Thursday, July 12, 2012

FACES Rally and the trip home...

Day Four: I rode in early to Upland with activity everywhere and rally co-founder Darin Haight MC’ing from the beer garden. Chief rally volunteer, Tammy Linner, quickly scooped me up and set me to task –direct the bikes to the center of the road, in an orderly, straight manner – for the promo photo she would take from up high on the grain conveyor.  That was a lot easier said than done but was a great way to meet the riders. After the photo it was time to ride.

 I picked up two biker buddies, Jeff and Kyle, who proceeded to introduce me to the straight roads of Nebraska. Thanks guys –It was a blast to ride with you! The run took us through straight roads and corn fields and ended back in Upland where the band Cross Eyed Mary cranked things up. Trophies were given and donations were made and it ended with a huge 4th of July in June fireworks show.  Wow what a day! I went back to my room with a huge smile on my face and in my heart. 

Day Five: I rose early and rolled down the road towards Kansas. My goal was to make good time to Grassy, Missouri, and take a few days rest before heading back to Chattanooga. 

I hit a rabbit and with sadness watched him tumble down the road in my mirror [it could have been a deer but it wasn’t and I am still here]; I got a speeding ticket while lost and Mr. Trooper graciously set me on course [he only charged me with 10 over when it could have been 12, which supposedly saved me money and insurance rate hike – yes I thanked him dang it!]; I was assaulted by a cup full of soda while riding in traffic by a sassy young lady who thought she was cute. I was furious because she was littering and then I was mad that she threw something at me out of her window! To her chagrin, she was in a company truck with the name and number on the door. I quickly took note and had a good conversation with the owner [a rider himself] a few days later. He assured me he would take care of it. [I could have swerved and wrecked but I didn’t].  

I arrived home some 2500ish miles later with a sense of myself and my limits – or should I say lack of limits. I refuse to believe anything other than, “If I think I can – I can.”

See all the photos at

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

And Then I Hit The Road!

After meeting the wonderful Team at Cardinal Glennon, I rode back to my room to gather my gear, load up, and ride! A little bit of a late start for a long day on the road ahead, but I was excited about the route. I was traveling off the Interstate and would be seeing real America. Yay!

I managed to find my way back to Illinois and crossed the great Mississippi River and landed in Alton, IL and the Great River Road. Alton is a neat looking place, which I wish I had time to explore. From there I continued north, through Grafton, where I stopped and had a quick bite at Hawg Pit BBQ and met a few locals there who said that the area was a hopping place for bikes on the weekend. Hmmm...would love to come back here on a weekend.

From Grafton I followed the Great River Road north with the river on my left for a long time, then gradually rode more inland to rolling hills on my right and fields of corn on my left. I crossed small rivers and went over old metal bridges. I was in heaven - what a glorious route! Before I knew it I had reached Keokuk, Iowa and took a left.

I was pleasantly surprised with Iowa! Rolling land with trees and corn and little towns every 30 or 40 miles. I loved taking the back roads and avoiding the Interstate. One minute the speed limit would be 65 and then 45 and then 35 and I'd get an inside view of small town America. Sometimes the towns seemed to be thriving and then other times the town would be rundown and sad. This gave my mind lots to play with while I rode toward to Nebraska.

I was super excited to find the Little Flock Chapel in the middle of fields of corn, and perfect timing I must say for I was ready for a break. This little [and I mean little!] church was built to be a travelers paradise on a hot or cold day. Shelter from the weather and even a heater in winter with pews to sit and meditate your sorrows away.

Iowa took me the rest of the day to cross. I finally made it to Nebraska City around 9 pm and couldn't roll another mile. It was time to stop and find a cheap hotel and rest my weary butt.

I was off bright and early the next day with my GPS written and ready - smirk [photo right] and was glad I hadn't tried to make the remainder of the ride in the dark; the road was littered with dead deer from deer meets vehicle collisions!
Nebraska was pretty and rolling hills at first...and then it got flat and straight...Wow! What a lot of Corn!!! But the day was beautiful and I chose a few back roads and rode onward....

I finally rolled into Minden and found the Pioneer Village where FACES Rally founder John Eckhardt, had reserved  a room for me. It was time to rest up and get ready for the evening events in Upland.

The reason for the ride - the FACES Rally! This was the main reason I rode over 1000 meet the wonderful folks in Nebraska who took it upon themselves over 11 years ago to put on a three day event to raise money for FACES! It starts on Friday evening with music, kids games, fun and friendship.

Upland is a little town - you're seeing it all in the photo to the right- and they shut down the town for the weekend to host this fun filled event.

The kids games were great and there was even a Beer Garden to romp in! Across the street bikers started rolling in and setting up tents in the park. I didn't hang out past dark, but I heard the park was rocking way into the night!

Next up - The Poker Run!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Time to Catch Up!

Wow - It's been too long since I've written. I'm now home from an inspiring adventure, but let's see if I can recap from Thursday morning when I met the craniofacial team at the St. Louis Cleft-Craniofacial Center at Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center.  

Thursday Morning: 


 I pull into Cardinal Glennon with barely a minute to spare and was pleasantly surprised by the small size and the free parking; very low key and suburban feeling right in the middle of St. Louis. I parked my bike and filled my helmet with FACES brochures, blog cards, and business cards and headed up to meet the team who had generously set aside time out of their busy morning to meet with me. [Inspirational eye and photo by Ashley Wiehle]

Clinical Nurse Coordinator Debbie Watters, met me in the waiting room and ushered me in to meet the team as they started arriving. I was quickly introduced to Plastic Surgeon and Team Director Dr. Lin, who was young, charming and easy going, and I can see him having a wonderful way with his young patients. I also met speech therapist Loretta Laurent, occupational therapist Sue Stuppy, dentist Jim Klarsch, audiologist Sarah Duncan, and public relations Ashley Wiehle who had her camera ready! [Thanks Ashley for taking photos with my camera for me!] The whole team is friendly and good natured and I was put immediately at ease.

