Posted on Leave a comment

Southern Route 2024 SitReps – Day 7 – Run For The Wall

Day 7 – Southern Route; Meridian, MS to Chattanooga, TN

Today, the weather is holding up.  It was pretty hot and we had some long legs but we all did well.  There was a lot of traffic when we got to Chattanooga but it was commute time so not a surprise. According to Google, the population for Chattanooga is around 200K.  We started in Meridian, MS.  Full escort towards the border and then in TN, we still had an escort but fewer vehicles.  That’s why it was a bit more challenging getting into a larger city but we’re all getting used to riding with each other and those that don’t ride in groups very often are now experienced and navigating the ins and outs of dealing with the traffic situations like cars that insist they need to move over to the lane on the other side of the pack.  We are set up in platoons with around 20 bikes per platoon with a decent space in between the platoons.  That is on purpose so cars will have a gap to move through should they need to do so but occasionally, some are not aware of that fact and make it harder on themselves.

Our biggest highlight of the day was visiting the VA Hospital in Tuscaloosa, AL.  The entire pack went there and had a chance to be welcomed by a large group(s) of neighbors, staff and even some patients.  They fed us some awesome Mexican food which was provided by a local restaurant called Jalapeno’s.  Real good food.  Thank You Giovingo (owner).  We got to visit some long term patients that are at the hospital and simply had a nice time.  Great people there!

Then we started off towards Chattanooga, TN with a small jaunt through Georgia.  A couple of fuel stops and we made it to the White Lightening Harley Davidson Dealer in Chattanooga.  It’s quite a large dealership.  Some pics below.  They fed us a nice dinner, they had the service department open late to help anyone that needed work done, everything from an oil change to some larger jobs.  Then off to the hotels to shower and rest.  Today was a total of 311 miles but in the heat it felt like 450 😊.

One story to relay from this morning.  I met a Vietnam Vet that lives in Meridian and we talked about some of his experiences in Nam and being part of taking hill 875.  He’s been back to visit Vietnam 5 times and wants to go back one more time before travel is not feasible for him.  His visits were interesting where he did some teaching while in Vietnam, but he was careful to not tell everyone he was a vet from the war.  He still had a fair amount of Vietnamese language ability and could understand some of the conversations.  Once they figured out his knowledge, he had a few people that were always shadowing him which was uncomfortable.  And he was particular of where he would go as there were some places that were too emotional for him.  Strong memories.  I wish I knew he was going to get into those stories so I could have recorded what he was talking about and do a better job of relaying that here.  He had some tears starting as he is reminiscing over these memories.  It was an honor to hear these stories and I think it was cathartic for him.



USAF, ’72 – ‘75

The VA Hospital in Tuscaloosa, AL

Inside the White Lightening Harley Dealer – a big dealer.

The White Lightening Harley Dealer.

Our Route Coordinator, Lurch (Darin Koch) presenting to the Director of Public Relations of the VA Hospital.

Director of Public Relations of the VA Hospital welcoming us.

VA Parking lot

More parking and the T-Town Harlet Dealer coming out to assist if anyone needed some help with their bikes.

Parking lot in front of the VA Hospital.

Leave a Reply