Ride Blog

  • Jim Clarahan

Week 2 - Day 8, Sunday Aug 9, started from just outside of Schaumburg, IL, the day before the dreaded Derecho devastated much of the Midwest. First stop, top the tanks, then RSM's Schaumburg office where I was greeted with hugs & high fives from two of my teammates, Monica Bravos & Olivia Song. Plus fresh black coffee to help kick start my day. Then onto Riverside, IL to say hello to lifelong pal, Les, wife Liz and his classic 350 Rocket, Oldsmobile Cutlass for a commemorative photo op.

Then a buzz down memory lane to 1038 N Grove Ave, Oak Park, IL. A two BR brick bungalow that my paternal grandparents, Lewis & Ina Clarahan, built in 1926, and where they lived for 65 years until my grandmother passed away in 1991 at age 94. Our grandfather, "Farf", as we affectionately nicknamed him, moved to Bloomington, IL, to live nearby my parents for his final three years. The new owners of the Oak Park house did a great job adding the 2nd story.

The Oak Park nursing home where grandma spent her final months, nicknamed my grandparents the "love birds". Every day during her final months, Farf would walk to/from the nursing home to be with his bride, "til death do us part", were more than just words to them.

OSW (One South Wacker), RSM US HQ up next. A straight shot down Madison Street from Oak Park. Ninety-five (95) miles later I am rolling by RSM's South Bend office and then onto Elkhart where I am greeted by the infamous Jim Morton.

Jim & Karla Morton were gracious hosts, inviting me to be their first guest to stay in their new home, just a few miles away from the office. Reminiscing 40 years of RSM, finishing the bottle of 10 year old Bushmills Malt Irish whiskey, compliments of our great friend and "cuz", Patrick Norris, RSM UK Glasgow, was the perfect finish to the day.

Thank you, Jim & Karla!

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  • Jim Clarahan

...you can listen to the engine...Here I am, On the road again ... Here I go, Turn the page."

Wheels up out of Dan & Karla's with coordinates zeroed in on Milwaukee the home of Harley-Davidson, where I meet up with my niece, Taylor, and her bf, Joe (Giuseppe), at the H-D Museum complex. A must see venue, even for non-bikers. Dan provided force-field chaperone service along the 90 mile ride. First stop, RSM's Milwaukee office to mark the 14th of 60+ office visits.

Milwaukee is not only famous for motorcycles, at one time over two dozen breweries were quenching the insatiable thirsts of hard working Milwaukeens. Most notable were Pabst, Blatz, Schlitz and Miller.

And a lesser know, but critically important factoid about this city of beer and bikes, is the modern typewriter and the QWERTY keyboard system used the world over. In 1868, Christopher Latham Sholes, a journalist and printer from Milwaukee, patented the first typewriter, calling it, "a cross between a piano and a kitchen table."

Onward to document the final RSM stop in Wisconsin at the Janesville office. Beautiful postcard scenery along way, equal to the previous 6 days, so nothing new to share. My last fuel stop of the day, in Beloit, WI, pleasantly reminded that Wisconsin is - America's Dairyland.

And then Rockford, IL, shows up about 30 minutes later. Garmin was confused as I twisted along the highway parallel to I-39/90. Once I had a visual fix on the rooftop signage, I was able to navigate the rest of the way.

By the end of the day 7, I had added another 270 fun filled miles in my journey from Green Bay to the Rockford area.

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  • Jim Clarahan

Lambeau Field ranks near the top of my list of all time favorite places and best memories - the Ride 4 Dray would be incomplete without a stop in Green Bay. The founders of the Johnny Blood's Packer fan club (named after the legendary Johnny Blood McNally) and the CoachClaraHanson Show, greeted me with a Champaign toast where legends of the NFL made their mark.

The "Ice Bowl" and the "Frozen Tundra" of Lambeau Field must sound mythical to those on the outside, looking in, to the world of the Green Bay Packers. I am one of the lucky few to have experienced both. The first Ice Bowl in 1967, from the warm confines of our little house in Port, huddled around the black & white TV. After the win, Dan and I headed outside to replay the game in t-shirts. Thirty years later, Seth and I made the trek north to witness Ice Bowl 2, Brett Favre's last game as a Packer. -1 ambient temps with windchill reaching -30. So cold the beer froze in the bottleneck after the first sip. Over the last 50 years I've made the 300+ mile trek to Green Bay more than a few times to take in a game with family and friends.

My first memory of visiting Lambeau Field was the summer of 1967, between 3rd and 4th grades. Dad took brother Dan and I to an intra-squad exhibition game. Earlier that year, the Packers had won the first Super Bowl. After the exhibition game all the fans were allowed on the field to mingle with the players and coaches. Most of us kids,grabbed footballs and ran up/down Lambeau Field pretending to be our favorite Packer - mine was, and still is #15, Bart Starr, one of the classiest professional athletes ever.

I was lucky to meet Bart twice. The first as a 4th grader when he and Ray Nitschke, #66, visited Port Washington. The second time was with my son, Seth, for a photo op that Bart's handlers were not too fond of - another story for another day.

G'ma C (Mom) always had an interesting outlook on the Packers. Even when they lost, for some crazy reason that she only understood, she claimed that on her TV - the Packers always won. Mom's uplifting spirit made it impossible to sulk too long after a bad game. Dan commemorated mom's love and passion for the Packers and our family with the granite plaque inscribed, "G'ma Clarahan says, Go Pack Go!" that now graces the walls of Lambeau Field.

Maybe a John Belushi look-a-like, but a true one-of-a-kind Green Bay native is none other than our legendary friend, PJ. Fantastic family friend and close buddy of brother Dan after he moved to Green Bay in 1979. During the last Lambeau Field expansion, PJ's season ticket seat, Section 31, Row 8, Seat 4, was removed to make room for the new home team locker room tunnel.

The final pit stop before was buddy Tom's new Man Cave - Packer Shrine! The authentic detailing here is simply top-shelf. The brick used for the fireplace and bar is the same brick used to build Lambeau Field. Another one-of-a-kind Green Bay native. Tom and his dad were really at the Ice Bowl in 1967. After the game, his dad led the crew that tore down the goal post, dragged behind their pickup truck to the machine shop, where it cut into souvenir pieces. Saving the crossbar where the upright was mounted for the Tom. Mounting the goal post with the picture of "the Sneak" is special on its own. What puts in rarefied air, is Tom was lucky to get members of the Ice Bowl team to autograph the picture. Priceless!

Day 6 in the tank. Final stop, Dan & Karla's country home in Greenleaf, WI

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