Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Christmas Letter to Family & Friends Around The World

To Family & Friends Around the World
A Christmas Letter from Del Lonnquist in Montana USA

This family of mine has grown so large that sending individual cards and presents is just no longer possible or practical. It is time to use this new Generational tool called Social Media, along with my blog to share the joy, the excitement and the profound appreciation I have for all of you who have made this year and the many past years this fantastic journey called life. Thank you.

Beginning with my six children and their five spouses, 19 Grand Children and their 14 spouses and the fast growing number of Great Grand Children which has grown to 20 with the additions of Oliver in New York and Lily in Denver, my family now numbers 64.
Lois and Del: The Dakota RamblersHow wonderful to see the results of that first meeting with Lois at Butch’s Lunch in Fargo, North Dakota on January 25, 1954. 
How could we have possibly dreamed that this meeting of two teen agers in love would bring the world this great Global family.
Little did daughter Diana know when she married the handsome and charming Ilidio Sacramento from Sao Tome, that she was beginning the Global expansion of our family.
How wonderful to see Grand Children continuing this new tradition as Grand Child Lorna brought to us Rosario this great gentleman from Sicily, Grandson Daniel bringing us Hye Uhn a wonderful lady from Korea and his brother Erik bringing us the beautiful Honey Kim, also from Korea and in July 2017 with Grandson Vaughn we welcome the lovely and gracious Poojah whose family is from India.
Grandson Peter brought us the beautiful Becki this year. Thank You Peter.
New cultures, new traditions, new celebrations and observances to learn about and to love.
How could my immigrant from Sweden Father and my Norwegian family immigrant Mother have possibly known that they were the beginning of what has now become this wonderful  International family.
What a thrill it was to attend Grand Daughter Jenny’s wedding in Lake Mary, Florida in July and share the wedding feast with guests from five continents and many, many countries.
Her marriage to Ben Falcone, whose mother, Anne is from England brought many family members from the United Kingdom and from Canada, while Jenny’s friends and family from England, France, Portugal, Sao Tome and other countries joined the festivities.
Greetings and Thanks to the Jack LeBron family for taking care of me while at Jenny’s wedding.
I am in awe of what these Children, Grand Children and Great Grand Children are doing with their lives and their families.
As daughter Janis put it in a recent Email:
“God truly did bless the union of you and Mom and, I believe, gave you a special mission in preparing children for outreach.  It's awesome and rare how many of your children and grandchildren have worked or served abroad in ministry and humanitarian aid - Gabon, Tanzania, Samoa, Haiti, Rwanda, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, India, Sao Tome, Japan and this year Grand Daughter Jerusha will go to Kosovo with the Peace Corps. Roger with help from thousands of listeners to the Christian radio group, Your Network of Praise has raised tens of thousands of dollars for humanitarian aid to many countries.
I expect we'll keep adding on!  
We were brought up to love God and see beyond borders which made it a natural.  
I'm so grateful for that.”
Thank You Janis. Well said.

And we are thankful and bless our family in the military, Justin, Meagan, Tim, and Daniel for their service to family and country serving in the Middle East “sandbox” and the Far East, Japan, Korea and beyond.

What a fantastic year of Ground Pounding it has been with ML&R, (much love and respect) from the Long Distance motorcycle riding fraternity.
With help from special friend Shareef AsSadiq, I became the oldest Iron Butt Association rider to accomplish the Cross Country ride from Coast to Coast in under 50 hours.
With daughter Linda riding the sidecar I was able to complete the 48 states in 10 days ride.

New friend Hugh Smith III, also known as Highway Smiley recognized Linda and I with his famous “Smiley Ground Pounder” patch.
Thanks Smiley and Dimples it was great meeting you at Morro Bay, California.

Thanks also to Stephanie Hampton and her Get Yonder Magazine crew for doing the 48x10 story about Linda and I in the October issue and for using the picture of Smiley and I on the cover of the November/December issue. Humbled and Honored.
Thanks to SeCCRet the great cross country rider for the wonderful story in the Black Girls Ride on-line magazine and to Porsche, SeCCReet, Mike and Cali Cat for getting me safely through the Los Angeles freeway traffic. What great new long distance rider friends, so many I couldn’t possibly remember all of their names, but please know that each of you give new meaning to the word  friend. The kindness I have been shown by members of the Long Distance Motorcycle Riding Community from all across America will never be forgotten.
From Bill Ryder in Montana who kept my rig in such good shape to Ilidio and Bill in Florida who brought their welding skills to the repair of a broken strut, you are all appreciated.
Greetings also, to our next door, part time neighbors, Chico and Ricci Honda who are spending more time in Kumamoto, Japan now that they have wonderful new Grand Children there.
We look forward to your visit(s) in 2017.
Christmas greetings also to my friend Grace, members of the Seldom Paid Jammers who allow me to bring my banjo and sit in with them at Helena area Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Centers, and to the many friends I have made while playing banjo at the Helena Farmers Market. You are all appreciated.

