The Second Annual
BLITZ TO BRANSON
April 12th, 1997


FROM: Voni Glaves
DATE: April 13th, 1997

Well the Blitz to Branson II - renamed the Last Ever Blitzard to Branson - is all over but the story telling and the marks set for all time low temperatures and late and large snowfalls. You'll remember from the IBMWR list that Dean Gardner took full credit for the adverse weather, and Steve Huber who rode to Iowa City was unable to proceed - even with Lee Freedman's help and the use of a four wheeler - in the face of the continuing blitzard. Dave Rivers did complete a 1000 in 1 from California, but met that same wall of snow in Fort Stockton, TX.

Some of us had to resort to four wheelers, but 17 found windows of opportunity through the adversity and actually arrived at Branson on motorcycles. Friday at the Branson Towers found Jim and Sherryl Hair stocking a hospitality room - our common refuge all weekend. This final bit of work was the culmination of lots of hours negotiating for the perfect accommodations, designing and ordering the hats and the arduous work of riding miles and miles of roads to decide the perfect ride route. Hats off to Jim and his lovely wife Sherryl who makes an incredible brownie and knows how to light a fire.

During the day on Friday, bikes and cars and a van began bringing Presidents. The arrivals in the wee hours of Saturday morning were 4 bikes from Virginia and later a lone bike from Tennessee piloted by Gene Dalton. John Foley bravely rode north toward the storm, from Arkansas. Since this was coincidentally the first day of the MOA Mileage Contest, we autographed each other's forms. Jim Hair redesigned his planned ride for the current cloudy and very cold but dry weather conditions and a small group came back from west of Branson enthusing about the roads but not the boat traffic. Corky Reed called to find the time of the toast to the spiritual attendees so he could share that with the list. Later the Virginia contingent (Chris Kleponis, Dave Meyer, Elsie Smith, and Paul Taylor) joined us for breakfast and told their tales of the documented 1000 in 1 they had just completed on the way to Branson. Our untiring leader Jim then lead another ride to the east. Mike Cornett, who has infected Chuck DeSantis and Pete Lavengood, led them off on an all day stamp hunt. Paul Glaves had lots of tools, but nobody had a broken bike so he took a nap!

The Saturday evening dinner at the Fall Creek Steak House began as a total of 28 Presidents and friends lifted glasses at 6 PM to remember the spiritual attendees (* see list below) and a moment of silence was shared for our friends who are riding the highways in the sky. Skipper Brown wasn't able to make it but our red shirt was there. Posts from Lone Tree and from Ingemar Luttu with his Red R1100RS serviced and ready for the spiritual ride were passed to the celebrators. And the many presidents who had their reservations and plans cruelly dashed by the evil winds were sorely missed. Then the food and the fun and the tossed rolls. Again, I wish I could have downloaded the stories like threads on the net to read when I had more time and to share with you.

Back at the Towers (Branson, not Shaw, but we missed you Jim) the hotly contested awards were presented to the winners. Newbie Awards for first time rally goers went to Rod Stark, Dave Meyer and Chris Kleponis. A birthday award was presented to Geoff Adams whose birthday was on the 8th, and another will go to Lee Freedman, celebrating on the 11th, and Corky Reed, on the 17th. Other awards (limited to one per person) follow:

Oldest bike - Elsie Smith's new to her freshly painted '85 K100
Lowest odometer - Jim Williams
Highest odometer - Geoff Adams
Highest Tech bike - Rod Stark
Youngest rider - Chris Kleponis (36)
Longest One Day Blitz - Dave Meyer
Long Distance Two Up - Wilma Stark
High Mileage East (1136) - Paul Taylor
High Mileage West - Mark Rooney
MOA Mileage Contest High as of 4/12/97 - Gene Dalton

And the premier Vegamite (German variety) Nutella award (donated by Pat Burch and Dick Wildauer) went to Mike Hankinson from Michigan who honestly told us that as a new list member he signed up for a hat when they were advertised on the list. The next thing he knew, his name was on the list of Presidents to attend the Blitz. That was when he realized the $5 hat also had the "pick up in Branson" price tag attached. But true to his word he joined us. A true Nut!

President Mark Rooney donated a Quorum Bike Alarm and that was won by Gary McCray. Then it was time for the banner picture, taken against the balustrade in the imposing entry of the Towers. A rally fire was blazing in the fireplace, an ice cream social was in the entry way, and maps were consulted, roads were shared and rally stories were told late into the night.

