May 22, 2019: Humbled, Honored, and Grateful

Good morning, Hotlanta! After an eventful night, the Pack was moving spry and early this morning. This is a fun and enjoyable event for us but… we never forget our mission. Better said, the public never lets us forget our mission. We are approached in elevators, at stop lights, in parking lots, in rest areas, etc. All are curious who we are and what we are about. “May I ask who is Jillian?” (marketing works!). What we do works!  What we do matters!

Today, Papa will escort Paco to Milner. It is a short 2 mile ride. Paco is meeting with some of the Milner team along with some of the FORZA team who are in to work with Milner. Other than a wrong turn, the ride over to Milner was completely uneventful. Paco dropped off and Papa returned to the Hotel to gather the balance of the Pack and prepare for our ride over to Milner.  Upon returning to the hotel parking lot Papa could see Lone Star preforming routine bike checks and maintenance. GQ was sauntering too and fro. The Judge was just getting off his private treadmill. JBro and Boner actually needed no wake up and JBro finally took a shower. We believe the first one since Arkansas! Fish was nothing but a tall bigheaded dude with a smile. We’re pleased to have him back on the road with us… if not for anything but his cigars. Slaw and KFly were even milling around in early anticipation for the day. Rover was in and out of the Mars’ Rover Rover. Berg? Even he was up and texting about arrival times at our auto warehouse later in the day at Charlotte. It will be a good day.  Perhaps our first Atlanta day in 7 years without inclement weather.

The ride over to Milner, without a wrong turn, was all of 4 minutes. The path avoided all traffic. As we approached the Milner driveway we noticed the entire driveway, parking lot and walk path to the building lined with American Flags in anticipation for our arrival. Cool!!  We parked, dismounted and were greeted by Atlanta’s best and brightest.  These greetings and welcomes Neve get tired and are always always appreciated.

 

The Pack was greeted with these bright faces AND a breakfast in the theater room. Paco and Charlie made the warm welcome official and we ate! The Pack were also given a well thought out gift basket and a t-shirt. On these rides a t-shirt is always welcome OR perhaps they were telling us we needed to find a laundry!? Milner was even a little Dusty (pun intended) before we left.  It’s always nice to see him. Thank you to Milner for your generous donation to The Jillian Fund. The Milner stop was just about an hour as we need to let the FORZA and Milner teams get back to business work, allowing us to get back to fundraising, vet awareness work!

Lone Star, JBro and Boner pulled out a little early. They would be getting fuel and hustling to our next stop, Friendship Harley Davidson.  JBro has a nuisance issue and they wanted to get a head start. Paco eventually climbed on his ride only to realize the key for his bike is in Lone Star’s pocket. A rushed call was made to Lone Star with the hope and prayer they were still at the fuel stop! As luck would have it they were. GQ communicated the issue and a sheepish Lone Star soon returned with Paco’s FOB. Jillian and her brethren were watching over us for this one. This could have caused us a good 90 minutes had we not caught him.

Oh well, we all proceeded to the fuel stop and rode to the Harley Dealership en masse. 25 minutes later we roared into Friendship Harley Davidson north of the north eastern Atlanta burbs.  As we rolled in we were being video recorded by our old friend and industry icon, Bob McGuire. What a treat. He would be riding out with us for a while.

Paco and Lone Star (with his cooler)

Turns out JBro’s issue is something that will need further diagnostics upon his return to Houston next week. It is not mechanical and will not impede his riding. The service tech did replace a rear riding light at no-charge. The Harley dealerships really do take care of bikers on the road. We kid because we care… Lone Star really does put his big Texas arms around our equipment each and every morning and even at some daily stops. In appreciation we presented him with a very cool cooler from Harley Davidson. It is always nice to see this prime example of a good and humble person blush!

A bit more milling around and we sounded the horn for departure… only to find Lone Star, with his mass of tools and sundry for the bikes all played out, working on KFly’s Kawasaki. This was a quick attempt at a seat adjustment and we soon saddled up to depart. Friendship road north east to I85 and soon South Carolina was on our horizon. A couple of hours out Papa was given the sign for a bio stop. Ahead 2 miles was a rest stop. Turns out to be a beautiful setting next to a Carolina lake. This was a good 30 minute stop. IT included more connoitering on KFly’s seat… by 5 people. There were several photo ops and of course… Hydration and snacks from the crew of the Mars’ Rover Rover.  The weather was much cooler than Hotlanta. Cloudy at times and cool.  Absolutely perfect riding weather. A decision was made to bypass the hotel and proceed directly to Streetside Classics for our wandering of the classic car warehouse and our air-conditioned BBQ. We’re all in!!

Soon we fueled in northern South Carolina and it’s Northern sister was on our horizon. Charlotte in 45 minutes. We navigated west around the Charlotte traffic scrum with aplomb. Soon we were on the north side of Charlotte in the vicinity of the Charlotte Motor Speedway and the warehouses of many famous racing families/teams as well as Streetside Classics. As we arrived, we realized this truly was a warehouse with more than 100 classic cars… all for sale of course. The Pack may have left some drool on the immaculate floors.  What a treat. Berg and Rover’s buddy, Larry was our host as many of these autos are his. The BBQ was spectacular.  The stories were even better.  Best??? Arlington, Larry’s company (formerly Carolina Wholesale and Digitek) presented us with a generous donation to The Jillian Fund. After cleaning tasty BBQ residue from our hands and faces we saddled up and began our trek back to the southwest side of Charlotte. This would eventually require some rush hour traffic time.  To our delight only about 5 minutes of our 30 minute ride was congested. With one more chance for Boner to play traffic police we made our way unimpeded to our hotel. (he really loves this move. Flashers, hand gestures to stop, horn honking, aggressive exhaust noice and traffic stops). We checked in and Papa took his migraine to bed at 7:00pm. We will have to report the evening’s activities another day!  All safe and sound and Systel in the morning. Then off to a new FORZA account in Marion, VA before resting in Richmond for the evening.  After Systel, JBro and Boner will head directly to Richmond as JBro has an afternoon Skype conference. Most of us have real jobs and we would be remiss of we didn’t offer appreciation for our respective organizations being gracious with our time. We thank you and the Jillian Fund Thanks you.

Signed,

Papa

May 21, 2019: Drones, Thrones, and Novatech!

We woke to skies as clear blue as they’ve seen in Nashville. Papa was up early churning words. Lone Star was the first face he saw, before sun-up, and he looked like he could have had a little more sleep. The crew had made their way home from Nashville nightlife in shifts. Some late, some later, and some in the wee hours of today.

Lone Star went through his pre-flight checklist on all the bikes. To Papa’s amazement, the entire crew was at the ready early. Hugs and goodbyes were extended to the BPO Medial Mogul Patricia Ames, from Rota Spain, as well as the ladies from Make Great American Leasing Again. We will be losing them from the Mars’ Rover Rover along with Jim Demidio, the Czar of Muratec America. Since Rover himself was on assignment for 24 hours, the Mars’ Rover Rover will be piloted by Berg assisted by First Officer Judge.

Novatech is expecting us at 8:00am, not 7:59, not 8:01… 8:00:00. This is a precision organization. We had multiple texts and the Pack was sent multiple communiqué with specific approach and parking instruction. Instruction on where and in which formation to park. The last communiqué was an actual video/audio explaining our task. I believe in a past life this dude directed aircraft carrier landings.