Swiss explorer and writer Isabelle Eberhart expressed the feelings and emotions of every Long Distance Motorcycle Rider when she said:
"Life on the open road is liberty, to be alone,
to have few needs, to be unknown,
everywhere a foreigner and everywhere at home.”

Thanks Family and Friends for bringing the world a little closer together for all of us and for making 2016 a magnificent episode in the life of this first generation Scandinavian immigrant.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Ride!

The Adventure America Ride - 48x10 (+16 Hours)

The Dream - The Goal - The Plan - The Ride - The Finish

We had a dream, my daughter Linda and I, to ride 8,500 miles across America, visiting all of the lower 48 states.The Goal was to complete the ride in 10 days and for me to become the oldest rider on the Iron Butt Association Finishers List to complete the ride. For my Registered Nurse daughter Linda, at the age of 60, to become the first person on the IBA Finishers list to complete the ride as a passenger in a sidecar.
The Plan was to follow a map which had been used a few months earlier by Shareef AsSadiq of San Diego to complete the same ride.
The ride would begin then, in Needles, CA, take us across the south and Midwest to the east coast, up I-95 to Maine, then back across the north country to Umatilla, OR where we would finish the ride.
At 12 Noon on August 7th, friends and family gathered at Shellie's Truck Stop in Helena, MT to see us off. Grandson Jason Darelius and his wife Allison were going to ride with us to Butte, MT where they would turn West toward their home in Missoula. A three generation ride, we thought, would be a great way to begin. The 60 mile ride to the Rocker Truck Stop west of Butte was the first stop and we bid farewell to our escort riders.
We headed south toward Dillon, MT and Monida Pass where we would cross the line into Idaho, while Jason and Allison would follow I-90 to Missoula.
We topped off the fuel cell gas tank which had been installed by Bill Ryder before we left and headed south on I-15.
We had decided to begin our adventure by doing the IBA Saddlesore 1000-1. One thousand miles in under 24 hours. This would give us another IBA ride completion with the attendant Certificate and patch.
The plan was to complete the ride to Needles, CA in under 24 hours.
SUCCESS! The thousand mile ride was uneventful and carried us through Montana, Idaho, Utah,  Arizona, Nevada and into California in Twenty One and a half hours.
The first step in in our quest was complete.
Here we made our first tactical error.
 I was feeling fine, so instead of getting a motel and some rest before starting the 48x10, we got our Start Witness form signed at a Denny's Restaurant and headed out in the 115 degree heat. My Bad.
More tired than I thought and feeling the effects of the heat we promptly got lost, took the wrong road and spent our first hours searching for the Nevada/Arizona gas receipts we needed to prove we had been there. By late afternoon we were in Arizona and looking for a motel.
Since the first day of our ride had been a disaster, we briefly considered going back to Needles and starting the ride over, then decided to forge ahead from where we were and just soldier on.
 From the heat at Kingman, AZ to the cooling temperatures at Flagstaff, AZ was a quick ride and there we turned north past Tuba City and Rock Point to reach Bluff, Utah which was just across the state line. Crossing the corner of Colorado we picked up that states gas receipt in the small town of Towaoc where we got on US 69 and crossed another state line into New Mexico. Plenty of  Small towns along this highway so we had no trouble getting the required gas receipt before crossing another state line into the Texas Panhandle and the city of Amarillo. Oklahoma City came up fast and we gathered the gas receipt before moving on to Tulsa, Broken Arrow and to Springfield, MO.
Crossing the corner of Arkansas we moved on to Tennessee and headed south through Mississippi toward Slidell, Louisiana.
It rained.
         We had been hearing about the 500 year flood event hitting Slidell and we were heading right into it. The rain became heavier as we neared the Louisiana border and as we pulled on to I-12 and rode into Slidell we were looking for the first motel we could find. Soaked to the skin, we looked like we had ridden through the storm and so we had, through the dark, the wind and the rain until finally the welcoming sign of a Comfort Inn gave us a great breath of relief. The night was short. At 3:30AM the alarm sounded and we went into the dark once again, with heavy rain still falling, but with what looked like a break in the clouds far ahead.
As we rode out of Slidell the rain poured and I followed the tail lights of a pick truck which moved slowly through the night. The lights were bright enough to follow as we ran into places where the road was not visible with a couple of inches of water running across the pavement.
The next stop would be Mobile, Alabama and then after a short drive we would drop down across the state line to the small town of Century, Florida. This was the far northwest corner of the state and would be the only place in Florida we would visit for that familiar gas receipt.
Crossing Alabama we headed for Atlanta, Georgia with the rain behind us and with Linda snapping pictures in bright sunshine.
After many hours in the saddle we pulled to one side of a truck stop parking lot and raised the tent for a short mid day power nap.
This would happen a couple of times each day and if we didn't have a place to raise the tent, I would fall back on what Long Distance riders call the Iron Butt Motel.
