, our two that were in the accident and remained with us were in pretty good spirits, a little black and blue and sore, otherwise, not bad.  Of course, John was still a little full, since he was the young man who ate the better part of  4 1/2 pounds of steak last night.

Along the way, we stop in Shamrock, Texas at the U Drop In and the Tower Service Station. The names may mean nothing, but when you see pictures, you'll recognize them from the movies.  Nice little town.

We next roll into Erick, Oklahoma.  Erick is the proclaimed "Red Neck Capital of the World", that's what Harley and Annabelle call it, NOT me...  Harley and Annabelle are pretty fun.  They definitely are "unique".  Their shop is, uh, fulled will lots and lots of stuff.  They are however, VERY, VERY friendly.  They made us all feel at home and entertained us with songs and comedy.  The video for that stop will be Very interesting.  I think some of the guys were a little weirded out because of Harley's comment about a couple of them bein' "real cute n' stuff".  Funny...

We stopped off at several small places along the way and it seemed like every mile it was hotter and hotter and NOW, we've got humidity as well.  Just sitting at a stop sign was getting to be "interesting".  It was hot before, but we just sat there and that a word??

Throughout the ride, we got to ride through lots of little towns along the way.  One really cool thing about going through little towns is that you get to see "real America".

Finally, we get to finish up with the humidity and call it a day in El Reno, Oklahoma.  While we were coming back from dinner, we see a cool Street Glide that was from Strip Club Choppers.  Nice "accessories"  If you've ever seen a chrome mudflap girl, that's what we're talking about.

Another successful and fun day, have a Great night!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Route 66: 2010 Day 12

Today is 6/23/10

I will attempt to get back on track, get it together and  remember the details of the rest of the trip.

We leave Santa Rosa fairly early and can't say I'm sad about it.  The manager was "breathing" and that was pretty much it.  Overall, a note to self, don't stay at the Best Western in Santa Rosa.  Oh yeah, did I tell you that they didn't have soap in the room/shower.  I had the pleasure of walking my happy butt down to the front desk where she didn't so much as say sorry and just gave me a bar of Ivory.  Pretty weird.

OK, now we're on the road again.  That, my friends was another song running through my head. "On the Road Again", but not the Willie Nelson version.  He does write some pretty good songs, but PLEASE don't let him sing 'em.  The one that was going through my head was by Donkey from Shrek.  What a dork I am.

Today was a very packed day.  We were lucky enough to miss some rain this time out.  Actually, we could see the trucks throwing up huge rooster tails in the oncoming lane, but we stayed dry.

One of our first stops outside Santa Rosa was Tucumcari, New Mexico.  Tucumcari is a very "colorful" town.  There is neon Everywhere and if we would have been here at night it would have been amazing.  It was still very cool.  Tucumcari has an Awesome statue(?) on the West side of the town and there's a museum, too.  We didn't take that one in because it was still early.  Next stop was the Blue Swallow Motel.  This place is great!  They've got "100% Refrigerated Air" and even better, murals all over the property.  We hung out with James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, The Easy Rider guys and Tow Mater & the rest of the Cars, (movie) gang.

After riding out of Tucumcari, we saw the Biggest Cross Ever, lots of little cool shops and then we stopped in Adrian, TX.  Adrian is the home of Midpoint Cafe.  Guess what??  It's the midpoint on Route 66.  This is only 1139 miles from LA and the same from Chicago; I know, go figure!

Adrian and the Midpoint Cafe were pretty cool and they had a ton of cool souvenirs.  Really nice folks here.  As nice as that was, the day was getting ready to take a turn for the worse.  Not far outside of Adrian, we had an accident.  Unfortunately, things seemed to happen pretty quickly.  One bike hit another a bit, over-corrected and was hit by another bike; or so that part of the story goes.  Upon arriving, (we were in the back), we saw 2 bikes mangled on the road, but more importantly, there were 4 riders down.  It was fairly unnerving, but the whole group did a good job keeping it together.

It was unfortunate; 3 people ended up with broken/cracked collar bones and the fourth had shredded hands.  All four also had some pretty bad road rash.  Thankfully all 4 were wearing helmets.  Things could have certainly been worse.  2 of the riders went home to Norway and the other 2 spent the rest of the trip in one of the cars.