As 7:30am approached, the Pack and the Mars’ Rover Rover were in position and ready to go… only we can’t go. In order to arrive at 8:00:00 we needed about 6 minutes of drive time. We have a good 20 minutes to stall.  In the past 5 days we’ve gone from searching toilet stalls for Slaw to holding the Pack back from a too early departure… my work here is done! This gave the Pack more time to share our disparate stories from the prior evening… or earlier in the same day.

Time has approached for the Pack to depart. All the bikes have been positioned for a smooth start. Mars’ Rover Rover is taking the easy way from the parking lot but requires an uncontrolled left hand turn into an immediate right hand turn in morning traffic. Papa is leading the Pack out the back of the parking lot to an alleyway that will give us a right hand turn on the only road we need to Novatech. Boner rose to the occasion and blocked oncoming traffic allowing the Pack a perfect entry to the street and we were on our way.  6 minutes later we approached Novatech, pulled into the left turning lane and noticed traffic cones had been put out for our direction. Even thought it is early in the day, Boner again rose to the occasion, blocked oncoming traffic and we proceeded into the narrow parking lot. As directed we were to take the ramp up to the parking structure on top of a building. The ramp was narrow, the ramp turned a bit to the right. The ramp was pitched to the left.  Momentum would be our friend. This really is landing on an aircraft carrier.  USS Novatech. Now we understand the precision instructions coupled with video and audio. The Pack proceed without incident to the structure. Once we arrived we saw Harley Davidson road glide parked in position to guide us into ours. Magnificent instructions Mr. Charlie Metz!

Upon arrival we also saw we were drone tracked and photographed. Looking forward to seeing that video. Slaw pulled in next to me and looked amazed he was able to navigate this landing…. We were all amazed. Departing would be a similar trick… momentum is our friend.

Check out video here.

Several of the Novatech team came to greet us and were were instructed, very precisely (imagine that) on how to gather and pose for our photo op.. .ops really. Once inside we noticed an very clean and sharp looking office.  Novatech is an impressive orgainization.  We were escorted to conference area with a completely open to the outside wall overlooking Charlotte Avenue and the city of Nashville.  We were treated to breakfast fix’ns and good coffee.  The staff was polite and generous.  Dan Cooper and team presented Paco and the Pack a generous donation to the Jillian fund.

(I am writing this realtime in the Atlanta Marriott Peachtree Corners lobby.  Front desk dude is looking crosseyed at an aging motorcycle Pack member in leathers and boots actually working on his laptop. It is not fitting his eye. So much so that security is now lurking. Hysterical!)

But I digress… We were given a brief tour with he highlight being a Game of Thrones style display of a hatchet destroyed server.  Guess the cloud is more safe.  I hope a photo of this augments the blog.  After a tour and conversation about the business we made our way to the deck of the USS Novatech and prepared for takeoff. It would be an aircraft carrier style takeoff down the ramp, a Boner assisted righthand turn followed by another controlled intersection and the I 40 onramp. Simple except the Mars’ Rover Rover was parked in a position that was not conducive to us getting into formation with them until our first stop.  This stop had yet to be determined so a bit of communication would be required.  We entered I 40 east and immediately veered southeast on I440 toward I 24 to Chattanooga.  Just prior to the I440 split Bert and the Captain split off and headed northwest back to Iowa and Nebraska respectively.  Neither will be able to complete the ride but we ride with our brothers in their stead.  Just as every day we ride with brother Doc in hour hearts. We soon merged onto I24 heading south east to Chattanooga and took the first exit withe a fuel station once we were south out of the Nashville traffic scrum.  Papa immediately called to the Mars’ Rover Rover to give them the exit number but Leadfoot Berg was two exits past. We would simply catch up with them after a quick fuel stopl.  And Leadfoot Berg would slow a bit. The Pack topped off and roared southeast toward Chattanooga. With a large motorcycle train we would not be pushing the speed too much. Also the truck traffic was thick and we were about to enter a more mountainous terrain.  About 80 miles out we had not yet caught the Leadfoot piloted Mars’ Rover Rover and we were in the twisties crawling up Signal Mountan. Two thirds of the way up we pulled off into a rest stop for Slwa.  Papa immediately called the Mars’ Rover Rover.  Leadfoot had the chase vehicle still several miles ahead of the Pack.  It is time for Ladfoot Berg to stop driving his age.

The Pack rolled southeast. After some coaching by GQ a plan was formed.   The plan was to stay in formation, avoid the need for lane changing and crawl through Chattanooga. We would enter Georgia, Tennessee again and then Georgia once more. Our crawl was not a crawl at all and with proper planning as well as the GQ coaching we breezed through Chattanooga. Georgia on the horizon. We pushed the speed a bit to catch the Mars’ Rover Rover.  We were going about 40 miles into Georgia and then getting off the interstate and too state/county roads for the final 60 miles to the Atalanta Marriott Peachtree Corners.  Eventually we did have a slowed Mars’ Rover Rover in our sights.  As we roared past, Leadfoot Berg fell into formation as we headed for exit 306 and route 140.  We exited and pulled off the road for a bio and snack/hydration stop.  Some of the Pack who enjoyed much of Nashville a bit longer than the rest looked a bit rough at 2:00 in the afternoon sun.

Soon we were on our way winding south and east from North Georgia to our destination. This was a smooth and relaxing ride. Please know if you have never been to Georgia, I challenge you to find a straight road. We were often heading north to make our way southeast to the Atlanta metro. Once must trust their instruments. Papa had an internal struggle with on such interchange. With a large train it was too late to make the necessary right hand exit to the next road. This caused an egregious 4 mile detour costing us at least 8 minutes of time. Eventually we approached the metro area and the incessant traffic signals. Traffic was at a maximum. Patience was needed.  Boner again rose to the occasion and blocked some traffic at aright hand merge. We roared into the left turn lane. Papa once again trusted his instruments and not his gut and worked the Pack into a straight lane only to change his mind… along with horn coaching from GQ. We needed to go left.  Paco negotiated with a car in traffic to let us back in and the turn was managed. We did lose the Mars’ Rover Rover in that scrum but they have GOS to the hotel. We made the last 6 miles without incident and rolled into the hotel parking lot. We will not be allowed to use the entrance canopy for bike parking in a Marriott. The bikes will be parked without protection. The Pack went through the check in process and agreed to meet back in the lobby at 6:15.  Upon arrival we were greeted with the return of Fish. He has decided (got spousal permission) to finish the ride with us! Work is overrated.

Papa was greeted with the arrival of cousins Rachel, Joe and Cristy who reside in Atlanta. They would join the Pack for drinks, dinner and eventually some time in the Circle of trust. This meant they needed to endure the Spanish Inquisition.

The Pack anxiously awaited the re-arrival of Rover from the Mars’ Rover Rover.  He had been on assignment in Philadelphia.  During dinner there was a rousing welcome for his re-arrival.  The caucus disturbed the entire first floor of the Marriott. After dinner Fish was searching for his cigars, GQ his Tennessee cool-aid, and Paco his Russian mineral water. The Pack gathered on the pool deck and the circle was formed.  The Circle had an uninvited visitor. Much of the Pack is still speechless this morning. It is a good thing we have the Judge combined with the two Papa cousin attorneys in this group.  Our guest was inappropriate at best. Let’s just say that if you can embarrass and frighten perhaps even cause revulsion in this group with your feminine antics then you’ve accomplished a feat for which your mother would not be proud.

