The Reclamation Project: A Low Culture Project

By Violeta Tamayo Lopez

Imagine yourself being in your early to mid-50’s and going on a 38-day 9,000 mile trip on your brand new Harley. This is exactly what Karen Schwalm, English teacher at GCC did with her husband of 33 years on a what they call their “Phoenix-to-coast-to-othercoast-to-Phoenix low culture odyssey.” The journey began on May 12, 2000 when two English professors, Karen 53, on her Heritage Softail Classic and David 56, on a Road King Classic. With a subject to change itinerary, the two headed for Flagstaff, AZ and advanced to Durango, CO traveling over 300 miles to their next stop in Raton, New Mexico. By then, the Schwalms had “tackled” 1700 miles on their Harley’s passing Raton, New Mexico, Dodge City and Baxter Springs, Kansas. A “fantastic” night in Memphis in a guitar shaped pool and a tour of Graceland the next day was added to the trip before arriving in Chattanooga. Riding about 300-350 miles in between cities, the Schwalms visited Rock City in Lookout Mountain GA, David’s highlight of the trip, Townsend TN and Waynesboro, VA where the Road King broke down. With priority service given to David’s Harley, they were both able to get on the road and continue for two day stops in Atlantic City, NJ and Niagara Falls. Many small towns ensued and by the time they had reached Rapid City, SD they had traveled over 6,000 miles. The Schwalms ran into bike trouble again when the 750 pound Softail broke down with the exact same problem the Road King encountered. Their daughter Mary kept a journal through phone calls her parents made along the way. “I think my parents are the coolest! Overwhelmed recent college graduates take 38 day road trips (I did) but my young hearted parents did it too, and on motorcycles! How cool is that? I have never met anyone else in their age group who has done anything remotely like it, especially without their children! I can’t wait to hear about their next adventure!” David commented, “Our ‘Reclamation Project’ motorcycle trip was a wonderful experience. When you get to be our age and in our sedentary line of work, there is a real danger of giving into age, acting and feeling older than you are. This trip was a thumb in the eye to age. We discovered that we still had a few good miles left on us. Karen finished by saying, “When we returned from our trip, I would have gone back out to do it all over again, the next day! It was a wonderful adventure and provided just the right change at that point in our lives. We called this ‘The Reclamation Project,’ and it truly was.” If that is not enough riding for you readers, Karen and David ride their bikes out to Tortilla Flat every Sunday morning. This 45-minute drive from Phoenix is simply planned so the both can partake in a hearty breakfast and to keep themselves young.

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