Local news: ABATE District 4 Toy Run is October 9

by on September 29, 2011
in Events

For my local readers, just wanted to share this info on the ABATE District 4 Toy Run coming up in October! This is one of my favorite rides, and I’ve missed it the past couple of years. I hope and expect we’ll be able to participate this year! Thanks to Laura Strovers for the info and please note that ABATE is unable to accept stuffed animals this year. (And that’s a  shame, because I remember the Toy Run when it used to be a column of big, burly bikers with teddy bears strapped to their bikes!!)

ABATE OF Iowa Pre-Toy Run Party
Saturday 10-08-2011
Fat Boyz
200 Gateway Dr
Grimes, IA
starts at 7:00 PM

ABATE Of Iowa District 4 28th Annual Toy Run
Sunday 10-09-2011
Leave State Capital east parking lot at 1:00 PM SHARP.

Please donate one educational toy. All toys and donations go to the kids.

If you’re from (or just IN) the area, I hope you can participate in this terrific event – it’s somethin’ special!

The Dignity Memorial Wall Experience

by on September 18, 2011
in Events

This past Saturday we took some time to visit a unique site that has some significance for our family. The Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall Experience is a traveling three-quarter-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., and it was recently installed at Resthaven Cemetery here in the Des Moines area. Since 1990, the traveling Wall has been displayed in more than 200 U.S. cities, and has hosted millions of visitors.

My husband, who is 12 years older than me, is a former U.S. Marine and a veteran of Vietnam. It has had a lifelong impact on him. I respect him a lot for the service he voluntarily gave, and for the nagging physical and emotional effects he deals with on a daily basis. Sadly, it has only been relatively recently that he has been able to see his service as something to be proud of – for far too long, this generation of veterans was maligned by this country’s shameful inability to separate its hatred of the war itself from the courageous men and women who served in it. (When people talk about The Wall in D.C. having healing powers, that’s the reason: perhaps these veterans could not get aid and comfort from those they returned home to, but many have found it when surrounded by granite slabs filled with the names of the men they served with.)

Because the official memorial in D.C. is so meaningful for those who served, the Dignity Memorial Wall was developed by Dignity Memorial – a nationwide provider of funeral, cremation and cemetery services – to provide a potentially healing experience for those who might never have the opportunity to visit The Wall itself.

The installation at Resthaven ran from September 16-18, was open 24 hours a day and was free to visit and view. (See the full 2011 tour schedule, and be sure to look for the 2012 schedule in the near future.)

Here in Des Moines, the American Legion Riders, Patriot Guard Riders, Iron Warriors, Vietnam Vets MC, and other bikers provided an escort for the Dignity Memorial on September 14 from Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino to Resthaven Cemetery. The American Legion Riders were on hand throughout the weekend to help visitors understand not only the Wall replica, but also the accompanying Battlefield Memorial or “Soldiers Cross.” Several groups participated in scheduled ceremonies throughout the weekend.

As the wife of a Vietnam veteran, and as an American who is grateful for the opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices made by those who served in that war, I would like to say thank you to Dignity Memorial for such an outstanding project, to the riding groups that escorted it to its installation, and to the sponsors who made it possible.

Sponsors: Prairie Meadow, Perficut Lawn & Landscape, Contractors Rental, HyVee Food Stores, Pepsi America, Sammons Financial Group, HR Green Engineering, Golf Cars of Iowa, Ziegler Power Systems, HCI Care Services, Freeman Decorating, Matthews Bronze, Watts Vault & Monuments, Created in Johnston, Wolf Construction, Best Portable Toilets, Computers in Motion, Willis Auto Campus, Bob Brown Chevrolet, Electronic Engineering, Pearson Bollman Law, FastSigns, Pratt Audio Video, Heartland Custom Flags, Boy Scout Troop 111 of Grimes, Boy Scout Troops 9, 13 and 217 of Des Moines, Competitive Edge, True Value Hardware, Felix & Oscars, Big Barn Harley Davidson, Iron Hearse Destinations, Barton Solvents, Dr. Scott Neff, Polk County Sheriff, Quality Resource Group, Polk County Recorder, Iowa National Guard, Target, Lowe’s, Action Print, General Fire Safety, Doves of Love, J.R. Wagner.

Road closed? What-EVER, still a great ride!

by on September 12, 2011
in Iowa Rides

Wow, it’s been a hectic summer, and it’s almost over already! I guess once again I’ve been on a brief hiatus… oh yes I’ve been enjoying the bike as much as possible, plus we’ve gone to a couple car shows to enjoy the Corvair, and we’ve embarked on the adventure that is my daughter’s senior year of high school. (If you are local to the Des Moines or central Iowa area, I highly recommend Randy Shebek for senior pictures – he’s friendly, affordable, and best of all took ah-MAY-zing pictures of my beautiful daughter!)

Oh, and, we added a family member – Dexter, the English bulldog my hubby Steve has always wanted.(He – the dog, I mean – is just about the poor-babyest dog you’ll ever meet!)

Aside from all that, I’ve been busy with a new bike-related endeavor that I hope to be able to mention soon – so, there’s been no extra napping going on around here!

As far as bike rides, I’ve taken a couple shorty solo trips and done some zipping around here and there, but nothing major. Except… EXCEPT – a wonderful ride I took last weekend with “just us gals” – friends Janet & Shirley, and (finally!) Miss Iowa Harley Girl herself, Stephanie Maiers! (Seriously, we live – what, 10 miles from each other, and this is the first time we’ve ever ridden together!)

This ride was one big silly grin from beginning to end. (I swear there’s something about an all-women’s ride that just feels different!) We met up on Steph’s home turf in Johnston, just south of Saylorville Lake, and took off to the west along Highway 44. At Highway 169, we turned South and cruised on through to Winterset. (Yes, I rode North to go South – that’s how I roll!)

In Winterset we expected to visit Biker Diva Apparel, a women bikers’ clothing shop just off the Square. Sadly, we discovered that the brick-and-mortar store is no longer there – BUT, fortunately you can still shop online for a variety of super-cute shirts and must-have accessories!

Headed over to Godfather’s Pizza for lunch, then set off for a scenic loop around Madison County beginning with G50 heading east into St. Charles. Unfortunately, that too was derailed… “ROAD CLOSED” signs kept us just out of reach of the much-needed gas station in St. Charles. I mean, we could SEE IT from where we stood, like wishful little kids with our noses pressed against the department store window at Christmas! (It sort of looked like we miiigghtt be able to sneak through the blockade, but a friendly MadCo resident assured us that, indeed, the road was actually closed.) Not wanting to test our luck on the gravel detour, we instead headed back to the west along the road we’d just traveled and back into Winterset.

Still, G50 was a beautiful road (parts of it reminded me so much of the Lead and Deadwood area in South Dakota, with tree-covered bluffs rising up from either side of sweeping curves) and I’m certain that the loop we had planned (G50 east to St. Charles, R35 south to Truro, then west along G68 – the PEE-ru road!  – back to P71 into Winterset) is a stunning, curvy ride. I’m determined to go back and prove this point!

Anyway, back to Winterset for a break at (where else) Casey’s General Store, then took the scenic G4R home.

Probably the run-on sentences of this post are a clue to how excited I was to take this ride with my “gal pals” – it was a gorgeous day spent in great company!