Jim “Hoofer” McCrain
DAY 03 – Friday, May 15, 2020
Albuquerque NM – Amarillo TX
Okay, no panic this morning. And I am still getting along with my roommate. (More on HIM later!)
Today will start just like every day. Get up, load the bike, and go to breakfast. We will have a mandatory Riders briefing and safety meeting. (Safety FIRST, even ahead of coffee!). During our morning meetings there will be discussion of the days route, explanation of anything that has changed (Semper Gumby!), and a few general announcements. We will also get to meet and greet our newest Riders, as more FNGs will have joined us. More Family!
These morning meetings are filled with more than information, though. We use this time to remind each other WHY we are riding. There will be biographies read each morning of a Soldier, Sailor, or Airman that is Missing in Action, or the was lost on that date. Heroes will be introduced. (Ever meet a Medal of Honor Recipient? You might on THIS Run!). And a member of the Chaplain Corps will say a prayer for our safety, and will make sure that each and every Rider knows that they are here to help, listen, or do whatever it takes to help them “get right” and heal. This “ride” is a Mission. We ride for a purpose, and that is to bring hope, healing, and recognition to our Veterans and their Families.
Today has only a couple of activities, though. The first is a nice, quiet ride through some very scenic countryside, arriving in Santa Rosa NM for lunch. Our stop is at the “Blue Hole.” This is a beautiful artesian well of clear, clean water … about 80 feet deep … in the middle of a desert. The bikes pull up, the riders dismount, and we leisurely stroll up to the pool to gaze at the serene waters …. HEY! SOME ROAD GUARDS JUST JUMPED INTO THE POOL!! DID YOU SEE THAT? Yes, there is a tradition that several of our Road Guards have of jumping into cold water, in full gear. (Do NOT try this at home. These are NOT trained professionals, just wild and crazy Road Guards having fun!) You will get used to these guys blowing off a little steam. You have been seeing them in action for a couple of days now and have come to understand just how hard they are working for your safety! They deserve a few “antics.”
After lunch, we have about 100 miles to dry off before our very special appearance in Tucumcari NM. The Midway Route does not stop in this town, we just pass through on the highway. But the Mayor of Tucumcari got so excited about RFTW that this year She arranged for us to make a special parade through downtown on the old historic “Route 66”! THIS is the beginning of the “magic of the Run” where people are so enthusiastic about us that they WANT us to parade through their streets. They WANT to honor our Veterans. They WANT to support our Troops. They WANT to be a part of our Mission. Thank You, Mayor, for your heart-felt Welcome. I hope that you know how much WE appreciate YOU, and that we can’t wait to actually ride through town and visit with you next year.
Doesn’t sound like we did much today, does it? Guess again! As the Route Photographer, I get to “zip ahead” and see things that most of the Riders don’t get to see. Things like beautifully straight lines and tight formations as the bikes go rolling down the interstate. I see the progression of a “bunch of bikers” into a “platoon of Riders.” I see people joining together to help a tired friend. I see small groups stand apart from the crowd, all centered around a comrade that needed to talk. I see the young Man among the spectators with his head bowed, and then see one of our Riders go up to him and offer a shoulder, an ear, or just a handshake. I see every one of our group help each other and receive help at the same time. I see our Mission continue and grow with each passing mile. We did a LOT today!
And so we arrive in Amarillo, and receive a traditional Texas-style Welcome! Let me try to explain: FLAGS! (Just as many Texas flags as American flags!) Police Escort through town! BBQ beef brisket and ribs! Corn on the cobb! Pie! Sweet Tea! (… Okay, I am going to need a minute here … Oh Yeah. … )
And then an absolutely amazing presentation. After a beautiful rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” we learn the symbolism and meaning of the Battlefield Cross. This ceremony describes in detail what each item represents and why it is included. It is a fitting end to our day, just as we started the day, with a reminder of WHY we Ride. We Ride for those who Can’t.
Jim “Hoofer” McCrain
If you would like to follow along with our ride from last year, just follow this link: