Sunday, January 24, 2010

Who are the Blue Knights?; motorcycle trips; local IMCA and NASCAR weekly racing series schedules

Some of you who have been following my blog know who and what the Blue Knights are, particularly those in Law Enforcement. Others may have some idea, and if you’ve been following me, you know that Blue Knights is a Law Enforcement Motorcycle club. What many may not know is how wide-spread we are or the history of the Blue Knights.

The following comes from the blue website: “The BLUE KNIGHTS® is a non-profit fraternal organization consisting of active and retired law enforcement men & women who enjoy riding motorcycles.

In the Spring of 1974, several law enforcement officers* from the Bangor, Maine (USA) area met and and formed a small, local motorcycle club. The rest, as they say, is history.

Soon, Blue Knight chapters were being formed in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and beyond. With the addition of Canada, and later Australia, the Blue Knights became an international organization.

*Our Founding Fathers are: Joel Rudom, Bill Robinson, Doug Miner, Ed Gallant, Mike Hall, Chuck Gesner, Wayne Labree, Chuck Shuman

As of 1 June 2009, we have 599 chapters and almost 20,000 members in 29 countries.

According to the By-Laws, our purposes and goals are to:

1. Provide for the mutual assistance, enjoyment, entertainment, education, physical, mental and social benefit of its members and the general public.
2. To promote and advance the sport of motorcycling and the safety of motorcycling.
3. To serve the interests of motorcycle owners and users.
4. To promote by example and any other acceptable means, safe use, operation and enjoyment of motorcycles.
5. To develop a fraternal spirit between law enforcement personnel and the general public.

Many Blue Knights work long and hard to raise money for various charities. Especially near to our hearts is helping children. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Make-a-Wish Foundation, Toys for Tots, D.A.R.E., and Concerns of Police Survivors are some examples of our favorites.

As of 31 July 2009 Blue Knights have donated to numerous charities; contributing time in the amount of $4,092,292.00, goods with an estimated value of $631,217.24 and $6,921,532.87 in cash for a total of $11,645,042.11 (USD)

We're the good guys!

The Blue Knights is a family fraternity. Spouses and children often accompany our members to the various rides and functions. When travelling, local members can provide assistance, directions and sometimes a place to stay. We are truly a family.

Among the Blue Knight members, "There are no strangers, only friends you haven't met." “

My Chapter, Nebraska I, was chartered in 1985 at Grand Island and has about 45 members. Nebraska I is in the Midwest Regional Conference (MWRC) which is made up of 45 chapters from Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South and North Dakota and Manitoba, Canada. The MWRC has about 920 members.

I joined Nebraska I in 1992. At the time, I was riding a 1980 Kawasaki 750 LTD. I mostly rode it around the Beatrice area. I made frequent trips to Lincoln and in the summer, to Sunset Speedway in Omaha. As I rode down the highway, I’d meet riders on Gold Wings and Ultra Classics and I would tell myself that some day I’d have a big bike.

In the late summer of 1992, I saw an advertisement for a farm sale north of Friend, Nebraska. One of the items on the auction was a 1981 Gold Wing Interstate with less than 19,000 miles. I ended up being high bidder on that Gold Wing and drove it home that evening. logo

I attended my first MWRC in June 1993 at Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. I had no idea of the makeup of the Blue Knights at the time. Except for a couple of hours layover in Wichita waiting out thunderstorms and then running through a real gully-washer prior to hitting the Cimarron Turnpike, the trip was a great one and I was hooked.

In the time since, I’ve had a 1984 Interstate that we put 73,000 miles on, a 1987 Kawasaki voyager that we put 15,000 miles on and our current ride, a 2006 GL1800 Gold Wing that we’ve put over 25,000 miles on since we picked it up from the showroom in July of 2006.

We’ve made trips to Spokane, Washington and Las Vegas Nevada for Blue Knights functions. We’ve been to Blue Knights functions in Oklahoma City, Broken Arrow, Tulsa and Bartlesville, Oklahoma; St Joe, Springfield and Branson, MO, Ft Scott, Kansas City and Hiawatha, KS; Des Moines, Spirit Lake and Davenport, IA; Egan and Shakopee, MN; Grand Forks and Minot, N.D.; and Sturgis, S.D. We also try to ride to Colorado in the summer to spend time with Heather & Dana and now Landon, and do some riding in the mountains. A great ride is taking Hwy 34 from Loveland to Estes Park. All the turns along the Big Thompson River are a blast! Leaving Estes Park to go back toward Loveland; Hwy 7 toward Lyons is 24 miles of breathtaking scenery with plenty of twists and turns.

Once the riding season gets under way, we just like to get on the Gold Wing and go. With work schedules being what they are, that is sometime hard to do. I try to schedule supper rides out of Beatrice on a weekly basis for riders in and close to Beatrice. One such ride was just a jaunt to Odell, 20 miles south of Beatrice. When we were done eating, we took a side trip and ended up at the Rock Creek Station for a little history lesson.

Just getting out and riding is an experience in itself. The trip to the Spring MWRC is usually the first long ride of the season. The smells of fresh cut alfalfa and clover as well as the wildflowers is in the air. You don’t usually notice that riding in a car. Of course, get too close to a feed yard or similar facility and you’ll get smells you’d rather not smell.

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The feel of the warm sun is great and not the same as feeling it through the car windows.

How many of you have taken a 600 mile round trip to have a few burgers and a couple of beers? I’ve made a couple of trips from Beatrice to Burlington, Colorado to a barbecue with some Blue Knights from Colorado. Nebraska I makes an annual trip to western Nebraska just to meet up with other Blue Knights, share a couple of meals and have a few drinks. There are no strangers in Blue Knights, just friends you haven’t met yet.

On the area racing scene, Thunder Hill Raceway at Mayetta, KS has their website up and running. They have their 2010 weekly schedule and payouts posted. They will be racing IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Stock Cars, IMCA Sport Mods and IMCA Hobby Stocks on Saturday nights. They are also working on scheduling some late model and spring car shows. Their season will start - with the cooperation of Mother Nature - with practice sessions on March 20th and March 27th from 2 PM to 5 PM. The season opener is scheduled for Saturday, April 3rd and will run through September 25. The schedule also shows “Thunder on the Hill” on October 8th & 9th. Racing is to start at 7 PM. That’s 26 nights of racing (NO BAD WEATHER!!) plus the year end special! If you live in the area, you will be able to get your weekly fix at Thunder Hill.

Warm weather in the area had greatly diminished our snow banks and I can see you back yard in places! Maybe the snow will be gone in time for the USMTS show at McCool Junction. If all goes well, that will be my first race of the season. Two weeks later, on March 19th & 20th, Beatrice will host the Spring Nationals. Factory stocks will share the show on the 19th with Modifieds, Sport Mods and Hobby Stocks. The Saturday show will be Modifieds, Sport Mods, Hobby Stocks and Sport Compacts.

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The race car show at Beatrice, sponsored by Women for Racing, will be on Saturday, April 10th and will be followed by Test-N-Tune. The regular season will start the following week, Friday April 16th. Regular night shows will consist of IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Mods, IMCA Hobby Stocks, IMCA Sport Compacts and Factory Stocks.

On April 10th, Eagle Raceway will kick off their season with their annual Icebreaker Challenge hosting Sprint cars, IMCA Modifieds, hobby stocks and sport compacts.

I-80 Speedway at Greenwood, NE has their schedule up on their website. It shows opening night as Saturday March 27th with Late Models, Pro Ams, Compacts, Modifieds and sport mods. I-80 will also have NASCAR sanctioning.
The regular season for Junction Motor Speedway at McCool Junction will kick off the night after Beatrice’s opening night, April 18th. JMS will once again be NASCAR sanctioned. They are also scheduled to hold a World of Outlaws Sprint Car show on June 25th. The last weekly show of 2010 will be September 11th.

There you have it, “brief” rundown on my two biggest hobbies. Now if only Mother Nature will cooperate so I can participate in both.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Race car driver safety - then & now;Playland Speedway at Council Bluffs, IA; Midwest Speedway in Lincoln, NE;Kasey Kahne at Chili Bowl; Kevin Swindell races to Chili Bowl win ahead of dad; Wild West Shootout in Tuscon

While looking through web pages on stock car racing in Nebraska, I came across the Playland Speedway website. Playland speedway was a paved bullring located at Council Bluffs, Iowa near where the I-480 bridge is today. The track was built in the 1940’s and was first raced as a dirt track in 1947. Prior to the 1954 season it was paved.

The reason this interested me was because I went to Nebraska Technical College in Milford, Nebraska in 1972-1973 where I took Auto Mechanics. A classmate, Howard Koziol, raced at Playland. He wrote a good article on his recollections of Playland, both going to the races there as a youngster and racing there in the last years of the track’s operation. He has some nice pictures of himself on his page.

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I hope Howard ends up reading this, because I’m going to make some observations as well as poke some fun at him. The first thing is - LOOK AT THAT HAIR!! Who did the perms for you back then? How much of that hair is left 35 years later?? The second thing I want to ask - although it was the first thing I noticed - were those bib overalls your driving uniform??

For you youngsters reading this, it may sound funny and far out - but go to and look at the old pictures of the drivers and their cars. Go to the link to Howard’s page and take a look at his pictures from when he won some trophies. He is wearing bib overalls in each of those pictures. Under those bid overalls he was wearing what looks like a short sleeve t-shirt!

I remember the first races I attended as a spectator. Midwest Speedway in Lincoln, Nebraska had “late models” and “hobby stocks” in the early and mid-’70’s. Most of the drivers wore blue jeans and white t-shirts. I don’t remember if most wore some kind of gloves or not. There were a lot of open face helmets being used, and as I look back I wonder if they were really racing helmets or football helmets.

I remember going into the pits after the races at Midwest Speedway. Some of the cars had a factory bucket seat and stock seat belts!! It’s amazing that a ton of drivers weren’t killed in that era.

Safety is an area in our race cars where a lot of drivers - me included - continue to scimp. There have been a lot of articles on safety in racing magazines covering everything from helmets, fire suits, gloves, shoes, and seats to how to mount the seats and belts. One thing that is emphasized is if you can’t afford the safety equipment, DON’T RACE!!

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Helmets have evolved from open-face, possibly football helmets to Snell-approved helmets that are required by every sanctioning body as well as most un-sanctioned tracks. Prices range from $200 for a plain-Jane white RCI brand helmet with no frills to $580 for a Bell GTX that can be hooked up to a clean air machine. A roll-off machine, either manual or electric, can be attached to the helmet to change tear-offs. Fire suits will range from $100 for a bare-bones suit that is good for only a few seconds to a close to $1,000 for a 3-layer SFI-5 rated suit. Then you have to have gloves, ranging from $50 to over $200, shoes for the same price, and a good idea is to have a nomex hood, fireproof underwear and socks. If it sounds like you might get a bit warm with all this protective clothing, you can look into a Kwik Kool shirt for $190. These are charged with a special Freon that can provide up to one hour of cooling. Extra Freon is $12 a can.

While racers and future racers are reading this and making a list of what they need to purchase in order to race safely, others have been racing in other parts of the country. The annual “Chili Bowl” races at Tulsa, Oklahoma have come to a close. These midget races are held indoors and host drivers from all walks of like. NASCAR driver Tony Stewart is a past winner and Kasey Kahne has been a regular competitor. The final A Feature found 20-year old Kevin Swidell taking the checkered flag, with his father, 5-time Chili Bowl winner Sammy Swindell, following in 3rd place.

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I can’t imagine what it would be like to attend races indoors. I’ve joked that if I would win the Powerball, Beatrice Speedway would become an indoor venue. I would have a lot better chance of just attending the Chili Bowl sometime.

For late model and modified fans, there has been dirt track racing in the Tuscon, Arizona area for the last week. The 4th annual Wild West Shootout saw Billy Moyer and Terry Phillips taking home A Feature wins. Omaha’s John Anderson had a 2nd place finish in Saturday night’s finale.

The Columbus, Nebraska swap meet was held January 17th. It was my weekend to work so I wasn’t able to attend. Rules from several area tracks were available and are to be posted on track websites soon. The USMTS Frostbuster at McCool Junction is scheduled for March 5th and 6th. I hope the snow is gone by then and the temperatures are more conducive to racing.

The cold weather doesn’t help me out any while working in the garage. I spent a few hours with the woodburner going and got it above 50, but the concrete floor was still awful cold.

I also spent some time trying to get more things lined up to put in a proposal for a Blue Knights Conference for Beatrice in June 2011. Once again, due to work schedule, I was not able to go to our Blue Knights chapter meeting over the weekend, but I e-mailed the information I had to the Chapter officers. For Nebraska I members reading this, don’t forget, dues have to be paid! Chapter dues have to be received by International before January 31st. If your dues haven’t been paid by now, send them to Clyde or Diane ASAP!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Trips to the doctor; Grand Island, NE bridal show; Blue Knights trip planning; Utah says goodbye to Deputy Josie Fox

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I’ve always been a wimp when it comes to going to the doctor. I’ve never liked blood & guts, and have a dislike and fear of needles. I remember going to the doctor for a checkup when I was in grade school. The nurse stuck me in the finger for a drop of blood and I fainted. My phobia has never gotten any better.

I’m not sure how I made it through Army basic training. It seemed like about every week we lined up to get shots of some kind. I found out I was not the only person in the world that didn’t like needles. I remember a couple of guys passing out while waiting in line to get shots. The military, in it’s infinite wisdom, did not mess with needles when giving shots to hundreds of people at a time. They used an air gun of sorts, and I found if I held my arms tightly to my sides, the shots did not bother me a whole lot.

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When I got into Law Enforcement, people who knew me asked what I would do when I had to respond to a dead body, a bad crash or a shooting. I didn’t know how I’d react but hoped I would be able to work my way through it. I was able to make it through several incidents early in my career without embarrassing myself.

One thing I learned about going for a physical - when there was a blood draw involved, I could generally get through it by lying down on the examining table. Most everybody who has drawn blood from me was very good at it, and if I felt anything, it wasn’t much. After a while, I could sit up, then stand up and walk and there were no problems. However, I always continued to remind them that I had to lie down.

As a result of a visit to the doctor during the summer of 2002, I learned that I was diabetic. All sorts of images ran through my mind. My grandmother was diabetic and I remember seeing her giving herself shots. Fortunately, I’ve been able to control the diabetes with oral meds and watching what I eat. Sometimes, like during Thanksgiving and Christmas, it’s particularly difficult as I LOVE chocolate!!

I’ve found that my regular check-ups cost less if I go to the V.A. for them. However, when I have a blood draw, there’s no place for me to lie down. I keep telling them I need to lie down, but I find myself sitting in a chair. On my last visit, I was all through with the blood draw and thought I was about ready to get out of the chair. The next thing I knew, I had 4 people standing around me and somebody holding a cold cloth to my forehead. I suddenly began to feel nauseous, something that had NEVER happened to me before! That subsided and I decided I could get up and go to the waiting room. As I stood up, a wave of nausea came over me and this time I did throw up.

Now, the same people that thought I did not have to lie down to have a blood draw decided I needed a wheelchair to move around. They wheeled me outside to get some fresh air. During conversation I told the nurse that I hadn’t had anything to eat (the blood draw was after fasting) and she decided to roll me to the canteen for something to eat. Part was down the hallway I started to get that feeling again. She turned me around and we ended up in a sort of emergency room. A cold cup of water, then they brought me a granola bar, which I nibbled on. I got most of it down, then the nausea came back and so did the granola bar.

The doctor stopped and checked on me a couple of times. He asked how I’d gotten to Lincoln and I told him I rode the Gold Wing. He asked how I was going to get home and I told him the same way. He shook his head and told me he didn’t think so. About noon, he came back in to check on me. I was feeling a bit better and he let me walk around a bit, then he walked outside with me. After a while we went back in and I headed for the canteen where I had a light lunch. It all stayed down this time.

When all was said and done, my blood work came back fine. My blood sugars were acceptable and I am still on my oral meds. I continue to try to watch my diet. The doctor has cautioned me against gaining very much weight, and so far that has not been a problem. If the time comes that I end up on insulin, I don’t know what will happen. Hopefully, there will be an oral insulin before that time comes.

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My two older daughters, Heather and Hollie, started a venture together several years ago that they call “Nebraska Wedding Guide.” Hollie has a photo studio in Grand Island, Nebraska called “Hotshots by Hollie.” Hollie has developed a photography business doing senior pictures, babies, weddings, families, children, birthday packages, announcements, holiday cards, dance and sports. Their mother and stepfather own a flower shop in Grand Island and my youngest daughter, Abby, works at the flower shop. As part of the Nebraska Wedding Guide business, Heather and Hollie put on a bridal show twice a year in Grand Island. There are vendors at the show such as other photographers, clothing places, caterers, flower shops, etc. They just finished up doing a bridal show that looks like it was a great success. Jan and I went to Grand Island to help out where we could. Admission to the show was one can of food per person. The food went to one of the local food pantries in Grand Island. At the end of the show, they had collected almost 500 food items for the pantry.
On the drive to Grand Island, we saw snow drifts like we hadn’t seen for YEARS!! It’s no wonder roads were closed as long as they were! Some of the railroads in Nebraska were shut down, including AMTRACK between Hastings and Holdrege, Nebraska. The wind would blow the tracks closed as soon as they were open. However, it looks like there may be some relief in sight as this week promises that the weather is to warm up and there is no precipitation forecasted. We might even be able to get the 2’ berm of ice and snow out of the end of our driveway.

Looking outside right now, the days of getting on the motorcycle and taking a ride seem a long time away, but it’s never too soon to be doing some maintenance and safety checks now. While the motorcycle is in the garage up on the center stand, take a good look at the tires. How much tread is left? Check the tires over carefully for cuts or any other damage. How old are the trires? Are they weather-checked? When I bought my 1984 Gold Wing, the tire tread looked decent, but when I looked closer at the tires, they were badly weather-checked. The rear tire was weather-checked into the cords in the sidewalls. Needless to say, I changed them at the earliest opportunity.

When you need tires, research what tires will give you the best service. Everybody who rides has an opinion on the best tires for their motorcycles. When I got my GL1800, ’d heard horror stories about how poorly the tires wore. I asked the dealer I got it from about tire pressure, and was told to run 40 lbs in the front and 41 in the rear. My front tire lasted 13,000 miles and still had tread when I replaced it. I replaced the rear tire at the beginning of the season last summer at 23,000 miles and it still had fair tread on it.

When I had my ’84 Interstate, I took it to the Harley shop for tires. One of the mechanics there had worked for a Honda dealership for 12 years. I bought what he recommended and was very satisfied as I consistently got 23,500 miles out of the tires and they were still not unsafe to ride on.
While the motorcycle is garaged during the winter, it is a good idea to put a Battery Tender on the battery. This will give the battery a trickle charge when it’s needed, and when it’s fully charged, it will automatically shut off. It can most certainly extend your battery life.

If you’re planning a road trip of any great length, look at your riding gear. Boots, chaps, gloves, helmet. If any of these need to be replaced, do it now. If your trip includes a route through the mountains, consider that a change in elevation means a change in temperatures. We came back from Las Vegas in July 2001 through Colorado. The first day we rode from Las Vegas to Grand Junction, Colorado. The last 100 or so miles, the heat was pretty bad. Jan commented that she was starting to feel a bit light-headed and felt the heat was affecting her. The next day, we rode south to Montrose and then east along the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The highway climbed to over 13,000 feet when we went through Monarch Pass. There was a light rain and it was very cold for that time of the year. Coming out of the pass and continuing east, the weather warmed up again. If we hadn’t been as well prepared as we were, it could have been a miserable ride over Monarch Pass. As it was, it was a bit uncomfortable but we came out of it no worse for wear.

I’ve been trying to decide what route to take coming home from the Blue Knights International Convention in Billings, Montana in July. When we were in Colorado in 2008, we rode to Ft Collins, then west on Hwy 14 along the Poudre River Valley. I’d have loved to have gone farther than Rustic, which was about 21 miles. However, one of the guys had to be back in Greeley early, so we didn’t go any further. I’d have liked to have gone to Steamboat Springs, but it looks like it would be almost a full day each way from Greeley. I’m now thinking of leaving Billings the same way we got there, then fron Casper going southwest on Hwy 220 to Muddy Gap, then 287 south to Rawlins. After an overnight stay at Rawlins, we’d go west on I-80 to Hwy 789, then south to Craig, Colorado. From Craig, we’d take Hwy 40 east to Steamboat Springs. East of Steamboat Springs, we’d take Hwy 14 to complete the ride we started in 2008. If anybody has taken this route please feel free to comment. logo
Delta, Utah paid its respects to fallen Millard County, Utah Joise Greathouse Fox on Monday January 11th, 2010. According to the Salt Lake City Tribunethe center where the funeral took place was designed to hold 1,500 people andit was overflowing. Police from across Utah, California, Arizona, Idaho, Nevada and Montana attended the service. When the services ended, the procession to the cemetery stretched the entire length of the town. Adulta and children lined the streets, creating a tunnel of American flags. There was a two hour delay between the end of the services and the beginning of the graveside services. We must remember that the services were a celebration of the way Deputy Fox lived, not how she died. Rest in Peace, Deputy Fox!

All photos by Salt Lake Trib

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Millard County, Utah Deputy killed on traffic stop;NASCAR at Texas;planning for a Blue Knights trip; gas & energy costs on the rise again

Grant County, Washington Deputy Sheriff John Bernard died as a result of a single car accident January 3rd. The west bound patrol car left the roadway and rolled. It was found by a passerby around 7:20 PM. The cause of the accident is being investigated. Deputy Bernard had served with the Grant County Sheriff’s Department for 4 years and had been in Law Enforcement since 1997. He is survived by his wife and two sons, one who is also a Grant County Deputy Sheriff.

At the Federal Courthouse in Las Vegas, Nevada, a gunman opened fire with a shotgun, killing a Court Security Officer and wounding a U.S. Marshal before he was shot to death. The slain Court Security Officer was identified as 65-year old Stanley Cooper, who was a retired Las Vegas Police Sergeant. He served with the Las Vegas Police Department for 26 years and retired in 1991. The wounded 48-yr old U.S. Marshal was not identified. He was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Condolences go out to the families, friends and co-workers of Deputy Bernard and Officer Cooper.

Shortly after 1 AM on Tuesday January 5th, Millard County, Utah Deputy Sheriff Josie Greathouse Fox, 37, was killed by gunfire when she made a traffic stop near Delta, Utah. A massive manhunt is underway as this is being written. The suspected shooter is an illegal alien and convicted felon who was previously deported. Deputy Fox had served with the Millard County Sheriff’s Department for 5 years. She is survived by her husband and two children. Prayers and condolences go out to the family, friends and co-workers of Deputy Fox.

I just learned that Deputy Fox’ accused killer and the “person of interest” suspected of being an accomplice were captured while hiding in a shed at Beaver Utah about 8 AM on January 6th. He will now face charges in Millard County, Utah.

WINTER!! What more can I say?? I know it could be worse, as we have been getting a few days between each storm. It’s getting old, and I could not imagine living in Alaska and working in this weather 8, 9 or 10 months out of the year. Heck, I was tired of the snow when Octoberfest at Beatrice Speedway got snowed out way back in October!

It’s been so cold I haven’t even attempted to start a fire in the wood burned in the garage. I just don’t think it would do much good, but if the wind stays calm, I just might try it. If I can get the temperature up to 50 I will be able to work in it. I’ll just have to try it. I did manage to get enough wood inside to last me a day before the rest of it got buried under the snow.

All Ready to Race and Nowhere to Go

I still haven’t made a 100% decision on going to Texas Motor Speedway in April for the NASCAR weekend. There’s no problem in getting tickets and the last I looked there are plenty of motel rooms left at a reasonable price. I’d love to be able to ride the Gold Wing there, but the weather may not be warm enough yet. I’m just hoping it will be warm enough to ride to Montana in July for the Blue Knights International Conference. The other long ride I want to make is to Grand Forks, North Dakota in September for another Blue Knights get-together. I also hope we can find the time to go to Colorado for a few days this summer, too.

I haven’t looked real close at the map yet, but if I remember right, Billings in between 1,000 and 1,100 miles from Beatrice. That would make it about 550 miles a day to make it in two days. I’m guessing Greeley, Colorado might be about half way, depending on the route we take. Coming home, I’d like to take a little more time to do some sightseeing along the way. While we’re in the Billings area, I’d like to go to the Little Big Horn area as well as into Yellowstone. That’s a couple of places we’ve never been.

