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   Last Road Trip-“Relaxing”

As I reported in the last blog, we are now in St. Simon’s Island, where my brother-in-law (Greg) lives with his family. They have been here for just over six years. St. Simon’s is just off the Georgia cost, in the far southeast part of the State. It is connected to the mainland by a causeway. Surprising to me, much of the island was not developed until recently. It is principally known as a golfer’s paradise, with several PGA golfer’s living here.

We took a tour of parts of the island, had lunch on Jekyll Island, and then went to the beach. Jekyll Island is quite interesting and I will get to that in the next blog.

   Last Road Trip-“Putting in the Work: Sometimes you have to do it”

When planning with a family, the most time consuming part of the process is the gathering of a list of the assets, determining how they are title, determining how we need them titled, making the transfers, and then confirming the transfers. We call it the “funding” part of the planning—funding the property into the plan properly. A couple of people in our office handle the funding, but Traci clearly does most of it. It is just something that has to be done.

Back to our trip: We left Bentonville, Arkansas on Saturday morning, headed for St. Simon’s Island, Georgia. While the previous two days had been leisurely, we really need to get to St. Simon’s; Barb’s niece had flown in from Oklahoma and is waiting there for us.

We are in our car before 7 AM. The GPS says we are still about 1100 miles away. Normally we like to take backroads, stopping at interesting sites along today. Today, we work at getting there.

From Arkansas we travel through Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and then into Georgia. We encountered several periods of significant rains (it was the same storm system that caused flooding and deaths in Louisiana). We are basically headed southeast.

The terrain certain changed as we passed through thick forests and rolling hills. The air thickens as we get lower in elevation and the humidity rises. We started seeing our first “peaches for sale” and “boiled peanuts” signs. We looped around Atlanta, but still drove on interstates 6 and 8 lanes wide, going one direction!

We decide to stop in Macon, Georgia, south of Atlanta. It was 9 PM by the time we get there. We traveled over 800 miles for the day.

Until I was about 10 years old, I lived in Texas before moving to Kansas. While Kansas is my home, most of my relatives lived in Texas. As a result I have spent many a holiday in Ft. Worth, with my grandparents, and on the coast of Texas, with my father.

It is always fun to head down south because of the food that reminds me so much of when I was a kid: grits, gravy on everything, shrimp, oysters and so on.

So in Macon I was not surprised to see pimento and cheese on toast as a breakfast menu item. And the dinner restaurant specializing in bourbon drinks, including an “Old Fashion”.

We left Macon early Sunday morning and we into St. Simon’s Island before noon. We made it. From Hays we had traveled 1540 miles.

As with Traci and funding, sometimes if you want to get to where you want to be, you just have to put in the work.

   Last Road Trip-“The Unexpected Surprise”

It is so easy to prejudge or bias. You “know” something about someone or something. When you meet that person or experience that something, you save time because you know how they are.

My wife had heard good things about an art gallery in Bentonville, Arkansas. Yes, that Bentonville—yes, Walmart. In fact the gallery was established by the daughter of Sam Walton. So I knew this was going to be terrible. It was “American Art”.

The museum is called Crystal Bridges. It is one of the most beautiful museums I have ever been. Portions of it are built and suspended over water. It is built into the hills, surrounded by trees. The art is jaw dropping. The staff does everything they can to make you comfortable. It is large and includes a very nice restaurant. It is really hard to describe, but very easy to recommend. It is a wonderful experience. And I was so impressed, and proud, of the “American Art”.

Afterwards we went into downtown Bentonville. Again, I would recommend it. Thinking it was going to be corny, I was surprised at the beautiful small town square. Many older musicians were getting together, just experimenting playing together. One group was twelve strong, eleven of which were on various types of string instrument, and one on spoons. It was great. The average age of the musicians had to over 70.

Sometimes when I meet with a new client I realize I may be battling a preconceived notion about attorneys. One “compliment” that I sometimes get is “oh, you don’t seem like an attorney”. I hope they feel that is good.Musicians

   Last Road Trip—”During Your Best: George Washington Carver”

Barb visited with her mom Thursday afternoon. She had trouble rousing her but did to a degree. Barb is tough, but during dinner, she was relating her time with her mom that afternoon. Quite tears ran down her cheeks.

