We all know it happens. Lawmakers discuss the need for legislation, turn it left, right, and upside down picking it apart then before it gets voted on some Good Ole Boy (or Gal) decides to tack on some issue completely unrelated to the bill being discussed/voted on.
That is exactly what happened in North Carolina. A, “two paragraph”, bill on motorcycle safety was interspliced with four pages of restrictions on abortions for the state. Look up “Motorcycle Vagina Bill” if you doubt me. If you can tell me how these two topics have anything in common you’ll be the only person who seems to be able to.
For the simple-minded, adding the abortion rider to that bill means that if a legislator chose to vote in support of motorcycle safety, he or she would also be inadvertently voting in support of restrictions on abortion.
I personally have no objections to a bill that would limit abortions to only cases in which carrying a child would significantly risk the life of the mother, but shoving those restrictions in the middle of a totally unrelated bill is not the way to accomplish that. Getting legislation passed which will increase the safety of riders is difficult enough without attaching a well-known controversial topic to the proposal. How underhanded can you get? A legislator who would vote in support of rider safety might well vote against it just to keep from voting in favor of the unrelated issue.
These sleezy tactics are not rare occurrences, in fact you can just about bet the back 40 that every bill passed in the legislature has some unrelated issue buried deep within the proposal. If they can tack on four pages to a two paragraph bill, just imagine how many totally unrelated issues are added into the so-called Affordable Care Act.
I would be hard-pressed to argue that Alabama’s dropout rate for high school students isn’t directly related to the deplorable driving habits of many of the state’s citizens or that the lack of education doesn’t manifest itself in a myriad of other ways – low turn-out at voting polls and inability to understand the ballot, the high number of families who live at or below the poverty level relying on Medicaid, food stamps, and handouts, etc.
As a taxpayer I resent the amount taken out of my salary to support those families who lack the self-respect to work for a living, and as a rider, I shudder at the ignorance I see on the roads on a daily basis. I’ve been hit by an SUV because the driver was distracted, ran a red light, and turned across our lane. It’s not something I care to repeat. That carelessness is due in large part to a lack of education and inability to comprehend traffic laws coupled with a lack of self-respect and concern for fellow citizens.
Alabama’s overall dropout rate is 75%, but the graduation rate for some counties is far lower: Montgomery county: 64%; Butler 66%; Bullock 70%; Lowndes 67%; Pike 67%; and Dallas 71%. There were 16 high schools in AL in which the graduation rate was below 60% for the 2011/2012 school year. There were another 49 high schools in which the graduation rate was between 60 and 70%.
Is it any wonder that Alabama ranks in the top 10 of poorest states in the Union with these percentages of students who don’t finish high school? After substitute teaching for a year I venture to say most of those dropouts are barely literate. Why make any effort to learn when being brought up in an environment in which multiple generations have lived off of government assistance? Bide your time till you’re old enough to leave school and coast through life on the coat-tails of the rapidly dwindling middle class employees for yet another generation. When those of us in that middle class fall below the poverty line ourselves trying to support you, I’m sure the 1% of wealthy Americans will support us all. Really???
Alabama comes in at #4 on the list of poorest states in the union (7.3% unemployment, 19% below the poverty line), surpassed only by Mississippi, Arkansas, and West Virginia. Yet all the school board and legislators can do is argue over tax credits for families who want to remove their children from failing schools and enroll them in better schools.
Alabama ranks 8th in the nation for the worst drivers with 42 fatalities per million miles; 46th in ticketing; 29th for drunk driving; 41st for failure to obey traffic laws; and 7th for carelessness.
Everyday habits of making U-turns in busy traffic, trying to cross four-lanes of traffic without a traffic light in order to exit a parking lot; making a left turn from the right lane across the path of the driver in the left lane; running red lights; cutting drivers off when the road narrows from four lanes to two; speeding up so as not to let a driver change lanes; blocking traffic because you’re too stupid and self-centered to get out of the left lane and let cars pass; recklessly and repeatedly changing lanes in heavy traffic; parking illegally; etc. result in accidents, injuries, death, AND higher insurance rates. We all pay one way or another.
Use caution, try to anticipate the next move of drivers around you, wear safety gear whenever possible, and whether you have the right-of-way or not, if a driver seems oblivious to you, drop back and let them pass. Arrive safely at your destination because those who have the power to improve some of these situations are asleep at the wheel.
Today’s Motor Maids history lesson is on Butch Widman who served as Secretary in 1955. Her boyfriend, who was later her husband, was serving during WWII and had asked her to take care of his bike while he was gone. Instead of just starting the bike twice weekly to keep it in running order, she climbed on and rode with the members of his club. She sold the bike in 1944 because there was no end to the war in sight and gas was difficult to get.
Two years later she bought her own bike and joined Motor Maids. She finished sixth in the Most Popular Girl Rider Contest in 1953 and won numerous trophies over the years at various events.
