MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!

We awoke in Lewisburg, West Virginia to no rain, albeit a bit foggy.  Yesterday’s daily activities officially ended in Rainelle, West Virginia after our ceremonies and presentation with the school children at Rainelle Elementary School.  However, we did continue our Missing Man formation from Rainelle to Lewisburg, which is where we begin on Friday mornings.  The reason we start out in Lewisburg on Friday mornings is due to the number of hotel rooms the Run requires for an overnight stay.

When we arrived at our lunch stop, we learned that we did not have any police escort into Washington, D.C.  Nevertheless, we managed to lead the pack to our host hotel without incident.  Upon arrival at the host hotel, we were greeted by the Southern Route and “Welcomed Home”!

Saturday involved many activities including Run For The Wall laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, our group photo on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, our Run For The Wall presentation at the apex of the Vietnam Memorial Wall and our closing dinner and ceremony at the Arlington Assembly of God.

On Sunday morning, Run For The Wall participated in Rolling Thunder XXIII.

Once again, many thanks to all of you countless volunteers at stops throughout the country who have helped us once again in our 22nd Annual Run For The Wall to accomplish our mission!!!

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Today was one of the most anticipated days of the Run — our visit with the students of Rainelle Elementary.  But before we went to Rainelle, our first stop of the morning was at the Capitol in Charleston.  We visited the Veterans Memorial and had a presentation.   During the presentation, Governor Joe Manchin delivered a proclamation declaring today “Run For The Wall” day in West Virginia.  Also, we had a flag line posted by the West Virginia Patriot Guard Riders in honor of the 29 fallen miners in the Upper Big Branch mining accident.  Many of these miners were veterans.  At the close of the ceremony, we had a moment of silence and then paid respects at the Miners Memorial followed by a group photo on the Capitol steps with the Governor.

Upon leaving Charleston, we traversed the mountains via US Route 60 past Hawk’s Nest State Park on down to the town of Rainelle.  This was the 22nd straight year (every year of the Run) that we have stopped at Rainelle Elementary and visited with the school children and had lunch with them.  We then had a presentation being led by the school choir in the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance.  Everyone enjoyed interacting with the children and signing their books and t-shirts.  Tomorrow it’s on to Washington, D.C. and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.

Once again, we departed this morning under bright, clear skies.  The weather to this point has been tremendous.  Our first stop of the day was at the Robley Rex VA Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky (formerly known as the Louisville VA Center).  The hospital was recently renamed for a long-time volunteer at the hospital, a World War I veteran, who passed away a little more than a year ago at the age of 108.    We saw several old friends in addition to being able to visit with patients.  My favorite part of the visit was visiting patients in the psychiatric ward since they were not allowed to come out and see the motorcycles. 

Our next stop of the day was the Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Frankfort, Kentucky.  This memorial is so unique because it is made in the form of a sun dial that throws a shadow on the name of each individual at the time of his death. 

We then traveled to Mt. Sterling, Kentucky for a fuel and lunch stop and was warmly greeted by the people there.

Our final and overnight stop for the day was Hurricane, West Virginia.  On the road to Hurricane, a Huey helicopter escorted us to our destination.    When we arrived, we were greeted by hundreds of supporters and entered the Valley Wave Pool Park to tunes being played by the Hurricane High School Band.   The Color Guard duties were performed by the St. Albans High School Junior ROTC.   Several plaques and certificates were presented.  Dinner was an excellent preparation of spaghetti and meatballs by culinary students, in addition to having a pig roast and Dairy Queen ice cream for dessert.

Tomorrow we visit the West Virginia Capitol and Rainelle Elementary, the oldest stop on the Run.

Today started out with clear skies once again, after we got up and loaded our bikes at 0-dark-thirty.  After a wonderful breakfast at the Wentzville VFW, we had our morning meeting with about 300 bikes at this point.  We then paraded through Wentzville and had a presentation at the Wentzville Veterans Memorial with a color guard by the Fire Department and the local high school band played the National Anthem and God Bless America.   We then traveled to the Jefferson Barracks at the St. Louis VA Hospital and had a presentation and visited with the patients.  This is a long-standing stop on the  Central Route.   From there, it was on to Huck’s Truck Stop in Mt. Vernon, Illinois for fuel and gas.  The owners of Huck’s have been having the run stop there since its inception.  Our dinner and overnight location is Corydon, Indiana.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the fish fry dinner in Corydon because I had to take care of an accident scene (fender bender, no injuries) between some bikes.

Tomorrow, we arrive in a place known as “Almost Heaven”.

Monday morning found us traveling from Junction City, Kansas to Wentzville, Missouri (a little west of St. Louis).  It was an amazing trip across I-70 in Missouri.  Local law enforcement is providing border to border escort (front and rear) which makes traveling in such a large group much easier.

Our lunch stop was Concordia, Missouri where we received not only a wonderful meal (turkey, ham, and pulled pork) but also a visit from an Apache helicopter (a very impressive piece of equipment).

After lunch we rolled into Wentzville, Missouri, which is probably our third oldest stop on the run (Rainelle is first).  We always receive a great “Welcome Home” from Wentzville along with excellent food at the local VFW.

Tomorrow, on to Corydon, Indiana and back to the Eastern time zone.

We left Goodland, Kansas after our Sunday morning worship service and riders’ meeting.  This was our first year in Goodland and the town treated us very well.  We later found out that Goodland had some tornado activity Sunday evening.

We left Goodland and traveled to Oakley, Kansas for lunch.  Lunch was terrific as usual (especially the homemade, spicy dill pickles!); however, we had to gather downtown to eat instead of their veteran’s memorial due to the field being too wet from all the recent bad weather they had a few days prior.

