Wednesday, May 16, 2012

May 16 - Lafayette, LA to Kerrville, TX

It's late, so there won't be an pictures with this blog post, but we'll put a link to the photos on my Facebook page.

We saw the weather radar when we left Lafayette, LA and it showed rain coming into Lake Charles. By the time we rode into Lake Charles, the pavement was wet, but no rain.  Prayer answered.

We saw a sign for the Battleship USS Texas and decided to take a detour.  It was worth it, but the mosquitoes are terrible there.

We stopped at a rest area near Seguin, TX and met Kim Kincade (I think that is his last name).  We stayed there for about 30 minutes for water and to sit in the shade.  Kim rides a Triumph Bonneville.  Nice bike!

Kim leaving the rest area on his Triumph
We were making good time and we estimated arriving in Kerrville around 1745 (5:45 pm), but we ran into a looooong backup on I-10.  The short version is that we ended up arriving in Kerrville at about 1930 (7:30pm).

While driving through San Antonio, we barked over the idea of going to the Alamo, but we were tired and wanted to get to the hotel.

Tomorrow we're shooting for Deming, NM.  We played rock, paw, scissors and I won.  I preferred a 580 mile day rather than a 650 mile day.

We've ridden 1747 miles so far.  I think we estimated this mission at 6,000 miles.  We're on track to arrive in Irvine, CA on Saturday, then we'll spend a day with my great aunt Connie and great uncle Wendell.

Keep your tongue in the wind!  Please pray for the safety our troops, and for us on our mission.


Link to my photo album that includes photos from this day

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May 15: Columbus, GA to Lafayette, LA via Tuskegee and Mobile

We left Columbus, GA at 0700.  While riding towards Montgomery, AL, we saw the sign for the Tuskegee Airmen, and decided to check it out.  We forgot that Alabama is in central time zone.  When we arrived, it was a little after 0800 on our bike clock, but it was actually a little after 0700.  We rode to Hangar 1 and there were people waiting to get into one of the Hangars so they can work on it.  The hangar is under reconstruction. One of the guys told us that an original P-51 Mustang "Red Tail" was in the hangar and suspended.  He said it was covered in plastic.  When the doors were unlocked, he let us in to see it.  It was soooo cooool!  He said he had the honor of meeting the pilot of that specific P-51:  Mr. Williams.
One of the original "Red Tails".  We were so exctied to be able to see this P-51

It's covered in plastic and the lighting isn't finished, but you can see the marking.

South of Montgomery, we saw a truck from Four Oaks, NC.  My driver talked with him on the CB for a while and it turns out we all know the same people.  He knows people who attend Freedom Biker Church, and so do we.  He called one of his friends he knew us and told him where we were.  This is a very small world!

We're practically neighbors.  He's from Four Oaks, NC and we live about 45 minutes from there.
We stopped at Battleship Park in Mobile, AL and visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  There is a tribute to working dogs there.  While there, there were kids from a school in Hattiesburg, MS there for a field trip.  I had the pleasure of meeting many of them.  I think there were more on the bus, but I'm not sure.

My driver's face is already wind burned.  When we were in Louisiana, the temps go to about 90 and it was humid.  We drank lots of water.

Tomorrow, our destination is Kerrville, TX.  Overall, we had a very blessed day.

Keep your tongue in the wind!


Link to my album for this day on Facebook

Monday, May 14, 2012

May 12-13 - Ride for the Warrior, then to Columbus, GA

On May 12, it was a perfect day to ride in Operation Helping Hands for Heroes' Ride for the Warrior.  The ride started and ended at HotRodz in Fayetteville, NC.  The ride went to the Harnett County Veterans Memorial in Lillington.  A JROTC group met us there to honor our Fallen Heroes and those who served in all branches of the military.

Sheriff (l) and Big E (r)
We started the day by stopping at the Kipling Cross in Kipling, NC, which is about a mile from our house.  While there "Sheriff" rode by, turned around, and stopped to make sure we were OK.  We rode with him to Lillington, where we linked up with "Big E".  I know Sheriff and Big E through Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association NC 15-1.

Craig Hardy of Operation HHH.  Check it out - He's wearin' one of my shirt designs!

Keith (arms-a-waving) gave the road guard briefing.  Keith led the ride.
My driver and I helped as road guards for the ride.  This ride was very well coordinated with multiple law enforcement organizations.  Normally, if the ride is planned and led by members of Rolling Thunder NC4, we'll put on a road guard vest, but we stop with a road guard to video the ride.  On this ride, we did a little of that, but we also served as road guards to help keep the group safe.

I met another biker dog on Ride for the Warrior.  I think his name is Wolf, but I'm not sure.  He rides in a trailered crate.  We were behind him for part the ride and watching him was like watching a dog riding a surf board.  It was sooooo cool.

While we all ate hot dogs at HotRodz, Donna Horton gave us a green bandana.  On one half was Psalm 91 written in Hebrew, and the other half was the English translation.  If we recall correctly, Donna went to Israel with a group, and the group linked up with a ministry and gave them several bandanas.  I think those bandanas were intended for some troops.  Two of those bandanas were destined for us.