A few riders with stamps in mind left early. Breakfast was a long and lazy affair for some as we lingered and didn't want to leave the magic we'd found. But plans are already in the works for Blitz III. Mark your calendars for April 11th, 1998.

Spiritual Attendees:

Larry Fears, Arno Jones, John Outlan, Butch Hays, John Petty, Steve Cook, Russ Lock, Ingemar Luttu, Robert Munday, Ted Verrill (Webmeister), Mark Foreman, Barry Blank, Richard Bernecker, Jeff Black, David Sine, Darryl Richman, Ira Agins, Greg Pink, Steve Aikens and the "Woman", and The Kiltmeister who was in Branson FAR North with the Broccoli Queen and the Kaiser.

Condolences to the Presidents who wanted to come but didn't or tried to come but couldn't.

Voni
sMiling
Lawrence, Kansas, U.S.A.

FROM: Lee Freedman
DATE: April 11th, 1997

Ahell of a way to celebrate a birthday, eh? Prezz Huber arrived on my doorstep on Thursday afternoon, one step ahead of t he Madison Monsoons, otherwise known as-----snow!. Several hours were spent initially, downing various toddies for the bodies, trying to find the one that warmed the best. Tequila seemed to do the quickest and hottest job. Plans were to blast off, early AM after a quick caffeine hit (interveineous, of course). Come early morning however, the fertile soil of Iowa was covered with litter, all of it white and looking for all the world like snow. The snow look-alike was accompanied by various sleets, high winds and cold temps. Was Prezz Huber assuming the mantle once worn by Jon Diaz, only on steroids? Who knows?

What we did know was, no way were we going to be able to ride those Beemermachines to Branson ! One suggestion was advanced to tie the two bikes together, side by side so there would be four wheels on the ground instead of two. But, after semi-sober thought and a few more toddies for the bodies, saner heads prevailed (my SWMBO) Plan Number Bee then became more attractiee----"Let's drive to Branson in a, gasp, automobile!" And in less time than it takes to say "snow shovel" this intrepid pair set out on the journey to the Missouri Breaks, Southern Division.

By the time they got to Mt Pleasant, a mere 50 miles south of Lone Tree, a trip that only lasted for 3 hours, they were dissuaded from their pursuit of Bliss in Branson. They both agreed that doing 180s while passing semis was not de rigour for a supposed pleasure trip. And after a hearty breakfast at a restaurant infested with truckers who were much too smart to be on the road in such conditions, the decision was made to abort the mission and return to Mission Control in Lone Tree.

So there you have it---the complete unexpurgated version of what we sincerely hope will be the first and last cnapter of the "Blizzard In Lone Tree" story.

Best regards

Lee Freedman, shoveling massive quantities of snow in Lone Tree
Steve Huber, now a permanent resident of Lone Tree, at least until the spring thaws.
Lawrence, Kansas, U.S.A.

FROM: Chuck DeSantis
DATE: April 14th, 1997

Branson '97 is history and I just wanted to tell everyone how much I enjoyed it. The trip to Branson was made interesting by a couple of hours of snowstorm, but it did get better from there. Not warmer, mind you, but better. Overall the riding was great, but the folks, as usual, were greater.

Aside from several Chicago Snack Pack get-togethers, this was my first IBMWR prezz confab. It certainly lived up to all I've heard about these gatherings. It was wondreful to meet so many great folks and spend a little time getting to know them -- though not nearly as well as I'd like. Guess I'll have to keep practising to make it work :)

Special thanks to Voni Glaves and Jim Hair for their gracious hospitality and hard work. If you ever have occasion to look up "unflappable" in the dictionary, don't be surprised to see pictures of these two. BTW, this has nothing to do with gas tanks.

The roads were fun, the company was outstanding, and I can't wait until next year. Jim and Voni GUARANTEED no snow next year <g>.

Chuck
Crystal Lake, Illinois

FROM: Mark Rooney
DATE: April 14th, 1997

Monday morning, home since 7pm Sunday after returning from Branson. Weather much kinder on trip south than on the trip north, cold but clear and warmed up nicely. A BIG(!) thank you to Voni, Paul and Jim for setting up and hosting the Blitz. Their warm welcome and preparation of the event made the cold and wet of the journey up very worthwhile, and got my red IBMWR cap! Got to meet some friendly faces to match to the names I see here on the list. BTW Jim thanks for the tip about Hwy 23, great ride! Hoping all the attending Prez's had a safe ride home. To all those Prez's who couldn't attend, here's to next year!