I have to voice an opinion here.  I absolutely, 100% support my fellow riders right to choose to wear a helmet or not.  I also completely disagree with helmet laws.  I do not think the government should tell a biker that they must wear a helmet.  ALL of that being said, I Do Not like riding without a helmet, gloves, long pants, eye protection and good boots.  I absolutely don't feel comfortable without my "gear".  It just doesn't feel right without a helmet, for me.

OK, off the rant.  Whatever you do, please be safe.

After the accident was cleaned up, a couple hours later, (the folks were nice, but the EMT folks looked liked Grandma & Grandpa Smith...), we decided to continue on.  The next stop was the Cadillac Ranch.  The Cadillac Ranch is a field out in the middle of nowhere.  This is where someone decided to plant several cars, nose first, in the middle of a field.  Kinda odd, but then again, "Only in America".

Our last stop for this day was Amarillo, TX.  Yep, we finally, dun made it to Tejas!  You know you're in Texas when the limo that picks you up to go to the steak house has "big ol horns" on the hood.  Of course, another telling sign is when the limo driver smiles and has big ol brown teef...yuck.

Dinner tonight was at the Big Texan.  If you haven't heard of this place, you are probably missing out.  Food and service were pretty good, but the really big draw is the 72 ounce steak challenge.  If a person can eat the steak, all the sides and bread within one hour, they get a 4 1/2 pound steak for free.  If they don't make it, they get to buy the steak.  One of our group took the challenge.  John gave it a shot, but just couldn't make it.  As he said later, it was a Very expensive steak.  Think about $1.00 per ounce.

After we got back to the hotel, the heavens opened up!  It rained for hours and hard, too.  Luckily for us, we weren't riding.  It actually made for a nice night's sleep.

And another day put to rest.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Route 66: 2010 Day 11

Today is 6/22/10

We leave wherever the heck we stayed and are on the road through more cool  scenery.  Again, I'm really sorry I didn't write myself some notes.  Duh...I absolutely promise that next time, I will make sure I know where the heck I'm at.  But then again, it's kinda like being a rock star..."Uh, where are we again..."

It was another Beautiful day with beautiful weather and I had another day where I got to spend time with my newly extended family.  Of course, it was Awesome, even if I can't freakin' remember all the details.
New Mexico is a great state, not quite as great as Colorado, of course, but great nonetheless.

One of the few places I do actually remember, after looking at pictures, etc, was Madrid, New Mexico.  They pronounce it Mad Rid.  Sorry Eric & my amigos from Spain.  Anyway, MadRid is a little town not too far north of Albuquerque and was where they filmed part of the movie "Wild Hogs."  Many bikers, including myself have seen it.  It's not half bad.  We stopped in Madrid for coffee & photos.  By the way, Maggie's Diner is really just a store front for a little retail stop.  Nice little place and one that is close enough to Colorado Springs, it might be worth another ride.

Our stop for the night was in Santa Rosa, NM.  Santa Rosa is home to Blue Hole.  It's a place where many land locked folks can go to get open water certified for scuba diving; just like Hans and Marc (our German son & brother) did back in November.

We were in town early enough so that Hans, Morten & I went to the Car Museum, well, OK, as someone said, "museum" is a bit lofty, how about Car...Place.  It was kinda cool, but still a bit of a let down.   Most of the group went for a "cowboy dinner", but the rest of us went to the nearby restaurant.  The food was OK, but the conversation was pretty cool.

Tomorrow, we head to Tejas, Y'all!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Route 66: 2010 Day 10

Today is 6/21/10

This morning we head out from Gallup and shortly after we hit the road we cross the Continental Divide.  Turns out, if you don't know it's there it's no big deal.  However, according to the signs, this is where the water decides which way it's going to flow.  East of the Divide, the water flows to the Atlantic Ocean and West of the Divide flows to the Pacific Ocean.

As we wind our was across New Mexico, we continue to see some pretty amazing sights. I may have things slightly out of order, but I'm going to give it shot.  It's likely all the beautiful sun and heat.  So far, it's still pretty dry and as they say out west, "sure, it's hot, but it's a Dry heat"  We'll get a great example of why that's so important later on.

We had the pleasure of visiting the Acoma Sky City.  What a Beautiful place.  The museum was pretty cool, but really the best part was the Amazing scenery.  We took a trip up to the top of the old pueblo and checked out the old buildings and church up there.  The acoustics in the church were amazing!  Just reminded me of what I need to have for the next Paisano Casa or even club.

