Posted by: mckenzie68 | September 8, 2011

Day 21 – WPFG Adventure – There is no place like home…

I had a plan…ride hard, get home surprise my wife Rae!  Simple really, get up early and ride…easy considering that I had something special to give her for our 10th anniversary!

For the second day in a row I was on the road before the sun was up!  To say that I was exhausted is an understatement, yet I was super motivated to surprise Rae…go time!

Literally from Billings it was straight north on Hwy 87, no traffic, little scenery, lots of animals, and stretches with big temperature shifts!  At one point I went from 20 degrees Celsius to 7 degrees, then back up…all in about a 4 mile stretch!  Very weird!!!

The other thing that stands out about the ride was how little traffic there was, and how remote any help would be.  There was not much along the stretch of Hwy 87 and 191…and it was such a peaceful ride, allowing me to reflect on the ride, the people, and how blessed I am.

I reached the Canadian border before noon, and was through in a heartbeat!  My happiness at being in my own country was short lived, as the roads in that area of Saskatchewan are in very, very bad shape…the next 2 hours of the ride were brutal, with missing pieces of asphalt, gravel everywhere, bumps, potholes, tar, and loose stones.  It made travel very slow.

The positive side was seeing a small herd of antelope on the side of the road, plotting…sneaky little beggars!   Then there was a mother moose and her calf trotting along, taking little notice of me…she was a magnificent animal!

I managed to get to Saskatoon in time to surprise my wife at her work, and when she came out I gave her a Leo Diamond ring with 5 diamonds, one for each year of our marriage!   Not to mention the fact that we are both Leo’s!  Symbolism is not lost with me, yes sir, I get it!  I knelt on one knee and said that I could not miss another moment without her, my lover, my partner, my friend, and that I hoped she would accept the ring as a symbol of our marriage, past present and future!  Of course I could not get that all out, but I came pretty darn close!!!  =D  Happy 10th Anniversary my liebling!

So I kissed her and then rode home, after all I had travelled 15 states, 3 provinces, and 9,761 km, so I was tired!  I arrived home, and unpacked the BMW…it had been an adventure for sure, a wide range of emotions, and time alone to reflect upon my life.  I was blessed with the opportunity to compete as part of a team again with Pete, Raz and JP…THAT made the trip worth it alone!  The time I spent walking around with Raz and Pete in NYC was also very significant,  thanks for being there for the retired guy fellas!

I came in 11th in Grand Master in Police Action Pistol and about middle of the pack overall, not bad for the limited preparation, no gear, borrowed pistol and physical limitations.  I am very happy with how I did, and I am looking forward to the next WPFG in Belfast, Ireland…I truly hope that my wife, Pete, Raz and JP can make it!

So….Do not wait until tomorrow, prepare for it, but do not wait, for it may never be…life is an adventure, live it!

Posted by: mckenzie68 | September 8, 2011

Day 20 – WPFG Adventure – Billings via Yellowstone!

Well Mr Murphy has tried to keep me exhausted, and last night was no different, he managed to kill the air conditioning to my room, and I was not able to sleep.  I did rest, but the sleep I needed was not coming, so I did what any good adventurer would do, I got up!  I was packed and on the road before 5:00am, and the rain from the night before had not went away.

I left Vernal, UT northbound on Hwy 191 which climbed over a mountain range and of course through rain soaked roads.  With all the curves, animals and wet pavement, I decided that I would not push my luck, and traveled at an ultra conservative pace, maybe 40-45 mph!  There is a special feeling riding in the dark, a heightened sense of your surroundings, the coolness of night, the adrenalin from the unknown in front of you, life at it’s fullest.  I stopped a few times, shut off the bike just to take in the silence, high in the clouds.  I was able to do this strictly because there was so little traffic, and I took a picture of the morning mountain mist ahead of me, and although the shot is not perfect it certainly echos the silence of the moment.

I thoroughly enjoyed the solitude, and the road, both inspiring me for what I knew was going to be a marathon ride north to Billings through Yellowstone National Park.

My path along Hwy 191 took me by the Flaming Gorge reservoir and dam, which was stunning in the dawn light, despite the cloud cover.   The exhustion I felt melted away, and as I took pictures in the tranquility of the moment, I knew this was going to be an awesome day regardless of what Mr Murphy tired to throw my way!

