2001 Odyssey Ride
Bob Mutchler and his wife Patti rode their motorcycles from their home in Folsom, California to the Rotary International convention in San Antonio. From San Antonia Bob rode the perimeter of the United States. His goal being to increase public knowledge about the eradication of polio, the role that Rotary International has played, and the need for the public to support this endeavor.
San Antonio, Texas was the site of the 2001 Rotary International Convention and the kick-off city for the Odyssey Ride. Bob traveled West, North, East and South, finishing back in San Antonio. The total distance will be approx. 9500 miles during a period of 20 days. The 2001 Odyssey Ride left the Rotary International Convention ion June 27, 2001 and touched the four corners of the United States, returning to San Antonio on July 16, 2001. At each stop a press conferences was held.
Thursday June 21st, 2001
4:00 am (0400) came awfully early. Our departure time of 5 am turned into 5:30. But we did manage to make it out of town reasonably close, considering that we are talking about Bob and Patti. Bob insisted that we take a roll of duct tape. He had the opportunity to use it just south of Coalinga. It really is "90 mph tape".
The 1500 Gold Wing and sidecar was a real challenge. I had about 20 minutes experience on it before we left. The Los Angeles Freeway traffic was a bit unnerving but we headed on to Phoenix. Arizona is a beautiful state. We dined in a Cracker Barrel, which had misters to cool us. Since we had been in 100 degree heat all day, it felt wonderful. Then on to Tucson. We stopped in Wilcox, Az for gas. Bob announced that by his odometer reading we had traveled just over 1000 miles. So at 9:30 pm in the light of the gas station, Bob took out the laptop computer and checked the mileage. 1009 miles. Ha! I qualified for a "bun burner", the first time out on a sidecar rig. I was happy, exhausted and sore all over. We found a motel. The manager was very interested in the motorcycles. He was from India and spoke about how bad polio was, and how much better it is now, thanks to Rotary. He charged us less than he quoted. Thank you very much.
In the morning we took the scenic tour of Wilcox and then headed east. El
Paso brought us back into the heat and then strong cross winds. Finally we
reached our abode for the night, and just a short trek to the Rotary
Convention. Our mileage was about 800 for the day. Bob promises that the
worst is over. We should have bought stock in Gatorade! In two days we
drank a bazillion gallons of it each.
June 23, 2001
Thanks to Virgil Waggoner and Charles Parrish who arranged for our lodging in
San Antonio, we had a good nights rest. We awoke bright and early at 8am and
rolled over and slept until 9. We did make it out into the Texas Morning and
met some Rotarian bikers from Canada. Ron Lyster and partner rode with us
into downtown to the Convention Center. The staff were very helpful in
getting us set up. Many thanks to Tawanda, Karen, Konda, and Duane Sterling.
We met new friends and some friendly faces from Sacramento. It looks as
though this will be a great convention. The San Antonians are friendly and
very hospitable. We already saw Past RI Presidents Glen Kinross and Luis
Vincent Giuy. Saturday night brought a very loud thunder and lightning storm
that lasted until dawn. Car alarms kept many owners busy all night. Our
PDG Bob Wassum did a great job as liaison with RI in arranging for the display of the "Blue Streak". That BMW and Hannigan Sidecar received a lot of attention from folks all over the world. Thanks again A&S BMW. While the "Streak" was tucked inside the convention hall, we used the "Original" PolioPlus bike for transportation to and from the Convention. The Honda 1500 is doing beautifully and thanks again to Carmichael Honda for the servicing, tires, brakes and alternator.
It was a pleasure to be in such a large convention center. There was room for every one! There were project displays were too numerous to count. And they are all worthy and in need of our support. Another reason to complete the commitment to PolioPlus. Meeting people from around the world is probably one of the highlights of a convention. People from 120 countries under one roof, all with the goals of world peace through understanding. Near the motorcycle was a children's play area. A very nice idea and the kids really had a blast.