The Rest Area picnic table has given comfort and rest to many an Iron Butt Rider while on a long ride.
We crossed Georgia. South and North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and into Maryland.
The East Coast, big cities, heavy traffic, this was the part of the country I had been dreading.
It was not bad. Picking up I-95 at Baltimore we headed north through Delaware and New Jersey.
Through the night we rode and approached New York at 3AM. That's when we blew a fuse and lost both turn signals, brake lights and the power supply which charged my cell phone.
I didn't even look for a stop off point where I could replace the fuse.
Driving through the cities while using hand signals instead of flashing lights probably failed to amuse taxi cab drivers, truck drivers and other motorists but we made it through and were soon into Rhode Island and Connecticut.
With bright sunshine and a pleasant rest area parking lot I found the problem fuse and got the lights working again. Unfortunately, with the cell phone battery dead we rode through Massachusetts, New Hampshire and to Kittery, Maine with no cell phone signal and thus, no Spotwalla map for the folks back home to follow. Since Kittery, Maine is just across the state line we were soon heading south on I-95 and getting ready to begin the westward trek across the north country. We now began a run across the entire state of New York and picked up the gas receipt from Pennsylvania by pullong off I-90 into Erie, PA.
Riding along the lake shore we were soon crossing into Ohio and then Indiana with a short jog north into the small town of Sturgis, Michigan. Indiana was soon in our rear view mirror and the Chicagoland adventure was about to begin. We had carefully planned our bypass of the city and it would have worked too, except for that one wrong freeway turn I made. Getting on the wrong ramp sent us on to I-90 and through the heart of the city. This wrong turn caused us to lose precious hours as we asked SIRI to help us find the shortest way out of the city. Eventually we did leave the city behind and were on our way to Rockford, and Freeport, IL and finally Dubuque, Iowa.
Iowa is a wide state and we rode for hours on US 20 before arriving at Sioux City.
Here we would take a short detour and visit South Sioux City, Nebraska for the gas receipt that would show we had indeed visited that state.
Spirits lifted at this point because we were back in our home country with long straight highways and familiar cities. Sioux Falls, South Dakota, with short jog to the east to pick up Minnesota, and then straight through South Dakota to the western edge and the city of Spearfish. Here we would continue across the Wyoming state line to the small town of Beulah where we filled the gas tank and got our receipt. Back then to Spearfish where we turned north on US 85. As we left the city we were hit with a blast of wind, billowing clouds of dust followed by a drenching downpour. Southbound bikers were leaning far to the side trying to keep their bikes upright in the high winds. As we approached Belle Fourche the winds began to subside and we were able to pull to the side of the road batten down the luggage which had began to billow in the winds. As night settled in the rain was behind us and by 11PM we reached Bowman, North Dakota where we would get our gas receipt and head off into the night toward MONTANA!
At the gas station we asked where we could find a restaurant open that late at night.
"Gazers Burgers and Beer." was the reply.
As we pulled into the parking lot we saw a man standing on the sidewalk having a smoke.
He approached and looked over our rig while saying, "You folks are living my dream!"
Seems he was Jim, the bartender at the burgers and beer emporium and he rode a Harley.
He showed a picture of his youngest daughter who was about to start college.
"Someday," he said, "Someday my wife and I will travel across the country like you are doing, someday we'll live this dream."
Jim was a nice guy. When we finished our burgers and asked for the check the waiter said, "Jim the bartender already paid your check and said to wish you a great ride."
How cool is that?
When we arrived home days later I sent him a copy of my book, Discovering Life After Alzheimer's.We met wonderful people in every state, at every rest area and truck stop we visited.
America is a wondrous place filled with wondrous people. At a Mississippi Rest Area we were approached by a young man who introduced himself as a member of a Motorcycle Ministry group, the Christian Motorcyclists Association.
He asked if he could have a prayer with us for traveling grace. It was a moving moment in our trek across America.
In the small town of Baxter Springs, Kansas we stopped at the only restaurant in town and met a couple from Italy who were, as she put it, "Living our life dream of traveling across America on a Harley Davidson motorcycle."
Leaving Bowman, ND we rode west on US 12 toward Miles City, Montana where we picked up I-94 and began the long ride across Big Sky Country.
These were highways we had traveled many times and the miles and cities flew by. Billings where the interstate highway became I-94 instead of I-90, Bozeman, Butte, Missoula were soon behind us and we headed for Lookout Pass with it's magnificent views and it's seemingly endless construction projects. Through the Idaho Pan Handle, the fabulous Lake Couer D Alene and then into Washington state. At Spokane we turned south on 90 toward Ritzville and US 395. This was the final stretch. Umatilla, Oregon and the end of the journey lay just ahead.
Crossing the Columbia River and the state line, there it was. Umatilla, Oregon!