The road climbed, wound its way north eventually rising to the Great Divide Plain, a vast grassland area around 8,000 feet up!  I was riding with the clouds, in the clouds and over the clouds!   The area was impressive in the vastness of the plains, and the fact that it was so remote, there was no quick response to anything that happens out there.  There was a chill in the air at that altitude though and that helped keep me aware of my surroundings.  There was no shortage of deer and antelope everywhere along the route, some right beside the road, reminded me of my encounter with a deer in the fall of 2009…

I began to see higher levels of traffic the closer |I got to Jackson Hole, and the Grand Tetons National Park.  Traffic from that point forward was downright dangerous, and was more like riding in New York City, than a National Park!  As I traveled through Yellowstone there were Buffalo jams, Antelope Jams, Deer Jams, Geyser Jams, waterfall jams, and I had reached the point that riding at 20-30 mph with people doing downright dangerous stuff right in front of me had got OLD…really OLD!  ie…”OMG Martha there is a Buffalo, lets stop in the middle of the road, jump out with our door still open in the middle of still moving traffic and then RUN in front of the now hard breaking motorcycle to get that stunning picture”.  Yup, I was so impressed with traffic that I bypassed Old Faithful, geez, and I thought traffic would have been better after school had started!

I made my way northeast towards Hwy 212 and was rewarded with far less traffic and corner after corner…motorcycle heaven!  I never thought I would say it, but I was happy to leave the throngs of tourists behind to enjoy Yellowstone…it was that bad.

The positive side was the ride on Hwy 212, OMG…again OMG what a road!  I had forgot how nice it was and especially Beartooth Pass which was almost 11,000 feet up!  Sure there was a stretch of construction, but chit chatted with fellow motorists, and allowed myself to absorb the beauty of the area while waiting for the pilot vehicle to take us all through the rough construction zone.  The road was amazing and I stopped frequently to take pictures, and just to enjoy the moment…along with several car loads of people who were mirroring my advance north.  Even the thunderstorm (it rained a little but missed us) could not put a damper on our drive!

I rode switchback after switchback to the summit of Beartooth Pass and paused to wave at the other drivers who were going by…the sun at that moment began to peak through the clouds, beams of light reaching out in an array to the valley below, a stunning view, leaving me humble…

I began my decent along roads which had a significant drop of thousands of feet if you make a mistake, so I was cautious, yet I enjoyed the thrill of riding the road, not fast but perfectly…paying attention to the exact line I was taking through a corner.  It was pure bliss!  =D

This portion of the ride more than made up for the disappointment that Yellowstone had been, and I could not have asked for a better way to end the days ride.  Although I was physically and mentally exhausted I reached the hotel (I had booked it the night before) with a HUGE smile on my face.  What an incredible day, long, challenging, but absolutely an adventure….

Although I was exhausted last night, I did not sleep well for some reason, so I decided to get an early start, getting on the road just after 6:00am!  The sun was not even up!  I noticed immediately that it was COLD, 7 degrees Celsius cold!  Yikes…

The ride was awesome with very little traffic… for hours!   I did not run into any heavy traffic until I reached Fort Collins, Colorado, which was about noon.  So roughly 6 hours of high plains, straight roads and heavy winds, and little else.

Once I reached Fort Collins the traffic became very heavy, mostly coming out of the mountains, however I was going into them, not a bad situation for me!  I followed Hwy 14 westbound into the mountains, and it quickly became vary narrow gorge, more affectionately known as Poudre Canyon:

http://coloradoinfo.com/fortcollins/poudrecanyon

 

What an amazing ride with each corner (and there are lots) a surprise in the scenery, rapids, steep canyon walls, waterfalls, bridges, tunnels, I could have spent a couple of days exploring this area.  It was well worth the detour for me, although it added significant time to the trip today.

Hwy 14 eventually links up with Hwy 40 westbound, another very scenic route, but jammed with tons of traffic.  I truly enjoyed the riding, and the scenery, it is what I love about the west, and the traffic died off somewhat after I passed Steamboat Springs, CO.  The BMW got a really good workout with all the corners, and I am pretty sore as well.

