Saturday, May 29, 2010

Run for the Wall - Day 10

Well, as expected, I did not have the time or the energy to get online at all yesterday. We had a 239 mile ride into Washington, D.C. We had breakfast at the American Legion in Roanoke beginning at 5:15 am and then we got ready to roll by 7:30 am. We had our final morning meeting, along with the ceremony of letting all the FNG's become veterans of Run for the Wall. This was our last time for a riders meeting for 2010 and we were already getting sad.

Even with that sadness, there was excitement in the air. We were within striking distance of Washington, D.C. and looking forward to the end of our 10-day odyssey. There were two fuel stops between the time we left Roanoke and got to D.C. and as we reached our last fuel stop, the riders were almost "chomping at the bit" in anticipation of heading into Washington, D.C.


Our last fuel stop was in Front Royal this year, which was a first time for me. The weather looked kind of bad, but it did not rain, despite all the dire predictions. As we were resting in Front Royal, (since the last leg into D.C. was anticipated to be grueling...) sandwiches and drinks were provide for extra energy. Boy, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches never tasted so good. I love peanut butter and jelly, but these sandwiches tasted extra special. Thanks to those that took the time to make the sandwiches to keep us all alert for our last leg in.


The final ride into Washington, D.C. was a bit exciting, but nothing we could not handle after 9 full days on the road from California. As we rolled into the parking lot across from the host hotel, we were enthusiastically greeted by the early Southern Route arrivals. Those people who got into Arlington, ahead of the main pack made sure to line the street to applaud and yell encouragement for the main body of the Southern Route. After we all parked our bikes, there was a lot of hugging and congratulating each other for a mission accomplished. Knowing that we all had different responsibilities upon reaching our destination, we made sure to exchange contact information so we could stay in touch over the year.


What I found really energizing was all the people already counting the days to Run for the Wall XXIII. The riders were sad that our official mission has been completed, but they were already looking forward to next year's mission.


After the Southern Route got checked into their respective hotels, many came back to the host hotel prior to the arrival of the Central Route riders. It was fun to see so many riders lining the street looking up the street in anticipation of the arrival of the Central Route. As their headlights finally appeared at the top of the off-ramp, the Southern Route riders began clapping and cheering excitedly. It is wonderful to finally re-combine the two Routes and have Run for the Wall one complete group once again. As the Central Route riders parked their bikes, several of the Southern Route riders went over to congratulate them too. More back slapping and hugging occurred and then more contact information was exchanged. In all, it was a very successful ride for both the Southern and Central Routes of Run for the Wall XXII.


We are glad to have completed our mission, but are sad because the time together this year is coming to a close. In the evening many riders went to the Marine Barracks, Washington at 8th & I to watch the Evening Parade. If you have never attended the Evening Parade, it is something that you really must make the time to view. Even though it rained prior to the start of the Evening Parade, the Marines determined the rain was not that bad and did not cancel the event. As they were demonstrating their skills, the skies opened up once again, but the Marines did not even miss a beat. Despite sitting out on bleachers in the rain, even the spectators did not wish to leave until the conclusion of the Evening Parade. Damp though we were, we all had a wonderful time.


Another group of riders who did not wish to go to the Marine Barracks this time were lead to the Vietnam Memorial for an evening vigil. They too got rained on, but they did enjoy the evening visit.


If you wish to read more about what occurred on Day 10 and see some pictures, please visit http://www.rftwsr-2010.us/. There will be at least two more postings tomorrow, one for the After-Action report, and then the speech by Mark Peterson from Wytheville, VA.


Until tomorrow...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Run for the Wall - Day 9

We are almost done with our mission. Tomorrow is our last day and final destination, the Vietnam War Memorial, otherwise known as, "The Wall". This is the memorial that we have all been riding towards these last 9 days. Our mission is almost complete.

Today we spent some more time in Wytheville, VA. We were treated to breakfast by the children of Spiller Elementary and then got to wander briefly around the Wytheville Museum where they have a temporary display of what Run for the Wall means to Wytheville and what Wytheville means to the Run for the Wall family. It was an awe-inspiring display in the museum. In a small area, they covered ten years worth of memories and friendship. If you have the chance within the next six months to visit Wytheville, VA, do so and make sure you take a trip to their museum. That tiny museum holds a tremendous amount of information, heck, you could probably spend a whole day there going through everything...


By 9 am the children of Spiller Elementary came down the hill to meet the riders. I am not sure who was more excited, the riders, or the children...actually...which was which? The teachers were trying to keep the children in line and get them down the hill in an orderly fashion. That order was in serious jeopardy when the riders, unable to contain themselves, briskly walked up the hill to greet the children. By then, the teachers lost control of the crowd and that is when the fun began. The children had made miniature dog tags for the riders and the riders, in return had various Run for the Wall items for the children. It was almost like Christmas in May...


After all the initial excitement, the children were lead to the front of Memorial Park for their portion of the patriotic presentation to the riders. The children sang patriotic songs for the riders, and there was not one dry eye in the house. It was a wonderful experience. If only more people taught their children these basic values, we would most likely not have all the problems in this country that we currently have. After the children's presentation, they were again allowed to mingle with the riders and some children were even placed on various motorcycles to the thrill of the child. Many pictures were taken and many more bonds were formed. It was with heavy hearts we left Wytheville to ride on towards our next series of stops.


We had a quick fuel stop, and then proceeded to Montvale Elementary for lunch with the children. If you couldn't tell, today was mostly spent with elementary school children, which is a wonderful experience for all riders. Some of the new riders were invited to sit in the children's classrooms and eat lunch with the child at their desk. The fun part about that is the size of the elementary school desks versus the size of the riders. I am always afraid that some riders may sit on the chairs and never be able to rise again... Since our numbers have grown so much, there is not enough room in all the classrooms for all the riders so veteran riders ate in the cafeteria.


After lunch we all re-assembled in the gym for the school's presentation to the Run for the Wall Riders. Again we were treated to many patriotic songs by the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth graders of Montvale Elementary. As if that were not enough to really tug at the heart-strings, there was a slide presentation to the tune of Toby Keith's "American Soldier". If you didn't cry during the children singing, this presentation definitely sent you over the edge. Again, this is a very special experience, and very difficult to adequately describe here. You truly have to be there to understand.


After Montvale, the riders climbed on their bikes and went to visit the D-Day Memorial in Bedford, VA. This is an awe-inspiring sight and another MUST SEE if you are anywhere near the area. By now, we are emotionally spent, and looking forward to our last stop, the Salem, VA Medical Center for dinner and a brief visit with the residents. Then, it was off to our various hotels for some serious rest. Tomorrow will also be emotionally tough, we finally reach our mission destination, Washington, D.C. and the Vietnam Wall. There is excitement in the air, and everyone is having a bit of trouble calming down enough to rest for tomorrow.


If you want to read more specifics on what we did today, please visit http://www.rftwsr-2010.us/ or www.rftw.org/index.asp?lg=1pages&r=22&pid=116 and scroll down to the bottom of the page for the most current report.


Until tomorrow...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Run for the Wall - Day 8

Wow, it is already Day 8 of a 10 day trip across the country. Where did the time go? This is super scary, I have been on a motorcycle for 8 days now and am wondering where the days went? Hmmm, too much time in the saddle?

Today was again a beautiful day. Last night, after I finished posting, I walked outside for a little fresh air before heading off to bed. There had been storm clouds gathering in the horizon, and I was also interested in seeing how close they had come. Well, as I looked up, I saw the clouds were much closer, but they had actually formed a semi-circle around where we were all staying for the night. I don't know if I have mentioned my theory of the "Happy Bubble", but this was one instance where it really looked like the "Happy Bubble" was working. It looked like the clouds just circled the area we were in, but no rain fell at night.


The day dawned clear and cool, a welcome relief from the heat we had been traveling through. Actually, after we left the Harley dealership, we rolled through a fog bank that was very chilly. It was almost time to stop and put on warmer clothes. Again, it was such a welcome change from the humid heat we had been dealing with.


Before we left the Harley Dealership, the Run for the Wall participants were able to have a wreath laying ceremony in the old Confederate Cemetery adjacent to the Harley shop. This cemetery is quite old, and up until this year, had been falling into disrepair. The funds for the repairs to the cemetery are completely private, so things had been tight for some time. Because the cemetery was declining, last year the riders were not permitted to tromp through this piece of history. This year though, the local community was able to raise enough money to stabilize more of the cemetery and allowed the Run for the Wall riders to wander around these hallowed grounds. There are 155 soldiers buried in this cemetery, but they were not killed in that specific location. Apparently, these people came from the various hospitals in the area. Since the cemetery is so old, records were lost, may have become unreadable, or may not ever have been kept. It has been a challenge for the local groups to try to identify the soldiers buried here and to learn where these warriors were from.