We stopped at the first gas station we saw to fill up and get the required gas receipt to show that we had indeed traveled all the lower 48 states. Next stop was a restaurant for a late night burger. Here we found law enforcement people from several agencies having a middle of the night coffee break and asked them to sign our End-Of-Ride witness form.
They signed the form, we got a picture and the ride was over, well over that is, but leaving us with a day long ride back home to Helena, Montana from whence we had started the 8,500 mile trek ten and three quarter days earlier.
Yes, it was indeed, 10 days and 16 hours from our start in Needles, CA. We had failed to meet the 10 day deadline for the ride, by just 16 hours. The title, "Oldest Rider to complete the 48x10," would have to wait until another day, another time, when we could summon up the desire to make the arduous trek across America again.
115 degree heat in California, drenching rain in Louisiana, above normal temperatures all the way up the east coast to Maine all were contributing factors, but in the final analysis, bad judgment on the first day of the ride had kept us from reaching our goal.
We'll make better decisions next time.
The ride back home to Montana was brightened for us when Jason and Allison met us at the famous Silver Dollar Restaurant and tourist stop on the Idaho/Montana state line and rode with us as far as their home in Missoula. Our  second 3 Generation ride. Thanks Jason and Allison.
From Missoula to Helena turned out to be the coldest part of the ride with the temperature over MacDonald Pass dropping to the freezing mark. And freeze is what we did as completed the longest ride. It was good to be home, but even now, in my own bed, it was hard to get to sleep as my mind continued to bring up pictures of our epic Adventure America Ride.
Thanks to Linda for keeping me awake and keeping a record of the adventure.
I know her siblings were very happy to know that she was there, in the sidecar and keeping things running as smoothly as possible.
Thanks to all for good wishes, prayers and support.
It was a great ride.
Watch for me, I'll be in the Right Lane America.

Del "Lonnie" Lonnquist (and Linda Darelius!)

Highway Smiley, founder of the Ground Pounder patch and one of the greatest Long Riders in the country, told us we had indeed met the requirements to earn his famous patch. This is one of the most prestigious of the patches you will see on the vest or jacket of a Long Distance rider.
We will be truly honored to meet with him, in the near future, and will wear his "Crimson Star" patch with pride.
When other bikers see this patch they know immediately that here is an insignia that was
Earned Not Given!
Thanks Smiley
Looking forward to meeting you in person

Black Patch - 24 States or more on One Ride
Platinum Patch - 48 States Total at the Riders Leisure.
Platinum Patch with Red Star - 48 States on One Ride.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

48x10 - The Ten Thousand Mile Ride

On August 7, 2016, 81 year old Del Lonnquist and his 60 year old daughter, Linda Darelius of Helena, Montana (in the sidecar) attempted the Iron Butt Association 48x10 ride.
The 10 day, 8,000 mile ride touched all of the Lower 48 states.
We began the ride with an Iron Butt Association Saddlesore 1000-1 ride from Helena, Montana to Needles, CA.
The thousand mile ride was completed in 21 hours.
We began the 48x10 ride from Needles and ended in Umatilla, Oregon 10 days and 16 hours later, missing the ten day IBA limit by 16 hours.
The two rides combined with the ride from Oregon back to Montana totaled 10,116 miles on the Odometer.
If you followed our adventure on the Spotwalla map, it shows we missed Maine but that was because the battery on my cell phone died and we lost our Spotwalla mapping function.
It was an epic adventure and one we will always remember. 
Thanks to the hundreds of people who followed us on Facebook through our adventure and the to the many we met along the way who gave their best wishes and support.
Thanks to Bill Ryder whose maintenance skills made the 09 Honda VTX 1300 purr like a kitten all the way, to Barry Reddick and Stanton Howe for the good start. 
Special thanks to Reef for the map we followed and for the prayers and support of many.
We will have a new BLOG post, complete with pictures going up on Right Lane America in the near future and are planning a book to chronicle the ride.

