Aug 13, 2012

Tribute To Fallen Soldier Ride, August 11-12, 2012


This year's Tribute to Fallen Soldiers ride was August 11-12 and started in Medford.  Skylar and I hit the road on Friday and nearly crashed after a chunk of wood flew off a trailer in front of us, got lost more than a few times, accidentally fell into some rum and tequila a few nights, had some spectacular BBQ and met some totally awesome people who were all there to show their support.  

The jest of this ride is you spend two days visiting families of soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, whether theirs was a loss in battle, while stationed or at home after.  All the motorcycles and riders line up and then walk as a group to the families homes where the families are presented with a plaque for their soldier and thanked for their contribution, service and sacrifice.  That alone is enough to make a strong person falter.  Some of these families have recent losses, and for some, it has been awhile but the goal is to show them that their loved ones are appreciated and have not and will not be forgotten.   


I stood in the back of the pack the few times I actually went with the group (go ahead, call me a chicken)...but most of the time I was not even close enough to hear what was being said and only my imagination showed me the faces of the families.  I wasn't trying to be disrespectful and their losses were not minimized.  As I stood a safe distance I watched as many leather clad motorcyclists slowly fell apart.  Over and over.  And yet they continued on to the next stop, ready to keep giving back.   

At a stop in Roseburg, OR (those curbs are very important or I would have cropped them out)
I saw families accepting condolences, appreciation, and heartfelt words from total strangers.  I marveled on how resilient people are, and how tragedy can ruin someone and yet someone else can take that same experience and do something wonderful with it to honor those who have been taken away.   

There is something about seeing strong men walking away from the group, sunglasses in one hand and the other wiping tears that cements the reason for this ride into one’s mind.  It isn’t an event to raise money for a specific person, isn’t something that is done in order to gain publicity or to build ones self up, but instead to build up a nation, to remind us all that each and every person who has served our country, living or dead, should be remembered and honored as the true heros that they are.    So stand up, take a moment of silence to reflect upon those you know and don’t, then do your part to make a difference.  It isn’t asking much considering the sacrifice others have given and the families who are left behind to mourn the loss daily while the rest of us continue on blissfully unaware of the pain, loss and sorrow.   

The Tribute to Fallen Soldiers Riders in Lane County
The Tribute to Fallen Soldiers Ride is one of those rare rides that means much more than anyone could ever explain.   It's not a "little parade" done out of selfishness and greed.  It's a chance for each and every person to say "Thank you" to those who have served.  This ride needs your support to ensure everyone is remembered and that every sacrifice has not been in vain.   Join them next year for the Torch Run or for the Fallen Soldier Ride that will take place in August.  It’s an experience you won’t forget.  And if you don't ride, that's not a big deal.  You can still help.   Go to their website (http://tributetofallensoldiers.com/) and donate, volunteer, sponsor, or just plant a flag in your yard.   

Choose honor.


Special thanks to the law enforcement community who helped along the way.  You have no idea how much SAFER this ride was with your participation and support.  THANK YOU for being there, for doing your part and for showing each and every one of us how wonderful you really are.   You really made a difference and are appreciated.  

Skylar with a couple Douglas County Deputies who helped along the way.  


  

Aug 9, 2012

Chris Kilcullen Memorial Ride Photos July 29, 2012














John Kilcullen and Barney, Chris's 1955 Chevy


















Chris Kilcullen Memorial Ride Report July 29, 2012

Sunday, July 29, 2012 was the second annual Chris Kilcullen Memorial Ride.  It is a ride that Brian Antone (an officer at Springfield Police Department) started in 2011 after Eugene police officer Chris Kilcullen was murdered on duty.   The first ride was a success...over 200 riders gathered to raise around $10,000 dollars in Officer Kilcullen's memory.

Riders in 2011 had a good time but they wanted more...so Antone offered up something bigger and better this year.  With the help of some awesome volunteers, fabulous sponsors, donors and supporters,
the 2012 Ride offered not only a pin with Chris's photo, but a t-shirt, BBQ lunch and a bus for those who either don't (or chose not to) ride.

The Dream Team at Three Rivers Casino and Hotel
The ride has for the last two years been 248 miles, which is significant because 248 is Chris's badge number.  This year the ride went through Corvallis where Team Oregon hosted the first pit stop.  From there, the almost 300 bikes and 400 riders rode to Newport where Newport Police Department hosted a second stop.  As Newport faded into the distance, the group converged upon Three Rivers Casino and Hotel for a BBQ lunch.  As a volunteer for the ride, I wasn't able to go the distance on my bike but instead headed straight to Three Rivers to set up auction items and make sure everything was ready for the group.  That gave me plenty of time to talk to the hosts at Three Rivers, Dawn and Mary, who we dubbed the "Dream Team" for their awesome work ethics and get 'er done attitudes.  As well, Lori made sure things were going as planned and that we had everything that we needed.

One of the volunteers gets a little crazy...
This year the Ride had a title sponsor, European Motorcycles of Western Oregon.  Madelyn, Scott, and Kendrick went out of their way to help with the cause...and even allowed us time on Saturday for registration and handing out t-shirts.  Sunday they opened their doors and their parking lot for the second year in a row for a staging area.   Their support was amazing and even Kendrick got in on the action and made almost 100 paracord bracelets with "248" on the face.  (You can still order one at European Motorcycles or on the Kilcullen Memorial Ride website, they are so cool!)