In May 1946, the couple rode to San Francisco, taking one bike but sharing the driving. She learned a lesson I’ve had to learn a few times, no matter how sunny it is, take along a jacket – or as she put it “long handles” and a jacket. Had Martin not told me to take a jacket when we rode to Redondo Beach, CA in June, I’d have joined Butch in learning it can be cold riding through the mountains no matter what time of year it is.
The couple ran a motorcycle dealership in St Louis and in their “free” time Earl, Butch, and Ronnie rode competitively. – “American Motorcycling”, April 1955.
To sum up what a Motor Maid does in one word is easy – we RIDE. Members are working professionals, retired ladies, and everything in between and no two are alike, except for their interest in riding. Our lifestyles are different, our other hobbies and interests are different, and the amount of time we can devote to Motor Maids and riding is different depending on whether we work or enjoy retirement.
Trophies and acknowledgements are awarded at the state and national level for the women who ride the most miles, tour the largest number of states each year, recruit the most members for the year, etc. Once upon a time the husbands and significant others were acknowledged at the end of the year for their encouragement and for taking on additional responsibilities at home so that their wives had enough free time to ride. Men doing housework and babysitting in the early days was about as unusual as a woman rider.
In 1958, I was an infant in diapers. My mother and aunts would no more have considering riding a motorcycle than my grandmother ever considered driving an automobile. (She died just short of age 101 and never drove a day in her life) Even my Motor Maids district only dates from Jan. 1, 2011, but in other parts of the country Motor Maids and the auxiliary members were burning up the roads in ‘58.
Dorine Hamilton, DD for Kansas was confirmed as “Queen of the Highways” that year, having ridden more miles than any of her sister Motor Maids. She started riding six years earlier. The reigning queen from the previous year was Hi Cowan LaCoy of Killeen, TX. Unfortunately, the article did not include either lady’s mileage.
The auxiliary members did not go unnoticed at the end of the year gathering.
“In keeping with the fact that Motor Maid Auxiliary members are essential and much appreciated, a “Work Trophy” was presented to Hershel Broadbent as Auxiliary member doing the most work in helping conduct Motor Maid events. A “Babysitting Trophy” was presented to Jerry McLaughlin as the member doing the most babysitting while his wife was away attending Motor Maid events. A “Traveling Trophy” was awarded to Leroy Hamilton as the Auxiliary member traveling the most miles with his wife attending Motor Maid events. All of these trophies were appropriately engraved.”
I’m thankful I don’t need a babysitter, and that Martin (my auxiliary member), joins me wherever my ramblings take us. He’s always ready for an adventure and together we have fun no matter how outrageous or mundane the ride. I’m also thankful that the Motor Maids still appreciate these gentlemen and welcome their participation in group rides.
Source: “American Motorcycling”, Feb. 1959
For those (like me) who have a long history of riding ATV’s, there is an awesome trail system in West Virginia that just may strike your fancy. There are cabins and ATV rentals, restaurants that cater to the participants, and it looks like businesses offer pretty much anything one would need for a weekend riding the trails.
Believe it or not, there is no charge for riding unless your stay involves renting the ATV. Riders may bring their own, or reserve one for rental. We saw a television program over the Labor Day weekend about the trail system and I looked it up to get more information. The information below is taken from their website.
It took some individuals with ambition, intelligence, and a willingness to put their skills to work in order to boost the local economy to put this package together. As more and more businesses close, factories lock up and send work overseas, and those looking for decent paying jobs in exchange for a fair day’s work become harder and harder to find, I’d like to challenge all Southern states to follow their example.
“The Hatfield-McCoy Trail System is a statutory corporation created by the West Virginia Legislature to generate economic development through tourism in nine southern West Virginia counties. As of 2013, the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System covers more than 600 miles of off-road trails in seven of its nine project counties. All of the trail systems are open 365 days a year to ATVs, dirt bikes, and utility vehicles (UTVs). Hatfield-McCoy Trails is also open to 4×4 ORV’s at the newest, Ivy Branch Trail location. Many of the trail systems also offer community connecting trails that allow visitors to access “ATV-friendly towns” to experience the charm of southern West Virginia.
The eight Hatfield-McCoy trail systems are Rockhouse, Buffalo Mountain, Bearwallow, Indian Ridge, Little Coal, Pocahontas, Pinnacle Creek, and Ivy Branch. No matter which trail system you choose, Hatfield-McCoy Trail visitors can expect to find a variety of trails ranging from easiest to most difficult. These are not your typical “flatlander” trails, however, and can be a challenge for a first-time rider. For this reason, visitors may choose from a list of ATV guided tour and rental providers. You can also find a listing of lodging facilities by visiting our lodging page.
The overall goal of the Hatfield-McCoy Trails project is to develop a world-class trail system with an emphasis on safety in each of its nine project counties throughout southern West Virginia. Project estimates have concluded that once the trails are developed and linked, there may be as much as 2,000 total miles of trails.”
