2002 trip

I added new information, in red font, in November 2017.  I used Grammarly to fix my bad speling and use, of, the, comma,  I fixed some links and deleted those that were outdated.  I added two spaces between each sentence.  I hope that this is of interest to someone.

My 2002 trip

by Duane Ausherman

September 11 caused me to reflect on my past.   I have been so lucky in my work, travel and especially in relationships.  I wanted to reconnect with it.  Are my memories accurate? Maybe I had “edited” my memory of the old times and people.  I wanted to find out for myself and also let those people know that they had been important in my life.  This trip was a continuation of my desire to connect with old friends that have been sort of ” lost” in my life.  I would also meet some people who shared my interests and we had only written via email.

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Route

 I left home on October 1st, headed for my sister’s home in Colorado.  I took the slower route, but far more scenic US 50, called the “loneliest highway in the USA.” Every 20-30 miles one comes across a small village.

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Small village

In Eastern Nevada, I hit a freak snowstorm that had deposited 6″ of very wet snow accompanied by high winds.  Many trees had blown down and taken power lines with them.  In the town of Ely, I needed gas and the whole town was “dark” and had been so for 6 hours.  Finally, after losing an hour, someone told me that a gas station on the outskirts of town had power. That turned out to be the only snow during the whole trip.

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My only snow

 Colorado

Naomi, my younger sister, has lived with her family in the Denver area for many years.  They take good care of me during my infrequent visits.  I also visited a recently met and very interesting person, John.  It was my mistake, repeated often, to fail to get a picture of his home.  He designed a large great room with a spectacular view of Mt.  Evans to the west.  He cooked a wonderful dinner, but the best part was the conversation.  John holds the patent for the scheme of video conferencing whereby the software only sends the difference in a picture, not the whole thing.  This method is used in all video games too.  The story of how this came about was captivating and informative.  I grew up in a family with a grandfather as an inventor, but this whole thing of patenting “ideas” was unfamiliar to me.  I look forward to more conversation on this subject.  John, I will be back.  We talked so long that we didn’t have a chance to uncover his pool table.  Probably good for me, see Michigan below.

Kansas

My best friend in high school, Don Moore, has a much younger sister, Karen, that we ignored, as she seemed more of a nuisance to us “older mature” types.  She grew up into a lovely and interesting person with an artistic bent.  She married a farmer from western Kansas and lives there today.  This was a good chance to meet her family.  Learning about life as a farmer and the local problems etc. reminded me that we owe a great debt of gratitude to people of this ilk.  They feed us and live a hard life in the process.  I think few farmers would have it any other way, but still, it is easy to forget the importance of these fiercely independent food producers.  Most of us will never know that lifestyle.  This family accepted me, fed me and put me up in typical Kansas fashion.

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Karen’s family

On Sunday morning I drove to Dodge City.  Along the way, I was surprised to come across a place where they didn’t grow wheat, but windmills.  There were hundreds of them.  Reminded me of the Altamont pass on highway 580, just east of San Francisco.

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In Dodge City, I met up with Jim, a BMW rider with whom I had corresponded by email, but never met in person.  Jim and his wife, Carolyn, took me to breakfast where we could get acquainted and swap lies.  Jim arranges the Kansas weather and is looking forward to retirement.  It turns out that I had met Jim many years earlier when I came through doing the site surveys for the NEXRAD radar project for SRI.

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From there I drove on to Wichita where I was reared.  I stayed with my high school friend Don Moore.  He is retired and has just completed building a complete set of polyhedra.  His sister, Karen, refers to him as “My dome brother.” and it applies very well.  Don is fascinated by all types of domes.  He perfected the art of building these shapes from hardwood veneer pieces.  Don has developed the formulas to get the exact length and angles of these various shapes.  Some have as many as 540 pieces.  He glues them together to make up sections that later get glued together to make up the full shape.  They are beautiful and very complex.  Some of them reside in part of the living room in a large pile.