The sessions provided lots of information. Entertainment cropped up every where. An old west gambler walked around doing card tricks. A cowboy did rope tricks. Then there were bands playing music of all sorts. But the parade of flags at the opening ceremonies was extra special, as it was on horseback. San Antonio seemed to be a wonderful host city. At the Paul Harris Luncheon the food was very good, especially since there were over 2700 people in attendance. Out going Chairman Herbert Brown kept a tight timetable and the program was outstanding. Speakers at the different sessions were interesting and informative. We are excited about the upcoming Convention in Barcelona and plans for a Ride in Australia for the Brisbane Convention in 2003 are underway!
Wednesday, June 27, 2001
By 0730 (7:30 am) we were in front of the Convention. DG (in just a few
days) Sam Anderson and his wife Pat, DGN Hal Shipley, Steve Lemmon and PDG
Dave Horn came out to see us off. They may have been glad to be rid of us
for a month! Past RI President Cliff Dochterman slipped away from a
breakfast long enough to wish us well. We appreciate everyone's support.
Promptly at 8:00 we were escorted to the freeway by one of San Antonio's
finest motorcycle officers. Fortunately, it was not as hot as our trip out
to Texas. I had plenty of time to ponder the meaning of the highway signs
that said "drive friendly". We arrived in El Paso on time. Unfortunately,
there was no one to speak to. After a bit we headed on out and stayed in Las
Cruces for the night. We are looking forward to Phoenix tomorrow. 609 miles.
Thursday June 28, 2001
The early light of dawn on the New Mexico landscape was incredible. We did it again. We forgot about time changes. Our arrival in Phoenix was early, which was fine with us. Eric Mackler, the General Manager of The Hampton Inn, Phoenix-Midtown, greeted us. We spoke about Rotary and PolioPlus. The Phoenix Rotary 100 Club raised $100,000 for PolioPlus initially. Since that time they have supported PolioPlus through the Rotary Foundation. We found out that they have been strong supporters of the Shots for Tots program since its inception. We are grateful to the Phoenix Club and The Hampton Inn for our Phoenix visit. Mileage - 394 miles.
Last evening Bob had an interview with a reporter from the local newspaper. This morning we had a photo shoot at the Hampton Inn. At 6:15 we were able to head west to wards Los Angeles. The temperatures were up to 106F. Bob noticed that the sidecar seemed to be vibrating. His rear tire seemed to wearing, so we started keeping an eye on it. We bypassed downtown Los Angeles and landed in Anaheim at the Hampton Inn of Anaheim. General Manager Fran Bates was a gracious hostess. Someone ought to invite her into Rotary! She was very interested in what we are doing and why. Lots of questions about Rotary, too. It was a good ride of 389 miles.
Saturday June 30, 2001
We departed Anaheim at 7:30 to meet with some Rotarians in Inglewood near the LA airport. We arrived at am to find that there had been a miscommunication and our contact was not there. We waited a while, but knew we had to keep going. It was disappointing that the opportunity was lost to talk, learn and share. Crossing the "GRAPEVINE" Bob's sidecar really started wobbling. He managed to pull off at Gorman. We found Steve's Custom Welding in Frazier Park. The swing arm had cracked and broken and luck was holding it together. Steve and Chuck performed magic and we were back on the road again. We arrived back in Sacramento for a home cooked meal, fresh laundry, a rear tire change for Bob, and a brief nights rest. 444 miles
Sunday July 1, 2001
Today begins a brand new year in the Rotary World. New presidents and other officers. Thank you to all past officers, and good luck to the new ones. Bob has been fighting back the post polio problems he has been suffering. Thanks to Dr. Bob Wilcox who has been treating Motorcycle Bob for the past three years. Though Bob is in pain all the time, Dr. Bob has given Bob much relief.
