The Ride to Date — riding, not visiting
The enjoyable part of this ride is the actual riding. For those that don’t know me — riding is in my blood. My current bike (nicknamed “Vixen”) is a 2006 Honda VTX 1800N2, purchased in 2007 to replace my Gold Wing which was pretty worn out. I assumed one more big ride -why get a Gold Wing for 3 times the cost. Here we are in 2014, 135,000 miles later, with about the same amount of money tied up in “Vixen” (not even including the custom tribute paint job — I should say jobS as this bike has spent a lot of time under the brush. Chrome highlites, CB radio, add on cruising lites, Garmin Zumo 550 GPS (I can get lost in a closet!), assorted strobe lights for when I do road guard duty and PGR Escorts, 17 lb stainless rack — super strong to carry my 3 x 5 flags — USA is 24/7/365, Kisan Tech lit controller and AMP/etc gage (includes a black ice warning), over sized windscreen (I’m big), saddle bags, etc. Serious wheels for a serious rider. Also a Power Commander for the extra performance I really don’t need. I can take the “twisties” like a sport bike and still cruise at over 100. Rain, shine, wind, whatever. The Vixen between my legs can do anything I ask it to do.
The roads vary between different parts of the country. The roads this far east are pretty “gritty” — bu this I mean the surface is fairly abrasive I guess to give more traction. There are few areas, if any, that I’ve seen “rain groves” like we have on the west coast. I assume because of the differences in our weather patterns. Out here you also see a heck of a lot of “gators” and anywhere from small to half a tire. The roads themselves, by and large are nice and bump free. Even in construction areas. Much tougher on the tires but I assume nicer for traction in the FREQUENT rain and winter weather. I would guess you get less mileage out of your tires.
Vietnam Memorial — Tallahasee
There are two locations for Memorials in Tallahassee. One is actually a Korean War Memorial and very unique. Located in a small grove of trees with a small stream nearby, a half moon of a wall about 2 feet high. In the center is an upright ring with a break in the top. (If you’re a Stargate fan, I found the Stargate!) Beautiful Memorial and the Korean War vets deserve to be remembered the same as all vets and if this Memorial was better known, they would be.
The Vietnam Memorial is a few blocks away next to what I believe is the old Court House. Picture two very large walls about 30 plus feet tall and about 15 feet apart. Hanging between the walls is an equally large USA Flag (straight down like banner with the blue field up and to the left). Both of the interior sides of the walls have the list of names lost from that area. Very obvious to all the traffic passing by. At the base of both walls people have left momentoe’s — I see that at many memorials if they have lists of names. Sometimes they’re letters written to the long lost heroes telling them thy are not forgotten or giving them updates on the family that was left behind. All very touching. This Memorial also had a 6 pack and a Teddy Bear. There was a lady that came by who’s older brother is on the wall. We talked for a few minutes, exchanged a few tears. She wished me well, and we both took off. Lots to think about for the next 2 hours of riding.
Vietnam Memorial — Jacksonville, Fl
2nd Memorial for today. Its difficult doing multiple Memorial’s in one day — making it harder to separate the memory and when I throw in holding off to write it to ANOTHER day, real difficult.
Th ride over to Jacksonville was fine. There were some rain clouds around but I dodged the bullet by shear luck. A couple of days back I got pretty wet and rode for about 20 minutes in storm (including lightening which makes m a little nervous). But I came out wet and cleaner! Vixen, on the other hand, was a little dirtier!
Many cars and trucks along the way take time to give a thumbs up, applaud or show some type of signal showing approval. The 3 x 5 flag on the bike gets a lot of attention. Sometimes a little much as some cars slow down or zip up to take pictures. Th attention is good as that’s what the trip is about but still can be a little nerve wracking. But better this than no one noticing.
I was met at the Jacksonville Memorial by 2 Marines — Judy and Kevin Hession— husband and wife and Marine Corps League members. They gave m a great tour of all of the monuments in that area. Pretty darn cool. Its obvious the locals care about the vets as there is a lot of thought behind all of them. A small Vietnam Memorial off by itself got my attention (as always) — the plaque says “ Proudly the citizens of Duval County pay tribute to the men and women who made the supreme sacrifice in the Viet Nam conflict. May their sacrifice merit God’s blessing of a permanent peace for our Nation”. The main monument is quit large with many benches so you can sit and read the names on the wall. In the center, in front of the wall, is an eternal flame. Off to the side there is a wall with the names of those lost in the Global War on Terrorism.
I think we should require all politicians to go to these memorials. Every politician, read every inscription and then they can explain why we are sending generations off to fight in wars they (politicians) choose for some unfathomable reason. I don’t know how THEY sleep well, ever.
Vietnam — remembrance — Charleston, SC
A very different experience. When I got where I was supposed to be, I was at the “US Naval Support Base, Somewhere, South Vietnam”. Memories at the various Memorials are hard enough. Being back in ‘Nam is a lot harder. This display is an ongoing process and the warrior that showed me around is a retired Marine SgtMaj and Vietnam brother. He’s obviously proud of what’s there, what’s coming soon, and, he should be. This base was a little more luxurious than I was used to but similar to what we had for my second tour. But a lot was in my time frame (first tour 64 -66). Th H34 chopper that we used when I first landed- it didn’t vibrate, it flat out shook like it was falling apart which was half the reason we jumped back out as fast as possible — the Huey came in well after us and was welcomed with open arms, followed later by the Cobra. The “mighty mite” jeep (M151) was ours when we could “borrow” them (ala Radar O’Rielly), foxhole, bunker, conex locker, watch tower. CH 46. Barb wire. And many many memories. About 2 quarts worth. I can understand why so many of my brothers and sisters have nightmares — if you go to this exhibit, take the time to walk thru by yourself.
There are other displays in the same area (ships, planes, etc) but all I really remember is the “US Naval Support Base”.
New — Gunny Gregory (founder of Run For The Wall) met me and took me by two other Memorials in the local area. One was fairly large and was all services, all war, and very nice. More of a traditional Memorial near a kids playground and a popular fishing spot. Very well thought out and planned. A third very modern memorial dedicated in one name. Three modernistic figures more or less entwined — it was different and appreciated, regardless.
The Gunny and I spent evening talking about — drum roll, please — the Run For The Wall. A hug part of both of our lives — his, obviously, more so. During part of the evening we rode over to the beach, mt some of the Gunny’s friends in the various hang outs. A little relaxing I really needed.
This morning I rode up to my next stop following mostly surface roads. Took about the same amount of time but was a heck of a lot more enjoyable. Interstates are great for straighter rides but thy are nowhere as interesting as driving thru the small towns. Gt out there and ride!