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I also stayed with my mother who lives in Haven in a newly built house.  My brother, Don, who is 19 years my junior, lives nearby.  They have 8 children, 4 bios and 4 adopted, that are well behaved.  Five of them are in the local gifted program in school.  As one can imagine it is a bit hectic around here.  My niece, Kelsey, arranged for me to speak to two of her middle school science classes about the artificial heart.  These classes were made up of students with more knowledge about the heart and circulation than I have ever found before.  I bet I have done a hundred of these heart presentations and I was impressed. Thanks, Kelsey.  RIP Mom

Iowa

To me, Iowa means Central College and that’s where our two Czech girls study.  Helena is now a senior.  Veronika is a junior and studying at the Sorbonne in Paris this year.  Veronika now lives in the Czech Republic, is married and has a daughter, Vicky, now about 6 years old.  It was such a pleasure to see how highly regarded Helena is by classmates and professors alike. I must take a moment to brag about Helena because we are so proud of her.  She will graduate this spring in only 7 semesters, with a double major, 3 medical internships, one public service internship and a current GPA of 3.82.  In her two majors, she has a GPA in German of 3.97 and in Political Science a 3.90.  Her web address is  http://karasovah.com with her own domain name and private web site.

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Helena has a roommate named Amela, from Bosnia.  They took me to a cultural event with Mexican dinner and various folk music and dancing.

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Amela, old codger, and Helena at the dinner

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Central College uses native speakers for each language taught.  These two are from Spain, Maria, and Anthony, and performed a Flamenco dance.  They had never danced together before and did very well.  They plan to visit us next spring during the spring break.  We look forward to showing them a bit of California.  The teacher for Mandarin (Chinese) is an English teacher in China.  Her name is Jie Wang and she has the rare chance to teach in this country and see America.  I had some spare time and wanted to show her something “American.” We found a vacant road and she learned the basics of driving a car.  She was so excited by this.  I “had” to take a picture so she could show her family and friends.  She has a natural talent for driving.

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Here she is, on campus, on the locally famous bridge.  Very nice weather for mid-October.

Michigan

About 25 years ago I met an interesting couple while attending a BMW vintage rally in the Midwest.  I have kept in contact with Sam and Jo over the years and it was time to see them again.  They were then young, in love, recently married and childless.  Now the oldest child, Abby, is a freshman in college.  Wow, time flies.  It was as if we had visited every year.  The old connection was still there and maybe even stronger.  Sam is self-employed in a diagnostic and tune-up shop of very high quality.  Jo is a stay at home mom and when they needed a larger home, she went out and got her contractors license.  They (she) built a 15 sided home as owner/builder and they did lots of it themselves.  They just recently sold that unusual house.  Since I had been through the same thing at about the same time, we had lots of things to compare.  I found this construction technique to be very interesting.

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One the left is the 15 sided part which seems to be round when on the inside.  In the middle is the 11 sided part that contains the antique Brunswick pool table.  Sam kicked my ass at pool.  Of course, it’s his table and I was only the guest.  Just wait till I get him on my table.  On the far right is a large garage of conventional construction, full of projects for Sam’s retirement.  Jo sent me on my way with a “care package” and I made the dried cherries last until the end.

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I stopped in Pontiac, MI. to meet Jeff and drop off a final drive for his project bike.  He showed me around the Sikkens paint factory.  I just love to see how things are made and this paint factory was a first.  I had previously committed for the evening, so wasn’t able to meet his family and eat his food.

That evening I stayed with Klaus, wife Debbie, Keane and Kara and their two wonderful children.  We met via a BMW group on the Internet.  Klaus has a very nice R60US, with Earles forks (under restoration now) and is also a ham radio operator.  Ham radio goes way back in that family on his wife’s sides.  Klaus and I share a similar background in that we both worked in medicine on almost identical positions and projects.  Klaus and Debbie are also owner/builders of their house.  It is very well done and clearly a pleasure in which to live.  Thank goodness they didn’t have a pool table upon which I could embarrass myself.

