Be warned that the first "blog" can be fairly boring - we don't leave until Wednesday morning.
After a week of getting my Iron Horse serviced, new front tire, the GPS programmed, the CB Radio CBing, and packing and re packing the bike, I got on the road. Early on 5/11 I roared onto the freeway and headed south. I love going down highway 5 on my scoot - you can cruise at about 85 to 90 for miles. I stopped about every 125 miles for fuel and food. I already had the "camel Back" set up so I could take fluids as I rode. A couple of munchies, an orange or two, and a can of coke - we're living now!! I got to the hotel Rancho Cucamunga at 2:30. The Host Hotel, Hilton Garden Inn, has two other hotels flanking it. Sunday nite, when I got in, there were about 50 bikes, trikes and "I have no idea what you'd call it concoctions, at each of the three hotels. When you pull in all the bikers come out to see if your one of the "family" or a new guy. I think its impossible to not find old friends, and new friends waiting to become old friends. Its almost impossible to explain the bonds that form or have formed. All military have a built in camaraderie, a family of like minds. Each branch of the military will tell you how they can identify fellow service members (same branch) most of the time. And then you have the Corps - we can ID each other with out eyes closed. And we are all brothers and sisters. Of course, on the RFTW it doesn't hurt that we're all wearing leather or denim vests that have our service patches, tour and unit patches, and messages. And its not just former and retired military. A few active duty are here to see their Mom's and Dad's off, or maybe a brother and or a sister. Civilians that have never worn a uniform but ride the Mission for the purpose of the mission - let no one forget what our fallen have done for this country. We will have some Blue Star and Gold Star parents riding all the way as well.Sunday nite I ran into maybe a dozen that I rode with last year. I met a few new friends, and had a chance to do a little remembering. We looked at each others scoots and of course made the appropriate comments Harley owners picking on the Honda, BMW, etc bikers for not buying American, etc, and those of us riding the other brands asking the HD owners if they have their GPS set for where they will be breaking down. Its a gimmee. One of the more humorous riders is going out to the parking lot at about 2 AM to put some rice on all the Honda's ("Rice Burners"). All in good humor. Since most of the Bikers here Sunday came in that day, we pulled the plug at about 1AM and crashed - need the rest.
Monday - up at 5:30 (trying to climatize as we will go thru 3 time zones - each one getting us up an hour earlier than PST zone we're acclimated to). Free breakfast paid for by a doaner (real breakfast) and after a quart of coffee, out to clean up our rides. I met with the Road Guard Captain and immediately about 6 of us went to the staging area (for the Wednesday departure) and figured out the parking and the breakdown of the platoons - estimated 6 40 bike platoons, 1 platoon of trikes and bikes with trailers, plus the chase vehicles. Back to the Hotel where my job is to set up all the Road Guards with ID decals for the bikes, traffic flags, arm bands, ground radios (CB's are for when we're underway), special gloves, and hats. I can lock the stuff up every now and then as everyone will not be in before 2PM Tuesday. And I needed to go "sign in" - sign in for the RFTW is very formal - you show your license w/motorcycle stamp, proof of insurance, registration and give them your next of kin info. After that its back to the truck to issue a few more items and relax.
Just as I was putting things away, a mess of old brother's and sisters arrived - Pegleg (left a leg in 'Nam), Sgt Rock (left an arm in 'Nam), Finger's, Cannon, Brain Dead, Fodder, Mary Sue (a guy), Undertaker, FlyBoy, Grave Digger - all names have meanings, some way to meaningful. I know these guys and I can tell you - a conversation with these guys can tell you more about why veteran's hate war, and why vet's support the troops, than anything can. As the days go by, the conversations will get a lot more specific - the names will start to come up, the guys that were great, the guys we only miss because they're from the brotherhood, the guys we will never forget. It's the first of many days of memories, welcomes, and tears. Many of us even tonight had to leave some of the conversations.
Time to crash - the Mission Rules form here on.