After an extremely long day in the saddle, I made it to Vernal, UT!!!  WOW  So I did what any good rider would do, found a hotel and jumped into the HOT TUB!!!  There is a theme here…  =D  LOL

I am going to be heading straight north tomorrow for the first time, and the path should take me through the Grand Teton Mountain Range, then Yellowstone, and Bear Tooth Pass!  I am so excited!

Posted by: mckenzie68 | September 4, 2011

Day 18 – WPFG Adventure – Macon to McCook!

I got up early, excited to head out of Missouri and put a long day in the saddle to clear the flatlands of Kansas.  I was on the road in a flash, heading west towards Kansas on Hwy 36, a really nice 4 lane highway with zero traffic!  It was nice for the second day in a row to have long stretches of road with very few vehicles to worry about.

I noticed a sign for the Locust Creek Covered Bridge and decided to have a look.  It was almost 2 miles of gravel road (not a rough road) to get there and I parked the bike.  By the look of the parking area, there are not many visitors to the bridge.  I grabbed my camera and headed down a long path with trees draping over it…it was so very quiet and quite beautiful.

I reached the bridge and it immediately reminded me of the movie Sleepy Hollow, and the long covered bridge in it.   It was so quiet it was rather eerie, and I had an uneasy feeling I was being watched.  I did not see anyone or any cameras, so I knew there was no one but I could not shake the feeling.  I walked around the bridge taking pictures and then walked up to the entrance…looking towards the other end really made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.  I walked in and all the way to the other side, took some pictures and then decided to leave.  I still felt I was being watched…very weird!  =|

I jumped on the BMW and we continued out journey west on Hwy 36, also known as the Pony Express Highway.  Not much to report really, not a bad drive, but not much in the way of scenery or adventure.  I checked the BMW’s final drive each time I stopped and the measures I took seemed to be working, there was a little seepage but nothing to worry about.

I finally found a place to stay in McCook, Nebraska, and of course tested the hot tub right away.  I am pumped about heading into Colorado tomorrow, it is going to be an awesome day!

 

 

Posted by: mckenzie68 | September 3, 2011

Day 17 – WPFG Adventure – Mr Murphy again…

So what a terrible sleep, so sore, an I did not take anything…yeah my fault, what the heck was I thinking!  LOL  I was on the road quick again today, with the intention of putting in a super duper mega huge epic ride, in other words a long day in the saddle.  =D

Once on Hwy 74 westbound I noticed immediately that this Interstate highway is not crowded, in fact there were hardly ANY vehicles at all!  Although there was not much to see except farmland and trees, it was so nice not to have to be on edge all the time due to vehicular traffic.  The weather was very hot and humid and was 34 degrees Celsius by the time noon rolled around!  I felt like a pig in a blanket…tee hee!  =D

I decided to stop for a break in Springfield, IL and as I pulled off the interstate I noticed vehicles everywhere, pulled off the side of the road, and people standing there like they would for a parade.  As I drove to a nearby mall I noticed two firefighter ladder trucks with their ladders extended to the sky and put together in an arch.  I knew then that it was to honor someone who had passed away.  I pulled over near the intersection and turned off my motorcycle, and I asked someone what was going on.  There was a nice family nearby and the father explained that it was to honor a young soldier who had been killed in Afghanistan.  I took a couple of pictures as the procession approached and then saluted as it passed by, then the most amazing sight I have seen, hundreds of motorcycles, vehicles all in the procession, carrying flags, there was a police escort to make sure that no one blocked the procession.  It was very emotional for me and others even though we did not know this young man.

I went into the mall to grab something really cold to drink and spoke to some really nice people, one of whom was very helpful in terms of my trip.  She helped me realize that I am so fortunate, and how much I miss my lovely wife while on this journey.

I looked the motorcycle over as I always do before each ride, and noticed that the final drive had started to weep oil!  This was not a good thing as there have been many documented final drive failures on the ADVrider.com website, and I did not want to experience one at highway speed.  It did not look too bad at that point so I carried on, stopping regularly to check it.

