June 15, 2014
Day 9 – “Bikin’ the Dixie Highway for HD” – South Bend to Loganspoer IN
We had a pretty rough night, with the cold temp in the Pope John Paul II room. After loading our gear and a prayer, we were up to the challenge of working our way out of South Bend. We didn’t have a real good map, but we did manage to get to Route 331, a secondary highway which was also the Old Dixie Highway.
The worse part of today was that we had a headwind the whole day. Charlotte and I kept trading off driving the van and riding, but our strong and brave Gary rode the whole way.
We basically followed just two highways all day. Out of South Bend, we took 331, a locals “farm” road. Gary stopped for his B2 in Wyatt while Charlotte and I “leap frogged” the van, alternating riding and driving. Mostly farm country, with corn growing, but not very high yet. Only two towns of any size, Bremen still in the “michiana” area, and Rochester, a fairly large town with a Kroger grocery store and a Wal-Mart.
While still in Marshall County, we came to Old Tip Town, which had the Tippecanoe River running through it. Remember the Presidential slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler too.” It was the campaign song for Whig party candidate William Henry Harrison and his running mate, John Tyler, in the 1840 presidential election. Harrison was also known as “Old Tippecanoe” for his victory over Shawnee chief Tecumseh at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. Although Harrison was considered a hero, the battle resulted in the deaths of 188 American soldiers and an unknown number of Native Americans. Not much good came from the battle, which resulted in an alliance between the British and the Indians. Charlotte spotted a round barn set back a bit from the road. It was between Talma and Rochester.
The mascot for the Rochester High School is the zebra. Sure there’s a story behind that, but don’t know it.
It was really windy, and I was tempted to just drive, but I did do four stints and rode 27 miles altogether.
We got into Logansport about 4 p.m. and found the church just fine. Just a block off of Hwy 25. We are staying in the Parsonage with Rev. Damon and Debbie Soper. They are empty nesters. Damon is a second career pastor; his first career was a golf pro!
A reporter from the Logansport newspaper came out. Young fellow, maybe 25. We kept waiting for Gary to arrive, but Mitchell needed to make a deadline so he just took some photos of Charlotte and me riding along together. Gary arrived about 10 minutes after Mitchell left. Photo and story are supposed to be in the Logansport newspaper tomorrow.
After a nice spaghetti dinner/salad/French bread dinner, we started a load of wash, and then took off for the carousel. (See below)
Trivia time about Logansport. It’s the county set for Cass County, in Northern Indiana. It’s located at the junction of the Wabash and the Eel Rivers. Logansport was settled about 1826 and named for a half Shawnee soldier named James Renick-Logan, better known as “Captain Logan” who served as a scout for the U.S. in surrounding areas during the War of 1812.
Logansport is famous for being the home of a refurbished Dentzel carousel. It was brought to Logansport in 1919 from Fort Wayne, by a private owner. There are 43 hand carved animals: goats, giraffes, a lion, a tiger, deer with antlers, different horses, and two seats. The animals remain stationery (they don’t go up and down). You can even try to grab a brass ring! Since 1993, all 43 of the animals have been fully restored. In 1987 the US Parks Service declared it to be a National Historic Landmark (the only one in Cass County. The Jaycees spearheaded the effort to buy the carousel, and it is housed in an attractive brick building in Riverside Park. This Dentzel Carousel is “one of the three earliest Dentzel menagerie carousels that are virtually intact.” Charlotte and I both rode on the carousel. She rode a giraffe, and I sat in one of the padded seats.
One last note of questionable importance. Of “famous” people from Logansport, one is Tony Hinkle, the inventor of the orange basketball. Bet you didn’t know that!
My message is a little shorter today, as it is almost 10:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. comes mighty early.
Found a dime today, that’s all the road change.
Total route was 82 miles, which Gary rode. Not sure of Charlotte’s riding distance. But I rode 27 miles.
