I decided to turn around and see if we could limp home. It was totally the transmission. Not a good month for me and motor vehicles. We managed to get the Blazer home and tucked into the garage and headed into the house to start calling for a rental vehicle. We scored with Budget who gave us a very nice, brand new Jeep Grand Cherokee with all the bells and whistles. So, we moved our stuff from the Blazer to the Jeep and we were finally on our way to Denver!
As it turned out, we needed an SUV for all the stuff we took to Denver - but more on that later :-)
We had a pleasant drive to Grand Junction, CO where we planned to spend the night. As we pulled into the El Palomino Motel we spied an FJR with a Tanji cell, aux lights and an Oregon plate. Who could that be? Certainly an LD Rider, he had all the appropriate license plate backers and stickers. About this time, Eric gets on his cell phone and calls - this is how the conversation went:
Eric: Hi Paul, you wouldn't happen to be in Grand Junction tonight are you?
Paul: Well, as a matter of fact, yes we are.
Eric: Staying at the El Palomino Motel?
Paul: What the f.....(turns around and looks out his room door and waves to Eric)
So cool, it was Paul and Esther Peloquin making their way to Denver. We had a delightful visit. I don't know why it still surprises me, but you meet LD Riders everywhere!!! Good fun.
The next day we pulled into the Marriott Denver Tech Center parking lot, the host hotel. Now, we had a ton of stuff in the Jeep and didn't really want anyone to know what we had so after a brief conversation with the hotel manager, we were directed to the employee entrance to unload the car. Worked wonderfully!
We checked in at Meeting Registration and got our swag packs complete with very cool T-Shirt, pen, pin, list of attendees, maps and meeting schedules. Oh boy, looks like a great event. Folks were starting to trickle in. We arrived on Tuesday but meetings didn't start until Wednesday. We hung out in the restaurant and bar and visited with the folks who were already there. Greeting old friends and putting faces to names we knew. Jolly good fun. My grin lasted all week long!
Wednesday started with "Can You Route Like the Big Dawgs" for Eric. Unfortunately, he didn't last long as he didn't have the maps for Basecamp loaded on the computer. Lesson learned :-) No problem, Lunch at MotoGear Outlet was next on the agenda and Kathy Allen rode along in the Jeep with us. We had a lovely lunch of BBQ pork, potato salad, chips and cookies. Thanks MotoGear. Smart move on MotoGear's part....nice discount for IBA folks and they scored. While I was there, I witnessed at least 4 different people purchase full Klim riding suits and other stuff as well. Wish that stuff fit me, it's awesome and I want it bad!
Back to the hotel for more mingling and visiting. Thursday started with a number of seminars and meetings. I attended the Hoka Hey Winner by Will Barclay. Very enlightening. Will won both the 2010 and 2011 Hoka Hey rides and is a very interesting person. His talk was candid and informative. Many followed the Hoka Hey and we all got third or fourth or fifth hand reports. This was straight from the winner and I was surprised. Will entertained us with his take on LD riding - learning what most of us have already learned about hydration, staying on the bike, good rest and mind games. To say he had a good ride is a gross understatement. He truly had the ride of a lifetime and now has a clue about LD riding and rallies such as the 10n10 and the Iron Butt Rally. I had a chance to visit with him a few times during the Meeting and was delighted at how open he is and that he was having fun hanging with us weirdos.
Here are some photos of Will's Hoka Hey bike. Notice the custom saddle bags which he designed. Very cool.
Linda Tanner with her most wonderful tank, saddle, aux fuel, etc. bags. Anything you can think of, Linda will make. You rock girlfriend!!
Thursday afternoon was spent plugging tires with Brian Roberts' Fix a Flat and watching Maura Gatensby Reshape Your Stock Seat. It was quite something to see Maura wielding an electric carving knife and attack that seat :-)
After dinner, we attended the beer reception hosted by JC Motors. Oh, yes, those Iron Butt gals can party! (Photo by Steve Hobart)
Thursday evening was the Butt Lite Awards Banquet and although we didn't attend the banquet, we poked our heads in the room just in time to see the finishers being announced. Congratulations to all Butt Lite riders - well done!!
Friday started with a general session and a welcome from the IBA. Unfortunately Mike Kneebone spent most of the Meeting sick and holed up in his room so the lovely Lisa Landry ran the show and did an outstanding job. The first presentation of the day was Riding the Haul Road by Mr. Alaska, Jack Gustafon. However, Dean Tanji provided support and would occasionally ask Jack a question. It was a delightful presentation and gave good insight on what it takes to ride the Haul Road.
I missed the First Responder presentation by Don Arthur. Too bad, I think it would have been terrific....but I had things to do :-) I did attend 50 Ways to Screw the Pooch - How I DNFed the IBR. This was a panel presentation with a Q and A session following. Another excellent seminar with good advice! Our first banquet lunch provided an opportunity to see the Denver Gold Rush Awards Presentation. A good number of folks rode a Saddle Sore, a Bun Burner or a Bun Burner Gold on their way to Denver and they received their certificates during lunch. What a bunch of lunatics!!!!