So many of us have dealt with aging or chronic health issues of a loved one. You never get good at it. I wish I could help Barb more. Sometimes it is just being there.

Friday morning we were on the road before 7 AM. We traveled through southeast Kansas, with it different terrain of thick forested areas and rolling hills. We passed into Missouri. Our goal was to get to Bentonville, Arkansas, a very achievable goal.

However we keep our eyes open for something interesting. Then we see the turn-off for the George Washington Carver National Monument. This was just south of Joplin, Missouri, and is Carver’s birthplace.

Carver was born into slavery. After the slaves were freed post-civil war, Carver moved to several places in Kansas, and had a farm in Ness County, Kansas (from 1886 to 1888).

Despite being born into slavery, with no education, Carver became a note scientist, artist and educator. He advocated for the rotation of crop, and was a pioneer different products made from peanuts.

I liked one of his writings when he said: “No individual has any right to come into the world and go out of it without leaving behind him distinct and legitimate reasons for having passed through it.”

George Washington Carver faced many adversities; yet he made the world a better place for him being in it.

I know my wife is facing a difficult adversity—one that she doesn’t have much control over. But I know like Carver, she won’t give up. She will give her mom the best she can, even if her mom doesn’t realize it.George Washington Carver

   Last Road Trip-“Quick Start”

We were scheduled to begin our road trip on Thursday evening, after a full day of work. Wednesday we learned that Barb’s mother (now 98 years old) had not had a good week in the nursing home where she has lived for several years. My wife is her mother’s health care Power of Attorney. I know she is more than willing to do it, but I know she anguishes a lot about what care is in her mom’s best interest. Frankly I would not want to be the health care provider dealing with my wife; she is quite the advocate.

When we got the news about Barb’s mom, she asked that we leave at noon on Thursday. Carving one half day out of my work schedule may not seem like a lot, but I went into full battle mode taking care of clients and staff, before I left. It was a late night Wednesday and a very early morning Thursday.

Lucky for me I keep a check list of what all I need to pack for a trip. I am a firm believer in check list. In fact, some things, such as my overnight kit, I never unpack. And after a trip, I repack it for the next trip.

I know sometimes I drive my clients nuts when I create all the backup systems for their long term plans; and I know sometimes my staff feels the same. But when a crisis comes up, those systems really worked.

So at 1 PM on Thursday we rolled out of town.

   Last Road Trip-“The Plan”

My son, Josh, suggested I blog from my current trip. So here goes.

My wife, Barb, and I have one son who has yet to complete his education. Ben is to graduate this coming Christmas. His free summers, spring break, Christmas breaks, etc., are about to come to an end, as when he graduates he will join the real world with the rest of us. So, he urged Barb and I to take a road trip—basically just start driving with no real schedule.

Barb’s brother and his family have lived on St. Simon Island, just off the southeast corner of Georgia, for several years. Though we see them in Wichita at holidays, we have never been to St. Simon. Part of our goal for our trip is to make it there, but with no particular route or time table in mind.

   The End

We ended Biking Across Kansas on Saturday, June 14.  The morning got off with a great start:  Chris Cakes pancakes.  It looked like all 900 plus riders were there and we were in line by 6:15.  I have been aware of Chris Cakes for many years and I believe his organization still comes to Hays to cook for one of the local charitable groups.

Today’s ride was from Hiawatha to White Cloud to Highland, where the celebration dinner would be held.  Years ago, on a prior BAK, I had ridden from Hiawatha to White Cloud;  I knew what was ahead:  steep hills.  And they were.  In fact, I am certain they are more steeper now than they were 20 years ago!  Some riders chose to walk.  The downhill into White Cloud was great.  I reached over 42 miles per hour and then had to lock up my brakes to keep from taking a bath in the Missouri River.  We arrived at 9:15 AM.

