Friday, May 15, 2009

Day 11

I found it was freezing cold when I peeked out of the sleeping bag. The alarm had gone off at 5 in the morning. It was time to get up.
We were camping next to a school, so we could get in there and brush our teeth and do the other morning routines. Then we started tearing down the camp. Chaplain Dean had been camping right beside us and now he was up and about too. When we had all somehow stuffed our whole campsites onto the bikes we took off.
We arrived at a baseball park, where we would have the morning rider's meeting. Free breakfast was available at a nearby Mexican restaurant, and we took advantage of it. Soon we had eaten burritos and were back at the meeting. It began shortly.
We went over safety issues again and told the story of an American soldier who died taking back wounded soldiers from an ambush in Vietnam. The story was written on a card and a person who was new to the Run was asked to take it to the Wall. We prayed a few prayers and did a couple of other things. Then we got on our bikes and road guards showed us the way out of the park and into the interstate.
It was cold as we started out, but the Arizona heat soon warmed our hands. Much changed in the landscape since yesterday. Trees were everywhere for quite a while--but then they cleared out and we were in desert again. I had plenty of time to daydream. Sometimes I would get sleepy. Something about the continuous noise of the motorcycle and the comfortable seat I sit in has a way of getting me sleepy. Thankfully, I had been able to get some meat sticks that I could eat when that happens. Doing that helps me to stay awake usually.
It was a short day with only 224 miles to ride and three stops in between. Because the first leg of the journey was ninety miles long and the next leg was thirty two miles long, Dad skipped fueling up at the first stop, knowing that the bike could make it those last miles to the second one.
We stopped again after a short ride. Hundreds of people welcomed us in and we waved back gratefully. We were supposed to get some lunch at the American Legion Outpost, but we went with Pastor Dan (another chaplain who rides near us on the Run) to a gas station, skipping the long line for lunch. We just happened to ride to a really old-style gas station with mechanical pumps instead of digital screens. Pastor Dan paid for the gas then took us inside to the A&W. He bought himself and I rootbeer floats and Dad got a soda too!
When we got back from our extra long "fuel stop" the line for lunch was almost gone. We got what else we could cram into our stomachs and talked a little.
But the time to leave crept up on us and bikes were flooding out of the area before we knew what was going on. Yet with one or two difficulties quickly dealt with, we were back on the road with the pack.
It was very hot again and I unzipped my coat and left my vest open to let the breeze come in as we rushed down the road. We crossed over to New Mexico, leaving Arizona behind. The time was set back an hour and I knew we would have get up earlier than the morning before.
One hundred miles later we got to Gallop. This time we were welcomed by what seemed to me thousands of people in the most Run For The Wall-patriotic city yet. They waved hands as well as flags, crowded on the sidewalks, recorded our whole group riding by on video and a few even got on rooftops! We had police escorts take us to a certain part in town where we got dinner and a show.
But before we could attend we had to deal with a problem. Chaplain Duane Gryder had left Dad, Chaplain Dean and I so that he could go on a different route of the Run that got closer to his home. But another Duane who was also a chaplain was on the Run with us and his bike had something wrong with it. We stayed behind to help him fix it and by the time we got to where the meeting was being held we had missed much of it. Thankfully we had been there last year and I had seen it. First there were Native American dances and songs for a while. We missed that part but we did see many people come and speak. Russ Cockrum, the Route Coordinator of the Run told us of a time when he asked one of the Native Americans why they treated our military so well after they had driven them out of their homes many years ago. He answered, "Because we forgave them." Plaques, medals and more were given between Mr. Russ and some of the important people of the city we had stopped at. It was like watching an ancient peace treaty reenacted.
When it had ended we had dinner, then went to the campsite. We set up our tents again and got all ready for bed. We spent the rest of the evening there.

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