Motorcycles, JFK, Elvis, Steve McQueen and My Father

Growing up around motorcycles can teach you a thing or two about life.

Our father was a motorcycle cop in the San Antonio Police Department when my mother checked me out of my third grade class on November 21, 1963.

The night before, Dad had taken us to see “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” at the Trail Drive in Theater on S.W. Military Drive. Today, we were going back to Military Drive towards Kelly and Lackland Air Force Bases.

JFK motorcade in San Antonio

“We’re going to see Daddy and the President,” she announced. “He’s escorting him today.”

While we drove to the corner of  Military Drive and Zarzamora, President Kennedy was dedicating the new Aerospace Health Center at Brooks AFB. It would be his final official act.

For three years JFK spoke about a New Frontier. Addressing Governor John Connally, senators, congressional leaders and others, he emphasized “This is not a partisan term, and it is not the exclusive property of Republicans or Democrats. It refers, instead, to this Nation’s place in history, to the fact that we do stand on the edge of a great new era, filled with both crisis and opportunity, an era to be characterized by achievement and by challenge.”

“It is an era which calls for action and for the best efforts of all those who would test the unknown and the uncertain in every phase of human endeavor,” he said. “It is a time for pathfinders and pioneers.”

Although honored to see President Kennedy (his hair was more red than I imagined from photos) and First Lady Jacqueline (white dress, matching hat and red roses), I was more excited about Dad waving to me from his motorcycle next to them in the motorcade.

That afternoon, I reflected on seeing JFK while watching my favorite television show, “Supercar.”

This episode was entitled “Mitch For Space,” appropriately titled to support Kennedy’s space program. The shows protagonist was launched into the stratosphere in a space capsule like the Mercury rockets from NASA.

The next day, Gillette Elementary Principal Willis Raines announced on the public address speakers Kennedy had been shot in Dallas.

My father had a shop during my teenage years at his car lot and later on our property on the Southside of San Antonio is the 1970s. But in the 60s it was common for our family to all ride on Dad’s ’59 Royal Enfield Indian cycle.

Sister Bobbi would set just behind the handlebars in front of him. Mom followed, with me bringing up the rear.

Dad looked forward to trailoring motorcycles to the Daytona 200 in Florida with other policemen, including Leroy Ferry and Doyle Soden. He enjoyed being on the pit crew for Ferry who raced several times in the late 1960s-early 70s. Founded in 1937, the 200 mile race was on the beach until 1961, when it moved to a paved closed circuit.

Being an Indian man, Dad was particularly proud when it was announced in 1967 that 68-year old Burt Munro made motorcycle history by setting a new official land speed record of 184.087 mph (with unofficial top speed of 205.67 mph) when he raced his heavily modified 1920 Indian Scout Streamliner across the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

Burt Munro

He loved motorcycles so much that he and Soden hired a mechanic and opened up for repairs at their used car lot in 1969. Later, Dad built a larger 30′ × 60′ shop at our property on Petaluma.

It was common to see policemen, some stopping by in their patrol cars or motorcycles, alongside bikers sharing technical or philosophical wisdom in the shop. Their shared passion was a uniting force.

“I like my women like my Harleys,” one old timer, Leon, who looked like he should have been a ZZ Top member before the band discovered beards, once grinned “About 20 years old with lots of problems.”

Mechanic extraordinaire and electrician Archie Maybry, was full of one-liners:

“Sometimes it takes a winding, crooked road to get your head straight.”

“I can tell the difference between people who come in here just toying around as a hobby. The hobby cats buy a new motorcycle and pretend. Real passion are those that are dovoted to keeping their old rides running.”

Dad took us to the Trail Drive In Theater almost every Wednesday, because police officers were discounted. We were always there to see every Elvis Presley movie. One of our favorites was Roustabout in 1964. Elvis played a motorcyclist who joined a circus.

In 1972, Dad was part of the protection and motorcycle escort team for Elvis from the San Antonio International Airport to the Hilton Palacio Del Rio for his April concert at the Hemisfair Arena. He also did the same at Presley’s August 1976 concert.

One of the most iconic motorcycles to ever appear on the silver screen, was the 650cc Triump R6R (disguised as a BMW 75) that Steve McQueen road in The Great Escape, one of Dad’s favorites.

By the Spring of 1972, Dad was a Detective-Investigator and had a special assignment he would always cherish: providing security for Steve McQueen during the making of The Getaway. Some of it was filmed at the old Sunset Train Station and the River Walk.

“By the time they finished filming in Huntsville (at the Penitentiary), he had already made his moves on Ali McGraw…and she fell for him big time–hook, line and sinker,” Dad said. “Well, she was married to a movie big shot, Robert Evans and it was important to him that we keep people away because they were at it hot and heavy.”

“Evans hired a private investigator and even flew to Texas himself because he knew something was wrong,” he continued. “But he (McQueen) didn’t give a flip about it.”

In San Antonio, McQueen and McGraw stayed at the Holiday Inn on Durango Street near IH-35.  The actor had one of his many motorcycles brought in so he could “ride it around and around the basement” of the hotel.

“I guess he was trying to work off some steam,” Dad said. It was apparent they both had motorcycles in common. After his shift one night, he had a couple of beers with McQueen.

“There is no doubt he was smitten by Ali McGraw,” Dad revealed. “He told me they were originally going to sign on Cybil Sheppard, and then Stella Stevens. There was a lot of problems between studios, producers, directors until finally everything was in place. He was real happy they hired her (McGraw).”

“There was an actor who played in The Godfather (Al Lettieri), that you could tell he wasn’t getting along with either.”

“One night we took them to a small party nearby downtown,” he said. “He was drinking pretty heavily and I thought they (McQueen and McGraw) were going to get into a fight. Right in front of her he started coming on to these two women–they were good looking women.”

