Woke up this morning, looked around for my shoes, you know I had those mean old Walkin’ Blues. No, wait! That wasn’t what I meant to say. I am just confused. What happened is that when I woke up I knew something was wrong. I didn’t eat anything for supper last night. Well, I am a diabetic and this morning I paid for it. I was shaking all over. I knew my sugar was low. Way low with all the shaking I was doing. I looked for my tester but couldn’t find it. I practically emptied out my bags to try and find it. It was nowhere to be found. So I just took about 5 sugar pills and waited until most of the shaking subsided. Then I went to the lobby and had a continental breakfast. I ate many muffins.
I then loaded up and went to staging. At the Ag Pavilion, they had more muffins that I ate. I just wanted to make sure my sugar went up. I have to confess, I was really worried about not finding my tester. It would be very difficult to try and maintain my sugar levels without one.
Then I was reminded that our first stop of the day was the Tuscaloosa Veterans Hospital. In the past they filled prescriptions for Veterans. I didn’t know if they could replace my tester. I would find out when we got there.
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I can’t remember if it was here or in Monroe when we had Pam Cain, MIA daughter, join us for the rest of the mission. She is our third MIA daughter. Her, Karoni, and Trish are all with us now. They are the reason we do this mission.
Speaking of Trish, I hadn’t seen her for a couple of days. I was wondering what happened to her. They I saw her. She had her right arm held against her body. I seems that she was walking down some stairs and texting Karoni, when she fell. She tried to catch herself and dislocated her right shoulder. Of course, it was all Karoni’s fault. LOL (I will make no joke about texting and walking at this time) I do have to hand it to her. It did not stop her from riding on the back of a bike and she went all the way. Good job, Trish. I hope you are getting better.
We gassed up in Tuscaloosa and then headed for the hospital. This is when the fun started. We had a police escort. The Tuscaloosa PD would stop traffic at an intersection then one of our RG’s would relieve them so they could get another intersection. We held the intersection until everyone was thru. I had a major intersection and held it. After about 10 min. and no bikes in site, I had angry horns beeping. I couldn’t hold it any longer. I started heading toward the hospital when over the CB they are telling all RG’s to hold the intersections. Do not leave. It was too late for me. I did hold another intersection until no more bikes came by. I got to the hospital and waited at an intersection until it needed to be held again.
In the meantime, all I hear is how three of the platoons are lost. It seems that platoons 1, 2, 3, and 4 all made the correct turn. But platoons 5 and 6 went straight. Platoon 7 made the turn but got lost later. At the turn we had a RG and a local LEO but they were ignored. Eventually, all three platoons made it to the hospital with the help of the local LEO’s. Just another example of what can happen when you try and get over 400 motorcycles from point A to point B.
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At the VA we are given a donated lunch followed by the chance to visit with some of the patients. However, several of us, me included, had to get meds renewed. With the help of a doctor who took me right where I needed to be. Once I told the staff what the problem was, they couldn’t have been more helpful. They had me fill out paperwork to get me into their system. Then they had to test my blood sugar level. After that I had to see a doctor. Since the tester they gave me was different from the one I lost, the doctor had to authorize additional test strips. I already had everything else I needed.
I had to go to the Pharmacy to pick the supplies up. Trish was there getting a sling for her shoulder. Lightbulb, one of the RG’s was taking care of her. She was in good hands. Since it would take a few minutes to get my supplies, I went to the cafeteria to get something to eat. After eating I went back and got everything then had to find my way back to where everyone was. I found it with only a few wrong turns just in time to mount up again.
Our next leg of 100 miles was to Asheville for fuel and snacks supplied by the local Piggly Wiggly. Under some trees by the gas station are hot dogs provided by the grocery store. We all get to cool off and socialize with each other. This is always a good time. Everyone gets to unwind a little. I got to talk to Karoni and Pam for a while. Two of my favorite young ladies on the mission with us.
I had to leave for a RG meeting. This was our last leg before we reach Chattanooga. Thunder Creek HD donates the meal and entertains us. As we tell the FNG’s every day gets better and it does. The pusher team heads out to take care of the interstate for us. There will also be RG’s posted when we get to Chattanooga. We are still under escort with the Virginia State Police. Sgt. Jesse used to lead this team for years. He was with us this year but is not retired and had turned the task over to another Officer. Sgt Jesse rode with us. Our task was to bump and run with the Officers. They would speed ahead and block traffic on an entrance ramp. Our job would be to relieve them and hold that ramp. That is fun accept that sometimes the people you are holding don’t appreciate it and since we are not LEO’s they want to go. We just stop them. I got to relieve at two ramps.
It was decided that each platoon would have two RG’s to lead them into Chattanooga. I was with 4th platoon and rode in the back with the Tail Gunners. The closer we got to Chattanooga, the heavier the traffic. The last rider, just before the Tail Gunners kept falling back. One of the Tail Gunners tried to get him to move up but he wouldn’t. Finally, a car jumped in front of him. Then three more cars jumped in our formation behind that car. All but one of the cars moved out of the formation as soon as they could. The original car stayed in. as soon as I could I swung out and signaled for him to move either one lane left or right. He did this. Then I signaled the rider to move up. He did and was yelling at me (of course I couldn’t hear what he was saying) and waving his arm. I looked at him and again signaled him to move up and the same thing happened. Finally, one Tail Gunner moved ahead of him and waved him to come up by him. I dropped back with the other tail gunner, Casper who I know, and looked at him and gave a what is his problem look. Casper put up his hand indicating they would take care of it. That was all I needed to see. It would be taken care of. Other than that, the ride into Chattanooga went without problems.
We arrived just about on time and had a nice meal. There were some vendors also. Plus, they had a version of the Tennessee Wall set up. It lists all those from Tennessee who gave all. Seeing things like that can be hard to deal with at times but we ride for those that can’t.
We are done for the day and head for our hotel that is right across the street. SgtMaj checked up in and was sitting outside the room when I got there. Seems there was a problem. When he first went to register, he was told he had no reservation. After getting that corrected, they gave us a room. Turns out it was a smoking room. It stunk so SgtMaj got spray and really sprayed it down. Many of you are thinking, so it was a smoking room, so what. Non-smokers will understand how offensive the smell can be. Especially if someone is allergic to smoke.
So we were sitting outside the room letting it air out. Two of our Chaplains were cleaning their bikes. Not wanting to let a good opportunity pass by, I told the one by my bike how good a job he was doing. SgtMaj joined in. We told then that we were a couple of old guys and that when they got done with their bikes, they could easily do ours. We had a lot of fun kidding them. After a while, we went inside to get ready for bed. 0 dark thirty comes real early.
Of course it was still dark when we got up. As I was loading up my bike, I had to wipe the windscreen because of the dew. I couldn’t believe it. Someone had cleaned the windscreen. Last night it was real dirty, today it was nice and clean. Then I looked at the bike, I couldn’t be sure but it looked like the bike was clean also. SgtMaj was saying the same things. We were kind of flabbergasted. We couldn’t believe the Chaplain’s had actually cleaned and polished our bikes. We decided to wait until the sun came up to be sure they did the whole bike. I went down and relieved one of the other RG’s at an intersection. We park our bikes with the flashers going and signal the bikes coming in which way to go. I kept looking at my bike and it looked great! The lighter it got the better it looked. I realized that the Chaplain’s that we kidded with had actually cleaned and polished our bikes. I was almost speechless. I didn’t know their names but I knew what bike one of them was on.
I will continue this in the morning once we leave Chattanooga. Our next goal is Wytheville, Va. This is another small town that really takes care of us. Until next time.
Rich 'Yankee' Martin
Viet Nam Vet