The Elusive Hellbender Tour and Travels with Harley


When I saw the information on the Harley Owners Group about the Hellbender Tour, I was reluctant to sign up as we were already planning to go to the 110th Harley Anniversary in Milwaukee for Labor Day Weekend and I wasn’t sure that it would be feasible to take off again for the last week of September. Once I saw the route and realized that the tour was starting and ending within 35 miles from our home, I was almost convinced.

hellbender map

Jim and I were still undecided and then I heard from Chris Kutsch who is the Events Project Manager from Harley Davidson. She told me that she had hoped to see us and talked about the beautiful route in Arkansas. Needless to say, we signed up immediately.

Jim had been working on a road job near Jefferson City, but was expected to be finished by the end of August. He had told his foreman about our plans to attend the 110th anniversary so he could have to two days off work. As luck would have it, the Monday before Labor Day he was laid off.


It actually worked out pretty well as we had expected the layoff, but as luck would have it, the day after we came back from Milwaukee he received a call from his foreman asking him to come back and run a motor grader. Jim told him that he would, although he definitely didn’t want to run a scraper any more. At his age, being bounced around on a scraper is just too much to physically handle. Scrapers are a young man’s machine.


Every week it looked like there wouldn’t be a lot more time left on Jim’s road job, perhaps a week or two. Then it seemed like every week something new was added on. Jim told me that he thought it would be better to cancel the Hellbender tour. I had already made room reservations after we came back from Milwaukee and scheduled myself off from the store, but if we couldn’t go, I thought it would be a good time to work on cleaning up the farm for sale and pay more attention to the store sale. Besides, I knew it was just as likely that I would schedule myself to work and Jim would be laid off again or we would be rained out. Finally, two days before the start of the tour, I canceled our hotel reservations. Later that day Jim sent me a text saying he was running a scraper again, something both he and I dread.


We were going to go for a ride that coming Sunday so hopefully we wouldn’t miss the Hellbender tour too much, but things change every minute when it comes to our, “Travels with Harley,” and we may have just made that Hellbender ride after all.