NVAR 2016 Post 2

Our mission began Tuesday morning with a visit to the Bowman Elementary School in Auburn; a wonderful bunch of young Americans thrilled to meet those who ride those shiny beasts–mostly from Milwaukee! Then a ride into Sacramento to visit veterans at the Vet Hospital.

The next day, after a hearty breakfast from the Auburn Jeep Club, 40 NVAR riders rolled east on the ride we looked forward to since last June. Sunshine covered the mountains and I didn’t even need my heated liners turned on, but as long as I wore them I did.

The Reno NV motorcycle police met us out of town and escorted us to the Vets Hospital for another great visit. A wreath was laid at the Vets cemetery in Fernley (out in the middle of NV), and we finished a 400 mile day in Elko. Thur. a.m., we crossed the Salt Lake Desert with an escort from Utah motorcycle clubs (about 150 – 200 bikes), then met 25 of Utah’s motor cops for an escort to the Salt Lake City Vets hospital. Man, we looked good going down the highways and expressways. At the hospital I had the good fortune to meet Delbert Boyington–a relative of the famous Pappa Boyington from WWII. (The 1970’s tv show Baa Baa Black Sheep was about him.) These can be emotional visits, as it was with LaFonda, whom I’ve visited with the past three years. She’s a sharp woman at 90 years old. Her best friend died a year ago, her husband and a son passed years ago, and now she wants to join them. I do hope to see her next year, but if I don’t, I’ll be happy for her, too.

Our escorts, clubs and cops, insured an undisturbed ride to Evanston WY for a wreath laying ceremony, and some lovely songs sung by the high school choir. After that, it was happy hour at the local VFW and dinner.

Thanks for the visit, and please look around my web site; maybe buy a book!

Please check back for more.

Thank you & Never Forget

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NVAR 2016: Post I

Is it May, yet, has been the question for many riders since last June; anticipation for the National Veterans Awareness Ride (NVAR). April 30 was close enough and I left Mpls for my annual pilgrimage to meet the NVAR in Auburn CA. On May 18 we depart for a ride across America to visit veterans in homes and hospitals to thank them for their service, and let them know they are not forgotten. We also pay respect at cemeteries—none are forgotten.

I joined my NVAR brothers and sisters on May 16. Mother Nature was kind to me on my 3,300 mile ride out. Mongo & Nancy, in NE put me up for a couple nights, and we reunited in Auburn. Central NE passes with a beauty I’d never seen, and two lane hiways across WY and ID held the scenery and solitude I looked forward too. The ID desert hides some strange things out in the open; I missed the worlds first Nuclear Power Plant in the past, but it didn’t open till the end of May. (In the fifties, they spent ten years and a billion dollars trying to build a nuclear powered airplane! One of the few things they learned was that it was a waste, and Pres. Kennedy shut down the program.)

Hiway 20, across OR was a fantastic ride, and Don & JoEll were great hosts in Roseburg. I would see Don again in Auburn. Roger’s fishing trip cut our time together, but it’s always great to see him and Ellen in Veneta. (I met Roger at my Memento home in Nha Trang, Vietnam in 2009.) Cousin Kari drove me and aunt Martha up to Crater Lake on a perfect postcard day. Then I made my first ride into northeast CA, and what a surprise.

After a visit with my nephew, Sam, in Chico, and at the suggestion of a rider I met, I took route 70 toward Lake Almonar. Wow! One of the best trails ever. Trails cut the state forests for some of the best riding in the west. After a visit with a buddy up there, I spent 6 hours on a two hour ride to Auburn, and a great reunion with my NVAR family.

Our journey begins on Tuesday with local events, and Wed. morning we depart for our ten day mission to Washington D.C.

Please check back for updates on this web site.

I’ll post photo albums on harley tracks facebook.

Daily sit reps will be posted at nvao.us

Thank you, Thank a Vet & Never Forget.

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More riders have become readers at the FM Crusaders MC & the Donnie Smith Bike Shows in Fargo and St. Paul. My thanks to the FM Crusaders MC for their courtesy and floor space in the showroom; and thanks to the ICVMC (In Country Veterans MC) for sharing their booth in St. Paul. And thank you to readers who stopped by with compliments to their read of Harley Tracks. Glad they enjoyed it and keep those I rode for, and their Brothers who returned, with a greater recognition.

The Harley Tracks schedule has taken more dates through the months ahead.

April 10: St. Croix Valley Riders presentation, St. Paul MN

April 16: Flood Run, book signing at the Harbor Bar, Hagar City, WI 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

April 28: Zylstra HD, Elk River MN: Book signing.

April 29: Leave for annual National Veterans Awareness Ride (NVAR): Mpls to CA to DC and back.

Memorial Day: Thunder Alley, Washington D.C.; Book signing

June 4 & 9-11: Presentations pending.