From there, we traveled to our dinner and overnight destination, Junction City, Kansas.  Junction City is home to Fort Riley where the “Big Red One” 1st Infantry Division is based.

When we arrived in Junction City, I could not believe all of the people who had turned out to welcome us home and the unbelievable number of US flags they were waving.

The American Legion provided us a wonderful dinner consisting of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and other great items, all which was prepared by an Army cook.

We also managed to dodge a huge thunderstorm just before reaching Junction City.

Wow!! What a long day!  We left under beautiful skies once again.  After leaving Angel Fire, we made brief stops in Eagles Nest and Cimmaron, New Mexico on our way to our first fuel stop, Raton, New Mexico.  The people of Raton are always so gracious to the Run and really make us feel welcomed.

From Raton, we paraded through Trinidad, Colorado on our way to lunch and our next fuel stop at La Junta, Colorado.  Then we traveled to Limon, Colorado for our next fuel stop.  Our final leg of the day was from Limon to Goodland, Kansas where we had a fuel stop, a wonderful dinner and presentation with concert by the citizens of Goodland and our overnight stop.

I wish I had a lot of pictures to show you, but, traveling over 400 miles via motorcycle in a pack of about 250 motorcycles is a very long day that doesn’t leave much time for picture-taking.  The picture below is one of the views I was blessed with as we left our host hotel in Angel Fire to start the day.

By the way, in case you haven’t discovered it yet, you can left-click on any picture to enlarge it.

What a day!

We left Gallup, New Mexico under beautiful skies and traveled to Santa Fe, New Mexico for our lunch.  One of the great things about traveling through New Mexico on the run is that we have a police escort from border to border that shuts down all traffic on the roads during the time we are traversing that particular area.  So, we hardly ever have to worry about traffic in New Mexico. 

Santa Fe is where things started getting very interesting.  I discovered a very loud clanging coming from my motorcycle and was experiencing some shifting issues.  I was determined that I was not going to bury another bike on the Run.  I thought I knew what the problem was, so, instead of pushing the bike and possibly making it worse, I had the bike loaded onto one of our chase trailers and carried to our overnight stop at Angel Fire, New Mexico in order to work on the bike that evening.  Since I had to ride in the chase vehicle, I was a virtual prisoner and was forced to go with the chase team to the Dairy Queen on the way up the mountain.  I really hated that I had to do that and sit in air conditioning, but, as you can see, I had no option!   More about the bike in a moment.

Back to today’s Run activities.  This day is always meaningful because we travel to an elevation of over 8,400 feet at Angel Fire, New Mexico to one of the first Vietnam Veterans Memorials in the United States.  A couple lost their only son in Vietnam and as a tribute and memorial to their son, they spent the rest of their lives building this memorial on top of the mountain.  Take a look for yourself.

Now back to the bike.  I removed the necessary items to be able to remove the gear cover, and, as I was removing the gear cover, I happened to look at the rear brake caliper and immediately knew what was causing the loud, clanking noise.  Somehow, the rear caliper cover over the brake pads had removed itself and gone elsewhere.  This, in and of itself, is not so bad.  However, one of the brake pad pins that holds the brake pads in place apparently decided to go with the cover.  The other brake pad pin was half-way out.  I’m fortunate that the brake pad didn’t wedge against the rotor causing the rear wheel to lock up.  Yes, I realize that at 131,000 miles on my bike, I need to start looking for another one.   But, they are so expensive.  Anyone wishing to help out on a worthy cause, i. e. popping $25,000 on me for a new bike, just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you with the details!  (The Publisher’s Clearing House Prize Patrol method isn’t working out too well for me.  They keep going to the wrong house!)  I finished adjusting the transmission, which did need it, while some other guys very graciously started working on the brake issue.  After some field engineering, in other words they rigged something up, the rear brake was repaired and operable again.  I can’t described to you what they did because after I heard duct tape, zip tie, 8 penny nail, and baling wire, I didn’t want to know anything beyond that as long as it worked!

The test ride went o.k., so, tomorrow we’ll find out how good we did.  Also, I’d like to apologize for the postings not being as prompt.  After working on the motorcycle until dark, I was just too tuckered out to work on the computer also.

Posted by: motorcyclemuse | 22 May 2010

Run For The Wall XXII 2010 Day 2: Williams, AZ to Gallup NM

Today was another beautiful day and another successful day on the road.  We left Williams, Arizona under clear skies and arrived in Gallup, New Mexico under clear skies and moderate temperatures.  In between the two, American Legion Post 37 of Holbrook, Arizona hosted us for lunch.  Then in Gallup, we had an eight mile parade through town where the Navajo Nation welcomed us home with a Native American returning warriors welcome.  The City of Gallup is tremendous in hosting us and providing dinner.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll let these do the talking.

Finally, the day has arrived for the start of Run For The Wall 2010, our 22nd year in a row!  The day began clear and full of excitement and anticipation.

Both the Central and Southern Routes participated in a combined opening ceremonies.  The local fire department performed color guard duties for us.  We had the Pledge of Allegiance followed by the National Anthem.  We said our good-byes and well-wishes to our friends from the Southern Route and will reunite with them in DC.

The weather for our travels all day was perfect.  Even our lunch stop at Needles, CA was under 100 degrees.  That’s the first time I’ve ever been in Needles when the temperature was under 100.  As this is our longest travel day (395 miles), I always think it’s good to have it first when I’m the most rested.

The American Legion Post 13 of Williams, Arizona provided us, once again, with a terrific dinner of turkey, brisket, beans, corn on the cob, and  many other items.

Tomorrow, our journey takes us to Gallup, New  Mexico.

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