Many riders celebrated at the river’s edge, dipping their front wheels into the river and taking photographs.  Ben and I certainly were not above doing the same this.  The river was roaring, full of the water from the recent rains  I think Ben and my heart were roaring with the satisfaction of lasting the whole week, through rains, winds, falls and injuries.  We both hugged each other and then hugged my wife.  She was really a champion for driving the motor home for so many days; always there to help us and give us moral support.

We then headed on.  Our trip was greeted with very heavy winds, which cause the gas gauge on the motor home to continue to move to the left.  Once in a while, we would cross some of the same roads that Ben and I had ridden.  It made it more amazing that we had gone so far.

Our celebration dinner occurred at the Brookville Hotel in Abilene.  As a kid, going to Brookville was always a special occasion.  It was on this day also, especially since we were celebrating our ride and it was almost 2 PM before we ate.  We were starving.

It was great to get home Saturday night.  We cleaned the motor home and readied it to be returned to Dodge City on Sunday.

I am not sure what all I learned on this trip but here are some observations.

Time with a member of your family, doing something difficult or challenging, creates a memory that will last forever.

Sometimes it takes a challenge from someone, like my friend Ross, before we try something difficult.

Just because I am 60, I can still do a lot of things.

When I think I am too old to do something, I will think of the 88 year old man on BAK.  We talked for a while.  He said to me at the end of one of the long days, “Well, it takes me longer, but I still got to where I wanted to go.”

When I got back into the office on Monday, I was really glad to see our staff at Clinkscales Elder Law Office.  They are special people.  The trip gave me time to give thanks for each of them.

It was so peaceful to go for eight days and not hear any political stuff and political name calling.

Monday morning, my perspective on life, my clients, the office, my family and my friends had been recharged.

I don’t know if I will ever do BAK again, but no one can take the experience from me.

Thanks to all of you who have followed this personal journey.

Dorothy was right-  “there is no place like home.”

   Back on the Bike – At Last

I have to admit it’s very hard not being able to ride for two days.  I was disappointed in my body and myself.  But I started feeling better.

Today I decided to try riding again.  Ibuprofen and ice had really helped my knee and upper calf of my right leg.

We spent the night in a state park located at Perry Reservoir.  It was about ten minutes back into town for the start.  We got our latest start:  7:55.  Ben urged me to go on and he would catch me.  Eventually, we got together after one of the SAG stops.  Along the way I passed a historical marker.  In 1856, Free State forces and pro-slavery forces clashed, leaving one dead and several wounded.  It is always interesting to me to see how much pre-civil war conflict there was in Kansas.

After Ben and I met up, we took off.  Two days of recovery really made a difference.  The road way Oskaloosa and Hiawatha is a series of rolling hills.  After Ben had drafted for me on multiple occasions, today was my day.  I was able to maintain a constant pace, even topping out on many hills at 20 mph.  The weather was wonderful, in the 70s, with never a head wind.

We met Barb in Holton, where BAK served us lunch at Horton.  It was Mexican food with homemade pies.  It was wonderful.  At that point we had been about 40 miles, hard fast miles.  After lunch, we grabbed a quick nap and then took of for the finish.  We were in Hiawatha by 1 PM, a little over 3 hours on the bike, and 56 miles.  It felt good to ride so hard and be spent at the end.  A quick massage, shower and nap was in order.

Hiawatha really rolled out the red carpet.  We were staying at the high school but there were many sights Hiawatha officials wanted us to enjoy.  They employed tractor drawn wagons, a limo, a bus and other means of transportation.  You never had longer than 15 minutes to wait for the next means of travel.

The courthouse law was the center of activities: live music; multiple options for foods; and the nightly BAK meeting.

Barb and I walked the town looking at historical homes.  Many were built in the late 1890’s.

I have been struggling for a lesson from the last few days.  As I said, I was very disappointed I wasn’t able to ride for two of the days.

However, today I got back on the bike, rode stronger than I have in several years, and even exhausted and impressed my 27 year old son.

I guess the simple lesson is to get back on the horse, after you have fallen off.  Sometimes, things happen to us that get us derailed.  Sometimes, the derailing my require we regroup, rebuild and then charge again.