“She didn’t say a thing. I could tell she didn’t like it one bit, but he kept on. It was obvious he was making a play for them. We finally took them back to the hotel. They had rooms upstairs next to each other, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t see those two women come into that hotel and go right on up to his room.”

“I heard later after they were gone the next morning, he had Ali come over and cook him some breakfast.”

“He needed to ride that motorcycle,” Dad noticed. “She had her young son, a toddler with her and I guess this was his escape. He was riding and drinking down there to stay out of trouble and work off tension. Yes, he was in love big time and later they married.”

Director Sam Peckinpah later talked about an incident on the first day of rehearsal in San Marcos: “Steve and I had been discussing some point on which we disagreed, so he picked up this bottle of champagne and threw it at me. I saw it coming and ducked. And Steve just laughed.”

Dad said they also talked about guns and he shared a couple of true police stories with him.

“He asked about robberies, guns, and how we approached and handled robbers and shootouts,” Dad recalled.

Packinpah talked about McQueen’s knack with props, especially the weapons he used in the film.

“You can see Steve’s military training in his films,” the director remembered. “He was so brisk and confident in the way he handled the guns.”

It was McQueen’s idea to have his character, “Doc McCoy” shoot and blow up a squad car in the scene where he holds two police officers at gunpoint.

His love for motorcycles and racing spawned two notable quotes from McQueen:

“Racing is life. Anything before or after is just waiting.” And the one with McQueen’s picture with his motorcycle in The Great Escape. hanging up next to Dad’s tool room door: “I would rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth.”

Other words of wisdom seen or heard over the years included:

“Got a $5 head? Get a $5 helmet.”

“Life might begin at 30, but it doesn’t get real interesting until you reach over 100 on the highway.”

“I believe in treating others with respect, but first you have to get their attention.”

Dad sat on a motorcycle his last time on a trip my sons Jack, Brady and I took to Dallas-Fort Worth from San Antonio on an Amtrak train the summer of 2012. At a wax museum in Arlington, there was a Harley-Davidson set up in the lobby-retail area. He couldn’t resist! It’s a smile I’ll always remember.

Walter “Corky” Dennis died the following December.

Rest In Peace Daddy.








Top Most Isolated Vacation Trips in the Lower 48 American States

West Texas

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There’s nothing better than time away from the noise to recharge your batteries and uplift your mood. There are many isolated, but sight-worthy places within the U.S you can visit.

Here is a sampling of just some of the places that are popular among nature lovers, easy to locate, and the perfect adventure for boosting your dopamine levels. 

Havasupai, Arizona

This location is known to many for the Havasu Falls located in Havasupai Canyon in Arizona. The waterfall itself is located in a remote area on Havasupai Native Reservation.

To get to the falls, you’ll have to walk a distance of 10-miles or join a horseback excursion. This might be a bit stressful for people who don’t like walking or riding horses, but it’s definitely worth the walk.

Once you arrive, you’d be in the midst of one of the most beautiful places on earth. The crystal clear turquoise water plunges down the fiery red cliffs into travertine swimming holes at the bottom.

There are also four other major waterfalls nearby; Upper and Lower Najavo Falls, Beaver Falls, and Mooney Falls. You may as well take this opportunity to explore them too.

Bob Marshall Wilderness, Montana

Montana is known for its abundant open spaces of wilderness. And the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, located in the northwestern part of the state, is one wilderness that tops them all—the third-largest wilderness area in the Lower 48.

It follows the Continental Divide for 60 miles, spread across 1.5 million acres of rocky ridges, alpine meadows, and dense forest.

Within the Bob Marshall Wilderness, you can find all kinds of wildlife. From moose to elk, wolves, grizzlies, mountain lions, mountain goats, and deer.

Not only is this wilderness a magnificent place to visit, but the area also contains what is believed to be the most dramatic natural feature of the Rockies: the Chinese Wall, a limestone escarpment deep in the wilderness and a part of the Continental Divide.

Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming

The Bighorn Mountains are one of the best places to visit in Wyoming and quite an isolated area—Visited only by a few people even during high peak travel seasons.

A 58-mile drive on the Bighorn Scenic Byway will bring you over its crest. The mountain stretches from the Powder River Basin to the Bighorn Basin, following Highway 14 from outside the town of Greybull.

If you love camping and a good hike, an adventure on this mountain is definitely for you. You’ll find miles of trails for hiking and perfect places to set camp. However, if you prefer to sleep in a hotel or hostel, the town of Buffalo is nearby and offers many options for accommodation and attractions of its own.

Gila National Forest and the Gila Cliff Dwellings

Fancy a trip to SouthWest America in Arizona? Then head over to Gila National Forest. The Gila National Forest has more official wilderness than any other protected forest in the Southwest.

The 558,000-acre Gila Wilderness was the first designated wilderness area in the world. With terrain varying from grassy foothills to juniper woodland, ponderosa pine and spruce-fir forests on high peaks. The Gila Wilderness connects the Blue Range Wilderness and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness.

The Gila Cliff dwellings, built as far back as the 13th century, are located within the Gila National Forest. For thousands of years, groups of ancient nomads used the caves above the Gila River as a temporary shelter. Until the late 1200s, when the people of the agricultural Mogollon culture made it their homes. They built rooms, crafted pottery, and raised children in the cliff dwellings for one or two generations before moving away by 1300.

Boundary Waters Wilderness, Minnesota

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northeast Minnesota is one of America’s most beautiful and remote places. With over 1,100 lakes and hundreds of miles of waterways, its vast wilderness extends 150 miles along the U.S.-Canada border, covering approximately 1,098,000 acres.

It offers some of the country’s best canoeing, with 1,200 miles of canoeing trails attracting over 150,000 visitors yearly. From paddling from one lake to the next and stepping off onto countless miles of untouched shoreline, there are many interesting things to do in the Boundary Waters wilderness.

