Interesting day — 396 miles but beautiful driving weather. 4 stops with one again being donated fuel. And 2 stops with donated food — the morning meal was at the individual hotels.
No Memorials again today but plenty of people with flags and signs — again! Couple or three bike issues including mine. I managed to have a catastrophic tire failure — filler tube literally failed and the tire went flat rapidly. Destroyed the NEW tire and gave me a real scare with the “high speed wobble”. When this occurs,there is nothing you can do except pull in the clutch and let it roll to a stop — NO breaking. You hold your breath, pray and try to keep the bike upright. Apparently I did all the right things — try not to have that experience again.
Tomorrow we have a couple of Memorials — its good to get to this stage but when you know whats coming it can get tense and teary eyed way too soon. Its hard to keep the memories where they belong and the more tired you get the harder it gets to do that.
The good news is that this is it for tonight. Way to tired and I want to be sharp for tomorrows Memorials. Sorry — but tomorrow nites will be worth the wait.
The Mission Rules!
What a great day! Most of the day the temp was perfect for riding but jumped to around a 100 plus in the afternoon. And even then it was a beautiful ride.
Went to the NM Veterans War Memorial. Includes all services and all wars but an especially moving one of the Bataan Death (WWII, Philippines). 2 soldiers carrying 3rd — hundreds of footprints leading up to the 3, only 80 some leading away. Those 80 footprints are actual impressions of the 80 some New Mexico men survived the March. The impressions are of whatever they had on, or in some cases, their bare feet. About 12000 men died on that 80 mile forced march. Torture, abuse, executions — an example of how some can care so little about life. The combined Memorial affects almost everyone. The local ML does a flag presentation and RFTW does a wreath laying. Speakers talk about the way war has effected most all of us one way or another and how future generations can avoid treating the veterans with the disrespect that they were subject to by their “fellow” American’s.
More of our rider vets are loosening up — more hugs, more welcome home’s, more emotions “peeking around the corner”. Tomorrow will bring more — guaranteed that when a Vietnam Vet see’s the two Memorials that are about them and their brothers, they will start to come home. But its a long journey which many will make.
The LEO’s today were fantastic. We were under their care all day with them moving vehicles out of our way, SHUTTING down long expanses of freeways, entry ramps, cross streets — everything that impedes our journey. Overpasses with people, flags, banners,signs — again everything that needs and should be seen.
Road Guards did their normal fantastic jobs responding to every situation as if its what they do in their day to day lives — all while caring about their riders. Starting with setting up direction and traffic control before most of the riders are out of bed in the morning, to helping riders get in for the nite. My brothers and sisters on the RFTW are equally as important and cherished as those I served in the Corps with.
Tomorrow is another early day for them as they need to be in place.I get to sleep in ‘till 6 AM as I need to take my bike in for a fork seal repair. The “Vixen” is getting old!
Say good nite to the American Heroes that are standing up for all of us around the world, so that we may be safe.
The Mission Rules.
Another long day but filled with tears, emotion and some sweat! he best part is the lack of sweat. We are having some darn nice weather! Of course, the last time it was like this the week ended with a huge rain storm, flooding for some of our members, tornadoes in one area affecting some of our riders, and I forget what else. We’ll see this year.
The dy started with trips to two different Vietnam Memorials. One is a Memorial with a helicopter “flying” in to rescue some wounded, with a jet for close air support and the wounded being in the center of a rice paddy (where we lived). The other is a symbol of our air power duing ‘Nam, a POW/MIA obilisk, and a Gold Star Chapel. There is a little more to both Memorials but the kinds of things you need to see and feel. All very moving — especially the wounded in the rice paddy.
Then lunch in Colorado City, Tx. Definetley an event you have to experience. The town itself has a meidian HOUSEHOLD income of about $35,000 per year and that’s up because of the oil boom. Many of our bikes cost more than their families make in a year and yet they feed us (darn good food) and the kids put on a heck of a show. The “story bords” they put together about the veterans in their communities (and others) are something ot be seen. They appreciate the veterans more than you can imagine. And that’s thanks to their parents, their school and their community in general. All middle school kids researching about their veterans, the wars and battles they fought in, and about their families. Unslephis and very very moving.
Plus these kids put on some pretty good shows for us — singing, dancing and music. Cute and entertaining. The PD is your typical small town police department. Everyone knows everyone else, everyone has a name and mutual respect all the way round.
The rest of the day was uneventful. PD escort all the way with our RG’ supplementing their efforts. A well oiled machine even in ny emergency. We are way down on RG’s this year as we are down on riders. Adding the 3rd route keeps ll 3 routes smaller which s what we wanted. Even moving 400 bikes can be an issue. The PD sometimes meet us at stops and we can talk and communicate. They also join us “on the fly” — they come on to the freeway at speed and “bump” in behind the current escort and then the “old” escort leaves the freeway. The motor officers can make you realize how little your individual skills are — they can ride with their feet on the other guys engine bar, or their little fingers touching (the other guys little fingers as they hold on to their own handle bars), arms on each others shoulders, etc. Heck, we can barely do fist bumps.
End of day was at the local High School where we are greeted and welcomed by everyone including JrROTC, retired military, families, — looks like everyone — and fed some great pasta. Not sure how we lose weight on this trip! Maybe something to do with the GALLONS of water we drink every day.
Longer day today but I think we’re done (how many times have I said that!) with long mileage. But the RG’s need to be at our morning meeting AT 0515. Just to set up RG’s to get our riders from their various hotels to the morning meeting and church services. How did these riders find California without RG’s being posted!!
Sorry — that’s it for tonight. Its already 2300.
The Mission Rules!
How the heck do you write about the kind of day we had today. For me — first FULL day of emotions flowing somewhat freely.
Crossing from Texas into Louisiana is always something — the Louisiana State Police pick us up “on the fly” — moving from off the freeway into the lead position for our pack, replacing the Texas State Police without a flaw or loss of movement. They take over EVERYTHING — speed control, lone control — everything. The good news is they have this (our RFTW) down pat. It lets all of us enjoy the trip thru the State even more.
As we drive thru the state there re more and more people on the overpasses, side of the road, rest area’s, etc — all holding the flags, signs, everything. Same as the last couple of days but 5 times more of everything. Plus kids, young and teenagers with signs calling us hero’s — my fellow riders ARE hero’s either in their own rights as vets, or as veteran supporters. We are riding for others — those that can not ride but who are never far from our memories. The ones that have not come home (mentally), those that can’t come home because they’re missing, and those that were buried long ago. Somehow when a little kid holds up a sign calling you a hero, it gets to you. Riding becomes dangerous as you can’t see clearly. You can’t think clearly. All you can do is hear or see our brothers and sisters. You feel so horrible because so many can NOT be here. I think for many its the same — memories, guilt, wishes that things could be different. We have MIA/POW Families riding with us — they don’t even have the “luxury” of knowing where their loved ones are, if they’re still here, or how they are. No end to their misery. No one is safe from memories as everyone is affected in one way or another.
Regardless of how many times I’ve done RFTW I can not find a way to help all the riders, or even a significant amount of them. Mybrothers and sisters need peace — they need to be able to accept the fact that we can not change anything. When we visit the Memorials we see all the faces.
For me, also, I can BEGIN to see the faces and hear their voices. They’re not clear — they will become more clear as the miles go by. They are already there helping us along the route, helping us to heal (as much as we can), helping us to help each other. For now, soft voices, blurry faces, garbled thinking. But we see the supporters along the route, the Patriots that are there for all telling us thank you for supporting their loved ones AND each other. And we see them saluting, we hear them cheering and we know that this generation of warriors are well supported by the world — the way they should be.
For now its tears and the unbelievable anguish that so many of the rider feel. This will soften for some, thoughts will become easier, memories will become of the good times, or at least of better times. We see the children of our Vietnam Vets learning about the greatest of sacrifices their parents made.
For me, one day at a time. For almost all on this ride, one day at time, one hour at a time, one minute at a time.
The Mission Rules — the Mission is life.