Our 6am take off became 7:15 am. The bikes were running well. In Redding we stopped at the Black Bear Diner. I've never seen a 3/4 lb hamburger before today. A very interesting eatery with very good food. Onward to Eugene. Another disappointment as the opportunity to share Rotary and PolioPlus did not materialize. However, whenever we stopped for gas or to eat, people asked about the bikes and what we were doing. The motorcycles receive a lot of attention. We moved on, and landed at the Hood River Inn for the night. Met up with some Rotarians who were also traveling. 657 miles
Monday July 2, 2001
Driving along the River was quite scenic. Then the fields and farms and ranches of Eastern Washington. Into the mountains of Idaho and finally resting at Coeur d'Alene. Would you believe the Bates Motel, and we had Norman's Special! 341 miles.
Tuesday July 3, 2001
What a day! It started off with a gorgeous scenic ride from Coeur d'Alene through a pine scented mountain pass and into Butte, Montana. We arrived at 11:30 am at the Gamer's Cafe in Uptown Butte. The Building is over 100 years old. We were met by Paul Broughton and soon joined by Joe and Teri Sologub, Eileene and Dave Stevens, Leland Greb, and Francie York. We were treated to a lunch of a local tradition of Pasties. Quite tasty! After lunch, Leland took us to the local radio station where Bob was interviewd by Pat Schulte on the oldest talk radio show in the country, called Party Line. Pat spent the whole hour interviewing Bob about Rotary, PolioPlus and the Odyssey Ride. He requested that the public send money to support PolioPlus to the local Rotary Club. He did a great job. Thank you Pat and KPOW!
Then we were shown the Rotary Float for the 4th of July Parade. In support of their project of women's basketball, their float showed women figures playing basketball. They won first place for their class. Eileen and Dave took us to their home in the hills where we cleaned up and then dinner at the Derby where we dined on the finest filet mignon I've ever had the pleasure of consuming. Next we went to Dr. Brown's home for a party and to watch the fireworks. And what fireworks! July 3 is the day for fireworks. The private firework displays were almost as great as the professional. They really get into the spirit. Bob also did some interviews with the local newspaper. The Butte Club supported PolioPlus in the beginning and now they are ready to help fullfill the promise. They are also busy revitalizing Uptown Butte, sponsoring women's basketball, providing scholarships to Montana Tech, a matching grant for after school children's program, RYLA, RYE and much more. And they are really nice people.
Wednesday July 4, 2001
Having left early in the morning after a very short night (3 hours sleep), we arrived in Livingston Montana to have coffee with PDG Clara Gillard. At 8 am with a good cup of coffee, Clara had arranged for a special meeting the next morning. We looked at the map, we looked at the itinerary, we looked at the map. Clara invited us for dinner. She called the motel. We stayed. We slept. We dined at her hilltop home and enjoyed a lovely evening talking Rotary. We headed for bed early as the next day was to be a long one. 114 miles.
Thursday July 5, 2001
It was a special meeting! Rumors Cafe in Livingston provided breakfast with
a difference and very delicious. Clara and he husband Lyle were there as
promised. Also the presidents of two clubs, two different newspapers, a
radio DJ and Dean and Rose Holmes. Dean and Rose were to ride with us to
Bismarck. They had challenged the club to donate by the mile. The club
and public donations through the radio station totaled some $700 for
PolioPlus. Bob talked with the reporters and presented a program to the
table, and any other patrons who listened in. Clara then committed to
Friday July 6, 2001
Bright and early came too early but we continued east anyway. At Menomoniem, Mark Kinney joined us. On his Harley and Bob and I on our bikes we rolled into Madison right at 10 am. Up to the Capitol and onto the sidewalk. Some Rotarians were there to greet us with their Club banner. A radio news person was there and interviewed Bob. A recent fundraiser produced a check for $2982.89 for PolioPlus. With absolutely perfect weather, President Randy Sproule provided a picnic lunch for us on the lawn in front of the Capitol. DGE Perry Henderson arrived sporting a PolioPlusRide t-shirt. DG Al Stevens said his goal for PolioPlus this year is $40,000. Go Madison!!! Unfortunately time went by too quickly and we had to leave.
