James Dean Days – Fairmount, IN

We love Fridays.  Why?  Because Friday’s is either the last day of the work week, or like this week, the first part of the weekend!  My wife and I decided to take the day off, call a few friends, and amble northward to the James Dean Festival in Fairmount, Indiana.  The weekend is the most crowded of the event, so going up on a Friday would allow us to walk around without constantly having people bump into us.  This whole area of the Hoosier state is alive with festivals, car shows, and bike ride-ins this weekend.  However, since we and many of our riding friends are going on the “Catfish Caper” this weekend with the local HOG chapter, we decided today would be perfect to check out some of the festivals which were already under way.

The day started cool and heavily overcast, much like our previous ride.  Today though, we did not even get a splattering of rain, even though the clouds threatened us much of the day with such.  Our friends and the two of us decided to get a late start in the morning, and made arrangements to meet at 10:45 at a gas station that seemed to be a good start for our journey.  As usual, we arrived first, which did allow us to sample the local fountain soda at the fueling station…and our discovery was that somebody had hooked up the syrup lines incorrectly.  The usual frosty root beer tasted exactly like Cherry Coke, a puzzling but not disappointing surprise first thing in the morning.

Bonnie after paying for my jail bond, and awaiting me to be released so I could chauffeur her 
again.  Just kidding of course (but with the cagers this afternoon, one day…see end of today’s entry)!
Most of our riding friends work Monday-Friday as such regular people do (including us), so we sent out an invite to John & Shiz, and Dan and Marci…who quickly accepted a day away on the bikes as well.  We all decided to keep a leisurely pace, and take our time…no hurries today, so we put John in the lead, and like blind mice, played follow the leader on our way to the day’s meal.
We had all heard a good review of Ivanhoe’s in Upland, Indiana, which was fairly close to some of the festivals we would be going to check out.  The restaurant is known for their super-sized salads, hamburgers, strawberry shortcake, and their many, many choices or ice cream desserts.  As expected, the ride was cool yet refreshing, with all of us bundled in layers to insulate us.  Our route was to take IN-37 northward and turn east on IN-22 until we encountered the restaurant, and the ride proceeded easily. 

While the taco salad message on the overhead sign sounded tempting, I went with my “it’s safe” assumption and got my usual when dining out if something else does not pique my interest…the jumbo breaded tenderloin.  I’d have to rate it a 7 out of 10…little better than average in taste, smaller in size than usual, and the vegetables on the sandwich was just average.  Shiz got a fruit salad that was ordered as a small, and could have fed all six of us.  She gladly shared her entree to the rest of us, which became our dessert.  Had it been warmer out riding, we probably would have indulged for some of their famous ice creams treats.  Alas, we did not on this day…but gives us a reason to revisit the establishment on a future hotter day.
Sign outside of Ivanhoe’s, inviting all for ice cream!
John mentioned that he would like to visit a small biker store in Jonesboro, which we gladly agreed to accompany him.  Proceeding back west on IN-22, we took the turn into the small town, located just west of Gas City.  A festival of sorts was occurring aimed at the biker crowd, and we took our time walking through the main street and perusing the vendors’ offerings.  

One of the vendors had this very interesting paint job on his bike.  Very original.

After visiting the small store on the other side of the downtown area, we headed back to our bikes to make our final stop for the day, the James Dean Festival.  Back on IN-22 westward, to IN-9 south, and then IN-26 east into Fairmount.

Streets were shut down all over Fairmount, the boyhood town of the famous actor James Dean who perished decades ago in a tragic car accident.  His grave is also located in this area.  The festival was actually fairly busy for a Friday, with quite a few people walking around among the famous car show that occurs.  An inside joke is that every one of our rides is not complete unless we have to do a very tight u-turn someplace along our route, and this ride had its happening when the road we riding on while looking for a good parking space, was blocked off without any kind of warning.  The required u-turn achieved, we found parking for our bikes along an access driveway to the local school’s baseball field.

