Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Birthday Surprises

Somehow, the month of August has come and gone. It started with getting ready for Sturgis, then recovering from Sturgis, then getting ready for Los Angeles, then recovering from Los Angeles, then getting ready for my birthday, then recovering from my birthday-see a theme here? I still have not had a chance to get all the pics from Sturgis organized and loaded, but it is on my to-do list. It's coming people, I promise!

But first, the important stuff...my birthday was Monday, the 30th. No, not my 30th birthday, rather August 30th. I'm several years past 30. I'll let you decide what "several" means. A few blogs back I posted about surprises that my friends, well, surprised me with. Little did I know at the time that Jim was planning a surprise party for my birthday. Some of you may know that I'm a details gal. I like to know details. Details make me happy. Jim did not give me any details. I couldn't even trick or bribe him...I'm telling you, he's good. He enlisted several accomplices to help with various parts of the operation, and it was perfect. There was food, cake, decorations, tasty beverages, roses, and presents. It's been quite a few years since someone threw me a birthday party, let alone a surprise party, and this one ranks #1.

Side note: the party ranked at #2 is when my friend Angela along with several of our friends surprised me with a four-foot tall plush Kerokerokeroppi. She was with me when I loved and hugged on him every time we went to Sanrio at Crabtree when I was 13-14. That thing is 'da bomb stuffed animal, and yes, I say is because I still have him. There, I said it, I'm 30+ and still love stuffed animals.

Ahem, now, where was I. Ah yes, my 30s. Although this is not where I saw myself at this age by society's standards, I am happy to be here and feel lucky to have such wonderful friends and family in my life. My friend, Diana, who has an appropriate quote for every situation known to man (and puts them to very good use I might add), told me, "If things are tough, remember that every flower that ever bloomed had to go through a whole lot of dirt to get there." - Barbara Johnson.

Now for a few pics from the party.

Sneaky McSneakerson:
August 2010 027-cropped

My Diddy:

Ma and me (and a picture crasher):


Luckily, Jim is trained (among other things) to fight fire: 

"Yay! We didn't have to break out the fire extinguisher!"

Thank you, baby. The suspense was well worth it! 

Friday, August 20, 2010


Since I finished my reading material, I also perused Sky Mall (someone please tell me who needs/buys this crap!) magazine which provided a few laughs. Ironically, this was the cover!

If you've ever browsed SkyMall, you know just how bizarre some of the items are. If you haven't, allow me to share. Here we have the oversized stadium chair if you're a giant or just want to piss off the people behind you:

Below are stalker glasses which will assist me in my new profession as a P.I.

Here we have the car mouse, a Christmas gift for my dad and brother:

And lastly, a birthday gift for Penny, provided he's a good boy.

- Posted from my iPhone

Just call me P.I. Shanpie

Penny, I now know why you get kicks taking pics and writing blogs on planes. It's kinda fun to take sneaky pics of your neighbors. This neighbor ruined having my row to myself because he couldn't handle the chatter of wifey and daughter discuss the intricacies of packing lotion. Sadly, he would not allow me to be on his lunch tab. Note the Corona (with lime) and the big cookie. Apologies for the photo quality. You gotta take what you can get when you're in stealth mode.

- Posted from my iPhone

On the road again

Though the title implies another road trip, it's actually a flight. (yay for no 30+ hour rides in a truck!) This morning I left on a trip to LA for work. Throughout the year I find myself making four to five work trips, mostly day trips to DC, and most all requiring a flight somewhere. My airline of choice is American Airlines, or AA, or EE as a few work peeps like to refer to it. The EE standing, of course, for Evil Empire. Their airline of choice? USeless Air. But with the new travel and expense policy at work, we often do not have a choice which airline to fly. (Da man prefers Southwest; I prefer to get to my destination safely with as little "flair" as possible). I got lucky this time and the cheapest, most convenient flight happened to be on AA. Yay for frequent flier miles! (ask me how excited I am about this when I have to take the red eye back next Monday night).

