Retired police officer meets students who tracked his motorcycle ride to California


First Posted: 10/30/2013

LIMA — Fresh off his motorcycle after a 7,000 mile trip to California and back, retired Lima Police Officer Bob Hammell met with the students that followed him along the way.

The children in grades fifth through eighth from South Science Technology Magnet School didn’t actually follow him, as in a vehicle, but were along for the ride monitoring his every move.

Hammell walked into the classroom wearing leather chaps and a Harley Davidson shirt. “The leather chaps keep the cold from going onto our legs and protect your legs if you crash,” he said. “I’ve never fallen off my motorcycle and gotten chewed up by the road.”

During his trip, Hammell sent numerous photos from the national parks, historic sites and other places of interest back to the class.

Students used his trip as a learning experience using math, science and social studies skills to monitor it. They developed a bar graph to chart his miles and learned various things such as the process of erosion from a raging river that slowly cuts a path into the earth.

Students had a presentation set for Hammell. One student told him she research Death Valley National Park, where Hammell rode and learned how hot it can be there.

“The shade temperature is often 120 degrees Fahrenheit,” she said.

A boy told Hammell that Death Valley was 140 miles across and a girl told him the highest temperature ever recorded in North America was 134 degrees Fahrenheit at Death Valley.

Other students talked about Hoover Dam and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah.

Another student explained the different time zones in the United States that were started due to the railroads.

Hammell then answered numerous questions including whether he got a ticket along the way from a police officer. He said no but one officer saw him speeding and turned on his lights just to slow Hammell down.

“I slowed it down,” he said.

He was asked if he saw animals walking around.

“Yes we did. We went through Colorado and there’s an open area called open range. There are no fences and cows walk on the road,” he said.

A girl found a picture of a scorpion inside a sucker and asked Hammell if he ate anything like that out west. He responded, “I don’t like snakes, and I don’t like bugs. No, I didn’t eat a sucker with a scorpion in it.”

He was asked if the ride was bumpy, to which he proudly said his Harley offers a smooth ride. He said he encountered some rain and extreme temperatures with snow in the mountains and 110 degrees Fahrenheit in Death Valley.

Hammell said he encountered bears along the way but from a distance. He told the children bears are wild animals not to be messed with.

“They look cuddly. They are wild bears and they will bite,” he said.

He said his favorite part of the trip was going through national parks.

“I enjoy riding,” he said. “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey, they say,” he said. “It was a really fun trip.”

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