While the car show mainly attracts 1950s Mercury enthusiasts from all over the country, all brands of cars are welcomed.  The older Mercury’s are the cars from the day that James Dean was alive, and have become the center showpieces to the festivals.  Many of the cars had out of state plates, albeit mostly with a original 1940s or 1950s plate on the front of their cars or in the windows to help authentic the vehicle’s vintage.

Quite a few cars were shown, and I only snapped a few pictures.  My wife is the photographer in the family, and took a lot more pictures which I am sure will end up on her own blog eventually.  It was kind of nice to walk around without the huge throng of people that would be there Saturday and Sunday, and it gave us time to talk to some of the owners at length about their restored classics.
I am a sucker for the Pontiac GTO, Dodge Charger, and the Super Bee cars from the mid-to-late 1960s.  This car show had plenty of these muscle cars in attendance as well, which just drives my fire to one day have one of these beauty grace my own garage.  Of course, then I’d have to figure out which to take out on such wonderful asphalt days…the muscle, or the Harley.  Perhaps it is best I do not have to encounter this dilemma so early in life yet.  One could only wish though…

Cars of all types were at the show, and Bonnie even found a car to fit her size perfectly.  The car was for sale, but was in need of some major loving to restore it.  The condition was so degraded, that the owner fed gas to the engine by way of a 2 gallon gas jug sitting between the seats, with a hose going through the firewall into the carburetor.  Didn’t get a photo of the custom fuel setup, but did get one of a smiling lady who had visions of vroom-vroom in her eyes.
Again, lots of vehicles to see in the car show.  I also enjoy the look of a suicide door-equipped sedan (what were they thinking???) from the days gone by, and one stood out for its appearance:

Looking at the clock, John had a reservation he had to make back in the Indianapolis area, so we decided to head back.  A few minutes on IN-26 east put us at the junction of Interstate I-69, which we’d take southward back to the Indianapolis area where we would all start to peel off back to our own destinations.

During the ride down I-69, in what is to be a normal reminder of the idiocy of cagers (4-wheel vehicles known as trucks and cars) around motorcycles, we had moved over into the fast lane to pass traffic going much slower than the 70 MPH speed limit.  Dan was leading at this point on his new trike, following the row of faster traffic.  A mini-van which had blew past us and was in front of Dan decided to take a off-ramp, and proceeded to slam his brakes on in their attempt to get to the slower lane at the last second to make the exit.    Our entire row of motorcycles quickly slammed on the breaks, and avoided what could have been a nasty accordion style accident.

Just to show you can never get comfortable and complacent on the bike, about five miles later, with all of us in the slow lane again, we again came across slower traffic ahead of us.  Dan (with Marci on the back of the trike), John, and Shiz had managed to get merged over.  As I started to merge into the left lane, a SUV that had been pacing us for miles about 5 car lengths behind, but unwilling to pass the motorcycles, suddenly accelerated to prevent me from getting into the lane.  Had I not heard his engine kicked in, and seen him suddenly accelerate, it would have been messy.

To make matters worse, this second moron, cut me off in the slow lane, while the pile of traffic moved in front of me.  As soon as there was an opening, I went into the fast lane…and so did moron number two…who proceeded to slam on this brakes, and then start playing “chicken” each time he got back up to speed again.  We were passing a row of slower moving semis that were on the right, and traffic behind me started getting irritated due to the erratic driving of the SUV driver.  With nowhere to go, I slowly let off the gas, to have moron number three behind me decide he was going to push me out of the way if he had too.  You know they are close when you look in the rear view mirror, and all you see is their vehicle’s windshield. What’s worse, is I could feel Bonnie tensed up behind me, her hands clenching my side firmly for an impact that could come at any time from the front or the back.

Once the row of semis had nearly been passed, moron number two in the SUV slowed down and paced his vehicle on the bumper of the leading semi and would not merge to the right, but kept acting as if he was going to keep me from getting in the slow lane as well.  Swerve to the right, back to his lane, swerve to the right, back to his lane, repeated numerous times.  Luckily, the semi driver saw his behavior, because I suddenly noticed he had let off the accelerator, and was creeping into the breakdown lane, creating an opening.