I’m back at work after our “LA to LA and Back Again” (Lower Alabama to Los Angeles, actually Redondo Beach) vacation. I put 4,600 miles on my trike and saw the countryside up close. Most importantly, we had such a wonderful visit with the kids and grandson. We got to take him to the park, to the duck pond at another park, to the pier to see the agua, and had some really good food. (Too much good food – now its time to lose the weight put on during the trip)
I had no idea there was so much desert (basically useless in my opinion) land in the Southwest having only seen it when I flew to Vegas and took a couple of tours of the Grand Canyon some years ago. There were subtle changes in rock formations and plants as we traveled westward, averaging 500 miles per day, but a great deal of the landscape was rocks, sand, tumbleweeds, and cactus. That’s a lot of brown for someone use to grass and trees.
I was a little surprised to ride past a rather ticked off rattlesnake that was coiled up along the white line as we rode through the mountains. I suppose a car or animal had made it mad before we rode past because he was already in his angry posture.
I felt akin to the cowhands on the old cattle drives as tumbleweeds blew across in front of my bike. We rode through a sandstorm between Barstow and Pasadena which we later learned prompted the closing of the interstate sometime after we got through and experienced a rather intense but short-lived one on the return trip. Toward the end of the journey I noted a stick lodged between two cables on my bike deposited there by one or the other of the sand storms.
The worst part of the trip, for me, was having Native Americans constantly begging for handouts. We’d stop for gas and before we could get off the bikes they were there with their, “Nice bikes, can you help me out”, bit. I’m a tad claustrophobic and having strangers invade my personal space was a little like the movies when zombies close in on unsuspecting people. Having grown up being taught to take pride in my Native American heritage, I found their freeloading depressing, and their willingness to invade my personal space disconcerting. I constantly had to remind myself not to judge the many by the actions of what I hope were the few. The maid at El Rancho confirmed what I suspected by telling us those who were hitting up tourists for hand-outs were the ones who would only spend the money on drugs and/or alcohol and that we shouldn’t give them money.
Those getting rich off the Indian casinos while tribal members live nearby in hovels are going to have some explaining to do when they meet their maker.
We stayed at El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, New Mexico going out and that was an interesting change of pace. The Hollywood golden era stars stayed there while filming movies and photos of the “Who’s Who” list adorn the walls. The interior is dominated by a massive staircase going up to the second floor with wood construction like one would expect to find in an old lodge. The staff couldn’t have been friendlier. Lee Roy, a Native American who had been a Marine had quite a lot in common with Martin and gave us a choice room with a balcony overlooking the area.
The best meal we had the entire trip, for me at least, was probably the steak at Vern’s Steak House in Shamrock, TX. I understand it’s been around since the heyday of Route 66 fame and it was easy to see why after the first bite. At every opportunity we ate at the mom and pop type restaurants and only chose chains when there was no other recourse.
About four times I ran out of gas and switched to reserve because of the distance between gas stations. The only time that was really an issue was on the return trip. We’d been traveling east all day on I-40, on the heels of a storm moving east through Oklahoma. Note – this was just days after Moore, OK was hit by two deadly tornadoes a week apart. I had to go on reserve as we were catching up to the storm, and by the time we finally got to a station, I was literally coasting on fumes. I had no desire to be caught in a hail storm along I-40. The clerk at the hotel told us to park the bikes under the awning to protect them and we were grateful for her consideration.
We learned early on not to pass up a station because it was often 50 to 100 miles or so between available gas stations. Many attractions along Route 66 and I-40 closed years ago, but others had closed fairly recently making traveling by motorcycle interesting to say the least.
We spoke with riders along the way and met some interesting people, especially those from Germany and from Norway who were in the U.S. riding Route 66 from Chicago to California. We found one Norwegian gentleman especially friendly and had a nice conversation with him. He seemed a little disappointed that the new Harley-Davidsons that were supplied as part of their tour package had broken down several times on his tour.
We tried to come home on I-10 for a change of pace, but the first day the temp. was over 100 degrees with the next 3 days forecasted to be between 106 to 111 degrees, so we quickly gave that idea up and at Phoenix headed North to Flagstaff and got back on I-40 where we again enjoyed moderate temperatures and good weather.
In Phoenix, Martin stopped into the Victory dealership to have his fork oil changed. The staff went out of their way to be accommodating and made his repair immediately so we could get back on the road. We took my trike to a nearby antique mall to wander through while they did the repair and they called before we were 3/4 of the way through the mall saying we could pick it up any time. I highly recommend them if you happen to be in the area and interested in purchasing a bike or having a Victory serviced.
Photos will follow in a separate posting. I enjoyed the ride immensely, and enjoyed time with the family even more. I’m already looking forward to our next adventure.