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Klaus and Debbie

Debbie is deaf and works as a special education teacher specializing in reading problems.  Other than an occasional passing experience, I had no acquaintance with a person with hearing loss.  She reads lips and had some trouble reading mine.  Klaus and Debbie are an impressive couple and I feel so lucky to have met the family.  The food was good too.  I have visited once since then.

Ohio

My schedule, such as it was, now requires me to drive extra miles.  I next drove to Columbus, Ohio to the AMA (American Motorcycle Association) museum for a vintage rally and the Vetter Fairing reunion.  For those interested in vintage motorcycles, this museum is well done.  The grounds are beautifully kept too.  In the past, the AMA had a reputation for being a puppet of Harley Davidson.  It is obviously no longer the case.  All motorcycles are represented.  My main reason for going there is that the weekend for the vintage bike show and induction of people into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame included a reunion (http://www.craigvetter.com/index.html ) for those from the Vetter Fairing Co.  I was a Vetter dealer and from this became a friend of Craig.  This friendship became a very important part of my life.  It was wonderful to see so many of the “old” gang.

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Vetter family today.   L.  to R.  Bruce (bother), Morgan (son), Carol (wife), Zack (son), and Craig.

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Carol Vetter and Charly Perethian of Parabellum fame.   Go to his website at http://www.parabellum.com/ 

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Henry Tate, Craig Vetter, and Charly Perethian

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Henry Tate, granddaughter, and daughter Sally

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Reg Pridmore, of racing fame with a friend.   Congratulations Reggie on being inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of fame.   You deserve it.   http://www.classrides.com/   Thanks for inviting me to this wonderful weekend of special memories.

My old stomping grounds, Cleveland

I lived in Cleveland from 1961 thru 67 and that was a time full of learning (mistakes) for me.   I only have a few of those friends left that still live there.   It is hard for me to visit Cleveland as it was often a very painful time for me.   I stayed with my wonderful friends Byron and Alice just west of Cleveland.   Byron has been riding BMWs for over 30 years.   It took me over an hour to find the place, as the street has had two name changes.   Makes it hard for the locals to give directions.  RIP Byron

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Byron riding his Harley Davidson.

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The Harley nameplate on the very front.   Proof positive.

Byron was scheduled for a knee replacement just after I left and maybe the other one later.   Byron has spent his life repairing wrecked motorcycles and cars.   Now he has finally encountered something that he has to farm out to get fixed.   Rumor has it that he is recuperating well after the first one.   Our mutual friend, Andy, took me to dinner and we had a great time discussing work and women.

Byron took me over to John Penton’s house for an hour of great discussion with another Hall of Fame rider.   John still looks almost exactly the same as 40 years ago when I would hang out at his BMW dealership.   He is one of the gentlemen of motorcycling.   His was one of a handful of BMW dealerships that I respected, as they were honest and competent.   A rare combination.  They helped me often as I was getting started in the BMW business in CA.

The next day Byron took me to the Rock and Roll museum in downtown Cleveland.   The trip into the music of my life brought tears to my eyes.   I can highly recommend a visit to this museum.   It is very well done.

The person that really introduced me to BMW was Ralph.   He took me riding on his R50S and that convinced me.   He helped me find my first BMW and even took me out to Oberlin College to pick it up.   Later on, we became roommates.   The last time that we saw each other was during his visit to California in 1972 or 73.   Since then we have spoken a couple of times on the phone.  RIP Ralph

It is said that as we age, our characteristics only become more obvious, even to the extreme.   This seems to be the case for Ralph.   He has the “packrat” syndrome, or as he puts it “I have too much stuff.”  Ralph is hurting no one, maybe not even himself.   His two BMWs are “buried” under the “too much stuff” and nearly invisible now.