Parking tip from one of the smart and well-traveled work peeps: take a pic of where you parked so as not to wander aimlessly upon your return (especially when that return is after a red eye). I typically like to park on level four as you can normally find a space relatively close to the elevators, but without having to circle up so many levels that you're dizzy.

(There used to be a pic here, but thanks, Alf, for alerting me to my mistake)

While I am not the most frequent flier, I have been on my share of large cross-country and cross-ocean planes. Much larger than the 3 x 3 I'm on now. However, I haven't ever sat over the wing in those large planes. I don't recommend it. My view out the window at take off was not pleasant. I know it takes huge amounts of gas and power to allow a plane to take off, especially with my big behind on it, but to see the wings struggle to cut through the wind?? NOT FUN!

I wonder what marketing genius decided to put aa.com on the wing of a flight that doesn't have WiFi?

Another tip? Don't pack the second book in your checked bag when you only have a few chapters left on book number one. I've read the in-flight mag twice in English and once in Spanish. Si, intiendo un poco de los articulos y no necesito leer espanol para mirar a las fotografias. Enrique is hot in any language.

- Posted from my iPhone

Monday, August 16, 2010

Back to Life, Back to Reality

After nine days away, it's back to the old routine. Luckily, that old routine included a soft bed with soft sheets. I probably could have slept until noon, but it was an early day for me. I picked up boys from the kennel this morning. They were very glad to get back to their quiet home and had a nice long walk tonight. Now it's time for catching up with my friends in Genoa City. Wow, I've missed a lot (and actually nothing at all...soaps are good that way).

Now for the not so pleasant part. I brought something(s) back with me from the trip...chiggers!! Yuck!!! I thought it was just nasty skeeter bites, but when I showed some people at work, then Googled it, it's chiggers. I nearly passed out. I'm trying every home remedy there is and took some Benadryl which should help with the itching. I will spare you the pics on this one. I hope my friends don't quarantine me to a leper colony.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


After 29 hours on the road we made it back safe and sound. Since it took 34 hours to get out there, I'm not sure how we cut five hours off, but thankfully we did. Now comes the fun part of unpacking, laundry, and arranging the pics we all took.

Thanks to everyone who kept us in your thoughts and prayers for a safe journey. Thank you, Diana for looking after my house and getting the mail. Thanks to my awesome parents for taking care of my yard. It looks great and I don't have to cut the grass!!

Also, I had a nice little surprise waiting for me when I got home.

I wonder if my mom knows just how true that is. Now off to sleep in my very own bed tonight!!

- Posted from my iPhone

Location:My house

Dirty bikes

After an 1,800 mile trip to Sturgis, 900 miles on the bike while in Sturgis, and 1,800 miles home we have four very dirty bikes. Two of the bikes were washed at the camp on Thursday. Though that was more for the boys' entertainment and less about actually cleaning the bikes since the ones doing the washing were bikini-clad girls.

We hit a couple of rainstorms on the way home (which actually did nothing to rinse the bikes), lots of bugs, and even more dirt. The result is below. Pictures just don't do the dirt justice. Before anyone gets any ideas (Jim) I will not be washing your bike in a bikini. It is, however, a good idea for a car/bike wash business.

- Posted from my iPhone

Location:Greensboro, NC

The fly

We picked up a hitchhiking fly somewhere in Missouri and he's been tormenting us ever since. Mike caught him then released him accidentally (sadly I didn't get that on video). I did get Dave's Kung Fu skills on video though.

YouTube Video

Let this be a warning to all flies out there-Don't mess with bikers.

- Posted from my iPhone

Location:Inside the Denali, I-40

In my mind I'm goin' to Carolina

Never have I been happier to be back on home soil. After seeing some parts of the country I've never seen before, I'm so lucky to live in a state as pretty as NC. Don't get me wrong, South Dakota, Wyoming, Iowa, Illinois, and the rest of the states we either visited or drove through are nice in their own way, but there's nothing like the Tar Heel state!!

Driving update: we are just over 25 hours in and have averaged 61.7 MPH including stops. The boys maintain their safe efficient driving record, and I maintain my record of not asking to stop for a potty break. Yep, I'm like a camel.

