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Christmas 2017 - Brad Hansen

It’s that time of the year where we spend a great deal of time giving, whether that be from our talents or treasures. I thought I would think of and share one of the many times I witnessed an act of giving while on the road.

I have been fortunate enough to ride the 48 states 5 times and ride to the Acrtic Circle and back so there are many acts of giving I can choose from. But I am going to tell of a time that many of the riders have forgotten, but will remember after I tell it.

One leg of our 48 state route took us through Belle Fourche, SD. We stopped every year in Belle Fourche at Jumpin Jacks for fuel and something to eat. I don’t remember what year it was but there would have been between 12 and 16 of us in the group.

After we all had eaten, we made our way to the register to pay. We are generally always on separate tickets so it takes a bit of time to get everyone paid. As we are standing in line, a short gentleman comes up to the end of the line. This guy looks like a “Tim Conway” wearing a cowboy hat, shirt, cowboy boots and “SHORTS”! Someone says, “Let this gentleman through to the top of the line or he will be here forever”. Immediately, Ronnie yells out, “Give me his ticket, I will pay for his lunch”. After some reluctance and coercive discussion, the man gives Ronnie his lunch tab. Then the man asks the question we get everywhere, “Who are you guys and where are you going?”  We tell him our story of riding the 48 states for kids back home. He thanked us for what we do, reached into his pocket and hands us $200 for the kids. Wow!

Buying that gentleman’s lunch was not Ronnie’s way of trying to get a donation. He did so as an act of giving. These guys I ride with are all like that. They are a great group of givers whether from their talents or treasures.

And the gentleman in the cowboy hat. We have met so many people like this. This is just one of many acts of giving we have encountered during our journeys across this great country.

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Christmas 2017 - Brian Brock

We have been fortunate to meet many great people because of The Ride. We got to meet our US Congressman on the steps of the capitol. We got to meet baseball player, manager and commentator Bobby Valentine at his restaurant. We got to meet a kid named Martin, another named Andrew and one named Cooper. Recently we got to meet Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger, the man behind the great movie Rudy. During Rudy's speech he talked about perseverance, attitude and hard work. None of those three matter, and cannot create results. He made it clear it takes a dream. Not vision, that's corporate mumbo jumbo for someone who thinks they know the way. A dreamer has no idea where they are going. They know why. The next part is when. And if you have the dream, when is right now.

 

Scott had a dream. Let's raise one million dollars for children in Columbus. Then a few other guys shared his dream, and then a few others. In 2015, the million was surpassed, by 20%. We had a big celebration, mission accomplished. It didn't feel right though. A part of me was not satisfied. Scott and the rest of the guys had that same feeling. We had so much more to do. What do you do when you achieve a dream? Have another dream!!!! And that is where we are today. We have a dream. We have no idea where we are going next year. We only know that we are going, and we know why. To make a difference in one child's life.

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Christmas 2017 - Vernon Griggs

As I think back on the first Miracle Ride that I was on I was excited about the sights and the places that we would visit, I would get to see all 48 states and different sights as we would travel  I would see different billboards of all the tourist attractions advertising thinking that we would stop and do theses but we kept passing them up finally some one said over the CB radio that if I would look to my left about 40 miles I could see the Grand Canyon I was getting a little disappointed about not seeing the different attractions. But when we made our first stop to the Children's Hospital and saw the kids there with a tear in my eye I said this is better than any tourist attraction that I missed on our journey. I am so blessed to have been on all of the different rides over the years, yes I would have loved to stopped and seen the different attractions, but I wouldn't have traded it for the looks and joy from watching these children that we visited. As for me I'm a better man after each Scottsride.com that we made. 

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Christmas 2017 - Andy Whatley

Why would a relatively sane person straddle a hot, air-cooled, V-Twin motor for 10-12 hours a day for fourteen days straight? 
Why would he subject himself and his motorcycle to such tortuous conditions? As a rookie rider preparing for his first ride with The Miracle Riders, it all goes back to one little boy that I won’t name out of respect for his privacy. 