In the meantime I will be leaving in the morning on a ride through Montana, the Dakotas and Minnesota to attend a Grandsons wedding.
Thanks again everyone for your help and support.
Del & Linda
Watch for us, we'll be in the Right Lane America.

Del "Lonnie" Lonnquist

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

July Had Great Rides, Festivals & Events

I began the month of July with a great Independence Day weekend with Linda's family on the Oregon Coast where we celebrated her Birthday.
Great way to start the month off and it was a fantastic 1,600 mile round trip. What a ride.
It was warm and along the way threatening clouds appeared on the horizon but nary a drop of rain developed.
The ride to Newport on the fabled Highway 101 was perfect.
I did an overnight at the KOA campgrounds at Cascade Locks, OR and spent a good evening visiting with neighboring campers.
The next morning I got an early start and a few hours later pulled into the Guest House where the party was already underway. The house located right on the Pacific shore was large and had room for everyone.
Her children and their families had come from Alaska, Florida and Montana to help their Mom celebrate the big event. It was a great time.
The ride back to Montana was uneventful and very pleasant.
The very next weekend I was scheduled into the Authors Showcase at the Sidney Montana Sunrise Festival, so another long ride was looming just ahead.
The 550 mile ride to Sidney was great with rain clouds on the horizon but no rain to dampen the ride. This was Interstate riding at it's best with long straight stretches of highway punctuated with the hills and curves of the Hysham Hills area. Traffic was light and there was lots of time to contemplate the coming event and all of the Eastern Montana relatives I would get to visit with.
I had called ahead and offered a free program at The Lodge assisted Living Center in Sidney, so that was my first stop on arriving in town.
With banjo, guitar and a full complement of travel stories we had a fun program for the residents and the many relatives who came to join the fun.
Saturday morning July 9th was the main event.
The Sidney Montana Sunrise Festival is an event sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and the MonDak Heritage Center and Museum. The Authors Showcase provides an opportunity for Montana writers to come together to visit and showcase their latest books. A fun time and some very interesting people to visit with. This event is always well attended and the writers appreciate the chance to present their latest projects to people who enjoy a good read and like to turn pages of a real book.
Writers from 9 years old to 81 years old showed off their latest efforts.
I had the tent camper set up and with a table and awning had a cool place to visit with the many people who came to the event.
I had the banjo with me so when the event organizer told us one of the entertainers who had been scheduled to appear, had cancelled out at the last minute I was able to fill in with a couple of songs and stories about the books I had for sale.
All in all, a fun weekend, a nice ride and good folks to visit with.
It was a long day at the market and I took the easy way out with a motel instead of a campground.
After a good nights sleep it felt good to get back on the road and the early morning start was cool and comfortable. Still, it was a long ride home with a a stop over in Billings for a visit with Lois' nephew George and his wife Jean.
Good folks who had a fried chicken lunch on the table when I pulled in the driveway.
Then it was back on the highway with 250 miles to go.
Half way there I made the obligatory stop at Wheat Montana Farms Deli in Three Forks, Montana for one of their great deli sandwiches and coffee. Great place to stop and always filled with tourists traveling the Interstate.
The following weekend I had a different kind of ride waiting for me. I drove a golf cart to carry disabled and elderly people from the parking lot at Carroll College in Helena, to the field where the annual Symphony Under The Stars is held.
The field was full and since it is a long walk from the parking lot, AARP Montana has a fleet of golf carts and drivers ready to assist those who have difficulty with long walks.
Thousands of people attend this annual event in which organizers bring in well known singers to join the symphony in presenting the show.  This years event featured Broadway Show tunes and was well received by the throng.