Nightmares. Apparently our visitor spent the first part of the night on the lobby couch.

Milner tomorrow!

Signed,

Papa

May 20, 2019: Southern Hospitality, Ya’ll!

This is the second departure in a row that all riders are at their bikes and all RVers are at their stations EARLY! Fear is an effective motivator!

We rumbled off toward MCC. A 10 minute ride on surface streets to avoid the Memphis Blues traffic. On our approach, we had a left hand turn at a controlled intersection… without a left turn arrow.  No problem! Boner to the rescue… when the light turned green he rushed the intersection to actively block the oncoming traffic. We proceeded left without issue. A half a block later, we had to turn left across traffic into the MCC parking lot.  Again, our non-police escort actively blocked traffic and we arrived without incident… early. Seems the MCC drone was not airborne to film our arrival. No worries, they can get us on our exit.

Josh Berry, Mike Stramaglio, Scot Berry

As anticipated, our welcome to MCC was warm and gracious. We entered the building like conquering warriors. A banquet room was set, after an invocation by Chef Scot Berry (he cannot take credit for actually cooking this breakfast… providing, yes… but not Chef-ing).  The Pack was treated to a receiving line of Memphis’ finest group of employees.  This crew is as engaging and professional as they come.  The MCC culture is enviable. After the receiving line we grabbed plates and loaded up on a fantastic full southern style breakfast. While eating and milling a bit after we were all but coerced into a morning pre-ride massage. We like this theme!  We could return home to our individual lives as entitled snots. (Maureen honey, where is my breakfast and a massage?! (Editor Note: That’s a sure fire way to get a divorce, Paco)

Scot Berry & The Patriot Pack

After a great meal and fellowship, Chef Scot Berry and Paco were interviewed on camera by a local TV affiliate. Jillian and Patriot Pack on the air… again!  After their 15 minutes of fame Chef Scot Berry gathered the Pack and his team into the theater and officially welcomed us with a multi medial presentation as well as providing the Jillian fund with a much appreciated generous donation. Chef Scot Berry we appreciate your gracious words. Paco was given the mic and the floor. After some words of our own appreciation Paco handed the mic to Papa. Since our entire time in Memphis, with the Berry extended family/MCC team, was Amazing and full of Grace, Papa treated the group to an impromptu rendition of Amazing Grace.

Soon it was time to depart and make our way over to Nashville. We have made the decision to stay on US 70 from Memphis to Nashville. The trick was to navigate our way to US 70 during the Monday morning rush. After discussing with the locals the difference between US 70 and US 72 it was determined the street, Summer avenue, is actually US 70. All we need to do is turn right/east out of the parking lot and stay on that road until our hotel in Nashville. The travel gods are with us!!

We pull out in formation with Boner (liking this duty too much) stopping traffic.  The further east we rode the more beautiful the Tennessee countryside became. US 70 kept us in 4th gear the entire day!  Our first incident was a mixed flock, 15 strong, of ravens and turkey vultures devouring an armadillo  on the side of the road. One of them to the head would be painful so we slowed to a crawl as they dispersed causing a short eclipse.

Back up to speed we rolled. A few miles later a red Camaro was on our right entering the road by crossing in front of us and heading west on US 70.  This driver had plenty of time to do this but while still perpendicular in the road the driver decided to admire our beautiful train of 13 motorcycles and and RV. The driver seemed a bit surprised at our sudden slow down and shift to single file. I am sure the driver appreciated our ability to adapt to the local conditions.  Bless her heart.

We rolled back up to speed and proceeded east. About 60 miles out Papa roared into a Walmart parking lot with a full station. Time to fuel tanks and empty bladders. The RVers went to Walmart to stock up on provisions. It was a long leisure stop as we had a short day of riding. While waiting and resting a red pickup truck came flying into the gas pumps. Jumpin Jacklyn Flash was driving in a spirited manner with a German Shepard tied… literally tied in the truck bed and was rocking/sliding side to side. As Jumpin Jacklyn Flash couldn’t make the tight corner she did the forward reverse maneuver over and over to get into her fuel pump. All the while the Pack was holding breath as she came within inches of several bikes. Much adrenaline but… no incident.

Word came that Rover wanted us to park in a very precise formation in front of the Mars’ Rover Rover for a photo op.  As we have become major entitled minor celebrities it took a bit of wrangling to get into formation.  We’ve become boyband-ish.  You should see GQ’s green room rider.  The good news is that we all have the same agent… Attorney Judge Goldberg. He is keeping our egos in check.

After the photo op we were instructed to do a fly by in formation for our fans.  Soon the Mars’ Rover Rover was fired up and in line behind and off we were again.  Rolling east through the countryside with Papa out front followed by Slaw, JBro and Boner.  Soon this group noticed they were alone… this always brings some anxiety. After a few moments the rest of the pack train came rolling over the ridge and joined us again.  Seems Paco had saddle bag issues that were quickly resolved. Again we roll.

About 30 minutes out we were rolling the countryside and we could see a gentleman up on the left coming out of his driveway wanting to turn east ahead of us. As he stuck his nose onto the west bound lane he thought better and waited for the Pack to pass. This is good news as he was hauling a trailer.  The bad news is that our train was so long the oncoming traffic and his nose in their lane was going to cause a problem for them and subsequently us.  Thankfully he had the ability to revers enough to clear the lanes. The curse and beauty of the traffic gods in the same incident. Another hour out and we pulled into a sleepy Tennessee burg for a bio and snack break. Several locals rolled through slowly to engage the Pack and ask about our mission. We are often asked about our mission and always receive a warm response.

On queue we were treated to snacks and hydration by the RVers and the Make Great America Leasing again. Soon we headed east toward Nashville. Papa has some heightened anxiety as his Apple product and paver bricks had a confrontation… bricks won. Getting to Nashville intimate to visit a T-Mobile facility before gather for dinner was not a paramount mission.

The rolling hills become more dramatic the closer we get to Nashville. As we approach about 30 miles out there is a river/stream we are following hat is used for canoeing. One of the canoe rental vans hauling a trailer of canoes this person had no business hauling was approaching from the east… heading west.  Seems it was important for him to turn across the eastbound lane to get these canoes to their intended destination 12 seconds earlier than he would had he waited for us. Again the break check was effective. We were so thankful for this test of braking we saluted this fine example of low IQ driving.

A sort time later we entered the hotel parking lot in need to showers, naps, emails, text messages, social media updating and… Papa’s new phone.  Papa, JBro and Boner took off before check in to acquire the new phone. This happened without incident, save for the illegal parking.  Boner simply went into the establishment in full biker leather WITH his helmet and faded cover (looked like an MC robbery in progress) to ask permission.  The establishment graciously complied. About 30 minutes later the three re-arived at the hotel and checked in.  JBro, our personal T-Mobile assistant took care of business.  Papa is back on-line.

Speaking of entitled boyband-ish behavior… Our Nashville member, Fish, had Mrs. Fish secure a spot for the Pack at a local blues establishment for later.  Most often this place is standing room only and we had a ripped off table in a prime location to hear Nashville musicians jam.  This establishment  was rockin !!… or Bluesin !!

 

The entire extended Pack was a bit scattered in this part of town.  Each group enjoying their personal time. Watching Paco carefully eat so as not to accidentally gnaw on an fired alligator or catfish (fish with whiskers?) was priceless. He did enjoy the fried green tomato. If they fried pasta he would be in!

There was “variable” elating and drinking.  The first return Uber was Judge, Paco and Papa. About an hour later Boner and JBro arrived home. Earlier than expected but they had made the most of their short time. As I write this I hear some were very late caused by the ladies Make Great American Leasing again.  This crew goes home tomorrow so they made the most of their last night with the Pack. We hope to soon see the ladies of Make Great American Leasing again. Also we will be losing Bert and the Captain Morgan as they must return to Iowa/Nebraska for family duties.

Kickstands up at 7:45am.  We have to travel 1.3 miles to Novatech in the morning!  The pack rolls.

Signed,

Papa

May 19, 2019: Hashtags and Poopy Pants?

Memphis is our destination. There are rumors of Patriots Pack members who conducted business until after Saturday turned into Sunday. No worries, as we have a planned late start. We expect some drizzle but plan to avoid any heavy rain and weather this day. Papa preformed a visual bike check about 4:30am and all was well. Slowly throughout the early morning the brother/sisterhood (no trousers were on excursion) began to arise. Soon Lone Star was up and performing much more than a visual check on the bikes. Oil checked and topped off, if needed. I may ask for an engine upgrade tomorrow. I am certain he has the necessary parts and accessories.

9:30am came around and most of the Pack and RVers were milling around and preparing to roll. I’ll be darned!  If it wasn’t for Rover sleeping in we could have departed early. Our travels today are:

A: Unhurried

B: Short in distance.

C: Beginning damp (enough to don rain gear)

Lone Star decides to temp the moisture gods and ride without protection.

The Pack rolled just a bit before 10:00am and headed out with RV in tow across the southern end of Little Rock and curled north on I30 to merge with I40 east. This would be for a single exit before departing the Interstate system to head south just a mile to US 70. Our plan is to take US 70 the 150ish miles to West Memphis Arkansas. US 70 is a two lane US highway that has zero commercial traffic as it is just one mile south of I40 and is some places simply a few hundred yards. We truly had no traffic. Most of the ride was spent in 4th gear at 55mph. The beauty of US 70 is that is sits just inches above the water table. The highway shoulder blends directly into the swamp/bayou. Other than a few dead armadillos in our lane we had a smooth ride. The country side is rural. It is truly a surreal experience, like a slow motion montage in an Easy Rider-ish movie. The only sounds are the harmonic convergence of all the exhaust rumbles. No angry traffic. No white SUV’s acting like Whitewalkers.  Just a few locals in the small villages we pass through giving us an interested glance and a welcoming wave. About the half-way mark we were about to accelerate out of a small town and rounded a corner with a convenience store on the left and an open straight road ahead with a wide shoulder on the right.  Papa gave the slow sign, pulled over allowing the bikes to stop on the side of the road in formation with a parking lot available for the RV. Turns out it was a welcomed bio stop. No need to walk the 50 yards back to the convenience story. There is a farmed field on the right and a treelined swamp on the left.  Most walked over to the tree line. If anything moves through the grass, don’t zip, run backward! It never goes unnoticed that as soon as we pull over and put the kickstands down we see snacks and hydration being aggressively offered by the ladies of Make Great American Leasing  again, and again.  Soon, because he is a bit slower, Judge Goldberg  joins in the offering. Our Mars’ Rover Rover and his young protege, Berg, make sure along with the other RVers that we are well cared for. This is a luxury to which I want to be accustomed.

With al the intake and outflows accommodated we begin again our journey east. The country side does not disappoint. It is a magical and thought provoking ride. The speed, lack of traffic, and countryside allows the motorcycle ballet to bloom. Another hour later and we were nearing a fuel stop in West Memphis Arkansas where US 70 is literally adjacent I40. As we approached a 4-way stop, the cars approaching from the north and south honored the Pack with an extended stop so we could roll on through.  Our fuel stop was just a mile ahead. We pulled in and have the Milwaukee steeds a drink and some rest. Earlier in the day a plan was hatched to visit a Harley dealership in the southern Memphis metro before getting to our hotel. It is a short jaunt over from Little Rock and we need to kill some time as it is too early to check-in. The Mars’ Rover Rover needed to dump it’s tanks, mostly filled with Rochester New York bodily fluids (Slaw).  The Rover’s head has become Slaw’s personal office. The RVers rode off to do it’s business and would meet us at the hotel.

The Pack saddled up and prepared to enter I40 for just a few short miles before heading southwest on I55 to cross the mighty Mississippi into Memphis Tennessee. This crossing may have been the first one the Eisenhower crew manufactured or at least the oldest yet to be redone in 70 years. It is an old crossing. Immediately after crossing the river I55 takes a hard turn south toward Mississippi… the state. A few short miles later we crossed into Mississippi. Our exit is just three miles into the great state of Mississippi and the dealer is just off the interstate. As we roared into the parking lot we immediately noticed this was not your average dealership. The parking lot could hold an entire soccer tournament. Huge! Adjacent the dealership was a BBQ restaurant. The Harley dealership itself was large and open, oddly reminiscent of the new Bob Parsons’ Harley dealership in Scottsdale. Turns out… this one in Northwestern Mississippi is also Parsons owned. Small world.

This was a great stop. Boner received a new set of rain gear from Papa (#handmedown). This allowed Lone Star and Papa to purchase matching rain gear (#howcute). Slaw blew the dust from his wallet and spent literally $2.13 on a poker chip (#huh?).  It was a great stop. As we converged on our bikes some were hungry so we visited the adjacent restaurant for a quick lunch. Knowing not to eat too much because we had our Chef Scot Berry and family hosted meal in our near future. One must leave room for the home cooked meal!

Our server was all of 5 feet tall with her healed cowgirl boots. She handled the table well. Also, the staff accommodated these bada$$ biker dudes with smelly leather and unshaven faces with our request to change the tv channels to the golf tournament (#juxtapose).

Our short trip to our hotel was uneventful except for a coupe angry aggressive drivers. It was Sunday so I am sure they were justified in getting to their destination an extra 12 seconds earlier. We pulled into the hotel parking lot and saw the Mars’ Rover Rover… home again for the night!

We would meet again in two hours (6:00pm sharp) to begin our short ride to the Chef Scot Berry and family residence. There was some napping, showering, resting and family check-ins. A good Sunday thus far. At 5:45pm also Pack-ers and RV-ers were ready to go. Papa had to make the unusual call to wait. We were leaving too early! This is ok when the destination is the next bio stop but we cannot rush Chef Scot Berry and family. We had an impromptu rider meeting and soon it was time to roll. This ride is a few miles on city boulevards in southeastern Memphis. We traveled the tree lined lanes with precision. We rolled toward a traffic light rounding a corner and it turned green… we rolled through. Just ahead was a young lady on her bicycle having to wait for the Pack train. On the other side of the road was her male riding partner. The young lady gave an aggressive one fingered salute. To many of the Pack it seemed she was offering this gesture to us. (#what!?). Well, not everyone will be a fan. Turns out it had nothing at all to do with us. Shortly, we turned right into the gated community housing the Chef Scot Berry and family.  The gentleman manning the gate waved and smiled as we rolled into a neighborhood that rarely has 13 loud motorcycle and a RV with all adorned in black leather vests!