- Posted from my iPhone

Location:Asheville, NC

My boys

As most of you know, I refer to my dogs, Buddy and Bailey, as my "boys". During this trip I've affectionately referred to the two-legged men as boys. So as not to confuse the two, I just want to clarify that this blog is about my four-legged furry boys, not the two-legged hairy boys.

They have been in the kennel since we left last Friday. I miss them terribly and will pick them up before work tomorrow. I can't wait to get their slobbery kisses and throw the ball for them.

Along the trip we saw a lot of dogs. Every time we passed one I had to pet it. Some people came with their dogs in their RVs and some on the bike (not sure the logistics on that one though).

The sweetest dog was Shorty who we met in Spearfish Canyon during lunch. His owner is a farmer and was one of the vendors there. Shorty is an eleven year old Border Collie with 20,000 miles on him from herding cows and sheep. Such a sweet pup he was.

There was also the docile dogs at the Longhorn Bar in Scenic, SD whose sole job it was to lay on the sawdust floor and greet the patrons.

Every time I pet one of the dogs it made me miss my boys even more. Can't wait to see their sweet faces!!

Location:40 east, TN

The sun rises over Nashville

The sun is rising over Nashville, a Citgo station, and five tired bikers. The boys have done an excellent job of driving safely with efficient stops (sometimes it really pays to be a woman, like when it comes to driving large cumbersome vehicles and packing up camp). And finally we're on 40 East! I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!! After 21 hours on the road we're 1,300 miles down and 500 miles to go. We're making MUCH better time on the way home. I can already hear my bed calling my name.

- Posted from my iPhone

Location:Just east of Nashville, TN

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Eastbound and down

We're 605 miles in to our 1,800 mile trip home. Thanks to Dave, the math guy, we know we're averaging about 59-60 miles an hour including stops, which is way better than the trip out. The boys have done very well with their potty breaks.

At my suggestion we had discussion time (did you really think one of the boys would suggest discussion time?!) during dinner (which we ate while driving to save time) when I asked everyone to share what their favorite part of the trip was. Steve, Dave, and Mike enjoyed the Rushmore ride. Jim liked the Spearfish ride with the waterfalls. I would have liked the Badlands the best if the ride wasn't so hot to get out there, and so I liked the Spearfish ride the best because it was cooler (temp) and the scenery was pretty.

It's now nap time for the boys, except Steve who is driving. Naps and driving don't mix. One-third down, two-thirds to go!

- Posted from my iPhone

Location:Somewhere middle America

Raleigh or bust

We woke up to rain this morning which is actually pretty relaxing to listen to from inside a tent. We got lucky that this was the first day it really rained, and our ride today is in a truck rather than a bike. Steve and Patty left camp today too, but thankfully it had stopped raining by the time they were on their bikes to leave.

We packed up the rest of our stuff and got on the road for our long trip home. We're hoping to cut a few hours off of our trip and make it home by Sunday night. We'll see if the boys can keep the potty breaks to a minimum.

It's nice to have a boyfriend that will do all the packing for you. I didn't have to touch the tent, the air mattress or anything-and in the rain no less. Thanks, Jim!

- Posted from my iPhone

Location:Shade Valley Campground

Spearfish Canyon ride

Since today (Friday-in case I don't get to post this tonight) is our last full day before our trek home we decided to take an easy and short ride through Spearfish Canyon to see some beautiful waterfalls. There were three main falls, and below is a pic of Roughlock Falls.

On the way home we rode through Deadwood (I think our third trip through Deadwood) to stop and have a shot at the saloon where Wild Bill Hickock was killed.

Then on back to camp to load up the bikes and as much other stuff as we could and get ready to go.

A couple of things I've noticed while camping: the stars are gorgeous without the interference of city lights. You can see all sorts of constellations that I wish I knew the name of (though I did see the dippers).

Turkeys really DO trot. We have a nice family of turkeys that visited with us the entire time. They also lived in the trees above us, which was slightly annoying, just BTW, and I won't have any qualms about eating their brother in November.

