Category: Events

Whispering Giants: Chief Woapalanne of Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Whispering Giants: Chief Woapalanne of Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Last week I stopped in the town of Williamsport, Pennsylvania to see the Whispering Giant, Chief Woapalanne. Though he was taken out of commission from his original perch in the summer of 2015 due to rot, a rescue effort was mounted and the Giant was restored. Following a tweet from the Taber Museum, I knew he was there somewhere at the bus station.

The bus terminal does not allow car traffic to pass through, so I couldn’t even get a good look at the Google Maps Streetview to try to zero in on just where it might be located. I didn’t know if he was outside or placed inside the terminal somewhere.

After circling the block 3 or 4 times with nothing to show for it, I pulled into the municipal parking lot figuring I’d have to walk inside the bus terminal. As I pulled into a parking space, I saw the Chief’s feathers rising up from the corner of the terminal.

Whispering Giant Chief Woapalanne lives!

If you click the image below, you’ll see a full-sized pic in which you can read about the Giant’s restoration process. The most noticeable changes are that he was shortened by three feet, removing the rotten base and he is now wearing a dark stain. He is lovely.

It warms my heart to think that people cared enough to save this Giant.

If you’re interested in visiting him, the parking area on William and W. Willow will give you easy access. Looking on Google Maps, this would be the location of the statue.

Unfinished Business: The Williamsport, Pa. Whispering Giant – Woapalanee

Unfinished Business: The Williamsport, Pa. Whispering Giant – Woapalanee

In 2015, I took part in the Team Strange Whispering Giants Grand Tour. The tour brought riders around the country to visit Peter Wolf Toth‘s beautifully carved statues depicting local Native Americans.

Wacinton in Paducah, Kentucky – October 2015

When I reached Williamsport, Pennsylvania in July 2015 to visit the Giant Woapalanee that was installed in the park, I was disappointed to find that he was missing. All that was left was a pedestal and a plaque. As it turned out, I’d missed him by just a few weeks.

But, what happened to him? Would he be back?

Looking around the web, it became clear that the Giant had suffered extensive interior damage. Ultimately, it was dangerous to leave him in place because he might collapse. Though the carving was a well-loved town fixture, it ended up in a mulch pile with no immediate plans for repair. That is until this guy stepped in to save him.


Based on that post, I took a look at the Thomas Taber Museum website. I thought for sure that such a grand piece of artwork would be prominently displayed. My giddy hopefulness quickly fizzled. Though there were 3 nicely carved small Woapolanee pieces, there was no Whispering Giant anywhere on the museum’s site.

So, I dropped a quick tweet:


You’ll probably think I’m ridiculous, but I actually woohoo-ed when I read the reply.

Firstly, I’m happy to know that there were people in Williamsport who cared enough to keep Woapalanee from being termite-chow and returning to the Earth. Perhaps that is ultimately the wooden carving’s rightful, natural place, but selfishly, I want the work to live, to inspire and to be enjoyed.

Secondly, and I hadn’t considered this before, but I deeply appreciate the people out there in the world who take the time to write down their experiences. Without this man writing about everyday goings-on in Williamsport, I would’ve had no idea where to look for information about the missing Giant.

Some people may write off personal blogging as useless time-filler about what you ate for lunch but, the people who do it, whether they know it or not, contribute to documenting contemporary life. I’m going to try to remember that when I feel like people on the other side of my blog are rolling their eyes at the stuff I stop and take photographs of. If just one person finds it useful – be it for a laugh, inspiration or something else, then I will have done something good.

Now… I’ve got to go see about a Giant!

PSA: Void Rally 12 Registration Closes August 18th!

PSA: Void Rally 12 Registration Closes August 18th!

The Void is my favorite 24-hour endurance rally. For those not familiar with the concept, it’s like a big motorcycle scavenger hunt. You ride around and look at cool stuff, collecting points along the way. What’s not to like?

Registration for this year’s American Roadside-themed Void is only open until Friday, August 18th. If you miss out on registration you’ll be sad. The last time someone wanted to register and dillydallied and missed the deadline – a great flood came and wiped out all of the unicorns. You don’t want that kind of pressure hanging over you, do you? Just sayin’.

This year I’ll be doing the Void a little differently and am looking forward to getting underway.

Hope to see you in Fredericksburg if not before!

PSA: The Void Rally – Registration Closing in Two Weeks

PSA: The Void Rally – Registration Closing in Two Weeks


Registration for the 2017 running of the Void Rally will close on August 18th. If you’ve been on the fence about registering, it’s time for you to pick a side and leap.

The Void has three starting locations to choose from, before finishing your rally ride in Fredericksburg, Virginia:

Wilkes-Barre, PA / Franklin, TN / Kingsland, GA

You’ll get to ride around, look at cool things, take some pictures, and then stuff your face and drink beer with some other fun motorcyclist at the end. Riding. Cool things. And… stuff your face! Sounds good, right?!

And.. ANNNND… dare I say, this year’s bonus teaser sounds perfect.

If it’s weird, unusual, off color, or many colors, different, creepy or just plain whack-a-doodle you can count on it being in this year’s bonus list. You will experience a cornucopia of the things that will make you want to visit the rest of the bonus list on your own time.

Lemme know if you’re going to be there, too!

The Void Rally 12
September 15-16

Rally Riding: Free Points, Organization and Bonus Paperwork

Rally Riding: Free Points, Organization and Bonus Paperwork

A great rally ride can be undone with bad paperwork and poor reading comprehension. Beyond simply riding and taking pictures, successfully completing a rally requires you to follow instructions and provide clear, concise documentation to earn points.

Your perspective changes when you’re standing in the pouring rain in the middle of the night trying to fill out a bonus log sheet. Easing the burden on the administrative work where you can is key. Coming up with a system or a plan for yourself may take some of the pressure off when you’re on the clock.

