Red Ribbon thoughts - Advisory Article
by Janet Gallagher
The journey to and from Kerrville was my first long trip on a motorcycle and my first Motor Maid convention. I have so many things to say about the trip, sights, experience, fellow travelers, convention, sister Motor Maids, friendly people along the way...that I am having trouble condensing it for an entry in The Advisory. Last summer was my first full season with my license and motorcycle, and the year I joined this unique organization. Since we will be hosting next year and many of us in Atlantic Canada are new members, I wanted to learn all I could about being a host and experience a MM convention first hand. I was encouraged by our wonderful District Director and others to attend the 2014 convention. Three of our experienced members allowed me to tag along with them on the journey to Kerrville, as well as my fellow “Red Ribboner” Kathy Gallant and her husband. The six of us teamed up in Bangor, Maine and stayed together all the way to the convention and part way back.
Lynne Campbell and Elizabeth Pass had spent time in advance to propose some very interesting routes for us to follow that included some interstate travel for speed but also lots of interesting twists, sights, parkways and routes to make the journey memorable. Travel highlights that stick in my mind would be: the Mohawk Trail; Route 50; Route 219 through West Virginia; Natchez Trace Parkway; rural routes around ranches in Marble Falls; and Taconic State Parkway. Living in a small city like Fredericton and growing up in the woods, I was in awe and loved the challenge of major interstate traffic and lanes going through/near big cities. Keeping all six of us together and alive was no small feat! I have so many happy thoughts and memories as I think about the convention itself, that I cannot list them all. From: the moment we arrived at the hotel and saw so many bikes; felt the buzz in the air; were warmly greeted at the front door by the smiling and friendly Trish from Florida to: the opportunity to meet and socialize with amazing female riders from all over North America; the red ribbon meet and greet and lunch; the challenge and excitement of my first Dot Robinson Road Run; and the emotional feeling of participating in the traditional and formal parade with the official uniform and visit with the veterans....it was all so very exciting, moving and memorable for me. Wearing the red ribbon meant that more experienced members were very welcoming, helpful and informative. We really got the red carpet treatment. I smiled when we received a nice little diary/book as a gift so we could document trip details. My fellow travelers had been teasing me about the level of detail I was keeping about locations, travel times, start times, rest times, dollars spent, etc. I love detail so the trip diary will come in handy.
I was impressed with the job done by the gals from Texas and was very pleased at how willingly they offered advice even in the midst of their own hosting demands. Volunteering in the Hospitality Room gave me an opportunity to meet lots of people and spend time with them in a more relaxed atmosphere. Meeting the MM executives was a highlight for me, allowing me to put names with faces. Having spent years volunteering myself, I know and appreciate the time, effort and talent these ladies graciously provide to the rest of us so we can sit back and enjoy the benefits of a well-run organization. I found the election a challenge as I was impressed by the quality of candidates and I had a really hard time choosing between them for various positions.
I loved to listen to other Motor Maids and hear the stories of where they came from and how long they had been riding, etc., but highlights for me were the stories of our longtime members. They really inspire me, just as our very own Gail Neilson does. What an opportunity for me - to share breakfast and conversation with Gloria Struck on her birthday and hear her stories of riding in decades gone by. Life was so different for them than it is now. They have really paved the way for us. Being able to share the convention experience with 4 sister Motor Maids from Atlantic Canada who traveled with me and two others who flew (due to work commitments) to the convention provided a great opportunity for us to make plans/notes and discuss lessons learned in preparation for a super convention in Moncton to celebrate 75 years strong for Motor Maids. I am so glad I made the trip to Texas (9,882 km / 6,142 miles) and I look forward to many more conventions in my future, including celebrations in Moncton next summer and then on to Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2016. I really look forward to seeing a few hundred familiar faces in Moncton. Thanks to all of you who helped make my first convention and trip an awesome experience for me.