Well, here we are. 2 days from the beginning of another emotionally laced trip that can only be fully appreciated by those on the ride itself. But, I will try and convey at least portions of this years Mission — and it is a MISSION.
For my new readers some things you need to realize. I write this from the heart. I do NOT reread or change anything (so you may see gramatical errors — lots of them). I don’t make corrections because I’m afraid that by rereading what I wrote may lead me to changing it from being emotional from the heart to less emotion and from the brain. I also will use the word “we” when talking about emotions or comments made by my fellow riders — I’m not comfortable telling you what someone may have said in the middle of an emotional moment. I will only use a name when its not a “personal moment”. I will also quote numbers and other info — those are all “best guess” as absolutely nothing stays the same for long. Such as how many bikes we have — ball park as EVERYONE has to register. One bike may have a passenger AND a rider. We also have some cages with us with 2 to 4 registered people. Numbers are not super important unless your trying to figure out how many support personnel there are (a LOT) versus how many people they’re supporting. So if you see two different numbers — not intentional, just the way I’m getting the reports. I will also put in info on the structure of RFTW — simply put, we are self supporting group — we have everything we need to go coast to coast. We have our own medical, Chaplain Corps, Police (Road Guards), support vehicles, and so on. More later during the reports. Much of this could be boring but its necessary for you to understand the mission. The riders are here for our POW/MIA, our veterans, our actively serving, and all of the families. They’re here for their own memories of those that will never be home and of those that may come home — someday. The battles fought and remembered.
I left from Fremont at about 7:30 PM Saturday nite. It’s one of the few times I’ve got on I 5 after dark — a whole new experience. Although your visibility is limited, what you do see is all the lights of the surrounding farms, businesses and towns. Not a huge amount of stars but a half moon that had its own sort of glow. The wind was GUSTING quite hard but when I got to the Grapevine, there was a highway sign flashing the warning that there would be “gusting winds ahead”! Excuse me — what the heck had I been driving in? They were right — the gusts were extremely strong pushing the larger vehicles, especially the semi’s, all over the place. The temperature when I left Fremont was mid 60's — summit of the Grapevine was 39 — lower side of the Grapevine and into Rancho Cucamonga — low 50's.
I got in at 3:30 AM so its been a long day so this will be a short beginning. But today was a short meeting followed by seeing lots of old friends. Friends that have only been known for a few days out of a few years, but lifelong friends like no others. Its a happy day as we see that most are still with us. One or two of these riders are coming up on their 20th RFTW. Me — just 9 or 10. But its an unexplainable joy to sit back and watch the people come together for the first time in a year. The memories are still of the happy times we share and shared. The other memories will start when they are ready.
Tomorrow and Tuesday will mostly be good times — filling each other in on the last year. Seeing who now has a child or a grandchild. For now its fun.
The Mission rules.