The rest of the day, we get to keep running east and come to the Petrified Forest and The Painted Desert.  We were able to spend some time riding around in the mountains as we run through the Painted Desert.  What a cool trip today.  Wonderful scenery, great pictures of three pretty cool Harley riders, well, two cool dudes from Norway & that other guy.  We even had the pleasure of having our picture taken by a pretty cute girl.  Too bad it wasn't With a cute girl.  That's the way it goes for the American.  Along the way, our guides were running video, so it will be Great when we get to finally see the finished product.

We took our lunch break & stretch in Albuquerque at the Route 66 Casino.  It would have been nice to win a little cash there, but since the Vegas gambling adventure didn't go well, I decided against even trying.  Overall, it's a pretty cool place and hey, ZZ Top will be there at the end of July, that ain't all bad.

After we head out from the casino, I'd like to say that I remember Exactly where we stayed and what we did, but I'm just getting old and can't remember $hit...Sorry.  Next time I have GOT to remember to write this stuff down.

So, we left, rode some more and then spent the night somewhere...I know, pretty weak, huh.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Route 66: 2010 Day 9

Today is 6/20/10

Today we head out of Williams, AZ and we're on our way through Flagstaff, and then into New Mexico. It was nearly like a rerun of sorts as Hans & I had been there on our first day out. In fact, we rode right past our hotel. This time it was much easier to find. Musta had something to do with being so much less tired. Flagstaff is a nice place, but it was good to get on the other side.

I think I forgot to mention that outside of our first day in Colorado, the weather has been gorgeous, but hot. No rain to speak of at all. Today was no different. Of course, all the sun added to my "glove tattoos", too.

About half way through today's journey we roll into Winslow, AZ. Yep, you got it, "That" Winslow, Arizona. We did hang out on the corner and check out the the shops. Nice little place. Of course, we got lots of pictures and I started to pick up a couple things, but ended up deciding against it. By the way, they LOVE the Eagles here and Yes, there is a flat bed Ford there as well. The rest of the ride was spent with the Eagles running through my head. Not a bad thing and certainly better than some alternatives. However, how many times can a person "sing" "Take it Easy"? I would say at least 200 times over 2000 miles. :)

Our next stop was Holbrook, AZ for a bit to eat.  Actually, before we stopped to eat, we dropped by the Wigwam motel.  A very interesting little place.  Have YOU slept in a wigwam lately?  It tends to stand out on the road.

We stopped at Joe & Aggies in Holbrook. They were nice enough to open up for us as they are usually closed on Sunday. Food was good & the service wasn't bad either. Everywhere we went, the "locals" absolutely loved visiting with all the Norwegians & Danes. It was actually pretty fun, since so many folks talked about how nice "they" were. Of course, it was always entertaining when people would ask "where you from?" and I would say Colorado.

After our stop in Holbrook, we are on our way to Zuni, New Mexico and the Zuni Reservation.  We were welcomed by an Absolutely wonderful Native American "extended" family.  We were treated homemade and authentic Indian fare.  The meal was Excellent!  The family was absolutely wonderful and everyone had a great time getting to know one another.  We got a pretty amazing picture of the whole group with the sacred mountain in the back.  There were some great stories to be heard.

As we ride off the Reservation, we were greeted by many vehicles and without fail, we were greeted with a huge wave from everyone of them.  Very nice. Our last stop for the day is Gallup, New Mexico.

The night's stay was at the historic El Rancho Hotel. The main hotel is pretty cool and has lots of history. Loads of famous people have spent time in the hotel and they've got the pictures to prove it. It was a nice night's sleep and breakfast was pretty good, if not "exciting".

Tomorrow's ride takes us farther across New Mexico and into more great historic "stuff"

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Route 66: 2010 Day 8

Today is 6/19/10

This is another "mostly" non-ride day. We spent a good amount of time in and around the Grand Canyon. OK, the literal translation is really "Big Hole". We spent time in the "museum" area and the Imax for the canyon. Perhaps one of the coolest things we did was a helicopter ride through the canyon. I and Hans each took the trip, although it was so windy, the first pilot decided he didn't feel comfortable with flying in that much wind. Myself, our videographer, and two other gentlemen, got moved over to another purveyor. We were told it was an upgrade and from my standpoint, never having spent any time in a helicopter, I'd say it was an upgrade.