In Evanston, we met with Paul Carpenter who heads the PolioPlus Department. He is very familiar with the need to end polio. He spent four years in Africa and has seen first hand the results of polio in Africa and India. He knows what it's all about. The Rotary News Basket also did an interview with Bob. Photos were taken. Susan Ross of Public Affairs was also interested in our effort to promote PolioPlus. The security guard was unhappy with us since we rode up the handicapped crossing at the corner and on up to the front of RI on the sidewalk. He was happier when we left.
It was a good idea to stay right there at the Holiday Inn. The parking garage provided a dry refuge for the bikes. That night the loud thunder, very bright lightning and hard rain lasted for hours. 397 miles
Saturday July 7, 2001
Having survived the thunderstorm of the century, we headed on towards Erie, Pennsylvania. Some lovely countryside provided a landscape of beauty. My thoughts kept returning to a DG (district governor) that said they were no longer supporting PolioPlus. I could not imagine why not. I thought of our promise to the world, that we would rid the globe of a disease that destroys lives; that takes away hope in a land with little of that to begin with. Why would a DG say no to a program so close to completion; 98%. And the hardest part is yet to finish. We do not have enough Bill and Melissa Gates to donate $50 Million dollars. It takes all of us to do this job. It takes Rotarians and Non-Rotarians. We can't do it alone. $400 million dollars is a lot of money and we need every pledge, every fundraiser that will help raise the dollars. Why not finish this endeavor so we can go on to other projects? I look at Bob and see what he suffers every day. Sometimes I wonder why he does it. Why does he put himself through so much to help others so far away? Why not spend his time and money on himself and his family and on more pleasurable things? The answer is in Ghana or India or anywhere else polio may still claim its toll. He believes in Rotary and he believes in finishing a disease that he has struggled to conquer all his life. He has battled and fought its debilitating effects, and the looks and glares and questions. Many may think he has other agendas. It is not so. He is trying his best to do what he can in his own way to make a difference. What are you doing? What is that DG doing to help fulfill a commitment to the world, made by Rotary and Rotarians around the world? These are thoughts that go through my mind as we travel on down the highway. In Erie, the contacts we had made were dealing with personal family tragedies and so we were unable to any more than find a place for the night, order pizza and look forward to the next day. Hopefully the traumas will work out, and life will go on. 467 miles.
Sunday July 8, 2001
We almost arrived in Albany, New York. Fortunately we were running early when the Streak decided to stop running a few miles outside of Albany. Bob managed to rig a re-charge from my bike to his, which got him to the toll booth exit. We pushed the bike to a side lot and rode the one bike to the Armory in Albany. Between the fantastic Rotarians that greeted us and the BMW Road Service everything worked out. While Don Bronstein took me to the bike to have it towed, the press conference went forward with Bob. Yono's restaurant provided beverages. Thanks go to David Palmquist, DG John Quatrini, Sam Ciccio ,Yono Purnomo, Terry Phillips, and Ann DiSarra. A great group. The bike was towed to the Marriott Hotel and after the press conference, we all met to visit. Bob and Don checked the bike over. Don was one of the brave souls who weathered the horrible rains to escort Bob into Albany on the 48-30 ride in 1998. It was determined that the bike had an alternator problem. Repairs would have to wait until morning. In the meantime we learned that the Club recently had a Lobster Fest. They cooked 2400 lobsters !!!!!!!! and now have a signature fundraiser. Yono is a fabulous chef as we found out later when he invited us to dinner for a "little something, and left-overs". On the grill; lobster tails, filet, and chicken. Spinach salad and potato salad, cheese and good wines. Yono's wife Donna is a pastry chef. Okay, we had some dessert too. A lovely evening with great food and wonderful people. We decided that the next day, I would stay and arrange for the BMW to be repaired and Bob would ride the Honda up to Augusta for the interviews we already arranged. Thanks to the Marriott Hotel we had everything we needed and covered parking for the Motorcycles. Thank you Rotarians. A road sign in New York: "Don't Drive Aggressively".