If anyone wants to e-mail me directly, use this: firstname.lastname@example.org
With love from the road,
June 16, 2014
Day 10 – “Bikin’ the Dixie Highway for HD” – Logansport to Indianapolis IN
Up at our usual 4:00 wake-up time. Our hosts, Damon and Debbie Soper, fixed us smoothies and a very interesting oatmeal with fruit and nuts in it. It was a different fare than what we have been having, a special treat.
By the way, I forgot to mention the Sopers dog. His name is Amadeus and he is a neutered male black standard poodle who is about one year old. He was pretty well behaved and pretty calm, and a very sweet guy!
Damon walked to the convenience store and brought back home 4 copies of the Pharos-Tribune, the daily newspaper from Logansport. There was a picture and an article on the front page. Here is their website: www.tribune.com
Damon lead us in a prayer, and It was such a blessing. As usual, Gary and Charlotte started riding, and I drove the van South on Highway 29. I left the van alongside the road for Charlotte, and began riding. The temperature was in the low 70's. Gradually a light rain got heavier, and I hadn’t brought my light rain poncho with me. I didn’t want to get soaking wet so I waited under a big tree and called Charlotte to tell her where I was. By then, it was really raining. I really wanted to get dry before riding again, so I turned up the heater in the van. We loaded up both bikes, and I drove down the projected route.
Charlotte wore a light plastic poncho with one of the bike straps around her waist to keep down the flapping.
I stopped in Michigantown and mailed a Michigan postcard to my grandson Cael, who turned 4 on Friday, June 13.
Highway 29 ended so we tookHighway 431 South. Again, to the best ofmy knowledge those two roads used to be part of the Dixie Highway, like yesterday’s routes.
The rain finally stopped, and left the roads a bit slick and wet, but it was OK. The further down 431 we got, the drier the road surface was. All three of us rendezvoused just North of Highway 32 for lunch.
Usual fare for lunch, Gary and Charlotte both now eating peanut butter/lettuce sandwiches. I had an open face 1/2 ham sandwich with lettuce.
Although Gary had ridden almost 50 miles, the consensus was that we’d go another 10 miles, so we headed over the Lebanon. There, we loaded up all three bikes and riders, and we headed SE towards the Indianapolis Christian Fellowship Church. Great directions from Suzie, who is on staff at the Church. Drove about 30 miles to get to the chrch, mostly on I-65 and I-465. Charlotte napped and Gary texted, I think, so I drove and navigated. Found the property easily, with a 30 foot cross at the entrance to the property. Years ago, a Boy Scout Camp was located on the premises. Now it is like an oasis located just off the Interstate.
Got settled upstairs in the nursing mothers’ nursery. Showers available, too.
Our special friends, the Hendershots, brought dinner to us. Roasted chicken from Meijers, fresh fruit, some bread, cucumber, and peas in a pod. We met this family in 2008 during “Cycle the Heartland for HD.” We stayed with them in 2010 while driving to Maine. Grace is now 14, a young lady, Ben is 10, and their youngest Raisa is 5. Parents are Mike and Barb Hendershot.
Alina Del Rio has now joined us for the last 2 1/2 days of the ride. This is her first long distance bike ride. We are happy to have a fourth rider.
No road change today. Gary rode 59 miles Charlotte rode 31, and I rode 20.36.
With love from the road,
June 17, 2014
Day 11 – “Bikin’ the Dixie Highway for HD” – Indianapolis to Bloomington IN
Up at 4:00 am, packed, breakfast at 5:00 am then started to load the van. Since we are now four, we have more gear to load up again.
