Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Gathering of the Guard

Last year Gary was elected to serve on the board of directors for the Montana Patriot Guard Riders. The board meets four times a year and the meetings are divided evenly between the three zones, east, central and west.

Every fourth weekend in June is the Gathering of the Guard where everyone in the state comes together for a short general meeting and then some fun stuff. The gathering is divided evenly between the three zones as well. This year the Gathering was held in Billings.

Gary and the other eastern zone representative were in charge of the Gathering this year. They met in April to find a space in Billings to hold it. It was decided to have it at the Holiday Inn. They gave us the meeting space for free provided that we bought coffee and assorted pastries, they also gave us a deal on rooms $77 per night. A plus for having the Gathering at the Holiday Inn was that a group of Viet Nam vets were also having a conference the same weekend.

Got all the arrangements made and notices put out, now we just wait. People were to rsvp for numbers. Only about 40 people rsvp but you will always have extra, so it was hard to calculate.

Gary and I made our motel reservations fairly early and we decided to make a weekend out of it, so we stayed two nights. Had a great time. We arrived Friday to get checked in and find our room. The Holiday Inn in Billings is like a maze. We were directed to park in the south lot and use entrance B that was close to our room. We ended up walking a long ways, on our own we found a closer parking spot and entrance. Wandered around a bit and found out where things were for us.

The Viet Nam group that was having the conference were the motorcycle group, some we recognized from Cody when we do the Ride to The Wall in July. All these bikers checking in along with regular travelers. Wonder what the travelers thought of Holiday Inn checking in trashy bikers. Some of them looked pretty rough.

We had a good time, Saturday morning had the meeting. Not very many showed up for the meeting. There was a silent auction with some nice stuff. There was a leather coat that fit Gary, so I bid on it. It also fits me, but he really wanted it. Besides, I already got a coat and some boots, it was his turn to get something. The retail on the coat stated $200 and I bid $20. Get the bid going and wait and see how high it will go. I was the only one who bid on the coat. Most of the guys are pretty burly and it didn't fit them. Gary got a new coat. The coat actually wasn't brand new, it had been worn a couple times as Gary found a package of chewing gum in one of the pockets.

I also got for free two stainless steel travel coffee mugs, a t-shirt, some stickers and pens. Again coming home with more than I brought. I bought some raffle tickets, but we didn't win any of those prizes.

After the general meeting, the board met to straighten out some language issues in the bylaws. Will get that taken care of at the next meeting in September. Gary thought he had one year left of his term, but found out that he had two more years. Oh well, that's how it goes.

After the board meeting we all met at the National Guard Armory for a ride to the Long Branch Saloon in Ballentine. A Billings resident set this up as an honor for the Patriot Guard and all the work that we do. There were 100 bikes for the ride. We got a police escort all the way. I guess this makes us officially a member of a biker gang. It was fun, because the patrolman who led us had us go through a construction zone at 70mph.

Arrived in Ballentine and had a great time. We were served burgers, brats and assorted salads all very tasty free of charge. Then there was a presentation. Later on a couple local bands were performing. We didn't stay long enough for that.

The weather was very nice for the weekend. We had sun on Saturday, it was very nice to ride the bike without many layers. I felt a bit naked. After the doings in Ballentine, we went back to the motel and just relaxed. Got home on Sunday morning.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Beartooth Harley Dinner Ride

During the summer Beartooth Harley sponsors a dinner ride to an eating establishment around Billings on the last Friday of the month. This month the dinner ride was at Fat Fender Freddies in Laurel.

We missed the one last month and decided that we would go to this one. We heard that they have a real good time. How can you not with all the Harley friends.

We met at the dealership, had to wait for the workers to get off and close up at 6:00pm, then we rode as a group to Fat Fender Freddies. There were about 20 bikes and 35 people who went on the outing. We took the back road to Laurel, more scenic and less traffic.

We arrived at Fat Fender Freddies around 6:30 pm and our group sat out on the back patio. It was nice when we arrived a bit on the cool side. We sat around visiting and waited for the waitress to take our order.

Gary and I were sitting at the large table with about 20 other people. The waitress came over and took orders on one side of the table and then left. There were 8 of us who were sitting and finally the waitress came back and one of the guys asked if she was going to take our order. She seemed a bit surprised that our order wasn't taken. She said that the other waitress was supposed to take orders on our side of the table. Well she didn't make it to us, the first waitress took our order.

It was 7:00 when our order was taken. The waitress was a bit miffed because she was supposed to be off work when our group arrived and she ended up having to stay to help the younger girls. The one that was supposed to take our order just took a couple and left.