As a teacher, I meet hundreds of new students every August. This child wasn’t one of the students on my team, but he did come to me for the Guitar Club that I sponsor on our bi-monthly Club Days. A meek, yet personable child, he loved holding and playing the guitars, and I immediately began to look forward to seeing him come in every other Wednesday.  

His resource teacher/case worker came in one day to thank me for taking time with him during club days. She explained to me that he had been removed from his family home because his father had intentionally poured hot grease on him. The father had subsequently been sent to prison, and the boy had been placed in one of the group homes in our district.  I cringed imagining the pain this sweet kid had been forced to endure. 

On the last day before Holiday Break, this little guy showed up in my room to wish me Merry Christmas. I told him to enjoy the break, and he replied, “Mr. Whatley, do you know what I’m looking forward to the most? I’m going to get to see my dad, and I can’t wait!” Boy! It took everything I had to hide my shock, smile back, and wish him the best over the holidays. All this boy wanted for Christmas was to spend a little time with the person that had burned him so horribly. Oh the innocence of children and the power of the human spirit. 

I never saw him again after that holiday. He transferred to a group home somewhere across the state closer to his father. Now anytime the other teachers and I discuss boys and girls from the group homes, I find myself reminded of that sweet little kid that taught me a lesson in grace and forgiveness. 

 

 

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Christmas 2017

“I see it this way. We are only here for a very short time, and I plan on making the most of it.  If I’m lucky, a child that we have helped will one day ride his or her Harley across the country and watch the sun set over the Pacific, and know that the people of this world are good.”  Scott Ressmeyer

It continues to be an incredible adventure thanks to YOU!  You have cheered us on, followed our journeys and most importantly believed in the lives of children who need our help; believing they are valuable and deserve love and encouragement. Your gifts of time, talent, prayers and donations humble us. We tell the story; YOU are making the difference in one child’s life.

We wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Scott Ressmeyer, Rick Stinson, Mark Alexander, Brian Brock, Pat Carpenter, Doug Colburn, James Cole, Mike Cunningham, Ray Eckel, Billy Edmundson, Jonnie Ellerbee, Mike Frank, Vernon Griggs, Mike Hamby, Brad Hansen, Dave Hinson, Cody Jolley, Mike Jolley, Ralph Kingrey, Mike Langford, James Leatherwood, Hank Lewis, Gary McDowell, David McNeil, Brice Patterson, Walt Rosso, Kevin Simms, Steve Tennant, Ken Tidwell, Andrew Wade, Ronnie Wilson, Tim Wynn,*Andy Whatley, *Joel Reed, *Jerry Gilliland, *M2 and those we lost, Larry Suits and Martin Thiele.

*Photo taken on the front porch of Arabella, the Methodist Youth home for girls.

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Final blog - Mike Jolley

Well this years ride to the Arctic Circle is over and I must say it was totally different than the past seven years. I rode the "lower 48 states" six times and the Great Lakes with the Sioux City Miracle Riders, but the Arctic Circle ride brought on a few different and unique challenges. Of course as we hit each new challenge someone would say "one child at a time" and we would just say "what a great day to ride". To me that would bring home the real reason we were being so hard headed, crazy, full hearted and sometimes just plain stupid. We ride for the children! 
For 21 days straight I got up at 6 a.m. (or earlier), repacked my bag on my bike, got a cup of coffee and breakfast (sometimes) then looked to see what type of jacket I would put on. Rain jacket or cold weather jacket, you see we rode no matter what the weather was like cause we had 500 miles to go (give or take 50 miles) that day. And to be real honest on this year's ride it was 550 miles a day more often than not.
The thing that made this year so different was we knew many miles once in Canada and Alaska would be on dirt or gravel roads. For those of you that don't ride big motorcycles let me reassure you that gravel/dirt and bikes don't mix well. And the further back you are in the pack the more dust you get unless it is raining. If it is raining it just gets slicker. Just to let y'all know I am the last bike. 
Gas stations in Canada were every 100 miles or so and even then they were one pumpers. So gas stops took just a little longer with 16 bikes. And if gas stations were small I want you to just try and imagine what restaurants along the way were like. You got it, "crackers, beef jerky, candy bars and sunflower seeds" were a normal lunch on this years trip. We even had two days of McD which is totally out of our norm. The main stay for supper at nights were chicken wings. Of course I did check out the local adult beverage at night. That part of our trip never changes!!
Guess I would have to say my bike took a beating on this years trip. And of course this 62 year old body took a beating on this years trip. Seems like it gets harder and harder for me to get up and ride 500 plus miles for 21 days in all types of weather on all types of roads each year. Then I look at the needs of the kids around me. Can not wait to see what we do in 2018. Yes I am one of those crazy Miracle Riders that wants to make a difference in one child's life. Sheriff Mike JOLLEY