Over the past couple of years, I had corresponded with Brian, an employee with Timken.   His availability to the engineering of bearings has been very helpful to me and one particular BMW group.   His advice and tech info has always been of the highest quality.   I eagerly took him up on his offer to visit.   Brian has an original R75/5 that is in exceptional condition.   Few unrestored BMWs are this nice.   He also has newer rides too.

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A stock original R75/5 BMW


I was treated so well by his family that I hated to leave.  

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I found this set out on my towel in the guest bedroom.   This is thoughtfulness.

We had such interesting conversations and little of it was about BMW.   Brian and Billie were heavily involved in the design and construction of their house and it is beautiful.

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The rear is all glass and looks out on a forest.

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Brian and Billie

I found two of the places where I lived on the East side of Cleveland.

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I lived in this house, at the edge of Western Reserve, in 1961 when I rode an NSU.   It was stolen from the sidewalk of this house during the winter of 1961/62.   It was never recovered.   My roommate was Malcolm (now Mack) Jump.   His passion was playing the guitar.   He came from a musical family where all played some instrument.   Malcolm and I hitchhiked from Cleveland to Wichita, Kansas to visit my family for Christmas.   We got stuck, at night, in a severe snow storm and our survival was questionable.   Finally, some young couple came along the isolated country road on which we had somehow gotten stuck and gave us a ride to a small town.   We had no money and spent the night sleeping in the city jail.   On this trip, I stayed one night with Malcolm and his wife Sandy, in Indiana.   Malcolm has a recording CD that can be found at http://www.cdbaby.com  We hadn’t seen each other since about 1966 or so.   It was really great to reconnect with Malcolm, as he was a special person in my life.

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This apartment building has been renovated and is greatly improved.   It seems to be a residence for Case/Western Reserve now.   I lived with Ralph on the top floor of the apartment in the foreground.   The building is in an irregular shape.   Our living room had 11 sides.   The view was wonderful.   The East side of Cleveland was so rough back then that we would hear gunshots a couple of times a week.   I lived there with my first BMW, a 1955 R67/3, it was quite rare, but I had no clue back then.   I rode it to Kansas during the summer of 1962 and throughout the South.   The only mechanical problem was a flat tire.

Segregation was still a fact of life in the South.   That and the poverty were an eye-opener for a kid from Kansas.   I visited “tent city,” where a group of blacks lived that had been evicted for trying to register to vote.   That was the only place in the South where the blacks were unafraid to speak openly with me.

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The BMW with a VW engine bike was mostly built in the basement of this house on Hessler Court.   It was an area of students.   The street shown in the lower right is made up of wooden blocks.   Just try riding your motorcycle on wet wooden blocks.   I had remembered that the blocks were very worn and now they look fairly new.   Sure enough, I accidentally came across the Hessler “expert” who gave me lots of history of the area since the 60s.

Pennsylvania

The single most important factor in starting my own BMW repair shop was my experience building the BMW with a VW beetle engine.   This project was done in tandem with my good friend Steve White, while we lived on the East side of Cleveland, photo above.   Now Steve and Kit reside in Philadelphia, Pa.   Steve is a well known local architect specializing in the restoration of row houses.   The house that they live in is beautifully renovated and decorated in unusual fashion.   It is “open” and very light with plants growing everywhere.   It is virtually impossible to get back for a photo showing a perspective that is accurate, but here goes anyway.

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This view is from the living room towards the kitchen.   It is a few steps down and across a “bridge” then into the kitchen.

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This is a view from the kitchen towards the living room.   In the center is the end of the “bridge” and up a few stairs to the living room.   I apologize, as this fails miserably to convey the beauty.   I only wish that my wife Linda, a decorator, could have seen this.   I don’t have a single creative cell in my body and therefore so admire those, like Steve, who can create such elegance.   I could LIVE there.   I am trying to finagle a reason to visit again.   Steve and Kit are in the middle of doing a second one that will be even more dramatic.   I can’t wait.   Hurry up Steve, while I can still travel.