Core volunteers after a planning meeting (aka lunch) 
There are so many people to thank who made this ride happen...so many wonderful people who rode in support...and bought merchandise and BBQ tickets and who bid on auction items and bought raffle tickets.  So thank you, those of you who stand in the background, who help despite their relationship to Chris, who give up your family time, your work time, your free time and drink time.  Thank you to those who keep plugging along, who pick up the pieces when they are scattered everywhere, and who do so with grace and style and dignity.  I salute you all.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about this ride is that we raised more money than last year and had almost 400 people who showed up to support the Officer Chris Kilcullen Memorial Ride and the scholarship in his name.  Trust me, it was touch and go for awhile and I was starting to wonder if all our efforts were going to be for nothing!

At the end of the ride when delivering t-shirts we had the opportunity to talk to some of the riders and get their feedback.  Everyone was very kind and appreciative... I guess that makes it all worth while...and knowing that the scholarship will soon be completely funded which will allow us to move on to other things in the community...like car seats and projects that Chris Kilcullen had a heart for.

We are already working on ideas for next year, so if you went to the ride and have any feedback, feel free to send us an email or go to the website and share your ideas.  As well, if you have photos, we'd love to see them!

You can reach Brian at brian@chriskilcullenmemorialride.com or on the website at www.chriskilcullenmemorialride.com 










Jul 27, 2012

Cutting Edge Illusions

Solomon showing us the beautiful camo tank 
Stopped by Cutting Edge Illusions in Eugene, OR today because Soloman kindly offered to gift a factory finish paint job (valued at $970) for Sunday's Chris Kilcullen Memorial Ride auction.  When I pulled up I wasn't expecting anything fabulous.  I mean, the shop is basically in a row of shops that calling nondescript would probably be too generous.  Small buildings packed in like sardines with little parking available near a Walmart aren't generally impressive.  This was a classic case of what you see isn't really what you get.  Kari and I walked in and told Solomon who were were and that we were there to pick up a donation.  He greeted us with a handshake and a smile.  And despite the fact that the certificate wasn't ready, he started walking us through the shop and showing us what kind of donation he was giving.

And I was blown away.

I'm not really the type to spend money on ANY paint job, I mean, my bike came with paint, that's good enough for me.  But walking along with Solomon, checking out his shop, entering the paint booth and seeing the projects in process, well Solomon slowly converted me to the type of person who has stopped shaking her head and started wondering if my dog's paw print would convert nicely to paint.

It's a small shop with only about four full time employees who wear baseball caps, shorts, and trendy sneakers.  Most of their customers come from outside of Oregon and some pay thousands of dollars for custom paint jobs that will blow your mind.  Now that's crazy!  Or is it?  Solomon let me touch some of the tanks (dirty, no?) and you can really feel the difference between the paint on a factory job versus the customs.  Smooth...baby....smooth.  

The "wall" (sorry, my camera doesn't do it justice)

Cutting Edge Illusions has an impressive wall of samples...from their  factory paint jobs to the show finish which can cost up to $12,000.   They also design and sell some of their own products, like the tail end of a Harley shown below which has LED lights inlaid with custom cutouts...I'm not a real Harley fan but after seeing this I thought, I could ride a boat.  I could.  (I kid! I love you all!)

Edit a photo?  Me?  How much work is that?  This part speaks for itself!!!


Cutting Edge Illusions and Solomon will be at Sturgis, so stop by and see him.  He's an awesome guy who can make your bike the best on the block...or town...or city.   And, well, if you are coming to the Chris Kilcullen Memorial Ride please feel free to browse the auction items...but be kind when you see the Cutting Edge Illusions bid sheet because my BMW, Runkle, needs a new set of clothes.  

Special thanks to Solomon for the tour and for supporting the Chris Kilcullen Memorial Ride.  We couldn't do this without your support.









Jun 24, 2012

Cottage Grove Bike Fest 2012

June 23, 2012.  I'm up early.  Too early. Headed over to Skylar's house so we can get to Cottage Grove Bike Fest before they close the street.  We're setting up the Kilcullen Memorial Ride booth so we can get some more riders involved...and spread the word about the scholarship.  I've never been to the Cottage Grove Bike Fest before, in fact I didn't even know it existed.  I just wish it started later so I could sleep in and that the rain wasn't given an 80% chance of showing up.

We set up the booth under dark skies and were very happy to be ready for the masses.  Then the rain came, at first misting then pouring, wetting all our gear and soaking the table cloths.  As we were putting up the side tarps, water dripping everywhere, I was silently amazed at our neighboring tent residents as they rushed to help in our time of need.

Turns out our tent neighbors are trying to get the word out about their ride as well.  Skylar and I met the great guys of the Tribute to Fallen Soldiers ride.  This is a ride that is schedule for August 10-12, 2012.  It's a unique take on a motorcycle ride.  The ride includes home visits to honored families whose loved ones have sacrificed so much for our country.  The ride registration is only $30 for a single rider and $35 for a couple...until the day of the ride when the price goes up by $5.  Register now...and trust me, this is a ride that will warm your heart, but it is also one where you will have a lot of fun.  There is also a Nevada ride so if coming to Oregon is too far, Nevada awaits!



