Monthly Archives: June 2010

Day 31: The Black…Hills?

Badboys in the Badlands?

Well, well, it looks like the bicycle seat-breaker and i have a whole month of cross-country cycling under the waistband of our padded spandex.  Who’d have thought two knuckle-heads could have made it this far and still have enough energy to–*ZzzZzz*Zzz…

–Huh?  Oh…that’s awkward.  Alright, let’s get down to business.

Once again, Sam and i were blessed with amazing WarmShowers hosts!  We spent the last two days getting to know Fred and Sherry, learning about sustainable architecture and Do It Yourself home living, sharing bike stories, and of course, getting interviewed.  Fred even found time to make an attempt on my life with a super-spicy home-made jalepeño popper!  Man, did we have a blast.  Seriously though, Fred and Sherry were two of the most genuine and comfortable people we’ve had the pleasure of meeting on our way West, and we hope the friendship we’ve found continues to grow stronger!

Two rando's with the DIY king and queen

The interview!  Well, while not all the information in the story is completely accurate, we’re extremely grateful that Rapid City’s NBC affiliate took the time to cover our story!  The interview will help us reach hundreds–maybe even thousands—of people we normally would not have been able to connect with.  Check it out here!

Alright, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty.  Riding through The Black Hills was definitely a highlight of our trip;

the hills are absolutely gorgeous, and the terrain is unlike anything we’ve encountered so far.  The area makes up a national forest of almost entirely pines and birches growing around towering rock faces.  As you can imagine, the air smells wonderful.  We were able to stop at both the Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse memorials to appreciate the views, and they were quite impressive. From a cyclists point of view, though, i have more to say about the Black Hills themselves, rather than the tourist attractions embedded within them.  After all, we spent 90% of the day riding through the forest, and only about 2% of it admiring sculpted rock faces.  Don’t get me wrong, the memorials are wonderful and worth admiring, but they did not take my breath away.  They did not push my muscles to their limit, leave my quads trembling, or send adrenaline coursing through my veins.  The Black Hills–they tested us; they thew our spirits into the road-side ditch every time we turned a corner just to find more uphill; they sent us into raucous celebration at the top of every climb, and on each eye-watering downhill, they put us as close to unassisted flight as we may ever come.  I suggest that the Black Hills are not just hills–they are not even mountains.  As a cyclist, The Black Hills are…well, to be honest, i can’t even really find the words right now.  Ask me later.

Our only picture within the Black Hills...oh, the irony

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Day 27-29: Race to Rapid City

Let me preface this next chapter of adventure with a deadline: An NBC affiliate in Rapid City, SD wants to interview Henry and I on Monday, June 28th in the heart of Rapid. Good news right? Wrong. Well the interview is great news, but the resulting mileage (within our time crunch) is damn near impossible.

Yankton to Rapid City in three days. Translation. 365 miles in 72 hours. Things were about to get interesting.

First order of business: Lose all unnecessary weight… time for a haircut.

if pictures could speak...

Maybe it was something about being on the Lewis & Clark Lake. Maybe it was the full moon. Or maybe it was the heat. Whatever the reason, it was time. Credit to the Rastafaris, there is truly something wonderful if not spiritual about cutting your mane off. As people, we have a tendency to bottle stress throughout our body in different ways, be it muscular, neurological or in my case, hairologicalar (a word I made up meaning “of the hair”). And the release can be quite cathartic.

Second order of business: Bike until your legs fall off… or until you fall asleep in public.

With the wind at our faces, Henry and I light a fire under our respective booties, and charged the red road like bulls. It’s not even noon yet and it’s already 95 degrees, a temperature not exactly conducive to riding, but we endure. We push about 75 miles before dinner time and stop to grab a golden roasted PB&J in Armour, SD (part of a larger Native American Reservation). Under the shade of the pavilion, Henry and I let our guard down for two seconds, just enough time to for the Sandman to sneak up and rob us of our conscious minds. We both passed out with jelly encrusted mouths right there on the table, and were awaken by two local kids accusing us of being high.  In our post-nap grogginess we assured them that “drugs were for thugs and that school is cool” (A clear regurgitation of DARE after-school specials).