Finding the lost and killed in action is near and dear to Run for the Wall participants, so visiting this cemetery is very fitting. We celebrate every time one more has been identified, and we are even gratified to discover that the local community was even able to place grave markers on the identified graves. We are coming closer to identifying the missing in action from the Civil War, and then notifying the family where there loved one was placed to rest.


After the wreath laying ceremony, we rode to the TA Truck Stop in Knoxville, TN for some much enjoyed donuts and coffee. After that we went to Davey Crockett Truck Stop in Baileyton, TN for a very quick gas and go. Our real objective was to get to Black Wolf Harley-Davidson where lunch was waiting for us. The Harley shop is gracious enough to feed the road weary travelers and help us stay energized along our way to Washington, D.C.


After much anticipation, we finally arrived in one of our most special towns, Wytheville, VA. This town opens their hearts and homes to us every year we come through. This year is particulary special because Wytheville is celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Run for the Wall stopping by. We have been forewarned that tomorrow morning ceremonies are something not to miss.


In light of that, I am closing this blog so that I can get some much needed rest and can enjoy the morning's ceremonies too. If you want to read more about what happened today on the Run, please feel free to visit http://www.rftwsr-2o1o.us/.


Until tomorrow...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Run for the Wall - Day 7

Now that I am caught up, it is midnight and I have yet to get some sleep. 4:30 comes very quickly, so this segment will be brief. If you would like to read a full accounting of what happened today, please see www.rftwsr-2010.us. We have the full "Sit Reps" posted there along with pictures and some commentary.

Today we started in Meridian, Mississippi with a great breakfast provided by the wonderful citizens of Meridian. There were tables upon tables of baked muffins, breads, coffee, juice, SWEET TEA (I LOVE Sweet Tea) and water. Being polite, we took just one or two muffins, but the residents of Meridian kept pushing more and more muffins on us. I am starting to wonder if all the people at all the stops think we are underfed. They do such a great job of feeding us, pretty soon we are not going to be able to get back on our motorcycles. We will need cranes to lift our over-filled bellies onto our motorcycles so that we can ride off into the sunset (or in this current case, we are riding away from the Sunset - east...). Of course I am a major sucker for baked muffins, so I ate too much...again... but it is so wonderful, you can't help yourself...

Today was a relatively long day of riding, 322 miles so we don't have too much stopping to do. After Meridian, we rode to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to visit the VA Center/Hospital there. This is one of the few places that strive to serve all of us a balanced and healthy lunch. After lunch, we were able to wander around and visit with some of the people at the medical center and thank them for what they have sacrificed for our freedoms. It is touching to see these veterans here, on the mend. Some of the older residents do have stories to tell. Unfortunately, we cannot stay to spend a lot of time, so sadly we leave the VA Center to head off to another fun city, Ashville, AL.

We stop at the Piggley-Wiggley (I love the name of this chain of grocery stores..) and got to meet the mascot, Piggley-Wiggley. The residents of Ashville provided the tastiest hot dogs I have had in years. Actually, it is the best hot dog I have had in a year...I at hot dogs there last year too...

Anyway, after eating yet again (our mid-afternoon snack...) we then climbed back on the bikes to go to Chattanooga, TN for our evening stop. There we were treated to....DINNER... do you get the idea that we travel on our stomachs? It's true, we do... While dinner is being served we watched some more ceremonies (you can go to www.rftwsr-2010.us for the specifics) and then it is off to bed for everyone except me... Here I am typing away... and now it is time for me to hit the sack too. Tomorrow I will type a little better...

Until tomorrow...

Run for the Wall - Day 6

I didn't post Day 6 yesterday when it happened because I was so tired by the end of the day that I fell asleep before I could even turn on the computer.

Day 6 may not have been a whole lot of miles, but it was hot, and the riding was stressful. We had a semi-truck get a flat tire while driving past our platoon, and as the truck rolled by me, I was eye-to-eye with a flapping truck tire. That is a scary experience when in a car, it is so much more frightening when on a motorcycle. Luckily, the truck driver realized very quickly he had a flat, and managed to get off the highway before the whole tire tread (which was flapping dangerously close to us) flung off the rim. Those treads are very heavy, and if it came flying off, it could very easily have seriously injured at least one rider. We were very blessed to only be pelted with small pieces of rubber from the sidewalls and bits of tire belting.


I am not normally a superstitious person, but prior to the run, some of us were blessed enough to receive small ceramic tokens made by a Nun in Oregon. This Nun made them and prayed over them for our safe travels. I would like to believe that that token, along with the regular blessings of the bikes that we receive at several stops kept us from serious harm. All the prayers were put to the test when that tire blew...


The big event for us was the visit to Jackson, Mississippi. We spend almost 5 hours at the Jackson Harley-Davidson dealership there because the owner, Earl, makes sure there is more than enough for us to see. Of significant note is his "Trail of Honor - A Tribute to American Veterans". The "Trail of Honor" is created only for three days, and Earl makes sure it is there for Run for the Wall. The "Trail of Honor" is a walk through the forest behind the Harley dealership and it includes representatives and replicas of all wars that the United States has been involved with, up to and including the War on Terror. What is really neat about this Trail of Honor is that there are period re-enactors at each station, with implements from that period of time. All you have to do is to stop and begin asking questions. The people at each of the spots are extremely knowledgeable about the period that they are in. It is a wonderful course in American History. I could easily spend all day walking around the trail asking all kinds of questions and still not get enough.


If you ever have the opportunity to visit Jackson Harley-Davidson right before Memorial Day, try to come by when Earl has the Trail of Honor open for all to see. It is an awe-inspiring sight and an awesome education. I wish that we could spend more time there visiting, but we still have so many miles to cover, we can't stay too long in Jackson, Mississippi. Each year, Earl makes an effort to out-do what he has done in prior years. It is awe inspiring to see how he consistently improves the experience for everyone visiting his dealership.


If you would like more information and pictures on the Southern Route Run for the Wall, please visit http://www.rftwsr-2010.us/.


Until tomorrow...


Back to the Day 6, today we

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Run for the Wall - Day 5

Well, we are now officially half the way completed with Run for the Wall. We completed Day 5 of a 10 day trip across the country. It is amazing, we wait for a year for this event, and in the blink of an eye, we are already half-way done. Where did the time go? This is when you want to slow down time and try to enjoy more of those moments in time. The last 4 days are already starting to get blurry for me. If I didn't have the daily reports to refer back to, I would not remember which day we did stuff in.

Today we left Weatherford, TX under wonderfully cloudy skies. For those of you that are outdoors enough, you know that a warm day is much nicer when there are clouds in the sky. It doesn't get as hot as it could. At is was, I am learning how much I forgot what humidity feels like. I have lived in Arizona for almost 8 years and very easily adapted to the single digit humidity. Out here in Texas, it is HUMID. My clothes are sticking to me...yuch... Makes me really appreciate where I live... That is not to say I don't like Texas, I love the green grass, green trees, pretty much anything green. What I don't care for is the clothes sticking to you. The wonderful people here in Texas and Louisiana more than make up for the uncomfortable humidity though.

From Weatherford, TX we went to Terrell, Texas where we picked up a ton of riders. Actually, I don't know for a fact they were a "ton", but there were quite a few riders waiting for us when we got there. These riders traditionally meet us here in Terrell and then either ride the rest of the way to Washington, D.C. with us or turn back before Monroe. Terrell had another wonderful welcome for the Run for the Wall riders. We had all kinds of home made snacks, fresh fruit, drinks, water, munchies, etc. It seemed like the whole town of Terrell turned out to wish the riders well also. After gassing and munching and participating in a brief awards ceremony, it was off to Longview, TX for our lunch stop.

In Longview, we got to meet some of our old friends. It is so much fun for me to go to a city once a year and have people remember me from the prior year. Not only do they remember, but they end up giving you a bone-crunching hug too. This is the best therapy anybody can receive. The emotions are not held back, it is OK to be happy, it is OK to hug people when you are glad to see them, it is even OK to cry during speeches and some songs. Everyone on the run is going through similar types of emotions. That is what makes this run so healing for everybody. It is OK to show your emotions, you are among family, and that family wants to help and support you. You are not alone either emotionally or physically when you are on Run for the Wall. People respect your space, but they are right there when you need them the most. Can you imagine how much nicer the world would be if we all treated each other like this ALL the time?