I know some of my clients experience significant set backs, whether it is financial or health related.  Keep in mind that sometimes we do need to regroup, rebuild but still keep our focus on our objective.

   A Break Today

Today was one of the easier days. Ben road 66 miles through beautiful country. The temperature was very mild and many hills were beautiful. Overnight we had received a big strong thunderstorm. Ben waited until seven thirty to get on the road to let the rain stop. Barb and I sat around the camp, visited with some neighbors, and we were on the road about nine thirty.

 Traffic really backed up on the roadway today. I was really concerned about the riders. Hopefully they all made it in safely.

 We traveled from Wamego to Oskaloosa. Tonight we will be staying in a state park on Perry reservoir.  Tomorrow, we will head to Oskaloosa to Hiawatha. It will be 56 miles. I am planning on riding with Ben tomorrow.

 Sorry for the short report. Our internet is down and I’m having to do this by cell email.

   Wizard Of Oz

Today was the most beautiful day to date.  The morning skies were clear and there was little to no wind.  We were to travel through the Flint Hills, starting in Salina and ending in Wamego.

We spent the night in a KOA campground in Salina.  I am clearly on the disabled list.  So, Barb and I took Ben to the junction of old Highway 40 and Simpson Road, where he jumped on BAK.  Today is the longest day–88 miles.

Barb and I stopped on the outside of Abilene at the headquarters of the National Greyhound Association.  All greyhound registrations are handled here.  We visited with the receptionist for a while and she was very informative.  We walked the ground and the race track.  I didn’t realize how many greyhound farms were located in the Abilene area.

We were to meet Ben in Chapman and apparently, while we visiting the Greyhound Association, he got ahead of us.  We got a call and he was already at Junction City.  He went ahead  through Ft. Riley where he saw many of the old Red One original military buildings.

We finally met Ben on the west edge of Manhattan and we had lunch.  Ben actually showered and then napped for a while before hitting the road.  His trip then took him through Manhattan, on Poyntz Street (during lunch hour traffic!).  It was on to Highway 18 to Wabaunsee, then north to our destination of Wamego.

Barb and I found the school where most of the BAKers would be staying, located an RV park, found Ben and then headed to downtown Wamego.

Wamego claims an association with the “Wizard of Oz”–the book, the movie and so forth.  Many of the businesses on the main street have an Oz theme, eg., “Toto’s Tacos” and “Oz Winery” (recommended wine was “Squishy Witch”).  Barb and I thought it was kind of cheesy, but we then went into the museum.  Barb was resistant at first to go in but it was an amazing collection about the Wizard of Oz–about the original author (Frank Baum), the books (there were many after the original), and of course, the movie.

One of the interesting facts that I learned was the background of the inspiration for the book.  In 1893, the World’s Fair was held in Chicago.  It was very important to the U.S. to put on a great event, since this would be the first time it was being hosted on our continent and in the relatively new country, the United States.  A great area was built to hold the fair with remarkable architecture (including some by a new and upcoming architect, Frank Lloyd Wright).  When completed, all building were directed to be painted white, creating a surreal experience for attendees.  It was called White City.

It was from Frank Baum’s experience at the World’s Fair in Chicago that he came up with the idea of the Emerald City (in the Oz book, the Emerald City is actually white; it appears green because everyone is instructed to wear emerald shaded glasses).

Wamego has a community theater.  In it are six paintings donated by the Pugh family (those of you who listen to NPR on public radio will recognize the “Pugh” name).  Each paint is probably 20 feet by 10 feet.  Guess where they are from?  They were specially commissioned for the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 and appeared in one of the white exhibit halls of the White City.

Ben competed the 88 miles.  He was really exhausted and after he got in, he slept for two hours.

After dinner, we went to the camp ground.  It was a beautiful evening.  I worked on my bikes, hopeful that at some point I would be able to rejoin BAK. I also fixed five tubes that had gone flat.

It was a good day.  The roads and country were beautiful; driving on back roads through the Flint Hills was inspiring; and we had a wonderful evening to end the day.

It was a day where I understood Dorothy’s chant, “There’s no place like home.”

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