Berry Family & The Pack

The Chef Scot Berry family were out in force to greet the extended Pack. Three generations of Berrys. The newest of the generations were excited to see the loud Milwaukee metal.  Boner allowed them to rev the engines and cause the loudness!  Priceless.  We were escorted into the  Chef Scot Berry family home and while the newest of the generations ran to the pool the Pack grabbed steaks, baked potatoes, and corn on the cob. We are certainly well fed. It is nothing short of wonderful to watch such a large and welcoming family host this group with such amazing grace.

Food, soft drinks and juice, along with dessert cookies (dangerously good)! The only rival to the food was the conversation and fellowship. Such a great evening.

Scot Berry (MCC) address the Patriot Pack

Our departure fanfare was spectacular. The newest Berry generation all had a Jillian elephant as they waved us out. I was informed later that some of the newest Berry generation took their Jillian elephants to bed with them in order to sleep well… and it worked!!

 

We had an uneventful ride back to the hotel. Several of the Pack members congregated in a meeting room to break open some adult beverages. We were unable to find GQ and Lone Star.  Turns out GQ purchased an apparatus to attach his cell phone to his handlebars. He chose the one that fits all the large bikes…except his. Never worry when Lone Star is the mix. Boner hooked Lone Star and GQ up with hotel maintenance. Lone Star fired up the drills, tool die machines, quantum accelerator, and a fix was hatched. Late to the game, they joined the Pack in the meeting room.

What is said in the circle of trust says in the circle of trust… or at least won’t be attributed to any single person.  “… well ya know, everyone poops their pants…”

7:30am Monday, wheels rolling to visit MCC, home of the professional Berrys.

Signed,

Papa

May 18, 2019: Toad Suck and SUVs

Early risers were greeted with angry skies and impending moisture. Papa exclaimed the night before that we would ride at 8:30 or 11:00 depending on weather and the decision would be made by 8:00. Watching morning radar and seeing the daily progression, two decisions were made…by 7:00.  Weather forced us to bypass the day long trek to Southern Oklahoma and take US 70 to Little Rock. This would have had us travel on the “Corporal Michael Ayre Thompson Memorial Highway. Michael’s father and Pack member had spent the days prior preparing the sign posts for us. Unfortunately the weather had other ideas. We were heartbroken. We would need to stay on I40 and get East as soon as possible.  2nd decision? We leave ASAP!  The word went out, via the wrong text string (since Papa has the pen in this group we won’t talk about blame) to saddle up immediately. Papa went into the breakfast and told a sweaty post workout Judge in his speedo that we were leaving in 10 minutes.  This was a bit of a stretch but it was go time.

Now it is an understatement that with the Interwebs, smart phones (and watches), EVERYONE is a meteorologist. “We have a 4 minute window if we leave now…”. This group can’t introduce themselves in 4 minutes! All Papa knew is that the East-er we get the sooner (Oklahoma reference) we can do it, the dryer will be our day. The rain came. The rub is that it will not stop coming so we still needed to get East. Rain gear donned. 7:30am is here and “most” are at their bikes. Where’s GQ? We see the Make Great American Leasing ladies enter the RV.  Raj, Judge Goldberg, and Paul Berg Youngberg fire up the RV and the move into position to make a quick exit. Judge wants to know GPS coordinates for the next fuel stop. Papa explains that we’re winging it… Whenever we get dry but not before 60 or 70 miles-ish. There is a GQ spotting. He is hurrying… a GQ hurry is still a saunter. Several Pack members have been attempting to perfect the GQ saunter. JBro has the edge thus far.  Bikes are rolled out into starting positions. Rain is torrential. Some are questioning the timing of our departure in the rain. Boner tells us he is nervous. Meteorologist Slaw is announcing we stay and this will be over in a couple of hours. Perhaps, but it will be heading where we’er heading. Papa sounds the horn. Is GQ ready? No. As Fish explains, GQ must apply his hair product before donning his protective cover. In fairness, it is dangerous to rush rush rush a motorcycle departure when alone… it is worse when in formation.  Finally, GQ is pretty enough to fire up his  Harley and fall into formation. We depart the hotel parking lot, RV in tow. We move through a couple of traffic lights toward I40. IT is 8:06. Papa is internally pleased. We will have 20 minutes of heavy rain and then be in the clear. GQ fell out of rank at the final light and pulls off to the side. Papa continues to lead the pack over the interstate and left onto the on-ramp. Knowing we leave no Pack behind, Papa slows to a stop on the on-ramp. With an RV tow the locals trying to get to work can wait. Also, we will not navigate a temporary fishing hole that the rain has left on the on-ramp. Turns out GQ, in his haste, had neglected to zip us his rain gear.  Thus after a minute or two he is roaring over the over pass and falls into position. We’re off. Slowly and gently. Our hotel was on the West side of OKC so we will navigate the interstate system in heavy rain and night style driving as the morning sun was severely depressed by the angry skies. We progressed smoothly and efficiently. By the time we make the East side of OKC and Tinker Air Force Base the rain was light and steady and nor longer torrential. The Eastern horizon skies were not so angry. We progressed. Soon we had dry road and were able to get to highway speeds. 70 miles out we pulled off for a fuel stop and had been out of rain for 30 miles. Now Papa The Tyrant is Papa the Genius.  At least the Make Great American Leasing ladies thought so.

We intended to make this a quick stop and get going east as quickly as possible. Slaw peed in record time. Some removed the pants portion of rain gear but it is bad juju to remove it all until the skies are clear. The next stop was selected and sent to GQ and the RV. Slaw was informed he would have to hold the bladder for 140 miles. Wince.

The next 68 miles were uneventful. Light traffic, dry skies and road.  It was an hour of so of riding zen. All Pack members in lock step/roll. It is really a heavy metal ballet.

At the 68 mile mark Papa noticed there was a rest stop exit. Signage informed us there were no facilities. The Pack needs no porcelain. We rolled off and into the empty parking area. As the RV followed us in the Make Great America Leasing ladies informed Judge that there were no facilities. Judge informed them that the great green forest would suffice. There are probably photos of this event… unfortunately.

This was just a quick bio break. Papa sounded the horn. Motors were fired up.  Papa looked into his rear view and say Lone star on the ground under Paco’s bike.  Engines off. Thank goodness it was a false alarm. Engines roar again and we’re off to our next fuel stop. This will be a  longer fuel, bio and nourishment stop about an hour out.

Again we had very little traffic, dry conditions and smooth sailing. An hour later we pulled into our stop and fueled up. Most removed rain gear. All went for nourishment. Some abandoned the Wendy’s as this particular fast food establishment was fast food without the fast. Papa, JBro and Boner were sitting and eating the un-fast food. Apparently, in the parking area the wannabe meteorologists were beginning to panic. A coup was formed. Slaw would lead the Papa-JBro-Boner-less Pack back onto I40 east at slow highway speeds and the three of us would catch up. Lone Star was appointed to inform Papa. He sheepishly made his announcement and ran to the parking area. Wendy’s was consumed quickly and the three amigos walked to the parking area. Watched the group saddle up and roar off. No Pack left behind… unless they have Minnesota roots apparently. This was to avoid rain.

Editorial note, too much information is more dangerous than not enough.