If you need some time alone, that can be arranged. Head to the Boulder and Adams lakes. They are some of the most remote lakes around here—it’s almost certain you’d see absolutely no one.

Spending time in isolated places doesn’t mean you wouldn’t have fun. Some of the most isolated places in the country are some of the most beautiful sights in the world. Don’t forget to breathe fresh air amidst nature. There are many open spaces around America perfect for recollecting thoughts while away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

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History, Texas, Pioneers, Genealogy

From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

The Legendary Camels of Camp Verde, Texas

Nestled snugly in the Texas Hill Country, between Kerrville and the “Cowboy Capital of the World,” Bandera, is the delightful Camp Verde Store and Restaurant.

Today, near our home, Dodie and I enjoy passing through historical Bandera Pass to see bison, zebra and exotic wildlife on our way to dine at the site of the old fort, situated on Camp Verde Creek.

Known far and wide as Old Camp Verde, it was here, on July 8, 1856, the noted camel post was established by the U.S. government.

War Department records explained the camp was located “On the north bank of Rio Verde, or Verde Creek, a branch of the Guadalupe River, half a mile west of old Johnson Road, leading from San Antonio to Fort Terret; about four miles from Fort Ives; about 55 miles, direct course, northwest of San Antonio, but about 65 miles leading from San Antonio, through Fredericksburg to Forts Mason, McCavett, and Concho.”

When the camels first arrived from overseas, they entered in Indianola, Texas. The herd was driven to San Antonio grazing along the route, in about 14 days.

They were kept in the “headwaters of San Pedro” creek for a few days and then moved out to the ranch of Major Howard on the Medina River, twelve miles from San Antonio, where they were kept until they moved to their permanent home in Camp Verde on August 26 and 27, 1856.

Old Spanish maps identified this as “Verde Arroyo” (Green Creek). Before the thirty-three camels arrived in 1856, a sketch had been drawn of an Eastern caravansary in Asia Minor. This drawing was used to construct a detailed reproduction at Camp Verde.

The camels were used to transport supplies and dispatched to Forts Martin Scott, Concho, Griffen, Phantom Hill, Inge, Clark, Lancaster, Hudson, Stockton, Davis, Quitman, Bliss and other forts in West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

What was formerly the officers’ barracks is where the store and restaurant is. On March 26, 1910, the headquarters abode was destroyed by fire, which took the life of Tom Blair.

The camp was continuously garrisoned until March 7, 1861, when U.S. troops surrendered the post to the Confederates, and withdrew. After the Civil War, the post was reoccupied by Federal troops on November 30, 1866, and finally abandoned on November 30, 1869.

It was rebuilt by W.H. Bonnell as an exact replica using the stone structure that survived the fire.

History shows that camels roamed the Bandera hills and many pioneers in this area actually herded them.

🔹Amasa Clark, who died at his home near Bandera at age 102, herded camels. Among his possessions was a pair of pillows made from camel’s hair, which he sheared from the animals he tended.

🔹Jim Walker, who died in 1945, owned a bell worn by the lead camel at his time working there during the Civil War.

🔹Andy Jones, a pioneer citizen of Bandera who died in the mid 1940s, often saw droves of camels miles away from the old fort. When Camp Verde was handed back to the Federal Government after the Civil War, the original 32 camels had grown to a herd of over 100, under the care of the Confederate troops.

“When I was a boy on my father’s ranch, the government kept a lot of camels at Camp Verde,” Jones said. One day we hobbled three of our horses and turned them loose near the house, and fourteen of those old camels came lumbering along.”

“The horses took fright at the sight of them, and we did not see those horses for many days,” he continued. “My brother and I penned the camels, all of them being gentle except for one.”

“We roped the wild one, but never wanted to rope another,” he recalled. “For the old humpbacked villain slobbered all over us, and the slobber made us deathly sick. However, we had a jolly time with those camels, when we got rid of the foul, sickening slobber, and we often rode broncos and wild steers, we rode camels too…They could easily travel one hundred miles a day. The Indians seemed to be afraid of the camels, and of course never attempted to steal any of them.”

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History, Texas, Pioneers, Genealogy

From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Elvis Presley’s Texas Home During Basic Training in 1958 Still Visited by Fans

In 2020, defying lockdowns and wearing masks, we took a 32 day roadtrip from the Texas Hill Country to Washington DC and back.

Our first stop was near Fort Hood in a central Killeen Texas neighborhood. If the walls of the circa 1950 ranch-style house at 605 Oakhill Drive could talk, they’d sing!

Photo by Loralyn ‘Dodie’ Dennis

It’s a nice house but doesn’t have any visual features that dramatically set it apart from the other homes in the area not far from Conder Park. It’s a one-story, brick home with a rather large mailbox out front.

As big Elvis Presley fans, we thought there might be a landmark sign designating it as the house the most famous entertainer in history lived while going through Army training.

At the height of his early fame, the Army drafted Elvis in 1958, and at the Memphis induction center, he received his shots, his buzz cut, and his orders. On March 28, he and others were sent by military bus to Fort Hood, the Second Armored Division, General George S. Patton’s “Hell on Wheels” wild bunch.

Enroute the new troops stopped for a restaurant lunch break in Hillsboro causing “a small riot” when teenage customers recognized him. 

Elvis didn’t want any special treatment offered. His desire was to be just another G.I. His fellow soldiers saw that in him and Elvis became one of the guys.

Private Simon Vega recalled, “I thought he was gonna get special treatment but he did KP, guard duty, everything, just like us.” 

When basic training was completed, the Army allowed soldiers to live off base as long as they had dependents living in the area. It was not long before Elvis’ parents, grandmother, and a friend traveled to Killeen where they found a three-bedroom home to rent from Chester Crawford, an attorney who charged an outrageous $700 a month.

