Sunday, November 18, 2012


FY, MRX,and BO kickin back at grovers van with bikes already on the van.

 My first memories of any van, was in the early 70's.   It was my brother Steve's cargo van that he customized for camping and hauling his family across the country, from Eugene Oregon back to Iowa.

Bob's Bike Blender
In the mid to late 70's  my high school basket ball coach would pack a dozen of us into his van and we would drive to Dyersville to work at Bucheitte's Chicken farm  to load the birds in and out, pox and vaccinate them.  It was always a good days work and great ca$h for a high school kid.  The van ride wasn't always that comfortable but it was always fun traveling with a bunch of friends, no matter how bad they smelled.

Team Playtex and a maroon ride.
The 80's and 90's brought about a whole new round of van adventures with the RAGBRAI years.  The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, is an annual seven-day bicycle ride across the state. RAGBRAI is the oldest, largest and longest recreational bicycle touring event in the world.  Des Moines Register Media has been the title sponsor of RAGBRAI since 1973.  Once again the van equaled friends, adventure and smelly buddies.  Oh well, you'll have that.
The first few Ragbrais were in Jeff Grover's Blue Chevy van.  Jeff's ride was wall to wall carpet and he had a kickin sound system.  I'm guessing he still has that old van stashed away.
Then came several years of disposable vans and bike blenders. Thanks to my buddy BOB  who dug up the van shots from the archives, great memories and too many stories to get into right now!
off route the van looks alittle out of place
feelin like a rock star.
 Two of the last ragbrais that I road on in the 90's we took a  VWs that Sid lined up from over across the river in Galena, IL.  He worked out a  deal with a guy that had a deluxe transporter that was primed up and ready for tagging and I was hooked.   Still trying to track down a few shots of that one.

Van go!  taggin lesson with another  ragbrai betty. 
A favorite memory of some of the great people we met.
Dance like no one is watching.
My first VW was an 85 automatic, Westphalia camp mobile that came with a 17' Coleman canoe. I had it for several years and made a great road trip Colorado with a return trip home by way of the black hills and Sturgis.  The only two bike rides it made it to, was the ragbrai one hour casper adventure and fridged BRR ride where it provided shelter for sid. 
BRR riders travel a 24 mile round trip from Perry to Rippey and back, regardless of the weather.  Riders have experienced everything from below frigid temps and zero wind chills to unseasonably warm weather like we had this year, which made for some very slushy riding conditions for over 1,000 riders. It came to its demise when I overloaded it with bricks and blew the head.

Jim and maxine. 
I love my Riviera—really—I do. When i bought her, i didn’t know a ton about Westys and Rivieras, just that the camper conversions were done by two different companies (Westfalia and Riviera respectively in case that’s not obvious) and we knew that Riviera tops pop straight up and Westys pop up at an angle.

The thing I did not at all anticipate is the near impossibility of finding replacement camper parts for it. One of the biggest differences between Westys and Rivieras is that VW contracted with Westfalia to build Westys, while Rivieras were shipped from the factory to distributors as standard (non-camper) busses/vans and the distributor contracted with Riviera to do the camper conversion.

Now  my 71 Rivera is parked below the gardens under the willow waiting for spring and with a little help from a friend she'll be tuned up and back on the road for trout fishing adventures next spring. 


Folk art piece. Oil pastille on cardboard by Artist Bob from his one man show at Monk's "The Fly in the Ointment" circa 2006

Monday, November 12, 2012


Friday night we caught up with our friends along with  Joe and Vicki Price down at Kiels Tap.  Joe plays finger style guitar in the Elmore James/Muddy Waters tradition, a bit rough and tons of fun. Their music has been described as a righteous, joyful, foot-stomping jubilee. Joe’s mean slide guitar brings a touch of Hawaii and a clean beachy vibe to Bellevue.
 If you like upbeat, straightforward blues, you can’t go wrong with what the Prices are laying down.

Vicki’s powerful bluesy voice evokes an image of a woman in a 1920’s speakeasy singing her heart out.

Joe and Vicki put on a great show for us.  Just when you thought Joe was pulling the train into the station for a set break,  he'd keep it rollin right on by and jam on two more tunes. 

Susie and a Butterfield sculpture at the Bradley Sculpture Garden in Milwaukee

For over 20 years, Montana sculptor Deborah Butterfield has transformed scrap metal, discarded wood, and bronze into larger-than-life sculptures of the horse that are breathtakingly beautiful.

  Me and a  George Sugarman sculpture,  1972 - 1973      Painted yellow aluminum Trio,
Just three miles down the road from where Susie grew up are the works from the Bradley Family Foundation Collection

The exhibition in the gallery includes paintings, small sculptures and works on paper by Milton Avery and Alexander Calder just to name a few.
 Outside is the Lynden Sculpture Garden. It offers a unique experience of art in nature through its collection of more than 50 monumental sculptures sited across 40 acres of park, lake and woodland. The Lynden Sculpture Garden is committed to promoting the appreciation of art, sculpture and the environment. 
Just what we're looking at doing here at Bckrvue. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I thought it appropriate on election day to repeat one of my favorite equations for happiness--a stoic flowchart that comes via Mark Fraenfelder of BoingBoing and the Rootsimple blog.  At the end of the day, about half of America will be happy, and half will be dismayed. All we can do is remember that beyond voting, we cannot control the outcome of the election. So a stoic would advise us to not to rail against what we cannot change or affect, but to focus on what we can change--ourselves, and our immediate environment: our household, our block, our school district, our city.

I'm happy to say that i got out and did my civic duty last night.  After school I traveled south  to clintion county to get the word out to VOTE.  Senator Todd Bowman and I drove around and talked to folks about Rita Hart and out hope that the Iowa Senate Democrats could reach a majority after this election with a Republican Governor here in Iowa.  Checks and balance are key in a democracy. 
You've been listening to the politicians for over a year.  Now its your time to be heard 

And here are the election results.   Newcomer Rita Hart, 56, a
 Democrat from Wheatland, Iowa, defeated Andrew Naeve, 28, a Republican from Andover, Iowa, who made his second try for the Senate.
With all precincts reporting, Hart had 17,290 votes to Naeve’s 14,383, according to unofficial results.

Hey Superhero if ya get the chance swing by the Motley Cow in IC and check out my wife's art.
the link is from last weekend but the show is up for another couple weeks.