The Rally Book

Many rallies will send you the rally book and/or bonus listing in advance. When it comes, read the rally book. Every page. Then read it again. And maybe once more for good measure.

By reading each page you will absorb an awareness of everything that is on the table before you. By re-reading it, you will inevitably pick out some detail you missed on the first pass. You’ll be surprised what details will stay with you about a bonus  later on down the road.

Free Points

Go through the rally book and pick out all of the opportunities it presents to earn “free” points. Things like:

  • Points for sending a text
  • Point for making a phone call
  • Points for having a sticker placed somewhere
  • Points for declaring your route
  • Points for taking a selfie
  • Points for farting
  • Points for a bonus photo that isn’t time/location specific
  • Points for buying something in a gas station

Plan to do those. They’re easy money!

Extra Rest Bonus Points

Each 24-hour rally will require you to stop and take a mandatory rest bonus. If you don’t take and properly document your rest, you will DNF.

Sometimes a rallymaster will add an incentive for you to rest longer. For example, they will say something like:

The mandatory rest bonus is 3 hours. Earn an extra point for every minute you rest beyond the 3 mandatory hours, up to 6 total hours maximum.

So they’ll “pay” you for resting up to an extra 3 hours. Here’s where the math comes in – you should determine whether you would earn more points resting or more points riding. If you were to jump up and head out after the mandatory 3 hour rest would you pick up as many points in the next 3 hours as you would snoozing for an extra 3?

For a middle of the pack rider like me, I often earn more resting. For riders who have aggressive or tightly timed routes, they can’t afford to dilly-dally and have to get going. Be realistic and thoughtful around your time to rest. Sometimes more rest equals more points.

The Rally Book – Administrative Work

Over time, I’ve settled in to some routines regarding rally paperwork that help me.

  • When the rally book and bonus log sheet come, I pre-fill any fields that I can on my computer before I print them.
    • Examples: Name/Initials/Rider Number on every page
  • Print 2 copies of the rally book
  • Print 3 copies of the bonus log sheet
    • Keep the extras copies separate in case I need them later
      • Examples: waterlogged papers, lost pages, torn, ripped, illegible, cross-outs & scribbles, not enough room to write, having an extra log sheet for a friend who lost/tore/messed up/doesn’t have room to write
  • Highlight the bonuses I think I will go for in the rally book. Paying attention to 10 things is easier than 100.

Bonus Breadcrumb Flashcards

For me, too much information can be just as bad as too little. I use a process that tells me only what I need to know, when I need to know it. Though I have an awareness of everything that needs to get done, directing my focus to one thing at a time keeps me centered. Thinking about A to B works better than considering A through Z.

Once I’ve settled on a route, I use a stack of index cards on a ring to write each bonus, in order, on a single card. I include the bonus name, date, what I estimate my time of arrival to be, and any other helpful notations to remember about that bonus. Do I need to do something immediately after logging the bonus? Do I need to make a special notation in my log sheet? Is it part of a combo and I need to remember to do something specific to satisfy it? I make a note of it on the card.

I stick my index card stack in my tankbag window so it’s always visible.

If you have room on your card, cutting up an extra rally book and taping the actual bonus entry would probably be helpful.

When I get to my bonus location, I look at my index card. It helps me see what I need to do satisfy the bonus and if I’m on schedule. When I’m done taking my photos and logging my bonus, I flip to the next index card and set off.

I do create index cards for non-location specific bonuses like the “free” bonus items. I slot them in the general timeframe in which I want to do them. For example: if there is a call-in bonus between the hours of 11am and 1pm, I’ll put that call-in bonus card in the roster closest to 11am estimated arrival time. That way when I flip to the next card after finishing a 10:xx am bonus, I see my 11am call-in bonus and can pull over the satisfy it.

Double Check Your Work

When you get to rally HQ before the paperwork turn-in deadline, you should double check your work. I also sometimes use part of my rest bonus stop to double check my paperwork up to that point.

Having a checklist of things you need to do or verify doesn’t hurt.

  • Bonus Log Sheet
    • Does every entry have a date, time, odometer entered?
    • Are the dates/times correct?
    • Are the entries in the order in which you visited them?
    • Is your name/initials/rider number on the bonus log sheet?
    • Does every entry have a bonus name? Is it correct?
    • Did you log your rest start AND rest end?
    • Did you log the “free” bonuses? And are they in the correct order?
  • Rallybook
    • Is your name/initials/rider number on every sheet?
  • Photos
    • Do you have any non-bonus photos on your camera? If so, remove them.
    • Do you have the correct maximum number of photos per bonus?
      • You may be allowed a maximum of 3 or so photos per bonus. Extras will be a point penalty.
    • Do the photo timestamps coincide with what you entered on your bonus log sheet?
  • Receipts
    • Do you have your Start receipt? Did you write your odometer/bonus name on it?
    • Do you have your Rest Start receipt? Did you write your odometer/bonus name on it?
    • Do you have your Rest End receipt? Did you write your odometer/bonus name on it?
    • Do you have a receipt to satisfy a bonus? Did you write your odometer/bonus name on it?
  • Miscellaneous
    • Did you have to buy something to satisfy a bonus? Do you have it with you?

Of course there is no right way to prepare or organize yourself. Losing points at the scoring table because of paperwork is a heartbreaker. Also not taking advantage of easy opportunities to earn points is silly. These things are just my way of trying to avoid that – advice from a middle of the pack rally rider.

Every rider has a method that makes sense to them. For the first time rally rider, you’ve got a lot on your plate figuring out how everything works. Anything you can do to ease the process along is good.

Do you have any organizational tricks that you use to manage your ride and keep all of your points?

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