Soon crowds began showing up on Oakhill Drive to catch a glimpse of Elvis. It was common for him to stand outside and talk to fans for hours. Occasionally, he detoured through neighbors’ backyards to avoid the crowds, and according to neighbor Janie Sullivan, the clothesline in their yard once caught Elvis and the dog bit him. 

Elvis with friend Red West (far right)

Not everyone was thrilled by Elvis’ presence in the neighborhood. Some Oak Hill residents called the police to complain about the clouds of dust stirred up by the cars and the carnival-like atmosphere.

While completing an additional ten weeks of advanced tank training, Elvis had to take emergency leave to fly to Memphis to be with his mother, Gladys, who had returned home to be hospitalized. She died two days later on August 14.

After his mother’s funeral, Elvis returned and put in long days at Fort Hood learning to be a tanker. During his final days at Fort Hood, large crowds gathered outside his house, and some nights a hundred people kept vigil. The last night, on September 19, 1958, Elvis and his gang gathered at the home to make the drive to the troop train that would take him and 1,360 other G.I.s to Brooklyn to sail for Germany.


Biographers and friends reported that Elvis’ time at Fort Hood and in the Army was among the happiest of his life. For a time, he was almost “just another soldier.” Everyone agreed that Elvis was a good soldier, one of the best in the company.

His longtime girlfriend, Anita Wood, said, “he had finally found himself.”

Elvis said later, “I learned a lot about people in the Army. I never lived with other people before and had a chance to find out how they think.” 

In 1958, longtime Killeen resident Edith Carlile lived four doors down from the house Pvt. Elvis Presley lived in with his parents, Vernon and Gladys. Presley rented the home for seven months from a local lawyer when he was stationed at Fort Hood.

“The street was extremely crowded with cars going by,” said Carlile, who lived next door to the house Presley lived in before she passed away a few years ago. “People were standing in the yard, wanting to touch him, kiss him.”

Carlile was a mother of four at the time, and wasn’t really into the rock ’n’ roll music that Presley is famous for.

“I’m not a fan of music of that age,” Carlile told a local news reporter, adding she was more into the tunes of the big band era.

Her children did get autographs from Presley, but Carlile said she threw the signed pieces of paper away years later.

She said the rock ’n’ roll king dated a few of the local girls when he was here, and his presence made a big impact, especially in the Oakhill Drive neighborhood, which in 1958 was home to lawyers, business owners and other upper-middle class families.

More than 64 years later, the house is still standing, and although it’s aged, the outside doesn’t look dramatically different from when Presley lived there.

Surprisingly, more recent owners of the Presley’s rental house indicated they didn’t even know the house had once been lived in by Presley when they bought it some years ago.

To this day Elvis fans regularly pop by the house to take a video, some puctures or inquire about the former home of the King.

On display at Graceland complex in Memphis, Tennessee

Some drive hundreds of miles to do so. Others want to peep inside or look at the backyard.

Although there has been updated renovations (exterior windows and roof) owners are reluctant to offer details.

In November 2006, the 2,400-square-foot house was placed for purchase on eBay.

The owner at the time, Myka Allen-Johnson, a sales representative for CenTex Homes, said she wanted to sell the home to someone who would understand the historical significance.

“I didn’t buy the house with the intention of selling it on eBay,” Allen-Johnson told the Killeen Daily Herald in 2006. “I just don’t want people to forget that he lived here in Killeen.”

Ft. Hood front gate 1958

Penny Love was 3 or 4 years old and lived around the corner in 1958. She recalls her family seeing Presley sneak through her backyard to avoid the crowd that waited out front. She said she would sometimes sit on Presley’s father, Vernon’s lap on the front porch.

The community has missed out on any significant tourism and marketing opportunities over the years. In August 1958, Presley fans petitioned the Killeen City Council to change the name of Oakhill Drive to Presley Drive, bringing nationwide publicity to the area. Today, however, Oakhill is still the name of the street.

The owner said she allows Presley fans to take a quick picture of the front of the house. But those who try to pry closer are not totally welcome.

The backyard has a steep incline, she said, which can be dangerous, and a German shepherd patrols back there, too.

Favorite Fan Photos

Elvis Presley, The Rockin’ Motorcycle King in Photos

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2021/07/04/elvis-presley-the-rockin-motorcycle-king-in-photos/embed/#?secret=mCsDyQTdl8

More Rare or Unseen Elvis Presley Pictures From the 60s

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2021/06/10/more-rare-or-unseen-elvis-presley-pictures-from-the-60s/embed/#?secret=OrH73oXJB4

25 MORE Rare Photos of Elvis Presley in the Army

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2020/09/16/25-more-rare-photos-of-elvis-presley-in-the-army/embed/#?secret=QM7UuXuv5W

20 Rare Photos of Elvis Presley in the U.S. Army

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2020/05/20/20-rate-photos-of-elvis-presley-in-the-u-s-army/embed/#?secret=aoCYSwtQ3k

20 Elvis Presley Photos You May Have Never Seen From The 1960s

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2020/05/22/20-elvis-presley-photos-you-may-have-never-seen-from-the-1960s/embed/#?secret=dQQFfwxfNP

Elvis Presley: Rare Shots From the 1970s

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2020/05/23/elvis-presley-rare-shots-from-the-1970s/embed/#?secret=4h7ZdpV2LL

Elvis Presley Movies Ranked

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2020/05/26/elvis-presley-movies-ranked/embed/#?secret=4IUVI49WXl

10 Rare Elvis Presley Photos in the 1950s

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.
Visit Graceland

These Vintage Trailer Transformations Will Leave You Smiling

We love to travel and especially enjoy roadtrips across America. Since we’ve been married in 2019, the two of us–along with Mr. Beefy, our “King of the Hill Country” canine–have been to Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Maryland.