The next “sleeping in public” story comes the following night in Presho, SD (population 556). After a day of intense, yet beautiful, riding we were ready to hit the hay. We grab dinner at the town restaurant, which is also a gas station/bar, and order the “Garbage Basket.” When asked what was in the entree, the waitress responded, “everything.” Our appetites were happy but our bowels were angry (a common biological dilemma these days). We mosey our way into town, searching for tent-able lawn and get directions to the town park. It wasn’t very far, but it was SMACK in the middle of this neighborhood. Not a problem, it was dusk, and soon we would have the cover of darkness. As we lay in our tent that night, under the Western sky, we can see the Tornado Warning brew on the horizon. However, we did our damnedest to outrun the storm that day, and it paid off. For the first time, we were watching a storm recede. Finally, a rainless night.

But right around 1 AM, we wake up to water. It’s raining! Wait… no, the sky is clear. What the heck? The rain… it’s coming from the ground! Sprinklers. The first time we successfully avoid a thunderstorm and we still got wet. Sprinklers and I are not on good terms right now.

Third order of business: Take all the help you can get… even if it means swallowing your pride.

So we’re 48 hours in and have covered around 160 miles, a huge accomplishment. But it’s just not enough. Even if we rode from sunrise to sunset, we weren’t going to make it to Rapid. We needed help.

Time to suck it up and stick it out–a thumb, that is.

Within 1 1/2 days we managed to catch rides with an expert scout leader (and lovely wife), an ex-boxer who now paints for a living (on his way to a wedding), and a RV-happy family that we shall refer to as the Patrick/Conway Clan. Without help from these trusting motorists, we wouldn’t have made it to our interview in time, as our last ride put us into Rapid City just around sunset on day 29. This should give us just enough time for a little SSS (poop, shave and sleep) before the big morning.

celebrating the journey with the Patrick/Conway family

However, the struggle of hitchhiking wasn’t necessarily in finding the rides, because there is kindness everywhere. The real trouble was letting go of our egos. Pride is a funny thing, and will most often rear it’s ugly face in the form of stubbornness. Asking strangers for rides (be it at gas stations, truck stops, or on the side of the road) is one of the more humbling experiences of the trip so far, and we’re all the better for it.

My man Thurgood hit it on the head with this one, “None of us has gotten where we are solely by pulling ourselves up from our own bootstraps. We got here because somebody bent down and helped us.”

Moral of the Story: Smarter deadlines lead to less grey hairs and a longer life-span.

a video of Henry and I, biking in between rides, getting “heat-silly”

Days 24-26: Even More Characters

Brace yourselves...

Put yourself in the first seat of the biggest roller-coaster your mind can wrap itself around.  Now feel yourself tilt back, and listen to the sound of chains clinking beneath you as it slowly approaches the first apex.  Look over your shoulder–Sam and i are in the seat right behind you, and we’ve just arrived in Ida Grove, IA, excited to have reached our destination after a long day in the saddle.  Quick–turn back around!  You won’t want to miss the insane ride that was the 24 hours spanning days 24 and 25.  Here we go–hands up!

Apex #1

If small towns across the country had their own slogans, Ida Grove’s would be, “a sight for sore eyes.”  Let me explain.  Ida Grove marked our 300th or so mile through the great agricultural state of Iowa–that’s about 300 miles of corn, soy, and feedlots (let’s not forget Illinois has their fair-share as well).  Of course, these major cash crops (note: not the feedlots) can be extremely beautiful, but they definitely should come with a warning label that reads “do not admire for longer than 7 days, unless directed by a doctor.”  Well, as we were encroaching upon our 7th day, or somewhere thereabout, Ida Grove stepped in to execute a perfect ocular/olfactory 180; this small town was completely surrounded by conifer-scattered pastures!  Evergreens!  Lush green grass!  Thankfully, neither of us is diabetic, because air has never smelled sweeter.  It was truly amazing to have a change of scenery and rest our eyes on some fuzzy green triangles as we rolled through the streets of Ida Grove.

Trough #1

The evening was going swimmingly as Denise, the manager of the town’s Super8 Motel, was allowing us to cruise the lobby’s wifi signal to find a campsite/catch up on our blog.  There we were, taking care of business and making small talk, when all of a sudden the television (which had been playing Law and Order) began to report a severe weather warning.  Three heads spun toward the t.v.–although two turned more quickly than the other–and we watched intently to find out what was supposed to be coming our way.  Of course, tornados–why expect anything but the worst?  We started to pack away the computer and gather our gear while mentally preparing ourselves for the night to come.

