– It’s like something out of a movie – a motorcycle, a full tank
of gas and the open highway.
HOLLISTER – It’s like something out of a movie – a motorcycle, a full tank of gas and the open highway.
Hollister residents and motorcycle enthusiasts, Bob Poelker, a 52 year-old pharmacist at Sav-on Pharmacy, Jeff Contival, the 65-year-old owner of Lock Stock & Barrel, and Mike Bishop, a 60 year-old former owner of Bishop Motors, discovered the true definition of freedom this summer on a little trip they took on their bikes.
It took them across the entire nation to a town called Hollister – eight of them, actually.
The self-proclaimed “Three Horseman,” who are all members of the Top-Hatters Motorcycle Club, got the idea for the trip from an article that came out in the Free Lance about two and a half years ago. The article listed 11 Hollisters in the country, including Hollister, Calif.
“We go out to Sturgis every year and we decided it would be a different trip to hit every Hollister in the country,” Poelker said.
They designed their five-week long route to encompass Sturgis, all the Hollisters and a few other special places along the way.
“One of our reasons for going on this trip was the 100-year anniversary of Harley-Davidson (in Milwaukee),” Contival said. “We won’t be around for the next one, so we wanted to make sure we got this one.”
They left Hollister Aug. 1, traveling first to Hollister, Idaho, where they encountered their first bout of weather. After suffering through some wind and rain, they traveled on through Nevada, Wyoming and into South Dakota for the motorcycle rally in Sturgis.
After riding through Nebraska, they attempted to find Hollister, Kan., but with no luck. It was a ghost town.
The next Hollister they found was Hollister, Mo. It was the next biggest town population-wise to Hollister, Calif., with about 1,200 people.
“We brought T-shirts that said ‘Hollister, California’ with the Top-Hatter’s logo on it,” Poelker said. “We tried to give them to the mayor of each one, but in some places we couldn’t find anyone because the towns were so small.”
Hollister, Okla., which had a population of about 60 people, had a post office and nothing else.
When they arrived at the post office, an unusual situation confronted them.
“When we got there the post office lady had run her car off her driveway and it was hanging over an embankment. She had actually burned all the rubber off her rear tires trying to get it back on the road,” Bishop said. “We got a neighbor, Jim Bob, to get a jack and help us get her car back on the road – it made her day.”
Continuing on through Louisiana and Alabama, they made their way to Hollister, Fla., and another unusual coincidence.
“They had a Bishop Auto Sales,” Bishop said. “We had a similar dealership sign (for Bishop Motors) down the street where Lindeman’s is now. The owner works from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. – this guy only works four hours a day.”
This Hollister, Fla., resident’s more relaxed style of living was something the trio recognized as being much more prevalent throughout the rest of the country than in California.
California is more fast-paced, like we’re in a different world, Bishop said.
“Even here in Hollister, if you stop and ask a guy for directions he might talk to you and give you a five-second idea of where it might be, but if you talk to someone in Oklahoma or Alabama, he’ll talk to you all day,” Bishop said. “He’ll want to know who you are, where you’re from, where you’re going, and do you want a cup of coffee.”
Heading north, they traveled to Hollister, N.C., which was a small town in gorgeous country, they said.
An especially enjoyable aspect of traversing the country was the different foods from the different regions. Entrees such as chicken gizzards and okra were “interesting,” but one meal they’d prefer never made its way west was scrapple. At first they wondered if it was a game or a food, Bishop said.
“You’ve never heard of it before,” Contival said, “and I never want to hear of it again.”
At a restaurant in Manassas, Va., a waitress told them the specialty of that area was this concoction of leftover pig parts called scrapple. Unfortunately for the Horsemen, it had already sold out.
Disappointed that they didn’t have a chance to sample scrapple, they left Virginia and headed towards Gettysburg, Pa.
On their way they stopped at another restaurant, and to their delight when they opened up the menu, there it was. Scrapple.
“I thought, oh man, we lucked out, they have scrapple,” Bishop said. “So me and Jeff both ordered it, and it was the worst – I almost threw up. Really, I almost heaved.”
The spongy, quiche-like meal, which is served with eggs as a breakfast food is enjoyed by many on the East Coast, Contival said.
“We enjoyed all the food,” he said. “Except that.”
They survived scrapple, however, and while the group was in Virginia, Poelker rode up to Washington, D.C., to pick up his girlfriend of six years, Lisa Pumphrey. While in the nation’s capital, he asked her to marry him.
In the few days the group was apart, Poelker and Pumphrey traveled around the six states surrounding New York, and were even on the “Today” show in New York City. Pumphrey held up a sign on the morning show that read, “He asked and I said … Yes.”
The newly engaged couple met up with Bishop and Contival in Hollisterville, Pa. In the backwoods of this area, around the Poconos, they saw fervent displays of nationalism, Contival said.
“Talk about your patriotic people,” he said. “All these little houses have big American flags – you don’t mess with these people.”
The American people and the gorgeous scenery they saw were the highlights of the trip. Down to earth, friendly people who talk to you like they’ve known you for years is something we forget this country is full of, they said.
“You kind of lose your perspective of how many good people there are in this country,” Bishop said. “Especially in the truck stops, little cafes, greasy spoons. You talk to them and get to know them.”
Back on the road again, they stopped in Hollister, Ohio – a town of about 100 people. The last Hollister they visited was in Wisconsin. Calling it a town was a stretch, for it consisted of three houses, about 12 people and a sign that said Hollister.
It was located in some of the most beautiful country they had ever seen, though, near the Wolf River.
“People in Hollister (Calif.) say they don’t have anything to do,” Poelker said. “If you don’t think there’s anything to do here, go to the other Hollisters in the country.”
By the time they finally got back to California, they had traveled 11,000 miles, toured the eight other Hollisters in the country, been present at the historical 100-year anniversary of Harley-Davidson in Milwaukee and basically rediscovered what life is all about.
“As the saying goes, ‘live to ride, ride to live,’ ” Bishop said. “Just a feeling of freedom.”