I can look at different routes to Billings without leaving the house. By doing Google searches, I can even see what the scenery along the way looks like If we have to make there in 2 days, the best way would probably to go west out of Beatrice on Hwy 4. That’s the route we’ve taken the last 3 years when we’ve gone to Greeley. We make the first part of the trip a bit long as we don’t stop until we get to Holdrege where we get fuel and take aa bit of a break. That’s about 150 miles from Beatrice. We usually try to take a break about every 100 miles.

From Holdrege we go west on Hwy 6/34 for 73 miles and stop at McCook for lunch and fuel. From there it’s another 92 miles on Hwy 34 to Wray, Colorado where another fuel stop and break are in order. From Wray to Ft Morgan is another 88 miles and we stop at the 80 exit for fuel and a break. From Ft Morgan to Heather and Dana’s is about 55 miles, making for about a 460 mile day. If we leave Beatrice by 8 AM, we can ride at or just under the speed limit and take an hour for lunch and be at Greeley before 5:30 PM. If we push a little, we can make even better time. However, traveling by motorcycle isn’t usually a push to see how good a time we can make.

If we can get out of Greeley by 7 AM on Sunday, we should be able to be in Billings at a decent time. Going north out of Greeley on Hwy 85, it’s 42 miles to the Colorado/Wyoming State line. From there it’s 8 miles to I-80 and 3 miles west on I-80 to I-25. It’s another 70 miles north on I-25 to Wheatland, where we will take a fuel stop and break. By the time we leave Wheatland, it will be 9:30. It’s 108 miles to Casper, which should put us there about 11:15. We’ll get fuel and take a lunch break and should be back on the road by 12:30. From there to Buffalo it’s 113 miles, so we should be there about 2:15. After fuel and a break, we’ll be back on the road about 2:30. It’s 60 miles to the Wyoming/Montana State Line and we should be there about 3:30. From there to Billings is 110 miles, which should put us in Billings by 6 PM. That day will be about 515 miles total.

With the big fuel tank on the Gold Wing, there should not be any fuel issues. It has always been our experience that the fuel tank far outlasts our butts!!

I’ve noticed the price of gas is creeping up, even though I keep reading that we have plenty of oil. When racing season started in 2009, gas at the pumps was $1.999. It went up 12 cents last week - maybe because our gas tax went up a half cent??

A newspaper article now says that gasoline prices are expected to soon be above the highest prices of 2009. It already is here. There is also a sidebar that says we paid 54 cents per therm for natural gas in November and will be paying 72 cents in January due to the severe cold weather we’ve experienced for the last month. While all this is going on, we keep hearing of global warming. I guess we can all be glad about global warming, because without it, I’m afraid it would get pretty cold around here!

I was stationed at Ft Lee, Virginia the first part of 1971. I drove my 1964 Chevrolet Impala back home to Crete, Nebraska from Ft Lee which cost me $40 in gas. Who today can say they can fill their empty gas tank for $40? In 1996, we rode our Gold Wing to Tustin, California and back for $149 in gas. When I was in high school and just out, I remember people driving to Wilber, 10 miles away, to get gas because it was 2 or 3 cents a gallon cheaper.  It was cost effective back then, when gas was 30 cents a gallon.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

More nasty winter weather; Pierce County, Washington Deputy succumbs to wounds; attempt to blow up airliner; plans for 2010 FOP Charity race

Happy New Year, everybody!!

I find it ironic that so much is being made about global warming and we’ve just experienced the biggest snowstorm in 60 years. We had a late Christmas on December 30th and I saw a note from Heather that they weren’t leaving Grand Island as soon as they thought because the interstate was closed again. We got light snow but it stopped after an hour or so. We’re now in the “deep freeze” with lows the next few nights dropping well below 0. We may also get some more snow. It’s my firm belief that the fuss about global warming will pad somebody’s pocket, if it isn’t already.

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Just for fun, do a Google search on “blizzard of 1949 Nebraska.” There are pictures of railroad locomotives stuck in snow banks that are taller than the locomotives. When you read about that winter, you’ll find that it started snowing in November and was actually a series of blizzards. It looks like the big storm hit in January 1st, and the forecast did not call for any snow that day!!

