Four Kitties – myself, Debbie Belknap, Lori (Resnik) Gibbs and Donna Hudson made up the total membership of that first KKMC ride. We were full of nervous excitement when we met at the Newton Resnik Motors parking lot back in 2004. It hadn’t yet occurred to us that it would be much more efficient to meet at a gas station so we could fill our tanks with gas and our stomachs with coffee rather than make a stop for gas on the way to the destination location. Lori and I were both brand new riders, with Donna and Debbie being more experienced bikers. There was no such thing as a Kitty shirt or a Kitty Kap or a Kitty bandana or a Kitty necklace or really Kitty anything. All we had was an idea, motorcycles, the love for riding and the ABCs to guide us on our trips.
Fast forward to 2014 and instead of four riders heading to Abilene, there were 17. We hugged our hellos after the long winter break and welcomed our two newest Kitties, Maureen Humbolt and Paula Franklin. What must have looked like some serious drug deal going down to outside observers, was really Linda Moreland and I pimping carnival tickets for the first ever 50/50 raffle (which by the way, was a BRILLIANT idea!) After filling my baggie full of cash and tickets, calling roll call and getting some safety advice from Dana Branam for the windy conditions, we split into two groups and off we went.
The trip to Abilene was heavenly. The wind was at our backs and everyone had a pleasurable opportunity to shake off the cobwebs after the long winter. However, we were soon jolted out of our dream-like state when we had to make a sort trek to the east and felt the full blast of that south wind Dana had warned us about. As I looked in the rearview mirror, it appeared that the world had been tilted to the north as every Kitty behind me was riding sideways. Thankfully, we were soon back on a northern road and the rest of the trip to Abilene was uneventful – unlike the one in 2004. You see, something I hadn’t yet learned was that one should perhaps pay attention to how many miles it had been since one had last filled up. With an empty tank, I came to an embarrassing, sputtering stop. But at least it wasn’t windy that day! (That’s me trying to find the silver lining to my rookie blunder.) After some help from the aforementioned experienced bikers, we were back on the way.
Damn good food! That’s really the only way you can describe the food at the Brookville Hotel. Sure, your options are chicken and well….chicken, but it’s fried up just like Granny used to do it and served family style (that’s another way of saying you can eat…and eat…and eat and when you can eat no more, you wrap it up in foil and stuff it in your saddlebags so in three days when you MIGHT be hungry again, you can eat…and eat…and eat again.) And don’t even get me started on the taters. These aren’t the Maureen Stout kind that is poured out of a box, mixed and stirred. No ma’am, these were good old-fashioned, honest to goodness, Thanksgiving-style mashed potatoes!
As we all were gorging on the fabulous food and coining the term “Two Mos not Hos” in honor of Maureen Humbolt and Maureen Stout, me and my greasy fingers counted out the 50/50 money from my zip lock baggie and HOLY FUR BALLS! – we had collected $82.00! That meant that one lucky Kitty was going home $41.00 richer than she was when she left her house that morning. Finally, after lapping up the last drop of vanilla ice cream like any well-mannered Kitty would do, the moment had come. In unison, everyone pulled out their cheater glasses so our middle-aged eyes could read what they knew would be the winning number. Sue Morrissey had the honors of putting her own greasy little fingers in the baggie and pulled out…drumroll please…COLLEEN WILLIAMS! Congratulations to Colleen for being the first ever 50/50 winner!
As we all lined up to pay our tab, another flashback from 2004 came roaring back. Arriving at the Brookville Hotel on that milestone day, I was completely flustered from the gas incident; nearly dropping my bike at a gas station when we arrived in town (note to self: one must have one’s bike in neutral and not first gear when starting one’s bike); and having ridden 90 whole miles – all at once – on the same day – without my customary escort of my husband. So, as I approached that same counter to pay, I shouldn’t have been surprised to see my credit card wasn’t in whatever it was I carried such things back then. Thinking I must have dropped it along the way, I retraced my steps all the way back to the bike. To my horror, there was not only my credit card laying on my bike seat, but also my bike keys! What I essentially had done was put a sign on my Sportster that read, “Please help yourself to my bike and for your convenience, I’m also leaving my credit card so you can fill it with gas and go ahead and buy whatever else you would like, too.” I don’t think I even told the other girls what I had done as I was too embarrassed to admit that I was too stupid to be allowed to leave the house alone.
After being told by another patron of the Brookville Hotel that we were to leave the young boys alone and after I responded to said patron that we would do no such thing, we snapped our group photos and said our good-byes to six of the Kitties who had websites to launch, grandkids to babysit and various other reasons to get back to Wichita early. The other 11 Kitties rode on to the Seelye Mansion for a little history lesson. I’m almost certain I detected a look of fear in the eyes of the Mennonite family from Canada when they saw these 11 mean and tough Hell Kats join them on the tour. I’m almost certain I actually saw them smile at us by the end of the tour when they realized we were nothing but sweet and purdy Pussy Kats. The highlight of the tour came when we were all given the opportunity to go bowling – early twentieth century style. The lowlight of the trip was when I realized that I am no better at bowling without finger holes than with. We also learned that some people might go slightly overboard in their collections. One has to wonder how long it takes to collect over 700 nutcrackers and then one has to ask…why?
After an incredibly interesting tour of what life was like for the rich and famous in 1905, and pulling Laura Kidder away from inspecting each and every closet in each and every room, we said our good-byes and went outside to recreate a memory on the garden bridge. I can’t remember who we convinced to take our picture in 2004, but in 2014, we had a cutie patootie, tattooed yard boy who said hell yeah! when we asked him to please, pretty please – take our picture? After our photo shoot and with raindrops falling on our bandana-ed heads, we decided it was time to hit the road and that, my dear Kitty Sisters, is when the fun came to an end. As we were riding 65 mph, the wind was pushing us back at 40 mph. As we tried to stay in our 1/3 of the lane, the wind was trying to show us the other two thirds. And as tough as it was to fight that relentless wind, it made me giggle when I reflected back at our return trip on that original Abilene ride when we had to stop in Durham because, really, who can expect one to ride 90 miles without a break?
What the wind didn’t do was ruin the spirit of the 17 Kitties who came out to play on April 26th. While much has changed over the last ten years, our passion for adventure and fun is not one of them. “B” for Beaumont will be our destination in May, just like we did in 2004. By then we had added a couple more Kitties; we had become official with a logo and were working on t-shirts to put it on; I had learned how to tie a bandana around my gawd awful hair; and I had come to the realization that it was best to keep your valuables on your person.
Kitties on board for the Rinse and Repeat trip was Janice Friedman, Dawn Morse, Kari Miller, Maureen Humbolt, Christine Allsman, Dana Branam, Linda Moreland, Colleen Williams, Maureen Stout, Nellie Taylor, Paula Franklin, Teresa lacy, Bobbie Cole, Christina Brown, Sandy White, Laura Kidder and Sue Morrissey.