We ended the day by refueling, and while refueling we saw Billy and Sandy Marshall roll by and heard them blast their horns at us and wave.

After we returned home, my driver went to church to meet and listen to Peter Loth, one of the youngest survivors of the WWII Holocaust.  If you ever have a chance to listen to Peter give his testimony, you should.  The topic is Forgiveness.  My driver brought the bandana that Donna give him.  He said that Barry Battlestein introduced Peter, and part of his introduction was reading Psalm 91.  After the presentation, Barry gave my driver a book to read while we are on our cross-country ministry and mission:  "Psalm 91: God's Shield of Protection" by Peggy Joyce Ruth and Angelia Ruth Schun.  The version Barry gave to my driver is the Military Edition and has a picture of two dog tags in the upper right of the cover.  Hmmmmm.  Psalm 91 on the bandana given to us by Donna.  Barry reads Psalm 91 before introducing Peter, and gives my driver a military edition of a book about Psalm 91.  That was a very humbling evening for my driver.  My driver was thinking about cancelling this mission and returning the donations.  We're not doing this mission for us -- it's in memory of those who gave their lives and to support bringing SGT Bergdahl home safely.  We're representing all Americans who want to keep our Heroes' memories alive. Anyway, back to church ... it became clear to my driver that we may be honoring our Fallen Heroes and raising awareness of SGT Bowe Bergdahl, but we have a greater purpose and calling through the ministry we became.  We didn't plan it that way, but it's apparent to us that He did.

We rode past my parents' church (Macedonia Baptist Churgh on Hwy 42 west of Duncan, NC)
We had a late start on May 13.  We needed to reposition some of the weight, and try to reduce the weight in the T-Bag so that we weren't as top heavy.  We took NC24/27 to Charlotte.  Enroute, we stopped to see if there was a path to a sight we see each to time to go to Charlotte.  It's a cross in a field with a mannequin in BDU uniform on his knees holding a US flag on a pole.  There wasn't a way to get to the memorial/tribute, and my driver didn't want me galloping in a tall grassy field at the beginning of flea and tick season, so we took some photos from a distance and rolled on.

We stopped at Morrow Mountain State Park near Albemarle, NC.  We stopped in memory in Lyle Davenport.  It's our understanding that Lyle liked to ride to Morrow Mountain.  In February, we were there with Charlotte HOG and the PGR to release balloons in memory of Lyle.  Lyle was killed last year when returning home from a miltary funeral.  Ms Jane was riding alongside Lyle when it happened, I think their grandson was riding with Ms Jane.  Recently, Ms Jane began taking Chevy (their border collie) for rides. 

When we reached Charlotte, we stopped under an overpass so that my driver could put on rain gear.  I don't need to wear rain gear because the fairing and my driver block the rain.  When we merged onto I-85, we fell in behind a black Harley with PGR flag.  We also noticed a PGR decal on the back of the biker's helmet.  It turns out the biker is Tony Peoria.  After riding behind him for a while, Tony moved in the right lane and we passed him.  My driver set the cruise so he could give Tony a salute and thumbs up.  We then did some leap frogging with fast moving cages -- until we hit a down pour of rain.  I stayed dry until we came up to a 4-mile back-up east of Atlanta.  It was pouring rain and since we weren't moving, my sweatshirt got soaked.  The helmet stickers also got soaked, and we're hoping they don't peel off before the end of the mission.  If they do, there's nothing we can do and we're glad we took photos of my helmet before we started this journey.

You can barely see Tony Peoria ahead of us.
We stopped near Newnan, GA for a snack.  I had a Arby's roast beef classic and my driver had the same.  We then rode our last stretch of the day to Columbus, GA, where we're staying with my driver's mother, brother, niece and my biker dog cousin Bella.

We'll be laying over in Columbus on Monday (May 14), which is OK because the rain is supposed to hang for a while.  Hopefully, the weather will clear for our next leg to Lafayette, LA.

As long as we have cell phone connectivity, we will try to post picture updates on my Facebook page along the way.  We will try to remember to provide a location and also the date time.  For example, if you see a mobile upload that ends with 5-13 1720, that means May 13 at 1720 (5:20PM).  We will be using local time to where we are at.

My driver misses his wife already.  Me?  I'm cool as long as I'm with my driver.

Our posts over the next few days will likely be much shorter, and probably won't have photos.  The photos can be viewed on my Facebook page (see link below my paw-off (sign-off).)  I don't think you need a Facebook account to view the photo albums.

Please pray for the safety of our men and women in uniform (military, as well as law enforcement and fire fighters who put themselves in harm's to protect us).  Also, please pray for my driver.  He had a third interview with an organization having an operation in Chapel Hill. He reeeeeally likes this organization and is praying that God wants him there, too.  The organization teaches people for a career field and they also give back to the community.

God Bless our Fallen Heroes, their Gold Star Families, those serving now, those who served, their Blue Star Families, and our allies.

Keep your tongue in the wind!