Lastly, a week in a tent is about four days too long. I think, though, for my first camping trip I did pretty good. And bonus, I'm still alive! The bike didn't kill me and neither did the bugs!

- Posted from my iPhone

Location:Spearfish, SD


Today (Thursday-in case I don't get a chance to post this tonight) we rode over 244 miles round trip to a place called Badlands. That was probably the hottest driest ride we've had so far. We stopped along the way at Scenic, SD at the Longhorn Saloon. Complete with a saw dust floor and an Indian that couldn't wait to tell us about his heritage (which I'm not sure was very accurate since he'd had quite a few Bud's and asked for five dollars for us to take his picture). Yes, those are cow heads (and the cell phone case in the way).

Then we kept on driving into Interior, SD to another whole in the wall saloon called Horseshoe. I must remember next time I go on a trip to bring my Sharpie. Just about every bar we've been in has writing on the wall. Luckily the bars have Sharpies for our use. Here is a pic of JABG that I wrote on a dollar bill that we taped up at the horseshoe. I really needed Diana's skills (and better lighting). Hopefully it turns out better than it looks on my phone.

Then we made it to the Badlands which was just awesome! Words can't describe the site from going from completely flat land to these mountains that used to be under water 300 million years ago. Here's a pic of Jim and me.

By the time we made it back to Sturgis it was dark and we had an awesome lightning show for entertainment. Luckily it was off in the distance and not at our campsite.

Now it's time to relax for another day of riding tomorrow (our last day).

- Posted from my iPhone

Location:Badlands, SD

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What happens in Sturgis...

Last night we went to the Full Throttle Saloon and it's everything it promises to be. It's one crazy party and all of it captured on film for a new season of the tv show on TruTV channel. It's the world's largest biker bar and an all around cool place. Marshall Tucker Band played last night, but we only ended up hearing maybe one song. There was fire, nakedness, dancing in cages-and that was just from the bartenders. Can't wait to see the new season and I sure hope I won't be on it.

After breakfast this morning we went back to the Full Throttle to hook up for the Hoel ride. We rode with a huge group through South Dakota and a little town that is the geographical center of the US (not sure how exactly they calculate that) over to The Little Stone Bar. Then on to Hulett, WY where Apparently it was "no panty Wednesday. I wonder if the boys knew that before we left. Then it was on to Devil's Tower.

We rode 220 miles through the two states. Luckily Steve G. kept us from the rain which was threatening us for the whole trip back from Devil's Tower.

Now it's dinner at the campsite and then we'll see what kind of trouble we get in to.

- Posted from my iPhone

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Things I've learned so far, Part 2a

So this morning I posted a blog about things I've learned. It was fairly clever, long, and even included a pic. Some of you may have seen it, but now it's not showing. So, I'll try to remember the different things and write it again.

I know you've been itching for your American Shanpie fix, and I've been a little slack. That's because service out here with AT&T is horrible. It's very spotty, and my Verizon friends aren't having any issues (I now feel your pain, Penny!). So, I've learned that AT&T and their so-called "map" only really applies to places where there are more people than cows (i.e., NOT South Dakota).

Thing 2 that I've learned, and a suggestion from Dave (go figure). You know what smells worse than a port-a-pottie? The truck that comes to clean out the potties. The take-away from this one, don't park next to the potties or the clean-up truck at a gas station.

South Dakota-ans (the second state that I don't know what they call themselves) really like to blast and bang on their granite. Yesterday we went on a 225 round-trip ride to the Crazy Horse mountain and Mt.. Rushmore. Did you know that the Crazy Horse scultpture isn't completed? When complete, it's going to look like the pic below. Considering it took about 50 years to complete just what's been done so far, I imagine my great-great-great-great grandkids might get to see the finished product.
Crazy Horse Now:

Crazy Horse when finished:

Mt. Rushmore:

Another thing I've learned, the minute it starts raining and you stop to put your rain gear on (which is not too easy for 7 people), it stops raining.

And lastly, for today at least, Zel was right. There IS a Wal-Mart everywhere. We went there today!