We were well fed in Longview, TX and had time to visit with friends before we had to climb back on the motorcycles and head for a quick gas-and-go in Minden, LA. After two and a half days we finally got out of Texas. Not that I don't like Texas, but as you are riding your motorcycle along the highway, you wonder if you are ever going to leave the state.

After Minden, LA we headed for our much anticipated evening and dinner stop in Monroe, LA. I love coming here, it is the first time I can really fill my belly up with good southern style cooking. My mother is from Louisiana, and I really miss her cooking. I make up for all that, when we come to Monroe. I make sure to get some home made gumbo, rice and beans, pecan pie, fried catfish, fried fish, hush puppies...(one of these days I may tell you the origins of the 'hush puppies') and then tables upon tables of other desserts... I even got to get a huge cup of my favorite, Sweet Tea. It seems the South is the only place that can make Sweet Tea. Once you leave Texas and head west, the western version of sweet tea is to get regular tea and pour sugar in it. That is NOT how sweet tea works. I don't quite know how they make the tea taste so good, but boy, is it great. You can easily get addicted to Sweet Tea.

After we all gorged ourselves on some real down-home Louisiana cooking we were treated to an awards ceremony and then some singing by this absolutely amazing 9-year old girl. The way she sang the Star Spangled Banner, with such feeling and meaning, it really made you cry. I don't think there was a dry eye in the house when she finished singing. After that, she sang Amazing Grace, and for those guys that didn't cry during the National Anthem, they went over the edge for Amazing Grace. This young woman had an amazing stage presence and acted more mature than many adults I know.... If she continues her singing career, she will go very far.

After dinner, the riders, now completely stuffed to the gills, tried to climb back onto their bikes (some of us had our bellies so big, only the belly got on the bike, the rest of the body couldn't quite get up in the saddle...) and head off to our respective hotel rooms for some well-earned rest. Tomorrow is going to be an amazing day, we head to Jackson, Mississippi, and you know that Earl of Jackson Harley-Davidson will have something very special for us there.

If you want to read specific information on our ride, please go to www.rftwsr-2010.us . Our daily "Sit Reps" and pictures are located there.

Until tomorrow...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Run for the Wall - Day 4

Today started out nice and cool, but still very breezy. As the day warmed up, it got windier. For those of you that usually drive cars, windy days merely mean that when you exit your car, your hair gets blown around. On a motorcycle, a windy day takes on a whole new meaning. Strong winds feel like someone is whacking you all over your body. Your head gets bounced around, your body gets pummeled and you have problems holding onto the bike and not drifting into another traffic lane in a strong cross-wind. Today was one of THOSE days. I am really tired and feel like I had a good work-out.


Today we started the day by visiting the Permian Basin Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Odessa, Texas. Actually, we started the day with a great breakfast at the American Legion Earl S. Bailey Post 430. Our bellies were quite full when we hopped on our bikes to go the 15 miles to the Permian Basin Memorial. There we were greeted by some of the founding people of this Memorial. There were several heart-wrenching stories told about sacrafices the mothers made when their sons chose to join the military and did not return home. There were not many dry eyes after one mother told her story of losing one son, and then having her other son choose to join the military also. It is a tale that many have heard and dealt with before, but it still is heart-wrenching. The Wreath Laying Ceremony was wonderful to watch, and it was great to see how this Memorial is growing up. When we first visited it years ago, there was the basic monument and helicopter out there. Each year we come and find more has been added, this is a magnificent monument and is a "Must See" for anyone visiting the Odessa, Texas area.


We then went on to Big Spring, Texas to view another Veteran's Memorial and lay a wreath there. The pictures today are from the Big Spring Veteran's Memorial. This is another place that, if you are in the area, is a wonderful and breath-taking place to visit. After Big Spring, we rode to one of our favorite lunch stops in Colorado City.


In years past, we used to visit the Colorado City Middle school there, but as our group has gotten larger, we have moved our visit to the Railhead Building in Historic Colorado City. This is a really neat building, and the streets surrounding it are just barely large enough to hold all of the motorcycles that love to come and visit. I would also like to point out that the children that come to feed the riders and put on a presentation for the riders are coming in on their day off, a Saturday. When we are on the run, we sometimes forget what day it is, these children feel it is so important to visit with the veterans, that they are willing to give up one of their Saturdays to be with us. The presentation this year was even better than last year, and we thought that last year's presentation by the children was awesome. This year, many of us couldn't stop tearing up as the children talked with the veterans and stood in front of over 300 of us to give their presentation, "Walk of Heros". Their music by their Jazz band was awesome, they had singer and song-writer Elliott Park come and sing two of the songs he personally wrote related to veterans and heck, I had trouble not balling my eyes out...


After a wonderful lunch put on by many of the community of Colorado City, we carefully (because our bellies were again stuffed past capacity) got on our bikes and headed out to the afternoon fuel stop in Cisco, TX. We quickly fueled and then got back on the bikes to head to our evening stop in Weatherford, TX. There we were able to meet some of our dear friends of the American Legion Post 163. I got to meet one of my many "boy friends", Chuck Katlic, who is a veteran of World War II and a survivor of the Battle of the Bulge. Chuck received a Bronze Star for Valor in Combat from that fight. Chuck serves not only as Chaplain of the Post, but is actively teaching the local children about veterans and is seen throughout the community helping the children place flags at the Veterans' Cemetary on a regular basis. Chuck assures me that our Country will survive in spite of itself. He is a wonderful man to talk with and I miss being able to spend more time with him.


After we gorged ourselves yet again on the wonderful dinner put on by the Post, we all headed off to our respective hotel rooms to get some much needed rest in anticipation of Day 5 of Run for the Wall.


If you want to read more about the Southern Route trips, please visit the Sit Reps or go to http://www.rftwsr-2010.us/.


Until tomorrow...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Run for the Wall - Day 3

It is amazing how tired you are after 2 long days of riding. Day 1 was 330 miles long, Day 2 was 400 miles and today was 341 miles. We have completed 1,071 miles in three days. Pretty good when you are moving over 300 people at the time... This morning dawned bright and a little cool, but we knew that the cool air would not last very long. The sky was clear, and the sun was hot and bright.

We ate a great breakfast at the VFW Post in the morning and had our morning briefing. We sang a belated "Happy Birthday" to "Baron" and embarrassed the daylights out of him. That was a lot of fun... After the morning briefing we were lead by police escort to the Las Cruces Veterans Memorial Park for a Wreath Laying Ceremony. It may seem like we attend a lot of ceremonies during our run across country, but these ceremonies don't take long and are very much needed for our veterans. The veterans are finally receiving the respect and appreciation they should have been given when they came back from fighting in Vietnam. We also got to visit with some World War II veterans at Las Cruces. Talking to these veterans is better than reading any history book. These veterans saw what was going on, and can provide you with a first-hand accounting of what they saw along with what they felt. You cannot get that kind of emotion from any book or audio tape, you need to be able to look into the eyes of a veteran and listen to them talk. Then, most importantly, you need to thank them for their service to our country. If it was not for them, we would not have the freedoms we have today.

After the Wreath Laying Ceremony in Las Cruces, NM, we all climbed (some of us creaked) onto our motorcycles and began the next leg of our trip to Clint, Texas. There we had a quick fuel stop (donated by some wonderful people) and then we were back on the road heading to Van Horn, TX where we had a great lunch provided by the New Life Restoration Center of El Paso, Texas. Again, we got back on the motorcycles and rode off to Pecos, TX for another donated fuel stop. We had to wait in Pecos a little extra time to watch an especially bad storm pass. Once the worst part of the storm moved across the highway, we all climbed back onto our motorcycles and rode between storm cells into Odessa, TX where a wonderful catfish and all the "fixin's" dinner was served. The "fixin's" included fried chicken, hush puppies (they were AWESOME and made just right), cole slaw, beans and french fries. That was topped off with delicious cake and home made ice cream. I had a very hard time climbing back onto my bike to head off to our evening hotel (my belly got in the way...).

I would like to note that our Platoon (Platoon 6) had our very own Police Escort today through El Paso, TX. It is really cool to have the police riding motorcycles with their lights flashing, keeping cars away from us. It made us feel really safe and very special.

The weather was very good all day, except after the afternoon fuel stop. We had some bad rain cross the highway, which we missed, but the 4-wheeler Platoon, which was held up waiting for one of theirs to get two new axles, had to play dodge-em with a tornado. Apparently the tornado touched down near them, then a massive lightning strike hit a commercial building and set it on fire. I am very glad the other motorcyclists were not there to witness that, it would have been a very frightening experience.