After a prayer, off we went, off the campus of the church. Just had to make three turns to get to County Road 135, which we followed South. There wasn’t much traffic going South; most were headed North into Indianapolis. Charlotte and Alina rode together, and that worked out well. We switched about 10 miles into the ride,; Charlotte and Alina rode in the van while I pedaled along. Fairly flat riding for quite awhile, as we left Indianapolis. Lots of small farms, growing corn. The only town of any size was Trafalgar, where 135 veered off in a Southwest direction. Passed through Morgantown, then on South to Beanblossom, where we turned West on State Route 45. It parallel some railroad tracks, so it wasn’t too extremely hilly, but there was one challenging hill after another. Passed one pelaton of riders headed East. The road was fairly shady, since it was tree-lined, and also curvy.
We decided to load up all three of the bikes of us ladies, and drive the 5 miles to the Church. Gary arrived about the same time as we did, so Charlotte gave him the directions to the church. Passed the Campus of the University of Indiana (Hoosiers). Found our way to the Arlington United Methodist Church where the secretary came out to greet us and show us where to put the bikes, where the bathrooms and kitchen were, and where we could sleep. She asked us where we stayed last night in Indianapolis, and when we told her, she told us that she had attended that church earlier in her life!! Small world!
Since it was after 2:00 pm, we were all anxious to have lunch. Thanks to the Hendershots, we had plenty of food. Thanks again!
Gary and I drove to one of the two YMCA’s which had offered us free showers. Nice new building. Staff was very interested in our ride, HD, etc. There was a swimming suit spinner in the ladies’ locker room, so that worked out well since I had washed my riding shorts. They will easily dry before sunset in the 90 plus degrees heat of the day.
Trivia time once again; sorry I didn’t have anything special about Indianapolis. I forgot to do my pre-ride research.
Bloomington is the county seat of Monroe County in the southern region of Indiana. It is called “The Gateway to Scenic Southern Indiana.” The city is almost 200 years old, since it was established in 1818 by a group of settlers from Kentucky, Tennessee, the Carolinas, and Virginia who were so impressed with the “haven of blooms” that they called the city Bloomington. Bloomington is the home to Indiana University. It was established in 1820. Most of the campus buildings are built of Indiana limestone. Along with our biking there, I learned that Bloomington was the location of the Academy Award-winning 1979 move “Breaking Away,” featuring a reenactment of Indiana Universitiy’s annual Little 500 bicycle race. Montroe County’s famous limestone quarries are also featured in the movie.
Up until recently, Bloomington has been one of the largest cities without an Iterstate or Freeway Expressway. The Interstate 69 expansion between Indianapolis and Evansville and Bloomington is set for completion in 2014. There are also plans to upgrade State Route 37 to part of Interstate 69 between 2016 and 2020.
We will be bicycling on State Route 37 tomorrow for about 32 miles. That is actually part of the Dixie Highway.
Today, as usual, Gary rode the whole route, which was 59 miles. I rode 25 miles in 2:58:00. Charlotte and Alina rode 29 miles.
No road change again.
The Methodist Ladies’ group provided some food for dinner for us, which was very thoughtful.
I think we are all going to try to turn in early tonight since we have a long day tomorrow.
With love from the road,
June 18, 2014
Day 12 – “Biking’ the Dixie Highway for HD” – Bloomington to New Salisbury IN
Same morning routine as usual. Got “on the road” by 6:10 a.m. Gary
lead us out, and we got on Highway 31 South. 31 is part of the Dixie
Highway routing, but it was a pretty busy semi-controlled access 4 lane
highway. We followed Hwy 31 for about 32 miles.
The shoulders were smooth and wide, and the grading on the hills was good. I was able to ride up all the hills on the Highway, using my “granny gear.”Passed a sign that said “Welcome to Lawrence County, Home of Astronauts Grissom-Walker-Bowersox.” Wow, a small Indiana county producing three Astronauts!
Gary peeled off in Bedford to get his B2 at a Denny’s.
I was very pleasantly surprised that we crossed US Hwy 50. I told Alina that all I’d have to do to get home was to follow that highway, turn North for 1/2 mile, turn right, and I’d be home!