Eventually I reached Hannibal, MO and decided to pick up some full synthetic gear oil (in the weight specified for the bike) and looked for a place to stay.  I drove all over Hannibal with no luck and then went westbound looking for places to stay, and lucked out in Macon, MO!  YAY!!!  I settled in, and of course first order of business…HOT TUB!!!!  Oh yeah baby!  It felt so good on my aching body…

I then got to work on checking the final drive, and replacing the fluid with some fresh synthetic gear oil.  I took off the rear rim, drained the old oil which looked normal, it was the right quantity, and poured it into a clear plastic glass so I could look for metal fragments, there were none.  So the leak was not bad, which is good news as I was really concerned that Mr Murphy had managed to finally get me.

I added the fresh gear oil, and as I proceeded to button everything up there was a loud thunder clap nearby!  I looked west and sure enough there were some very ominous looking Dark Clouds (probably Mr Murphy’s buddy) bearing down on the hotel.  I took some quick pictures and worked like a crazy man to get everything done, and then the skies opened up!  I had lucked out again!!!

Storm after storm have went through the area, giving me quite the show and keeping me indoors…I do not want to get hit by lightening!  Tomorrow looks to be a little cooler which is fine with me, and should allow me to get across Kansas to Colorado…it is going to be a good day!

Posted by: mckenzie68 | September 2, 2011

Day 16 – WPFG Adventure – An OMG what the heck day!

I had decided to get up early to put in a hard days ride to get as far west as I could, away from most of the heavily populated areas of the east.  I was tired this morning having had nightmares all night, must have scared myself!  LOL

I did not waste any time at all, being very efficient at packing, eating and loading the bike.  Before long I was on the road, westbound on I-70, making time!  It was already 25 degrees Celsius so it was going to be a warm day!

Interstate driving is tedious at the best of times, so maintaining 100% vigilance is always a challenge.  I was enjoying the lovely morning ride westbound, with a group of cars far in front, a white Lincoln Town Car about 50 meters in front of me, and a large group of traffic coming up behind us.  I noticed movement to the right, and suddenly there was a small doe on the highway in front of the Lincoln!  He swerved frantically to the left fishtailing just missing the deer which now was completely panicked and bouncing (as deer do) head on towards me!  My heart officially visited my throat, my blood decided that it required a huge burst of adrenalin, and I did what I needed to do, no braking (no time) just swerved to the left, just missing the deer who was now heading right into the path of the following pack of cars/trucks.  I could hear screeching brakes, but did not look back, and gave it gas lest I get rear ended by someone looking at the deer instead of looking in front of themselves.  I am not sure if anyone hit the deer, but after the adrenalin wore off and I started to shake, I actually felt sad for the little deer (only because I did not hit it cause that would have made a bad day for us both) as it must have been so scared.  Poor thing…

I continued westbound, grateful that I had played dodge-ball with another deer and won this time!  Yay me!

The heat increased rapidly throughout the morning and I was looking for an excuse to stop and take a break, and BAM, there is Competition Accessories, a very large provider of motorcycle gear!  So I took the next turn off and eventually made my way back to the store.  It was an absolutely massive building, and I was so excited, yeah motorcycle things do that for me…I am a motorcycle geek!  I walked around the air conditioned building looking at motorcycles (a nice Red Ducati Multi Strada), clothing and gear.  It was about the nicest way yet to stretch my legs and have a break.  I needed to get back on the road so I headed out to the BMW and was approached by Keith, who had recently purchased a BMW RT1150.  We chit chatted for a while and he said he was going planning a trip around the north of Lake Superior, a trip I literally had just done!  I gave him some hints on places to see, webisites and places to avoid, it was sad that I had to carry on, I could have talked motorcycles and travel all day long with him.

I noticed an extremely heavy police presence in Ohio, all along I-70, so much so that I counted at least 21 police vehicles during my trip across that state.  Those were the ones that I had personally seen, so there obviously is an issue with I-70, which was my thought as I left the state.  Then it occurred to me that the speed limit was 65 yet it was 70 in the Indiana…the traffic flowed at about the same pace with a few vehicles pushing the envelope, making them easy pickings.