Timing is everything on a motorcycle sometimes.  If you time something wrong, you can get hurt or worse.  Sometimes the cagers like to play games with the motorcycles…emergency brake checks for no reason, seeing how close they can get on your bumper, etc.  We had found ourselves between two lunatics, for all I know acquaintances traveling together, and having a blast with the bikers between them.  The semi driver must have known that we were in a real tough spot, and he gave us the escape we needed.

Watching moron #2 weaving purposefully with one eye, and moron #3 behind me with the other eye, I needed to get us out of there before one of them made a mistake that would never be able to be reversed.  As moron #2 in front of me swung to his right, and then started his synchronized move back to the left, I kicked the Harley down a gear, which placed the engine into a angry whine from ready to go horsepower, and gave my bike all the throttle I could muster as I released the clutch.   This all happened in less than a second, and is a skill most bikers realize that they must learn to avoid accidents.

I affectionately call my bike “The Mistress”.  She responded immediately, and with a quick light dip into the slow lane, which had no traffic for probably a half-a-mile to where my fellow riders were cruising along waiting for us to catch up, we blew past moron #2.

So, thank you Mr. Truck Driver.  You’ll probably never ever read my blog, but in spirit, please know that your willingness to give us room was much appreciated.  May you have a safe journey in your own travels.

Enjoyable day with some friends, and we managed to get back into our garage with everything intact.  Tomorrow, we leave for our annual HOG chapter’s Director’s Ride…and we’re looking forward to it, regardless of the morons we will be facing in the future.

Upcoming Rides Update – Sept 2011

It is now mid-September, and the weather is starting to cool down.  With the 100 degree days behind us, at least here in Indiana, we are now enjoying putting on the leathers in the mornings and riding in reduced temperatures.  I have noticed a reduction of bugs stuck on the windshield, so I think even they have already taken notice of the declining temps.

We have only a few more dedicated group rides left in the year.  From talking to others in the HOG group we are involved with, most of them winterize their bikes when the weather gets too cold for them.  Winterizing is putting Stabil in the gas tanks, throwing a cover over the bike, hooking it up to a battery tender, and allowing the motorcycle to go into hibernation until spring.  My own wife does not like to ride when the air is crisp or it’s the time of year when white flakes blanket the ground.  The cold bothers me more now than ever, but I will still plan on taking it on during those rare forty degree days throughout the winter and let the teeth chatter some while gleefully listening to the roaring exhaust on the highway.  Albeit, for no more than twenty minutes at a time!

Until then, there is a few rides left in 2011 that we will enjoy with our friends.  This coming weekend, my wife and I will be participating in our HOG chapter’s Director’s Choice Ride…which will be an overnight trip known as the Catfish Caper.  This ride will take us into southern Illinois, and along the Ohio River back along the Indiana state line.

We are looking forward to this ride, as it will also allow me to stop at the Harley dealer in Evansville so that I can complete my Indiana Harley-Davidson shot glass collection.  My wife and I collect these shot glasses to display in our game whenever we visit a never before visited dealership, and we’ve been able to visit them all except Evansville in the past seven years of riding together.  There should be a large group that will endure the colder mornings and get their last fix for the riding season.  We expect to take a lot of pictures and have a nice detailed write-up posted here within a week or so after our return.

October brings about two different covered bridge rides…one to the eastern part of the state, the other to the western.  Indiana isn’t known as the covered bridge capital of the world for no reason.  One county alone (Parke) once had 53 covered bridges…through the sands of time, there are now only 30 or 31 in that county still in existence.  These rides were timed to coincide with the change of the leaves falling from the trees, which of course is the same time the general public are out in force not paying attention of where they drive on the curvy country roads.  We plan to do at least one of these rides, maybe both…we shall see.

November brings about the Toys for Tots ride, which most likely will be cold…but that just means putting the layers on under the leathers, and helping out the kids that need our help.  So, just a reminder…keep a few bucks aside during the holiday season to help out some needy families and children.  There are a lot of toy drives, but there are also new coat drives for children, and the local food banks desperately need contributions during this time as well.  Many offer tax deductible incentives to those that donate, although we don’t pursue a receipt.

Been thinking of the longer rides for the next couple of years.  A man’s got to have goals, right?