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Kit, daughter Anada, and Steve

Virginia and Washington DC

My cousin’s son, Dennis, lives near Washington DC and works in the Pentagon.   He creates web pages for one of the many departments.   He took me on a very interesting tour of the Pentagon.   It is very impressive to see the newly rebuilt part.   The repair is seamless.   I was very impressed with how it is basically impossible to see where the old and new meet.  RIP Dennis

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Pentagon interior from a balcony.   The small building on the right is “ground zero” or the very center of the interior grounds.  

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Just behind me is the inner ring.   Two rings back is exactly where the plane hit.

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Here I am giving a “press briefing” to nobody at all.   This famous spot, seen often on TV, is nothing more than a wide spot in a hallway.

Dennis presented me with a hard to get a commemorative medallion of the terrorist attack on the Pentagon.   It is large and beautifully done.   I show it with pride.

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Front

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Back

I was very lucky to arrive on the same day that Alexandra was admitted to the Virginia State Bar by the State Supreme Court as an attorney.   My congratulations to her for her hard work and achievement.   For some reason, I can’t yet find any pictures of either of them.

They took me to the Library of Congress.   That is one impressive place.   It has over 100 million items and more than 20,000 items are submitted every day.   On display is one of the three remaining Guttenberg Bibles in existence.  Just to make sure that I wouldn’t run out of reading material in California, I now have my own library card.

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My Library of Congress card.   I expect to use it often:-)

I was also able to spend a night at the home of Steve and his family.   It was raining very hard and they live way out in the country.   His directions were so good that I drove directly there.   I was surprised to find such a remote place in the dark and heavy rain.

They built a passive solar home a few years back and that was very interesting.   They have two lovely children who I am sure really enjoy the homestead.

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Kind of wet out

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I took this one to show two things of interest.   The window treatments for my wife who is in the business and the large water containers for the solar heat.   The next morning we even had a little time for BMW.   Once again most of our time was spent on other subjects of mutual interest.

North Carolina

The next visit was also with a couple that I had never met before.   Bob and Munde are retired and living in a wonderful location in a beautiful house of their design.   Both speak German and had worked for United Airlines.   We had such a good time discussing the world and travel.   This is one more family that I would like Helena to meet.   I seem to have mislaid my photos.

Georgia

In Atlanta, I was able to meet with Paul Sotrop and family.   He started the /5 BMW list and has been its mainstay for over 7 years.   His family welcomed me into the home and we played with some magic.

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Paul, Alex 9, Sam 9 (friend) and Max 5

Texas

The drive to Texas was my longest day of the trip, over 800 miles.   Gentle rain almost all of the way and lots of Oldie music on the radio again.   I stayed with my old California friends Dick and Judy.   Dick taught me to fly over 20 years ago.   Somehow they ended up in Texas, teaching English in high schools.   Judy took me to her school and I gave a talk with three classes about Antarctica and the artificial heart.   Her students were maybe 80% black and the rest mixed white, Mexican and Asian.   The students were great and very open.   I was gratified to see that racism was no longer the issue it once was.   I couldn’t have been more accepted and made to feel welcome.   Once again I can’t find my photos.  RIP Dick

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On the way South I went through West, Texas and saw signs that it was a Czech town.   I had to stop and buy some Czech bakery goods.    I really miss Rohliky, a Czech bread roll.   They not only didn’t have them but had never even heard of them.   About the only thing Czech was the sign.   Not one person recognized my greeting in Czech.   I drove on.

