The morning started much like the others had: cold and very early. We took down the tents again and got everything on the bikes and hurried out of the campsite.
We stopped at a theater parking lot where we had our third riders' meeting. We got breakfast and ate it inside the theater, warming ourselves up and taking a break from the cold outdoors.
We prayed for a platoon leader because he couldn't hear well, then prayed for each other and especially for one of the chaplains who was having knee troubles. Then the riders' meeting also began with prayer. It wasn't a very long meeting and we heard the basic things: safety tips, a story of another brave soldier, and the daily ceremonies, including the pledge to the flag.
Then we took off! We filed out of the parking lot and before the first leg of the trip was over, it was hot.
We stopped at a casino with a large gas station and got some snacks and drinks. Sometimes we poured the ice cold water down our sleeves and on our heads to keep cool.
The next leg was not long. On the way someone crashed. As we rode by my heart skipped a beat. It never looks right when a motorcycle is turned over on its side and laying on the ground. The scene looked even scarier with a biker on the ground. Two of the chaplains broke off from the pack of riders to help with the accident.
We stopped for lunch at a Harley Davidson dealership. While there Dad traded in the mirror that he had bought in Rancho Cucamonga for one that was a little longer than we wanted, but would work. We ate our lunch quickly before we ran out of time and set off again for 25 miles. Then we stopped for gas right next to Camel Rock, a rock that looked like--what else?--a camel.
At this station Dad addressed the problem that had been going on all day. Many people had been coming in between us and the "Last Man" vehicle. The reason this was a problem was that we are supposed to be the very last motorcycles right in front of the "Last Man" vehicle so we can see if a rider goes down and assist him. Plus many of the bikers were not registered and would just be making it harder for the Run. Finally Dad got things sorted out and the problem was fixed.
Then we got on the last leg of the day. I noticed the land changed and we saw mountains in the distance. After days of flatness, I was excited to see such a change.
Within an hour or two we were in those mountains. As we swerved down the curving road I saw the exact place someone had spilled his bike the year before. I was glad no one spilled going down the mountain this year.
When we got off the mountain we entered a wide valley. I saw a Vietnam Veteran memorial in the distance and we rode there. My Dad and Mom had both had worked on the memorial, digging up rocks, laying down bricks and planting one tree that I always saw when I came to the memorial.
We entered the chapel, a solemn place where one person was at the moment praying. Then we went into another building. There a room was filled with pictures of fighting soldiers from Vietnam. Flags were hung all over the room and statues were placed here and there. Some took pictures and talked of happy times. Others stayed quiet in memory. Other just broke down, crying as quietly as they could. I could tell there were deep wounds and deep memories in this room.
We looked around the memorial a little more, then got some dinner at the Angel Fire Resort. Thanks to some friends who were on the Run with us, we slept on the floor in a room of the hotel for the night, glad we would not have to tear down a tent in the morning.