Apex #2

Just as we were about to throw an at-this-point trembling leg over the saddle (you should have seen the sky), Denise came outside…”Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm.”  No, that may not be a direct quote, but she offered us a room at a super-discounted rate, and single-handedly lifted an immense weight off our shoulders.  I couldn’t help but picture Denise as the guardian angel in Dylan’s song…maybe i was just giddy to have escaped the imminent danger…but seriously, that song’s about her.  Denise, we’re both extremely grateful for your help that night and really glad to have made such a kind friend in Ida Grove.  Thanks for everything!

Just to think that it all began on a long-forgotten 'morn

Trough #2

The next morning (Day 25).  Time to spin rubber.  We head down the main road through Ida Grove, and turn onto the highway that will take us West–Boom!  We hit an invisible wall.  We throw our bikes into low gear, lower our heads, and try to push through it, but no matter how hard we pedal, our bikes insist on crawling.  The wall wasn’t just invisible, but it was pushing against us…the headwinds that morning were 30mph.  There’s no riding through that kind of wind, no matter how strong you are.  We ground our gears until we reached the only business we could see on the side of the highway–the plan was to get a piece of cardboard and catch a ride to Sioux City.  Got the cardboard.  Made the sign.  Began to wait.

Apex #3

Not two minutes had passed–actually, no cars had passed either, when we heard someone yell, “Hey! Bring your bikes” from the business behind us.  Neither of us knew it, but the business we were camped-out in front of was the headquarters of a trucking company!  The man told us there was an off-duty trucker coming through on his way to Sioux City.  Apparently, the trucker needed a spare part for his rig, so he was driving a pickup and agreed to give us a ride.  What a ride it would be.

Mark, our gracious driver, was probably the perfect character to get a lift from.  He was two-parts talkative, one part funny, three-parts unfamiliar and 100% open.  Our conversation started on the topic of geography, slowly melted into motorcycles, took a sharp turn at South Dakota’s vacation spots, touched into his family’s medical history, and finally settled on the trucking industry–a topic of conversation i never thought could be so deep.  Being East-coast boys who couldn’t be more unfamiliar with the trucking industry, it was absolutely fascinating to learn the ins and outs through they eyes of someone on the inside.  Mark told us about how almost no drivers these days keep legal logbooks, because it’s near impossible to make a living driving only 11 hours a day (the legal limit).  He taught us how the various tactics involved in “working the books.”  We learned about how the number of trucks on the road, the per-mile wage of drivers, and the ability of the drivers all affect big-picture economics.  It might have looked like we were riding three-abreast in a pickup truck, but looking back on it, the cab we were sitting in might have been a classroom on wheels.  Mark, thanks for the lift, and for giving us an insider’s snapshot of a completely unfamiliar industry!

Chur to our unexpected learner

WHEW.  15 hours.  Two more-than memorable characters.  One crazy ride.  Fortunately, the ‘coaster has plateaued, and we’ve been stable for a while.  We spent the night of Day 25 in Sioux City with Tom and Susan, two wonderful warm shower hosts who treated us very well.  Their son, Todd, rode us out of the city the next morning, gave us a short tour, and showed us to the local bike shop.  Also, gotta give a shout to Ben Stone who took us under his wing in Des Moines!

Ragbrai-baggin' professional right here.

Ben is a fellow bagger with a clear passion for being on two wheels–Cheers to all of you!

Note of business: wifi is becoming more scarce, so posts may become longer and more sparse–forgive us, but we’ll try our best to keep you updated!

Day 23-24: Nothing but the truth

Alright people, time for some real talk. Let’s face it, we all have our biases, we’ve all entertained rumors, and we are all subject to ignorance at some point (no matter how much we think we know). But Marky Mark Twain said it best,

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”

That being said, the past few days have been especially enlightening and chalk-full of truth. I’m here to squash some rumors.

Rumor #1: Iowa is flat.

False! Somewhere along the way, someone started the rumor that Iowa is flat as a chalkboard (maybe they’re related to the people who first said the earth was a flat as a disc). So let me go Aristotle on this one. Iowa is as hilly as the earth is spherical. You don’t need the constellations to figure this one out, just look at our calve muscles.