2013 is the 110th Harley Davidson celebration in Milwaukee, and having participated in the 105th up there, we cannot wait to go back.  Street parties, dealer specials all over the place, factories open for extended free tours, and the manufacturer all over the place for an entire week.  Not to mention that the city’s citizens welcomed the bikers like loved family they hadn’t seen in years.  Over a million bikes from all over the world will be expected just like the one in 2008

Before 2013 comes along, the focus over the winter is what rides to do 2012.  My wife was not able to accompany me this year on my mostly solo trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway and neighboring roads, so that is one possibility.  Other “bucket list” rides include The Badlands, southern Utah / northern Arizona, and the ultimate North America ride…Alaska.  Each is a possibility next year, and I have not ruled any of these out yet.  Guess my ramblings here over the winter will be confused speculation as to which route becomes the primary one in 2012.  Always looking for comments or ideas…feel free to drop me a message (email is listed in the profile link near my avatar).

Visit to Wolf Park

Sometimes we ride where ever the motorcycle seems to take us, and none of these rides are every boring.  We ride alone, as a couple, or with friends…each has its own positives, but as long as the miles pass under the tires, I have no specific preference.  All are enjoyable.

The ride for today was thrown together late Saturday, and we decided to invite a few friends to make this particular journey easily manageable as the past week had been long for each of us.  Besides, by the time the  journey was decided on, it was getting late in the evening and we’re not ones to call and interrupt others that late.  Usually plans are made days in advance for destination rides, but having not heard from anybody throughout the week, we decided to organize something quickly.

We invited four other couples, two accepted; as the other two had previous commitments.  I had been wanting to enjoy breakfast at one of my favorite restaurants from over a decade ago, and then to go see some wild animals up close.  Plans were made, and we all agreed to meet up at a gravel parking lot at US-421 and IN-32 the next morning at 10AM.

Fast forward one night to Sunday morning.  Rolling out of bed, the weather channel got flipped out as we readied for the day.  My wife and I ride in the sun and rain…so no matter what was to be displayed to us on the  radar, we dress accordingly and go.  Letting our dogs out this morning revealed a double rainbow landing just outside of our back yard.  As we joke around, in our family, I’m the writer, and my wife is the picture taker.  The pictures from my iPhone do not do the sight justice, as shown below, but it was a very refreshing way to start a day and allowed us to enjoy some beauty before we left on the day’s journey.

The view out the back of our house showed rainbows, and partly clouded skies.  The view out the driveway showed heavy clouds that could downpour at any time.  Putting on the rain gear was the obvious choice, and we were soon on the road to meet with those couples that had accepted our initial invitation.  A quick fill-up at a local gas station, and we headed over to the first couple’s home which was on the way to the rendezvous location.

We admired our friends’ new bike, a 2012 Tri-Glide.  This is the three-wheel version Harley Davidson, and offers more storage options that the traditional touring bike like our Ultra Classic.  As expected, the Tri-Glide is much more stable to ride with its three contact points, which makes a big difference on wet, oily roads or gravel lanes.  We were given a quick tour of our friend’s new addition to their household, and we decided to head out to meet the last couple about 15 miles away.

Sprinkles of rain kept us company on the way to the meeting location, enough to guarantee my wife and I would keep our rain suits on throughout the morning.  The air temperature increased throughout the day, allowing us to slowly peel off layers underneath to keep us comfortable.  The last couple arrived five minutes after we did, and after discussing the route to be taken, we all mounted our hogs and proceeded north on US-421.

There’s not a lot of curvy or hilly roads in north central Indiana, so we simply concentrated on the drone of the engine exhaust as we kept watch of the dried stalks of the corn fields zipping past us on each side.  The turn off west on US-421 into Frankfort was blocked in town due to construction, which kept us from getting on the mildly curvy west bound IN-38 into Lafayette.  Instead, we kept proceeding north on the road we had been on, and turned west on IN-26 to drive towards our first stop, the famous Triple XXX restaurant in the retail area of Purdue University in West Lafayette.

