Day 2, Casa Grande, AZ, to Las Cruces, NM, 350 miles
0-dark thirty. There will be a lot of these days when one is up before sunrise, staging your motorcycle, attending the mandatory meeting at 6:25 a.m. I’m glad to not be an FNG (Friendly New Guy or Gal?), because they have their mandatory meeting at 6:15 a.m. We also have our mandatory platoon meeting about 15 minutes before KSU, today at 7:08 a.m. You wonder how it all can seem to happen so smoothly and precisely. 7:08? But it does.
We only ran about 49 miles down the road to a Circle K in Marana, AZ, but the early hour allows for some coolness of the air, making for a pleasant ride. Once again, remember to put up those highway pegs. The fuelers don’t like getting hit in the shins with them as they’re moving you through the fuel line.
Our first gas stop today was donated. And they handed out little packets with tissues, sunscreen and chapstick. That was really a nice touch especially since some have gotten badly burned. I found out that a certain amount of funds had been paid for the gas, and that a local couple paid for the balance of it. I had painted RFTW rocks, and gave one to the couple in appreciation.
Marana was a great stop. A young lady sang a song from The Lion King, Hallelujah. It was overwhelmingly emotional … those that came home, those that did not. And the bagpipers … it was awesome.
We continued to our next stop, Willcox, AZ. We were treated to another lunch provided by the awesome people at the Elks Lodge. There was a flag line and 150 kids to meet and greet us. Some had painted posters and it was so uplifting to see these children learning about the RFTW, what it stands for, why we do it. These children thanked everyone for their service. I felt like a fraud except that I’m riding for others. I tried to shake as many of their hands as possible, maybe I got to more than a hundred and I thanked them for being there and for welcoming us into their community.
There have been so many flag lines at gas stops, and people and flags on overpasses. I get teary each time I see this wonderful display of patriotism and honoring what the RFTW is doing. My mascara is ruined and I expect it will be every day.
The ride so far has been great as there have been some overcast skies. There’s been wind also, but if you cut your teeth riding Turnagain Arm in Alaska, this is nothing. Not even the heavy-duty wind and the dodging of tumbleweeds can stop us.
We ended up at Barnett’s Las Cruces Harley-Davidson for dinner. The shop was also open for parts and service if necessary. We are being treated so well by so many, and there’s not enough thanks in this world for what people are doing for the RFTW riders and their support teams.
There was even a fire truck in attendance and it was flying one of the biggest and most awesome U.S. flags I’ve ever seen. There’ve been a lot of fire trucks and so many American flags. It makes me happy to see those flags flying proudly. How could one not be “Proud to be an American!”
While each day there’s always coffee and donuts or breakfast, I’m not a breakfast person. Coffee is always the first order of the day for me. Luckily for me, and probably many others, there is always a Hydration Station at each stop. They have snacks and drinks, and neck snakes. Neck snakes are those bits of cloth sewn into tubes that have some type of material inside that holds moisture. They can be life-saving when soaked in water and put around your neck. The breeze from traveling helps to cool you off some, and in Arizona/New Mexico/Texas sun and heat they’re a vital necessity. Thank you to those who have staffed the Hydration Station and continually push us to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
You might be wondering who is writing these sitreps? My name is “Peppermint” Patti Bogan from Anchorage, Alaska. I was born and raised in Alaska and have lived nearly my entire life there. I’m 73, and started riding motorcycles in 1991 (although I rode a few small ones in the 60s). I love to ride motorcycles, and own four, including one trike so that I can also ride in the winter. I also enjoy painting rocks. I brought some specially painted ones for the run and leave them or give them to people along the run. It’s a small token, and one that I hope will provide a remembrance.