Papa, JBro, and Boner saddled up, fired up and proceeded to I40 east. As we hurried east to eventually catch up we crossed into Arkansas. Progress!  We noticed some heavily wet roads but experienced no rainfall. 25 miles ahead we roared past the RV or the Mars’ Rover Rover. 5 miles further we caught the tail of the Pack and slid into position. Lone Star graciously backed off and made room tor Boner. Slaw on the other hand was quite reluctant to fall back and move over. After some gesticulating he acquiesced. Finally Papa and JBro were able to get into formation. Later we learned the coup was successful in riding into rain at 15 mph over the limit. Apparently Slaw thought it a permanent coup. Lone Star backed in down so we could actually gain ground.  Did I mention three of us stayed completely dry?

With the formation reset we continued east. Next fuel stop would be in Toad Suck Arkansas. Look it up. By this time the Pack was riding under clear skies and hot Arkansas temps.  What a change from the morning! Skies were calm but traffic had become angry.  A lovely white SUV  got in between the RV and Paco and caused Paco to experience the rumble strips to avoid contact. This SUV, was someone important and in a hurry apparently. The traffic causing us to be in the left lane quickly impeded our SUV friend and the pack proceeded on without him. Soon traffic opened int he right lane and Papa moved the group over. Soon our SUV savant’ roared up the left lane a bit angrily and made a NASCAR lane change into the right lane causing Papa and therefore the entire Pack to hit the brakes.

Toad Suck didn’t. We fueled and noticed a Toad Suck Harley dealer so we made the decision to stop and stretch. We needed to make a left turn through and uncontrolled intersection. In a retail area on a Saturday mid-afternoon.  Boner and Lone Star rolled out carefully and stopped traffic. All the locals stopped and graciously allowed us to safely reenter the roadway and give time for Boner and Lone Star to rejoin us.

The t-shirts at the Toad Suck (never gets old to say) Harley didn’t disappoint.

After a leisurely stop we fired up to make the final 30 minutes trek to our hotel. Papa put the hotel address into the Harley GPS navigation. Lone Star informed us GQ was still inside sauntering. He needed a part. We were told to go with out Lone Star and GQ and they would catch up. Paco missed the message. We rolled out and to the traffic lights. Paco roared to the front to let Papa know we left the other two. Paco learned it was pre-arranged and we were off. The ride into Little Rock was uneventful with the exception that HD GPS was close… not accurate. A quick use of the interweb’s Google app and soon we were at the hotel. Mars’ Rover was there along with GQ and one Star.  All was well.

Along the way Judge talked with our dinner host, Barry Simon of Datamax, and informed him we would be on time at 7:30pm.  Barry replied that 7:30 was fine with the exception the hired masseuse was arriving at 5:00 and dinner is served at 5:30.  So much for a nap exclaimed Fish.

Severe weather was looming so we made the decision to park strategically under the hotel canopy while leaving room for an auto and fire lane.  Apparently earlier in the day a hotel patron parked his SUV (red not white) in a manner that blocked traffic as well as pedestrian entry into the hotel. After a few hours (or one according to the patron) the hotel had the auto towed..This last sentence is foreshadowing.

Lone Star arranged the bikes to conform to the wishes of the hotel staff. Still out of harms way from the angry skies. All is well. The text went out, to the proper string, that all members were to gather in the lobby at 5:00 for our 10 minute ride to the Simon residence. Our transportation method?  Mars’ Rover piloted by Rover. The Make Great American Leasing ladies called for an Uber.  Can’t blame them for not wanting to join 13 stinky (well the leathers are stinky) guys in a cramped standing/laying room only RV.  Are we in high school?!

The Make Great American Leasing ladies were joined by Lady Patricia Ames from Rota Spain. BPO Media in the house!!! The three ladies called an Uber.

Jennie Fisher (GA), Patricia Ames (BPO Media), Kim Louden (GA)

We arrived at 5:25pm, pulled the Mars’ Rover Rover into the Simon driveway and climbed out… like rats off a ship.. in the rain. The Simon’s welcomed us graciously. Barry led us to his outdoor/indoor man cave… castle. We were treated with adult and not-adult hydration. Better yet a BBQ spread fit for royalty… better still… a masseuse was waiting to give each of us a 10 – 15 minute neck and back kneading. We are shortly going to become entitled Rock Stars! We do believe this is how Paco lives his entire life. He gets home from work and Mrs. Paco provides a beverage and some needed kneading (lol).

JBro, Papa, and Boner (Left to Right)

Thanks to Pack remote support (Jenna Stramaglio) the new cuts (vests for the non-SOA watchers) arrived via UPS on a Saturday night to the Simon residence. This allowed us to make the ceremonial presentation to the 5 new Patriots Pack members. Paco presented  the coveted cuts to Rover, Berg and Judge…The Judge. These come with a price.  Recipients are required to sing their high school fight song, university fight song, or a patriotic song in return for this honored cut. Rover is promising a performance in DC later in the week.  Judge is still contemplating (as judges do) his song of choice.  Berg asked Papa to help with a duet of God Bless America. Apparently this octogenarian had had enough of Papa being the lone pitch bitch and started to sing loud and proud… and very well I might add. Papa backed off and tried a bit of harmony as Berg led the group in song. Epic! Judge and Rover have big big shoes to fill.  Next, Papa was given the honor of bestowing cuts to JBro and Boner. A brief ceremonial presentation and photo op ensued. Next, theses two brothers needed to perform to officially become Pack brothers. They stepped up together and had a look of preparation. Papa was understandably nervous as the 10 and 15 year old version of these brothers may have done….well anything!  Soon a very rousing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner ensued.  Boner even pantomimed some rockets red and glaring. Toward the end, and if I am lying I am dying, the heavens began rolling thunder as though we had a fighter jet flyover. More than a few had a tear drop. Proud father. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful night. I won’t say it was a happy ending because a masseuse was involved.

The Judge himself (aka Bob Goldberg)

Kick stand up at 10:00am Sunday. Memphis is in our sights.

Epilog. Arriving back at the hotel we checked on our rides and made sure all bags, pockets, and forks were locked. A gentleman was pensively wandering around. A squad car from Little Rock’s finest pulled up. The gentleman had called for the officer. Seems the hotel had his red SUV towed for doing just what these bikers were doing. Gentleman wanted an official civil complaint report. LRPD officer explained that no fire lane was being blocked and no entrance to the hotel was being blocked. Earlier in the day the Gentleman’s red SUV was blocking both. Actually disallowing a disabled wheel chair bound hotel patron access to the front door… while he napped upstairs. As this was being explained the same wheel chair bound patron’s van pulls up and comfortably exited the van and entered the hotel. Case closed… bump bump (that’t she Law and Order scene chime).

Signed,

Papa & The Pack

The Pack

 

Barry Simon (President, Datamax AR)

May 17, 2019: ImageNet Hosts the Pack!

Oh boy.