Rumor #2: Mennonites are super-conservative and sheltered from the outside world.

Wrong again. In fact, nothing could be farther from the truth. Hen and I have had the pleasure, nay, the luxury of staying with the mennonites for the past two nights (more than half of Bloom County Co-Op was mennonite). They were all our age (and as such, not much money to their name) and yet they offered us everything they had. Not just that, but they are just as crazy as they we are. As long as we were having fun, they were having fun. As Clancy explained it to me, “there are like 20 degrees of mennonite, and they range from you and me to the evangelists you see on tv.” In fact, the day we left Iowa City (see Day 22), one of the more conservative mennonite churches in the area was having a public forum to discuss banning gays from service. And guess who was going to stand up for our LGBTA community, that’s right, our Bloom County mennonites.

Rumor #3: The Midwest lacks diversity and excitement.

To respond to the first claim, here’s two kids we met at a local McDonald’s in Carroll, Iowa.

DJ and Clay (from left to right)

This is DJ and Clay. DJ, the fearless leader, is 9 years old and moved from Chicago to Iowa last year. Clay, the future pro football player, moved from Florida to Iowa two years ago.  These two came from different sides of the tracks, but it doesn’t matter, because they’re kids, and that’s all that matters. Not just that, but they made sure that Henry and I had plenty of water before our we left for our day’s journey. Thank you DJ and Clay for giving us a little bit of your water and a lotta bit of hope for the future.

Now to respond to the dullness of the midwest assumption. Last night Henry and I finally pooped out after a long day (and a broken bike seat) in a small town called Jefferson, Iowa. The town is about 10,000 strong, and the “business district” is nothing more than a few restaurants, a bell tower, and a statue of Thomas Jefferson. And on this night in particular, the local high school softball team (Jefferson Rams) had a home game. Henry and I got two hoagies and headed down to the field to see what all the hoopla was about. Family and friends filled the stands (3 bleachers, but filled nonetheless) and the mood was tense. There air was a mix of bugspray, snack stand nachos, and anticipation.  This was Jefferson. There were no big lights, no skyscrapers, and no noise (besides that of the softball game of course). I had more fun watching the Jefferson Rams then I have ever had at a professional sports event. You would think we were watching a World Cup match the way people were cheering. Jefferson is a town that isn’t trying to impress anyone, no one has more money than they need, life is simple, and life is good.

That’s what the midwest has taught us. So forget what you heard! If you have time this summer, get out and go somewhere you haven’t been before, meet a people you know nothing about, and have some fun breaking stereotypes!

Days 21-22: Bloom County Hospitality

Although the name of our last post was “Escape from Iowa City,” the morning of Day 21 found us far from out of town.  In fact, we spent the morning on a bench smack in the middle of Iowa City’s downtown pedestrian mall, working on our blog.  Yes, we were still in Iowa City, but i wouldn’t have rather been anywhere else: the weather was perfect, and the ped-mall was buzzing with young, positive energy.  When we first settled down on the bench for the morning, we had no idea what was in store…but within 20 minutes crowds began to gather, and we soon realized we were posted up in the epicenter of Iowa City Pride 2010.  It was pretty special to be able to enjoy the festival and the weather while catching up on long over-due blog posts. Plus, Sam and i could finally feel comfortable openly expressing our feelings for each other…

After taking care of business (every day) Sam and i went back to Bloom County to gather our gear, get a haircut, and ready ourselves for the genuine escape from Iowa City.  No, that wasn’t a long, multi-word type-o; Claire, one of our newly made friends from Bloom County had offered to cut my hair.  Seeing as my curly fro was making its comeback

Getting fast. Thanks Claire!

under my helmet, i gladly accepted.  With every snip of the scissors i could feel myself becoming lighter and more aerodynamic–i felt as if i was being sheared into some combination of Michael Phelps and Lance Armstrong (imagine that as a Gatorade flavor…Mince Phelstrong…wait, maybe not).  As curly locks fell to the ground in Claire’s backyard salon, she expressed her desire to ride out of town with us; we gladly agreed to have her on the next leg of our journey.  It’s funny, the number of cyclists we ride with is in a constantly fluctuating state.  Before starting the adventure I never expected to be riding with anyone but Sam, but we’ve had the pleasure of riding with six other people over the last three weeks.  Can’t imagine who will be joining us next!