While we were waiting for food the dealership raffles off prizes. We are to keep our tickets for the season as as the end they will be having some grand prize raffles. Also Fat Fender Freddies raffled off some shirts, jackets and stuff. Gary and I didn't win a thing this time. All the women did receive a charm.

Food started arriving and was placed in the order of how orders were taken, we waited very patiently knowing that we would be the last ones to get our food. We waited for 1 1/2 hours waiting for our food. Gary and I ordered burgers, so did our friends, not too sure what the other people ordered. Eight of us didn't get served.

Our friend Dale had enough. He asked a waitress how much longer it would take and she didn't know. They have a small kitchen and it takes time for a large group. By this time it's 8:15, the others that were served are done eating and we are still waiting. He asked her if she would go and check on the orders. She wouldn't and didn't.

By this time a storm is coming in with heavy rain and reports of hail. We don't want to be caught outside in the storm and riding the bike home is not fun in a storm.

The dealership owner told me that he though Fat Fender Freddies did an outstanding job serving the group. Fine for the ones who got their food, not fine for ones waiting 1 1/2 hours for burgers.

We left the establishment at 8:30, still no food. We finally got dinner at 9:30 and we missed the storm.

Found out the next day that our order came out 10 minutes after we left. Gary is afraid that the dealership owner will be mad at us for leaving, but waiting 1 1/2 hours for burgers is ridiculous.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Father's Day Weekend

What a busy weekend we had. Friday Kenney Construction came over and took care of my tree. The landscape of my front yard sure is different, still takes me a second look everytime. I had called them on Thursday to see what it would cost to have them do it. Said they would take a look. Thursday night a man came over and said that he would cut up the tree for $550. He doesn't have the equipment to haul off the tree or take care of the stump plus he wanted Gary to help him. For that kind of money we would do it ourselves if we had a chainsaw. Took his number.

Friday morning from 10-2 I was in South Park attending the Stand for Children event for the DUI Task Force. Gary called and said that Kenney Construction was already at the house and removing the tree. We weren't too sure how much this would cost, as they never did get back us on that. We were afraid to get the bill. The bill came Monday afternoon and he only charged us $637. He removed the debris, took out the stump and filled in the hole. Now we just have to decide on what to do with the empty spot. We are not putting in another tree.

Friday night we went to Billings for a get together with our friends the Breckenridges. They live in Casa Village and right across the lot is a casino that was having a live band. We were able to sit on their back deck and listen to the music. We had pizza and beer. It was an enjoyable evening spent with our good friends.

Saturday we went back to Billings. Gary changed the oil in the bike at the Breckenridges. I was dropped off at the tattoo parlor to meet with Kitty and Sandi. I was moral support for Kitty as she was getting a tattoo and her husband didn't know it. Sandi had gotten one on Friday. Apparently this is what you are to do when you turn 60. Afterwards we went out for a cup of coffee, then ate left over pizza for lunch with the Breckenridges.

When we got home, jumped into the pickup and headed over to Mom's to clean up the tree debris at her house. We took about 7 pickup loads of the large stumps and branches. One of her neighbors cut up some of the branches. We think that her neighbors dumped off their tree limbs in her yard. She only has one tree in her back yard and it didn't have that many branches. Will have to look at my photos to make sure. There was one stump that we couldn't get, it was bulky and pretty heavy. She will have to get somone younger and with more muscle to remove that. She is definately going to have to restring her clothes line. That limb snapped the line right in half. All we have left to do is rake up the gazillion twigs, but that can wait for another day.

Sunday we went on the HOG Chapter ride to Cody. It was pretty cloudy and cool when we left Hardin. We got to the dealership at 9:00 and they were serving free pancakes, so we had breakfast there. Not very many people attended the meeting. It was raining pretty good in Billings. We had 15 people for the meeting. Due to road construction between Bridger and Belfry, we went to Red Lodge over to Bear Creek to Belfry and the on to Cody. Got into rain at Red Lodge and again in Cody. Our meeting was at the Irma. It was pretty crowded and you should have seen the looks we were getting by the other patrons. Gary and I were the only ones who ate the buffet. I won one of the raffle prizes and it was a wine glass. Will have to win another one to have a set.

We took the same route back home. We left as a group to Belfry, when most of them turned off headed to Bridger. There were four of us who went back to Red Lodge. Just didn't want to go through that construction, especially since it had rained. We got into rain on the way home too, in Cody and then again in Joliet.