Next, I drove to Kerrville, Texas where my childhood neighbors now live.   There were my surrogate parents who took me in and actually listened to me, or that is how it seemed at the time for a slightly rebellious teenager.   I was a young socialist ( I know its hard to believe now) and they talked capitalism.   Now we seem to have sort of swapped positions.   I never thought Beatty would temper his position in any way.   Elaine is her old self and as much fun as ever.   They took me to eat Southern fried catfish (my idea) and it was wonderful.   Their son, Daryl, who now lives only 4 hours away, drove up to visit with me.   It was as if the last 40 years never existed.   He is the same guy, only educated.   Visiting with this family was sort of a return to the womb for me.   So comforting and warm.   I had forgotten how important that they had been to me in those formative years.   Thanks so much.  RIP Beatty and Elaine

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My “other” family, Beatty, Elaine and Daryl

I was amazed at how many pick-up trucks are in Texas.   I drove by one parking lot of about 30 vehicles and only one was a car.   Most were trucks and a few were vans.

It was interesting to see that Texans have a great sense of humor concerning the Texas reputation.   They actually market it.   In many places, I saw examples.

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A typical Texas marketing ploy.   Isn’t it great?

Arkansas

In the early 60 when I lived in Cleveland, one of my closest friends was Jay Gordon.   Jay bought my first BMW from me in about 1963.   He married Ann and moved to Arkansas, reared a family and built a house out in the hills.   I have visited several times over the years and always enjoy them.   They have two sons, Dan and Ben, and both are working adults now.   Just when I arrived it was Dan’s son Nathaniel’s third birthday.

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His first attempt and it worked.

    The Gordons built their own house way out in the hills about 20 years ago.   It is so quiet and peaceful.

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Ann and Jay  RIP Jay

I was able to catch up on news of our mutual friends that I so seldom hear about.   Ann is a retired kindergarten teacher.   Several years ago I attended one of her classes and she reminded me of a mother hen with all of the loving kids surrounding her.   Ann is a natural teacher.

Arizona

Driving to Arizona from Arkansas is a two-day trip.   I just got into New Mexico late that evening and was too tired to try to find a motel.   So that one night I slept in the back seat of the old Chrysler at a rest stop, not the most comfortable.   I was amazed to discover that about 75 other people had the same idea, as the rest stop was just about a maximum capacity for the night with mostly big rigs.

Kim is a Canadian, speaks Polish, is a California exile, BMW rider, an electrical engineer, currently a house husband.   His lovely wife, Jaya, is originally from India and a medical doctor serving her internship in Phoenix.   She is serving at the Mayo Clinic in Internal medicine.   I couldn’t seem to get a picture of the family, maybe related to her being 8 1/2 months pregnant and as lovely as ever.   Their daughter of three, Maya, is as cute as anything.

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Maya explaining to me how it works.   That is so Maya.

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The family with the “new” arrival Jon

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One of many cacti in Phoenix

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Mark Weiss and his R100RS.   Mark is an MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) riding instructor.   We had lunch and discussed many things.   Another person with whom I had never met before, except on the Internet.

I also stayed with Chuck and family.   He collects old motorcycles and has a beautifully restored water cooled Scott in the foyer of his house.   His 5-year-old daughter is a perfect hostess and so social.   I think that she takes after her lovely mother.   This was another special place.   Chuck and I discovered that we had spent some time living in the very same neighborhood in Cleveland and ate in the same deli.   He had visited my shop 30 years ago during his life riding around the USA on his first BMW.   His best high school friend’s father was part owner in a folk music place where I hung out for years.   Chuck being several years younger than I, probably kept us from meeting or remembering each other.

Nevada

I wanted to visit one of my ham friends, Michael Stuben and see the Guggenheim exhibit “The Art of the Motorcycle,” before it was taken down.   Michael and I met several years ago while he was driving along our local highway.   He was talking on 2 meters and I recognized his accent.   I invited him to stop and visit.   We have been friends ever since.

He is now in the web hosting business.   He got me a domain name w6rec, my Ham radio call sign, and is hosting it on his server.   Finally, someone took the time to teach me some of the basics of websites.   Now I must reorganize almost everything about this site.

