Harley Davidson Celebrates 110 Years

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All year long Harley Davidson is celebrating 110 years of freedom with a global celebration that will connect millions of fans who are truly united by a common bond. In fact, on June 16th, thousands of riders rode into Vatican Square hoping to be greeted and blessed by the Pope himself. The Vatican police were actually loaned two white classic Harley Davidson motorcycles to ride during the event.

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As Pope Francis drove through the crowd in an open-top Jeep he blessed the crowd that was filled with leather clad Harley Davidson riders. Italian tire manufacturer Pirelli also took part in the celebrations.

All across the United States and the world, special events are happening to celebrate Harley Davidson’s 110th Anniversary.

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Hitting Milwaukee Wisconsin over the Labor Day Weekend Harley Davidson enthusiasts will be able to watch the Ultimate Fighting Championships along with concerts by Kid Rock, Toby Keith, and Aerosmith. The official calendar features 12 different experiences that the motorcycle manufacture plans to bring to motorcycle events through September 2013.

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Energy Drink Rockstar is getting in on the action by sponsoring four custom Harley Davidson motorcycles for the 100th Anniversary celebration. The bikes will be displayed in Sturgis, South Dakota from August 3-10th and in Milwaukee Wisconsin as part of the Labor Day celebration. Harley Davidson fans will have the opportunity to win the bike of their dreams with three giveaways happening throughout 2013.

Another huge sponsor of the event is Dunlop tires who will be helping Harley Davidson celebrate with social media tips, tire rebates and much more.

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This Labor Day weekend promises to be the best thing that has happened to Harley Davidson riders in decades, and Jim and I are hoping to participate, albeit it may be virtually. I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off another, “Travels with Harley,” than to take a road trip to Wisconsin for Labor Day weekend.

You’ve Just Got To Take What You Can Get

15790_504698919552960_1024988692_n Jim has been a heavy equipment operator since he was a teenager and joined the Local 513 chapter of the International Union of Operating Engineers after moving to Missouri. When we bought the Salem Sears store, I convinced him to take a break, as I wanted him to help me out in the store. If you have ever owned a retail store, you know that it is pretty much a full time job. I wanted Jim to understand why I would be working late every night, weekends, and holidays. I asked him to give me 6 months.

Those 6 months turned into 6 years until he finally said he was tired of not seeing daylight. I told him I was tired of paying for our insurance and we could really use the income that came from his heavy equipment-operating job.

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It was 2008, and shortly after Jim made the decision to go back to heavy equipment, the economy crashed so there wasn’t much work around anyway. In the past 3 years, he worked 2 months one year, 2 weeks the next and then 2 days the last. So, when he was called in December of 2012 to run a Scraper on a highway project near the state capital we were both pretty happy. Jim could see the sunshine, even though it was winter, and we could make some extra cash.

So much for the sunshine. The rain came and of course, you cannot move mud. Jim worked 2 days in January 2 days in February and 2 days here and there.

The other job is 150 mile round trip that he had to make daily. So, we were both happy when he got a call from a contractor that he had worked for before that is here in town. He called the union hall to ask if he could move to the closer job. The union said yes, but the off road truck he was supposed to be operating broke down, before he ever climbed on the machine. So he waited again…

Finally, the first of June rolled around and he called the hall again and put his name on the out of work list. A few days later, he was called to go back on the job near Jefferson City, starting Monday.

So of course, Sunday it pours all day long. Much to his surprise, he didn’t get a call so he went into work anyway. He ran his machine and was told to head home because it was just too muddy. Tuesday and Wednesday were nice and sunny so Wednesday afternoon he got the call to come in and work the next day.

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Jim had a good morning, but Thursday right before lunch, a hydraulic line breaks on his machine and the hydraulic fluid catches on fire, and no, Jim does not smoke. He feels the heat behind him, jumps out of the cab, grabbing the fire extinguisher and kicking his dinner box out at the same time.

By the time he was out of the cab the flames were soaring high rendering the fire extinguisher useless.After he moved away from the heat, he realized his dinner box was still there on the ground next to the machine, and much too hot to get close and get it.