PB&Js settled nicely in our stomachs, Claire gave us a tour of Iowa City’s back-roads as we sawed through the bars of the most pleasant jail cell known to humans.  Where was she taking us?  Well, we didn’t really know.  The Bloom County residents had a friend 30 miles West of Iowa City (on the way to Des Moines, our next destination) who was throwing a Summer solstice party they were all attending, and we were welcome to spend the night.  Not being the kind of travelers to turn down convenient hospitality (not to mention, a chance to enjoy the company of new friends), we were more than happy to bike there with Claire.  After a few stretch/water breaks–and a short detour–we had reached our destination, and enjoyed the evening barbecuing, swimming, and sitting ’round the campfire.

Just a short bit about each person we met at or through Bloom County, to give you an idea of the awesomeness of our experience:

  • Clancy and Beth–hilarious, well-informed couple, half of which is slightly more out-spoken than the other
  • Kyle–environmentally-aware spiritual-guide to our experience in Iowa City.  the man with motherly instincts who opened the door to Bloom County, and made us feel welcome
  • Claire–excellent “French-Canadian” hairdresser, brave cyclist who plans on doing a tour of her own
  • Andrea–avid collector of taxidermy and bones
  • Jordan–willing tour guide who walked us back to the parking garage we stashed our bikes in
  • Mark–the resident climber of Bloom County.  This man has skills.
  • Mom and Louie–house mother (in the literal and abstract sense) and her heart-throb of a son
  • Stuart–the gracious host of the summer solstice party and skilled staff-warrior
  • Jesse–laid back comedian who keeps the jokes coming. 1/2 of the jessie-dirk life partnership
  • Dirk–jorts (jean shorts)wearing 1/2 of the jessie-dirk life partnership who loves battling for pool rafts
  • Nadia–aspiring film director and arch-nemesis of empty Red Stripe bottles
  • Brian–music loving man who truly believes that dog is man’s best friend

The night was a wonderful cap to our experience with Iowa City and the very friendly people who inhabit it!  Thank you all for showing us a good time and even better hospitality!

BLOOM COUNTY WHAT WHAT!

WAAAIT! I know this post has been long, but we have some incredible news to break!  The Iowa City Press-Citizen has released a story about us!  Yes, our first interview has been worked into a news-story for all of Iowa City to digest to their heart’s content.  Check it out right here!  OK. post over.

Day 19-20: Escape from Iowa City

Nothing could stir us, not even a mouse. Henry and I slept like comatose rocks last night at TJ and Lonnie’s house after our marathon man-jam of the previous day. TJ fed us until we burst and then rolled our spandex covered booties all the way to route 6. This is where she said goodbye.

Only 50 miles to Iowa City, a seemingly easy feat for the birthday boy and his companion. Oh yeah, today was Hen’s 22 birthday if you didn’t know already (a shocker considering he still doesn’t look a day over 15). Well anyway, somewhere while biking that morning, the pure awesomeness of the trip had finally caught up with young Hen, as he was reassured that everything was going to work out when we reach San Diego. A wonderful epiphany to have. However, my ESP had run out of AA batteries and I could not read Henry’s mind that morning, and I was hitting the wall (my knee was acting up again). It’s amazing on some days Henry and I will be so in sync that we practically have bowel movements at the same time, but today, we were on two totally different wavelengths. Only 5 feet separated us on bikes, but it might as well have been 5 miles. We were on two different roads. This is the pendelum of road health and it was swinging in Henry’s favor today.

We would arrive in Iowa City just in time to catch the NBA Finals at our restaurant of choice, BANDITOS. And as I mentioned earlier, it was Henry’s birthday, so tonight I wouldn’t rest until I successfully got Henry slightly intoxicated. A few pints of Fat Tire later, my mission was accomplished. but to be quite honest, it doesn’t take much fire water to get silly these days. After a full day of pushing pavement, we can just smell beer and be more buzzed than honey bees. We are officially cheap dates and we are proud to be lightweights.

After waking up in James’ (our night’s host) basement the next morning, the first thing on our “to do” list for the day was to immediately return to Banditos for burrito breakfast and world cup splendor. We ate well because after breakfast we were scheduled for our first interview of the trip with the Press-Citizen, the local Iowa City newspaper. But right before meeting our reporter, a monster storm blew into downtown and we were forced  to take cover in a local storm shelter. Not to worry, the basement had service! And we were able to conduct the interview via cellphone. First interview successful! We’ll definitely post the story when it comes out.