Skylar and I signed up to ride (okay, I'll be riding and she'll be hanging on to a leather jacket on someone's bike and probably wiggling her way through Oregon).  You can bet we wouldn't be going if this wasn't going to be a good time.  So join up, participate, and do something good for someone.

BJ's tank...
Bike Fest was filled with Harley's but I spied a single BMW 1200 GS late in the day which brightened my heart.  I was teasing BJ (from Tribute to Fallen Soldiers Ride) nonstop about his Harley and how much better my BMW is...which was all in good fun.  Harley's are loud...but as BJ points out, loud can save your life.  BJ's bike is impressive and has some custom paint that rocks!

I did see some cool bikes, some old bikes, some new bikes, and one particular bike that stood out.  I actually don't know what it was or why it came to live...but like Frankenstein, it lives!


At the end of the day the rain was threatening us again...the bikes were coming and going...and we took advantage of Tribute to Fallen Soldier's kindness again as Warren helped us load our gear, despite my constant teasing.

Thanks to Ben, Warren, BJ, and the others, for making our rainy Saturday entertaining!



Jun 21, 2012

Runkle Doesn't Understand...or I'm losing my mind...

My Runkle sits in the garage, staring at me each time I try to sneak past to do laundry.  He asks why we aren't riding and where his friend, Cross, went.  I tell him Cross was fickle and he was never really a friend, just some person whom our paths intersected briefly.   Since that discussion, which frankly was pretty one sided, Runkle has stopped talking to me all together and instead sends dagger-like stares at me.  I'm thinking about putting a cover on him so I don't have to be reminded day after day that I let yet another moto rider slip away.

Runkle:  "Let's go there!"
Runkle doesn't understand that we meet so many riders, we enjoy each and every one for the seconds we wave, the minutes we speak, the hours we share stories, or the days we ponder riding...but the few who stay are special.  Runkle misses Ely and Mr. Cool Drink of Water.  He misses strangers at rest stops, sandwich shops, gas stations and campgrounds.  He longs to lean on his stand next to a sexy Honda CBR or a 1200GS.  Runkle yearns to ride the dirt roads with a fun dual sport at his side, or perhaps mosey along a deserted rural road just following the river with a Triumph Daytona.  He misses the freeway, the bi way and the highway.

And clearly it is my fault Runkle sits and dreams instead of experiencing his bliss.  Runkle doesn't understand that life is not only about doing things you want to but also doing things you need to do...like working or doing homework.   Runkle asks why I need a Masters degree anyway...and this time, I truly answer back, "I have no idea."  

Runkle is wearing me down...his cold engine makes me chill.  Slowly I am coming to realize that sometimes when you hear, "Everything will work out okay" that really means you will eventually be ready to give up everything you thought you wanted, stood for, and were, in order to become something else. That what makes it okay is that you aren't living in fear of what you are giving up, but instead looking forward with excitement at where you are going.  Perhaps when you reach that point you can be free, really free, to experience new wonders and to look at the world in a way you have never thought of before.

Runkle just wants to ride...Runkle doesn't understand...time is precious...and gone in an instant.  

Maybe it is me who doesn't understand.  






Be safe all of you...whether I once shared roads with you, met you briefly, or not at all.

Jun 13, 2012

Day 8: Tennessee: Homeward Bound

Last day in Tennessee.    Skylar and I were both filled with longing to see our kids (ok, she has kids and I have a Trout, whatever).  I couldn't wait to pull into the driveway and have Trout jump on me and nibble on my sleeves (I have no idea why she does that but I KNOW it was cute when she was 8 weeks old...now it's less so).

Our flight didn't leave until 4 pm so after we loaded up the car and stopped to buy additional luggage (yes, AGAIN, I bought too much), we drove around aimlessly looking for a grocery store so we could buy ziplock bags.  I'd bought four pounds of brisket and a rack of ribs to bring back to Oregon but they didn't wrap it well enough for traveling.  I'm a pro at traveling with meat...that sounds wrong...and right at the same time.

While we looped around Nashville I drove past this bike that I was excited to see.  It combines two of my favorite things:  Volkswagens and motos!  Of course, I think I'd be a little embarrassed to ride on that baby.  The rider seemed very happy to see I was taking photos and I'll bet when he got home he told his wife about how I was checking him out.  Oh yeah.  Nothing like a volksmotostorage Harley.


After fueling up and finding the zip bags we still had some time to kill so we stopped by the Parthenon which is a full size replica of the one in Athens.  Ok, kind of cheesy, but the chances of me ever getting to Athens is slim, so Tennessee Parthenon will have to suffice.  Inside is a 42 foot statue of Athena.  I should have taken my photo with her, my arse would have looked really small.  Drat! Missed opportunity.

Skylar did stand next to the door so ya'll (that's Southern talk) could see how big the place was.


That's Skylar's ghost at the end, or maybe I cropped out a guy's head.  