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Miracle Ride 2017 - This year was a success.

Now a lot of you may think I'm saying that because we raised 136k for Our House and you'd be right, but it was a success for many other reasons, the main one being we ALL got home safe!  This was a hard ride, the hardest one by far we had very long days and short nights, we had bike troubles, bad weather, cold mornings, hot evenings, but I'm sure it pales in comparison to what some of the children we rode for have been through, I'm sure they would trade places with any of us in heartbeat, I'm sure they would revel in the thought of seeing the sights we saw.  Because when the day ended we all had someplace and someone to come home to, we had friends, family and pets that missed us while we were gone, they don't have that luxury, but maybe what we did can change that, maybe...................

 

Ronnie

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Difficult Roads - Brian

Whew....this year was tough, way more difficult than doing the lower 48 states in 21 days. Not counting the ride from Fairbanks to the Arctic Circle, the shortest mileage day of the trip was the last day home at 350 miles. Have a big kickoff celebration, everyone feels good, it's HOT, leave a little after 10:00 AM, then go 564 miles to Cincinnati. That's how this trip started. I had a little extra excitement the first day. I'm buzzing up the interstate, at the speed limit of course, and my bike quits. I mean it just shuts off. Then it came back to life. Roll on up the road, and it does it again. I pull off, and a few buddies pull off too. Now we are separated from the group. I get it to fire up, we catch them at the first gas stop, we look at it and really can't see anything. We get close to Knoxville, happens again. At this point we send everyone on except Ronnie, Sheriff and I. We go to the Harley shop. Loose connection on the battery and I'm off. We're trying to catch the group, maybe a little over the speed limit, we stop to get gas. My bike would not start, dead again, jump it off, nope this time it's dead. Sheriff goes off and buys me another battery, we put it in and all is fine, we're rolling. We meet the rest of the group at the hotel. They had to ride in an absolute downpour, we didn't. First day of a new ride, and in my mind I'm worried about what might happen next to my bike. Anxiety for the next 20 days. This year is going to be difficult, I had no idea what was to come.

The ride out of Cincinnati to the U P was good. The ride over to Minnesota was wet, all day wet. Cross the border, is Canada ready for us? We take the scenic way and meet Jerome "Boom Boom" Bechard's mother in Regina and off we go. The roads are a little lumpy now the farther west and north you go. Here is where we learned about frost heaves. It's where the freezing of the winter cause the road to dip in the summer, and freeze and create a hill in the winter. As I said earlier, when the road changes color, you pay attention, because something is different, you don't know if it's good or bad, you know it's different so you venture on, carefully. I will give Canada tremendous credit, they give you plenty of warning when road conditions are less than optimal. If you see a sign that has three humps, get ready, I see it here it comes, go over it all good. In Alaska, you see the sign and then boom....too late you just hit it. The farther west and north, the roads kept getting worse. It was pretty much a wet ride through Canada.