Tomorrow I will post some pictures from the run, tonight my camera is still on the motorcycle and I don't want to go out in this horrible wind and dust just to retrieve the camera.

If you would like to view the detailed Sit Reps for the Southern Route, click here, if you would like to view both the Central and Southern Sit Reps, then go to www.rftw.org and click on Sit Reps and then choose which route's Sit Reps you would like to read.

Until tomorrow...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Run for the Wall - Day 2

Today when we got up, it was not hot. That is a statement that when made in the Phoenix, Arizona area this time of year would get a whole lot of eyebrows raised. It was actually a tad chilly this morning. Usually, around this time of year, at 5:30 in the morning, the temperatures are in the upper 80's already. It had to be in the low 70's when we started out for staging this morning.

Today was a long day, a total of 400 miles, and we were not sure how hot it was going to get. The weather was reporting close to 100 degrees today, but you never know for sure until you actually get going. Also, going 400 miles with now over 300 of your closest friends on motorcycles, can get to be stressful. For us, thankfully, the leadership of Run for the Wall made every effort again this year to ease our stress of travels. We had police escort in California yesterday, and police escort in Arizona today. It is really nice to have police escorts, they help keep the cars out of the motorcycle pack (and with 300+ riders, that is critical). We are sorry to have caused any people trying to drive to work additional strain, but we only do this once a year and we try to be as considerate as possible, by getting out of town as quickly as possible.

After our breakfast and morning travel, we ended up in Marana, AZ (about 35 miles north of Tucson) for a brief fueling of motorcycles and more hydration. We cannot emphasise enough how important it is to drink enough water during these next few days through the heat of the desert. At each stop we all make sure the other riders are drinking enough water to get them to the next stop. It is so easy to dehydrate and get heat exhaustion, even though today, it was not very hot (probably in the mid- to upper 90's) by Arizona standards. After Marana, we went to one of our favorite lunch stops, Willcox, AZ.

We were again greeted by the Willcox Police Department (not in a bad way, they came to guide us into their town) and we had an excellent lunch at the Elks Lodge. After meeting and eating lunch with our friends in Willcox, we got back on the bikes again and headed off to Savoy, NM.

In Savoy, the truck stop we usually stop at was having a grand opening. Instead of having us go elsewhere, the wonderful people at the Savoy truck stop not only provided us use of all their pumps for about 30 minutes, but also provided the riders free drinks. We were eternally grateful because it was starting to finally get warm on the road. In too short a time, we had to get back on our bikes for our next eagerly anticipated stop, Las Cruces, NM.

We stopped at Barnett's Harley-Davidson in Las Cruces, NM, and even before we got to the off-ramp, we saw the huge United States Flag hanging from the Fire Department's Ladder truck. It was truly a sight to behold. The owner of the Pic Quick gas station donated fuel for all the riders (which is totally awesome!!!) and then we rode towards Barnett's Harley-Davidson. Before we could even pull into their driveway, you could smell the food they were cooking for the riders. We were greeted by the National Guard and were entertained by some wonderful performers. Now that we lost an hour (going from Pacific Standard Time to Mountain Standard time) the riders were really pooped and all wandered off to their respective hotels for some well earned rest.

Until tomorrow...

Run for the Wall Update

Well, it has been two days since I posted anything on Blogger, mainly because me and the computer were in two different locations. I am now back in the saddle again and should be able to post regularly again. If you do not see a post, please be patient. Some of these trips are a bit wearing, and I may fall asleep before I get much typed.

Currently I am traveling across this wonderful country of ours on a motorcycle. I am participating in an annual event called Run for the Wall. For the next several days, I will be updating you on our progress across the country, and will describe to you some of the wonderful things we see and experience.


This last Tuesday evening, in anticipation of the beginning of the Run for the Wall leaving Rancho Cucamonga, California, we were treated to a wonderful dinner and got to meet two Medal of Honor Recipients, John Baca, US Army and Richard Pittman, USMC. It is really an honor to be able to meet one Medal of Honor Recipient, meeting two in on location is a very great experience. Both of these men were very humble and wished the riders well and safe journeys on their way to the "Wall".


Wednesday morning dawned without rain or major fog (for a change). We all staged at the Victoria Gardens Mall in Rancho Cucamonga in preparation for our trip to Washington D.C. At this staging, we had both routes (Central and Southern) and we got to greet each other and wish each route a safe journey. We said tearful goodbyes to our friends, and are looking forward to joining up with them again in Washington, D.C.. For those of you wondering, Central Route basically takes I-40 across the country to D.C. and the Southern Route takes I-10 / I-20 to D.C. We have friends that alternate which route they take since we all end up at the same ending point at the same time.


After we organized and staged in Rancho Cucamonga, the Central Route headed out first on their journey, and the Southern Route left about 10 minutes after that. The overcast skies started clearing as we neared Palm Springs, CA. By the time we got to Coachella, CA, the weather was beautiful, not too hot, and not too cold. Actually, it was pretty warm in the sun, but not nearly as hot as it has been or prior years' runs. At Coachella, we had our first 2010 Southern Route riders meeting and got introduced to all the leadership element. We then headed off to our lunch stop in Blythe, California.


In Blythe, it looks like the whole town stops what they are doing and comes out to greet the 250+ riders rolling through their town. As we ride through the streets, people are leaning out the store entrances waving flags, many are lining the streets waving and clapping for the riders and veterans. This is the first official "Welcome Home" that the Run for the Wall riders receive. This may be the first welcome home, but it will not be their last. Lunch was provided by the organizations of Blythe and it was a wonderful and filling meal. The children of Blythe sang for the riders and we had several presentations while everyone was resting and eating.


Tonopah, Arizona was our next stop. There we basically stopped to fill up our motorcycles and to drink more water. While riding through the desert, it is critical that everyone drink large amounts of water. You dehydrate very quickly when riding a motorcycle in the heat. Our evening stop was in Tolleson, AZ, where dinner was again provided. By now, the riders were very tired and basically ate and wandered off to their respective hotel rooms to rest up for the next day.


We are currently on the Southern Route and will be providing updates to you regarding that route. If you are interested in reading more about Run for the Wall, go to http://www.rftw.org/. For the Central route's reports, you can click on the word "Sit Reps" on the left hand side and choose Central Route 2010 for their updated reports. If you want to follow the daily Situation Reports (Sit Reps) along with pictures on the Southern Route, you can go to http://www.rftwsr-2010.us/ . The pictures are usually updated nightly, after we have completed the day of riding.


Until tomorrow...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Run for the Wall - Pre-Trip

Today was our first full day spent with our Run for the Wall Family. It was a great day in Rancho Cucomonga, CA, not just because of the weather, but due to the fact we were able to catch up with so many of our family. Because we are scattered all over the United States, we do not always get to stay in touch with each other. At least once a year we have the opportunity to get together with most of our "family" and spend some quality time.

For those of you not familiar with Run for the Wall, it is an annual motorcycle event that starts in Los Angeles County and takes 10 days to get to Washington, D.C., ending at the Vietnam War Memorial ("The Wall"). People can join the group at specific stops along the way, so nobody is required to start in California and go all the way to Washington, D.C.. "Run for the Wall recognizes the sacrifices and contributions made by all veterans who have served our nation. Veterans of recent conflicts and those currently on active duty are especially welcome to join us as we ride for those who cannot."


The mission statement for Run for the Wall is as follows: "To promote healing among ALL veterans and their families and friends, to call for an accounting of all Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action (POW/MIA), to honor the memory of those Killed in Action (KIA) from all wars, and to support our military personnel all over the world." Run for the Wall strives to maintain a save, supportive and private atmosphere in which all participants can reflect and heal on their journey to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. in the hope that they can return home to a new beginning.


I have been participating in Run for the Wall since 2005. At the time, I had been looking for something to do for my vacation, and was talking to a co-worker and good friend about possibly attending this event. As it turns out, he was a Vietnam Veteran and wanted me to go to the "Wall" to visit on behalf of some of those he had known and lost in the War. I chose to take the trip on behalf of my friend, who could not go. The first morning that I appeared to attend (I picked up the group in Phoenix, AZ), if it had not been for the wonderful people at registration, I would have been so overwhelmed, that I may have chickened out and found something else to do for vacation.