I would have gotten a domain name years ago, but our local server gets $300 per year to do it.   Michael only charges $75 a year and that is something I am willing to afford.   The biggest advantage is his attention to making it all work.   The tech support is excellent.   I can highly recommend his service.   He can be contacted at http://www.hostmeister.com

I am proud that I am Michael’s worst customer.  That is because he does so much for me for which he doesn’t charge.

Warren, one of my motorcycle friends from my early days in San Francisco, was going to fly in to see the show the same day.   Michael and I tried to pick Warren up at the airport.   Somehow we missed him at the gate.   We bumped into him while buying a ticket to the motorcycle show.   The show was very well done and I can highly recommend seeing it before mid-January 2003 when it goes away forever.   No photos were allowed, but one can buy a very well done book full of photos of very high quality.   The motorcycles were all protected by proximity detectors.   Our fingers kept setting off alarms and guards rushed up to see what we were doing.   It was explained that any body part, within 3 inches, would trigger the alarm.   Generally we kept that far away with our fingers, but still, we set alarms off.   Finally one of the guards just “stayed” with us during our tour.   That was even better because he was in charge of the show and was also a motorcyclist.   He would tell us more in-depth stories of the exhibits.   It was fascinating to see the various schemes to make a motorcycle in the early days.   This was the very best motorcycle show that I have ever seen.   It was sponsored by BMW but only had a few wonderful BMWs in it.

Observations and conclusions

While I drove quite a few miles on various Interstate highways, I also drove on secondary roads.   I noticed one thing that amazed me.   In every state that I visited, the old standard white clapboard farmhouse is gone.   A few are around and in good shape, but most are gone.   Replacing them are much larger fancy ranch homes.   I can’t remember reading in the news or seeing on TV any news about our small family farms becoming profitable recently.   Where has this money come from?  I brought this up in several places and the only common conclusion is that they have gone into debt to pay for these beautiful homes.

I also noticed that at least one vehicle is for sale, per mile of a side road.   Many had prices and they were low.   One of my hosts had a car sitting out on the road for sale.   I asked what he wanted for it.   He said, “I will take anything because I have had no offers at all.”  Prices for used cars are far less than at any other time in my lifetime.   What does all of this mean?

Life is different in California and it is easy to forget that fact.   One must leave from time to time to see what is going on in the rest of the USA.   I was very happy to see that racism has decreased greatly.   Everywhere I went I observed black and white together as couples, workers, and students.

I well remember blacks reacting to me with politeness, even deference, but seldom with openness.   I rarely saw this level of just plain old comfort.   Now it is the rule.   I am now the “old white guy with white hair,” the one that I would first suspect of harboring prejudice.   I was treated as just another human and it was wonderful.   I especially noticed this in the South.   Are things perfect, no, and they probably never will be, but race relations seem to be greatly improved?

Most of the people that I visited were family, friends or newly made friends.   The one common thread was that almost all were “International” people, in that they had first-hand knowledge of other countries and cultures.   I didn’t hear one word of support for Bush to go out and attack Iraq.   I realize my small sampling is a bit tainted, but my observations were the opposite of what the news is reporting about the opinion polls.

I am so pleased with my trip that I would recommend it to anyone.   I know that I am lucky to have the time, money and health to allow such a venture.   Few people on the planet are so fortunate.   The 9/11 disaster really shook me and this trip affirmed for me that the world really is a nice place, after all, especially this country.

When Linda and I designed and built this house, it was with the understanding that we would have lots of visitors from all around the world.   My ham radio hobby seems to supply us with interesting guests.   Maybe we can’t travel as much as we might want, but we can entertain others.   This country is filled with like-minded people.   I only hope that my hosts found me entertaining enough to offset having to take care of a guest.

Boring statistics

I drove our 1990 Chrysler 10,300 miles in just over 7 weeks, visiting 27 states.   It got 28.5 mpg, which surprised me.   My out of pocket expenses were about $1500.   I only stayed in motels 3 nights.   The car performed well with just one little problem.   The cruise control became flaky one day and my “heavy foot”  resulted in a speeding ticket.