The Pack was not pleased  with having to be wheels rolling at 6:00am MDT. Our destination was Oklahoma City but… we had an appointment to visit ImageNet upon our arrival.  Little did we know just how vitally important would be our “relatively” on-time arrival. Given we had 522 miles and we lose an hour crossing into CDT. We had 7.5 hours of actual travel time thus in a perfect world we arrive at 2:00pm. Riding on two wheels with a Pack of 10, one of whom has a literal peanut bladder (or a prostate the size of a grapefruit), is not the perfect world. The plan was to stop first in Santa Rosa for fuel and a quick McMuffin. This would be about 110 miles… or 80 in Andymath.  We knew the ride out would be cool but quickly we hit 55 degrees. The air was smooth and calm. The road was virtually trafficless. The sun was rising with some light cloud cover so it wasn’t blinding as we headed east. Shortly after Cline’s Corner the temp dropped a bit. I believe the lowest was 47 degrees. Cool but not uncomfortable. By the time we rolled into Santa Rosa the temp was up.  We fueled and met in the Golden Arches parking lot. The RV had fallen back –   or the Pack had roared off without them and accounting for an RV climb out of ABQ we arrived well before them. It is interesting to note that the gents in the RV make us feel like pampered rock stars. We pull in for gas (or pee) and as we are lingering near the bikes checking messages and planning next stops we have water and snacks handed to us. Quite a luxury provided to the riders by Judge, Raj, and Berg. These dudes are adamant they get to all our stops to serve us refreshments. Thank you.

The ride into Texas and Oklahoma was none eventful… repeated short distance stops… over and over and over and over! The word of the day was WIND. We spent the bulk of the day in a constant reverse NASCAR right hand turn in order to stay straight. We pushed it hard and rolled into the hotel parking lot shortly at 4:00pm. Bert and his buddy Captain had come in from Iowaiga were waiting there to re-join the Pack. Also JBro arrived from H-Town so as we rolled in were are now 13 strong.  Also Jennie and Kim from GreatAmerica  joined the Pack!.  It’s a party now! This place is lit!  It’s going to get turnt! (<—for the record – I, Jenna Stramaglio, do not approve of such language used by someone who is well beyond the appropriate age of using such slang 😆).

To our delight and amazement two of Oklahoma City’s finest, on their motorcycles, were there to give us an escort to ImageNet.  Friday afternoon rush hour traffic and we had a smooth ride in.  All intersections were blocked and we were Rock Stars… Jillian Rock Stars! The motorcade rolled through downtown OKC, up Broadway,  left on 8th street, and we followed the officers into an alley.  As we rolled into the alley we could see a very large contingent of ImageNet personnel waiting in the parking lot. Cameras, cheering, welcoming!  It is such an amazing feeling to experience this kind of welcome. A constant reinforcement of our mission and motivation to do this. ImageNet rolled out the red carpet. It quite literally brings tears to our eyes when we receive these welcomes.

We had an epic meet and greet. The ImageNet team were awesome hosts.  We had a spread of sandwiches, chips, and and and dessert!  An ice cream cookie bar that was outstanding. Monica/Amber (she was confused) gave an awesome tour. I’ve heard that the real Monica gave an equally fantastic tour.  The best part of the evening was Ms. Major Payne (the other Amber) was already working on how to make this stop more epic next year!

We’re amazed and humbled at how this thing grows! Good things beget good things.

We made our way back to the hotel pining for a shower. After showers we congregated at the RV for some wine, cocktails, and Goldberg prepared hors d’oeuvres. We have truly been pampered by the Mars International RV with messers Goldberg, Raj and Youngberg… along with Jennie and Kim from Make Great America Leasing Again.

That would have constituted a Great day but the epic part had just begun.  Boner, JBro, and Fish walked over to get some Buffalo Wild Wings and the crew retired from the RV to the hotel pool deck. This crew took over the area and a lone un-attached hotel guest braved the onslaught and stayed. He was quiet and kept to himself. Soon Goldberg re-opens the bar on the pool deck and our wings arrived. Good conversation and consumption ensued. After dinner we apologized to our guest after engaging him in the conversation. We found his name is AJ and he is in training for the FAA. We needed to be nice to him as he will be keeping us safe in the skies soon. Then we found out he is a Marine Vet. We thanked this Jar Head for his service. AJ decided to participate in the Spanish Inquisition. What an honest young man. Tomorrow will be a weather dicey day. Time to wrap it up and get some rest.

Signed,

Papa

May 16, 2019: Slaw’s Claws

The morning started early.  Primarily due to anticipation.  This will be and epic two weeks. KFly was the first to get to his bike in far North Scottsdale, I am pleased he didn’t request it to spend the night in his room.

We far Northers left the house shortly after 6:00am. First stop, fuel.  Always begin the day with full tanks and empty bladders. As we made our way to the Konica Minolta All Covered BCS Forza MWA ADS (LOL) offices we literally met up with Paco, GQ and Lone Star so the 6 of us rode into the lot together.  Soon the other riders arrived. We expected 10 motorcycles in the parking lot but to our surprise and pleasure Doc’s son Jake arrived on Doc’s chopper. He decided to join the kick-off festivities and ride with us for a mile or two.  He was also wearing Doc’s cut. Powerful!!

A breakfast burrito/coffee food truck arrived and all were well fed. The lot was full of the KMACForza crew, rider families, friends of the Pack, law enforcement, and… the local FOX 10 affiliate. They decided to do a live remote after the 8:00 news update. How cool! Paco and Papa may need agents!

Bishop Staker arrived to send us with off with blessings and positive vibes.  Ken nailed it! Thank you, Bishop Staker.

As the 9:00am hour approached the Pack fired up their Milwaukee metals and got into formation. Sgt. Stumpf, one of Scottsdale’s finest along with one of his brethren led us out of the parking lot and blocked traffic on Greenway-Hayden so we can begin our journey safely. We were off, with much fanfare but… no hitches!  We made our way through Scottsdale toward Fountain Hills.  It was a bit of a learning curve to keep all the bikes and an RV in formation.  By the time we arrived in Fountain hills and approached the Bee Line toward Payson we were in lock step. We roared up to highway speed and rolled on. We made it through Payson and headed toward Heber. About 10 miles out of town, Slaw roared up beside me and gave the signal for pull-over. We safely turned off the highway and put kickstands down. Slaw was cramping… read day one circa 2018!  We know he wasn’t hung over this year. We know he wasn’t dehydrated this year but similar symptoms… crab hands. Not the buttery succulent meat rather the hard shell pinchers! This makes it difficult to brake and clutch.

We made an effort to stop more often for Slaw to:

A) Pee

B) Relax his crab claws.

 

We then stopped in Heber. We roared into the Shell station and fueled up.  Arli$$ rolled in and was inserting his cc when he began screaming and literally pushing the RV away from his bike. Berg was piloting the RV and made the corner a bit too sharp. No kidding, he came within one inch of knocking Arli$$ and his bike into the fuel pump. Crisis averted! Lesson learned. If this were easy everyone would do it.

We changed the route and headed directly to Holbrook, AZ and I40. This way if Slaw’s Claws had issues we were closer to help then we would be out on the reservation. Slaw’s Claws needed a rest just a few mile east on 40. We pulled into an abandoned fuel station. Unfortunately, the RV missed us and rolled past. Therefore, we had no refreshed refreshments so we had to make do.  After 15 minutes Slaw’s Claws were more supple and we roared East to catch up with the RV at the old Giant (now Flying J) 10ish miles east of Gallup.  Construction caused the RV to miss the exit so when we rolled for fuel, pee, and snacks the RV was already East of the continental divide. Once again, we were left to get our own refreshments. Oh what a tragedy!