As it was, the people that registered me, made sure I knew where to go and who to look for. They made sure I was taken care of and assigned a place to stage my motorcycle in anticipation of leaving by 8 am. For someone who had never been in a motorcycle group of more than 50, it was scary being in a group of over 200. There were other new riders joining in Phoenix, there were people called Platoon Leaders who lead groups of us towards Washington, D.C.. There were also Road Guards who were essentially responsible for keeping us safe on the road and helping advise us on better riding techniques. Honestly, the Road Guards scared the daylights out of me. These people were seriously good riders, very intense and not afraid to tell you what you need to do to improve. They were never rude, or mean, and wanted to help. They just scared you when they would zoom up beside you (while you are riding down the road) to tell you that you need to straighten up. You end up wanting to ride like they do, and I worked very hard to make sure they had nothing bad to say about my riding.


After the first 100 miles, I started not being so tense, the death-grip on my handlebars started to lighten up and my heart started pumping at a more normal rate. After lunch (about 200 miles now) I really started getting into the swing of the ride. What was really impressive was the fuel stops. They had a system down that they could gas up over 200 motorcycles in less than 30 minutes. That is a sight to behold. Everything they did was on a schedule. There were people assigned specific tasks, people assigned to point us all in the direction we were supposed to go, people to direct us to snacks, people making sure we drank enough water (especially important as we rode across the desert) and people just moving around making sure you were safe.


After I completed that trip in 2005, I knew that this was an event that I must attend every year. The friendships that were formed, seemed so much stronger than any other friendships that I have had in the past. In less than 10 days, I went knowing only 2 people on the Run, to now riding with over 400 of my closest friends. What is really fun is that every year since, I meed up with my first 200 of my closest friends, and then find several hundred more as the Run progresses to Washington, D.C..


If you ever have the opportunity to even do one leg of Run for the Wall, it would be an unforgettable experience. If you would like more information on Run for the Wall, their website is http://www.rftw.org/, or you can e-mail me at hawgwash1@yahoo.com. It is now time for me to get off the computer and get back to catching up with my "family".


Until tomorrow...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Adventures in Dog Grooming - Toenail Grinders

Well, it is another month and I had to groom the dogs yet again. One of these days I may learn and not get dogs that have hair that will grow forever. Just like people, Yorke's do not have fur that grows to a certain length and stops. No, they have hair that will grow, and grow, and grow.

Since they are dogs, and you can't very easily pull their hair back into one ponytail, you either let the hair grow and have the ritual combing several times a day, or you are like me, you cut their hair short. Part of the reason I keep their hair short is that they play so much, their hair tangles like there is no tomorrow. Also, when they go outside to play, well, if the hair is remotely long, everything that is not glued to the ground, ends up getting caught in their hair. Lastly, in Arizona, it gets hot this time of year, and if you don't like running around with long hair, how do you think the dogs feel?

Anyway, since I have been grooming the dogs for a year now, you would think I have the hang of it....NOT!!! Each time I get the grooming shears out, it is time for new experiences. It also really depends on the mood of the dogs at the time too. Like people, they do get cranky, or fidgety, or are just a plain pain in the butt... I have gotten used to the little guy being all wiggly, but he has now started a new trick, nipping at me or the clippers. He doesn't hurt when he nips, but I am positive that one of these times he is going to lose a piece of his nose or his tongue. The clippers aren't too bad, you really have to work to get cut with them, but when I am using those super sharp scissors...watch out. I can picture a piece of tongue just flapping around on the table if I am not very careful. As it is, I routinely nick myself when using the scissors. You would think that if you had your hand on the back of the scissors, and the other holding a hank of hair, that you wouldn't manage to cut yourself, but I do it...

Today, along with the "normal" adventures in dog grooming, I tried to trim the dogs nails. I have tried to trim their nails on several occasions in the past, but have had the excuse that the tools I had were not sufficient to do the job. Well, I asked a groomer what they used to trim nails. Most of the vets I have seen and some groomers use grinders to grind the dogs nails down. They say it is safer than using clippers, you tend to not cut into the quick of the dogs nail, and you won't crush the nail if the clippers are not sharp enough. I can use a grinder, I use a small grinder when doing some detail work in stone. How hard can it be to use a grinder on a dog's toenails? I have watched vets do it several times, it looks EASY....

HA!!! Let me tell you, grinding a dog's toenails is no walk in the park. Depending on the type of grinder you have, the experience can be daunting. I started with a battery powered grinder, it was given to me by a person who said it didn't work on big dog nails, but would surely work on the little Yorkie toe nails....NOT!!! I put fresh batteries in the grinder, got fresh sand paper for the grinder, and applied spinning grinder to dogs toenail. The grinder stopped. It didn't have the power to spin against the dog nail. Also factor in that the grinder made a funny noise which freaked out the dog. So, you have a wiggling dog who doesn't like the sound of the grinder, you have a newbie at the grinder, and then you have a grinder that won't grind... GREAT!!

Then I used my electric miniature grinder. This thing sets up one heck of a racket, so I ran it a bit while the dogs were around so they wouldn't freak too much when I tried to use it on them. OK, we are getting somewhere, the dogs didn't get too twitchy with the grinder, so up on the table one goes, I grab a foot, I grab the grinder, and.... foot won't come near grinder. We are talking about a 6 pound dog that has the pulling power of a MAC Truck. I did not expect so much pull from such a little package. Well, I readjusted my grip on the dog, grabbed the offending foot, and then tried to put toenail and grinder together. Next problem, dog tries to nip grinder. Not good for dog's nose...really not good for dog's nose...

OK, readjust once more, put dog in headlock, grab foot, grab grinder, apply grinder to foot. Once grinder touches to, foot twitches so bad, I can't keep the grinder against the toe. I now start grinding the top of my hand. Not what you want to do... but don't want the dog getting the upper hand, so I readjust once again, apply grinder to toenail and...another massive series of twitches, flinches, wiggles. The dog's head comes out of the headlock, starts nipping at the grinder, my hand is shaking so bad, I hit my fingers with the grinder and now I start tangling the dog's foot hair in the grinder (didn't pull anything or get it hopelessly tangled, but it was close).

Time to call in the reinforcements. Steve takes one attempt at trying to now hold a frantic 6-pound dog and says, what do I think I am doing? So, the best thing I did was to call our groomer and take the dogs over to her for their toenail trim. Walla...no more mangled fingers. What took me a half an hour to grind one toenail a little bit, it took her almost 5 minutes to get both dog's toenails down to the proper size.

All right, I am not ever going to be a good groomer. The only reason I picked up grooming our dogs was when we are on the road for longer than a month, I don't want to take them to just anyone to groom them. I have seen some pretty bad grooming jobs, and have heard of occasions where the dogs did get injured from mishandling by a groomer. I can cut our dog's hair, tolerably well and will stick to that when we are on the road. It is nice to be able to touch-up the dog's cut when the mood strikes, but it is SOOOOO nice to have a professional groomer take over the hard stuff. When we get back in town, I am going to give myself a major treat and have the dogs groomed all over by the groomer, not me... My version of a day at the spa...

Until tomorrow...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Basics of a Business Plan - Continued

Last night we introduced some of the basic components of a general business plan. To recap, in order for you to be able to grow and develop your business, it is best to develop a basic business plan. This business plan will become your road map towards your success. The key components we have covered so far are your goals and objectives for the new business, market opportunity, and products. Your business plan will ultimately outline your goals and expectations for your home based business. Tonight, as promised we are going to briefly cover the remaining aspects of a business plan.

Marketing your new home based business is critical. You may decide to go into a business venture, but if you don't tell anybody about it, who would know to come to you to purchase your product or service? In several prior blogs, we covered different types of marketing of your business. What you want to do in your business plan is to note which ones you believe will work best for the business opportunity you have chosen to get involved with. You cannot make money if you do not have some form of a marketing plan sketched out. Our initial marketing plan was to go to as many motorcycle rallies as possible (preferably one every weekend), set up a booth and let people see that we were in business and demonstrate our Waterless Technology products for them. If they showed an interest in the business opportunity, we would exchange contact information and follow up after the show. If they were just interested in the product, we made sure to have enough product on hand at each event to sell to people. We also made sure that every piece of literature and bottle of product that went out had our contact information on it. This way, when the customers wanted to purchase more product, all they had to do was to look at the bottle, find our contact information and call us to reorder.

This is a simple and relatively low-cost marketing plan, but has been very effective. We have since expanded our marketing plan, but our initial plan was just to go out and do as many shows as possible, with as much face time with the customer as possible.