No attitudes

Just about every bar/restaurant has signs like the one below. Think I could steal this for my bulletin board at work?

Location:Main St., Sturgis

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Our buddy Jack

Yeah, we had shots of jack, courtesy of Mike (thanks Mike!!!).

No, I did not have two shots. Just one...for now.

- Posted from my iPhone

Location:Main St. Sturgis

We made it!

After 34 hours on the road, we made it to Sturgis last night (this morning) at about 3am. The boys set up the tents (i.e., I watched) and I was in my "bed" by 4am. Never has an air mattress felt so good. We were up by 7, some a little earlier, and we showered. Facilities are pretty nice. We're now headed out for coffee and to find gas and supplies.
- Posted from my iPhone
Location:Sturgis, SD

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The sun sets on SD

Only 26 hours and 1300 miles in and we made it to South Dakota!! Too bad for us that Sturgis is on the OTHER side of SD! Which means we have about 450 miles to go. We're (that's the funny we b/c I ain't driving this thing) gonna try and drive straight there and should arrive about 5am.

We had a pretty sunset greeting us when we crossed into the state.

- Posted from my iPhone

Location:Elk Point, South Dakota

Things I've learned so far

So far I've learned that boys never grow up. They talk about farts at age 12 and in their 40s.

Also, they will go five miles out of their way, twice (couldn't find it off of the first exit), for a Dairy Queen Blizzard.

P.S. note the location of my blog post- Middle, United States. Yep, that's about where I feel like I am. Actually we're somewhere outside Des Moines, Iowa.

- Posted from my iPhone

Location:Middle,United States

First video post

Just signed up for a YouTube account in hopes of posting vids during the trip. Let's see how/if it works!

YouTube Video

- Posted from my iPhone

Location:Frontage Rd,Pittsboro,United States

Our sixth stop

We made it to Indiana, the crossroads of America.

This has been our sixth stop and the bikes are still standing!

Below is a pic of how indianans (is that how they call themselves?) put a/c in their car!

It's about as good as dad's idea of 2/60 air!
- Posted from my iPhone

Location:Austin,United States

Poor Ramses

Just outside Lexington in UK Wildcat territory and poor Ramses is none too happy about it.

- Posted from my iPhone

Location:Versailles Rd,Frankfort,United States

Catfight in WV

Somewhere in WV we stopped for gas. Just across the street at RT Champs sports bar is a woman exclaiming very loudly that she is sorry. Over and over and over. There were many not so nice words being thrown around and Tamara was driven away by her friends. Amazing what you'll see at 2:30am in backwoods WV!

- Posted from my iPhone

Location:Ceredo,United States

Friday, August 6, 2010

How many bikers...

Our second stop so far. How many bikers does it take to check tire pressure? Four.

Luckily, the truck has a DVD player! Tonight's selection is The Guardian. Please pass the popcorn!

- Posted from my iPhone

And we're off!!

Well, we decided to leave tonight instead of tomorrow morning. So, here is a pic of the bikes all packed on the trailer.

We probably have about 100 straps per bike. Gotta make sure they don't fall off.

This is our luggage. Good thing we're driving Mike's Denali!

Sturgis or bust!

- Posted from my iPhone


Somebody pass the caffeine cause we're leaving tonight!

- Posted from my iPhone

Yeah, there's an app for that

In hopes of keeping up with the blog while on the road, I'm using an app on my phone. Please forgive all inadvertent misspellings/mistakes, etc.

Testing upload of a photo:

Hopefully it works!!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Perimeter Park Dr,Morrisville,United States

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Gettin' closer, gettin' nervous

With a little more than 24 hours left until we head out, the pressure is on. I've made a list of essentials that need to be packed, and thought about what needs to be packed, but items have not yet made their way to a suitcase. I've been told to pack for three seasons, plus rain, so I'm thinking layers will be best. Luckily there is a laundry on-site, which means my whole closet doesn't need to come with me, but still...how does one pack for three seasons?!

In addition to the varied temperatures and the rain, apparently one also has to worry about freak hail storms like this one that happened in Deadwood, SD (which is about 13 miles from Sturgis) two days ago. Ummmm, yikes!

Luckily, Steve and Patty arrived at our campground yesterday and set up camp. Looks like we have an awesome spot! Grassy with trees and shade. And since Steve is such a meanie, I dare anyone to try and take our space away! ;)


Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Over the past few weeks, I've had several wonderful surprises. First, Jim came back a day early from Alabama and surprised me at a sushi restaurant with roses. All with the help of our friends Dave and Cathy. I couldn't speak for 15 minutes I was so shocked.

Then, last Friday some friends at work got me an early birthday gift. They all went in together so I could get a helmet for Sturgis! (It was also at lunch that day where they convinced me I needed to start a blog to document my Sturgis trip). A big thank you to Alfonso, Diana, Kelly, Terry, and Tracie for looking out for my safety! Terry found the most perfect card for me.

Outside message
Old Ladies

Inside message

Wise words from two old ladies.

They say things come in threes, and tonight was the third great surprise! My mom wanted to get me something special for my trip, and she wanted it to be unique. Diana came up with the designs and created three of the cutest tank tops I've seen. She is so talented, I just can't hardly stand it! If you would like to see more of her awesome work, please visit her website,  www.inochidesigns.com. Such a talented artist she is!


JABG Chick
JABG Chick

Sturgis 2010
Sturgis 2010

Thank you mom and Diana!!!! Let the packing begin!

Monday, August 2, 2010


Since getting the third degree from my mom, my grandma, and my mom's cousin yesterday (they are so good at asking questions, they should replace Larry King!), I figured I would try to list some of the FAQs for other inquiring minds.

1. When are you leaving and when are you coming home?
We're leaving at the crack of dawn on Saturday, August 7th. Our plan is to travel two days and arrive in Sturgis on Sunday night. We will then make the same trip back the following Saturday, August 14th, and arrive in Raleigh late on Sunday.

2. Who is going?
In the truck will be me (obviously) and four guys from Just Another Biker Group (JABG), Jim (my awesome boyfriend), Dave (fellow UNC grad who will have us in stitches the entire time), Steve S. (fellow Virgo so you know this trip will be organized), and Mike (we'll turn this New Englander Southern if it kills us!). We'll meet up with Steve G. (bad-ass leader of JABG) and Patty (his wife, JABG member, and an all-around awesome biker chick) who have been on a six-week ride (yes, on their bikes!) across the country.

Jim and ShannonJim and Shan

Dave and CathyDave and Cathy

Steve S.
Steve S


Steve G.
Steve G


3. How are you getting there?
Luckily for my behind, we aren't riding the bikes there. We'll be in Mike's truck with the bikes trailered behind. Below is a pic from last night's trial run (I just love it when guys plan ahead!), minus Mike's bike. It's a good thing that they decided to think ahead because as it turns out we needed to go to our Plan B of taking Mike's truck and the bigger trailer.
trailer bikes

4. How long does it take to get there?
A looooooong time! This is what Google says.

5. Where are you staying when you get there?
We're staying at the Shade Valley Campground. Yes, that's right, camping. Believe it or not, I've never been camping before. Tried once in college, but the car broke down on the way to the mountains and we stayed at a Bed & Breakfast instead, so I have a skewed view of "camping". Which means that my first camping experience will be for a week in Sturgis! Luckily, the campground has showers, potties, laundry, and a convenience store on site. I'm relying on Jim to make sure we have the appropriate camping gear. So far, we have an air mattress, large tent, and portable fan. Wish me luck!

6. What are you going to do when you get there?
Hmmmm, the way I answer this question depends on who's doing the asking. ;) As you may have seen from the Sturgis website there are LOTS of things to see and do during the rally including concerts, vendors, restaurants, bars, burn-out shows and all around partying. Mostly we plan on riding. We'll ride through the Black Hills, visit Mt. Rushmore, Badlands, Custer, the Crazy Horse memorial, and Spearfish Canyon, among others.

If anyone has any other burning questions, let me know!!
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