The Triple XXX has been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, a show on The Food Network, with Guy Fieri.  If you have not seen the show yet, it is highly recommended.  Guy tours the country, looking for the best quality food located in the most unexpected places.  A few of my riding friends have made it a point to follow his route when time and money afforded it, and we’ve been able to visit a number of the eateries that have been featured.  Triple XXX is “world” famous for their chopped steak, as well as their breakfasts.  I had lived in the area more than a decade before, and had visited this restaurant many times in the past.

The wait was nearly an hour, as large groups of Purdue students, as well as students and their visiting parents, waited underneath the parking canopy patiently for their name to be called to enter.  Triple XXX has no tables…only a serpentine counter with fixed stools, creating a sensation of sitting in an old style root beer stand or truck stop.  This place is very popular due to their food and great service, and being just outside the main campus area, always has a steady stream of hungry customers.

The rain sprinkles we had been riding in became sporadic through our wait, both chasing us under the canopy as well as inviting us back under the clearing skies.  Our group was called approximately an hour after our arrival, and we took our positions on the stools and chatted with other customers while waiting to order and then to receive our food.

It seemed that most of us had ordered something different off the menu.  They are well known in this town for their biscuits and gravy, and myself being the number one fan of this cholesterol-laden food, went that path, with a couple of their scrambled eggs and toast on the side.  All of my friends know that one of the reasons I married my wife was the fact that she truly makes the best B&G I’ve ever had…and the XXX version is an extremely close second.  We all left the restaurant completely stuffed, and proceeded outside to don our riding gear once again.

Our second destination for the day was Wolf Park, in Battle Ground, Indiana.  Wolf Park is a sanctuary for wolves, of which they currently have around 14 on the 75 acre gated and enclosed site.  This center is used for the education of wolves to the general public, and is open most days.  There are all kinds of ways to get to Battleground, which is the location of the Battle of Tippecanoe memorial (more on this on a different day, I’ve been there many times in the past, but will be leading a group up there in the future…I’ll write about it then).

We proceeded north on IN-43 after cutting back through campus traffic, and passed under the I-65 interchange.  The easiest way to get to Wolf Park from I-65 is to go north on IN-43, turn right on 900 North, go about 1.5 miles and turn back south on Harrison Road, and the entrance is in the middle of the S-curve about a mile down the road.  You can get there from 600 North and go through Battle Ground, but we did not mind going a little bit further out of the way to get there the quickest way.  The driveway back to the center is gravel, with many potholes and a lot of washboard, but easily doable on a motorcycle as long as you keep your eyes on the road ahead of you.

Admission is $8 for adults on Sundays due to all the demonstrations and tours, it’s cheaper for kids, and cheaper for everybody on other days.  Their website is http://www.wolfpark.org.  They have a nice little gift shop (bring your extra money, there are some really nice things inside), and they have covered bleachers where they do the main demonstration.  You learn all about wolves, their natural habitat, and how the center came to be in existence.  The wolves had accepted the staff, but they were very skittish of the guests.  Seems like every time I raised the camera, they took off from a good shot.  So, not many pictures…but you can see a lot more on their website.

Since we were there on Sunday, we also walked around the property to another set of bleachers (not covered) where we got to see some of the wolves interact with the bison on the property.  The bison family has calves, and the wolves try to find a way to make an easy meal out them.  However, the older bison easily guard the babies, and take turns chasing off the threats.  In the entire existence of the center, only one calf had been physically attacked by a wolf during the interaction…but was not hurt, and from my understanding, the wolf had received a thrashing from one of the bison (also not seriously hurt).  Chances are you won’t see any wolf taking a calf while there…you’d have to see how protective the bison are to understand.

The center also has coyotes in a contained area, and will provide information about these animals as well.  Apparently coyotes and wolves are natural enemies, so they are kept in separate enclosures…but you can easily seem them antagonizing each other across the wire restraints.  Wolf Park is famous for their Friday and Saturday night HOWL NIGHT activities, and may be something that would interest others as well.

The middle picture above shows their oldest captive, which with the way it was walking and acting, may be close to its last days on this earth.  Their animals do not get released to the wild; instead they are cared for at the center until their days pass.  Having seen what wild coyotes and wolves can do to dogs and other domesticated animals, at least in this center the public can get a safe look at them and understand a little more about what makes them tick.