Another item you need to include in your business plan is where are you going to conduct your business? We are assume a home based business is out of the home, OK, where in your home are you going to create that home office? This is a legitimate question, especially if your home does not have a lot of extra space. You need to dedicate a specific area for your business. You may ultimately want to start in a room out of your home, but want to grow into an office outside of the home. If that is a goal, be sure to include it in your plan. This provides you something to work for and measure your success against. Like the other items you record in your business plan, be specific. What equipment are you going to need to conduct your business? Do you need a computer? Is the computer you may have going to work for you? What types of office supplies are you going to need? Are you going to need an area to store product? If so, how large an area are you able to dedicate to product?

Then, as you are working on those questions, the finance question comes up. How much product do you plan on keeping physically in your home office? How much product do you need to get your business started? You need to identify the initial financial start up costs for your business. You may be surprised how much it costs even to get a basic office set up in your home. Write down in your business plan how much you expect to spend to get started in your business. Be sure to include any start-up fees for the business opportunity, any initial inventory costs, any additional office equipment you may need (new computer, desk, etc.), are there any additional Internet costs that will be incurred, do you need a dedicated phone line? Several of these questions may not be necessary, but it pays to look at all aspects, so when you do start moving forward on your business opportunity, you are aware of the expected cash outlay. It is always best to anticipate the first expenditures in the business.

Then the logical transition from how much it will cost to start your business is, "when will I start making money to recover these costs?" This is the beginning of your budget. You have estimated your cash outlay, now you need to realistically estimate when you expect to see cash coming back in from your sales. If you are starting up in a new business opportunity, do not believe someone who tells you that you will make several thousand dollars the first month you are in business. It may happen, but it does not necessarily happen that often. Again, do your research. You already found out who is in the market, find out how long it took them to earn a significant income. Also find out how much time they dedicated to this business opportunity in order to make that significant income. That question can be your make-or -break decision. Realistically, when you start up a new home based business, it will consume a fairly large portion of your time. It is better to assume the worse, than to assume that you can put in an hour a day and make thousands in the month. That may occur down the road, but is highly unlikely in the first few months you are in business.

Build your income budget over a 12 month period so you have a virtual measuring stick. Be realistic in your income budget, but still, build it the way you would like to see your income grow. Then, once you have your income down, be sure to also track how many hours of work will be initially required to get to that income level. Some of those hours may not be realistic for your personal lifestyle. See if you can adjust to suit your needs. If you cannot get the income and the hours to work well for you, then perhaps this may not be the right opportunity for you. It is good to discover that now, instead of paying out all that money to get started and then discover that you do not have the time to dedicate to the business opportunity to earn the income you want.

After you have finished your budgeting process for a 12 month period, you have finished the basic business plan. Put it down for a day or so, and then re-read it. You may find that there are things that you wish to change or modify. Once you get the basic plan in a form and content that you are pleased with, have a friend or two review it for reasonableness. Keep an open mind when they provide input, you may not like their answers, but remember, you asked for their opinion. You may not choose to take their opinion, but, at least you now have been introduced to another point of view.

Lastly, once you are satisfied with your business plan, keep it out in a conspicuous place so you can reference it daily. Keep the budget posted on a wall so you can keep track of your success against your budgeted projections. Then, as days, weeks and months go by, you are measuring and reviewing your business and hopefully adjusting as you go. By the end of a 12 month period, you should have a very successful business on your hands.

If you are interested in starting a home based business, we may have some business opportunities that will meet your needs. Go to http://www.hawgwash.net/ to see what business opportunities we currently offer. If you have questions, please feel free to contact us at hawgwash1@yahoo.com. What we have on our website, may trigger some other ideas or desires for you, even if you don't see the specific opportunity on our site, we may be able to point you in the direction you wish to go. Please do not hesitate to contact us with your questions.

Until tomorrow...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Basics of the Business Plan

Last night we began a series on building your business plan and we briefly covered the basic components of a generic business plan. Tonight we are going to begin to go into a little more detail on the basics of the business plan. Our concept here is to help you start to focus your energy and write down that focused plan so that you ultimately have a road map to grow and develop your home based business.

At some point in time you may have become tired of working for someone else or you are looking to supplement your current income. You have now started looking around for something else to do, some other way to earn income and think you may have found a really good thing to do. The possible problem is that someone else is really pressuring you to get into this particular business opportunity. We have talked about this specific subject before, and before you really jump into any business opportunity, no matter how good somebody else thinks it is, you need to do some research.

At this point, you really are beginning your business plan. This opportunity sounds good, the concept of what they are offering sounds good, and it may be something that you would enjoy doing. OK, that is a great start, but will it really earn you additional income? Before you even get to answer that question, you need to start writing down what you want, and what you know.

By writing down what you want out of the business opportunity, you are beginning to develop your business objectives. Be sure to note what it was about the business opportunity that excited you in the first place. It will be pretty amazing to see what you really want out of the business opportunity by putting it down on paper. Many of us have these grand ideas of what we want our business to be, but when you put it on paper, then, the whole concept becomes more real. By writing down your business objectives, you now are starting to honestly analyse your real reasons for starting a home based business. Once you write down your objectives, you can then review them and revise them to help focus what you truly want to do.

Now that you have your objectives written down, and you are relatively comfortable with what they are ( these objectives may change with time, but remember, this is a first draft), now you can start comparing your objectives with the business opportunity that you are being presented with. Will this opportunity fit in with what your objectives are? Will this opportunity get you to where you want to be? If so, then the next step is to look at the market in which the business opportunity is in.

Does this market have a lot of people already in it and where are they located? Depending on the opportunity, you probably want to have people that are in the same business somewhat near you for a support system, but you do not want them next door to you offering the same items. How much does it cost to get involved in this opportunity? How current is the product or service that is being offered? Is this product something completely new and untested, or is it something that has been around the block a few times and is just repackaged (a great example is weight loss products)? If this is a new product or service, has the parent company done any market testing, and can you get a look at the results? Who is currently the most successful person or group in this particular market? Can you discover what they have done to become successful, is it repeatable? Is it something that you are comfortable doing?

If you are really unsure about the product or services, before you get involved in the opportunity, ask your friends that if you did get into the particular business, would they consider purchasing the product or service from you? You can fairly easily test the waters by asking friends, family and even some strangers their opinion. Go on the Internet and look up the item. Find out what is being said about the product. You actually want to find both good and bad comments about the product. By finding both opinions, you can at least look at the good and bad sides of the issue. It is ultimately up to you to decided to get involved or not, but the more research you do up front, the safer your bet will be. Document all the research and results you discover. Also note where you got the information. This can be especially useful not just for your business plan, but if you want to get others involved in the business, you can provide them with your research and the reasons for why you thought it was a good opportunity.

At this point, be sure to take a good look at the products or services that are being offered. Is this something that fits in with your lifestyle? Is it something that you and/or your family can use? If you don't personally use the item, why would you consider offering it to others? There may be very good reasons, but you need to make note of them since it is part of your business plan. What differentiates these products from what can be found in other stores, or locations? What will these particular products do that the competition cannot or will not do? Does the product or service require any special licenses or permits that you need to obtain? Do you need to get special training or certifications to sell or offer the products? By noting all of these questions and writing them down, you now are building a really solid road map toward success.

Now when people ask you why you got involved, you have already gone through the thought process, written it down, and are comfortable with your decision. If you keep everything in your head, it may sound good when you talk to yourself, but you may not be able to clearly and concisely identify your reasons for getting into this particular business opportunity to others. Writing down all your thoughts, ideas and research helps you to crystallize your goals and then once you really see what you want on paper, you can more effectively communicate that to others.

Tomorrow we are going to continue this discussion, talking briefly about how you plan on marketing your business opportunity, deciding where to start your business, how you plan to get started financially and what to expect back financially.

If you are interested in looking for an additional income stream, and want to start your own home based business, please feel free to review what we have to offer on http://www.hawgwash.net/. We may have something that interests you, or we may be able to spark an idea of your own. Either way, if you have questions, please feel free to contact us through e-mail at hawgwash1@yahoo.com. We would love to hear from you and would like the opportunity to help you supplement your income.

Until tomorrow...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Building your Business Plan

Did you develop a business plan when you started your home based business? Are you working on a business plan, or are you just doing what you think works? Keeping a focus on your home based business is critical to your business success. You are probably watching your business like a hawk, but are you following any type of business plan? Did you ever write one up? If so, how does your current business situation compare to what you planned? These are tough questions, and I would like to bet that many of us have a sketchy business plan, but really nothing significant written down.