Small blue/white mile marker signs have been alongside the road now. Never saw any in Michigan or Northern Indiana.
Turned off onto State Road 60 from Mitchell to Salem. Road was narrower and a bit hilly, tougher grades than Hwy 31. Followed it for 23 miles.
Last leg was State Road 135 from Salem to Palmyra and on to New Salisbury. Newer road with wide shoulders, and some sustantial hills.
Got to Palmyra, then continued another 6 miles or so to Epiphany Lutheran Church.
Our hosts, Rev.Chuck Fischerand his wife Elaine, were great hosts. The church doesn’t have a shower, so they offered showers in their home. Pastor Chuck did a tremendous amount of research for us, and prepared our routing from New Salisbury to Louisville, step by step written and also a very accurate hand drawn map.
The Fischers took us out to dinner to the Cracker Barrel Restaurant in Corydon. Neither Charlotte nor I had ever eaten in a Cracker Barrel before. Their food was good, and so was the service.
Corydon was the first capital of Indianapolis back in the earlier decades of the 1800's, before the capital was changed to Indianapolis (in the middle of the state.).
New Salisbury IN is an unincorporated town in Southern Indiana. It was platted in 1839 by John Kepley, and named for his former hometown of Salisury, North Carolina. The town was sacked during Morgan’s Raid by the Confederate Army. That was only one of two Civil War battles that were fought in the North. (The other one was in Gettysburg PA).
The church didn’t have wi-fi so I couldn’t send this message out until today.
The total route was 81 miles, which Gary completed. He is such a strong rider. I rode 34.4 miles, and Charlotte and Alina rode 46. I think I found 2 cents in road change.
This was the last full day of riding on this year’s ride.
With love from the road, in Southern Indiana,
June 19, 2014
Day 13 – “Bikin’ the Dixie Highway for HD” – New Salisbury IN to Louisville KY
Up at 4:00 a.m. I re-packedmy stuff for the Convention. Everyone had breakfast at 5:00 a.m. and we started loading up the van for the last day of the ride.
Pastor Fischer came to the church to see us off and lead us in prayer. Gary, Charlotte and Alina rode out of the driveway for a 10 mile ride to Georgetown, along a back road called Whiskey Run. I drove the van, and we met up in Georgetown where I parked the van. Everyone but me went to the donut shop. I think Alina bought a donut. We left the van in Georgetown and the four of us started the 20 some miles to Louisville, with Pastor Fischer’ good directioins. Gary lead out. We got confused a couple of times, but righted ourselves. One road called the Corydon Pike was amazing, with a twisty road down a huge hill lined with trees. Part of the ride was along a designated Ohio River Scenic Byway.
When we were still on the Ohio River Scenic Byway, we could see the skyline of Louisville, including the distinctive Galt House Hotel which has two matching white buildings with red roofs and each one has a red/white spiral pattern on top.
There are a number of bridges which cross the Ohio River from Indiana to Kentucky. The Kennedy Bridge is part of the Interstate. The Clark (or Second Street Bridge) is for regular vehicular traffic, and the Big Four Bridge is for bikes and pedestrians only. It used to be a railroad bridge for the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago, and St. Louis Railroad. New ramps were attached on both ends, and it’s very nice.
We crossed on the Big Four Bridge. Gary was very anxious to see his wife Barbara so he took off on his own. We three ladies worked our way to the Galt House where we were met by a few folks. It was not an organized welcome this year, just informal, since we were going to be welcomed later tonight at the reception following the Team Hope Walk.
Got the bikes stored safely, then Gary and I drove in his van back to Georgetown to get my van, put his gear and the tracker into his van. Since Gary has GPS, he used it to get back to Louisville. Charlotte and I oversaw unloading our suitcases, etc. I drove the van to the parking lot which accommodates taller vehicles (since the van has a Thule box on top.)