Mark Rooney
Tyler, TX

FROM: Mike Cornett
DATE: April 14th, 1997

When Chuck DeSantis and I left for Branson from Chicago Thursday afternoon, we were hoping that the snow we were hearing about was just a "band" that we would run through. 200 miles later in Springfield, IL, we were through it. We'll have to coordinate our stories about how many feet of snow on the highway we rode through, but it was an "adventure." At one point we stopped to put on more warm clothes and electric stuff and when we got back to the bikes the windshields were covered with snow on both sides and the instrument panels were completely covered. Of course, we could have spent two days at the Burger King in Pontiac, IL, but you can only eat so many double cheese Whoppers (tm). We pressed on. Made it to the Harley Hotel (one of Leona's) in St. Louis about 10:30 p.m. This is where some other guests (looking at our helmets and Aerostichs) asked us if we were skydivers. Okay.

Friday was clear and as we rode south it got warmer. In Van Buren,MO, Churck got his first National Park stamp. Ah, another convert! This is where the female park service lady told us we might make it to Branson quicker than a car could because "motorcycles don't have as much wind resistence." Okay. We did hit a little rain, but not enough to spoil the great riding in that area of Missouri. Got to Branson in time to go to dinner with 12 other folks who had made it in early. The camaraderie that made Branson I so memorable was present in abundance. That night we went to bed (most of us in our own rooms) at the respectable hour of midnight. Well. . .whaddaya expect? Paul & Voni Glaves hadn't arrived yet, Lee Freedman never did make it and Pat Burch and Dick Wildauer were "lost."

The weather Saturday morning might have intimidated some, but not us. Almost all of us went for a ride of some type. Chuck, Herb Stark and I decided to go get stamps. Our first attempt in Harrison was foiled when we discovered that the visitor's center for the Buffalo National Scenic River was in the federal building, which was closed. Oh, well, undaunted, we headed for Pea Ridge National Battlefield Park west of Eureka Springs. With a "short" detour for chicken and apple pie at Dolly's Place. Leaving Pea Ridge ("the battle that won Missouri for the Union") we headed back for Branson. The rangers told us there were three different ways to go and all of them took at least two hours. On the way we rode some of the best of "our kinda roads" we had ridden in awhile. Much fun. We arrived in Branson in just over an hour.

Dinner and "throwed rolls" at the Fall Creek Steak House were all we expected. This time the "party" lasted later. Chuck and I had been feeling a little smug about what we had to go through to get to Branson until we met Geoff Adams who rode through rain and twisties in the dark to arrive at 10:30 p.m. Friday AND Elsie Smith and three riders from the D.C. area who blasted the 1,000+ miles arriving at 3:30 a.m. Saturday. Quite a hardy bunch we are. Paul and Voni drove on ice from Kansas, as did Pat and Dick.

Most of us got late starts Sunday because of the record cold. I headed up to the STAMP at Wilson's Creek Battlefield near Springfield and then to Joplin for the George Washington Carver STAMP before heading to Ft. Scott, Kansas for the National Historical Site STAMP there. Then back to St. Louis to spend the night with my aunt Marg. Today was a great ride back to Chicago. According to my Fuel Plus--310 miles at a 74 mph average. 1,600 miles on the KLT this weekend; 20,000 since the end of September. Next year the weather will be better, but the fun and fellowship couldn't be better. Sorry some couldn't make it. Thanks to the ones who did. Now, Georgia Mountain. . .

Downtown Mike

FROM: Dave Meyer
DATE: April 16th, 1997

Elsie Smith, Paul Taylor and I met at the Arlington VA police station at 3:30 Friday morning to document the start of our Saddlesore 1000. Totally unbeknownst to us, Chris Kleponis was also there at the same time for the same thing, so we all teamed up and rode to Branson together. The ride to Branson was truly a team effort, with Chris and his radar detector frequently leading the pack, Paul taking the lead when Ludicrous Speed was called for, Elsie keeping track of directions and diners, and me ensuring I was having as much fun as possible. Elsie picked up a nail and got a flat in her rear tire in West Virginia, on the cleanest stretch of road I have ever seen. We patched the tire and got going again, but not before Elsie captured forever the Kodak Moment (tm) of me apparently sticking a screwdriver into her rear tire on the side of the road - some friend, huh?