Monday July 9, 2001
Bob left on time to head north. He was to meet Bill McKenna in Worcester and ride together up to Augusta. They then headed on to Littleton. Outside of town a police officer stopped traffic and pulled aside our two heroes. Turns out he was to escort them in to a local restaurant. There was media and photos galore and a little time for a meeting and a talk on PolioPlus and a donation to the ride. Riding to Littleton was especially exciting since they had approached us. They have the Rotary spirit.
What seemed like dozens of toll booths later, Bob and Bill arrived in Augusta. The meeting time had been changed to coincide with their arrival and they received a standing ovation. Bob did interviews with newspapers, radio talk show and tv. After being able to to talk about Rotary and PolioPlus, visit with friends and make new ones, it was time to head south. Back to Albany.
In the meantime, I called to find there was only one shop open on Monday that could work on the BMW. As I was explaining the situation, the fellow on the phone said he had seen Bob on the 11:00 news the night before. People are listening, and they are hearing about Rotary and they do want to help. Even though they were back logged 4-6 weeks they would look at the bike right away. Timing is everything. Don showed up just as the tow truck arrived. We went to the Performance Motorcycle Service Shop. Ted took down the symptoms and promised to call. So.....everything seemed to be under control. Don suggested a little tour of Albany. Rockefeller Plaza is amazing. A very interesting skyline. The Egg is very weird. A great museum as well. And free. Back to reality and our new home, the Marriott. Bob arrived back from a successful journey to the north, to find some clean clothes and dinner. Just like home. Bob's mileage 679.
Tuesday July 10, 2001
We were supposed to have ridden our bikes to New York City this morning. However, since the one bike was down and we had been advised that there was no where to park the bikes, we decided to take the train. Good thinking. Traffic was a mess worse than normal due to the Bush's being in town. We were attending the Inauguration of Helen B. Reisler as the first woman president of the New York Club. What a way to begin a presidency! Held in the elegant Princeton Club the meeting was first class all the way. We were entertained by a young group of violinists conducted by Anna Heifitz, grand niece of Yasha Heifitz. These youngsters were orphans and underprivileged kids, in a project partially sponsored by the NY Club. There were videos of other projects by the club being presented on monitors around the room. The Electric Learning Center in Spanish Harlem and the Gift of Life Program are only a beginning. Amongst the crowd were many dignitaries, both Rotarian and non-Rotarian, including the German Consul General and both Sylvan Barnett and Don Treimann, Rotary Liaison to the United Nations. The Color Guard of the New York City Police Department escorted Helen and the Board of Directors in to the meeting. The meeting was conducted while lunch was served. The meal was extraordinary. Helen had asked Bob to present her husband Mel with a Paul Harris. What an honor. Mel was unable to be present, due to illness, but their daughters accepted on his behalf. Then she asked him to talk a little about PolioPlus. Bob even kept it brief. The meeting concluded with a champagne toast. Helen will make a great leader for this Club and is determined to do more for PolioPlus. Bob was surprised when Cathy Owens and her daughter Heather came up to say hello. We had met Cathy at the Convention in San Antonio. She has been following our trip and decided to come to NY from Connecticut to show her support of the Ride and PolioPlus. A very memorable day, with more to come. We arrived at the Albany train station and found out that the Streak was fit again with a new alternator belt and rear tire. Performance Motorcycle Service came through and got us back in gear. Ted even led us back home to the Marriott. Someone ought to invite them to Rotary. Thank you Albany Marriott for your hospitality and thanks to the Albany Rotarians. Mileage: a lot by train, some by cab, and none by bike.
Wednesday July 11, 2001
We left Albany in the rain and made our way south. Several turnpikes later
we were on Chesapeake. I kept thinking about the festivities of the day
before. Helen is so determined to carry on the ideals of Rotary. Her goal
had been to have everyone learn a little more about Rotary yesterday. She
spoke of the projects and goals for the coming year, of PolioPlus and its
importance. Being there was inspiring.