Yesterday I went to Mom's to take in her mail and that stump is gone. Don't know who took it, but at least it is gone and it looks like someone picked up some the gazillion twigs.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wind Storm

Last night Hardin was hit with a very bad wind storm. The storm hit about 8:00 pm. At first it just started out as ordinary wind, then it started to pick up. You could see the storm out to the north. It got dark fast and very dusty. There were times when you could feel the house shake. I went out to get photos of the clouds, but Gary yelled at me to get back inside the house.

The wind lifted our little utility trailer and moved it about 6 inches and you could see the grass swirling around in a circle. We were getting ready to get into the crawl space if needed. That's when I looked out and saw that some of the pine tree was in the yard. At first I thought that it was just some branches, but when I went around the corner, the whole tree was laying on the ground. I ran in the house to get cameras and told Gary that the wind knocked our tree down. At first he didn't believe me until he saw it, then it was "Holy S***".

The storm didn't last long about 15 minutes but it sure did enough damage around town. We got in the pick up and headed over to Mom's house to see if it was ok. The house is fine, no damage but she has alot of tree branches in her yard. She has a huge one that covers her whole back yard, she may have to restring her clothes line.

The roof to the Western Motel and the building next to it had their roofs blown off, which then fell onto Dollies roof. A section of roof to the Lube Shop is off and the roof to the 1st Alliance Church was ripped off. Some trailers at Sunset Village were moved off their foundations.

A lot of trees were uprooted and we are talking big pine trees and cottonwoods. Many shingles off roofs in town.

According to the news Hardin was hit with 80 mph gusts, some experts are coming in to determine what sort of wind actually did damage, whether it was wind shear, tornado, or straight on wind. My personal opinion is just strong straight on wind.

I called our home insurance to see if we have any coverage for debris removal. We don't. If we had any structure damage or fence damage then we would have been covered for $500, but since it is basically just a downed tree, nothing. Made some phone calls, have a guy coming by sometime this afternoon to take a look at it and he will call me. We sure hope he can get to it either today or tomorrow.

Here are photos of my pine tree. This was about 25-30 foot tree and it was about 10 feet round.

Missed the house

Fortunate that it was this tree and not my other one, would be a different story then.

It fell right between the house and the power line.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Deadwood South Dakota

We spent four fun filled days in Deadwood South Dakota. June 9-12 was the annual Deadwood Gambler's Run for our HOG chapter and this was the 11th year. It was the 3rd year for Gary and I.

Thursday morning arrived, got the bike packed up and ready to go. We were on our way to McDonald's to meet our neighbors who also go on the trip for coffee. We met the rest of the group in Hardin. As we were headed to the gas station it started to rain and boy did the rain come down hard. Got to the gas station which is right next to McDonald's. It always rains when we travel to Deadwood. We got our rain gear on and waited for the Billings group to arrive as they made a gas stop in Hardin. By this time the rain is just pouring down.

This year the route was taking Hwy 212 to Deadwood. We didn't get out of rain until we got to Broadus, which was another gas stop. Ate lunch in Alzada at the saloon there. At least is was warm inside and we could attempt to dry off for a bit. Went through Belle Fourche, I hadn't been there since I was a kid. I remember my sister donating some money to the museum in Belle Fourche, but don't remember where it would be or the name of the museum. It would be nice to stop in and see if that money is still there.

We arrived in Deadwood around 2:30 pm. Got checked in to our room. There were gift bags from the Harley dealership for us. This year we got a bottle coozy and a shot glass, some poker chips with the dealership name on it and some pens. Then we signed up for the slot tournament. This is always fun. Neither one of us won. Afterwards we went to eat with our friends. We ate at the Midnight Star restaurant which is owned by Kevin Costner. After dinner we made our way back to our hotel/casino and gambled a bit. Everyone got promo money on their player cards and it only works in the machines. Gary was playing 3 card poker so I got to play with his promo money too. We both had $45 on our cards, so pleny of money for me to play on.

This year I struck it rich. I had only put in $10 of Gary's promo money in a penny machine and I hit the jackpot. I won $1148 on a penny machine. I was playing a progressive machine and was lucky enough to hit the jackpot. I cashed out right away. The casino was not very crowded on a Thursday night, so nobody to share my good news with. I took my ticket to Gary and at first he thought I only won $100. I told him to look at it again. He said "Holy S***". I took my ticket and collected my winnings. I decided to quit gambling while I was ahead.

On Friday morning we rode to the dealerships in Sturgis and Rapid City. I bought Gary a new windshield for the bike and we spent alot of money. I kept thinking that it was a good thing I won because we normally would not have spent as much money as we did. We left Hardin with one bag and came home with three. After eating dinner with our friends we made our way downtown again. We decided to walk as it was nice, stopped in some casinos and some bar, drank alot and had a great time. I bought a couple rounds of drinks for everyone. There were 8 of us all together.