As the afternoon wore on, I knew that I needed to get off the road, it was already 38 degrees Celsius and I was beginning to feel the effects of the heat.  I started to look for places to stay as I approached Indianapolis, Indiana.  I did not want to stay in the city and took the bypass around it.  There was constuction preventing me from thaking the normal off ramp to Hwy 74, so I pulled off the rim road onto highway 136 and headed westbound to get on highway 74 via another exit.  I saw a big commotion ahead, and realized that a major traffic accident had just taken place about a kilometer in front of me.  Traffic came to a stand still and I did not want to try and get around just in case emergency vehicles needed the space.  Eventually traffic began to flow, and I saw a man fighting with people trying to get to a car which had been crushed from a side impact.  The car was a Chev Cobalt which had been T-Boned by a Chev full size pickup truck at high speed.  I could see the passenger was trapped and that was why the fight was taking place, the man wanted to get to the car, and people were holding him back.  It did not look good, and although I wanted to stop, there was already too many people there, and that would make the job of Fire Rescue members even more difficult.  I could not believe how many people had just stopped jumped out of their vehicles, leaving them blocking the road.  Awesome thought to help, but pull off the road, leave space for the rescue vehicles and EMTs.  It was a sad sight…similar to so many I have witnessed throughout my career.  I said a little prayer as I continued west.

I finally found a place to stay in Crawfordsville, IN and was happy to get out of the heat.  What a day.

Posted by: mckenzie68 | September 1, 2011

Day 15 – WPFG Adventure – Dark cloud strikes again!

The sleep I had last night was the best I have had in over a year, and that is without medication for my hands!  YAY!!!!!!!  That made sleeping in worth it, normally I am up really early, but today 9:00am!  I had a quick shower and had breakfast, super excited about riding in the southern Pennsylvanian hills.

As I packed the bike I noticed that it was overcast, with no signs of rain clouds I thought what perfect weather for a ride.  Warm, little wind, and just the right amount of light, what more could I ask for!

I headed southwest on secondary roads near Hwy 995 and the Whitetail Ski Resort, and there was literally no one on the roads!  The route was full of challenging corners, big dips, and the both combined!  I had so much fun, enjoying the perfect weather, perfect roads, what an amazing hour.  I did pass a giant 3 wheeled tractor type of farm equipment that I had never seen before…I gave the farmer the biggest wave ever, he nodded, probably thinking who is that alien looking guy!  LOL

Just as I reached Hwy 40A westbound I could see Mr Dark Cloud, dang it I thought, and not long after that the skies opened up big time, thunder, lightening and heavy rain.  I stopped to put on my rain gloves and then carried on westbound.  The rain did not let up, and it was extremely challenging once I got onto I-68, heavy traffic, corners, limited visibility, lots of water on the road, and claps of thunder.  There must have been a lightening strike near the highway, because one of the thunder boomers sounded like a BOMB behind my helmet!  Scared the crap out of me, so I pulled off at the next rest stop to take a little rest to keep my concentration up to par.

Mr Dark Cloud was trying to intimidate me, and he was doing a good job.  By the time I reached Wheeling West Virginia I was exhausted even though I had not covered that much territory.  I started to look for a place to dry out for the night, and eventually found a hotel in St Clairsville.  I was dripping wet when I walked in the the hotel, and there was a guy talking to the clerk, he called me the terminator…I was thinking did I really look like a terminator or more like an alien?  Hhhhhhhmmmmm…

So I settled in for the rest of the night, setting up my gear so it could dry properly.  I am not sure where I am going tomorrow, but maybe I will put some miles on to get further west…I might get to spend some time in the Rockies then!   The morning was so good, that there is nothing that Mr Dark Cloud could have done to ruin my day…  =D

Posted by: mckenzie68 | August 31, 2011

Day 14 – WPFG Adventure – NYC to Chambersburg

WOW, another short night and I needed a Timmies bad, but I wanted to get on the road before NYC traffic got crazy.  So I was packed and ready to go by 05:30am!  I decided to take the Holland Tunnel off Manhattan Island and then head west to check out the Gettysburg Battleground which is in Pennsylvania.