Well, I was asleep by 2 am only to get a visitor at 8:30 am.  The lawn needs mowed, there are sugar ants that have suddenly arrived, and my house is messy.  Apparently my dog sitter had a few carloads of kids over while I was away so my booze is probably all watered down.  That's the one thing I'm most disappointed about...kids don't really appreciate a 12 year Irish whiskey (holy cow I've become my mother).

Although Nashville was so much fun, it is good to be home.  I can't wait for the sun to shine so Skylar and I can hang on her back deck in fancy lawn furniture and sip our Belle Meade Blackberry wine. And although we both have to face our own dramas here at home, I know coming home is worth it.  The Oregon rain is like no other, my Trout is the best Trout, and I am blessed, truly blessed, to have a friend like Skylar (who is a Troll).  

Home Sweet Home.



Jun 11, 2012

Day 7: Nashville, TN: Free Day!

Skylar stayed up very late last night eating pork ribs..I think we have a convert.  Wait til she tries brisket from Texas.   We woke up first thing (around 930) and headed to free breakfast then packed up to leave since we'd only booked the room through Monday.  Our plan was to head to nearby Franklin and check out some plantations and catch a room wherever we ended up.  As we rolled our bags to the car it struck me that we should at least ask if we had another night so Skylar went back into the lobby and well, what do you know...we were already booked in and paid for until Tuesday.  Doh!  Skylar and I together make about half a brain (on a good day).

Holiday Inn Roaches and left over pubic hair behind the door??  (Insert vomit here)  
We dragged our bags and butts back to a new room because our old one was...well...less than desirable.  We were across from the women's bathroom and the hotel laundry room.  Starting at 5:00 AM all I could hear were doors shutting over and over. And then there was the roach sighting.  A big roach and her offspring  were hanging out in the bathroom...thanks, Holiday Inn!  

Skylar and I hit the highway and headed toward Franklin where we did some serious ghost hunting (well, I did, Skylar doesn't believe in ghosts, despite the fact that one follows her everywhere...boo!).  We arrived at Carnton Plantation and bought some cool bonnets like Laura Ingalls wore (and if you don't know who that is, you are too young to be looking at photos of pubic hair) and walked through the garden and the cemetery.

Grapevines..at Carnton Plantation

The cemetery was NOT by any means as impressive as those in Ireland or Scotland...but I guess the point isn't to make a cemetery that will impress but one that will bring peace.





We ate lunch at a Cajun place and walked around Franklin where we found a radical bed for...wait for it...$7,000.  Ok, so I won't be buying that anytime soon or ever.  Franklin is a nice town with a lot of Civil War history.  About every block has a field fenced off where a battle took place.  I wish I were a history buff, I'd be loving it.  Unfortunately, I'm simply a food buff and instead I'm eating my way through town.

Right before we donned our suits to hit the pool and lounge around the rain started pouring so our last night in Tennessee was spent in the room.   But oh how great it was to feel warm rain!  

Tomorrow we hit the airport and head back to Oregon...and reality...and drama...and frankly, listening to all this country music about loving and leaving, drinking and living, well, it's made me stop and realize that life is way too short to spend with men who don't appreciate you, with friends who stab you in the back, and with dogs who pull the sheets back.  Oh wait, I'm stuck with the dog because she's the only one who tolerates me.  It's a cross I'm forced to bear.  If only I could find a man who was half as great as my dog.  (Should I lower my expectations or get a dog I don't like?)  

Cheers, Tennessee.

Day 6: Nashville, TN: Belle Meade Plantation & the last night of CMA

Based on a recommendation from someone we met at the Ryman, Skylar and I headed west to Belle Meade Plantation.  Shockingly, this was only about five miles from our hotel so it was easy to find.  Belle Meade is a cute little suburb of Nashville where some of the largest and nicest homes I've seen in a long time are located.

Belle Meade Ghosts in chairs...see them?  Me neither.
Part of the Civil War was fought on the front lawn of Belle Meade, with the man of the manor, John Harding, supporting the confederates.   Harding had as many as 40 slave cabins on his property and each cabin held two slave families, regardless of how many people were in each family.  Belle Meade stayed in the family throughout the war but fell on hard times during the depression since their main claim to fame was horse racing and breeding.  What was over 5000 acres of plantation was dwindled down and by 1906 nothing remained.  Belle Meade has an impressive story and you can still see bullet damage on the large stone pillars along the front.  And, most impressive is the Belle Meade winery...where Skylar and I both snagged a few bottles of blackberry wine that taste like heaven.  Hope they all make it home so we can have a  celebration for Father's Day (I'll be celebrating Trout's father and since Trout doesn't have one, it seems like a shame to overlook her mother, no?).  

Meanwhile, at LP Field, the night's concerts were great despite the fact that it was our last together with Idaho, Cali, and the New Mexico couple (sitting next to Idaho).  Idaho went all out and drank about nine beers in an hour and proceeded to fall as he was sitting back down.  Skylar was very sensitive about it as she laughed and made fun of him eating seat with his side of crow or vice versa.  (She's hurtful.)

Skylar has an un-natural love affair with Dierks Bentley so she was very very excited to see Dierks and threatened to hurt us if we all didn't stand up and dance.  So we did (She's hurtful and macho).  Luckily for Dierks, his secuirty was in full force and he made it out of the LP theater without being attacked.