We also enjoyed Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, Washington DC, West Virginia…and we’ve just started.

Both of us have peculiar little quirks of interests, individually and those we share: museums, historical sites, camping, amusement parks, birdwatching, theater, concerts and roadside attractions.

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One in particular is viewing restored pieces of history, especially trains, planes and automobiles. When it comes to restoring things from the past, such as an antique or junk someone left behind, there’s plenty of room to let the imagination run wild.

Being Baby Boomers, it’s not so hard to enjoy seeing what others have done by restoring vintage travel trailers. We hope these make you smile.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

What’s New at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee?

We stopped by Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee back in 2020 knowing it is one of the most-visited attractions in that area. Although it was open, we elected not to go in because of limitations due from the pandemic.

It is definitely on our bucket list to go back to what looks to be a world-class theme park. We heard from locals that we made a good decision at the time, but “come back again because they are always making good improvements and introducing something new.”

For 2022, Dollywood officially opened to the general public on March 12th, with season passholders getting a sneak peak on March 11. Dolly Parton was there, her first time at the park since 2019, to greet everyone back.

Dollywood didn’t waste much time with planning exciting updates with a a variety of projects. Here are some of the changes and additions:

🔹The Emporium, a very popular shop with visitors, was updated aesthetically.

🔹Victoria’s Pizza received a kitchen renovation to improve efficiency and help with visitors getting meals faster. An enlarged seating area has also improved the dining experience.

One change that will really benefit the guest experience are the wider walkways and more space for guests to spread out. Congestion has always been a struggle at Dollywood, but now the park is taking steps toward improvement! The park is creating wider walkways and better utilizing spaces throughout the park. Recently crews removed an old mine tunnel near the tracks for the Dollywood Express. This creates more space for visitors to walk, or stop and watch as the train rolls by.

The Flower & Food Festival has quickly become a fan-favorite festival at Dollywood. Now they have expanded it with new iconic Mosaiculture displays that visitors will love, and hundreds of thousands of blooms throughout the park. The culinary team has created a menu full of items that highlights the tastes of spring in the Smokie Mountains.

Another popular festival is the Summer Celebration. In 2022, Dollywood is expanding the Summer Nights drone and fireworks show with even more drones. The show features hundreds of drones flying high above the park, telling a story with 3D animations and a symphony of light.

Dollywood express train

Hoot Owl Hollow

Hoot Owl Hollow is a new area coming to life for Dollywood’s Harvest Festival. It’s located in Craftsman’s Valley and features a number of owl-themed displays in the park and suspended in the trees. The festival has thousands of carved pumpkins, performances from talented artists and Great Pumpkin LumiNights

Dollywood is introducing a brand new season pass structure (Silver, Gold and Diamond) that provides more for guests.

Here’s what to expect with the passes:

🔹Silver – With the Silver Season Pass, visitors get unlimited entries to Dollywood during the 2022 season, 2 Bring-A-Friend Free tickets and a $5 discount on single day tickets. Adult Silver Passes are priced at $149.

🔹Gold – The Gold Season Pass includes access to all-new Golden Hours and Events, unlimited visits to the park, 4 Bring-A-Friend Free tickets, a $10 discount on single day tickets, free parking, and 15% off select food and merchandise. Adult Gold Passes are $204.

🔹Diamond – With the Diamond Season Pass, visitors receive access to Golden Hours and Events, unlimited visits to Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country, free parking, 20% off select food and merchandise, 6 Bring-A-Friend Free tickets and a $15 discount on single day tickets. These passes are priced at $314 for adults.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Goettle HVAC and Plumbing services are located in Phoenix, Tucson, San Antonio, Austin, Las Vegas areas as well as regions in Southern California.

Texas Hill Country Thunder Rally is Back- March 24-27, 2022

Texas Hill Country Thunder Rally is back.

The March 24-27, 2021 event will be the 20th straight rally held at Bandera’s Mansfield Park.

Consisting of tent camping, poker run, vendors, food, and field events, there will be music throughout the day Friday and Saturday. Their bike show, tattoo contest, and Sunday morning church service are popular. 21 OR OVER, NO EXCEPTIONS.

One of the most popular Texas rallies, they feature a covered stage to  enjoy outdoor concerts and contests in “the wide-open fresh air, under the bright stars of the beautiful Hill Country.

“Ride the beautiful Texas Hill Country all day then come back and shop with our many vendors,” their promotional material states. “Enjoy your meals with one of nine Food vendors located outside the Barn, then go shop with over 30 Inside Vendors (spaced out) and over 40 Outside Vendors, before enjoying the evening concerts and contests.”

The first leg of Twisted Sister is now fully opened as the construction of a new bridge on Highway 337 is complete.

See TWISTED SISTER Leg 1 Here

“The fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. We start it off loud! Hot Bands rock the night away…We will treat you so many ways you are bound to like one or two.”

The Bike Show categories include Peoples Choice, American Touring,
Metric Touring, Radical Custom, American Cruiser, Metric Cruiser, Antique Trike/Sidecar and Sport.

Other events include a Tattoo Contest, Nightly Risque Contests, The Famous Weenie Bite, Balloon Toss, Drag Race, Slow Race, Pole in the Hole, Keg Push, Keg Throw and Burn Out Contest.

Other features include 2 Beer & Liquor Gardens Ice Sold Onsite Hot Showers Full Hook-Up Spots Available Free Tent Camping Sewer Dump Available Rain Or Shine Event
Lots Of Self Contained Camping
Free Auto Parking Vendors
and lots of shade in this rain or shine event.

“For further information or questions, please contact our office at (409) 655-8800 or visit us at http://www.bikerralliesoftexas.com or follow us on Facebook, Biker Rallies of Texas.”