If you go the center’s website, you can see the schedule of events, depending on which day you will be visiting.  We looked at the radar on our phones, and noticed a very large strong storm coming across the Illinois state line headed straight for our current location.  We all decided that we would like to end the day without having buckets of overhead rain dumped on us for the entire ride home, and we decided to make an early exit.  We all enjoyed the tour and demonstrations, and will be revisiting the center again soon (with undoubtedly a side trip the Triple XXX again).

One of our group had expressed some concern about navigating I-65 south in the pouring rain that was coming, and we decided to proceed south on US-52.  This alternate would be slower, but with much less traffic (the I-65 south corridor between Chicago and Indianapolis is famous for it’s multi-hour stoppage of any form of traffic due to accidents, and notorious for multi-vehicle pileups when weather got bad).  Riding southward, we outran the storm, and developed enough of a lead to pull over at the DQ at US-52 and IN-47 to refresh.

Saying our goodbyes for the evening, each couple eventually found their own pathways home.  The weather was extremely overcast, and it did spit rain at us throughout the day…but we were able to keep out of reach of more severe weather.  All of us had a great time, and would recommend a visit to Wolf Park to anybody that has interest in visiting.

A 40 Year Journey

Today’s posting covers an amazing journey of one of the most marvelous couples I have ever met. This journey was, and continues, through the passage of time as well as in the future yet to come. This couple, motorcycle-loving generous hearts that merged together as one four decades ago, continue to have sparkles in their eyes and act like newlyweds whenever they are together.

John and Sherry (Shiz) have been through many hardships together, yet they live each day to the fullest and appreciate everything in their lives. They learned long ago that the most valuable things in their lives together is love, family, and friendships. All else is secondary to both of them.

Today, my wife and I were truly honored to have been invited to join their family and friends in a celebration of their union and the joined life they
have created together. Both of these wonderful people, who may have aged only in years, are still very young in spirit. Each were very humbled to have been surprised by all of us that awaited their arrival, and each guest received numerous hugs throughout the event.

The journey that they have taken together so many years ago has really only just begun. We eagerly look forward to celebrating their 50th anniversary with them, and many more to follow. These two are the essence of friendship and love; and I can only hope that my own travels through marriage take me along parallel roads that theirs already has.

Congratulations to our wonderful friends. May the roads you travel in the future be void of potholes and may the asphalt continue to escort you both to the happiness you both so richly deserve each day.

9/11 Memorial Ride – Tears from Heaven

For months, my wife and I have been looking forward to the dedication of the Indianapolis 9/11 Memorial; not because of excitement, but for the final placement of the World Trade Center beams that we’ve been escorting to a number of events in Indiana and Kentucky.  We understood the need to “publicize” the beams arrival to the Hoosier State, but it had come time to erect the symbols of what makes America the great country that it is, and this day was the beginning of a memorial so that all could remember the sacrifices that the people of this nation have given.

A number of Indianapolis HOG chapter #1 members met at the Harley-Davidson dealership on 96th in the wee hours of the morning.  Riders arrived in the dark beginning at 6:30AM to gather in the deserted parking lot, some riding in the rain that would chase us throughout the day.  Approximately 50 people had arrived by the set departure time of 7:15, with more riders pulling in as the group left for Anderson, the staging place for many more bikes to ride on the journey to the memorial dedication.

The ride to the Hoosier Park Racing & Casino was somewhat uneventful, as traffic was light, and the rain very light at times.  The Casino gladly allowed the usage of their enormous parking lot for motorcyclists all over the Midwest to congregate.  In addition, Hoosier Park had a number of deals going on for those that wished to contribute…a $5 all you could eat breakfast buffet, as well as with a $10 donation to the memorial, each rider would receive a $15 slot machine credit.

A specially made flag, showing all those who gave their life on 9/11

The parking lot slowly filled up from our arrival at 7:45 until the departure time of noon.  No exact count was made, but simple quick math showed approximate 800-1,000 bikes had taken part in this ride from this one location.  The hours before departure passed by rather quickly, as many friends had arrived, allowing for conversation and picture taking to dominate over the boredom that may have otherwise happened.  Most riders enjoyed the breakfast, which was filling and hot.  As expected, most of those that donated lost their free slot allowance back to the casino, but one of our close friends found luck on her side and won nearly $200.  This added some excitement to the morning, and it was nice to see somebody actually leave with more than they had arrived with.

Pictures taken with 2 hours to go before leaving

We all went back out to the parking lot, and eventually the casino called all riders around for a blessing of the bikes, detailed information about the ride, and the purpose of what our day was for.  The call was made for all riders to proceed to their bike, where we would be escorted to Indianapolis by dozens of police motorcyclists, a military Huey helicopter, and firefighters.  Hearing the starting of hundreds of motorcycles at once is an amazing sound, one that presents itself as a orchestra of harmony, power, and unity.

The ride to Indianapolis was absolutely surreal.

Residents of Anderson were standing along the street sides by the hundreds, in the intersections where police were blocking traffic, and parked along the road in parking lots.  These residents were not participating in the ride itself, but had given up a few hours of their lives to cheer and applaud the riders as we rode out of the town.  Many had US flags, and proudly waved them high in the air.  Many of these parents had their children with them, some who had not even born yet when the tragic events of September 11, 2001 transpired.  My thoughts were to the explanations that would be given to them as they asked questions as to why the ride was happening.  Cars stopped all along the road, in both directions, and waves and honks greeted all of in a chorus of support as we passed by.

Along the route, firefighters turned out with their perfectly polished fire trucks.  Many had their ladders extended as high as they would reach into the sky, with very large flags hanging and swinging in the open air over the riders as they past.  Many of the police officers and fire fighters along the route stood still at attention, saluting the riders and what we represented this day.  It was extremely moving to see these public figures, who every day are willing to lay down their lives for a stranger, standing in formation and giving us, the riders, their completely dedicated attention and respect.  Every rider this day will tell you that was us, who should be the ones saluting them as they passed.  I think it would be safe to say that every one of us riders was truly moved by the spectacles we saw on our journey to Indianapolis.

The bikes continued on to I-69 southbound, and each overpass that we passed under had fire trucks, fire fighters, and citizens present…either standing at attention and saluting, or happily waving to the bikes passing underneath them.  My wife, who rides on the back of my Ultra Classic, is fast becoming a accomplished photographer, and capture many images…which is shown at her own blog.  The police had told us previously that with the volume of normal traffic on I-69, that they would be unable to close the interstate down…and that we should be aware of traffic around us.  Within ten minutes of entering the interstate system, traffic had disappeared.  Cars and semis were pulling off onto the shoulders, in both directions.  These travelers most likely had little clue as to our exact destination, but with the amount of police escorts, must have ascertained the purpose of our ride.  Horns and waving continued from these interrupted travelers, who seemed more than willing to be delayed for a little bit of time in memory of those that gave their lives previously.  One person who sat in his car on a on-ramp giving the middle finger to each biker that was seen by many riders caused my wife and I, as well as other riders, to get angry…but we quickly forgot this transgression and continued our ride.  While we may forgive, there is a special place awaiting people like this in the afterlife.  Hopefully one day, he asks for and receives forgiveness for his past behavior.

During our wait at the casino parking lot, the skies had cleared and warm sunshine required the removal of jackets worn that morning.  The ride to Indianapolis was mostly free of precipitation, as the clouds above us played merciless on us regarding whether or not it would place us in a deluge of rain.  At one point, the rain started…but ended within a minute or so.  Talking over my shoulder back to my wife, I told her these were “tears from heaven”, from those that were lost.  This statement seemed very true, as if the souls that were lost a decade ago wished to remind us that they would always be with us.  The initial escort ride into Indiana back in April was one of torrential downpours, only to end with the arrival of the beams in Indianapolis and the sunshine overtaking the rain in the end.