Dierks screaming for security.... 
Seriously though, Skylar was very sedate compared to when she saw Luke Bryan.  No fanning herself (there wasn't one around) and no throwing her panties at the stage (well, she threw them but they were so big that the wind caught them and after numerous UFO sightings, a gaggle of birds fell to their death..and these were thongs).

As the CMA's came to a close, 69,998 fans and the two of us walked across the bridge toward downtown, listening to the street vendors try to hock their bottled water, dodging cigarette smoke, thinking this was a terrific weekend...and wondering whether it was too early to get tickets for the 2013 CMA's (It's not by the way.  You can get them now!)

CMA Tip #4:  Dress casual.  VERY casual.  Even at Opry and the concerts, although there were a lot of chicks walking around in their summer dresses and boots, there were more people in shorts and flops.   Don't be afraid to be comfortable...and dress down!

Final Artists:
Martina McBride, Dierks Bentley, Scotty McCready, Alan Jackson, Rascal Flats, Steel Magnolia, the Mavericks

Jun 10, 2012

Day 5: Nashville, TN: Ryman and the best concert ever!

CMA's.  Skylar and I have decided the CMA's are a combination of quite a few different places and events:  Vegas, a rodeo, and a cheesy state fair.  There are all shapes and sizes here...and most of the people are either 25 or  65.   That means we're in the minority...and perhaps should wait awhile before coming back so we can age appropriately (or is that mature appropriately?).   The one thing about Nashvegas that I'm not impressed with is the fact that so many people smoke.  Smoking is great, I encourage everyone to suck on a cancer stick...but really...do you have to do it in the stadium while sitting in your seat?  Maybe take that accelerated wrinkle machine to the smoking area.  I personally don't need any help with my wrinkles. Or with my cough.

We started the day with a stint at the Opry's Ryman Theatre where they stack you inside on wooden benches like sardines.  If you are lucky enough to have a extra ticket like we did, you can at least get some elbow room.

We stopped for lunch at Paradise Park Trailer Resort which is on Broadway.  Skylar tried some Frito Pie which she liked (I think only because she's finally found a dish she can cook).   PPTR has the BEST burger in town.  It's a thick, juicy, delicious burger that is a must have.  It's open until 4:00 AM (gebus!) so even if you ate BBQ all day you can always go back for a burger before bed (like all self-respecting foodaholoics).

At LP Field today our little buddies from Idaho were very talkative.  Skylar has been teasing Idaho (white shirt) and California (who lives in Idaho but is from Cali originally), non stop about their electronics.  Idaho has a flip phone, which Skylar thinks is very entertaining.  Poor kid.  Idaho happens to work at Les Schwab which is an Oregon company, so he was impressed when we knew what he was talking about.  What a small world it is.   I happen to really dig both Idaho and California and they say I'm a lot nicer than Skylar, so they are obviously very intelligent.  

It's difficult to say who put on the best show today.  At first I thought Eric Church was unbeatable.  Then Luke Bryan bounced onto the stage.  If you'll recall, Luke was awesome at the CMT Awards...so when his performance at LP field was fricking dynamite, it pushed him into a much higher level. He is talented, entertaining, and by golly, that boy can dance.  Skylar started fanning herself when Luke did his first hip thrust and frankly, I think Idaho was frightened.  Luke should be.

Luke Bryan falling in love with me  (oh wait, it's the other way around)

Good times.  The weather is turning...rain tomorrow with 79 degrees...looking forward to something besides 90 degrees.  Happy trails, ya'll.

CMA Tip #3:  Stay away from drunk people and the possibility of projectile vomiting.



Artists from today:

Wade Bowen, Little Jimmy Dickins, Wynonna, Bobby Osbourne and the Rocky Tops, Mark Wills, Jim Ed Brown, Kellie Pickler, The Gatlin Brothers, Hunter Hayes, Kenny Rogers, Faith Hill, Love and Theft, Rodney Atkins, Little Big Town, Eric Church, Kip Moore, Luke Bryan

Jun 9, 2012

Day 4 Nashville, TN: Trout, Love & Theft and Their Biggest Fan



Stephen, the LOVE portion of the band
Sitting on the stage waiting for Love and Theft to play at the Country Music Hall of Fame stage, Skylar and I started chatting up a young chick who looked harmless.  Her name was Cassie and truth be told, there's a devil under there.  Cassie is apparently Love and Theft's BIGGEST fan and head of the Love and Theft Mob group (whatever that is, it sounds dangerous to me).  She's on a first name basis with the band and threatened to "cut" me if I got too close.  I don't think she was joking.  Cassie had all the makings for a Sharon Stone/rabbit boiling incident.  I pitied poor Love (Stephen) and Theft (Eric).  Shockingly, Cassie knew all the songs and belted them out like she was singing for her supper.  When Eric's cup fell off his chair and started rolling around on stage, Cassie grabbed it up and then hit an all time low when, after the set, she yelled out, "ERIC!  I got your cup!!!  It was rolling around and bothering me so I got it!!!!"  He glanced at her long enough to give a half hearted smile and say thanks (his eyes said something more like, "Stephen, RUN! It's that crazy girl!").  Shockingly, Stephen didn't EVEN LOOK AT HIS BIGGEST FAN once.  I'm sure she's holding onto the dream though, and was actually in line for an autograph after the show.  Go Cassie, Go!  (And Run Stephen, RUN!).