The views up there were Amazing! I had seen the Grand Canyon previously, with Hans and Marc in December. That was cool, but it was on the Sky Bridge. Now, the Sky Bridge is cool and all, but it is EXPENSIVE. It certainly seems like the Native Americans are getting back at the white man. Anyway, this is about the copter trip through the canyon. Wow! I took a ton of pictures.

Next up was a photo shoot with the Canyon in the background. Of course, we got the whole group up there and then everyone had the chance to get their picture taken on a 2010 Harley Heritage Softail. Afterwards, we had some pictures of our own to take. I think we got some Very cool ones. Thanks Morten!

Morten, Hans & I rode around for some time and check out some great scenes from Mother Nature. On our way out of the park, before getting back to Williams, we stopped at a great airplane, (mostly), museum. Very cool stuff. Admittedly, Morten and Hans knew MUCH more about the exhibits than Joey. I actually learned a tremendous amount and had a good time, too.  Oh yeah, I did find my new tattoo.  I think I'll do it full size, it's a bronze eagle that stands about 8 feet tall. 

Tonight's dinner was pretty cool. We went down the street, (love being able to Walk to dinner), and had Cowboy vittles. There was a band as well. Not necessarily the type of music I usually go for, but they were pretty good and the crowd enjoyed the entertainment. We had a good time, relaxed and enjoyed some good conversation with a nice older couple that was traveling around the country.

Time to call it a night and get ready to head out tomorrow.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Route 66: 2010 Day 7

Today is 6/18/10

We're heading out from Vegas today and are on our way into Arizona. We head out somewhat early and get out of the "city", Finally!!

Today we get to hang out on some Awesome roads. We ride through some twisties and we stopped at a spot with a great overlook. We stopped at Sitgreaves Pass. VERY high...really, well high for this area...3550. That's feet, not meters, by the way. The guides did some nice video work, or at least we think so, haven't seen the final footage yet, but really looking forward to seeing it.

After Sitgreaves Pass, take a detour into Oatman, AZ. This was an interesting place and witnessed a genuine, gunfight reenactment. Perhaps the most unique part of the this stop was the the burros or donkeys Everywhere. Seems that Oatman used to be a mining town and when the miners gave it up, they just left the burros, (that's the Spanish word for 'em). Even better was the sign that I didn't take a picture of. It is the "Jackass Crossing" signs that are everywhere. I gotta say, those signs could be put up many places, especially at at least one former employer. The shop keepers are great as well. As one nice lady said, anytime she sees someone taking a picture with one of the donkeys, she calls them an "ass kisser". The trip back out of the canyon that houses Oatman was just as much fun as going down.

Our next stop is Kingman, AZ. Kingman is another nice little locale on Route 66. I have to admit that I didn't really take many pictures this day, so I have to go by memory and we all know what that means; it was hot, the road was great, the rest of the group was great and being off of the interstate ROCKS!

After heading out of Kingman, we make our way to Williams, AZ.  What's so special about Williams, you might ask. It's on the outskirts of the Grand Canyon! We roll into Williams and a "rustic" motel. All in all, the place was OK. We are staying here two nights so that we can head to the canyon tomorrow.

We all head to a place called Cruisers for dinner. Not a bad place, but we'll chalk the severe lack of professional service in the guise of a waitperson and cook to they just couldn't handle a crowd. Odd, since people and tours obviously come into town on a regular basis. I guess, maybe they forgot they were on Route 66 and just outside of the Grand Canyon.

It took nearly forever to get our food, (upon ordering his well done steak, Hans was told it would be about 45 minutes), but as someone who's been in "the biz", that's OK, unless of course, that when the "well done" steak finally arrives, it's still pink and mooing. OK, that happens, but then Hans sends it back and when it comes back it looks like it went in the microwave and was still pink in the middle. When Hans finishes his dinner, (poor guy didn't dare try to send it back again), the check comes, of course, with a gratuity added. The "fun" part about it is that when I pay, they ask if I want to add more tip. REALLY??? Yeah, not so much.

Everyone is heading back to the rooms and relaxing, well, nearly everyone. I get to spend "Up to 3.5 hrs" on my final. I tried to get the instructor to give me a chance to do it before we left, but he obviously was too busy as he never bothered to get back to me. That's fine. It took about 2 hrs and was done. Actually, Done & Done! Another class finished. Turns out, I pulled a 95 in the class, go figure.