We are situated in a verry nice room with lots of space, on the 9th floor There’s like a sitting room, the bathroom, and the bedroom (2 queen sized beds). Nicest accommodatioins we’ve had, courtesy of HDSA.
We each showered and napped a bit, then went downstairs to socialize. Neither of us did the Team Hope Walk. We hung around the Exhibit Hall and got some swag, including a couple of t-shirts. I hope to make a t-shirt quilt in the “off season.”
Hard to believe that this year’s ride is jutst a memory now. I did manage to fine 58 cents of road change today.
I rode 21.44 miles (including about two extra miles when we missed one of our turns.) Not sure how much Gary, Alina, and Charlotte rode. I’m thinking about 35 miles.
I will add up the route mileage and road change totals. Not sure if I will be able to send a report on each day of the Convention. (I may write them when I get home.) Then we will have three days of driving to get back to Grand Junction on Tuesday night in time for our monthly Support Group meeting.
Remember, it’s not too late to contribute. You can go to ww.firstgiving.com/bikeforcure if that’s easier for you, or send me a check, payable to “Huntington’s Disease Society of America” in any amount. I still have less than a dozen t-shirts left for sale, too. E-mail me at email@example.com to order one.
With love from the road, in Louisville,
June 20, 2014
Day 14 – HDSA Convention – First Day
Well, here we are, in Louisville for the 29th Annual Convention of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America. My first Convention was in Denver in 1998; I think it was the 14th Annual Convention that year.
Before I write too much about the Convention, I wanted to include some information about Louisville. It is situated on the banks of the Ohio River, which was the primary water link between the developing “West” and the Northeast. There was a series of rapids along the route which forced settlers to disembark and portage around the falls. This stopping point became a strategic area for commerce and eventually grew into the city of Louisville, which was named in honor of King Louis XVI of France. Revolutionary War hero George Rogers Clark founded Louisville in 1778.
George Rogers Clark was the brother of Capt. William Clark of “Lewis and Clark” fame. They started out from Louisville to explore the West on October 26, 1803. That journey lead to the eventual Louisiana Purchase , doubling the size of the emerging United States.
One-third of the world’s bourbon is made here, and 90% of the world’s disco balls. It is the home of the factory that produces the famed wooden Louisville Slugger baseball bats. The world’s largest baseball bat is located adjoining the museum and factory. It is 120 feet tall and weighs 68,000 pounds. Churchill Downs, the famous horse-racing track and home of the Kentucky Derby, is in Louisville
The term “Kentuckiana” was coined in the 1940's, combining the state names of Indiana and Kentucky. Remember when I mentioned “Michiana” when we were on the border of Michigan and Indiana. Also, in 2008, Charlotte and I rode through Illiana, on the border of Illinois and Indiana.
“The Birthday Song” or “Happy Birthday to You” was composed by two sisters in Louisville, Mildred and Patty Hill. They first wrote the melody for this song in 1893 for their kindergarten class, although at that time it was called “Good Morning to Al” and boasted different lyrics. Today “Happy Birthday to You” is the most recognized song in the English language and is sung world over!.
With its Central location, Louisville is located within a day’s drive of half of the population of the United States.
It was such a great way to announce the starting of the opening session. A costumed Bugler played the “Call to the Post,” which signals the start of the Kentucky Derby. Just a bit later, he played “My Old Kentucky Home” as well.
We were welcomed by Louise Vetter, the CEO of HDSA, and by Steve Seekins, the Chairman of the Board. We were also welcomed by Dr. Torsten Madsen from Lundbeck, the specialty pharmacy which produces an anti-movement drug for HD. Lundbeck funds scholarships to the Convention, and it was announced that they will continue to do that through 2020.
Some of the sessions are being streamed live for you techies. They should also be available at www.hdsa.org. It was also announced that the Huntington’s Parity Act now has 139 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, and 12 in the Senate. They are hopeful to affect a change in the wording for qualification for disability due to HD, and shorten the two year waiting period. This needs to happen before the Fall Election, or the efforts will have to begin all over again.
