Duane Ausherman has been my godfather since birth. He was a true and trusted friend of my parents before I was born. My family lived in a very rural area, so I was not exposed to much. When I was 13, I went on the first, of many, summer trips with Duane between school years. I got to meet many people, all very smart, interesting and some even famous. He changed my life in so many ways that I couldn’t even begin to explain here.
This was quite a trip, one that would change my life forever. Fresh out of 7th grade, full of energy and curiosity, I had never been west of Arkansas, except for a trip as a small child. Like most 13-year-olds, I was naive to the ways of the world, but over the course of the next 3 summers that would change. This is a brief account of my first summer trip spent with my Godfather, Duane Ausherman.
This summer would prove to be one of the most enlightening and exciting experiences of my life.
From the stockyards of Kansas to Pikes Peak in Colorado, to the Great Salt Lake, to the Nevada desert, to beautiful northern California we traveled. From meeting aunts and uncles I had never met, to visiting the Queen Mary and Disneyland, to roller skating on the beach in Santa Monica with dear friends. At a real Wild West show in Colorado, I was taken on stage as a volunteer in a major part of the act by one of Duane’s friends, Jim Durham, the star gunfighter.
We left the hot and dry western Arkansas hills in a small Toyota truck with California as the destination. My return trip would be on an airplane, my first and by myself. The plan was to take about ten days to get to the west coast where we would continue to travel, visit and explore. Much to my amazement, we didn’t stay at a single motel or campground the entire way. We stayed with friends and family in Duane’s vast network, with whom many I stayed in contact. Each one of these places held unique and interesting things to learn and people to meet. Everywhere we stayed the people where so nice and hospitable. I got to hear about, discuss and see all sorts of neat things from interesting people, all of whom had a huge impact on me. From people that fly airplanes, build custom motorcycles, travel the world, own businesses and even stuntmen, to name a few. This instilled in me a sense of drive and motivation. I also hiked mountains, rode ATVs and antique motorcycles, rode trains, flew on planes, swam in the ocean and helped navigate big cities, just to name a few.
I definitely came back to Arkansas a very different and much more educated 13-year-old boy. I could not wait to go experience the world, even more, the next summer.
We traveled to many places including Glacier National Park, Old Faithful, Yellowstone, Idaho, Oregon, California, and even into Canada. We spent some time at Fort Bidwell, CA. Duane’s remote motorcycle shop/museum. One of the highlights here for me was riding one of Duane’s three antique R52 1928 BMW motorcycles; Yes, he had three running motorcycles of that model.
This was also a great area to fly small planes in and out of, which we did in Duane’s airplane. I got to drive a lot this summer as well. Getting my license the following year was a breeze as I had more open road driving and riding experience than any other kid I knew.
Duane helped shape me into the independent successful business person that I am today. Duane has a great network of people and has always shared it with me. I trust him to help others as he did me, if only they are willing to open up to the vast possibilities.