We got up early this morning at 5 a.m. and got packed quickly. By 6 a.m. we we had our things on the bike and half an hour later we were in a large parking lot talking with the other chaplains. We made sure we knew who was doing what and where to go and what to do if someone got hurt on the Run.
Then we got breakfast and talked to a few people until the first meeting of Run For The Wall began. Some of the things talked about that morning were hand signals, stories of Vietnam Troops who never got back home and more.
Then we started riding. It took a while for the hundreds of bikes to file out in groups, but eventually it was done and we were on our way.
The Run had begun.
It was cold and crowded at first, but as we got out of the city the smog cleared, the sun shone and there was less traffic. Here and there people would gather on bridges and cheer us on as we rode under them. We went through our first leg of the journey and stopped for fuel sixty miles out. By then it was getting hot and since there were not many gas stations and there were many fuel-hungry motorcycles, it took half an hour to get done.
When we left again the countryside of Arizona opened up to us. We had passed the border of California. As the day went on it continued to get warmer.
This leg was short, so we soon got a break from the heat. Going indoors seemed like entering a refrigerator and leaving an oven. Plus the refreshments truck was there. People crowded around it to get free peanuts, bottles of water, cookies and much more. It was all for those going on the Run and Dad and I never took it for granted. Being in desert-like conditions, we kept a good supply of water bottles. As much as we didn't want to, we soon had to leave for the longest leg of the trip yet.
It was almost 100 miles--or two hours--in the baking sun. The scenery was nice, but was spoiled by the heat. Besides that, though, the Run had been doing pretty well. The cars had treated us good for the past few legs and the only casualty we had was one man feeling a bit sick.
Finally we got to another stop. We fueled up but did not get back on the highway. Instead we went to a very grassy area near a train station and had lunch there. It was a nice break and we were able to get cool under the trees. Before leaving we stocked up on water bottles. It was so hot that I left my jacket open as we went down the road, trying to get a bit cooler.
On the last leg of the day it cooled off and we started seeing trees. It was over 100 miles and when we reached our destination I did not feel that I was in a desert any more. We all paraded through Williams, Arizona. Crowds greeted us, waving flags and cheering us on as we slowly rode through the town. It was touching.
I was hungry just two hours after our lunch stop and was grateful for the meal provided at the Veterans of Foreign Wars outpost. Dad and I ate quickly and, after fueling up once more, went to the school where we were allowed to camp.
We set up the tent and got everything ready. I helped Chaplain Dean, who had followed us, with his tent and by the time it was dark we were mostly ready for bed.