We got the tire fixed by a Real Professional (tm) and had breakfast at the Bones Diner in White Sulpher Springs WV. We passed the rest of the trip uneventfully through Kentucky and Indiana, then hit rain in Illinois. Shortly after passing through St Louis and into Missouri, it got dark, cold and drizzly. Personally, I would have been happy to stop about 250 miles before we got to Branson, as I was tired and in a kind of wierd funk after about 20 hours of riding. We finally made it to Springfield though, gassed up and got our final gas receipt for documentation purposes next door to a police station. While inside paying for the gas, a police cruiser pulled up to check out our bikes, so we ran after him and asked him to sign our 1000-in-1 forms, which he did. Seems he rode an ST 1100, but wanted a BMW, so he was happy to sign our forms and hear about our trip, though it must have been 3:00 AM and 35 degrees out. We got directions to Branson, rode the last hour or so to get there, all of us in a serious funk by then I think, and arrived at 4:25AM, exactly 23 hours 55 minutes and 1,136 miles after we left VA.

We got up the next morning and met Voni and Paul Glaves while having breakfast and logging our trip receipts. After breakfast, Jim Hair took us for a terrific ride through the really nice motorcycle roads outside of Branson. At the first series of roller coaster dips and turns, I actually laughed inside my helmet! What a pretty area. Later on we had dinner and 'throwed rolls' (always wondered about that, now I know!), then adjourned to the party room at the hotel for awards and discussion late into the night. Everyone had a great time, and I'm sorry for those who couldn't make it.

The next morning a bunch of us lingered over a long breakfast before setting out for home. Chris headed back to DC on his own, and apparently did another 1000-in-1 going back. That's two Saddlesore 1000s in three days - and on a K75S! Dude, you're a Wild Man - I want to party with you, Big Guy! Elsie, Paul and I took three days to return to DC.

We consulted Jim Hair for a nice local route to start our way home, and Jim obliged by turning us on to Route 23, Pig's Highway, possibly the curviest road in Arkansas. We set out with Rod Stark and John ? (Sorry John, didn't get your last name), two Arkansawnians who led us down Pig's Highway and up to Mount Magazine, highest point in Arkansas, before turning around for their homes. Elsie, Paul and I decided to hit the slab and make some time back toward home, and we made it as far as Memphis for the night. The next morning I decided to go on alone to Deal's Gap and the Blue Ridge Parkway. I laughed as I had breakfast in Nashville, because everybody there really talks like a country western song!

When I got to Deal's Gap, I had it completely to myself (it was Monday), the Springtime weather was perfect, and I rode The Gap four times. The first time I was deeply humbled, the second time I felt quite a bit better, the third time was great, and the last time was too much, I was losing my focus after over 300 turns, so I turned the noise down and just putt-putted out of there. From Deal's Gap, I rode up the Foothills Parkway on the Tennessee side of the Smokies to Gatlinburg, then through Newfound Gap to Cherokee North Carolina, and finally up the Blue Ridge Parkway to Asheville, where I spent the night. I think the ride from Cherokee to Asheville is the most spectacular part of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and was doubly memorable because I had the Parkway completely to myself, and also got to watch the sun set for most of the stretch, then rode down into the lights of Ashville just after dark. It was quite cold, but it was perfect. If you've ever seen seen a professional photograph of a Smokie Mountain sunset, it looked just like that, except it was real. Mountain range after mountain range rolled off into the distance, the colors shaded distinctly from dark blue to light gray as the mountain ranges receeded, the distant horizon was white, and the sunset sky graded from yellow to pink to blue again, all the while bathing the road and the nearby mountainsides in an otherworldly orange-pink glow. That's a meager description, but it's the best I can do. This was the most memorable part of the ride for me, surpassing even the incredible corner-carving of Deal's Gap. I'll never forget it. From Asheville I just slabbed home to DC the next morning; incredibly, I was curved out, and just wanted to get home, which I did after five days and 2,772 miles.

Many thanks to Voni & Paul Glaves, Jim Hair, Rod, John, Gene, Elsie, Paul, Chris, and everyone who made Branson such a great excuse to go for a ride. I'm looking forward to the next one (but not for a couple weeks, OK?).


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