The ride to the Arctic Circle was a warm sunny day, 80 miles of curvy frost heave roads followed by 120 miles of gravel, loose dirt and 4 foot wide, 4 foot deep pot holes. I turned around at the circle and came back to Fairbanks. I wanted ALL of the stress to be done in one day. Didn't work. Sitting in Fairbanks as the rest of the crew came back from Coldfoot, I was sitting at the Harley shop waiting for my bike to be repaired. It's not the bikes fault, the roads simply beat everything to pieces. As I was sitting there, I was thinking about all the roads we had traveled, and the rough roads I know I will have to travel again, and again until we get back to Montana. More compounding reflective stress.

Leaving Lake of the Ozarks, it was raining, but not hard. We're going to run out of it soon. We're taking a deviation and going to take a ferry across the Mississippi, really looking forward to it. But the rain got a little harder, the visibility a little less, and now I'm on the edge. We round a curve and I see a bike laying on its side. The rider stopped, put his foot down, but it slide out from under him and he dropped it. Not hurt, but dropped. The turn was like the 2nd turn at Talladega. So I pull up into the turn, put my kickstand down, turn the bike off and get off. No sooner had I stepped off, my bike fell over. I wasn't on it, it wasn't running, no one got hurt, it just fell over. First time in four years....doing my part to make sure the team stayed hydrated. Two bikes down in one curve. It caused anxiety amongst the whole group. The guys were asking me if I was OK....of course I was...it just fell over. But I had an increased level of anxiety too. Forget the deviation, let's get gas, hit the interstate and get to Nashville quickly, but more importantly safely.

Why don't people obey police? On the ride to the marina in Columbus we had a police escort. They stopped traffic from 2nd Ave getting onto JR Allen as we are trying to exit on River Road. Some people just don't care. Now we are having to dodge cars to get to our exit. I think Linda was concerned, this time I was not. Rick, Jonnie and I knew what we were doing, and we exited safely. This was new for Linda, and she got to experience some of the anxiety that I had been dealing with for 3 weeks.

For all of my motorcycling friends, I'm not saying I'm better than you. I'm not saying I'm a better rider than you. I'm not saying that I'm tougher than you. I am saying that I've ridden in some very difficult conditions that have challenged every single bit of my abilities. Mamma Cat understood. It's like driving in a severe thunderstorm. You are extremely focused, hands gripping the wheel tightly for those few minutes. Now, sit on a motorcycle and do it for 12 hours, in that storm, gripping the bars, on the edge of your seat. I'm not kidding here, I was making decisions every minute that could impact my life.

These were just moments during the course of 3 weeks. This is not how I live. That is not the case for the children at Arabella and Carpenter's Way Ranch. Go back and read the words in bold. Let them sink in. Think of a child who went to sleep in their bed, are woken up and taken away from the only thing they've ever known through no fault of their own. Children should not have to live with anxiety every moment of every day.

Thank you for helping us raise over $135,000 to take that anxiety away. And we are not done. Please plan on joining us at Bikes on Broadway September 8 and 9 for live music and good times. Tell all your friends, I would love to see the biggest gathering downtown has ever seen. Even my brother is coming down from Indiana!!!

Today's song of the day....I used to be lonely, until I learned about living alone, I found other things to keep my mind on....Keep pushin' on...you know you have got to be sostrong, even if you think your strength is gone, keep pushin'....keep pushing on....Keep Pushin' by REO Speedwagon

 

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2017 Final Blog - James

Well, that was fun.

Tomorrow, for the first time in 31 days, I'll get up in the morning and instead of riding my motorcycle, I'll get behind the wheel of my Ford Escape. Since I left home July 17 headed for Key West, I put just short of 12,000 miles on the Road King, plus 500 miles or so on a rented BMW. 10,202 of those miles meant something (the rest were just for fun), and the bike's getting a little TLC at the shop.

I didn't get much of a post-ride break: After the Welcome Home Friday night, I got up Saturday and rode back to Jacksonville - it was very different riding alone down the highway, knowing that if anything went sideways I'd have to call a stranger, instead of knowing that a brother would let his own bike fall over if I needed help. Sunday, I slept in, and Monday morning was among the first people in the office.