The keynote address was given by a musician named Billy McLaughlin. He is an award-winning new age acoustic guitarist, composer, and producer who has appeared on Billboard’s Top-Ten Chart. In 2005 Billy announced that he is suffering from focal dystonia, which severely limits his ability to play. He began re-teaching himself to play his distinctive style “left handed.” He said he practiced 5 hours a day, 7 days a week for a whole year, and still couldn’t play a song. His breakthrough came in the second year of similar practice. Dystonia is a curling up of the hand. That has happened to his right hand, and could happen to his left. He called this focal dystonia a “yet to be cured neurological disease.” At a low point in his career, he went out for some Asian food, and the fortune cookie message said “Many people fail because they quit soon.” He played 3 songs he wrote, and they were very well received with standing ovations. Very inspirational and memorable. Everyone was given a CD of some of his songs. I am anxious to listen to it, maybe even in the van on the long road back to Colorado from Kentucky.
After the lunch break, I attended a session about Unawareness and Apathy in those who have HD. Dr. Christopher Ross, a long time neuro-psychiatrist presented the information. “Anosognosia” is another word for unawareness. He spoke about the triad of the three main aspects of HD: Chorea (movement), cognitive disorder (memory, thinking, reasoning, accessing information) and psychiatric problems. Often the psychiatric problems show up as much as 15 years before a diagnosis with motor skills issues. Apathy is fairly common in HD, but sometimes it’s just a learned behavior. Sometimes Yoga helps.
The second break-out session I attended was entitled “To Test or Not to Test.” The panelists were three young people, all in their 20's. Each one explained his/her decision. The young man has chosen not to test yet. The two young women both tested; one came out gene positive, and the other didn’t inherit the gene from her father. Genetic counseling was recommended. If you decide to test, be sure that you have long-term care insurance in place. You can always cancel it if you test negative for the gene. Staying positive is very important.
At 5:30 pm we went to a “Meet and Greet” and met Rep. John Yarmuth, a committed advocate and champion for the concerns and issues facing HD patients and their families. There were a couple of folks who spoke from personal experience about the importance of getting the Parity Act passed ASAP.
Giovanna asked Charlotte and me to have dinner with her at the Magnolia Restaurant in the Galt House Hotel. There was a great view out onto the river and we saw traffic on the river, even the famed Steamboat “The Belle of Louisville.”
Last, but not least, we went to the National Youth Alliance Talent Show which raises funds for the next year’s Convention Youth Scholarships. Besides the talent aspect, young people are “auctioned off” to dance with the highest bidder at the Gala Dinner/Dance on Saturday night.
Long day full of meeting new folks, renewing friendships with past attendees, and learning.
We have a lovely suite here in the Galt House Hotel, courtesy of HDSA.
I need to apologize for the two week break in Daily Messages. I had some of this written in Louisville. There just wasn’t enough time to write, then we had three days of driving back to Colorado. We hosted our son Justin for a few days. We had to work Wednesday night and Thursday all day, then drove up to Steamboat Springs for the 6th birthday of our grandson Jett. Justin is back visiting us again, but he’s out visiting friends on this Fourth of July evening, so I am trying to play “catch up.”
Stay tuned; there’ll be four more messages.
With love from home,
June 21, 2014
Day 15 – Day Two of HDSA National Convention in Louisville KY
Up by 7:00 a.m. to get ready for the HDSA Research Breakfast at 8:00 a.m.
AT 9:00 a.m. the Research Forum started. We were addressed by Dr.George Yohrling, PhD, the HDSA Director of Medical and Scientific Affairs.
Keynote Speaker was Dr. Leslie Thompson, PhD, a professor at the University of California at Irvine. She is a researcher who sees profound hope and excitement in what is happening in research.
During the break, Charlotte and I got our bikes from where they were locked up and put them in the van.