Time for bed. Tomorrow will Rock because we're heading to the Grand Canyon.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Route 66: 2010 Day 6

Today is 6/17/10

This is a day off, so we're hanging out and taking it easy. Vegas is always a bit "different" than anywhere. After-all, "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas". I mean, you don't ever hear "What happens in Pueblo stays in Pueblo", although, come to think of it, you should.

One of the best parts of the Stratosphere was the door man. Morten, Hans & I, were looking for a nice place to get something to eat and experience a bit of "Vegas". He recommended a place that while it would have been "entertaining" it would also, have likely made a couple Moms frown; (including my own), so we decided against it. He did have a great spiel & I'd like to share it, but I'll clean it up a touch. "Boobies and Food, you can't go wrong."

Our time in Vegas was punctuated with a walk down the strip, people watching, "show" watching, like the water shows. They are pretty cool to watch. We spent a bit more time hanging out and I gambled my $20 and lost it in record time! Yay, Me!

Other than the short time it took me to lose money, things were pretty fun. As always, there were attractive people everywhere. There were opportunities for more people watching, shopping and some other fun stuff. We checked out the top of the Strat and watched their rides up there at the top. Kinda cool, but you can bet Expensive.

Dinner was at the Harley Davidson Cafe which was pretty fun in it's own right. As we were walking around, we let Morten have the privilege of being accosted by the street vendors. Since I've been there many times & the last time Hans was there, he got an arm load of paper, we both let Morten know what was heading his way. He's a smart man, so he deftly got out of it.

Another day went by the wayside and it was time to get some rest and get ready to rock tomorrow!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Route 66: 2010 Day 5

Today is 6/16/10.

Today is Adventure Day! The first true day of Route 66. The rest of the group loaded up and headed out to Glendale, CA to pickup their bikes. Hans & I waited around a bit and went to IHOP for breakfast. Not that we were avoiding the group, but there was no reason for us to leave at the same time, since we had our bikes already.

All good, so far. Well, unfortunately, the Lowrider decided to be a pain. We stopped to get our bearings and I turned off the bike and she decided that she was done. Not Cool... Since I totally believe that everything happens for a reason, here is why - having the battery take a crap on Joey now, was OK, since we were within a short distance of the Harley shop and it was merely $130, but it was in a safe place and while the rest of the group was getting settled in with their bikes, I switched out the battery. Not happy, but done and done.

We were finally ready to roll. Everyone was saddled up and anxious to get going. Since the Harley shop was in the middle of a traffic filled area, it was, um, "interesting" to get everyone going. I finally got the full realization that there were 26 bikes, (Electra Glides, Street Glides, Heritage Softails and of course, 1 Sportster and 1 Lowrider), 4 cars and 1 van pulling a trailer. That rundown will be important later on in our story, I swear.

In a moment (or more :)), of gloating, well, maybe not gloating, but a sense of being different, (like that Ever happens for Joey), the Lowrider stands out, for a couple of reasons. A. She's a Lowrider and 2., She's Blue! All the rest of the bikes, Electra Glides, Street Glides and Heritage Softails are black. No doubt, Black is very cool, especially on a Harley, but it's Good to be different!

OK, we head out from Glendale, CA and our destination tonight is Las Vegas. Those of you who know Route 66 know Route 66 doesn't go to Vegas. Well, really, the thought is this, most of the group is from Norway with a few from Denmark. When you are this close to Sin City, why not take a detour and stop over for a couple days. There you have it, that's the plan.

Our first stop was outside of the main mess that is (or can be) LA and outlying areas. This was a very new experience for Joey. Stopping the 26 bikes, 4 cars and the van is a bit along the lines of stopping the Titanic. Certainly doable, but not very quickly. Something else that became evident VERY quickly was that if you're the last bike or so to stop, Do Not wait until gassing up to go pee...everyone else is ready to go by then. I hate when people wait on me. Extra pressure...

We had great riding weather and once outside of the busy-ness of the big city in California, everyone settled in to a pretty nice rhythm. We cruised along, still on interstate for much of the ride, but things were pretty good. Stopping for lunch was a nice chance to get off the bikes and relax a touch. Buffets are a great place to feed a large number of people, let's leave it at that. I can't remember where we stopped, because apparently the brain shut down and I quite writing in the's NOT a diary when you're a Dude! So, really then, "Duh, Dude!"

