Monday, July 13, 2015

A Father - Daughter Adventure

As one of the owners of VicBaggers Customs in Francisco, Indiana, I rarely get an opportunity to spend quality time with my family like I used to. The moments seem to be few and far between as my business partner and I work a lot of hours at the shop. One of the most difficult tasks is managing home life as well as manufacturing parts, gearing up for rallies, events, fulfilling orders, finishing builds, keeping up with sales and service as well as all the other business related stuff. 

My wife has been telling me that I need to spend more time with my daughter, so for once I listened to her… LOL. I consider my daughter and I to be pretty close, but do I know the intimate details of her life? Am I really listening to her when she is talking to me, while I have so many other things on my mind? She just turned 13 years old, a critical time in her life, even though she lives in the same house, comes to work with me, eats at the same table, have we lost touch a little? Well it’s time to get back on track and get to know each other a little better, let her know how special she is and that I am always here for her. What better way to do that than on the seat of a motorcycle.

Our journey begins during the “American Victory Rally 2015”. We drove out to Colorado Springs with the VicBaggers crew and set up during the Rally. There were several group rides that were going on during the event, so I thought it would be a good idea for her and I to tag along on the rides and get to know some of the other Riders and potential customers. What a great idea…. Our first day trip was to the “Royal Gorge Bridge”; it is located in Canon City, Colorado and is the world’s highest suspension bridge. Spanning a height of 956 feet above the Arkansas River, with an overall height of 1053 feet, the bridge has wooden planks that pop and twist, causing the bridge to move quite a bit as you ride across. As our group passed across it and the bridge was twisting like a salted pretzel fresh out of the booth at the mall, giving you that WHOA kind of feeling.

  Next day we take on Pikes Peak. Just a day prior to the annual Hill Climb race, we rode to the top on a 30” supercharged bagger. With an elevation over 14,000 feet the air is much thinner at the top and a bit cooler too, but the view is amazing. The winding twisting road to the top screams out fun for any age. Looking down at the road winding
back and forth as you make your way to the top makes you wonder how such a road came to be.

The Rally came to an end and Carli and I saddled up on our Victory Bagger outfitted with a 26” front wheel, full air ride, no windshield, solid aluminum grips and a tank full of gas. Not what some would consider being a conventional touring bike, but we build bikes to ride, not just to show.  We hit the road running southwest, with our route taking us through “The Great
Divide “. You begin to get a true appreciation for beauty as you can’t help but stop often to capture some of the landscape with pictures. We make our way through stopping at 4 corners USA. Ever wish you could be in two places at once? Well, at 4 corners you are in four states at the same time. Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico all meet up together through the Heart of Navajo country. We stop for the evening just a bit further down the road. Our hotel was staffed by Navajo men and women. As we prepared to depart the next day one of the staff gave Carli a Traditional Navajo double braid in her hair. It’s not every day that you can have your hair braided by one of America’s natives, what a great experience for her.

Further south we go and making our way to the Grand Canyon, we hit the southern edge known as the desert view. There is a tower there to mimic the Native American’s watchtowers from long ago. You begin to get a feeling of what it felt like to be a cowboy as the scenery pulls you in to a western atmosphere that has retained its beauty over the years. The openness brings light to how small we truly are.

We begin to make our way eastward and stop in New Mexico and had some dinner with a customer / friend and his family. One great thing about making cool parts for bikes is all the great people you get to meet. We spend the evening telling stories and making new ones and get off to an early start the next morning.

Carli and I ride though more of the hot desert passing from New Mexico into Texas and stopping for the night just outside of Oklahoma City. The next morning we take a short trip into the city to spend some time at the memorial site of the Oklahoma City bombing. 2015 marked the 20 year anniversary of the tragedy that took the lives of so many people men, women and children are remembered along the street side with chain link fence plastered with photos, notes, medals, cards and other memorabilia to honor the fallen. It was a very surreal feeling standing in a place that affected an entire nation in a
single moment. Carli had never heard of the Oklahoma City bombing, so she received a bit of education on the event. The fact that she was not taught this in her local classroom hit a nerve with me. I was reminded of why we should never let the future generations fail to see what hatred in our society has done. How we tear one another down for whatever belief or reason that prompts us. A story that continues to repeat itself even in today’s America.

We have some lunch with some friends we made last year at the Blackhills Rally, Sturgis South Dakota. Told a few more stories, talked a little business and ate till our bellies were full. We made our way eastward even more stopping in central Missouri as it was getting later in the day and the weather was looking a little ruff ahead. We order in some pizza and chill out in our hotel for the evening just the two of us, being thankful as a pretty good storm was taking place outside our window.

After some breakfast the next morning we make our way into the city of St. Louis. You can’t make your way through the town without looking at the big arch in the sky. Passing it by over the years today seemed like a great day to make
a stop and really check the huge landmark out. We get some tickets to go up to the top and we had an hour or so to kill, so Carli saw the horse drawn carriages just outside the gate and she and I took saddle once again but to a different seat. We cruised around the area at a slower pace checking out the Cardinals stadium and various other cites the city had to offer. We then take aim towards the top of the arch. The view from above shows a different perspective and you can see how much industry is associated with the city. We make our way down the arch, get a quick bite to eat, and fire up the Vic once again for our final jaunt homeward.

In our last few hours I felt a good sense of accomplishment. The various cultures we were able to be exposed to. The bike ran well and there were no issues. I began to notice that every time I would give a hand signal for a lane change, Carli would also  signal, pointing out obstacles and potential hazards in the road, she was becoming a little biker herself.

The scenery now looking more and more familiar brought on a sense of sadness that tomorrow would be back to reality. Don’t get me wrong, I was looking forward to being home to my beautiful wife and newborn son, and there is no place like home. But as my daughter leaned forward and put her hands around my waist one final time, she was my little girl and I was all that she needed.  Soon it will be all about her friends and in 10 years or so she will have a boyfriend.  Before I know it she will be all grown up and out into this world on her own. The best that I can hope for is that these little moments have created memories that will last her lifetime. For me, well I am looking forward to creating the next memory.

"Crazy Horse" Custom Indian Bagger 
Story by Eric Powell
Eric is the Co-Owner of Vic Baggers.  Pictured left is the Indian VicBaggers entered in the 2014 Bikes Blues and BBQ Stokes Air Battle of the Bikes, taking first place in the Bagger Category.

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