I'm kind of a Big Deal there - or at least it seems that way. Nearly every person greets me with, "How was the ride?" I have a short answer: "It was everything I hoped, and not as bad as I feared." Sometimes, the answer is just, "It was awesome."

How do you describe 22 days on the road with people who, just a couple of years ago, I'd never shared a meal with? What do you say about 5th-grade history lessons and 9th-grade geology and 11th-grade civics classes brought to life by fields of white stones, towering mountains, and the changing dialects of  the locals you meet riding across two countries? Eh?

Unless you've ridden in blinding rain or dense fog, I can't tell you what it feels like to see "Partly cloudy, high 70*" in the daily forecast. Unless you've pushed yourself physically and ridden (or worked) through breakfast and lunch, I can't describe how wonderful a cold Bud Light and a hot slice of pizza can be.

When I saw the video Friday night, it hit home in a brand new way. How can I tell people what the Ride means if they've never had to worry about the ceiling collapsing while they cook, or think about where they put the pot of spaghetti, because of the huge crack in the countertop? How can any of us who were blessed with stable, loving homes, understand the obstacles these young men and women face?

So, how was the ride? It was amazing, but not (only) because of the views, and the experience, and the brotherhood of the road. It was something we can all be proud of because generous people gave $135,000 to help kids most of them we'll never meet. Because the standing room only crowd in Columbus Friday night got to see not just what the Ride looked like on the big screen, but who the Ride was for, and what a difference their donations will make in the life of a single child - or a dozen, or a hundred children.

Thank you to all the supporters, employers, family members, and friends who pitched in to help make a difference. And especially THANK YOU Mama Cat Karen, for keeping us on track, for praying for us, and for working yourself silly handling all the details so we could just ride.

Was it worth it? Hell, yes. Would I do it again? Probably not. But call me in a couple of months and we can talk.

With love and respect,

James Leatherwood

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We're Back - Doug

Scott's Ride to the Arctic came to a successful conclusion as we all made it safely first to Opelika and Big Swamp Harley then to the Lake Oliver Marina with a police escort and finally down the Riverwalk and to the waiting and cheering throng of people welcoming us home!  What an amazing adventure, my brothers!  Thank you to all the riders and a special thank you to Scott Ressmeyer for making it possible!  The last 22 days is the answer to, "Are you in?"  For the kids!
 

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Treasure - Hank Lewis

Was playing around with a metal detector around the chairs at the beach. Mary and I found about $3.00 in change.

We were walking past one of the stands where they rent the chairs, jet skis etc.

A young man was working in the stand and asked about the rider tattoo.  I explained what the Ride is about, and that we raise money to benefit children.

I noticed a change in his face, and he said his grandfather was a biker, and had worked with a charity group. He then told us his grandfather had recently passed away and had left him his Harley.

He explained through tears, that he had not been able to go to North Carolina to get the bike yet, and how close he and his grandfather had been.

This all occurred early in the morning, so no other people were around.

The "treasure " was being able to talk and relate to the young man. We both had a story to tell.

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Who's gonna love me?

On Tuesday leaving the Bad Lands it was amazing. The sun was coming up over the sculptures. We get gas, no breakfast, no coffee, gotta go and get a rear tire. Me, Sheriff, Ronnie, Jonnie and Rick head off. About 7 miles down the road, the Sheriff pulls off. There's no coffee here, what the hell? We pull over turn off our bikes and he comes up to me, "call home"...every things OK... just call home. I'm one of the unplugged. I don't have a CB...and I don't want one. But this scared me. So I call Linda. Our daughter Katie had been in an accident. She wax OK, but that shook my world. On the side of the road in nowhere South Dakota, 5 guys prayed for Katie. And they prayed for me too, so I could keep my head straight, because we had 400 miles to ride. I know these guys on the road love me.