Fast forward; we're rolling into Las Vegas as it's starting to get dusk-ish(?) We were staying at the Stratosphere and some of us thought it odd, when some of the riders and car drivers from the middle of the line, went right past the hotel. Now, I know, I'm just the guy in the back, but it's pretty hard to miss the hotel. As we finally got into the parking garage, apparently, we "lost" a bike or two. We got everyone together and checked in. Nice hotel and Vegas is, well, Vegas, so lots of lights, neon and people. Another thing that I had forgotten was that there's still smoking in the casinos. While it's not all together bad in some of the newer casinos, a somewhat older casino makes the smoke just hang around and smell things up.

We drag our "crap" up to the room, oh yeah, of course Joey went past the elevator and had to ask directions...hate that! Up to the 11th floor, down the hall and done. Time for a shower and meet Morten & Hans for a bit of dinner. Since no one was really up for a walk around, we ate Mickey D's. Well, that is Hans & Joey ate, Morten tried and ended up with a nice splatter on his shirt. NOW, I know how Hans manages to be somewhat "challenged" when it comes to neatly eating. LOL!

Time to get some shut eye and take it somewhat easy tomorrow, since we're spending another night in Vegas.

That's it for another day. Time to hit the sack.

Route 66 :2010 Day 4

Today is 6/15/10

Our adventures today start with a limo trip to Santa Monica, (after breakfast, of course). This is the "end" of the road for Route 66; that is of course, unless you do what we are doing and go LA/ Santa Monica to Chicago and then, it's just the beginning! There's something just plain Right about traveling in a limo. Very rockstarish!

I think this was the first time I really understood just how many people were set to take part in this ride, but it still felt a little "vague" as we were still just hanging out and spending time on the beach. Morten, Hans & I hung out and just relaxed a bit. We walked the boardwalk, checked out the Route 66 schwag and checked out the "California Girls". Some of them were Wonderful! Some, yeah, not so much.

The three of us had lunch at a very nice Italian restaurant across from the pier. Lunch was nice and then we walked around for some time. As we were walking around, we found the Apple store for earbud replacements & some troubleshooting. More importantly, (to some), we found the Cabo Wabo Cantina. Yay!!! Cabo Wabo Repasado was just what the doctor ordered. With a Mexican beer chaser, of course. :)

We wondered around some more and came across some street musicians. One group was Very cool. The guitar player/singer was channeling Jimi Hendrix, right down to the left-handed strat. Very good stuff. Outside of the street tunes, there were the requisite freak show cast members. "Interesting" was the word on the street as we were heading off to meet the rest of the group and the limo.

As we were getting ready to load up, I finally remembered what I was supposed to have done...check out the Harley shop and look for a taillight and lens for the Sporty. Somehow, she decided to shed those along the road. Nice, huh.

After we returned and relaxed, it was time to get it all together because tomorrow, time to RIDE!!! We had the discussion of what to expect, who was riding where, and what to expect as we're out on the road. I, of course, assume that what the meeting was about, since it was conducted in Norwegian - as it should have been. I didn't hear much of "that American", so I guess it was pretty much business. Actually, both Morten & Hans took VERY good care of me and translated the "important" stuff. I ended up second to last in the line. Supposedly, it was because of "skill level", but maybe it was to keep the American in the back... :)

Done for the day and ready to hit the sack for the big day tomorrow! Yay! We're ready to hit the road.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Route 66: 2010 Day 3

Today is 6/14/10
This is our first full day in Los Angeles.

This was really not a ride day, but a day for exploring LA. Hans, Morten and the rest of the Norwegian crew went to Universal, Hollywood and Hard Rock in the evening. By all accounts, they all had a great day.

Joey spent the day hanging out on his own and "mostly" out of trouble. First on the list was a trip to Olvera Street to meet up with Maryann. Maryann is a part of the extended Paisano Famiglia. She is Jack's Sis & Jack is Joey's personal tattoo artist. OK, so maybe that's not totally accurate, Jack is The Man! He is the only person Joey trusts to do his tattoo work. At this point, Jack has done all the visible ink that Joey has. That would be 8. Just about the time I think I'm done, I hang out with Jack and we start talking and then...

Maryann and I had lunch at a little taquito stand and spent the time catching up a bit and having a great conversation. Maryann Rocks! After we walked around abit, it was time to wonder back to the hotel. Ah, as if it were really going to be that easy... ;) Upon returning to the parking lot, Joey found a very nice little gift from the city of LA. Yep, you guessed it. A parking ticket. For some ridiculous reason, this city doesn't allow motorcycles to park in the lots. So, Joey gets to pay $13.20 as a fee. Sure sounds like an odd amount, but really, it's pretty much what it would have likely been anyway. How is it that a city the size of LA and one that obviously has traffic issues, doesn't have anything that makes sense for motorcycle parking. Likely they do, but it certainly wasn't obvious to a dork from Colorado.

