Day 2 Thursday May 18, 2017
Thankfully I got a little more sleep last night in Flagstaff, but the morning was a wide awakening to 30 degree temperatures. My bike had a layer of frozen water on it. The locks were even frozen; had to pour some water in them just to get them open. It’s nice that hotels provide rags for us to clean our bikes with. A couple of them made quick work of disbursing the frost. Thankfully my bike started okay as well. I have an electronic starter in case it doesn’t and as long as I happen to have some warm water on hand, I can open the lock to the saddlebag where I keep it.
Mandatory meeting time. Geez. Do I need to say anything? Well a couple things. Each morning part of this meeting is a prayer. That’s a big deal for me. One of our Chaplain’s Corp offers thanks for our safety and health and prays for good weather and for us to be awake and to ride safely and for our motorcycles to operate properly. I must say that there is a God. He does watch over us and blesses us on our ride, I mean mission. We sometimes call this blessing “traveling mercies”, and we receive them, thank God. No rain, a little wind, a little fog, a little cold, but certainly nothing to complain about. If anyone complained at today’s weather, I ask them to quickly sell their motorcycle and get a freakin’ car, seriously. One other good thing to mention about the Mandatory meeting is the reading of a bio belonging to someone either a POW/MIA or KIA. They can hardly be read without emotion, or listened to without emotion for that matter. I love this moment and like it has been said already many times “this is why we ride”.
Gas stops. Fuel paid for again, thank you and free breakfast burritos this morning thanks to Cisco Foods. Our fuel team does such an incredible job. They are so nice and often ask us how our ride, I mean mission is going. I wonder if they know how appreciated they are. I tell each of them that help me, but I’m just one guy. Our staging team is awesome. They get us exactly where we need to be. Sometimes we balk, but they know it’s just the way us older generation guys are. I gave the stager for our platoon a bad time for not holding up his number and saying all kinds of derogatory stuff, in jest of course. Another rider next to me was making all these moaning sounds but I saw our stager’s face and he was laughing and I was smiling. He knew I was far from serious. He came over and we hugged. I love this guy. It was a great moment for both of us. Oh I forgot to mention we were counseled this morning to leave our poor attitudes in Flagstaff and only bring our good attitudes with us. I hope no one thinks I have a bad attitude or I might have to return to Flagstaff and drop it off.
Did I mention LEO supported us leaving Flagstaff until we were safely all on the interstate? No? Well, they did. When we crossed into New Mexico, LEO was there to escort us from the beginning and they are with us to escort us completely through the state.
Lunch was at Milan Elementary School, in Milan, New Mexico (you were thinking Milan, Italy maybe, am I right)? The children were outside to welcome us chanting “USA, USA, USA…” We all took our turns riding around the cul-de-sac and waving while chanting USA with them. We parked and I got out all the stuff I had determined to bring with me to hand out to the children. I had cut-out American Flag stars from retired flags. I took RFTW 2017 pins, lots of them. I took beaded key chains I made. I took glass beads with flag symbols on them. I kinda clogged the hallway handing them out, but the children loved all the stuff. I wonder if they love us as much as we love them. I think their love for us is much more in my opinion, but we sure love them tons.
We were led to the auditorium where some introductions were made followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. Then the children gave the Arizona State Pledge followed by the verse I shared with you last night. I had printed my copy out and read it with them while tears filled my eyes. Some children and a few of our riders turned to look at me. I wasn’t ashamed, just very, very grateful for their words and their code and their patriotism. Maybe next year we will be a little more prepared to cite the children’s code of conduct.
Then the usual certificate and plaque awards. Then the unusual happened. Senator Clemente Sanchez was present and spoke to us on how much the community appreciates us visiting them. I’m sure the appreciation is mutual. For a US Senator to show up at our little gathering meant the State of New Mexico appreciates our presence there. I think that’s exactly what it means.
Lunch was amazing. Enchiladas, beans rice, tortillas, chips, salsa and cake. The Red sauce enchiladas had a little kick. I liked them, but the chicken ones were really good as well. Thanks for those that prepared and served our meal to us. We are so grateful. After I ate, I went over to the wall the children had prepared for us. I don’t think many of our group noticed what they did, but there was a map of all the places we will stop at on our way to DC. There were also about 40 or more of these Thank You cards the children made pinned to the wall. The outside was nicely colored with the words Thank You and inside were sentiments that choked me. Inside they had written things like: Thank you for making me feel safe, for saving our country, for saving the world, for making me free, for loving us by going to fight for us, one said for being willing to die for us, another for saving me and my family. Then the 10 minute horn sounded. I didn’t have time to read all the cards, but I wanted to. Thank you to all the Milan Elementary Children and to their great teachers that help instill patriotism in their students. I love going there so much.
A short drive to the next fuel stop (you guessed it) then over to the casino parking lot. We watched as several LEO on motorcycles gathered and talked a while. Then they mounted up and we headed into Albuquerque. Absolutely no one else was on the interstate clear into downtown to the Duke City Harley Davidson shop where dinner was on the grill for all of us. Later there was cake. Then the usual plaque and certificate ceremony for those that contributed to our activities in New Mexico. A very special thank you to all the officers that guarded all the roads and on ramps and kept us safe all the way into Albuquerque. What an amazing job and equally amazing experience for all us riders. I think our FNGs may have been somewhat impressed perhaps. As we entered the HD facility I saw all the Leo in formation down the street as if you say mission accomplished. I waved. Later I talked with one officer and offered my appreciation to him.
**** Number of names on The Wall for New Mexico (395), for Albuquerque, NM (111)
Day 2 is in the books. Tomorrow: The Blue Hole and Amarillo. Watch for the 10 half buried Cadillacs in the field to the right just before Amarillo.
We Ride For Those That Can’t
Tom “Twotone” Lystrup / Platoon 6 Leader / SitRep Witer / email@example.com