Brad and I were sitting in the hotel bar and a guy asks us what we miss from home. We look at each other and say, our dogs. My Marlee is a Chihuahua. She's a licker, and when I get home will shower me with unconditional love. She does it every single time I come home. The love of a pet is like no other, it is truly unconditional. And I miss that desperately. I know she loves me.

My grandson Brody is the light of my life. By the way. I have another grandchild coming in February!!! When he sees me he can't wait to get in Paco's arms. He runs at me and I fall down and he says" you OK Paco?" I say I'm OK... then he runs at his Dad and does the same thing. And then back to me, "you all right Paco?" I say I'm all right..and then back at Dad. I know Brody loves me.

On the Wednesday before we left, we were invited to the downtown Rotary meeting. Scott was talking about a recent visit to Arabella. He met a young girl there and he talked with her. She said, anyone can love a little baby, who's gonna love me?

That has stuck with me this whole ride. I want her to know, I love her, and there are 17 others out here that love her. And we are doing all we can to make a difference in THIS child's life.

Do you have any love to spare?

Today's song of the day...radios broke...I got nothing...

Brock out...

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Happy Birthday Mama

Happy Birthday Mama... I miss you and I Love you....

Today she would be 87. There is not an hour that goes by that I don't think about her.

So today I ride in honor of Mama. I can't help but think you are looking down from heaven and smiling in approval of what we are out here doing, riding to make a difference in one Childs life.

Saturday we said good bye to Canada and entered the great state of Montana. It was a picture perfect day to ride 580 miles to Bozeman, the weather was calm, dry and warm.

So, we all gathered for breakfast, then some of the group went to ride Beartooth Mountain Pass while the rest went toYellowstone Harley to wait for Ronnie's bike to be serviced. While we were there I decided to look around and see what kind of trinkets I could buy as gifts for my Family. 

A nice young lady was eager to assist, and she did a very good job. During the check out, she asked where we had been riding , I seized the oppertunity and gave her a card and told her our story. 

Had no more gotten the words displaced children out of my mouth than I saw she was crying.

I felt really bad, had I said something wrong?

She said no its fine, I'm ok, its a wounderful thing you guys are doing.

Pressing on, I asked her again what I had done to upset her so..

She told me through tear filled eyes and sobs, "I don't have my kids".

I felt awful that I had struck such a nerve. The only thing I could think of to do is tell her, come here and I gave her a big hug and whispered to her, God Loves you so much and he Loves your kids, its never too late!

She was smiling when I left..and I will never know if what I said will make a difference in her or her kids lives...but I'd like to think it will. Just as when you share Jesus with some one, all we are required to do is plant the seed God will do the rest. 

Mike Hamby

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Little Bighorn National Monument

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Little Bighorn National Monument

There are markers everywhere on the battlefield. The soldiers had been dead for three days and unidentifiable. They marked the spots where they died and buried them where they laid. The graves were very shallow so the wolves and coyotes dug them up and ate their remains. When the Cavalry returned some years later the battlefield was littered with human bones strewn about the area. They took a scull and bones that would make up as many body bones as possible. They put them in boxes and buried their remains in that grave yard as we see it today. Such a sad and somber site to visit. It didn't have to be.

David

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The Badlands - Interior SD - James Leatherwood

Another great day on the Ride - with a couple of deviations. We spent some time touring and learning about the Battle of Little Big Horn and the events that led up to it, and followed it. National cemeteries are always somber places ... and when you can spend time learning about history, then go walk through the fields where soldiers and Indians died, it brings it home in a whole new way.

Then we stopped by the Rapid City Harley dealer. Sturgis Rally is in full swing (it's the first official day, but the vendors have been setting up for a week, and everywhere you go, there are lots and lots of motorcycles. I believe Sturgis is bigger than Daytona - it certainly feels like it is, even though we never even went downtown. Trying to get bikes and a truck through that traffic would have been a nightmare.

We also got to connect with several of the Sioux City posse, and picked up another Rider (or two?) for the next leg of the trip.

On a personal note, our sons dropped in on Susan (my wife) over the weekend. They live in Columbus and Canton, Georgia (outside Atlanta), so the round trip made the visit kind of a big deal. Susan's been missing me - maybe even more than usual - this trip, and the boys helped her get through a water heater leak that left 2 inches of water in the garage ... and they laughed, ate, watched movies, and laughed some more.

I was thinking about that a lot on the ride yesterday and today. Susan and I are blessed to have great sons, and frankly, they've been blessed to have parents who love them and each other.

Not every kid is so lucky. What happens in a child's life when they can't trust their parents? Who do they turn to when challenges come up that more-experienced people can simply handle, but that leave a child in a quandary? How do you grow up to be a healthy, functioning member of society? That's what Our House help kids work through - equipping them to figure out situations and make decisions, and helping families get to the point where they can rely on each other, and work together to solve problems.

Susan and I started telling the boys when they were about 10 that we weren't raising children - we were raising men. Now the boys are men - living on their own, paying their own bills, finding their own routes through life. But they'll always be our little boys. And when they get separated from the path we'd like them to be on - whether through the circumstances of life, or through decisions that our experience has taught us can lead down a wrong road - we still need to be there for them. And sometimes, even though they lack a lifetime of experience, it's nice know they are there for us. Sure, Susan could have handled all the stuff that goes with cleaning up after a spill, calling the plumber, staying up late to make sure the job was done right. But I'm grateful our young (to us) men were around to help keep things on track. They may be making their own way, but they're still watching us to see that we're OK. It's a bit of a role reversal at times, but it's all part of being a family.

I'm grateful that while my life will be back to "normal" in a few days. I'm also grateful that there are men on the road, and families, employers, sponsors, and friends back home who are pitching in to help the kids at Carpenter's Way and Arabella get some of the same support and love some of us sometimes take for granted.

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Musings from the white line - Brian

Karen T...know that we love you, and hope you feel better every day.

When we leave out there are a lot of riders that are not going on the full trip. We line up however we arrive. The first day or two the riding order is different. You have to be careful...you're not sure who you are riding around. It was the second day somewhere in Michigan when I saw what I was looking for, a blue bike, Rick. When I was FINALLY riding with him it felt comfortable. When he heard my pipes, he turned, looked and smiled, he too knew I was there, and he was comfortable too

I'm rooming with Brad this year, he's a great guy, and we get along great. But there is something difficult watching the man you have slept with for the last three rides disappear into a hotel room with another man. Jonnie, you have big shoes to fill, take care of him.

Our rookie Doug is doing a fine job. He holds a good line and is predictable, which is good when riding. Being in the healthcare industry he wants to make sure we stay hydrated. He's funny, intelligent and a real asset to the ride. But no one listens to him, he's a rookie.

I miss my pillow, the Braves, puppy Marlee, my grandson Brody, John & Meagan, Katie and Josh, but Linda most of all.

The roads in Canada and Alaska are ROUGH. The key is when the road changes color. Something is different. Could be good, could be bad, but it had your attention. Back in the lower 48 the roads are outstanding. But when it changes color all I see are brake lights flashing and guys scattering all over the road. Me too, I'm conditioned, color change, watch out.

Leaving the Little Big Horn battlefield was tough. European Americans were not kind to Native Americans. Lots of reflection after that. Leaving Sturgis was easy. Just too many bikes and people of unknown abilities mixing in with us.

Got to ride up front today. It was fun for a little bit, but I wanted to go back to the back, where the cool kids ride. And can you believe we hit more wet dirt roads with loose gravel!!!

We need to take back the word sleep...it means close your eyes and get some rest, that's all.

Today's song of the day..."I was driving home, early Sunday morning through Bakersfield"...Far Away Eyes by The Rolling Stones...