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Texas Bikers Are Using Cynthia Leal Massey’s Latest Book As a Guide to Plan New Rides Across the Lone Star State

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Goettle HVAC and Plumbing services are located in Phoenix, Tucson, San Antonio, Austin, Las Vegas areas as well as regions in Southern California.

The People’s Convoy of American Truckers Roll in Peaceful Protest to DC

Millions of Patriots Supporting, Praying and Cheering Along Routes

American Truckers launch The People’s Convoy, a peaceful and unified transcontinental movement for freedom, on February 23, 10:00 am, from Adelanto Stadium in California.

This verse was read and shared by thousands before they embarked:

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will surely help you; I will uphold you with My right hand of righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10

Citizens are supporting the Convoy For Freedom by:

  1. Praying for their safety and success.
  2. Attending their send off rallies and cheering them along the routes. 
  3. Driving part way with them.
  4. Donating money through their website. https://ThePeoplesConvoy.org/
  5. Turning out to show support as they pass.
  6. Sharing information about The People’s Convoy on social media and by email.
  7. Living not by lies or fear.

As The People’s Convoy begins their peaceful and unified transcontinental movements for freedom, hundreds of truckers are hearing encouragement and blessings from speakers including FLCCC President Dr. Pierre Kory and Godspeak Church Pastor Rob McCoy.

“The truckers are joined by freedom-loving supporters from all walks of life on this peaceful and law-abiding transcontinental journey for freedom,” one spokesperson said Tuesday night.

“This convoy is about freedom and unity,” they announced.” “The truckers are riding unified across party and state lines with freedom loving people of all colors and creeds. Everyone is welcome to participate by attending the launch rally and/or by following the big rigs in their own vehicles.”

First 4 Days: Truckers, Bikers, RVs, and Other Vehicles Main Convoy Route Across America

Day 1: CA to AZ
Day 2: Through AZ (Snow expected)
Day 3: AZ to TX
Day 4: TX to OK

The People’s Convoy Message

The 23 months of the COVID-19 pandemic have been a rough road for all Americans: spiritually, emotionally, physically, and – not least – financially.

Good therapeutics and the hard work of courageous, frontline doctors and nurses contributed to declining COVID-19 cases and severity of illness. It’s time to re-open America. It’s time for elected officials to work with American workers to and restore accountability and liberty – by lifting all mandates and ending the “state of emergency.” Americans need to get back to work and living in a free and unrestricted manner.

Adjoining Routes

Truckers Are Ready

Many non-mainstream media reporters, photographers and staff will embed with the Convoy. Note: As of this writing Newsmax, Eric Bolling, Maureen Steele, The Epoch Times and other journalists, media outlets and podcasters are joining.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the Children’s Health Defense’s http://CHD.TV will cover the convoy with live updates every day at 10 am EST at https://live.childrenshealthdefense.org/.

Retired military and security experts are assisting the convoy and spearheading logistics to ensure a 100 percent safe, lawful, and peaceful journey.

“We have the freedom our forefathers and veterans have continually died for over the past two hundred years. Just visit our National Cemetaries and view the rows of sacrifice on the grounds. This freedom needs to be defended whether foreign or domestic,” was a message passed around by supporters to truckers before they left. “All of us must fight these communists. I know this because I am a cold war veteran. This time they have attacked us from the inside via money and political means.”

“Our representatives seem to be very quiet during these times, why? God bless all of you in this endeavor to retain our freedom that we still have today,” wrote FireDogRazor54. “To my brothers and sisters in Canada, your blood has been shared in the past many times and I know personally that you do not quit, defend the Maple leaf! To all I repeat ‘esprit de corps’. Post this message on your trucks!! To the police, go 10-7 with the blue covid flu for about a week, just saying. Where is our clergy? Tend the flock and ward off the foxes!”

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What Were the Original Names of Disney’s Seven Dwarfs?

One of our favorite rides at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

Many young girls have grown up reading Snow White and dreaming about their Prince Charming.

It is only after the world turned into a more “woke” society that certain fringes saw the traditional story as somewhat problematic. To some, this tale is not child-friendly enough. In any event, for me it was the seven little dwarves who were the highlight – even when my cousins and classmates read the books and watched numerous TV adaptations and animated films based on Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs.

What Are The Names Of The Seven Dwarfs?

Have you ever thought of the names of these dwarves? Not many can tell you all the seven names. We asked ten people. Only one was able to name all seven. Between the two of us, Dodie and I could only remember five. Don’t peek. How many can you name?

Initially, Walt Disney came up with different names for the dwarves, which were later changed when the cartoon movie came out. If we go by the original names, the seven dwarfs were called:

🔹Wheezy,

🔹Deafy,

🔹Stuffy,

🔹Burpy,

🔹Puffy,

🔹Lazy, and…

🔹Jumpy.

In our humble opinion, the new names are far better than the original ones.

1. Bashful: Known for his shyness and flushed cheeks, Bashful is easily recognizable by his batting of eyelids and blushing. In the 1937 movie, Scotty Mattraw gave his voice to the character. 

2. Doc: In the movie adaptation, he was voiced by the great Roy Atwell. Often regarded as the wise leader of the dwarves, Doc is the only one with the glasses. His bossy attitude, along with those glasses, makes him the natural chief.

3. Dopey: He is like the little kid of the group. You can recognize him by his quietness as well as the affectionate bond he shares with Snow White. Eddie Collins voiced him in the movie. He is easily noticeable among the seven dwarves as he is the bald one wearing a purple hat and his oversized tunic.

4. Grumpy: Staying true to his name, Grumpy has major temperament issues. He is always complaining or arguing and is never up for anything. He is always at loggerheads with Doc, and his angry face makes him distinct. If you see a stubborn faced dwarf in a red tunic, you’d know he is the one. He is voiced by Pinto Colvig in the film.