The following Saturday it was back
 to work as I took my motorcycle/sidecar, trailer and banjo to the Helena Farmers Market.  This Saturday morning event is fun and gives me an opportunity to sell books, play the banjo and raise money for the next trip to a Senior Center.
I present the programs free to any senior resident facility that wants one, and raise money to pay for the trips by presenting a show at the market. A fun way to earn a little extra gas money.
   Planning for our big ride of the year has been underway for weeks now and as the big day approaches many hours are spent planning and getting ready.
The Iron Butt Association calls it, "The 48x10."
To complete the ride and earn your patch and certificate you must get a gas receipt from every one of the lower 48 states in 10 days or less, and send them into the association.
Now, after weeks of preparation, the departure date is here.
At 12 Noon on Sunday, August 7th, my 60 year old daughter Linda and I will leave for what will be a 9,000 mile ride. We call it the Adventure America Ride.
For details of the ride click on the internet link below.
The 48x10 page will also have a link to a Spotwalla Map which will allow anyone interested to follow the hour by hour progress of our ride.
Look for us, we will be in the Right Lane America.
Del "Lonnie" Lonnquist

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Linda Turning 60 On The Beach

 It was Hanna who reminded me again that they were celebrating her Mom's 60th Birthday in a Beach House on Highway 101 on the Oregon Pacific Coast.
Oh sure, they had all made sure I was invited but I kept finding reasons why I could not make the 800 mile ride through Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon to where the event was being held.
Now, as she was busy packing for her family to make the trip she reminded me again that I was invited and should be there for this important surprise party.
What an excuse to go for a ride through the Northwestern mountain country to the fabled Highway 101 which runs along the Oregon coast then south through California.
I told her, "Yes I'll come, but don't tell anyone else and we'll make it a double surprise.
They very next morning I packed the sidecar and Mini Mate Tent Trailer and headed west.

Lookout Pass is under construction and was my first stop.
From there the ride was great with 60 miles of Idaho pan handle country which winds through the beautiful Lake Coeur d'Alene area.
This heavily wooded area with it's miles of shorline is always a beautiful ride.
Heading south after passing through Spokane, the gateway to the Inland Empire, I found myself on I-90 to Ritzville, then 395 to I-84 and the Columbia River Gorge.
My stop for the night was at the Cascade Locks KOA campgrounds where some very pleasant people found me a comfortable space beneath tall shady trees. After an all day ride in the sun it was a great place to stretch out and take a nap, before setting up for the night.
Neighbors were friendly folks from Minnesota's Iron Range country in the far north and were visiting a daughter who worked in Portland.
They took pictures of the rig and asked many questions. Nice folks.
A good night for sleeping in the tent trailer with a light breeze keeping the rig cool.
The short 200 mile ride in the morning was great, especially the ride from I-5 to Highway 101 on Highway 20.
Winding, twisting, tree shaded and lightly traveled.
It was truly a wonderful ride to Newport on the beach and the ten mile ride south on highway 101 to Seal Rock where the kids had rented a beach house for the week.

A highlight of the weeks events was the Marine Discovery Tour Boat.
The trip wound through Yaquina Bay where guides discussed everything from the Jetty that lined the river, to the birds and fish we would see. As the boat made it's way from the bay out into the Pacific Ocean we were told to watch for whales swimming in the area.
As it happened we observed several whales coming to the surface to "blow" and then drop quickly back under water. One surprise came when a large whale surfaced beside the boat. Less that 20 feet away he came to the surface, spouted, and then with roiling water swirling about him he sank slowly into the ocean.
WOW! Said the tour boat crew. That was really close, you will very rarely see a whale come that close to us and we are not allowed, by law, to approach them that close. That was a once in a long time view of a whale.

On the way out to the ocean we had dropped two "crab pots" in the water, anchored with bright red and yellow buoys. We now returned to the bay to pick them up.
They both had several crabs in them and the guide carefully brought them out and handed them to passengers, all the while explaining facts about their life and how many could be harvested each day by crabbers.
Here Linda, the Birthday Girl, got to show off her skills as a crab handler.
Along with other passengers all of the kids had an opportunity to hold a crab while hearing the explanations about it's life.
Finally as the boat slowed even further, they got to drop the crabs back into the water, cautioned by the guide to not make it into a Frisbee throwing contest.

"Just drop them gently back into the ocean," she said.

The boat tour ended back in Newport amid much laughter as the families headed back for their cars, for a short trip to The Chowder Bowl Restaurant.
This seafood specialty place was packed with tourists and regulars who were enjoying the specialties of the house.

With 22 family members in tow we found they had prepared for us and had a long table set up and waiting.

 From the Chowder Bowl it was only a short 15 minute drive back to the Beach House where acres of sandy beach was waiting.
Kites were flown, dams were constructed to slow the flow of water from a small creek into the vastness of the Pacific and games were played on the sandy shores of the worlds great ocean.
Grand daughter Megans husband Tim Stone flew his drone over the ocean to shoot close up photos of the whales which continued to cavort in front of the picture windows of the house.
Shown on the big screen TV they were spectacular.
I wonder if any of the others saw the UFO's which I caught on my camera through the dining room window?
The lights seemed to dance across the sky, perhaps someone or something else was watching us as we watched the whales.