I met a HUGE star today at CMA Fest.  I was so excited and lucky to stumble into the area at just the right moment.   His name is Trout and he is a Chesapeake Bay Retriever who is chocolate brown (as some of you know, my own chocolate dog is a Labrador Retriever and also named Trout, so it made sense that I fell madly in love at first sight!)  The superdog Trout (unlike my couch surfing Trout) was invited to the Purina Ultimate Air Challenge which is a huge honor.  Apparently he's an awesome jumper and narrowly missed being in the top 5 at the competition.


And, to top it off, he's a real sweetheart!  I was going to get a pawagraph but I didn't bring any paper or a pen.  I had to settle for a photo.  I don't know what you think, but I'm pretty sure he's digging me being so close.  What a handsome fellow!!!!  Check out that smile!! I've gotta get my Trout one of those shirts.  I wonder if they come in size Lard.   Check out Ultimate Air Dogs if they ever come to your city and check out Trout at the Purina Finals (this dog has a YouTube video...wow).



On the way to LP field I spied some motos and marveled at how brave these Tennessee riders are...they leave their helmets on their bikes with over 65,000 people walking around?  Bad Arse!!!

By Friday the Motos had come out to play...

CMA Tip #2:  Hang out at Wildhorse Saloon in the bar.

Skylar and I walked to hell and back (it felt like that anyway) looking for a lunch spot.  Eventually we ended up at the Wildhorse Saloon  for the second day in a row.  We chose Wildhorse since we knew it had a huge seating area...what we didn't know was there as an hour and a half wait (despite all the seating).  We decided to tromp up to the third floor to hang out at the bar while we were waiting to get paged for our meal.  There was hardly anyone up there and about five servers sitting around doing nothing.  The bartender, Samantha, was kind enough to let us order from the bar and gave us a table near the window in the most comfy seats ever.  Skylar and I sat there, drank, ate, and relaxed for about two hours or more while others were standing outside in line waiting for their pagers to buzz.  Samantha was so great...and the food there is top knotch.  We tried the brisket, ribs, wings, and pulled pork today.  YUMMMY.


Artists from today:

Love and Theft, Ronnie Milsap, Oakrdige Boys, Kip Moore, Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, Brantley Gilbert, Band Perry, Randy Hauser, and Jake Owen.  

Jun 8, 2012

Day 3: Nashville, TN: CMA Music Fest

Today is a blurrrrrr.    Am I even awake?  It's after midnight.  We walked about a million miles today.  We also watched one of my favorite vocalists..."Judge" Jerrod Neimann.  That boy has my heart.  Now if only he wanted the rest of me.   Jerrod (yes, we ARE on a first name basis) was totally awesome and he was pretty funny when talking about his next song being about love then saying the one after that would be about liking her sister better anyway.

Jerrod Neimann...walking away
After watching a few others, Skylar and I hit the strip for some lunch.  We ended up eating at The Wild Horse Saloon which is a party place!  It is three stories high with a full size stage and dance floor.  The ribs (yes, I'm still eating ribs) were AWESOME.  I think Skylar is ready to order her own plate of ribs tomorrow (despite the teasing she's given me about BBQ...I think Tennessee is converting her one rib at a time).  

We walked around Broadway, watched a guitar auction, walked right past some famous country singer (after we'd passed chicks were screaming his name and running over, doh!) and then it was off to LP Stadium for the main attractions.


We were honored to be in the audience for Glen Campbell's farewell tour.  He has a long history of music and television and did a wonderful job.  Rumor has it he has Alzheimer's and that's why he has to stop performing.  He was a bit confused and tried to leave the stage about four different times only to be ushered back to sing again.  It was extremely sad but at the same time simply beautiful because once he was singing, Glen was in his element!  So many years, memories, stories...all trapped inside his head...tragic.

It's hard to say who stole the LP show today.  I'm totally torn between Jason Aldean, Miranda and Lady A.  All of them put on an awesome show as well as sing like crazy.


Lady A

One thing about country music that is great is how patriotic the singers are.  Zack Brown Band and Glen Campbell both paid tribute to our troops and those who have served.  

Zack Brown
CMA Tip #1:    Pay the extra for a hotel downtown.  Parking here sucks, it's anywhere from 10-35 a day and walking the 6-12 blocks to your car is a pain in the arse!  Also, I would have given anything to be close enough to slip into the hotel room and take a nap...so hoteling it downtown has it's perks!!!


Artists seen today:
Jerrod Neimann, Julie Roberts, Lee Brice, Eli Young Band, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert and the Pistol Annies, Kellie Pickler, Brad Paisley, Glen Cambell, Tracey Lawerence, Jason Aldean

Jun 7, 2012

Day 2: Nashvegas, Tennessee CMT Awards, Tootsies, Jacks BBQ


Late start today.  Waited for Hertz rental car to pick us up, which happened around 11 am.  We hit downtown, parked the car and walked to Broadway where the parade was in progress.  Based on David's recommendation, while the line was short at Jacks Bar-B-Que, we snuck inside and took a window seat.  We watched the parade while eating some of the most fabulous pork ribs I've ever had.  No joke.  The BEST.  Skylar thought the smoked turkey was "good" but she also preferred the ribs.  At Jacks you get to choose your meats and veggies (and shockingly, Mac and Cheese and spiced apples are both vegetables) and can get three meats and two veggies for around $13.  If you are ever in Nashville, and you happen to LOVE ribs, stop by.  You won't regret it.   Time it right, though, since the lines are usually out the door according to our buddy, David.  (And, YES, they were out the door and down the front of the building today!)


