Friday, May 17, 2013

Run for the Wall Day 3

Well, today was a much better day for my motorcycle.  I had no oil leaks, the bike ran like a charm, and the best news is that the weather was not as hot as we have experienced in the past.

We were up early in Las Cruces to visit the American Legion, which was a new stop for us this year.  While some may be averse to change, I enjoyed this change because it allowed us a brief glimpse of the city of Las Cruces.  The people at the Legion were warm and very welcoming, making me put exploring Las Cruces higher up on my "bucket list".  I will look forward to visiting again when we are not on a mission.

The breakfast the Legion provided was excellent and filling.  The perfect start to a long and inspiring day.  After breakfast, we went to the Las Cruces Veterans Memorial Park.  It was here that we had an opportunity to meet a WWII veteran and family of some survivors of the Bataan Death March.  We were also informed that by this time next year, there will be a Vietnam Memorial at this Veterans Memorial Park too.

After visiting this beautiful Memorial, it was off to Clint, TX for a quick fuel stop.  We then wandered to Van Horn (not really a wander, more like a focused drive) and were greeted by the local High School Student Council who served all of us sweaty riders a wonderful lunch.

All too quickly we left Van Horn to Pecos, TX for our afternoon fuel stop.  Here we are eternally grateful to Ray "Too Tall" McDowell and his wife, Kay "Too Small" because they donated fuel for all the riders.  These two people have donated fuel to RFTW every year I participated.  The are awesome patriots.

We then found our way into Odessa, TX and went immediately to Bass Rentals for an amazing dinner of fried catfish, fried chicken, hush puppies and all the extras.  With our bellies past full, we all wobbled off to our respective hotels for some much needed cooling off and rest.

Speaking of rest, I believe it is also time for me to get some shut-eye.  When I am not so muddle-headed, I will start posting pictures of the Run...

Until tomorrow...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Run for the Wall - Day 2

Well, I know I promised a daily update on Run for the Wall, but hey, you can't anticipate all issues, and boy did my motorcycle have issues yesterday....

It was reasonably cool (or hot, depending on where you live) leaving Rancho Cucamonga, CA yesterday.  We left under clear skies and somewhat comfortable temperatures.  As we got near Palm Springs, the winds really kicked up, which is what they always due in that part of the state.

Even though the winds were gusting, it still wasn't an unpleasant ride.  I love coming into Blythe, CA for our lunch stop.  The people of Blythe will stop what they are doing and come out to the main street to wave the riders through.  There were many people waving flags several signs, and many people clapping, saluting, and taking pictures as we rode through town.

We were greeted at the fairgrounds by Miss Blythe, who was a very well spoken young woman.  She was so patient and kind, especially when several of our sweaty riders thought it would be really good to hug her.  The City of Blythe again put on a wonderful lunch for the many riders that descended upon them.  We had the opportunity to meet a former Prisoner of War (POW) and several other veterans of the City of Blythe.

After Blythe, it was a long drive to Tonopa, AZ.  It was during that ride, I noticed my left floorboard was slippery.  At first I thought I had stepped in something gooey at lunch, but after several attempts to clean off the bottom of my boot, I was unable to stop the floorboard from being slippery.  It was then that I thought my boots were melting (what else could I think).  SInce I had now convinced myself that my boots were melting, I wanted to see what was really happening, were my toes beginning to poke out???

Imagine my surprise to look down and not see a puddle of boot, but rather a very wet and shiny boot.  That is NOT good.  It means my motorcycle decided to start blowing oil out of the engine.   At least I now had an explanation of why my floorboard was slippery.  Now I look at the schedule to determine how far away the next gas stop is.  We are 20 miles away from our destination and my mind is thinking that I have blown every ounce of oil out of my bike and it was a matter of moments before I seized the engine.

I grabbed hold of my over-active imagination, called my Assistant Platoon Leader and asked him to take a look at the left side of my bike.  He does not see oil pouring out of the engine, but does note there is a lot of oil along the side of my bike.  We decide it should be OK to ride the rest of the trip, I didn't want to pull over to the side of the road and wait for rescue (which was coming, but not for some time).  As I pull into the gas station (with my heart in my throat) I turn the engine off and quickly trailer my bike.  When the bike stopped, oil was dripping very quickly onto the ground.  By the time the bike is trailered, no more oil is coming out, which I believe to be a very bad thing.

The great news is that my mechanic was available early Thursday morning.  He was kind enough to put his other work aside and take a look at my poor bike.  The great news is that I had only knocked a hole in my oil line and the best news was that I still had a quart of oil in the bike.  No damage to the engine, and both oil hoses were replaced.

The bike is now running like a dream and I am looking forward to the balance of this trip.  Today was fun with lunch in Willcox, AZ, and an evening stop in Las Cruces.  I always tear up when rolling into Las Cruces, the Air National Guard is always out to greet us, and they are just such wonderful people.

It is now time to hit the sack, it will be an early start tomorrow, and another series of emotional stops.

Until tomorrow...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Run for the Wall - pre run jitters

These blogs are going to be very short, since they will be posted the end of each day, after all my chores/tasks/ responsibilities are completed.  This will be my 7th Run for the Wall (RFTW), and I am as nervous about this run as I was when I first did the run in 2005.

The difference between the run this year and my first run, is obviously, RFTW has become my extended family.  There are people I only get to see once a year, and it is wonderful and inspiring to see them each year.  This year, the pre-run events started in Ranch Cucomonga, CA on Sunday, and the days have been extremely hot.  We have had meetings both Monday and Tuesday, and a wonderful dinner was served to all the riders this Tuesday evening.

We had some awesome entertainment, we had the Marines from Pendleton today provide the Colors for our evening celebration.  We had some wonderful singers keep us entertained while eating, and we had a great time catching up with everyone prior to our departure tomorrow.  Today was like a homecoming, we got to see many old friends, and are already beginning to welcome more new friends to our family.

We are now all bunking down, in anticipation of the start of the run tomorrow morning.  It is amazing how much still needs to be done before we head out tomorrow.  I look at my bike and realize that I need to re-pack it once again, because everything is not where I want it to be.  I can assure you that this exercise will happen each evening for the next few nights until I get everything in it's proper place for the run.

I have not participated in the Run (acutally I have always participated, but was unable to ride all the way) for the last 2 years, so this year is really exciting for me.  Even though I have not ridden with everyone for 2 years, it still feels like yesterday.

I can't wait for the run to leave, Central Route heading north(ish) and Southern Route heading towards Phoenix, AZ.  It will be warm, but we are prepared.  We will be working with all the riders to be sure they have been drinking enough water and very little caffeine.  The weather looks like it will be kind to us tomorrow, so if all goes like prior runs, if we leave in good weather, will will have good weather for the whole run.

It is now time to hit the sack.  My clothes for tomorrow are already staged, I have my bike somewhat re-packed, and all that needs to be done is to get some sleep.  Tomorrow will come early and I have to make sure that everything is packed securely on the bike tomorrow morning.

Until tomorrow...