There is a good reason to writing down a business plan. If you write down your plan, then you actually have created a map to follow to grow your business. I am not referring writing down the big ideas like, you will make the business successful, you will earn lots of money, etc. I am talking about a relatively concise business plan. If you go to the library and look up various business plans templates, some of them will cause you to run out of the room tearing out your hair screaming. The basic idea of the business plan is to create a road map of where you currently are and where you want to be in 6 months, 1 year, 5 years and 10 years.

Tonight we are going to start a short series on what to include in a business plan and why. Some of the business plan templates I have reviewed can be daunting. The plans look for an analysis of the market you are planning on entering, describing the past, present and future market behavior. They also should include some analysis of your competition, product comparison and positioning, communication strategies, how are you going to launch the business, budgeting, advertising, pricing, policies, distribution, and metrics for success. At first look, creating a business plan can be a terrifying experience. Sometimes it looks like you need to have a Master's degree just to write a business plan.

Our goal is to get you past that concern, and help you to write up your own roadmap to success. We want to take the fear out of creating a business plan, and want to make it relatively simple for anyone to develop a basic plan so you can stay focused on growing your new business opportunity. You don't build a house without a plan, so why would you consider starting a business without a plan for success?

If you really think about a what a business plan is, you should already have the information in your head. For instance, why did you want to get into a particular line of business? Intuitively, you believed there was a market out there for the products or services you want to sell. What a business plan really does is to force you to take that information out of your head and put it down on paper. You will find that once you put the ideas on paper, it becomes easier to look at the various ideas you have and determine how to improve those ideas.

The first draft of your business plan may just fit on one piece of paper. You want to outline what type of business you want to enter. Then, make notes of WHY you want to enter that business. By writing down these two things first may help you to not get into business ventures that someone else really believes you should get involved in. Even if you don't have a specific business opportunity in mind, if you write down what you want, your goals, thoughts and ideas, then when someone comes to you with an opportunity, you can take their idea and hold it against what you already know you want to do. A simple idea would be to take a plain sheet of paper, draw a line down the middle, and then label one column "Pros" and the other column "Cons" for the good and bad reasons for the proposed business opportunity.

If someone is trying to get you involved in a particular business, get as much information as possible from them, take notes, then write down what you like and don't like about the idea. You are not done yet, but this is where you start. Then, once you have the basic information written down, do your research, ask others who may be in a similar field, or go to the library and read up on the business opportunity. You can also do a lot of research on various businesses on the Internet. There is almost an endless supply of positive and negative feedback on various business proposals on the Internet. Read as much as you can about the area of interest, and make notes. Then add to your "Pro" and "Con" column. By now you should have a good idea if this is a business opportunity that you would want to consider pursuing.

Once you have decided on a business opportunity, now is the time to work on your business plan. Having the plan in your head is OK, but if you are working with a partner or spouse, they do not know everything that is bouncing around in your head. You need to write the plan down so that you and your partners are all on the same page with where you want to take the business. Doing this up front will alleviate a lot of misunderstanding and tension down the road. So, now you have a rough outline of your business plan. You have created a business idea, you may have briefly discussed what you are going to sell and you have an idea how you are going to get your hands on the product so that you can sell. You should also consider how you are going to market your business and how are you going to get the product delivered to the people who want to purchase.

Tomorrow we are going to briefly cover how to start writing the business plan by working with your initial outline and then expanding it. Do not think that once you have written your business plan you can't revise it. The goal here is to get your thoughts and ideas organized, take them out into the light to be sure they make sense and then essentially build a road map for how to get your home based business started and then how to help it grow and become prosperous.

Until tomorrow...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Do I really want to start a home based business?

Have you ever had one of those days when you just don't want to play anymore? You just want to pick up your marbles and go home? We have all experienced that feeling at some point or another. You may have had to deal with that feeling while on your job, or when you are faced with a difficult personal situation. Did you actually follow through on that desire? My bet is that even though you really, REALLY wanted to quit, you didn't. Somehow you found the strength, courage or both to continue, even though you wanted to throw in the towel.

No matter how difficult a situation may become, there are always opportunities to be found. I know that sounds like Pollyanna, but most successful businesses and people look for the opportunity, especially during tough times. Even in today's tough economy, there are more people now starting their own home based business than at any other time. If we all followed through on our desire to quit when times get tough, then nobody would attempt to start a new business when we can see how hard times are for everyone.


Perhaps Norman Vincent Peale said it best, "Problems are to the mind what exercise is to the muscle; they toughen and make strong."


Throughout our life, we are faced with challenges. Each time we are faced with a difficult situation, we have to make a decision, do we quit, do we continue what we are doing, or do we try to find another way to deal with the problem? Marsha Petrie Sue would identify that situation as either having to "take it, leave it, or change it". Each challenge you are faced with may seem insurmountable at the time, but if you take the time to analyse the problem, perhaps a solution would present itself. Granted, one of the solutions could be to quit, but that may be one of many options available to you.


If you find yourself in a situation where your first reaction (not response, but gut reaction) is to just throw in the towel and quit, stop, and take a good hard look at what is going on. Quitting may be the right answer, but do not just rely on your 'gut' reaction because that reaction may be based on your limited experience in that specific situation. If you don't think you can find an alternate solution, seek advice from a colleague or professional in the specific field. You would want to talk to someone who you respect, but you need to keep an open mind when you ask for their advice. Be forewarned, the person you talk to may not agree with your initial assessment, or they even may suggest something that you do not like or do not agree with.


If the person whose advice you requested does not provide you the answer you were hoping to get, do not get mad at them. Remember, you asked their opinion, they gave their OPINION. Do not beat them up because you don't agree with their opinion. It is OK to not agree with an expert's opinion, but remember, you asked for the opinion, so you should at least honestly look at it before you dismiss it out-of-hand. If you are unsure of the answer, perhaps you would want to ask another expert for their observations. The key is to ask questions, and not to react if you hear the answer that you really didn't want to hear.


Perhaps you want to know if you should go into a new business venture. You have a friend in that particular field who has been in it for years, so you ask them if it would be a good opportunity for you. They may tell you that it is a bad idea for you to get involved. If you were excited about the opportunity, you may become angry with their answer. What you need to do before reacting, is to find out why they think the particular opportunity is something you don't want to get into. Is it because they are leaving the field because it is no longer producing as effectively? Perhaps they believe that your personality would not mesh well with that particular business opportunity. They are an expert in the field for a reason, do not dismiss their opinion just because it does not match the answer you wanted to hear. What you really want to hear is their view of the truth. Then you match up your views with theirs, compare the similarities and differences, and then make a responsible decision.


Your friends and family may want you to not start a new business venture because it scares them. It is OK to ask their opinion, but do not base you final decision on their opinion alone. Again, the key is to gather as much information on the subject you can and then to make a reasoned decision. If you reacted and did what everyone told you to do, you wouldn't get much satisfaction in your life because you were working on pleasing everyone else except yourself. Do you homework, ask a lot of questions, talk to experts or professionals in the field, and ask your friends. After gathering all that intelligence, then whatever decision you do make will have been reasoned and thought out, not based on unfounded reactions. Reactions are great in life-and-death situations, but in business, reactions can get in the way of reasoned thinking. Gut reactions are good and may help, but every successful business person will tell you that they became successful from hard work, research and thinking things through instead of working problems out with pure reactions.


Starting up a home based business now may be a great thing for you to do. You need to determine what you want out of the business for you and your family, and then determine if it will fit with your personality and lifestyle. Look for the good and the bad in the business idea before getting involved. If you know the down-sides, then if something does go wrong, you at least were prepared and may have even thought through an alternative solution. Taking chances is a scary process, but can be very rewarding if you have mitigated the risks and anticipated the problems.


If you have any questions regarding starting up your own home based business, please feel free to contact us at hawgwash1@yahoo.com. We will be willing to offer our advice, even if it is a business opportunity that we do not offer. Our goal is to help you to develop your own business and become your version of successful.


Until tomorrow...

Monday, May 10, 2010

My Weekly Weight Loss Update

Well, here it is Monday again, and boy, did it come faster than expected. Time for my weekly confession on my weight loss. This last week was a whirlwind of activity and this week is shaping up to be even busier than last week. Well, let's just cut to the chase. I lost one whole pound this last week. WOW!!! The good news is that even after eating candy (which I had been avoiding for over a month now) the weight did come off. I was extremely nervous getting on the scale this morning, and was even formulating excuses for why I didn't weight myself. I knew you would be watching, so I sucked it up and stepped on the bathroom scale.