Eulonia and Pat at Tootsies
We bumped into a couple from Portland we chatted with at the airport and then later drank with three funny ladies (Eulonia, Pat and Donna) we'd met the day before in line for lanyards.   We all hung out in Toostie's World Famous Orchid Lounge.  Eulonia is from Savannah Georgia and a real hoot!  Since I could be unemployed by the time I get back she offered me a job working at a business that she thinks will take off.  I hope I get to be the manager, as her idea is to have older women as prostitutes so old men can actually have sex with people that remind them of their wives but who actually like it.  I'm hoping before I take up prostitution I'll have a few other options but Eulonia is one entertaining gal! The music was great and the atomosphere fun.  Another piece of music history...where some very famous people have blessed the same tables we passed.  Skylar was practically jumping out of her seat.

From Tootsies we it the streets to check out some stores and to mingle with the thousands of other country music fans.

Broadway Street...a few of our new friends...
Nosebleed seats at the CMT Awards tonight.  No, really, we were two from the very top.  Going to an awards show sounds fun and exciting.  And it was.  Except for the commercial breaks.  And the announcer screaming at people to keep the isles clear.  I'd rather watch it on TV in my easy chair with a stiff drink.  But, what was more than exciting was being able to watch the country singers interact.

So they all sit in this huge roped off area with ramps going down to the stage.  Since we were directly across (and about a mile away) we had a great view of the happenings.  I must first tell you, I really like Arnold (which is his real name but he doesn't use it onstage).  His songs make me want to grab a chair and a margarita and hit the beach...forever.  He's great.  If he were about ten inches taller, had hair, and didn't appear to be a jerk, I'd be so into him.  See, here's the thing...Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean, Charles Kelly (from Lady A), Luke Bryan and others were all great sports.  They cheered and clapped for everyone and Carrie, Jason and especially Luke, were up and ready to shake hands and hug anyone and everyone who won an award.  Just watching Luke Bryan put a smile on my face.  He is so peppy and friendly they should have given him an award for sportsmanship.

Kenny Chesney...oh  I mean Arnold, chatting it up....
Meanwhile, my man Arnold was talking the whole time to a chick who may or may not have come with him, and was ignoring people when they were singing.  Bummer.  He clapped maybe for about a minute total and did not appear to want to be there.  Of course, this is my impression...and well, darn it all, bless his heart, the others I mentioned seemed like they actually still like music while Arnold just looked like he'd rather be on a beach with a drink.  I guess it's hard to imagine who can blame Arnold.   He didn't win any awards, sang once, and well, the chick he was talking to did have a very revealing dress on...go Arnold go!  Still, it was sad and Skylar said she was never going to buy his music again.  Me, I'm still a fan...but I'm not likely to go out of my way to be in love anymore.   (I'm sure Arnold is really, really sad about that.)

Kellie Pickler's date for the night was a Marine and his dog...so awesome to see her hanging out with him, petting the dog, and generally being an awesome person.



Artists from today:

Toby Keith, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts and Journey, Pistol Annies, Scotty McCreary, The Band Perry, Kenny Chesney, Willie Nelson, Darius Rucker, Zack Brown, Lauren Alaina, and Jamie Johnson.

Jun 6, 2012

Day 1: Nashville Tennessee Country Music Fanfare 2012

My buddy (Skylar), and I are in Nashville Tennessee for the next week for 2012 Country Music Fanfare and the CMT awards.  We flew in today in what could only be described as uneventful until we hit Kansas City and boarded the plane for Tennessee.  We sat next to a nice looking man from Tennessee who I will call David because, well, that's his name.  Turns out David is hysterical.  He's my kind of funny.  He's adorably adorable.  When the stewardess stopped by to ask if he needed anything his response was "I'm gonna NEED a strong drink."  I liked him immediately after that. We all chatted and laughed and when we parted ways I felt like I'd just partaken in something special and his wisdom remains tumbling around in the back of my mind.  I'll let your minds wander.

After wasting almost 50 bucks on a cab ride to our hotel, I immediately called to rent a car for the next day and marveled at how freaking smart it would have been to do so at the airport.  Things didn't seem that far away on Google maps.   We changed clothes, called another cab, and spent another 45 bucks, and eventually arrived at the Grand Ole Opry.

The coveted 6 ft circle at the Opry
The  Grand Ole Opry has been around since the 1920's and is one of the longest running radio shows.  It is a piece of country music history...the place that young stars dream of someday playing.