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So he texts me two photos of his machine on fire. I make sure he’s okay and then tell him, “Maybe somebody is trying to tell you something.” A hydraulic line breaking happens at times, but the fire not so much. He says that he will think about it.

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He worked the rest of the day with no dinner, that’s lunch to folks who are not from the Midwest, came home and we bought him a new dinner box. Then he was back out there the next day. In Jim’s line of work, you just have to take what you can get.

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The Gypsy Caravan It’s Not What You Think

The Gypsy Caravan is a huge even that takes place every year on the campus of the University of Missouri, St. Louis on Memorial. The event is a benefit for the St Louis Symphony and has become a favorite for Jim and I.

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The only problem with going to a flea market is that we have to choose between riding and shopping, both of which we love. Of course, we can do both, but if we take the Road King we are limited to what we can buy. You can’t exactly buy a huge piece of yard art and throw it on the back of the Harley. Because the weather has been unpredictable, Jim and I opted to keep the bike in the garage and take the car. We also thought that we would be able to buy more goodies, but just like Murphy’s Law, we didn’t buy a thing.

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When Jim and I first met in Tucson, one of our favorite pastimes was going to the Tanque Verde Swap Meet on the weekends just to wander around. We really enjoyed the day, people watching, looking at the new, the old, and the great art.

Sometimes on our flea market outings, Jim will find a drawknife or a Stanley plane that he doesn’t have in his collection, rare, but true. Often, we will see something that we love for our own home, and although we didn’t purchase anything this time around, we really liked some yard art as you will see from the pictures. This a great artist that I simply love.

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The Gypsy Caravan offers early bird tickets, which are well worth it. $10.00 per person if you arrive from 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM, and $20 per person after 9:00 AM. This year Jim and I didn’t arrive early, but really wished that we had as the Gypsy Caravan Flea Market was very crowded, great for the St. Louis Symphony, but not so much for the market goers.

Of course, because we didn’t take the bike, it didn’t rain, but when we got home around 2:00 and talked about jumping on the bike for Travels with Harley, the clouds rolled in and the heavy rain started to fall. Some days are just like that, but not to worry, there’s always next time!

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There Is Nothing Better Than Blowing Away the Garbage

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We have had so much rain this year that it has been tough trying to get out for a ride. Of course, there are all kinds of riders, die hards that ride all the time whether it’s raining cats and dogs, or the sun is beating down, and those that will only put on the leathers if there isn’t a cloud in site. Jim and I are somewhat in-between.

There are those days when we wake up in the morning and not even the threat of rain will stop us, and other times when the thought of a possible shower sends us back inside. With that being said, and with our ages, we take a bit more care when it comes to safety and comfort.

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If we do decide to ride in the rain, we wear our neon orange and green so that cars can see us. Riding a Harley is dangerous enough and when you add bad weather to the mix, it can be even worse.

So, when it comes to riding in the rain and if we have to question ourselves, we usually cancel and wait for another day.

A couple of weeks ago we both had a day off and because the weather was promising, decided to jump on the Road King. The weather report predicted rain that evening, but if we left, earlier enough we knew that we could take a ride over to Hermann, MO and be back before the showers started.

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We took Highway 100 over to Hermann and it was a really nice ride. Once we got there, we discovered that it was Mayfest week. I couldn’t wait to get off the bike as there was a street fair going on, and I love street fairs and great finds!

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After we parked the Harley, we strolled along four-city block and visited booths just enjoying our day off. As I said, I love, “Finds,” discovering a new bakery that makes potato bread with sunflower seeds and just about every other possible grain that you can imagine. Other great discoveries included soy candles and gorgeous planters made out of gourds. One of our personal favorites was a used bookstore.

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Once we were finished checking out Mayfest, we jumped back on the Road King and crossed the river back to Washington on the opposite bank. You know, that’s one of the best things about our, “Travels with Harley,” You can get away for three or four hours and feel rested and refreshed…for some reason, the wind seems to blow away all of the garbage.