We arrived just in time to feast on blue crab, freshly caught that morning by
Dickie and Lois. We faded quickly after dinner............392 miles
Thursday July 12, 2001
We arose bright and early at the crack of nine. That felt good. However, Dickie wasn't about to be seen riding with us on such dirty bikes, so he had started washing them. We all rode out together and stopped for lunch. It wasn't as good as the crab the night before, but we enjoyed the company. Then Bob and I headed for DC. We found accommodations and then went in to the city to find the restaurant where the Rotoractors Conference kickoff was to be held. Bob navigated us right through the center of DC and to the Cities Restaurant. However, I was glad the police were busy in other parts of town. You might say we did some creative driving. We were early enough that we went to a nearby cafe and indulged in espressos. It was a great place to people watch. The neighborhood reminded us of a cross between Telegraph Ave in Berkeley, Ca and State St. in Madison, WI. It's a very eclectic college area. Dana, Merium, and Navin had organized this conference of Rotoractors from the US, Canada, and the Caribbean. Navin had invited Bob to speak and it was a nice change. RI President Rick King was the keynote speaker. As he said, it was the first time speaking in a disco. Bob spoke about PolioPlus and his experience in Ghana. Then President King spoke. Those young people were so enthusiastic. They were great. They invited us to stay and dance with them. They even had a room for us at the dorm. We declined since we had an early day again the next day. It was a real privilege to share the podium with President King, but also to be amongst the leaders of tomorrow. 164 miles
Friday July 13, 2001
Another early morning take off. South to Charleston. Unfortunately, that stop did not work out. We drove on and found an abode in Walterboro. Now I must take a moment to thank our webmaster, Dave Boles, for keeping up with the site. I have to admit that he gets them on the web faster than I get them written. (He also has a Paul Harris). Thank you very much Dave.502 miles Motel billboard: "Don't buy the bed- just rent it."
Saturday July 14, 2001
We were looking forward to our visit to Tallahassee, but had no idea it would be so eventful. At a few minutes before noon, we arrived at the Cabot Lodge. We checked in and were waiting for our contact, Janet Patten. Bob decided to call her. Janet said she would pick us up at 3:45 to go to Chez Pierre for Bastille Day and hopefully a press conference. Well, to be brief, we forgot about the time change and were an hour early waiting for Janet and Brooks. Which means we were also an hour early getting to Tallahassee and I could have slept 'til 5 am! Okay, I'll get over it. Chez Pierre is probably the finest restaurant in Tallahassee. Owned by Eric and Karen Favier, they have worked hard at developing their business. The Bastille Day celebration is a lot of fun and benefits some local charities. Pretty good band, huh Brooks. Yes, it was a great band and so were the Tahitian Dancers! The press did not make it but we spoke with many folks there about PolioPlus. Then we met Ms. Lewis, a fine southern lady, who's grandfather helped found the Rotary Club of Tallahassee. And she is quite a character. 368 miles Thank you Janet and Brooks
Monday July 16, 2001
The last day of the Odyssey Ride. Our first stop was at Houston. We were met by Matt at the Holiday Inn. The Northshore Rotary Club meets there. However, today was not a scheduled meeting but you would have thought otherwise. They treated us to a buffet lunch. We were joined by Rotarians and non-Rotarians, the Club Pres and District Gov. Dennis Adams. They recently netted $300,000 on a fundraiser. I was told that they raise money with no problem, but have a hard time spending it wisely. OK ,how about PolioPlus, hint hint?? And they just inducted 12 new members! Bob spoke to the gathering and hopefully they are fired up to do great things for PolioPlus. We want to thank Dr. Nino for making all the arrangements for this brief meeting. Also to Mary Mulloy for meeting us in San Antonio, having enthusiasm and wearing his PolioPlus Ride shirt! Finally, we called it the end of the day in Sonora, Texas. 580 miles.