OMG...this just happened...it's 11:55 PM here...Brad and I are writing our posts...he gets in the shower as I'm completing this. I need to go get something off the bike. I pull the door shut behind me...boom no key...so I'm sitting outside, in the Badlands SD...laughing my butt off..because now I'm a creeper waiting for Brad to get out of the shower and let me back in...whew, he's a good guy...I'm such a dumba**...never mind if you're still reading this you know me and are not surprised...

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A new "best ever" ride. Red Lodge Montana - James Leatherwood

Beartooth Pass is one of those places I've heard about, but never dreamed I go there - much less ride a motorcycle over the pass. The anticipation of getting there was intense - I kept asking myself, "is this Beartooth road yet?" Fortunately, I only asked Gary that once, and he said, "Yes."

We had a late lunch in some little town in the mountains. Someone asked the waiter whether the place was open year round, and he told us it absolutely was. Lots of skiing, lots of snowmobiling, and lots of drinking - he said it's a small drinking town with a people problem!

Gary mentioned at lunch that it was 42*F on the mountain - a statement that didn'st sink in until we hit ... oh, I don't know, 7,000 feet? Maybe 8,000? That's where the fog and smoke layer hit, and the temp dropped about ten degrees. Suddenly, I was regretting wearing my fingerless gloves - they're summer weight, and my warm, waterproof gloves were in my saddlebag. Fortunately, the rest of me was warm, as I'd layered up before leaving lunch.

It got colder. And the turns got tighter. The smoke from a dozen or so wildfires burning in Montana and the western states right now.

Soon, my hands were hurting, and the smog was so thick we were in first gear, maybe 30 feet apart, with our blinkers going. Our riding order was Scott, Gary, David, then me, Doug, Brice, Jonnie, and Rick. I could only see David's flashers - not Gary's, much less Scott's. 

It was eerie riding through near silence, with steep dropoffs to the side, with my fingers going numb. Eventually we reached the top and started down the other side. Once we got back below the smoke layer --- simply stunning. Beautiful sunlight, deep shadows in the clouds, snow on the side of the road ... and way, way down in the valley, a tiny little ribbon of black was the highway we started on.

Switchbacks, curves, rockslide nets, and more switchbacks, and befoer I knew it we were back down the hil, and rolling into Red Lodge - where our brothers were waiting by the driveway, waving us in. 

My first reaction when we got into the parking spots? "That was AWESOME! Let's do it again!"

Nope - Sturgis tomorrow, or maybe the next day.

Following the guy in front of me.

James

 

 

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Breakfast in Bozeman

Stopped at The Club Tavern and Grill in Bozeman for a leisurely breakfast. The leisurely part is new and I made the mistake of McDonalds to be ready to ride. However, I had a very filling and inexpensive breakfast which isn't the worst thing in breakfast world.

At The Tavern, the Vernon "Bees" were out in force and kept buzzing peoples' heads.

At breakfast we had to draw sweetener packets for tonight's one king size bed - yellow for two doubles and pink for a single king bed. Jonnie was the lucky winner of the pink packet and thus the king bed with his roommate.  Oh joy. With good humor, he accepted his fate!

Check out the pictures. :)

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Doug

Made it to Bozeman, Montana! What was supposed to be a 500 mile day turned into 580 through the miracle of alternate routes. Once again, we met interesting people along the way. Pictured is Sarah who owns no other vehicle than her Suzuki 1200 motorcycle. She was headed to a wedding and volunteered that she was doing her PhD in distracted driving and the effects of marijuana on driving. We thought we could help and suggested she watch the movie Cheech & Chong, Still Smokin' and include a quote from it in her thesis. I like that we can help people we meet along the way.

Going through US Customs was a welcome wait! It's good to be back in the States. The line was about a quarter mile long but a nice gentleman informed us that lane two was open and we skipped to the front. Upon arrival at the short line two, they opened lane three and we went through with ease.

There was a mixup with the reservations so most of us aren't actually staying at My Place shown in the picture. I guess "My Place" refers to someone else and not us. Perhaps "Not My Place" or "Someone Else's Place" would be a more fitting name for the hotel.

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