After the parking lot adventure, I started my way back to the hotel. When I finally got through the traffic and back to the hotel, I decided to see about getting the Lowrider washed up. After driving around for awhile, I found a car wash spot and took the time to get off the bike and politely asked the "lady" if they did motorcycles. She said sure, just bring it over "here". I pulled up and got the "well, we can't wash that". As if I somehow tried to fool her. In my book, when you ask someone if they wash bikes and they say yes, they should probably hold up their end of the bargain. Well, chalk up another one for rude and odd people in LA.

I was thinking about catching up with everyone at Hard Rock Cafe, but after the ordeals experienced, I decided to call it a day and just stay in the general area. All in all, it was a good day to get things together mentally and get myself ready to do the actual Route 66 ride with the group. Time to hit the hay and oh yes, remember the ear plugs at night. :)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Route 66: 2010 Day 2

Today is 6/13/10

Today's journey starts off at the hotel in Flagstaff. The best thing about the hotel, which I can't remember the name of, was it had two beds & a shower. Overall, obviously very forgettable.

We load up and head out about 7:30am. After the long day on the 12th, we decided to "relax" a bit. Weather was a touch chilly, but nothing like Colorado. We hit the road and stop in Prescott for breakfast at another cool little diner. Great food, nice people and well, not unattractive waitresses ;)

We have Much nicer riding conditions as we ride towards Earp, CA The ride through the mountains was Very cool. I got hung up behind some rather slow moving cars; my own fault, of course. Hans, on the other hand, was able to get out in front of the slow movers and got to play for awhile. Lots of twists and turns.

As we get farther into Cali, it just continues to get hotter & hotter. We felt like we were walking across Death Valley. In reality, it was just a long hot ride to Twentynine Palms. When we finally got to 29 Palms, we stretched and sucked down some water. By the time we got there, Morten had already arrived from Norway.

Closer and closer we get to LA and the busier and busier the roads start getting. By the time we get outside of LA, it's late afternoon. We take another quick break for gas & water and a stretch and mentally gear up for the last run. I've got to say that running on the "I" in LA on a motorcycle at the end of a long 500+ mile trip is really not what I would call a laff-fest, but it was Well worth it. Only 3 or 4 close calls on the highway. We rolled into LA close to dusk and pulled into the Hacienda Hotel.

The Hacienda is a pretty cool older hotel not far from LAX. After we pulled up front & got off the bikes, and again stretched a bit, Morten was there to meet us. Apparently, they don't get many bikers pull up near the valet parking. We made a bit of an entrance :)

Morten was certainly glad to see his boy & it was great for me to see that and to finally meet my son's father. After a few minutes of getting acquainted and reacquainted, it was time to unload the girls. This would also be the last time we would "have" to load up the t-bags on the bikes until the end of the trip. Gotta love a van for lugging around all your crap on a 2 week trip. ;)

We got the bikes unloaded and talked to a pretty cool valet to figure out where we could park the girls. I'm pretty sure he wanted to take them for a spin, but, well, not just Anyone gets to take one of Joey's ladies for a ride. At any rate, we were able to get them some shelter and locked up for the time we were there.

Next up was the "interesting" part of the stay at the Hacienda. Turns out, the hotel had Joey sleeping on the floor in Morten & Hans' room. Well, since we know things happen for a reason, there was another gentleman that had been "roomed" with another and he had actually paid for a private room. Case closed right, Joey has another place to stay, with a Norwegian biker, or so you would think.

I went to the front desk to get a key and get everything taken care of. That, my friends was an adventure in and of itself. After I couldn't get the "lady" at the front desk to get it right, I had to enlist Morten. At least in part because I was dain dramaged at the time. Long & hot rides will do that sometimes. Anyway, the conversation went round and round and round and oh yeah, round again. She really turned into a bit...not nice lady and was getting frustrated because Morten didn't understand what she was if! We got our guide involved and after more arm twisting and undoubtedly a few uttered Norwegian curse words, we got it all straight.

