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Day ONE – Wednesday May 18, 2022. Ontario to Flagstaff Arizona (435 miles!)

Howdy Folks!  I am Jim “Hoofer” McCrain, and I will be your SITREP Author for the 2022 Run For The Wall Midway Route.  I am honored that our Route Coordinator asked me to do this again.  I will do my best to let you know what it is like to participate with the RFTW Midway Route, and keep you informed of just what it is that we do every day.

A little background about the Midway Route is in order.  Midway is the youngest of the three cross-country routes.  It was first scouted out in 2014, with the first official “Run” being made in 2015.  We crossed the country together for five years before the Covid pandemic shut everything down.  We waited for two years, and now we are back!

The Midway Route begins (just like the two other Routes) in Ontario California.  Midway has the distinction of being the FIRST route to leave the main staging area each year.  This is because we have farther to go on our first day of riding.  And since we are the “younger sibling” of the other Routes, THEY wouldn’t let us use their toys!  Uh, … I mean fuel and food stops.  Actually, I am just kidding about that.  When the Midway Route was first developed, it was decided to NOT put any extra burden on the cities and small tons that we travel through, so we set up our own fuel, food, and lodging logistics.  RFTW tries very hard to not disrupt the locations that we ride through.

I guess I should tell you more about where we are going, and why those logistic decisions were made.  The Central and Midway Routes SHARE the same highways for the first half of Day One.  We both travel from Ontario to the Kingman/Seligman Arizona area.  While Central route starts moving north from there, Midway continues heading East along the I-40 corridor.  Both Routes combined have approximately 1000 Riders.  That is a LOT of fuel and food, not to mention at least 500 hotel rooms.  (Most Riders find a roommate before the Run begins, to help cut down on the cost of participating.)  So you can see why we have to ride a little farther.  It is nicer for the communities that we visit.

And the communities that Midway visits are the BEST!  Let me tell you about the reception we had at “Mother Road Harley Davidson” in Kingman, Arizona.  We were lead directly to them by some of Kingmans finest Motor Officers.  It is NICE to let our Road Guards have a break for a while, since it WAS 100 degrees today!  When we got off of our bikes, we could smell a delicious hamburger lunch being prepared for us.  But they wouldn’t let us go eat it!  First, we “had” to shake a lot of hands from all of the supporters that were waiting for us, waving flags and cheering all the time.  Then several pretty girls wanted to hug all of the Veterans.  (They gave ME a hug, too!)  Then there were more handshakes and hugs from the staff of “Mother Road HD.”  You know, it was a pretty nice price to pay for the most excellent lunch!  Thank You all so much for your support and WONDERFUL welcome to our Riders!

Speaking of those people waving flags and cheering, I got to have some fun today.  In addition to writing the SITREPS and being the Photographer, I also am working with the Ambassadors to greet people and spread the word about RFTW.  Part of that is visiting with people that are standing on overpasses or along side streets.  These people will stand in the blazing sun for HOURS just waiting for us to roll by.  And that only takes a couple of minutes!  So the Ambassadors try to stop and visit with them if it is at all possible.  Well today, I was able to stop at four overpasses that were just COVERED in American flags.  It is such a sight to behold as we roll along, and for me to get to visit with these Patriots is an honor that I wish the other Riders could have.  Over the years, I have stopped at two of these bridges and met some fantastic people, but I didn’t know if that would happen this year, as we haven’t done this since 2019.  Guess what?  THEY WERE THERE!  They haven’t forgotten us!  I got to hug their necks and shake their hands.  I got to tell THEM how special that they are to our Riders.  I got to hand out some of our souvenir pins to add to their collection.  And I got to say a quick prayer of Thanks with one Lady that I have now seen for three years.  She has promised that they will be back next year, and wished us safe travels for the rest of our journey.

Folks, let me tell you … Patriotism is not dead in this country.  I can prove it with a few pictures.  Remember, it was 100 degrees today!  And we had people on the bridges and overpasses all along our 400+ mile route today.  They were standing along the street at the Marine Corp base in Barstow.  They were on street corners in Seligman.  Of course, dozens of overpasses had throngs of people standing on them all throughout California and Arizona.  They were parked in fields in the middle of nowhere, just waiting for us!  I wish I could have stopped and talked to each one of them, but unfortunately I can’t do that.  (The Pack is riding down the highway, remember?  Once I stop, I have to catch back up again, and that can take a while!)  But I wouldn’t give up this honor for anything.  America, we love YOU as much as you love US!

We got some more great love in Flagstaff!  As we were approaching our evening stop, we picked up a LEO Escort through town.  LEO stands for Law Enforcement Officer.  Yep, we had more “Cops” with us with lights flashing.  (It is SO nice to see them in FRONT of you instead of BEHIND you!)  The city streets were lined with hundreds of people watching us roll by.  It was an “un-scheduled” parade, and we loved it!  Well the LEO lead us directly to the VFW Post #1709.  There we were treated to a scrumptious dinner of “sloppy joe’s”, beans, and Chips.  And nothing ever tasted better!  Our Host might have been the VFW, but our “servers” were a local Boy Scout Troop.  This Troop has been helping us EVERY yeqr.  It has been great to see some of the same faces as they are growing and maturing into responsible and PATRIOTIC Young Men!  They are the future Leaders of our Country, and they give us all hope for the future!

After dinner, it was time to fuel up the bikes so that we can roll out early in the morning, and then off to the Hotel rooms for a few hours of sleep.  (Fewer for some of us because of our jobs.)   I work about 3 hours each night editing photos and writing the SITREPS, while the Staging Crew and Fuel Team have to get up at OH FOUR O’CLOCK to be ready for the day!  (I ASSUME that our Route Leaders do “some” work at night, too!)

But you know what?  A few weeks of little sleep is a small price to pay for the privilege of riding with our Heroes.  We volunteer for these positions because it is our way of saying Thank You to the Men and Women that have served our Country.  And that is the same reason why there are so many supporters waving those red, white, and blues at us.  We owe a debt of gratitude and honor to these brave people.  Today was Day One of our Mission to do just that!

If you have read any of my SITREPS from previous years, you might remember me mentioning  a book that my Father wrote about 45 years ago.  I think about it every morning as we set out on our Mission.  The title says it all:  “I wonder what today will bring?”  I’ll let you know tomorrow!

Cheers!

Jim “Hoofer” McCrain