Our mission in Iowa City was complete and we were off to Des Moines. But after about 5 miles of heading west again on Route 6, the sky started to talk to us. The clouds darkened and the wind picked up, someone was telling us to go back to Iowa City, it’s not time to leave.

So we did just that. We made it back into the city just in time to take cover in a parking garage – where we would stay for the remainder of the storm, another 3 hours of this.

it took 45 minutes to get this picture... good thing we had plenty of time

Around 10 o’ clock, we were accepting the fact that we would have to sleep in this parking garage for the night, but we caught wind of a local Cooperative Housing group that might just take us in for the night. We followed the lead, and thank God we did.

The lovely people of the Bloom County Co-Op took us in like stray dogs and gave us so much more than a roof to sleep under. Thank you guys so much!

our view from the parking garage after the storm...

Day 18: DoRD II

ultimate alarm clock

No, Larry did not have roosters on his farm to wake us up the morning of Day 18, but two of the resident farmers did have playful kittens that clawed us innocently out of our dreams.  I think it’s safe to say it was one of the better wakening experiences of the trip–possibly second to waking up in Steve and Louise’s cabin on Day 13.  Well, being on a farm, it was easy to get an early start to the day, and seeing as we planned on taking a bike path all the way to Davenport (120 mi), we figured conditions were perfect for another long day on the road.  Yes, we were ready for DoRD II, and by golly, we were going to make it this time come hell or high water.

That being said, it took us 2+ hours to travel the first 6 miles of the trail.  Funny thing is, high water was exactly what slowed us down so much–and i thought it was just an old saying!   The trail was flooded from the heavy rain we

Definition of Nostalgia

had the day before, so we were forced to ford large, foot-deep puddles Oregon Trail-style.  Images of “Sam has dysentery” flashed before my eyes, and i had a relapse of the anxiety 3rd graders of my generation commonly experienced while crossing the DOS-rendered Kansas River.  Sam never came down with dysentery (whew), but he did sink so far into a muddy quicksand mix that his chainring was momentarily underground.  No worries though, we made it through the (aqueous) thick and thin, and found our way to Ottawa by 10:30AM.

After leaving footwear in the sun to dry, doing some route-planning, and tip-tapping away at our blog, we left Ottawa around 12:30, still determined to make it to Davenport that same evening.  We found the trail and started pedaling our [very different sized] tooshies westward.  Surprisingly, we ran into very few problems!  The weather was perfect and the trail was flat–other than your average missing bridge, yard-deep X 20 yard-long sinkhole, or completely closed down portion of the trail, we were golden!  Sam and i had no trouble batting the rest of the day’s curve-balls out of the park, and continuing on our way.  Of course, at the end of the day there was one obstacle we couldn’t quite overcome on our own, but with the help of our hosts for the night, TJ and Lonnie, it didn’t matter that the sun had dropped behind the horizon before we reached our destination: they came out and picked us up with a large van.  Apparently, the route from where we were to their house was very confusing in daylight, and they didn’t think we would be able to do it under a shroud of darkness…not to mention, we were extremely tired and happy to accept a lift 🙂

Finished DoRD II successfully...with a little help from our friends

TJ and Lonnie, much like our other hosts, were also avid cyclists; they had a U.S. map in their basement that was littered with pushpins denoting all the rides they’ve done–the ones within our boarders, at least.  They’ve also done numerous international tours, and are veterans of the RAGBRAI (on which they actually met).  Although they never mentioned it, i also noticed a plaque/photo of TJ and Lonnie completing the Las Vegas Marathon…Sarah Dawson (see Big Ups to our Sponsors), we may have found your long-lost siblings–or sibling and sibling in-law.  In all, TJ and Lonnie were amazingly friendly, young-at-heart super-hosts with super powers.  Oh–i should mention that Sam and i agreed the beds they offered us were the most comfortable we’ve had the pleasure of experiencing so far.  Here’s to you, TJ and Lonnie; thanks for paying it forward and treating us so well!  Hope you’re enjoying the motorcycle ride, wherever it takes you–it doesn’t really matter, does it.