I learned that the entire team [approximately 20 professionals] was not always there together, and often rotated or were on call for when needed. The team meets three times a month at Cardinal Glennon, so their waiting room is always full and they work hard to give each patient the time and care they need.  
I learned a lot talking with this great group of people. For instance, Dr. Lin brought up speech therapy and how important it is in a child's world where they're not only judged by their looks, but by their speech as well. Just as people with facial differences are assumed to be less than intelligent when they are certainly not, nasal and unclear speech can also lead to thinking that they are mentally challenged, and they are not!  

Thank you Cleft-Craniofacial Team for taking the time to meet with me! I learned a lot and it's nice to know the professionals that FACES' clients see are so warm and caring! 


Thursday, June 7, 2012

This is what it's all about!

I hit the road yesterday morning about 6 am and made good time ! I took Interstate until Missouri where I took exit 16 and turned left towards Anna, then right [North] on Hwy 51 for some back road travel. That was a nice diversion including the HUGE piece of farm equipment I rode behind for a few miles! 51 took me to I-64 and I was soon in St. Louis and found my hotel. Ah...sweet stillness while my body continued to vibrate from the ride.

Yesterdays travels took me over 450 miles. Today will be a longer track. I'm not taking the Interstate but state highways with views. That probably ads about 100 miles to my route - but I really hate riding on the Interstate if I have a pretty road to travel instead. We shall see!

This morning I have the honor and pleasure of meeting the team of professionals at Cardinal Glennon Cleft-Craniofacial Center who work with patients with craniofacial anomalies.  You may wonder why a team? Why not just one doctor?

A Typical Team has the following professionals:
  • Plastic Surgery
  • Speech Therapy
  • Ears Nose and Throat
  • Audiology
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Feeding professionals
  • Dental / Orthodontists Services
  • Genetics
  • Psychology

If you think about the head - you realize there's a lot going on above the neck. You have speech, hearing, breathing, vision, throat, facial structure, etc...And so when a person has a craniofacial disorder, they often need a combination of doctors that specialize in each of these areas and work together for the best possible outcome for the patient. The professionals that treat them have experience with craniofacial disorders and so they have a much higher success rate than a professional that has not worked with craniofacial disorders. They've seen it before and know what works and what doesn't; hence, their success rate reflects this.

And a Team is everything it implies. The Craniofacial Team works together and knows what is going on in all aspects of their patient. We all know Team Work is important!

So today, I get to meet some of these crazy busy professionals! They only meet once a week about four times a month, so their clinics are extremely full with kids and their parents patiently waiting their turns. I will basically be there to shake their hands, give them a FACES brochure and briefly explain how FACES helps with medical travel, education and resources, get a photo taken, and then I'll be out of their and heading towards Upland and the FACES Rally!

It's a great day!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cardinal Glennon Craniofacial Center in St. Louis

Meet and Greet Arranged With Craniofacial Team at the Cardinal Glennon Cleft-Craniofacial Center in St. Louis

I'm excited to announce I will be meeting the very busy and very skilled team of craniofacial professionals at Cardinal Glennon Craniofacial Center in St. Louis on Thursday morning! Thank you Dr. Lin and Debbie Watters for working with me to arrange this!

Rainy Morning and List Making

Wonderful rain plays in the background as I sit on my porch with a note pad and pen, making my To Do, To Bring, To Remember Lists. Yay! That means I'm getting to business - did I say I can be a procrastinator? Or I like the, "I work well under pressure!" line better! More forward thinking.

 I tried to put my seat on yesterday evening, but got stuck on the last thing to do - remove two brackets off the stock seat to reuse on the new seat. Well those suckers will not come off for me! I've tried tapping and brute strength but my tools are poo-poo [standard bike issued] and the bolts seem cheap too. I have to take her in to the shop anyway - I'll ask them to help with it. Darn it! I was hoping to do it all myself, but I guess sometimes you have got to ask for a little help. Thank goodness I am surrounded by so many wonderful, and helpful people.

The rain is due to let up before I leave for Garry Griffith Cycle in Chattanooga for an oil change, rear tire, general overall good look see at things and help removing the two bolts and getting the Mustang seat on. I may see if I can get some foot rests/pegs too. The neon pink duct tape isn't working too well.

FACES Rally - This weekend! I'm excited to attend this rally! I've been working with some of the great people there via email, phone, Facebook and I'm looking forward to meeting them in person. The group of folks that put together this rally - work their booties off!!! If you're up for a road trip come check it out!
They have free camping in the park and they about shut the town down for a big party to help kids and adults with craniofacial differences. It's going to be a lot of fun! I'm sure I'll be coming home with some cool ideas to use in the 2013 FACES Ride 4 Smiles!

To Do - To Do!
Later ~

Monday, June 4, 2012

Keep Your Fingers Crossed!

Today - two days before I leave - I finally find the right people to call at the Cardinal Glennon Craniofacial Center in St. Louis to get a response! Keep your fingers crossed...I will know tomorrow if the surgeons will take the time to meet with me for 5 minutes for a quick photo and a brochure in their hand on Thursday morning....

I think they're going to say yes...We shall see!