Boy, imagine my pleasant surprise to see not a weight gain, but a whole pound gone. For those of you that know me, I have a very difficult time taking weight off. Once my body gets used to a particular weight, it just doesn't seem to want to let that excess tonnage go. I have been struggling to get back to my high-school weight (I was there before I moved to AZ 7 years ago). What is even worse is that my weight really didn't go up until I quit my extremely stressful job and started traveling around the country working at motorcycle rallies.


You know part of the reason for my weight gain in the last 4 years (yes, I only gained the extra tonnage in the last 4 years, I still have my 'skinny' clothes and WILL get back into them...eventually...) is the lack of my stress diet. When I worked 80 hour work weeks, by the time I got home, I had absolutely no desire for food. So, essentially the only time I ate was breakfast, before starting the work rat-race all over again. Usually lunch didn't happen because I kept working and just plain forgot to eat. When I realized I missed lunch, it was only about 3 hours to 5 pm (theoretical quitting time) so I put off eating until I got home. Usually I got a major project between 4 and 5 pm that had to be completed by the next morning, so I would stay late. Hence, by the time I got home, I really wasn't interested in any food.

This diet may have kept my weight down, by my health suffered majorly for the stress I put my body through. Once I left that rat race, I began to eat regular meals, at regular times and the weight started to come on. My next challenge was my diet when traveling. On the road, it is fairly difficult to get your hands on fresh fruit and vegetables. The reason is that you really aren't supposed to transport any fresh fruit across state lines, and I cross state lines sometimes on a daily basis. Then, grabbing food at a motorcycle rally, heck, how many healthy food kiosks do you find at rallies? So, for a while, hamburgers and fries were the weekend lunches. Dinners consisted of Hamburger Helper or Tuna Helper. Lots of carbohydrates, not much fiber, lots of fats.. Lastly, add to this whole mixture, the fact that I am not a spring chicken anymore. Something like a "change-of-life" was happening to my body too. What's up with THAT???


By the time I returned from our first year on the road, I gained almost 35 pounds. Ouch!! It has been an ongoing battle to lose those pounds, but it looks like I may finally be turning the bend on that. I am doing light exercise, I know I should be more diligent, but it is so difficult to take an hour out of the day to exercise. I have been so tired lately (partly due to the added weight I bet...) that after I have done all the house chores, errands, appointments, vehicle detailing, and bookkeeping, I honestly don't want to go exercise.


I know, very bad attitude, but that will change. As we go on the road, I have to walk the dogs at least 3 times a day. On those three walks, we all go a minimum of a mile and a half, so I am walking about 4 and a half miles a day. That, combined with a better planned eating diet this time (we have been working very diligently on eating more balanced meals) with less fat, salt, and carbs, I should continue to whittle those pounds down until I get back to my target weight.

So, I will continue to keep you appraised on my weight loss over the next few months, hopefully the weight will continue to drop as we travel across this wonderful country of ours. Tomorrow we will probably discuss a weightier subject, unless I find something that tickles my funny bone and choose to share.


One last item - Last week I introduced the concept of Hemp Hearts and told you I would keep you updated on my progress with the Hemp Hearts. Well, I have used them for 6 out of 7 days (I forgot to eat them yesterday) and can't say that I have seen much change in my healthy or well being one way or another. I will continue to take the Hemp Hearts, and hope that something positive can be seen, but so far, as much as I would REALLY like to tell you this is the do-all, cure-all, be-all, I can't say that. The only benefit I see so far is that they make my yogurt crunchy and they taste good. Beyond that, right now, the Hemp Hearts seem to not be doing anything more for me. I have not noticed a decrease in appetite (it has been too hot here in AZ to want to be hungry), nor have I noticed a huge burst in energy as they advertise. I will keep plugging away and see if perhaps my body is slower than most to respond to the good aspects of the Hemp Hearts. I really do like the concept, but right now, I can personally see no specific results.


Check out our website for some really cool nutritional products that we have. They will help support your body's natural ability to heal. We have Stem Cell Nutritionals to aid your body to naturally release it's own stem cells to heal itself. We also offer a nutritional drink, Mona Vie to help keep your existing cells healthier.

Until tomorrow...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

More Tool Definitions

As promised today is part two of the list of tool definitions. As much as I love to play with my tools, these definitions are a lot of fun. Unfortunately, I have to admit that I can agree with many of these definitions:

TWO-TON ENGINE HOIST - A tool for testing the maximum tensile strength of everything you forgot to disconnect.


PHILLIPS SCREW-DRIVER - Normally used to stab the vacuum seals under lids or for opening old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splashing oil on your shirt; but can also be used, as the name implies, to strip out Phillips screw heads.


STRAIGHT SCREW-DRIVER - A tool for opening paint cans. Sometimes used to convert common slotted screws into non-removable screws and butchering your palms.


PRY BAR - A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50 cent part.


HAMMER - Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate the most expensive parts adjacent to the object we are trying to hit.


UTILITY KNIFE - Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on contents such as seats, vinyl records, liquids in plastic bottles, collector magazines, refund checks, and rubber or plastic parts. It is especially useful for slicing work clothes, but only while in use.


S-O-B TOOL - (My personal favorite!) Any handy tool that you grab and throw across the garage while yelling "Son of a @$#$" at the top of your lungs. It will also, most often, be the next tool that you will need.


Hopefully these definitions put a smile on your face. Tomorrow we will get back to weightier subjects.


Until tomorrow...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Last Bashas Outdoor Marketplace for the Spring

Well, today's Bashas' Outdoor Marketplace was sort of bitter-sweet for us. Today marks the last day that we will participating in the Outdoor Marketplace until the Fall. Granted, there appear to only be about 3-4 more Marketplaces scheduled, through mid-June, but we will not be in town to participate.

Today's Marketplace was held at the Bashas' Grocery store in Gilbert, AZ. The day dawned beautiful and cool, a good sign for an outdoor event. By the time we got to the Gilbert store, the sun was already getting everything warm. The great news is that since it was cool all evening, it took time for the sun to warm everything up past comfortable. The participating vendors began appearing a little before 7 am and had a very orderly set up, even without assigned spaces.


Not having assigned spaces and an orderly set up is not something you usually see. Most vendors get a little crazy when there isn't assigned spots, and then they get a tad agressive towards others. What was really cool is that it appeared all the vendors got along with each other and none had any fits about where they set their booth up. A lot of that professionalism most likely came from the professionalism of the Store Manager, Paul Short. Even though there were no assigned spaces, Paul made sure all vendors knew where to begin setting up before they had parked their vehicles to start unloading. Setup was an extremely calm and wonderful affair. There are days where, even when we had assigned spaces, I wished for a very organized setup.


After all vendors were ready and open for business, we had an extremely large amount of people wandering around. Personally, I was very surprised at the people wandering the various booths at 8 am, but then, I have to remember that we are in Arizona, it gets HOT by noon. True to that, the temperatures started soaring. Depending on where you looked, today either broke the triple digits for the first time this year, or we didn't...


I know that sounds odd, but people here in Arizona track when we first break the triple digit barrier. As we drove past a Walgreen's, their display indicated it was 104, but all the other "official" websites I visited indicated it only got to 98 degrees. Wow, a difference of 6 degrees. Once temperatures get past 95, then in my book, anything is hot. It is either a measure of hot, hotter or painful. Today was only hot in my book. This was one of the rare times that anything over 95 really didn't make me feel bad. Perhaps I didn't respond to the heat like I usually do because I have been taking the STEMTech products for going on 6 months now. I will be keeping an eye on my heat tolerance and let you know if perhaps STEMTech products may help your body deal with extremes in temperatures better.


Well, back to the Bashas' Outdoor Marketplace today - we were all very busy up until about 12:30 pm, which was far busier than I had ever expected for this time of year, and for as warm as it had gotten by 10 am. The people that did wander around were also very eager to really look at what everyone had to offer. We have been at some events where people just walked up and down the isles, staying in the middle of the isles, and not even wandering close enough to any tables to see what may even be for sale. This event was different, the people looking, were actually interested in what we all had to offer. That was another wonderful experience today.


Overall, we had a great time at the Bashas' Outdoor Marketplace today and will be looking forward to participating in them once it cools off again in the Fall. Now we focus on our Motorcycle rallies, and traveling around the country meeting great people along the way. This is an extremely exciting time for us, and we look forward to getting on the road again very soon.


With luck, we may get to bump into some of you in our travels. Keep an eye on our Schedule of Events, that page is updated as we receive show confirmations. Perhaps you can attend one of the events we will be at. If so, please stop by and say "Hi".


Until tomorrow...