I had studied the map, knew the highways to take, and had the Garmin GPS set up, no problems right?  LOL  For some reason my Garmin took me on a tour of New Jersey, and then back to Manhattan!  Although it took me through some interesting areas, the increase in traffic had me wanting the fastest way out of the mess I got myself in!  =D

I eventually found my way to Hwy 78 and took it westbound to Harrisburg and then south to Gettysburg.  I even found a fake of a German WWII Tiger1 tank!  I took a turn to get close to it, and ended up on a gravel road which eventually took me to the tank.  I knew that it was mocked up on a Russian T-34 tank (also WWII vintage) but it was cool to see that they got the turret pretty close, as well as the other details.  I was also aware that there were fake Tiger tanks used in Kelly’s Heros (old Clint Eastwood movie) as well as Saving Private Ryan, so I knew that this might be one of those knock offs!  Sure enough it was one of the ones built just for Saving Private Ryan!  Cool!!!  In the movie you can clearly see the plate in the front which is now missing and the number on the turret.  It is now part of a re-enactment society!

http://www.9thsspanzer.com/VandE/Tiger.html

http://jernbane.co.uk/mrbilder/SPR.jpg

http://www.cix.co.uk/~mollusca/tank/9807bov12.jpg

I continued on to the Gettysburg Battlefield Visitors Center & Museum.   I was met by a very knowledgeable park ranger as I walked the path from the parking lot to visitors center.  He was so interesting, and was able to provide me with a relatively brief outline of the battle, in one attack (Pickett’s charge) the Confederate Army lost 5,000 men in just over an hour.  The area where it took place during the civil war is massive and almost surrounds the entire town of Gettysburg!  There is about 1500 memorials/monuments and it is where Abraham Lincoln made his Gettysburg Address.  I thanked the ranger for his help and had a brief look inside the center, then made the decision to drive around checking out the battlefield.  I drove around for an hour and the ranger was right, it is an absolutely massive area where the battle (actually multiple battles) took place.  The pictures I took do not do it justice, suffice to say if your ever in the area, it is definitely a must see!

I was so tired that I needed to find a place to stay, the ride had been pleasant, but I was quickly losing concentration, so much so that it was not safe to be on the road.  I found a hotel in nearby Chambersburg, and booked myself in…first task, unpack, second task…HOT TUB!!!!  Oh yeah, I LOVE it!  It helped sooth my muscles and I had a little nap afterward.

I am not sure where I am going tomorrow, but I do know I will enjoy the adventure!

Posted by: mckenzie68 | August 31, 2011

Day 13 – WPFG Adventure – Police Action Pistol!

So I was up most of the night again!  Even though I was super tired, I was also equally excited, today was the day I get to compete against members from police agencies across the world in the Police Action Pistol (PAP) event!  I showered, and dressed in record time, and began the walk to the convention center to catch the shuttle bus to the NYPD Range at Rodmans Neck.

I bought a chicken falafel along the way and although it was spicy, it was just the right fuel to start the day!  =D  I met Raz and Pete, we got on the bus and left at about 06:30am.  The 20 mile ride to the range was actually pretty quick  considering it was rush hour.  I think that was due to how the traffic lights were synchronized, and as well as our driver who was highly skilled in traversing roads in the NYC area!  Raz, Pete and I were a little concerned as JP (a fellow CPS member) was taking the Subway to the range, which we knew did not travel all the way to the range, so JP would have to take a connecting bus or a cab from the subway to the range.

Once we arrived (through very tight security) we lined up to register, and we were about mid pack in a line up of 240+ athletes for the PAP event.  It took about an hour to register, pick up guns, and ammunition, and then we all attended the compulsory range briefing.  Things were looking good, and although we had lost a whole day due to Hurricane Irene, (the event shortened as a result) we thought things looked organized.

We excitedly went to the first range where we met with around 30 other shooters in our squad, and got our first look at stage #1 of the event.  It was a long one with multiple targets at multiple shooting areas!  We learned from organizers that turned out that they intended to run 6 of the 7 stages that they had planned, and this one looked very exciting.

We loaded our magazines and recieved out stage briefing, then watched the first shooter go through the stage…about 40 minutes after we had arrived!   The shooting looked challenging and fun, then the scoring took place, very very slowly.  JP and I recognized right away that there was no possible way to get 240 shooters through this stage alone.  It was painfully slow, and by the time our team got to shoot it was almost noon (only 12 shooters had been through that stage at that point), very hot out, and we had only done 1 stage out of the 6!  This was due to the sheer number of targets to be scored, the inexperience of the range officers in this type of PAP event, and the lack of staff to patch targets…all of this combined slowed the stage to a snails pace.