5. Happy: As the name suggests, Happy is completely opposite of Grumpy. You will never see him without his endearing smile and a joyous mood. Happy is voiced by Otis Harlan in the movie. This dwarf, with his broad smile and puffy stature, is very easy to recognize on the screen.

6. Sleepy: Of course, Sleepy loves his sleep! No matter what time of the day is, this dwarf is always up for a nap, and once he gets drowsy, nothing in the world can stop him from snoring. Not just Grumpy, Pinto Colvig voices Sleepy as well. His droopy eyelids and the tired look is enough to tell you which one of the lots is Sleepy. 

7. Sneezy: No, it’s not COVID! He is the one dealing with flu and cold all the time. It’s best to keep your distance away from him if you don’t want to fall sick. He just cannot control his sneezes. Also, the sneezes are timed at the worst moments. Billy Gilbert voiced him in the movie.

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Seniors: Preparing For Your First Bike Ride in Awhile

You have narrowed your bicycle options to a couple of models that you think will work for you. You are preparing to make a purchase.

How Do I Want To Ride?

Consider the primary purpose for which you will use your bike.

A commuter bike may be suitable for general recreation and exercise, and will probably be less expensive than a bike that offers multiple gearing options.

If you intend to ride your bike on a variety of surfaces, you will probably want to consider a bike that has 3 or 7 speeds.

This type of bike may add a little bit to the price tag, but features like multiple gears and front suspension can make or break your ride on hills and over bumps.

The added comfort and safety are probably worth the slight price increment.

Basic Maintenance

You will probably want to consider the level of assembly required concerning your level of skill with bike maintenance and repairs.

Bikes that are not pre-assembled or that have more moving parts often are not a problem for riders who are repair-savvy.

If you don’t have experience in making bike repairs and adjustments, you may want to consider purchasing a bike that is at least 85 percent pre-assembled.

Some bikes come with a set of generic instructions that are not model-specific. These instructions are often complicated for riders to figure out.
You may want to verify the relevance of the included instructions if you think this might be an issue when you attempt to assemble your new bike.

A Word About Sizing

Proper sizing ensures an optimal fit and makes it easy for you to ride your bike without straining.

Correct sizing is also vital for safety, allowing you to dismount in an emergency quickly.

If your bike is sized correctly sized, you should be able to stand astride the bicycle with both feet flat on the ground.

You can verify your sizing choice by consulting the manufacturer’s sizing charts.

If your height spans two different sizes, you can choose the larger size and adjust it for a proper fit. Another approach is to test both sizes to determine which feels like a better fit.

No Pain Is Your Gain

If you do regular physical activity, you may need a little more time.

To condition your body for rides that become increasingly more challenging as you gain riding experience and increase your muscle tone.

Stretching before you exercise warms your muscles, preventing strains and tears.

Here is a great article that describes ten stretches you can do to warm up before you begin your ride. (2)

Stretching after your ride is an excellent way to cool down and to prevent injury as your body returns to its normal state.

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Patriotic Truckers Have The Power to Save Citizens From Tyranny

Under White House Resident Joe Biden, unvaccinated illegal aliens by the hundreds of thousands are encouraged and welcomed to come into the United States.

Illegal immigrants allowed into the US each day under Biden.

Hypocrisy rules for the Biden-Harris Administration as their Homeland Security announced Thursday that truckers from Mexico and Canada will no longer be permitted to enter the US without vaccine passports.

“These updated travel requirements reflect the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to protecting public health while safely facilitating the cross-border trade and travel that is critical to our economy,” Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.

Freedom Convoy

On Monday, those in mainstream media who bothered to report it, revealed about 40 Canadian truckers protested near the U.S. border in Emerson, Manitoba. By Wednesday, over 45,000 truckers formed convoys throughout Canadian interstates and at key US-Canada crossing points. The goal is to embark on one of the largest protests for citizens of both countries as they head for the capital, Ottawa, on Saturday.

In freezing weather, along all convoy routes, truckers are greeted by thousands of citizens in support of their cause.”

“Twelve of us brought crockpots of hot food and we fed as many as we could,” said Teresa LaFluer in Emerson. “We have friends doing the same further down the highway. We are feeding our heroes.”

Some RVers have joined the convoy to help prepare meals and show support.

Deemed the Canadian-US Freedom Convoy 2022, the group collected over 60,000 donations from GoFundMe since its launch on Jan. 14. These funds will primarily cover fuel costs “and hopefully food and lodgings to help ease the pressures of this arduous task,” organizers said.

“The Biden Administration has been playing a giant game of chicken with the American workforce over the last few months by forcing a vaccine mandate that was unlawful – as the U.S. Supreme Court recently held – and in so doing, undermining our freedoms by way of coercing American workers into taking the vaccine,” noted the Freedom Fighter Nation. “Unfortunately, the government of Canada has been behaving in a similar fashion. But throughout history, countries have risen and fallen on the backs of the blue-collar boys and girls, and this era is no different.”

“The decision by Trudeau and Biden to prevent trucker crossings at our borders by unvaccinated workers was the last straw – it represented the proverbial match that ignited a nation to action: the Canadian truckers have planned a convoy-protest, and America is joining in.”

With pressure from Washington, GoFundMe decided Tuesday to halt distributing more than $3.7 million already raised for the trucker convoys.

“Our goal is to protect the generosity of donors and ensure that every dollar donated on our platform reaches the right place,” a GoFundMe spokesperson said in a statement on Tuesday. “We require that fundraisers be transparent about the flow of funds and have a clear plan for how those funds will be spent.”

In the US, estimates indicate over 6,000 drivers are joining in the protests so far.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance and American Trucking Alliance originally estimated that up to 15% of drivers would leave cross-border trucking as a result of the mandates. Recent actions by truckers in both countries indicate that number could be much larger.