Mission Pages on my Website

Link to Photos for this Blog Post

Sunday, May 6, 2012

D-7 to the Start of my 2nd Ride Across the USA

We're preparing for my Ride Across the USA.  We start the trip by attending Operation Helping Hands for Heroes "Ride for the Warrior" on May 12 at HotRodz in Fayetteville, NC.  We hope to be home in time for my driver to go to church and listen to Peter Loth, one of the youngest survivors of the Holocaust.  On May 13, we start our westward trek and we will stop at my grandma's (my driver's mother) and brother's house.  You can check out my Ride Across the USA on my website.

As of this blog entry, we are at D-7, and it's been a busy week.  Last year, I think we had the section of my website for my Ride Across the USA up about 6-8 weeks before rolled.  This year, it was up only 3 weeks prior because of several reasons.  Prayers are much appreciated to spread the word about this mission to honor those who gave their lives while in service to our country.  We are also riding to spread the word about Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, US Army.  SGT Bergdahl has been in captivity since June 2009, and we wonder how many people know this.  Simply stated, we want him to return home safely.

We added stickers to my Memorial/Tribute Helmet.  I have more pictures on my Facebook page.

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My current helmet is on the left, and my new Memorial/Tribute Helmet is on the right.  I'm almost out of space on my new helmet

We printed the Gold Star Roster, which contains 7,149 Heroes.  By comparison, our Fallen Heroes Roster in 2011 had 4,998 Heroes.  For this ride, we decided to call it an American Gold Star Roster (not to be confused with American Gold Star Mothers).  This roster includes those who died while in service to our country, regardless of whether the death was hostile, non-hostile, traffic accident, etc. We also expanded the Roster to include those who gave their lives before the current War Against Terrorism.  For example, we included those who gave their lives in Desert Storm/Desert Shield, Just Cause, Urgent Fury, Restore Hope, and the bombing in Beirut.  The challenge is finding the Heroes who died while serving our country, but not during an operation.  For that, we rely on family members to provide us with information to add their Hero to the Roster.  You can find the Gold Star Roster at this link:  Gold Star Pages.

This mission is affiliated with Operation Helping Hands for Heroes (Operation HHH) as a project.  Operation HHH is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and the affiliation allows sponsors of this mission to be eligible for tax deductions, based on IRS regulations.  We are bringing mission dog tags with us to Iraq/Afghanistan Memorial in Irvine, CA.  We have enough for each Gold Star Mother in the Dogwood and Magnolia Chapters, a dozen for Operation HHH, and we set aside 50 for the first 50 sponsors.  There is no minimum or maximum amount, but we request that the minimum be $10 to cover the cost of the tag, postage, and card to mail the tag.  There are more ways to help us than money.  For example, my family believes in the power of prayer, and prayers are always appreciated.  You can also help spread the word to family, friends, co-workers, and perhaps ask your employer to be a corporate sponsor.
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My T-Shirt Design for this Ride

We designed a t-shirt and put it in my online store.  That design will be available through May, then we'll take it down and put in the dog biscuit box.  You can visit my store at Riding for Fallen Heroes

On Thursday, my parents took my Harley to HotRodz in Fayetteville and left me at home!  HotRodz will have her for a few days for routine maintenance and new tires.  I think my driver will pick her up on Tuesday or Wednesday, then start doing some roll-up-the-sleeves load planning/testing.  One of our concerns is the amount of space needed for the Gold Star Rosters.  They are in three binders: one each for the Dogwood and Magnolia Chapters of the American Gold Star Mothers, and one is an alphabetical sort. In total, the binders are 4 inches thick. We're concerned about space, so we may reduce the print size to fit into three binders that are 1/2-inch each, but we'll make that decision when we test pack the saddlebags. 

Today, our flags arrived:  a US Ceremonial Flag, and a Christian flag and POW/MIA flag for my Harley.  The Christian flag will have "In Memory of Ed Williams" on it and we will fly it across the USA.  Ed is one of the co-founders of Operation HHH.  I first met him through Raleigh HOG after I started riding.  I'm an honorary member of Operation HHH and this Ride Across the USA is affiliated with them as a project.  The POW/MIA flag will have "Bowe Bergdahl, SGT, USA".

Given my age, I'm not sure if I will have it in me for another cross-country ride at the pace we will be travelling, but we'll see.  We typically try to cover 500 miles/day, which is a lot on a motorcycle.  My driver says that he will let me decide when I can't ride anymore.  Even if I don't attend missions, events and organized rides, he said we will still take short rides so I can put my tongue in the wind. 

Have you watched my video from my 2011 Ride Across the USA with my driver and my navigator (Thomas Sanders)?  Check this out... Don't the lyrics sound like they were written for me?  The song is "High on the Hog" by my friends, the MeanStreet Riders.  We've ridden with them and last year on our Ride Across the USA we stopped to visit them during a photo shoot.  They sometimes call me their honorary mascot -- that's soooo pawsome!  In fact, they are on a road trip in the west as I prepare to ride to the west.

If there is no video below this sentence or the video does not work, please try this link:  2011 Ride Across America Video

Keep your tongue in the wind!

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