Phil Weston (Fazer Phil from Great Britain) presented the Art of Packing Light. He offered some good tips and took questions from the audience. I also attended LD Riding on a Budget, yet another helpful seminar. During the afternoon seminars, Build-A-Bike was going on in the hotel atrium. Maura had brought her Wee Strom for a Farkle-Fest. Turns out it was a whole lot more than what was originally scheduled!!
John Harrison, Brian Roberts and Tony DeLorenzo put a ton of hours into getting Maura's bike farkled and running. It was definitely the main attraction in the atrium.
Maura and team were all smiles when the Wee roared to life!! Job well done!! (Photo by Steve Hobart)
Friday was wrapped up with a Dinner Banquet with special guest speaker Lee Parks. Another full day on Saturday. My first meeting was the 2011 IBR Panel Discussion which was lead by Jim Owen. The panel consisted of Kirsten Talken-Spaulding, Peter Behm, Eric Jewel and Chris Sakala. Each gave a synopsis of their IBR route and discussed the highs and lows of the Big Dance. At the end of this seminar, the 2013 IBR riders were introduced. Wow, lots of 2013 IBR riders were in attendance!!
I had errands to run so missed the next meeting on European Touring but made it back in time to attend the Legends Lunch. What fun!! We sat with Don Arthur and his wife and had a delightful conversation and meal. So awesome to put faces with names. We were lucky to have Ducati Fanatic (Hendrik from South Africa) and Bob Higdon at our table along with Lynda and Terry Lahman.
After lunch, I watched more Build-A-Bike in the atrium and hung out in the parking lot. There was some unscheduled action going on out there! Rick Martin helping Josh Mountain replace the rear shock on his FJR.
We managed to get to the Atrium in time for the group photo. (Steve Hobart photo)
Unbeknownst to everyone but a very select few, Eric and I planned to wed at the IBA National Meet. We somehow managed to get the wedding gown, tux, two huge boxes of party favors and assorted other luggage and baggage up to the room without anyone seeing us. Then, for the next four days, we kept quiet. We did have two incidents that almost blew our secret.
Upon checking in at registration for the Meet we encountered Joel Rappaport. Here is how the conversation went:
Joel: Hey you two, great to see you. You get married yet? Ooops, maybe that's a sore point.
Cletha: Hahaha, no Joel, not a sore point at all. Life has just gotten in the way and we haven't had time to plan anything. We did get our rings and hope to get a Ride to Wedding sorted out soon.
Joel: Hey, you two could just get married here!
Cletha: (Gasp!) Oh, hahahaha Joel. I don't think we're ready for that :-)
Little did he know!
The second incident was when Eric took Tobie and Lisa Stevens and Lorraine Hickey to a nearby store. When unpacking the Jeep, the receipt for my wedding gown slipped out of the pocket and onto the backseat floor. I saw it and thought I should put that away but promptly forgot. So......on the way to the store this was the gist of the conversation:
Lisa: Eric, is there something you want to share with us?
Eric: No. Why do you ask?
Lisa: (Shoving said receipt in front of Eric) What's this?
Eric: (Not thinking quick enough) Uh, uh, uh....you're sworn to secrecy.
Actually, it worked out very well as Lisa and Lorraine were a huge help in getting the party favors placed at each dinner plate for the closing banquet. Thanks ladies!! And....they kept our secret :-)
So, up in the room, we changed into our wedding garb, me in a gorgeous gown with flowing train and Eric in a stunning silver and black tux. We made it back downstairs to the banquet hall without being seen except by Tim Masterson who didn't give a second glance (he thought it was a skit or something for the closing).
I went through a part of the kitchen to arrive at a door at the rear of the banquet room - hiding behind a curtain. Eric quietly walked up to the front and stepped behind the audio/video equipment curtain where Lynda Lahman was also waiting. At the conclusion of Paul and Chris's talk, Lisa Landry told the audience that there was one more event and please stay for the video presentation.
Cue the music video of Cletha and Eric - pictures of us and bikes all over the place with Born to Be Wild and Radar Love playing :-)
Lynda Lahman, an ordained minister, officiated the ceremony for us.
We exchanged vows and rings.
Thanks to Steve Hobart for the beautiful wedding photos and to those who sent me snapshots! It was a fantastic wedding with about 350 of our favorites folks attending. Special thanks to Lynda Lahman for officiating. And a massive thank you to Lisa Landry, Mike Kneebone, Dean Tanji, Steve Hobart and the entire Iron Butt Association staff.
The 2012 Iron Butt Association International Meet was the best ever!!!!!
Geez, I don't know what we can do in 2014 to top that!