Trucks typically haul over $300 billion of freight between the U.S. and Canada annually, with about 75% handled by Canadian drivers.

“This convoy is open to all freedom-lovers: Farmers, moms in Volvos, plumbers, teachers, nurses, doctors, mechanics, restaurant employees, retirees and students – EVERYONE,” said the Freedom Fighters organization. “If you are within a day’s ride to one of these borders – GO!!!

ALL TRUCKERS — as well as all other citizens with automobiles – can support the Canadian-US Freedom Convoy. People from both countries are encouraged to participate and support your fellow Freedom Fighters.

When: Saturday, January 29th at 12:00 noon EST

Where: Rendezvous at the border locations listed below on.

  • Houlton, Maine
  • Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
  • Sweet Grass, Montana

Convoy Route Information: Canadian Truckers can visit the Canada Unity – Bear Hug 2.0 website for more details about the various convoy routes, meeting spots and times.

Trucker Channel Information: Canada truckers will be reaching out to US counterparts to RALLY. Come out in support With Your Rigs/Cars/Trucks, and convoy to the borders.

  • Canadian Truckers use channel 1
  • US Truckers use channel 19

We also are asking for names of truckers that would be willing to strap short-term signage to their trailers. If you are interested, reach out to Maureen at 406-240-7881. Folks, this isn’t about a vaccine: this is about Freedom. “

God Bless Our Truckers

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Best Tire Safety Practices

Tire safety is not something you should ignore. Even before starting your vehicle, you should ensure that your tires are properly maintained and in good working condition to ensure your safety. There are four main factors to tire health: tread depth, tire age, tire inflation load and routine maintenance.


Always consult the owner’s manual of your vehicle and your tire manufacturer’s included literature for specific information about your vehicle/tire performance. The intent of this article is to supplement and not to supersede this material. In the event of a conflict, always rely on the recommendations of your vehicle and tire manufacturer.

Your tires connect your vehicle to the pavement and so play a major role in your safety on the road. Their health and condition are affected by a number of factors that you should know to keep as safe as possible. The following are also important in improving the length of your tire’s life span.

TREAD DEPTH SAFETY

Tread depth refers to the amount of tread remaining on a tire. It is calculated by measuring the distance between the top of the tread block to the bottom of the tread void. This number is normally displayed in 32nds of an inch but can also be displayed in millimeters.

Tread depth affects handling, traction and stopping distance. As a tire wears and tread depth is reduced, these capabilities are reduced. Reduced tread depth causes even more severe diminished performance in adverse conditions like wet or slick roads and surfaces.Infographic - wet stopping distances increase as tread depth is depleted

As you can see in the wet stopping distance chart above, tread depth affects how well your vehicle can stop, especially on wet roads. Keeping an eye on your tire’s tread depth is the first step in driving and operating your vehicle safely.

TIRE AGING SAFETY

Older tires have a higher risk for failure. Tires are made of rubber which begins to break down over time.

A publication released in 2008 from the Rubber Division of the American Chemical Society entitled, “Rubber Oxidation and Tire Aging – A Review,” goes into detail how an aged tire has reduced crack resistance, which can lead to an increased rate of tire failure. As tires age, oxygen penetrates the rubber causing it to start breaking down on a molecular level. The rubber begins to harden and become brittle, losing its elasticity and strength.

After a certain point, the tire’s ability to carry weight is reduced and could potentially fail. Even if a tire has never seen service or has been used very little, it has still been exposed to time and the elements leading to compromised integrity.

You can determine the age of a tire by the DOT number stamped on the sidewall of every tire produced for street use. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has also conducted studies on tire aging and released findings showing a link between tire aging and the increased chance for tire failure.

Most tire and auto manufacturers recommend replacing your tires between 6-10 years. We change ours at six years.

TIRE INFLATION SAFETY AND LOAD CAPACITY

Properly inflated tires are also important for tire safety. The NHTSA has documented that an under-inflated tire increases the chance of tire failure. A tire must be abl eto hold the weight of not only the vehicle, but also any additional load the vehicle might carry such as fuel, passengers and payload. A tire alone does not have the strength to support this. A tire’s sidewall gains strength as air pressure builds inside the tire, meaning that with proper air pressure, a tire can support a vehicle safely.

Overloading a vehicle with underinflated tires is a recipe for blow outs and tire failure.

Under-inflated tires cannot support the vehicle and quickly become compromised. Driving on an under-inflated tire generates excess heat, causing the rubber to break down. Eventually, a tire will not be able to withstand the excess load and fail.

Check your air pressure often to prevent driving on under-inflated tires. Refer to your owner’s manual or vehicle placard to find the correct tire air pressure for your vehicle.

All vehicles manufactured from 2008 and beyond are equipped with a tire pressure monitor system (TPMS) to help monitor air pressure. The TPMS will alert the driver if pressure falls below 25% or more below the manufacturer’s recommended inflation.

You must check your air pressure often to prevent driving on under-inflated tires. Refer to your owner’s manual or vehicle placard to find the correct tire inflation for your vehicle.

ROUTINE TIRE MAINTENANCE

Proper and timely tire maintenance is crucial to safety. All tires on your vehicle should be inspected, inflated and rotated on a routine basis.

  • Inspect your tires every month. This will help you identify any damage or conditions that could interfere with safety. This is an important preventative step to eliminate risks that could potentially lead to an accident.
  • Check your air pressure every month. Properly inflated tires will sustain the weight of your vehicle and lessen the chance of tire failure due to improper inflation.
  • Rotate your tires every 6,000-8,000 miles. Regular tire rotations prolong tread life, maximizing handling, traction and stopping capabilities of your tires. This also requires removing the tire from the vehicle, allowing a more thorough tire inspection.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.