When we were children I think we all pretty much looked forward to snow days. I remember one from somewhere around my kindergarten or first-grade year. Frankly, I remember very little from that period of my life. We had nap time at school on mats printed to look like dollar bills, making mud pies under a tree, turning too tightly on a bicycle causing a handlebar to go into my eye cutting the inside of my eyelid, and an epic snow day! I was pretty short, so it may not have been that epic, but for me it was awesome. The snow that fell that year in Lancaster California was deep enough that my dad made pathways through the snow resulting in the snow on either side of the pathways being higher than my head. It was so cool!
Thankfully, the snow that caused our route to detour to a more direct route from Raton, NM to Limon, CO wasn’t higher than that young boy’s head, at least not by the time we hit the road. This morning was amazing. Our plan was to receive donated gas between 8:10 and 8:40 then have our rider check-in and briefings with departure around 10:00 AM to a lunch provided to us in Pueblo, CO. None of that happened. The entire region was hit with what I think was an unusual May snowstorm. A friend of mine who lives twenty minutes outside of Pueblo related that power had been out for five hours and that they had a good amount of snow on the ground. At my hotel check-in tonight in Limon, CO the kind woman at the front desk indicated they had 15 inches at her home.
Our leadership and those that support them rallied in a phenomenal way. Fred, an FNG, spoke with me about it at dinner tonight. I’m not going to quote him because my memory isn’t that of the young boy earlier described, but this was his sentiment. You know a leadership group is performing really well when you can only see the positive results of their efforts, not the efforts themselves.
Riders, drank coffee, prepared their bikes, donned rain gear, and swapped stories to pass the morning until the revised staging time of 11:00 AM. I was surprised not to see spontaneous games of Hearts or Spades from our mostly Veteran cohort but that didn’t materialize. To pass the time, I found Sage Coffee, a local coffee shop where I enjoyed a hot mocha and chatted a bit with the really nice people there. In my short time at the unexpected overnight stop in Raton, I came to realize that the town has a lot of heart. Thank you, Raton for welcoming the Run For The Wall as we adapted to both fire and snow.
After a unique morning briefing held alongside a Raton Fire Truck while using its speaker as a PA system, the pack set off to La Junta for a very unique fueling experience. I can’t state this with certainty but I suspect this fueling station was the smallest the Run has utilized in a time period that is likely measured in decades. The Loves Travel Stop in La Junta with a bit of spill over into the Pizza Hut next door, hosted us for fuel and staging. From there the second leg saw the Central Route arrive in Limon. It was a short ride of about four hours with just one stop.
Dinner in Limon was provided by the Chamber of Commerce and hosted in the gym of Limon High School. The kind smiles and warm food were the perfect remedies for our cold and shivering riders. Temperatures were in the 40’s for the entire ride. According to the weather.gov website, at a temperature of 45 degrees and having wind at 60mph, the wind chill feels like 31.9 degrees on your skin. Brrrrr! Besides dinner, the Chamber gave us t-shirts emblazoned with the RFTW logo, the “We ride for those who can’t” mission tag line, and Limon Colorado 2022. It is a great souvenir from a town that clearly loves to host us.
During our dinner, where the tables were covered with red, white, and blue tablecloths (my wife would be proud that I noticed) Charlie, from the Chamber of Commerce introduced a hero from WWII. Ninety-seven-year-old Don Morrison is a local businessman who flew 17 missions over Nazi-occupied territory. The entirety of the room gave Don a well-deserved standing ovation. Every Veteran deserves honor and respect, but there is a reason we call our WWII heroes “the greatest generation”. Countless men volunteered to go to war on a global scale to preserve freedom for millions. Thank you Don for answering the call.
After quickly fueling in La Junta, I rode ahead of the pack to Limon where I had the fortune to meet a small group of Patriot Guard Riders. These amazing people drove from Colorado Springs to Limon to complete their mission! Our route change caused their mission of greeting us in Fountain (not terribly far from Colorado Springs) to cancel so they issued themselves their own FRAG Order and came out to Limon. We had a great time talking with these amazing patriots as we awaited the arrival of the pack.
Today was everything I expect from the Run For The Wall. We had the opportunity to honor the Veterans riding among us and also honor the veterans and families who host us. RFTW leadership excelled at what they do so well, safely hosting a parade across the country for those who never received the one they were due, and while we weren’t focusing on proper distancing from the bike in front of us, we saw some amazingly beautiful skies and countryside dotted by quaint patriotic towns and cities. A biker couldn’t ask for a better day in the saddle.
There is one more thing I’d like to add to close out this SitRep. Each morning we are holding a drawing in which only our veterans may participate. The wife of Ron Seldon, a Vietnam Veteran who has spent many years taking his vacation time to go to Vietnam in search of the remains of missing soldiers was donated $2400 by the Run For The Wall. Ron passed away executing the mission of the RFTW some years back. Ron’s wife wouldn’t accept the money. Instead, she asked that it be given to riders to defray their lodging expenses as they complete the RFTW mission. So, each morning we are holding a drawing that awards a Veteran riding with us some of the money that Don Seldon’s wife so graciously sewed back into the RFTW.