Now, I'm gonna lay this out and I mean no disrespect to the Opry.  It's a country music landmark.  A legend as much as any place could ever be.  I'd give my small toe to be on the stage and have anyone in the audience listen to me simply say hello..and I wouldn't care if the audience was just a single janitor.  But, it's not what I expected.  It's actually an awesome venue that is...wait for it...right next to a Regal Cinemas.  Yep, I said it.  What a let down.  The Opry hotel is nearby but within eye shot of the Opry is what appears to be a mini mall that utilizes the same parking lot.  So, the atmosphere is more casual than I anticipated; more shorts and flip flops than nice shoes and respectable clothing.

Easton Corbin:  he's the reason I wanna be a cougar.
Once you get inside, however, and the band strikes up, something takes you back in time to your younger years...when ma and pa would put on the records (for you youngsters, those are vinyl things that you put on a turntable and they go round and round while a needle rides in the grooves and plays music!  it's a miracle!  or it was back in the day) and you'd sit for hours listening until you knew the words by heart.  I recall listening to Merle belt out "Okie from Muskogee" and singing along with my hairbrush as a microphone.  Those were the days when things were simple, life was easy, when a handshake was a promise, when we were still young enough to dream big, and when the most confusing part of your day was wondering whether you could scrape up enough money for a Big Gulp.

But, we all grow up.  Our music tastes change, our dreams change and Merle is replaced by someone with a little less twang and a whole lot more attitude.

Love & Theft
But the Opry...it hasn't changed.  Well, it has..it's been moved a few times, expanded, flooded, as well as washed and rinsed.  But the circle where the artists stand is from the original flooring and what happens there remains the same.  Hall of famers show up for their 15 minutes of fame just like the new kids do.  The legends come and share their stories, jokes and knowledge, and the young ones gush about how much of an honor it is to be there.  And it's true. Even in the audience, it's true.  It's an honor and a privilege to be taken back in time, to remember where we came from and who were were.  Even if its only for a couple hours that you get to sing into your iPhone and remember the glory days when things were simple and happiness was just a song away.

Tonight we saw the Oakridge Boys, Carrie Underwood, Little Jimmy Dickins (the oldest living member of the Opry and one funny man!), Easton Corbin, Del McCoury Band, Love and Theft, and Bill Anderson.


Skylar before the show at the Opry...beer, bbq and music...good times!!!!



May 24, 2012

Big Gravel Chicken: North Boundary Road, Lowell, OR

BMWGSGirl, Gravel chicken
I am a big chicken.  But, there was a time I was less so.  I once rode down a gravel road on my GS and thought it was the coolest thing.  I had been cruising with dudes on street bikes who were slowly meandering down the gravel like a bunch of old ladies trying to avoid getting any dust on precious bikes then suddenly I took off in front and zip... like a rocket...I was flying!  Of course that lasted only until I was out of sight and hit a corner too fast and crashed and burned.  My only saving grace was I picked the bike up and continued on before anyone could catch up and see me standing there, turn signal in hand and bruise forming on my calf.

That was years ago...and two bikes ago.  And still, the gravel scares the bejesus out of me.  There's something about being on gravel that is now too intimidating, too frightening, too dangerous.  Given that, my 1200 GS hadn't been on more than 30 feet of gravel.  And Runkle, poor pathetic dual sport Runkle, had only seen driveways.
Runkle above Westir 
That was until last weekend.  Last weekend I was suffering from a lack of belief in people, justice and fairness.   So when I woke up on Saturday the only thing I could think of was to ride.  I packed up my Glock (because I'm also afraid of other things) and headed toward North Boundary Road outside of Lowell.  When I got to Lookout Dam I rode another few miles and was amazed at how such a beautiful, curvy road could be so close to my house. I had no idea.  The road turns to gravel and parellels the water, going past Lookout Point Lake Recreation Area and continues on and on.  There are very few cars along North Boundary Road which means as you ride squirrels run and birds fly along with you.  It is almost hard to concentrate as you check out the potential fishing spots and ponder if the next ride will allow time to fish and relax on the shoreline.

At some point you have a choice...keep following the gravel and stay along the waterline and head into Westfir...or shoot off on some random forest service road and see what waits ahead.  Given my state of mind, it took half a second for me to decide to leave the safety and security of the shoreline.

Eventually I ended up at a dead end...and when I got off the bike and looked down, I saw something that made me stop and wonder how we end up where we do.  Just the remnants of a blue plastic bag.  To some, that means nothing.  To a few, they know where I was and I'd what found.  I was at the end of the road.  Literally and figuratively.  I paused long enough to look past the trees and into the woods then hopped back on the bike to explore some more.

Unfortunately, I had things to do and places to be so I took a few more offshoots,  a few more photos then zipped back toward home.

It wasn't until I was safely back on the asphalt that I realized I'd just ridden more miles on gravel than I'd ever done in my life.  Alone.  And it wasn't scary but fun and liberating.  And peaceful.  It made me realize that no matter how awful life is, no matter what you face or who challenges you, as long as you keep moving, keep going forward, and keep facing your fears, it will be okay.  It WILL work out.  

My lack of belief in people, justice and fairness...it's still there.  But now I am also suffering from a strong desire for freedom...the need to pack my camping gear and head southward...toward Mexico to live the dream I've always dreamed.  Or to head north and into Alaska to get lost and fight mosquitos, to fish in streams where the fish are so big and tough that I would scream like a five year old girl when I hooked one.

So bring it, Life.  Bring it.   I'm ready for whatever you can throw.  


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