The HDSA Research Forum continued, with Dr. Andreas Weiss, PhD. He was a bit hard to understand, since Englist isn’t his native language.
Drs. Ed Wild and Jeff Carroll from HDBuzz. They said there were 5 reasons for hope. (1) HD has the most curable incurable brain disorder (2) The HD community is global (3) There is a golden window of opportunity to delay the onset of symptoms (4) Having symptoms doesn’t mean it’s too late and (5) Science is cumulative; there is always the chance to know more. There are lots of targets in the drug pipline, and the drugs are coming. We were urged to get behind the bus and push!
From noon to 1:30 p.m. was a special session hosted by Jim Pollard. There is a need for people to sign up for Enroll-HD, the worldwide observational study for HD families. It will teach us more about HD and give new insights for potential drugs, enable better, smarter, faster clinical trials, and improve clinical care for HD patients.
When this session broke up, I went out in the lobby, and who should be there but our dear friend Becky Fisher from Nashville TN! We met Becky at the Convention in 2002 in Columbus OH; Charlotte’s maiden name was Fisher, and that opened the door! Charlotte and I visited Becky on the way home from the Convention in Raleigh NC in 2010. I visited Becky in Nashville in 2012 when I was there for an Explorer’s Bible Study Workshop. Sherri Kole and I stayed overnight at Becky’s home last year on the way back to Colorado from Jacksonville FL. Becky had explained that she had a family reunion this weekend, and would be unable to attend the Convention, but there she was! Becky is a very special friend indeed.
At 1:45 p.m. we attended a session entitled “HDSA 101 – An overview of the Society from its Leadership.” Steve Seekins, Chairman of the Board of Trustees. HDSA was presented as a grassroots organization, which is family-based, family-led, and family-centered. Its mission is to improve the lives of everyone with HD and their families. It is accountable to goals in community service, education advocacy, and research. There is a home office in NYC, and a field staff.
When this session was over, Charlotte, Becky, and I walked a few blocks to the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum, and took the 1/2 hour tour. The name “Louisville Slugger” was borrowed from a player named Peter Browning, whose nickname was “The Louisville Slugger.” It was fscinating to see and hear how these bats are made. The wood comes from Northern White Ash and Maple trees from the New York/Pennsylvania border. Trees are felled and cut in 10-14 ft lengths, then later into 40? long lengths. The wood cures for five weeks, then cylindrical “billets” are bored through, which are 3? in diameter. An average tree yeilds 60 billets. These are guided through a forming machine and turned on a lathe. Up until 1980 bats were hand turned, with each bat taking 1/2 hour, but now it’s all computerized with 25 different templates. The bats are burn branded with the logo. Each major league ball player orders 100-120 bats each season, which are paid for by the team; when we were there, the bats being made were for Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays. There are different grades of bats that are produced, ranging from the best for Major League Baseball and down through the minor leagues, to wood bat leagues, and to retail stores. Each person on the tour is given a miniature Louisville Slugger bat as part of their admission fee. I asked for an extra one (wanting one for both Jett and Cael) and I was given one. Nice!
The museum/retail store had lots of merchandise for sale. For the diehard baseball fars, you could even order your own bat, with special engraving, color, etc. I think they ranged from about $50 – $100 depending.
We walked back to the Galt House Hotel, visited a bit more with Becky, and then she had to leave for the 200 mile drive back to Nashville. That was a highlight of the Convention (spending time with Becky.)
Charlotte and I then went up to our room and got dressed for the Gala Awards Dinner/Dance. I didn’t stay too long into the Dance, but Charlotte danced for awhile. No Electric Slide for me this year – darn!
Hard to believe that this year’s Convention is now history. Lots of attendees, over 900 I think. Lots of emphasis on the young people. Can’t remember if I indicated that next year’s Convention will be in Dallas TX. The 2003 Convention was in Houston TX.
With love from home, with three more Daily Messages to write,