Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: April 2013


Quick Stops: Squire's Castle (Willoughby Hills, OH)

Just because I'm still waiting for Eleanor to return to Cleveland (she's still down in Columbus for repairs) doesn't mean I can't continue to be a tourist in my own local area.

On a random, rainy weekend when Matt was up here, we started driving around the area behind the West End YMCA in Willoughby and came across the North Chagrin Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks. In one of them was an interesting site called Squire's Castle, the stone remnants of a residence that once belonged to Feargus B. Squire, one of the founders of the Standard Oil Company. Here are a few of my photos from that visit. I hope to come back here on the motorcycle, after the leaves grow back on the trees.

The sign leading up to the castle. Time to invade it! (I had to say it, didn't I?)
Some short history of Squire's Castle on one of the walls.
This place has multiple floors, but they're not [easily] accessible.
It's a strange structure that looks very out of place, but could you imagine that view outside your window every morning?
I think if I stare at this a bit longer we could be surrounded by Normans. Or Saxons.
Old entrances are filled in, but it would be safe to assume there were rooms up there.
A well-placed path. You could see the enemy coming! Arrows on the ready?
So there you have it...a castle. In Cleveland. Because you can.


My Farewell to Pamela McCarty-Kroll (2/9/1945-4/7/2013)

One of the trade-offs of having so many mature friends in the motorcycle community is the time when I have to say goodbye, be it to illness or sudden tragedies. In the case of my friend Pam, a dear friend and a colleague at Women On Wheels®, it's especially painful because of the relationship that we forged in the time that we served on the Board of Trustees together. Below is my eulogy and farewell to a riding buddy that taught me so much about appreciating the open road.


Good afternoon, everyone. And hello, Pam.

For those who don't know me, my name is Christine Malazarte and I currently serve as the Vice President of Women On Wheels® (WOW for short), the motorcycle organization that Pam was a part of since 2004. Before I joined her on the WOW Board of Trustees on which Pam served from 2010-2012, I knew of Pam just like anyone else would know her at a WOW International Ride-In™ (our organization's annual gathering); she was the one walking around with the wide-brimmed Tilley hat and a smile on her face.

Which reminds me...[put on Tilley hat]. Much better.

Our friendship started as a matter of convenience. In motorcycle speak, we were next door neighbors via I-70, she in Pittsburgh and me in Columbus, OH. So we would ride home together after the quarterly Board meetings; we opted for land travel when the weather cooperated. We had made this trek from Lincoln back East across I-80/I-70 several times together (over 900 miles one way), and I have more memories about our strangely awesome mishaps than I have time to tell. She was one of my favorite riding buddies and a great companion with whom I trusted my life with.

In those thousands of miles and the times that we were roommates during our Board of Trustees meetings in Lincoln, NE, I can't count the hours that we sat down and talked about everything and nothing . Somewhere along the ride home, in between an iced tea and a steakburger at Steak and Shake in a random town in Indiana (at least it was random to me), Pam would explain how these unassuming towns off the beaten path were her testing gauntlets for many an aspiring professional truck driver and how she'd "get those boys into shape" for the long haul. And somewhere in between, she'd brag about how awesome her grandkids are, some of the things her sons accomplished while serving our country in the military, and her extended family who she always found time to visit. When I was on the road with her, I was never lost; Pam knew this country's interstate and highway system like the back of her hand. Thanks to her, I will never think of Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana the same way again. For Pam, the world, the open road, was her playground. She has even greater places to play now.

If I had to list a few things that I learned from spending time with her, these would be my top three, along with a few stories that go with them.

1. If you were the target of Pam's teasing, you were all right with her.
Although she was a loyal Steelers fan, she followed the NHL Pittsburgh Penguins and a particular "Sid the Kid" closely. When she found out I was an ice hockey goalie, she and several other members of the Three River Riders Chapter met me in Pittsburgh to watch me play against a local team. I then proceeded to embarrass myself in front of them by letting a slow puck shot from 80 ft. away trickle under my stick, in between my legs, and into the net. We still won, but the goal was so ridiculous that she continued to tease me about that for a number of Board meetings afterwards. She'd often remind me many times after that to "keep my stick down like both of my wheels on the road." I'll remember to do that.

2. Challenges can be overcome with a lot of persistence, bravery, and a sense of humor.
In one of our journeys together out of Lincoln, we were met with the tail end of a heavy storm pattern with 45 MPH crosswinds and torrential downpours that made our 900-mile trek one of the most difficult rides that we had ever faced together. Leaning into the wind for hours on end was exhausting and there were times when we had thought of quitting. But that wouldn't happen; riding with a two-time finisher of the Four Corners Ride, a ride that required one to travel to all four corners of the contiguous United States in 21 days or less, I knew I had an experienced guide and mentor to get me through the most brutal conditions. We'd be huffing and puffing (and laughing) at every gas stop, and she still had to ask me if "the right side of my tires still had tread on them for riding sideways against the wind for so long." When things got crazy, her cool and calm demeanor on the road was a comforting sight when Mother Nature put up a fight.

3. Even the smallest moments can become an adventure.
In our last Ride-In™ together in Greenville, SC, we started conversing about things we had never been able to do, a "bucket list" kind of talk. Aside from mentioning her dream of riding to Alaska, she told me that she had never experienced being a passenger on her own motorcycle. So on a whim, she handed me the keys to her Goldwing trike and I took her down the street, her in the passenger's seat, so she could get her first taste of a Jimmy John's sub. She was grinning from ear to ear after that trip and quipped, "Now I know how my grandkid feels when I take him for a ride."

But lastly, I will always remember Pam's generosity, concern for others, and her willingness to help however she could. She loved everyone and made sure you knew it. One of my favorite moments was at that Ride-In™ in Greenville. When she caught wind that one of our British WOW members who had flown in to attend our event had never received a membership pin, Pam came up to me holding the Leatherman multi-tool she always carried with her, took her WOW membership pin off her own jacket, and asked me to help her prepare it to give it to that member. When other WOW members commented on how nice that was, she brushed it off saying, "It's much harder for her to get a new pin from Lincoln than I can."

That was Pam - kind, crafty, funny, adventurous, and giving. But to me, she was simply my friend.

To Pam's family and her husband, Ralph, and on behalf of the WOW Board of Trustees and a grateful organization who is here with us in spirit, thank you for sharing your wonderful wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother with all of us. I am thankful for the opportunity to have grown up with her as a rider, as a person, and as a representative of Women On Wheels®.

Until we all meet again, as Pam would say often (and end her e-mails with), keep it safe. Thank you.


Eggshelland: The End of Cleveland's Unique Easter Tradition

I will never think of eggs the same way again.

Earlier this week, I was invited to visit an Easter tradition in nearby Lyndhurst (suburb of Cleveland) that is ending after 55 years. Affectionately known as "Eggshelland," it is a front yard display of designs made entirely of individually painted eggshells. It's tucked away in a cul-de-sac but if you asked anyone where to find it, they'd be more than happy to point you in the right direction. Started as a labor of love by its original creator, Ron Manolio, in 1957, this 2013 presentation marks not only the end of an astonishing run (Ron passed away in August 2012), but a beautiful tribute to the father (and grandfather) that started this world-famous artistic display.

Easter is here when Eggshelland, Ohio comes to town.