On a sad note, Pierce County, Washington, Deputy Sheriff Kent Mundell, 44, succumbed to his injuries with his family at his side Monday evening, December 28th. Deputy Mundell had been on life support since being shot on December 21st. Deputy Mundell and Sgt Nick Hausner responded to a call from family members to have David Crable, who was intoxicated, removed from the home. Crable, who had a history of domestic violence, opened fire on the deputies and wounded both deputies. Deputy Mundell was able to return fire and David Crable died from his wounds on the scene.

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Deputy Mundell had served with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department for 10 years. He is survived by his wife, 16-year old daughter and 10-year old son. Rest in peace brother thank you for your dedication and sacrifice.

This is another sad day for our nation. While another family mourns the loss of a husband, father, son, and hero, defense attorneys everywhere are demanding rights for their clients that commit these most heinous of crimes. Something just doesn't seem right with this.

In 2009, Law Enforcement nationwide lost 125 Officers to Line of Duty Deaths. Please keep all of the officers, families, friends and co-workers in your prayers.

We woke up on Christmas morning to learn that an attempt had been made to blow up another airplane. Now, there is a call for congressional investigations to find out how the suspect was even able to board a plane. We know he was on a “terrorist watch list” that consists of 500,000 names. A HALF MILLION PEOPLE ON A WATCH LIST!!?? “Profiling” isn’t allowed, so do we have to ignore these people? When does the right to privacy over shadow the rights of everyone on that plane to arrive safely? Fortunately, this incident ended safely, but what about the NEXT time? Flying can be an inconvenience, but is necessary at times. The last time I flew, I only had a small carry-on bag, as the rest of my stuff went ahead of me by way of 4 wheels. I had to take my shoes and socks off and walk through a metal detector three times. An elderly lady ahead of me had a small bottle of perfume taken out of her purse and was not allowed to take it with her. However, there were no terrorists among us that night and we made it safely to our destination.

Thanks to the support and dedication of my wife, Jan, most of the 2009 R & R Racing season at Beatrice Speedway is on videotape. She had her hands full, especially when we had two cars on the track at the same time.

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In August, members of the Beatrice/Gage County Fraternal Order of Police took to the track for a Charity Race. Including me, we had 9 drivers in cars that owners/drivers let us drive. Who drove what car was determined by a draw, as was starting position. Before the evening of the race, each driver picked a charity that they would be racing for. Money was donated for the purse by Beatrice Speedway, Women for Racing, FOP Lodge 45, and individuals who donated by putting money in a jug at the WFR booth or sending money to the FOP. The total purse ended up being $1,000. The winner’s charity got 40%, 2nd place 30%, 3rd place 20% and 4th place 10%.

At intermission that evening, the track announcer had the 9 drivers come to the front straightaway where each driver was interviewed. When it was time for us to strap in and get on the track, we were given a few “hot laps” before lining up and getting the green. At the white flag, three cars were battling for the lead, and the pass for the win was made going into turn 3. People in the grandstands were hooting and hollering for the drivers at the end. It was probably the best race of the evening. We all had fun doing it and have talked about doing it again in 2010. We’re looking into what we can do to raise money for the purse.

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In the age of computers and social networking, I’ve registered with Facebook and am adding to my “Friends” list at every chance. I have this blog as a “Group” on Facebook and encourage everybody to become a member of the Group. I have almost 1,100 friends on Facebook and over 300 members of my Group. I am going to try to raise purse money for the 2010 FOP Charity Race by asking for donations from my Friends on Facebook. If everybody would donate just $1, that would give us over $1,000 just to start. We hope to raise enough money for the 2010 Charity Race to be able to donate to every charity represented. I am going to try to start promoting this event through Facebook and this blog and hope that everybody that reads about it will be willing to donate to it in order to make it successful again in 2010. If everybody would donate $1, it would be a huge success!

Our chosen charities in 2009 were the YMCA, Special Olympics, American Cancer Society, Salvation Army, Mother to Mother Ministry, Habitat for Humanity, Food Pantry, Make A Wish Foundation and the Beatrice Youth Center. I am already going to post a sign-up roster so we can see what kind of turn-out of FOP members we will have to drive in this event. Keep watching here and on Facebook to keep track of updates.