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Friday, May 16, 2008

RFTW 5/15

After rereading yesterdays blog, I saw why you don't write when you're so tired you can't see straight!! Sorry!!

Today:I've had a few "what is the RFTW for" questions? So here is the official and most descriptive.

The Mission: Promote healing among all veterans and their families and friends.Call for an accounting of all Prisoners of War & those Missing In Action (POW/MIA)Honor the memory of those Killed In Action (KIA) from all wars.SUPPORT our military personnel all over the world.

Americans still MIA this Memorial Day 2008
WWI 4452
WWII 74384
Korea 8178
Vietnam 1763
Cold War 125
Desert Shield 12
Desert Storm 2
Iraq 5

Hope that gives a little explanation. But there is a lot to it. Today, a young woman asked me if I liked riding to the Wall alone. I explained to her that I was far from alone as exhibited by just the 300 riders with me on this day. She then asked why so many of us were riding on our bikes by ourselves. I explained to her, none of us are riding alone.

Pretty nice start this AM. 40 degrees, and DAMP!! The land out here is either heavily wooded or fairly sparse, and both beautiful in their own way. You can see for miles - and this year I can actually enjoy the view a little more. We watched the storm clouds for part of the day - the other part we couldn't see thru our face shields. It RAINED. You learn very quickly how to hold your head up at an angle so the wind blows the water off your shield with the added benefit of it getting blown right down your neck and getting a bath. Since we were already on the road, we didn't have rain gear on. The good news is now we have at least one set of freshly washed clothes!! And the color's won't run.

I don't think I ever get over what a beautiful country this is - those that don't travel are missing an experience. Just like the song says "From the mountains, to the oceans", etc - I love this country - each part has its own unique beauty.

We only went 250 miles today (thankfully, with the weather we're having ). But again, as in most days, people coming out of nowhere to wave, salute, applaud, touch our hands or arms, older people, younger people, kids, people I'm not to sure of.

The beginning of today's run, like every day, they announced who we're riding for - someone that died this day or became an MIA today (sorry, this day during the Vietnam War). Then the Advance Team took off. We ride like the pack - two abreast, 2 seconds from the bike in front, 5 mph below the speed limit. RIIGGHHHTTTT. Two abreast but 1 second from the bike in front of you, and 5 mph below the speed limit if you're talking about the speed limit of the Space Shuttle. Two problems today for our Team - we were clipping at about 85 when we noticed the hood of an auto smack dab in the middle of the freeway lane we're in. We were in an area where only 2 lanes are available so the right hand column wiggled around their side while the left hand column almost did the same. One of the riders went across the shoulder, into the gravel and grass, and about a 1/4 mile later back up on the freeway. Never even slowed down. One of the other riders circled around and pulled it off the road so the main pack wouldn't have a problem. And then while I was directing traffic (blocking one lane of the freeway for my brothers and sisters), my battery died. Recharged and hopefully its ok - I'll know at 0430. At our first gas stop, some guy filling his tank paid so much attention to us, he overflowed about 5 gallons onto the ground. We gassed and then went on to Holbrook, AZ where they fed us - this town doesn't have money to do this. They mostly live in trailers, and I mean trailers, all single wide. The spread is all hamburgers and hot dogs with potato salad etc. Delicious !! Water and soda up the nose. Of course, after they do this they do ask if they could have a picture of them standing with us!! And shake our hands, or touch our arms. The sacrifices we're forced to endure!!

Then on to Gallup and the welcome from the Navajo Nation. Between the speeches, patches, Native American dancing, the bulk of what you heard was "holy crap" from the FNG's!! As in last year, the "dance" is a serious, non tourist dance. I couldn't join in this year as I was trying to get warm, drink some fluids, get warm, and pause to get my picture taken with what appeared to be every Native American that wasn't dancing. ALL the police and fireman came and shook every hand.

At the end of the ceremony we feed. And I mean feed - wasted on me as I don't eat much, but the pack was talking later about being stuffed with multiple hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, potato salad, etc.

My first duty today was getting the riders staged as they came in to the area at about 5. Its close to 11 (PST) but I'm getting up tomorrow at 4 local (changed time zones).

Tomorrow - Angel Fire. And the emotion. the Mission Rules.


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