June 24 – 26: Enderlin ND 125th Anniversary; Presentation and Book signing

July 4 & 9: Presentations & Book signings pending

Aug. 6 – 13: Sturgis, Black Hills H-D book signing

Sept 1 – 4: Presentation & book signing in Milwaukee pending

Sept 15 – 18: Kokomo Vietnam Veterans Reunion, Book signings

Oct 12 & Nov 2: Presentations Mpls & St. Paul Senior Centers

Nov 5 – 10: Branson MO Veterans Reunion, Book signings

Nov. 17 & Dec. 13: Presentations Mpls & St. Paul Senior Centers & Veterans groups

Other presentations are pending through that schedule, check back for updates, & blogs as I make my annual Run to The Wall

Thank you, Thank a Vet & Never Forget

Readers from Sturgis

One evening at the Elk Creek Campground bar:

Jeff took a seat next to me on the porch and says he wants to buy Harley Tracks. He said Charlie, a buddie who bought the book a couple days before, was reading it instead of taking his afternoon rides into the hills. If it’s that good, he wanted one too.

I’m humbled by the praise and recognition to my story. I feel a tinge of guilt because I had so much fun along the way; but there were many aspects to it, and I’m pleased all connected with it on an emotional level. The evolution of my journey rolled like I rode, sometimes in low gear, and it rolled strong in 6th gear. Below, I share Jeff’s comments.

“Hi Mike, We met in Piedmont, SD, where I purchased your book. I’ll be honest, it starts kinda slow. About halfway through your writing or thinking seems to change. After the change I read the rest of it at one sitting. I have friends who have rode with The Wall. When you deliver the message, I will admit that I had a tear in my eyes. The idea that you not only knew of the places where these men gave their lives, you rode through them and left tracks. By far the best investment I made at Sturgis 75. I’m glad we met and hope to meet again. Thanks for the book Mike.”

Another who bought Harley Tracks at Sturgis was Tom Campbell, Vietnam Veteran, SEAL Team One.

“Just finished your book. I particularly enjoyed your descriptions of the Viet Nam countryside, the conditions of the roads you traveled and your riding experiences. I felt the scraping of the floorboards, the jar of ruts and heaves in the pavement, and the intimate connection to your surroundings along with the historical events that occurred there. I appreciated the deep respect you had for my fellow soldiers, sailors, and airmen along the way. I was most struck by your pronouncement in The Swan Song Ride, “Brothers, FALL IN. It’s time to go home.” I believe they all heard you.”

For more readers comments, click drop-downs on the Buy the Book Page, and please, buy the book.

Thank a Vet & Never Forget

Presentations & Book Signings:

Feb. 19: Senior Activity Center, Elk River MN — followed with presentation requests from six more centers in Mpls/St. Paul/Austin, scheduled for Oct, Nov, & Dec.

Mar. 8: HOG Chapter, Elk River MN

Mar. 13: St. Croix Valley Riders (SCRV), St. Paul

Mar. 19 & 20: FM Crusaders MC Motorcycle Show, Fargo ND

Mar. 21: Oak One Place, Fargo

Mar. 21: Fargo-Moorhead Book Club, Fargo ND

Apr. 2 & 3: Donnie Smith Bike Show, St. Paul MN


January 2016

I hope you’re off to a great start in this New Year.

To all who bought Harley Tracks last year, thank you. To those who ordered a book in the first weeks of 2016, thank you too. People from sea to shining sea and between the Great Lakes and the Gulf ordered Harley Tracks. At book signings from Minneapolis to Hollister CA and Sturgis to Kokomo IN, I was humbled by recognition to my journey. Check out readers’ comments on the About Page. (Among respected reviewers is an editor at the Vietnam Veterans of America Magazine.) Stories shared at signings brought surprise, laughter, and tears. One veteran, a non-reader, was so enthralled by my journey and a few tales that he paid for a book and told me to give it away.

My ride was one of honor. It was unexpected, and as each opportunity presented itself, I thought, damn it, somebody has to do this. I grabbed a handful of throttle and didn’t look back. My act to present it in print was bold. Against the odds, and with great effort and personal expense, I move through the literary world alone with the same faith I rode with. I wrote a good story and defy entities of that world; to expose it by way of a major distributor would not allow the recovery of my expenses. Harley Tracks belongs to me and those I rode for. The more I recover, the more I’ll have to share with causes they would have supported. I need your help promoting Harley Tracks. Enough readers, who share values and respect, have found it worthy. Each year, books of fiction by the hundreds make the best sellers list. There are enough of us: it would be great to put Harley Tracks on a similar list for non-fiction; to help keep those who gave all—not forgotten—with memories of a wild ride in a playful vengeance on America’s freedom machine across the land they saw last.

I will post my schedule for book signings as soon as I receive confirmations.

Thank you, Thank a Vet & Never Forget.