After about 20 minutes, we saddled up and headed to the Route 66 casino for our last fuel stop before Albuquerque, NM. When we arrived, the RV was in the parking lot. A couple of us were unable to navigate the round-a-bout so it took 15 minutes to get to the pumps! As we were fueling, the RV team delivered DQ Dilly Bars! The treats we all deserve!

After a quick stop we headed toward our hotel in the ABQ. Navigating Albuquerque’s traffic was easier than anticipated and 30 minutes later we arrived in the hotel parking lot along with 400  (yes 400) other bikers on an escorted ride from California. My little buddy Jack would have been in heaven.  Without fanfare or crisis we all got our room keys and took needed showers.  Later we met at the RV’s parking spot. Our RVers have a fully stocked bar!  Slaw and his supple Claws ordered pizza and our night was on!  In oder to get to know each other a bit better we began a new ritual of having a few guys each night go through the Spanish Inquisition (thank you Sarah Spain). While we were attending to this insightful ritual a biker gentle man rolled his machine adjacent our chair circle and exclaimed, “I need y’all to take some popsicles.”  Apparently, he went to Target on his motorcycle to get two single popsicles and bought two boxes! We offered some pizza in trade. He left and soon walked back to take us up on his bargain. Paco asked the man his name.  “Trash!” What we asked?  He then pulled out his lanyard and sure enough… We were in the presence of Trash!  What happens in the circle stays in the circle but I can tell you that Trash went through the Spanish Inquisition and left us all Amazed, Humbled, and Honored.  Wheels rolling 6:00am tomorrow.

Signed,

Papa

May 15, 2019: The Night Before

Glory be! New York’s machines arrived and spent the night safely in far North Scottsdale.  Slaw and K-Fly arrived knowing they will be able to ride on time.  Fish and GQ arrived along with the two east coast elites so Papa car-pooled them from the airport to North Scottsdale.  Fish to meet his beloved BMW at the German dealership.  GQ dropped at the Milwaukee Metal dealership to collect his rental and Papa along with K-Fly and Slaw went to Paco’s office to greet the others.  We didn’t spend much time as K-Fly was quite literally pining for his Japanese mistress.  His words “I need some alone time with her.”  I mean I love my Milwaukee Geezer Pleazer but “alone time”!

News was spreading that the RV crew were in town and had picked up our sweep vehicle.  They had gone to Costco for provisions.  It was time to head to far North Scottsdale to prepare for our kick off ribeye bar-b-q.  K-Fly, besides seeking alone time with his Japanese Mistress ,was infatuated with Arizona’s own saguaro cactus.  This almost seems Freudian.

Papa’s offspring and offspring’s offspring were gathering to assist with the bar-b-q. Boner, a new Pack member, would be the grille master.  The entire Pack members leaving from Scottsdale were in attendance along with some friends, family, and business partners.  Great food, greater fellowship coupled with our kick off meeting.  It was a wonderful evening.  It was, for the most part, an adult beverage free evening… on purpose.  We should be able to avoid a 4 hour ER visit for IV fluids because we took it a bit easy this year…. SLAW!!!  The evening ended with a Papa’s rendition of America The Beautiful, fitting since we will ride for two weeks in witness.  Papa packed up the east coast elite, house guests for the evening, so K-Fly could get his alone time.  Some of the Pack headed to their hotels and a few others toward Paco’s to adorn the RV so it displays our logo and mission.

The rested and refreshed Pack with gather at Konica Minolta / All Covered / FORZA offices bright and early.  Final prep, breakfast, Local Fox affiliate broadcasting, final family good byes and we will be off!

To donate, please visit below:

The Jillian Fund

May 14, 2019: T-Minus 2 Days and Slaw is Already Causing a Problem

I have been texting with Slaw all morning.  As we prepare for our pre-ride kick-off dinner tomorrow night, Slaw still hasn’t located his Harley.  It is on a truck somewhere between upstate New York (lower Canada) and Scottsdale.  Literally 48 hours from wheels rolling and Slaw is already a problem.   Some things never change.

I have seen in the txt-verse that Lone Star and friends are just a few hours from Scottsdale.  Judge (new member) is arriving tonight… before Slaw’s bike,  BTW, Judge is riding shotgun in a following RV because we don’t trust him to drive on 6 wheels let alone 2!  Kick-off steaks are in the fridge, local bikes have had pre-flight inspections, sponsors (THANK YOU SPONSORS) have been generous, vendor/partner stops have been verified.  All systems are a go… except for Slaw!

-Signed Papa

5/24/18 – On the Road Again…

Day 8 – Boon NC to Richmond VA

After a great night by the fire in Boone, the Patriots Pack decided to sleep in and leave at 9-ish this morning, our latest start since AZ. While saddling up, another hotel guest approached and began his story. Courtney (a boy named Sue, according to him) was (IS) a Marine Staff Sargent who had served in Iraq. Courtney told us about a mission where he took 138 men into the field and brought every one of them home. When asked by his superiors how he did it, he told them he was simply afraid of their wives. A great man and an inspiring way to start our day!

We rolled out in perfect (cool) riding weather heading towards Richmond. About 45 miles into the ride, we finally pulled off for gas. A young guy pushing a shopping cart with all his possessions in it and his trusty dog at his side walked in at the same time. While the guy was inside, the Pack bought the dog a few cans of food and left them for the owner, who came out and picked them up. He looked around trying to figure out where they came from and as we were the only ones at the gas station, he smiled and gave us a thumbs up. Eat well my furry friend!

Off we went again on a surprisingly empty road. It was now getting warmer so the hoodies were stored as we blasted east past open GREEN fields! A very different landscape than we had seen just a few days ago.

Unlike last year where we arrived at our hotel in the middle of a massive storm, the Pack rolled in with no problem and were warmly welcomed by the staff who remembered us (and the storm) from last year. It’s funny how many hotels and restaurants remembers us!

After some cleaning up, we headed to Paco’s favorite local Italian restaurant, which we’ve now hit four straight years. Just like at the hotel, our waitress Tanya remembered us! Another fantastic carb laden dinner and we were full of amazing food, wine and martinis. Slaw shared the video that our incoming friend and newest member Gerard Perillo sent, with the Pack being mentioned on the news in the NY/NJ area. Very cool! At the end of our dinner, a wonderful couple sent over a round of drinks and eventually took some photos. Then Tanya took some with us as well, even dawning Slaw’s vest for one. She was great!

Back to the hotel for more martinis (and moonshine and bourbon and Irish whiskey…everyone has a different flavor). And cigars. Don’t forget the cigars! Fish brought enough to supply the entire million motorcycle Rolling Thunder event and he has sworn they are not coming home with him. We’ve made a good dent on the bag so far!

It looked like it was going to be a relatively quiet night, with the Pack listening to tunes and relaxing a bit. Slaw was hanging with his local college buddy, Steve Kelly. And then Gordito does what Gordito does best. He ran his mouth. Again.

You’d think, after Slaw accepted his push up challenge on last year’s ride and beat him he’d have learned. You’d think, after Slaw accepted his SECOND pushup challenge at the Sharp Dealer Meeting in AZ in Dec., he’d have learned. But alas, Gordito did not learn. Time for another lesson, Pack style.

After the humbling experience, the Pack got back to the serious relaxing they’d been doing before calling it a night. Another great day and off to Cobb and Richmond today before heading into DC for Phase 2 of the ride….ROLLING THUNDER!