Police officers blocked intersections throughout downtown Indianapolis, and even started shutting down the on-ramps on I-70 to allow the parade of bikes to safely pass.  A large parking lot was reserved for this group of riders, and we slowly pulled in and parked the bikes.  Our arrival was about 1PM, and the dedication ceremony was to scheduled to start at 4PM.  Getting off the bikes, we proceeded to the parking garage located on the other side of the street, and proceeded to the top floor.  This gave unobstructed views of our parking location, and the memorial on the the other side of the garage.  The WTC beams stood proudly, with only a sheet draping over the eagle mounted on top of one of them that would be unveiled during the ceremony.

We decided to return to the street, when the skies opened up in a very intense downpour for 15-20 minutes.  A lone police officer, obviously on the low end of the seniority scale, stood in at a closed intersection, preventing traffic from driving through the memorial site.  We yelled to her, offering her an umbrella from a friend’s motorcycle, that had been previously retrieved.  She declined, and continually faithfully redirecting traffic.  The rain turned to a drizzle, and we evacuated the cover of the parking garage to find a hot cup of coffee and a place to sit for a couple of hours before the ceremony was to begin.  A downtown Starbucks had just closed, so we found a nearby Subway and took refuge inside for awhile.  A number of the police escort officers were already inside, and we talked to them and other riders to pass the time.

As the time for the dedication drew close, we left our sanctuary to enter the rain outside.  We quickly decided to walk briskly back to our bikes, where would could retrieve our rain gear.  Under the shelter of the previously accessed parking garage, most of us donned our rain gear, and walked to the area of the ceremony, which was to scheduled to start thirty minutes later.  As we walked, the rains disappeared again…only this time, for the rest of the day finally.

The area around the memorial was packed with people…both motorcyclists, as well as the general population.  Many people were in uniform…county and state first responder workers and officials, firefighters, police officers, and military personnel.  It had seemed that there were many hundreds gathered around the memorial, and for thousands of feet around it.  The memorial had been established next to the canal in downtown Indianapolis on West Ohio street…and people gathered on the far side of the canal so that they could witness the unveiling.

The ceremony, scheduled to start at 4PM, was delayed to an inoperable sound system that needed to be fixed, as well as the need for officials and dignitaries to arrive.  Military generals and liaisons, state and city officials, and even the district’s congressman arrived and mingled in the crowd.  Eventually, the ceremony commenced, to the applause and cheers of the crowd.  The dedication took approximately 90 minutes, which included a number of speakers, and songs of sacrifice and freedom from the local children’s choir as well as some guest singers from the east coast.  One of the largest rounds of applause from the crowd came with Greg Hess, the person whose idea it was to create a memorial in Indianapolis, and who went to New York to retrieve the sacred symbols of that fateful day, go up to speak.  Greg talked about the journey which had enveloped his life, and even caused his family to sacrifice time with this father/husband as he finalized the goal of giving all Hoosiers a place to reflect, and remember.  During the last song, a Huey made a pass over the fist-pumping and waving cheers below.  Soldiers could be seen in the open doors of the helicopter, saluting the crowd below.  Another emotional moment that I’m sure that caused every person in attendance to get a lump in their throats.

Eventually, the sheet covering the top of one of the beams was removed.  Mounted on the beam, was a guilded eagle…purposefully placed to face New York City.  The crowd went wild with applause and cheers, and the dedication came to an end.  Immediately, the crowd surged toward the memorial, which consists of more than just the two beams and the eagle.  Granite memorial were also placed that reflected the times and events of those events of 2001 that we should never forget.

My wife and I had proudly escorted the beams through the spring and summer of this year to a number of destinations, so that the public would be aware of what was to occur on this day.  We both stood, silently and with emotional respect, staring at the memorial.  When the crowds subsided enough, my wife went closer to touch one again the beams, and to photograph them along with the public that gazed upon it’s glory.  I will get up better pictures of the memorial shortly, as I plan to return to the memorial in the next week or so and take additional pictures of each component, so that I may share it with those that read this blog.

My we never forget the sacrifices that our citizens, first responders, and military personnel have made in the past decade in the fight against those that wish us harm.  Thousands of people have lost their lives in the fight, and my wife and I will never forget the freedoms that we have.  May these souls forever rest in peace, and know that we will always joyfully receive their tears from heaven.