Smoking is no longer allowed in the casinos at Deadwood which made it very nice. However, there is one bar where smoking is allowed and we found it. It's a basement bar but it had a live band that played blues music. We had a good time in there, but came out smelling awful. By this time it was getting very late. Since none of us were in any condition to take the long walk back to the hotel, we took the trolley.

Saturday we just spent the day in Deadwood, on a whim we decided to take the trolly all over town, just to see what else is going on in Deadwood. There is a new huge casino that is owned by Big and Rich that will be opening in July. There is a theater that will seat 25,000 for concerts and such. Big and Rich along with Gretchen Wilson will be performing on opening night and tickets are already sold out.

The group gathers together on the last night for some raffle prizes. The big prizes are the 50/50 raffle (which you end up getting all of it) and the leather jacket. Gary and I didn't win the big prizes again this year, but we did end up winning some smaller ones. One of our friends won the leather jacket. Once you win a leather jacket, you don't get to win one again. On this night we eat a steak dinner. This year we ate at the Mineral Palace and it was all good.

Gambled for a little bit one last time, then called it an early night. Had to repack our bags and get ready to leave in the morning. For the whole weekend I won $1200 and Gary won around $140 playing cards. I still have some of my money left and saving that for our trip to Las Vegas in October.

This year our group did pretty well playing the machines. Quite a few came out ahead, but I was the biggest winner. Will probably never do that again.

I am usually happy winning my small amounts on the penny machines and I get estatic when I win $100. Let me tell you I was in shock when I won the $1100. That is alot of numbers on the penny machine and when you cash out, I got alot of coins flipping around and lights flashing "Big Winner" on the machine.

All in all we had a great time, weather straightened out on Saturday and Sunday and now we can't wait until next year.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Birthday Celebration

Had a great birthday weekend. It was nice and sunny and we couldn't ask for better weather. It has been over two weeks since we had any sunshine so it was a welcome sight. We are just basking in the warmth as the forecast is calling for rain in a couple days.

Spent the weekend riding the Harley. On Saturday Gary took me to Rockvale for an ice cream cone at the Quick Stop. With all the water around the bugs were out in force and they are pretty big too. The bike was plastered with bugs.

On our way home we stopped at the Harley dealership in Billings and to our surprise they were serving free hotdogs, so we had one. During the summer, every Saturday afternoon the dealership will be serving free hotdogs and Sunday morning will be serving pancakes. I told Gary that for Father's Day I will take him out for a pancake breakfast.

We got home and then cleaned up the bike for the ride on Sunday and then got ready for dinner. Gary and Jennifer took me out for dinner at La Chalupa here in town. It is a very good Mexican restaurant. The children of the owners take tae kwon do lessons from us. After dinner we were shocked when the kids served me a sopapilla. The oldest girl had overhead Susan Stanton wishing me a happy birthday. It was Susan's birthday too. I shared the sopapilla with Gary and Jennifer, as we were all stuffed after our dinners. It was all we could do to eat it.

Our friends Dale Butterfield and Dick Russell organized an unofficial HOG ride for Sunday. The chapter members were invited and ended up with 9 bikes and 17 people for the ride. We met everyone at the gas station on Shiloh and Grand, Gary's favorite road with the roundabouts.

From Billings we traveled to Lavina then over to Harlowton for lunch, ate at the Sportmen's Club. The food was very tasty. The Musselshell River is still pretty high after the flooding and they sure got alot of water in that area. Hard to believe that the river had gone down some. We were lucky and didn't run into any water on the road or washout areas.

After lunch we went to Big Timber. For the first time on highway 191 we didn't have wind. Seems like every time we ride that highway, the wind is blowing so hard that we practically get whiplash. Stopped in Big Timber for a gas break and then we just hung around and had some cokes.

Left Big Timber headed back to Billings. We traveled the old highway all the way home, very scenic and not much traffic. After the ride we were invited to Pat and Sandi Breckenridge's house for some drinks. Our friends Mary and Vicky were there also. We three all ride the trikes on our group. We are planning our Oregon Coast trip with them in August.

I tried a new drink called Moscow Ox. Sandi and Vicky had these when they were in Sheridan and I can see why the ladies were feeling pretty good. The drink is ginger beer, a shot of vodka and a few spritzes of lime juice. A nice cool summer drink. Gary didn't care for it, so he stayed with his beer.

We left to head home before it got too late. It was 7:00 by the time we got home. Sure enjoyed the weekend, now we get ready for the Deadwood Gambler's Run on Thursday.