Finally armed with a room key, we got my stuff out of Morten & Hans' room & I got nekid, uh I mean, got a shower and cleaned up. Mind you this was ONLY about 2 1/2 hrs after we arrived there. The roommate who we'll call, "Roomy" as sound asleep and snoring away. Joey & the Boys went out for a much deserved cold adult beverage, for Joey & Morten anyway, and some food.

What a Great conversation! After just a few minutes, we were all laughing and having a great time. OK, so there was a fair amount of picking on Hans, but isn't that what Dads do, anyway? A couple hours and beers later, it was time to call it a day.

Success!! We made it to LA and only sweat & a little bit of oil was the cost; yeah, yeah, gas & food, too. Not bad, not so bad at all.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Route 66: 2010 Day 1

Our trip starts out on 6/12/2010 at 4am from Colorado Springs, CO. As you may know, 4am in Colorado is a bit chilly.

When you live in Colorado and you decide to do Route 66, you have to make a decision - Start in LA or start in Chicago. OK, so the decision was made for us this time. We set off for LA. I guess I should start by introducing "We". We is Hans Olav from Norway, (exchange student for 2009-10 school year) and Joey.

Our trek started with Joey's two bikes, (a 1998 883 Sportster Hugger with a big bore kit to make her a 1200 and a 2003 Lowrider, also recently bored to a Twin Cam 96). By the way, the guys at American Motorcycles in Colorado Springs, CO, did a great job & the girls Purred on the trip!

So, back to it:
Day 1: 4:15am rollout. Very dark & chilly as we headed down Hwy 115 to Penrose, CO. At Penrose, we head West to Salida, CO. The sun was starting to come out by the time we reached the restaurant. Of course, this restaurant I can't remember the name of, (because I'm an idiot & didn't think to write it down..duh). Anyway, nice little place, good food & lots of it. We also gassed up and were on our way.

Next up was to conquer Monarch Pass. This is a Great road - still Highway 50, but I gotta say, heading over a pass that tops out at 11312 ft (3447.9 m) means that even in the heat of Summer, it's still chilly. At 6am or so on an overcast day, in early June, it's downright cold. Over the pass we go. We roll past Doyleville, CO. I really only remember the name of this place because the sign is just before my Aunt Gayle & Uncle Paul's place. We cruise through Gunnison on our way to Montrose, CO. I used to call it Mon Trose - like Sammy Hagar's first band, but I've been corrected. It's pronounced Mont Rose.

Once we reached Montrose, we rode through the main part of town and got a nice look at the temperature on the bank. Ready for this...June 12th, approximately 11 am or so...temp was a whopping 37 degrees, Fahrenheit, (the trusty conversion site says that's a balmy 2.77777777 Celsius) We gassed up and took a stretch. Stretches are easily as important as gas & food. As we were looking at the sky, it simply looked cold. Well, we found out shortly after leaving town that the cold wasn't the only thing going on. We had a Major hail storm. As a biker, rain is inconvenient and unpleasant. As a biker, hail, on the other hand is simply dangerous. The hail was about the size of a quarter. As is usual, there was only a small tree for us to duck under for shelter. Luckily, it was somewhat short lived, but in the aftermath, the roads were covered and it looked like snow. We waited it out, and after the rainfall & hail was passed, we were back on our way.

We rode through cold, rain, car splashes and pretty much yuck weather. We Finally made it to Telluride for a warm-up. The middle part of our ride was marked with unpleasant weather, but after Telluride, it got a bit better. The road out of Telluride is amazing, especially on a bike. We worked our way to Cortez. CO and then, Arizona!

We continued to ride in less than stellar weather, but it did get a bit better, except, of course for the wind. It was SO windy before Kayenta, we were riding sideways. Not only was it rather unpleasant, it was dangerous, too. We finally got through most of the first day's ride and were about 30 miles outside of Flagstaff. We had to stop for gas, yet again, well before we should have, but Mother Nature tends to have her say. We stopped for gas at what must have been the Last full service gas station in the country. We were very surprised when a cute young lady came out & pumped the gas for us. Sure would like to see more of those.

Next stop...Flagstaff! It was nice to get there, even though it was a bit of a chore to find the frickin' hotel. We went literally within yards of the hotel and past. We got nearly to the other side of the town before we found a really nice lady to help us out. She even drove us right past the hotel and "dropped us off". Time for a shower, OK, two showers.

Dinner was at "Granny's Closet". A very nice restaurant and very personable service. After a great meal, it was time for bed...What a day! Day 1 done - approximately 650 miles. Wow...