Wandering Wheels senior riders scooter through Philip
At around 3:00 p.m. on Monday, June 23, the sound of engines preceded the 21-member gang of ... the Wandering Wheels motor scooter group.
"It's fun!" said one of the senior citizen members as the group re-assembled in the Haakon County Courthouse parking lot. This was their third day out of Omaha, NE, where they had started their 2,100 mile, 22-day trip. The main reason the group's average age is around 65 is that most people would have to be retired to spend three weeks on such a journey.
The idea of such cross-country, sight-seeing motor scooter trips began in 2002. It was organized then, and is still guided, by Bob Davenport, the 1954 and 1955 All American football player from UCLA. He once lead the conference in scoring with 66 points and lead the Bruins to their only number one national ranking. Now he leads bicycling or scootering tourists who want to see America at an original and leisurely pace.
"Yeah, this is Bob's baby," said one of the participants, a man who is the newest member by being on his second such trip. Some of the men and women have not missed a journey since the idea began. On this trip, there are five married couples, two single women and the rest are single men.
Originally, the scooters had only 50 cc engines. "The total combined cc of the group would not have made one Harley," said one current member. "Now there are still some that size, but they range up to 400 cc, with the average being 150." These scooters average 120 to 130 miles per day this trip.
This journey from Omaha, NE, has taken the group west traveling Route 20 most of the way across Nebraska in the Sand Hills. They traveled north through the Badlands to have supper at Al and Lenore Brucklacher's campfire sight and to spend the night in Philip.
First thing Tuesday, they scootered to Wall to end up at Keystone and Mt. Rushmore. Eventually they will visit Devil's Tower and Custer's Battlefield while en route to Sheridan, WY, in the center of the Big Horn Mountains. That will be their turnaround point and they will work their way back east to Omaha following much of the Oregon Trail/Platte River route. Scotts Bluff, Chimney Rock, Pony Express Visitor's Center and many more stops are planned. A parts-and-repair truck follows the scooter riders. Over night stops will be in motels, churches and campsites.
More information and future such trips can be seen on the website www.wanderingwheels.org.