A wonderful week at a beach house on Highway 101 on Oregon's beautiful coast.
One last picture with one of the new Greats, taken upside down in the Chowder Bowl.
Thanks Wyatt for posing for me.

The ride home was great despite the heat of a Fourth of July weekend afternoon.
The Iron Butt Association cautions riders that if they get tired or have any problem continuing the ride, pull off the road, get a motel and try it again tomorrow.
Which I did.

The Super 8 in Walla Wall, Washington gave me a good nights sleep and I was ready and rested for the ride back home to Helena, Montana.
 The ride was wonderful, the visit with kids, grand kids and great grand kids was fabulous, still, it was nice coming over McDonalds Pass west of Helena and looking down at the valley and the city.
No matter which way you arrive in Helena, you find a beautiful view waiting for you. This view from the top of Mount Helena.

Thanks for coming along with me on a great ride and a wonderful week with the kids.

Watch for me I'll be in the Right Lane America.
Del "Lonnie" Lonnquist

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Banjo, The Motorcycle, Me & Montana

The banjo has always been a favorite instrument for me and the motorcycle has always been the preferred method travel.
It's all come together in this month of June as I played my way across the great state of Montana.
The June schedule was beginning to fill up as I took the banjo and guitar to The Springs Retirement Home in Butte, Montana on June 1st.
It was a great ride over Boulder Hill and through the canyons on I-15.
The Springs was a fun place and I played and sang for a wonderful audience.
A week later on June 8th The banjo and I visited the Aspen View Assisted Living Center in Billings.
This was a fun ride. A little brisk in the 48 degree weather but a quick stop at the Wheat Montana Farms Deli in Three Forks got me warmed up.
The ride across Montana on the Interstate was smooth and easy.
The sun took care of the cool morning temps and I arrived at Aspen View with plenty of time to set the tent up so residents could look over the Old Guys traveling rig.
Many took pictures.
Lois' Uncle Harry and Aunt Sharon had offered to put me up for the night and sent me on the way the next morning with a good breakfast and some hot coffee.
The banjo case and it's worn out appearance was often commented on when I carried it into the Senior Centers around the country.
It has traveled well, but as I carried it into the Aspen View the handle broke off and the whole thing fell to the floor.

I tried to repair the broken end with wire and duct tape but to no avail. 
The next time I picked it up the entire handle broke loose again it ended up on the floor. I purchased a new handle and this time the repair should hold.

The ride westward across the state was great with only a few sprinkles to wet the road.
The obligatory stop for coffee at Wheat Montana in Three Forks provide a short time of relaxation and an opportunity to share stories with other visitors who wanted to know about the sidecar and trailer. Many questions and many other bikers who want to visit. 
 At Columbus, MT I was filling up on gas when a young biker raced up to the pumps began filling his tank and shouted over, "are you doing an Iron Butt ride?"
I told him no, I was doing a Flower Sniffing ride back home.
He said he was from Malta, MT in the far North East section of the state and had been on the road for 8 hours. He was doing his first Iron Butt Bun Burner Gold, 1500 miles in 24 hours.
He struggled to get the required gas receipt and 15 minutes later when I left the McDonalds across the street from the station he was still fighting the gas pump for a receipt.
Thirty miles down the road he passed me and was trying to make up lost time.
As every Iron Butt rider knows, the gas stops can hurt your chances of success if they aren't carefully planned and carried out. I hope he made it.

The Helena Farmers Market is like a Saturday Morning Fun Fest.
It began with the idea that I could sell my three books and Lois' history of the Fort Peck Dam, Fifty Cents and Hour-The Builders and Boomtowns of the Fort Peck Dam as hundreds of people walked through market.
To add to the fun I got the banjo out and played and sang through the four hours from 9 to 1.
As people walked by, paused and listened to a song, they would reach for the wallet or purse and drop a dollar bill into the open banjo case.
I was a BUSKAR!

In Europe street entertainers are called Buskars and busking can be, for many, a full time job.
Saturday mornings at the Helena Farmers Market is a fun time. Everyone is relaxed and enjoying the food, the treats and the offerings of vendors who market made in Montana products.