The result of our shooting, JP was amazing, Raz, Pete and I did OK, about average from what I was seeing from the other shooters.  Not  a bad start…

We went to the 2nd stage, which was empty, and asked if we could begin shooting, the ranger officer said that we could not and that he needed to authorization from the Range Master to put us through.  This took about 40 minutes, and during this time not a single round was fired down the Stage #2 range by anyone.  Once permission was received it was too late, the delay had caused a very large crowd of shooters to bunch up at this stage…way to many to manage.  This lack of organization would lead to a very unhappy ending for all of the shooters at this event. =(

We noted that despite the delays some of the stages were very exciting, challenging and fun to shoot.  While waiting to shoot we met Don, a police officer from Washington State (I left the agency out) who was on our squad and was fun to hang around and chat with.  He was also a very good shooter, and it was fun to watch him compete in each stage with his GoPro camera attached to his head, and his special toed shoes.  I am looking forward to see the video of him shooting the events, it would be a very cool perspective!

We also had the Hong Kong Police Shooting Team on our squad, and although we could not understand what they talked about, they appeared very professional, and were very good shooters, competitive even though they were using revolvers!

One of the longer stages had a bank of targets where you had to literally hang around the post to see the targets, it was so much fun!  Lots of different approaches, much like dancing, lots of legs swinging and wobbling about!  With all the standing water behind the targets we were also entertained with huge splashes as the bullets entered the water!  =D

JP had brought his lovely wife Pat, and it was fun to talk with them (and everyone else) about police work, shooting, travelling and such…I forgot how much fun it is to be in a team environment, I truly miss that!  Despite the challenges of the day, we all soldiered on and it was JP who stepped up to the plate to challenge the organizers, who were letting some teams shoot and forcing others to wait hours.  We all watched him work his magic with range staff, and Pat mentioned to me as we watched him that he was like “a dog with a bone” when there is something not being done right!  I for one appreciated him looking out for our team, it helped bring us together for sure.

One of the stages was 4 banks of targets, each bank had a magazine change in between and lots of movement.  We all did really well on this event, but JP set the outright fastest time of the day over any other shooters…by over 3 seconds!  That is like a Porsche vs. a VW in terms of performance, and put him at the top of the class, despite him losing a little skin sliding into the last shooting box!  The frustration of the day, and high heat melted away, as our team left that stage pumped, it was awesome to see everyone do well on that stage, and to have JP “OWN” it was priceless!

We had completed 5 of the 6 stages when the event was stopped, it was already dark and about 8:30 pm.  We then learned that most of the teams had only finished 4 events, and that the organizers were going to figure out how to score everything.  JP talked to the Range Master and event organizer Brian Jackson, and he said that there were only 2 stages that everyone had completed which would be used to assign a score based on percentage data.  We also found out that they could have had a second day for the PAP event as the range was only being used for a practice session on Wednesday…our event PAP had no practice, and was not completed.  An inappropriate decision putting practice over an event…salt in the wound for PAP shooters!

The ride back to the convention center was quiet, everyone tired from a long day at the range.   We did our best, had fun on some of the stages, laughed lots, and got to hang around with police officers from around the world, a pretty good day.  I cannot tell you about the day without explaining why the event was not completed, and despite Hurricane Irene showing up, the elements which ruined the event were completely controllable.  There were some fundamental issues with how the range, and stages were organized which ultimately lead to the non event, and I will not get into those details, it would sour what was a positive experience.  There is always good in everything.

Once we got back to Manhattan we decided to have a quick bite to eat at a sushi bar…we laughed, chatted about the day and perhaps entering in the WPFG in Belfast, Ireland in 2013!  I gave everyone a big hug, and said goodbye…it was a long sad walk back to the hotel, I miss them all already.  The one thing about retirement that they cannot prepare you for is the loss you feel at not being a part of a team.  Pete, Raz and JP (you too Pat) were so much fun to hang around, chat with, and I enjoyed every moment!  Thanks so much guys…stay safe!!!

***Note – I will update if the organizers post up any stats from the PAP event, and obviously I am on my way home and will not be participating in the PPC event.

Posted by: mckenzie68 | August 29, 2011

Day 12 – WPFG Adventure – Gearing up for competition!

I did not get up early today, struggled with pain all night, even after taking medication, I could not get a reasonable sleep.  I could have got up, but chose to relax hoping that would help…it didn’t, and after a while I got up at about 9:45am, showered, and went out for some breakfast.  I managed to located a Timmies close by and enjoyed a nice morning coffee, and later a Subway breakfast wrap.  Of course I was wearing a white shirt, and we all know what that means!  LOL  I returned to my room with a big ole coffee stain smack dab in the middle of the chest, I washed it out as best as I could and hung it up to dry.

I contacted Pete and Raz, arranged a meeting point, the NYPD station on Times Square…it was not long before they showed up.  The crowd in Times Square was huge, probably all the tourists who had been stuck in their rooms for 2 days trying to catch up!  =D

Our event was supposed to start today, but was scrubbed as the range has been flooded, and we will all have to complete the event in one day…tomorrow!  At least it gave me a chance to gather some gear for the event.  I needed to pick up a belt, holster, and mag pouches, and based upon a conversation with a nice lady from Olinville Arms in the Bronx they had the items I would need.  I convinced Raz and Pete to come with me on the subway ride to the Bronx, nice to have a couple of body guards!

We got on the #2 train northbound to the Bronx and the rail car we were on was relatively empty, and we got pretty good seats in the front car.  As we left Manhattan island under the east river the subway went from being underground to an elevated system, just like you see in the movies. Immediately I noticed that we were now exposed to the “real” New York, raw, edgy, rough, whatever you want to call it, the change was palpable and easily observed.  There are no big skyscrapers, no cop on every corner, and the graffiti, barbed wire, and run down buildings spoke volumes about the criminal elements in the area.  At one of the first stops a female entered the subway car and she was obviously talking on the phone via a headset type device.  Not only was she loud, but was using language that others would consider racist, and offensive…and it was non stop.  The others on the train showed no reaction to this display, and I tried to do the same, after all I was only there for the ride, but I was captivated by her.  I listened to the conversation which referenced violence, drugs, racism, and I lost count of the number of times she used the “N” word.  This was truly a very short exposure to what the Bronx was like, nothing like the experiences I had in Manhattan during a similar exposure.

We reached our stop at Burke St and walked about two blocks north to Olinville Arms…it was intimidating as we were clearly did not fit in, and were eyeballed by some who were clearly part of the criminal element, one of whom Pete had noticed was armed!  We were relieved to get to the store for sure!  I managed to find what I needed in order to compete, and we decided to head back to Manhattan immediately.  We returned to the subway platform and waited for the southbound #2 train, watching others who were clearly watching us.  The train ride back felt so much quicker for some reason…  Keep in mind that this is not a reflection on the majority of law abiding good people who reside in the Bronx, only the obvious unsavory ones, and a very, very limited view.  Regardless what I have said does reflect what I had observed, and it differed significantly from what I had observed in Manhattan.

Once back in Manhattan, I dropped my newly purchased gear in my room and then went out to look for presents…all of us needed to get something nice for our lovely spouses!  =D  This took significantly longer than we all anticipated, mainly due to the inflated prices in some stores.  It was fun to watch Raz spending so much time to find just the right thing for his wife, and Pete going out of his way to get something from the NHL store for his kids.  It made the long walks, and shop exploration worth it.

We needed to go to the convention center to gather information about the Police Action Pistol event and the shuttle service to the range.  It was a long walk, with a short side trip so Raz and Pete could drop their purchases in their hotel room.  As we approached the convention center we could see that it was buzzing with activity, athletes everywhere, and competitions going on inside.  We checked out a boxing match between a Hong Kong police officer and a French firefighter…the cop won!   There was also basketball, indoor soccer, darts and rowing, waaaay too much for us to stay and watch.  We located guest services and found out that our bus departs at 06:30am, and with that we decided to head back to our rooms to get some rest.  No Hurricane Party for us…we need to be on top of our game for tomorrow so we can represent ourselves, our agency and our country with our best effort!

I returned to my room, and put together everything I needed for tomorrow…I need to do some mental preparation after I finish this blog, then some much needed sleep….we walked quite a bit today!

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