Busking provides gas money for the free programs I do at Senior Centers all across the state and  in other states.
Often when I get a call from a Senior Center, Retirement Home or Assisted Living Center asking about the programs, they ask, what the charge is for the program.
When I tell them the program is free with no charge for anything they ask, "How can you afford to do the programs free?"
I tell them about Busking and selling books as a way to pay the way for the rides across the country.

They always laugh when I say, "If I charge for the program it becomes work, when I give them away free it becomes fun."

My new Father's Day helmet from daughter Linda fits well and provides more protection from wind noise and any accident that might befall me as I ride across the state.

The old one was, I have to admit, becoming quite worn out. The manufaturers often point out that any helmet over five years old should be replaced. My old one had been worn for nearly ten years so I suppose it was time for a change. All the same, it is hard to part with the old one which has become so comfortable and has been partner to hundreds of long and short motorcycle rides all across America.

My most recent ride was the longest of the month. I left Helena at 6:45AM on June 21st to deliver ten of Lois' books to the Phillips County Historical Society in Malta, MT.
It was to be a 350 mile ride to Malta where I would deliver the books and then do a program at the Hi Line Retirement Home.
I had sent an Email to old friends Renee and Chuck Worley who live in Wolf Point, MT.
Lois and I had visited with them many times and they had come to the Fort Peck Dam Interpretive Center for our programs.
Along with Ted and Norma they came to the Retirement Home to hear yet another program and for a good visit over a cup of coffee afterwards.
The banjo and guitar program were fun and the residents of the retirement home laughed and sang along on some of the old songs.
The visit with Renee, Chuck, Norma and Ted was an added benefit of the ride.
About 4PM in the afternoon reports of storms moving in from the North West changed my plans.
I had planned on spending the night in Malta and taking a nice relaxing ride home the next day.
With wind and rain moving in I opted to head for home.
It was a crazy ride.
As I left Malta a huge and very ominous black cloud could be see to the North and I headed west at a good clip to avoid it.
After a half hour of hard riding I spotted sunshine on the road ahead and thought, "I made it, I'm out from under the cloud and away from the storm"
The very second I rode into the sunshine a gust of wind nearly blew me off the road.
Highway 2 across the northern reaches of Montana is a two lane road and not too wide.
When I stopped for gas in Havre, a hundred miles later, an employee said there were reported to be fifty mile an hour wind gusts associated with the storm and there had been damage on buildings in it's path.  The wind kept blowing for the entire hundred mile ride to Havre.
As I turned south toward Great Falls the wind stayed with me, only now it was coming at me as a strong cross wind instead of the headwind I had been facing.
Well, regardless, it was a great ride with a few obstacles to overcome, but a great ride anyway.
And a great month it has been with many good rides, many fun programs and tons of fun at the Farmers Market. Busking and selling books is fun indeed.
July will have it's own rides and it's own events, so a fun month is coming up.
The big July event will be the Sidney Montana Sunrise Festival which is a big street fair and also an Authors Showcase where Montana Authors gather to show their books to an appreciative audience of READERS!
It was a great time last year and should be equally as much fun this year.
I contacted The Lodge Retirement Home in Sidney and told them I would be there for the festival and would be happy to do a program for them while I was visiting Sidney.
I will do a program for them the night before so it should be a fun time indeed.
Fun times in the rear view mirror and more fun times ahead as I look through the windshield of the Honda.
Be Fantastic everybody.
Watch for me, I'll be in the Right Lane America
Del "Lonnie" Lonnquist
What the calendar looked like:
HelenaFarmers Market - Every Saturday
9am - 1pm
Billings Sweetwater 4/27

Helena - Touchmark  5/6

Helena - Hunters Pointe  5/11

Whitefish - The Springs  5/18

Bozeman - The Lodge  5/26

Butte - The Springs  6/1

Billings -  Aspen View  6/8

Malta MT - Hi Line Retirement Center 6/21

Malta, MT - Phillips Co. Hist. Society 6/21

Sidney MTThe Lodge7/83:00pm
Sidney, MT  Sunrise Festival 
Authors Showcase
July 9 All Day
Aug. 8 to 18 - 48 States in 10 days
The Iron Butt Association  48x10
8/8 to 8/18

Iron Butt Association SS 1000-1
1000 Miles in 24 Hours 
Helena -Burnsville, MN
Iron Butt Association SS 1000-1
1000 Miles in 24 Hours
Helena - San Jose, CA
San Jose, CA to San Diego, CAFlower sniffing ride - Highway 110/5 - 10/9
San Diego, CA to Houston, TX
10/9 - 10/15
Houston, TX to Lake Mary, FL
10/24 - 11/2